Statement
24 July 2022

Statement

I search for ways to make power visible, and intelligible.

I don’t think of myself as an artist, or a photographer, even if these are sometimes useful labels. I draw ideas from both practices and also from my training and experiences as a historian, humanitarian researcher, documentary photographer, and social scientist, to create works which blend aspects of visual arts, qualitiative research, and advocacy. The projects I produce span different media, combining elements of photography, film, installation, and appear in a range of forms, includings as books, exhibitions, and digitally.

Each of my projects focuses on a specific form of power, ranging from the hard power of opaque security organizations and advanced technological systems to the more abstract power to mould collective memory or reshape international law. However, while each project is designed to be a discrete, self-enclosed work, I also see them as elements of a much larger and connected inquiry into the nature of power.

This larger inquiry reflects the reality that these individual forms of power never exist in isolation but are bound closely together. One form of power is often only possible because it is facilitated and supported by another. Therefore, to speak of any one form of power requires an awareness of the larger networks of which it is a part.

Power matters because it is the thing most definitive of our lives today, as it is concentrated into ever fewer hands, its mechanisms become more powerful, and it is mobilised to change the lives of greater numbers of people than at any other point in history. Power and its consequences are everywhere, in the cities we inhabit, the devices that we use, the ideas that we consume, and even in the food we eat and the air we breathe.

Yet power itself is invisible, it has no tangible form of its own, always inhabits something else and appearing on its own terms. As perhaps the most famous scholar of power once said it is something which ‘displays itself most, but hides itself best’. It is, in this sense, something both very pure but also very elusive. This quality also poses profound challenges to many traditions of representation, including that of the socially concerned documentary photography which often claims to speak ‘truth to power’ and address power relations, but often ends up in fact becoming complicit in them.

I envisage my work will ultimately span twelve major projects, six completed, two in progress, four planned. Together these works seek, in however small a way, to address a contemporary failure to represent power.