This project explored the impact of photography on the concepts and practices of heritage. From 2010 to 2015 I undertook wide-ranging archival and ethnographic research into this broad topic, and I continue to explore the history and efficacy of photography for heritage through writing and visual practice.
The empirical contexts for this work included the World Heritage Site of Angkor in Cambodia and the town of Famagusta, Cyprus. I conducted fieldwork in both locations exploring different forms of photographic work, from fine art photography to tourist image making practices. Across both these sites and a wider engagement with the heritage sector I was also particularly interested in how historic images are deployed and interpreted in different settings. This included research on exhibition production, photobooks, family albums, and vernacular image displays.
My theoretical approach to this subject focused on the more-than-representational dimensions of photographic production and use. This meant paying close attention to the embodied, performative, and affective energies that impact on how photographs are made, discussed and circulated in different contexts. These lines of thinking were inspired by a number of scholars, including Judith Butler, Ariella Azoulay and Elizabeth Edwards.
A monograph on this subject entitled Heritage, Photography, and the Affective Past has now been published by Routledge.
The below galleries provide a few examples of my visual practice.
A selection of images taken during fieldwork in Cambodia using my trusty Canon AE-1 camera. An attempt to explore slow production in the face of the flood of digital images now produced at the site every day.
These images were produced during a tour of Normandy with my father in which we followed my grandfathers route across Northern Europe in the aftermath of D-Day. The photographs attempt to convey the grandeur and mundanity of different memory spaces, ranging from carefully laid out cemeteries to run down streets in the towns he passed through. Our route was dictated by hastily written notes found in my grandfathers own war diary.
Fragments of Cyprus
A small selection of images from fieldwork carried out in Cyprus as part of my doctoral research. I was particularly drawn to the frayed edges of the historic urban environments I encountered on this trip, along with the peculiar assemblages that often populate these spaces.
A strangely neglected corner of Rome, originally planned by Mussolini as the site of the 1942 world’s fair. Includes the stunning Palazzo della Civiltà Italiana (also known as the Square Colosseum), designed by Giovanni Guerrini, Ernesto Lapadula and Mario Romano, and now the international headquarters of fashion brand Fendi.
The Excalibur Estate in South London was built between 1945 and 1946 by German and Italian prisoners of war. These pre-fab temporary houses were only supposed to last around ten years, but many were still occupied when I visited in 2013, shortly before demolition of the site was due to begin. Whilst others have sought to show the human life of such estates, I wanted to try and evoke the slightly sinister atmosphere I encountered when visiting. After all, why should we not try and save places that are dark and brooding?