FFO: SOCIALLY ENGAGED WORK FROM THE NORTH AND FOR THE NORTH!
Who are you and where are you currently based?
Jack Davidson. I can usually be found either in the County Durham or West Yorkshire.
What is your current photographic work about?
Well, I consider myself to be a socially engaged practitioner with a documentary styled approach. My current photographic work is about the Tees Valley, which is situated in the North Easterly part of the United Kingdom. I’m trying to explore the economic, social and political changes through the medium of photography by making and building connections with residents, business owners and local authority figures in the region. My aim is to try to create a body of work which illustrates the changes which have taken place in the Tees Valley since it’s rebrand in 2011.
What did you aim to get out of the Tees Valley project? And what do you think the resident’s/business owners/local authority figures wanted from you?
I don’t think anyone wants anything from me really. I’m just really invested and passionate about this region at the minute, and the residents who live in it. I think photography presents a better medium to convey the plans put forward by the tees valley combined authority rather than a bunch of PowerPoint presentations or PDF documents.
Do you view this project as more subjective or objective, especially being from the North East yourself? Do you think bringing your own ‘bias’ to a socially engaged practice effects the project?
I try to remain as impartial as possible to create the most honest work I can – so by doing this I try leave any subjective view behind when embarking on a project like ‘A Tees Valley’ or ‘We’ll live and Die in These Towns‘ because I’d end up making work for the wrong reasons.
Its only when all the photographs have been taken and all the information has been complied I can start to curate what the project is actually about.
What are your final outcomes for the project? Do you intend to exhibit it or create a publication from the series?
Well, I want it to be accessible to everyone in the areas I’ve photographed in. I’ve contemplated a number of different opinions but I believe a small non profit photo-book would be the best output for this work – maybe accompanied by a small public exhibition somewhere within the tees valley, I’m not sure. It’s early days.
What inspired you to become a ‘socially engaged practitioner’ instead of just being labelled as just a ‘photographer’?
I feel by considering myself to be a socially engaged practitioner it allows me to build a stronger relationship and connection between myself and the communities or individuals who interest me; rather than the traditional ‘snap and go’ method of conventional documentary photographers (or other practitioners who may not be invested in their subject’s best interests.) And that’s a really pretentious answer.
When you work with others for your projects do you see your process as ‘collaborative’ or as ‘one-sided’?
Well, I love the whole ethos of collaboration and third party input into my work. I strive to listen to everyone and look at all viewpoints throughout a project – not to lean too far left or too far right. For me, this is an important stance to take when producing work to inform others. However, at the end of certain projects I’ve completed in the past which follow the notion of social engagement or documentary practices; you can’t help but see where the issues may have been created and why.
What got you interested into photography and taking images?
My lame interest in aviation (specially Concorde) and my first photography teacher… Oh and The Clash.
Who are you inspired by?
At the minute Mark Neville, I’ve recently discovered his practice and seen him talk about his work a couple of times – his whole workflow and connection to his projects, I think is something completely unique and exciting.
What are your future aspirations?
Haha I don’t plan that far in advance. Keep making the work, keep talking to people.
Got any ideas for future projects?
What advice would you recommend to young photographers today?