Recently I have thought a lot about the context for my work. I realised that my thinking here had been very limited, limited to the practitioners who did similar work and to the possible situations in which my work might appear.
The context for my work is:
The influences on my work by other practitioners.
How I shape my work based on possible outlets.
The scientific background to my interest in climate change.
Political responses to the climate crisis.
Events in the world that change perception of the crisis (bad weather, floods, etc)
I have been conducting more research to identify practitioners from whom I can derive inspiration. I have expanded the scope of practitioners from those who address only environmental issues , to the broader category of activist photographers. I have addressed this in a previous CRJ post http://chrisjerrey.com/crj/influences-part-2/
This has proved to be a valuable exercise. Although activist photographers address different issues, the process of reaching an audience is similar across issues and there is much that fellow activists can learn from each other. It’s not enough to take the pictures, they need to be put in front of people in all sorts of different ways.
The gallery and the personal website are not the only environments in which to display pictures. I really like the idea of give-away work. This has previously been done by practitioners like Felix Gonzalez-Torres with his Death By Gun project.
But this approach is not especially original, it is an artistic repurposing of the principal of the free newspaper. The activist photographer wishing to disseminate a message and a newspaper proprietor wishing to achieve a large circulation might both come to the conclusion that giving away their product is the most effective way to reach the maximum number of people.
Understanding of the climate crisis is driven by climate science. Climate science is the container in which all thinking about the crisis resides. As my practice is to be an artistic voice for scientific fact, I need to keep watch on how the science is developing.
The environmental movement is fundamentally a political one, it aims to persuade the government of the day to put people and the planet first. This is a complex, slippery and constantly evolving scene. As I write, the climate crisis has been pushed out to the news by the Covid 19 pandemic. That doesn’t mean the crisis has gone away. How should someone like me respond to this situation, aiming to keep focus on the climate when people the world over are fearful of catching a potentially deadly virus?
Today is Easter Sunday. It’s a perfect sunny, spring day and I’m writing on my laptop in the garden. My wife is asleep in the sun.
Except it’s not perfect. A thousand people a day are dying of Covid 19 in the UK alone. A long wet winter meant that many farmers were not able to sow their crops. When those crops that were planted are ready to be harvested, the UK is short of 90,000 seasonal agricultural workers due to Brexit.
I have chosen to build a photographic practice that responds to a political issue. That means that the context to that practice are the vicissitudes of world politics and the attitudes of people beyond an artistic community.