Last week the Victoria & Albert Museum opened its new photography center as part of their monthly Friday Late event; ‘Snap’. This high profile event, hosted by i-D magazine, featured exciting programming including late night exhibition viewings and official museum tours among some truly unique events that included a DJ set from online radio station Balamii, performance art pieces and artist talks.
I was lucky enough to attend as a participant speaking at the panel discussion ‘Photo Books: Witness, Collection, Narrative’. Held in the National Art Library, the location was prestigious enough, to further my excitement I was joined by photographers John Spinks, Alex Leese as well as photographer and publisher Maxwell Anderson of Bemojake.
The talk opened with a display of photobooks that were significant to each of the panelists. I selected ‘Return to Sender’ by Sipke Visser, this was the first photobook I bought on a trip to The Photographers’ Gallery some years ago. I love the concept of this book as much as its’ photographic content; Visser sent out 500 of his images accompanied by a handwritten letter to random addresses in the UK. The letter invited the receiver to write back to the artist giving a comment on the image they had received. It was not necessary to have any kind of artistic comment simply a response positive or negative that they felt when viewing the artwork that was sent to them. All of the images and responses are catalogued in the book with an interesting juxtaposition of text and image.
This was followed by a discussion of books we had each produced ourselves in the capacity of photographer or publisher. I spoke about my most recent venture ‘FLING Vol. 1’ I felt this was relevant to the theme due to the role of voyeur I play in the project and that the book represents an ongoing document of the band, FLING. Featuring images from my archive and text from the band’s private journals.
The experience was a huge challenge for me as public speaking is something I have always found incredibly stressful as I get nervous presenting to large groups. Despite this, I feel that the talk went well and I received good feedback from the library team as well as the other speakers. It was an absolute honour to be part of such an esteemed event and I can happily say that I would do it again should I have the pleasure of being asked.