PHOTOGRAPHY – DEAD ON HOLIDAY
Tess Thackara explains the thinking behind the photography exhibition she has created with Andrea DiCenzo.
Through a darkly comedic lens, this photography collaboration explores the seduction and anxiety of tourism. Breaking the mould of the traditional holiday snap shot, the series aims to poke fun at the relationship between photography and tourism, as well as the suggested danger of visiting any foreign place.
While on holiday in Turkey recently, Andrea and I found ourselves wanting some physical record of our vacation, but reluctant to repeat the stock images taken by so many smiling tourists before us.
Remaining faithful to the constructed artificiality of holiday photos, we have departed from them in all other respects. Our settings are unidentifiable and relatively mundane, the subjects are anonymous and the images are records not of life, but death. And yet there are elements of both glamour and unease to the images – a nod to the allure and anxiety implicit to the experience of foreign travel.
For us, there is a greater relevance to these images, since the moment we stepped foot on the sleepy island in the Sea of Marmara, it appeared to us like an abandoned film set, complete with 70s faded-glamour resorts, crumbling, derelict houses and, curiously, a parking lot full of old-fashioned carriages tied up to horses, with not a soul in sight to attend them or require their service.
As so often nowadays, the cinematic experience had given context to a real-life scenario; scenes spun by Hitchcock, Antonioni and Godard came into definition – surely, heinous crimes had been committed among these ruins and romantic intrigue had wound its shimmering path around the craggy clifftops. In short, our photos speak to our imagined experience of the space.
They also aim to convey an irony that some holiday-makers may well recognize: though on the surface travel provides a means of escape, the traveller can never escape him or herself. On the contrary, as a fish out of water and distanced from familiar contexts, the uprooted traveller dies a small death of identity.
Inversely, this project allowed us to escape playing the role of ‘tourist’. Acting out a series of deaths and photographing them uncovered an interesting side-effect: the few Turkish stragglers who passed us along the way steered well clear of us. Suddenly we were free of unwanted attention. Our unexpected and performative use of the space seemed to invest it with a new identity, reclaiming it for ourselves and making it as foreign to the locals as we were.
Dead on Holiday will be showing at The Camp, 70-74 City Road, 7th October, 6.30-9pm.