Im Frühling hätte Ed Thompson mit dem Gewinn des Sony World Photography Grants eine große und publikumswirksame Ausstellung in London bespielt. Ebenjene ist im Zuge der Pandemie ausgefallen. Was das für ihn bedeutet und woran er anstattdessen gearbeitet hat, darüber hat er mit den #FacesOfPhotography gesprochen:
How are you doing?
I am well.
What have you experienced photographically in the last weeks and months?
I was a winner of the Sony World Photography Grant last year and was given $7.000 to make a personal project on Brexit, shot on a Sony digital camera. That work would have been exhibited at Somerset House in London this spring, but the show got cancelled due to Covid and the work put online instead. I’ve also bought a number of photography books over lockdown from various independent publishers as right now they are also getting hit because of various photography festivals being cancelled. It’s good to support our industry as its very small.
How do you think the current crisis will affect the industry in general and the English industry in particular?
I started properly freelancing in 2007 which was the worst economic recession in living memory in the U.K (at that time). So there is always a way. I think Covid + Brexit is going to be savage for the U.K. Thankfully I freelance for a number of international clients who pay me in US dollars and Euros.
What are you currently working on?
As I said, in 2019 I won a Sony World Photo Award with an edit of work photographed in Kent, the county where I live. In lockdown I’ve gone through my archive of medium format documentary photography made in Kent over the past 20 years. At the time I was drawn to subjects, events and issues that interested me here in the south-east of England. There was no way of knowing that a number of the themes that have surfaced from that body of work were also factors that ultimately contributed to Brexit happening as the photographs have themes of nostalgia, class, austerity, the far-right, nationalism and the uncanny of everyday English life.
I’ve been working on making book dummies with an edit from that archive and I believe it is the best thing I’ve ever done or will do photographically.
What is your personal photographic wish for the future?
I would love for a photography book publisher to see the body of work mentioned above, but its very hard in the UK as there aren’t many publishers that value British documentary photography anymore, unless the photographers are dead, then that changes everything. The ones that do then want you to pay-to-play when it comes to making a book. There’s certain rings that need to be kissed, certain individuals who need to be bowed down to but as a new dad to twins I just don’t have time to play those games.
I think if a European publisher saw the work they would get it. I would love to reach out to Gerhard Steidl as he seems passionate about photography books and very focused. If the exhibition at the Sony World Photo Award in London wasn’t cancelled this year I could have met him as he would have been there as the winner of the Lifetime Achievement Award and I would have been their showing the Sony World Photo Grant work I made on Brexit.
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