My name is Daisy Ware-Jarrett and I am Co-editor and Co-founder of #PHOTOGRAPHY magazine. When I was asked to interview one person from a selected shortlist of photographers Jared Krauss' work jumped out at me right away. I was drawn to Jared's unique perspective and the energy captured in his Brexit themed series. I was eager to sit with Jared and find out more about his series.
Why did you decide to create a series about Brexit? In a way, the decision was made for me. I’m interested in the every day, and how people creatively navigate their everyday strictures and structures. I’m also interested in disruptions within and of the everyday. Brexit, though, has created a whole new everyday reality, especially for those of us living in the UK. There feels to be a mass amount of anxiety, a fear of the unknown future, permeating the every day because of Brexit, and yet there is this group of people who not only want it, but will stand tall in public proudly proclaiming their support in spite of the sort of existential dread the rest of the population seems to be experiencing. In the end I felt I would be remiss if I didn’t make work pertaining to Brexit. I’m sure many of us will look at our archive in the future and see other threads we can pull on to elucidate the experiences we’ve had during the fight over Brexit, but we won’t have the opportunity to photograph in the moment again. So I felt I must. It was there and I had a camera and some questions.
One of the most captivating aspects of your series is how it's shot from a low angle. Was this an intentional decision and if so why did you choose to shoot this way? What drew me to this particular protest, the pro-Brexit march in December of 2018 in London, was the question, “Who wants Brexit?” Not only was this march being billed as far-right, and anti-immigrant, it would undoubtably be countered by a much larger march. Beyond that, as I said above, they were marching in spite of a generalized air of anxiety around a no-deal Brexit, let alone Mays plan. In fact, almost overwhelmingly, they wanted a no-deal Brexit. Having made photographs in the lead up to the 2016 election, but especially in Washington D.C. on the day of Trump’s Inauguration, I had become acquainted with some of the tension that can arise when I work in spaces whose politics starkly oppose mine. So, on the one hand, I wanted the aesthetics of the images to be something that any of the subjects—whether in the moment or if they see this work now—could not reasonably claim I was presenting a garish portrait. However, I didn’t want the sea of the protest, because that would distract from looking at their faces, to intimately know the answer to, “Who wants Brexit?” I felt the posters and flags they carried could suffice to hint at more of their identity. Since I use a manual focus, wide angle lens, the only way to achieve this was to be literally under their chin. I often fell over backwards while shooting. It was entertaining for everyone, and quite fun for me.
Do you think your position as an American living in the UK gives you a unique perspective on Brexit and the public response to it? In some ways it feels inconsequential for me, an American also with an Italian passport, to have an opinion on Brexit, let alone a perspective. What can I offer here, when in both my own countries I feel there are cruel and crude administrations in power? But then I remember that the existing structures of power, coercion, extortion, oppression, and repression, are constantly sharing techniques, are constantly testing in focus groups new pitches, are constantly building new products for more profit, and that one of the few ways we have to manipulate all those energies to our benefit is to unmask the rhetorics used to draw our attention to the very idea of exiting the European Union, or building a wall on the southern border, when within our very borders, within each of our towns, children are hungry, children are killing each other, the addicted are dying, students are floundering in debt, wars we began and contribute to are raging afar and their victims are fleeing the violence we’ve wrought to come to our countries and are being treated inhumanly. Cambridge Analytica, for starters, is an interesting connection between Brexit and Trump, not to mention the rhetoric around foreigners. One thing that the UK and the US share, also, and gives me a bit of hope, is that my generation and the next overwhelmingly don’t support Brexit or Trump, but, unfortunately, despite being the largest voting bloc, not enough vote.
Do you plan on creating more Brexit-themed work? Always and already.
What do you hope people will take away from this series? I’m not sure. I hope they will bring something to the work, though. I hope they will bring their own ideas and assumptions about what Brexit means, and is, and that they’ll hold my photos up against those thoughts to see what they can see, and then speak about it. I’d love to hear from viewers, but ultimately I want people to have conversations around Brexit in their everyday lives. As much as we’re saturated with politics on the news, whether it was in anticipation of Robert Mueller releasing his report, or seeing if Brexit actually happens on the 29 of March, or in April, or May, or two years from now—that saturation most often comes from the media and from the governments’ and corporations’ representatives. The more we have conversations, or even arguments, the more we approach making the decisions ourselves, and, better yet, start asking the question, “why does it have to be thisy way?” Because it doesn’t. Of course, critical thinking needs must be a part of those conversations, but they don’t always have to begin at a critical place. It can be a joke, a snide remark, or an earnest question, but getting people to articulate why they support something, and not letting them skip out after a superficial answer, will force people to be more critical with themselves. That’s the only way we’re going to work up a resistance to being hoodwinked into fearing the Other, whomever that next is. Keep asking why.