University: University of Westminster
Statement: As an artist my main interests lie in the relationship between documentary and fiction and how their interconnections affect the way the beholder takes in the images. I tend to explore the borders of both fields, which often translates into images that are difficult to place into any of the mentioned categories. In order to do so, I make use of imagery from different media, from mainstream printed press and the internet to fine art history. My aim is not only to pinpoint the artificiality of those languages or ways of image making, but to challenge the preconceptions and expectations of the spectators to ultimately invite them to be critically aware of a given image discourse and agenda.
What is your favourite photobook by another photographer? The fact that I had to think about this for over five minutes probably means that I don't have a favourite one. I don't have a particular interest in objects or things that I want to own and collect. I appreciate their value, the design, the story, etc. but I don't treasure them as items. I'm more interested in the project as a whole, about what the images talk about, what language they use, what is the political message the author is launching... So I guess I've never thought about which of them all is really my favourite...
Direction: I showed the work in public for the first time at an exhibition in 2014, within the frame of PhotoEspaña'14. By then I was already working on a dummy myself. After the show, Veronica Fieiras, director of Riot Books - now Chaco Books - approached me saying she wanted to publish the work. The funny thing is my first reaction was to say no, because she had a very different idea from what I had in mind. Luckily for me she insisted and I met with her after a few weeks and convinced me to do the book that we ended up doing. I think I owe her big time for that. To be honest my dummy was awful...
Considerations: After we agreed on the concept of the book, we decided it wasn't going to look exactly like “a book”. We wanted something different, very guerrilla style, pretty much in line with the concept of the project itself, so every decision we made had to add something to the work: we chose cheap brown laid paper, metaphorically showing a bit of disrespect to the people portrayed in the images; we used screws for holding the book together, which literally perforate the pages; printed it on a photocopy machine to get a rough and handmade look... And then it was all assembled by hand, again to reference some sort of DIY political activism.
Interior: Text is a very important part of the project. It probably plays a greater role than it does in most photographic projects. The starting point were the 100 images that make up the project. That made editing very straight forward, since they were also numbered from 1 to 100. Not much to do about that. The real problem was that those 100 images looked pretty much the same: pixelated, low quality close-ups. If we wanted to keep the viewer engaged we needed to offer something else: text information. We thought it wasn't enough to see the faces of these people, as it says on the cover, we needed context. So we decided to include first some information about their salaries and net worth in a standard VCR typeface, and extra information about their private business (all previously published by relevant media) handwritten by myself, all intended to provoke a certain response in the reader and, maybe, a call to action. At the end of the book there is a map of London that shows the places where all these 100 people work so that, again, as it is suggested on the cover you can “use these images at your own discretion”.
Inspiration: We didn't turn much to other photobooks when it come to references. Rather we picked different ways to use paper in a way that had more to do with the message of the project. First we wanted to reference the political poster, that's why you can take the book apart and use each page as a separate hand-out flyer or as a poster indeed. Then there was the classic “WANTED” poster from the American West movies, which makes the project look slightly like a kill-list. And then we looked at police clipboards. Those sort of notepads where an investigator takes notes and statements, which led us to use the handwritten text and the top binding, instead of the more traditional side spine.
Advice and Future Goals: I don't think I'm entitled to give advice to anybody, but the two more valuable things I've learned during the process is to listen to other people and be open to their suggestions and ideas. I know for artists it is often difficult to scrap initial ideas but editors, publishers and designers probably know more about their field of expertise than we do.
The second thing, I already mentioned above: every little detail of the book is a decision we have to make eventually. We shouldn't take anything for granted. Don't use a particular binding or paper or cover because is what everybody else does. Think about all of that and chose the options that add more meaning to the project.