A Judgement in Black & White


A little tale in black and white...

They were victims of a crime, two women moved to hunt down a witness they claimed had failed in his duty to come forward, who had failed to aid them in their prosecution of the guilty. They gathered a crowd and began to work on them. Pleading and scorning, weeping and mocking, they worked themselves and the crowd into a passion as they searched for the man afraid to speak. For a time frustrated in their pursuit, they contented themselves for a while in passing laws of punishment absurd in their degree of viciousness, and set to loudly proclaiming the physical and mental damage they would soon inflict upon the transgressor, and all those proven to be complicit in hiding him. 

It was not long before they found him. After cornering their quarry they hugged themselves and danced with glee, before gazing down in mock solemnity as they passed judgement. The man, convinced of his terrible sin, tearfully confessed to every charge they pressed upon him, and collapsed. 

And In time, it was possibly said by some that their quarry had never actually witnessed a crime after all. But he was in no position to clarify matters, and as in all blood-sports, it had been the chase that mattered.   

Shot on the X-E2 with the 18mm f/2 - 35mm f/1.4r  - 56mm f/1.2 lenses

That was the tale told. Possibly I miss-remember slightly. It's been a white and I seem to be becoming increasingly slow in sharing my photographs, maybe I have to fix that. These images were taken back in March at the MADE Gallery in Roath, Cardiff as part of the Clear Cut No.5 night of drama, poetry and music. The semi-improvised play was created from a script by Mark Ravenhill and performed by the talented and excellently named F*ckton of Fairies theatre company. There was a real nervous energy there as I shot this. The two actresses, opening with an apology mixed in grief and sorrow talked about an earlier show in the same venue where one of them had been the victim of abuse. It knocked me kind of off balance, and as they appealed for witnesses I was left wondering for a space if this was part of the act. But soon enough their appeals became stranger, more violent, hysterical even... and soon enough darkly hilarious with giddy absurdity. And soon the audience too were in the dock, accused and harangued for harbouring this mysterious villain. I can't really explain it, but in that confined space, shared with such a whirlwind, it seemed for a brief space of time as if anything could happen.

The stark white backdrop, black clothing, drama and movement of the two actresses immediately put me in mind of Richard Avedon when I started shooting in deliberate black and white. There was a progression of emotions too, from initial pain and sorrow through to glee and hysteria and cruel satisfaction, that I just knew would translate wonderfully. I also found there to be something quite satisfying in trying to sequence images just so, matching expressions and movements of body for greater impact. With no background to consider, it was kind of liberating for me to shoot in a looser manner, to just capture the energy and expression and not fret about exact framing. I love material like this, and the intimate experience of this wild personal theatre reminded me of something so easy to forget, that it's the subject that truly makes a good photograph, camera specifications be damned.

Anyway. Tomorrow I leave Wales to board a plane for Kentucky, headed out to see a good friend and - yes - take yet more photographs. I wonder what I'll find there? Hwyl fawr am nawr!