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Ilford Photo Feature

2024, London U.K.

Clent: Ilford Photo (Interview)
Form: Text/Images
Language: English

In 1984, at age of 10 my foster parents, to whom I was never close, gave me a camera. It is the greatest gift they gave to me. Since then, I have photographed the world to make sense of it and my place in it. Now, forty years later, I respect photography to the extent it should be respected. It has become an integrated part of who I am, it has shaped me into what I am and I have shaped it - we are one and I would arguably feel nothing in life without this powerful mechanism. I come from a people who are often silent. My mother tongue is a language where words are short and poetry is brutal. I come from a Northern country carved by tempest. While growing up in a
broken family I never felt that I fit in anywhere. Fortunately, this became my fuel. To fully accept myself for who and what I am, I had to refuse conformity. This allowed me to question further and find different ways of seeing.

Although I have made a living from commercial and editorial work in the fashion industry for the past twenty years, I have always continued with my conceptual work. It has been a natural shift for me to work more with galleries over the last few years. Although I love editorials, I feel at home when working spatially where the viewer can experience the work first-hand. I believe this relates to my questions about values in life, especially while being in the digital storm we are currently living in. Although my work often touches upon humanistic values, it is mostly recognised for celebrating beauty, often in banal moments which are full of fragility. Subjects relating to
humanistic values, this is something I bring to my students at the London College of Fashion where I hold a position as an Associate Lecturer. I strongly believe in a motivational and inspiring approach when sharing my knowledge with others. This is where my vast life experience becomes valuable, photography is similar to life in that way - it is a journey, not a destination. I never tell my students what is right or wrong, I only give them all the tools I believe they would need for their journeys.

Being a photographer who has experienced the transition into the digital era, I have a strong view on the impact it has had and still has within photography. Comments of mine on current digital photography are very positive, I always believed in choosing the medium after your purpose and digital recording has come a long way and is excellent in most situations. It is just that the digital process does not resonate with me as well as an analogue one. Especially while creating my conceptual work or anything which I feel has the right to exist in real life. You can argue that a digital image does not exist until you print it.

For me, the analogue process helps push the boundaries of photography to create truly unique and detailed images, especially in medium and larger film formats. It is a demanding but exciting pursuit that will challenge one's skills and broaden their creative vision. After all these years I am still learning about the integrity and structure of photographic film, papers and chemicals. It is always fascinating to see the impeccable quality these traditional methods carry in this digital era. Creating analogue work is a relatively slow but extremely rewarding journey which allows me great control over my artistic expression. Having my own darkroom is also a privilege
which I am very humble towards, it is spacious and well-built and I love every moment spent there.

My latest body of work is a commission for Black White Gallery. I feel honoured and obliged as this is Black White's first solo photography show. They have allowed me the privilege of creating anything I feel is relevant to the time we live in right now. After a year of dedicated research and creative explorations, this conceptual artwork has arguably fallen short of its initial intent, transforming once inevitable questions into somewhat commonplace news material on television. Nevertheless, it is more than ever necessary to question humanity's trajectory in the age of technology.

"Immutable" is a provocation to fuel the conversation around human interaction with digital technology. The concept delves into profound inquiries into the purpose of human existence, navigating the tension between societal pressure for productivity and the polarising forces fostering division, isolation, and the erosion of authentic connections. It emphasises a call for deceleration and encourages a reevaluation of beliefs and a rediscovery of fundamental human values. The “Immutable" show could be categorised as a multidisciplinary installation with a moment of spoken words, a screening of moving images and sound. However, the 22 silver gelatine photographic prints on display are a fundamental integration to the full experience. The display is intended to make visitors feel both part of the audience and part of the creative process.

Each photographic print is small and has been sandwiched into a passepartout. The purpose is to invite the viewer closely to become intimate with the natural subject. I have chosen not to encapsulate any of the artworks behind glass, there is nothing between the objects and the viewer. An open, beautiful, and authentic moment to celebrate the experience of viewing art in real life, where if the viewer is up close can smell the artwork's materials. The staging is intended to create a full experience that needs to be explored and in which the audience needs to discover its deep meaning.

With all that in mind, I am excited to soon start working on my next project. It feels like there are so many beautiful things to say and do as well as many questions about the future. I love being a photographer, being me and using my cameras. These delicate systems of mechanisms keep teaching me about the world and I will always stay receptive.

Only my curiosity will help me to wisdom, my curiosity will help me be youthful, and my curiosity will help me think. I do not believe in learning, I believe thinking is key. If one can think, soon they can see. What is there to see you might ask - the true nature of the matter is there to be seen, you just have to look at it for what it is. I believe in the good, I have learned to look further than my pain, and I have comprehended how to overcome it by embracing it. I accept that my pain is less worthy than others. I have learned to accept myself for being me, I have learned because I think, therefore I can see, therefore I am.

Ilford photo / Harman Technology 2024