I do not usually put the year on these articles, however it seems as though it is important in this situation. I met Joe today. He told me about his recent project in Dover and it really hit me how interesting it was to have work that discussed something so fresh in such a visual way. Through using what could be considered 'traditional' methods to record the subject, he went around to democratically ask people how they felt, leading up to the EU Referendum. You don't need me to tell you whats happened, if we have Facebook we cannot seem to escape it, and nor should we. We need our research now.
I am going to mention briefly the strong aesthetic because as though it seems secondary to its meaning, it needs to carry confidence to get out there on particular sites to raise awareness. It is the meaning that counts. The process of discovering what the people of Dover feel towards this countries question and decision is divisive to understanding the nature of a city that is on the border between immigration and traditional town life. I had recently made the trip to Dover, to head to Paris by car. I by passed the Jungle of Calais and headed to run the marathon a couple of months ago. I had no connection to this land until I realised the ramifications of this environment and how it could affect and swing the vote of the referendum. If we discuss some of the points raised from the people that live there, we see that they are on the cusp and have seen their town, deplete. This is down to being ignored, and forgotten about, like an old relic and has become centered around travel. It is a shell of the town it would have been one day. As beautiful as it is, it is still geared towards the border between France. A decision for them would physically affect them. This means their opinions matter and precisely why they reveal a very unique position that most towns will never face.
This series for me is carried by photography but has nothing to do with the Photography world. It does not need to communicate in those circles, it needs to circulate around everyone. The series itself is in its early birth, and it is not going to be complete until something is resolved. Speaking to Joe today, and we could have talked for days about this, there is a sense that the project needs to settle, because of the nature of the subject. This decision, is based on the current feeling, where people have been split right in the middle. We have a minor war on our streets, families split, young people heart broken, freedom and liberation damaged and resentment for a quick turn around of immigrants at an all time high. Economically we have performed suicide, economic suicide with the hope someone will find us on the side of the road and take us in to warm us. The strong position we once felt before the major decision if you voted to leave and the worry and distress if you wanted to remain has revealed itself to be a shambles. There is a sense of unease. So many of the people I care about are immigrants. Immigrants is a danger word now it seems because I never see them with this name attached, they are my friends and they are my 'people', no matter where we are from.
That's a strong word isn't it. It has a kind of importance now. Whether its confronting our different beliefs. If you are passionate on one side, if you are passionate on the other. If you are older, younger, right, left, who cares. There is no right or wrong here. That is democracy.
The journey undertaken by Joe has highlighted and will continue to highlight the situation, first hand, as its happened, as its unveiling itself and as it is on the rise of being completely dismantled and attempted to be rebuilt. I was devastated and I've not felt that before when it came to the countries decisions. Pissed off comes to mind. But in this decision the people who wanted it need to step up, in politics, and say, well this is what we'll do. The people trying to oppose this damaging change, will need to show support but express their opinions without boarding lines of hate and jovial response to what is the most important decision this country will ever make in modern politics.
Now, that seemed very associated with Remain, and I would never hide my belief on this matter. It is too important to me. But like Joe's project, we need to be neutral from now on. We can see pleas from both sides to tone it down, and there has been countless examples over social media (the only place you can really communicate to the masses with these days). What I will say on this matter is, Leave, don't tell people to stop believing in their right for freedom of travel. They are mourning their freedom. Remain, do not berate people for believing differently. We have all suffered and we have all came across distressing situations in our own lives as a result of this whole referendum.
Joe has made this particular discussion possible as his work reflects the nature of the argument, split. 48-52. That is not a clear majority and it is precisely that. I would say, if 16 year olds were able to vote on this referendum from England, then this would have given a chance for young voters to feel counted and wanted in this new world they are being chucked into. It is the young who deal with this situation in 10 years, lets face it.
Projects like this are never really finished, because they are situational, they are reflective of the country. They are reflective of opinion and his documents remain the first that I have seen that begin to tackle the situation. With careful planning, hard work and determination he has created something that is polished and ready to go, on an incredibly strict deadline, for us to discuss and to consider. The people of Dover, in this instance will be affected first and they would foresee the immediate changes that happen as a cultural shift, but also a social movement that is likely to spread around the country. Unfortunately, even more divided, even more passionate (from both sides) and a changing our of entire political structure. We cannot stop talking about this because it so much more important than anything else. I for one will continue to discuss away from social media sites. The importance for Joe, now, lies in the way the country reacts and how he will be continuing this discussion from a neutral perspective, and how he now divides his feelings to carry this out will be a test of character for him. I will keep a lot of eyes on this series and I hope you do to.