INSIDE OUT: AN EPATRIATE'S VIEWS

An emigrant is never quite at home. In the adopted country this is self-evident, but it also applies in one’s country of origin. When I return ‘home’ from the United States, England seems familiar and distant, comfortable and claustrophobic, welcoming and disturbing.

Some real factors underlie this personal sense of displacement. Englishness can bring with it a strong sense of belonging but at the same time contains rigorous divisions: class, accent, education, family, region, nationality, ethnicity, and many more. Brexit has brought questions of exclusion and identity into the foreground, demonstrating the power of these received ideas. In childhood, all this seemed natural. Now, as an expatriate and the son of a Jewish father and an Anglican mother, I find I do not really belong to Englishness - or to Jewishness.

Some years ago, after a trip to the UK I found that I had taken photographs of walls, fences, gates, and gardens. Since then, on repeated visits, I have looked for images that represent my conflicted responses to attitudes I cannot entirely escape and to exclusions that are partly self-inflicted.

The photographs are from rural and small-town locations. They emulate the formal tools and compositional rigor of a traditional black-and-white photographer but the content and intent of the compositions destabilizes their modernist presentation. The purpose is not to enshrine the English landscape. These methods represent the nostalgia and sense of history which are integral to British self-perception and that have been exploited by those leading the country away from the EU into a hazardous and uncertain future. The project is continuing during my present visit and I expect to extend it in coming years.

2005, 2007, 2011, 2013, 2017.

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