INTERVIEW: Alice Myers
Fòcas Creative Director Arpita Shah interviews Fòcas India shortlisted artist Alice Myers, a freelance photographer based in Edinburgh, about her project Rocket and her book, Nothing Is Impossible Under the Sun, published by SOAP in 2016.
F: Alice, your project Rocket is about the moment when a person, learning to swim, strikes out in the water for the first time. Is there something universal, do you think, about that experience?
A: I think a lot of people will relate to the feeling of letting go into the unknown. In this series we can tell that the children are safely in a swimming lesson, but there’s also a sense that the water could expand endlessly beyond the frame. There’s something in this thin line between the known and the unknown that I think people will identify with.
F: Your book, Nothing Is Impossible Under the Sun, was published last year. Rocket was a self-contained project, in many ways; this was – is – a committed long-term endeavour. What’s it about?
A: These projects took place many years apart and in many ways are very different. However, my approach of responding spontaneously to a situation and using visual exploration to work through ideas has remained the same.
F: You say your camera is a starting point for interaction and negotiation. Approaching the lives of those in the Calais camps – much-photographed lives – must be delicate….The moments in the book are quite indirect and overall it’s really a sensory experience. Was that your aim?
A: I wanted to create a fragmented narrative, rejecting the coherent stories so often required of refugees to justify their presence in Europe. Photography plays many roles in Calais: as a tool for surveillance, as a reminder of the lives people have left behind, and as a way for people to document their experience on their smartphones. I wanted to intervene in ways that were creative and respectful, generating conversation. I also wanted to make visible in the work the many things that are problematic about working in this way.
F: Is the project still ongoing?
A: My work in Calais is not on-going, but my exploration of the interactions that surround the photographic moment is. Also on-going are my efforts to open up fraught political situations for more complex consideration.
Alice explores possibilities within and around documentary practice. Her long-term projects engage deeply with specific places, incorporating text, found images and moving image. She is interested in the camera as a starting point for interaction and negotiation, continually questioning her role as photographer.
Her book, Nothing Is Impossible Under the Sun, made over two years working with migrants and refugees in Calais, was published last year by SOAP. She has exhibited internationally and published in the Guardian, Aesthetica Magazine and Photoworks. Awards include the Jerwood Award and the IdeasTap Award. Residencies include the Santa Fe Art Institute and the BALTIC&bait Residency.