I lived and worked in the region of the Balkans, Turkey and the Caucasus for more than a decade. My work focuses on the junction between chronicle and fiction, exploring ideas around concepts of borders, land, memory, desire, identity and history. I am interested in the telling of history, and in notions around periphery and edge. For me photography is a process of literacy, a journey of understanding.
The photography of Vanessa Winship (born Barton-upon-Humber, 1960) establishes a dialogue with the mark left by the twentieth century on people and the places they have passed through: long processes defined by movements of fracture and integration, the instability of frontiers and the reaffirmation of identities. Her images, some of which are accompanied by short texts, offer a poetic gaze that is less immediate but longer lasting than that of photo-journalism, focusing on the effect of history on everyday life.
From the time she embarked on her project in the Balkans in the late 1990s up to her most recent work in Almería, Winship has focused on places in which human presence and the landscape seem to defy geo-political limits and historical events. All the potential and the documentary content of her photography thus shifts towards more intimate concepts such as vulnerability, the body and biography. Her series reveal the way in which physical features, clothing, customs, legacies, national and racial affiliations and governmental orders are inscribed on the skin. This is also the case with the way in which each unchanging landscape resists history or imprints on itself the wounds of a recent past through the ruined vestiges of political or social projects.
This dual nature, located between documentary research and personal investigation, is crucial to Winship’s work. Whether her images depict the immediacy of a moment that almost escapes the gaze or are based on a model posing, there is an element of authenticity, capable of generating a sentiment of what is common to all of us and shared through a gaze cast on the seemingly alien and distant.
Editor's Note: See the exhibition "Vanessa Winship" at Fundacion MAPFRE in Madrid, May 30 to August 31, 2014.