‘My Addiction, My Photographs’, by Graham MacIndoe
Over the past few years Scottish-born photographer Graham MacIndoe has been on what you could call a ‘character building’ trip. From the highs of a successful career in advertising photography to the highs of a serious drug addiction, and the inevitable descent into a world he never thought he’d find himself.
But tenacious as always in pursuit of an image Graham kept photographing in this new world of crime, drugs and self-destruction that he found himself in. Finally a brush with the law was inevitable, and Graham was incarcerated, facing deportation from the USA, his home of two decades. But luck and goodwill was on his side, and now, still in the USA, clean of drugs, and back stronger than ever Graham is using his photography and experiences to try to educate about the perils of drug addiction, to open conversation, to help others who may find themselves in similar predicaments. And he is doing that by showing the incredible self-portrait series of images he took during his own years in the grip of heroin and crack.
Welcome back Graham!
Some of Graham MacIndoe’s work can be seen here on the New York Magazine, with a very fascinating and educational Questions and Answer between Graham and his girlfriend Susan.
Recently Graham and Susan also appeared on Huffington Post Live TV (watch a 15min interview) to discuss the work, and the problems faced by drug addicts and their loved ones.
Visit Graham MacIndoe’s website to see further images from the drug years, to see his collection of bags that the drugs were sold in. ‘Sin City’, ‘Get Fucked Up’, ‘Bazooka’, and ‘Wake Up’, only some of the trade names used by drug dealers as they peddle their wares.
The above drug bag images were recently exhibited in Miami, and will form part of the content of a book of the whole project that Graham is currently working on with a designer and publisher.
An exhibition of black and white photographs called ‘Six Percent’ is currently showing at the Eden Court Theatre in Inverness. The work, by Perth based documentary photographer Graham Miller, was carried our over two years in conjunction with Down’s Syndrome Scotland who then funded a print run of the book and the framed images which are now on display.
The title refers to a statistic published in 2010 which stated that of all pregnancies diagnosed as Down’s Syndrome 91% were terminated, 3% of babies died during pregnancy or at birth with 6% of live births.
In his practice Graham interviews sitters, whilst photographing them, as a way of encouraging them to revisit past life events when he can then try and capture something of what is was like for them at the time. The framed photographs are then accompanied by extended captions using the words of those he has interviewed.
The work was first shown at Summerhall last year and Graham can be seen here being interviewed by Summerhall TV.
Graham Miller is an MA documentary stills photographer who focuses on challenging stigma. ‘Six Percent’ is his second major project in which Graham worked with families and extended families who had children with Down’s Syndrome. This followed his first major project ‘ Honesty: The Most important people in the World’ which was featured in two solo exhibitions, one being part of the Scottish Mental Health Arts and Film Festival (SMHAFF). That project looked at a group of workers with mental health issues who attended the Wall Garden within the grounds of Perth’s Murray Royal Hospital.
Graham now has two new projects running in parallel. #Broken explores what happens to people as they deal with the trauma of a major life-changing event and how that impacts their mental well-being. The second project, as yet unnamed, returns to a theme first developed during the Walled Garden project, that of power relationships and challenging the role of celebrity in society.
‘Six Percent’ is being shown at The Gallery, Eden Court Theatre, Inverness, until 31st March, 2014.
We’re delighted to announce that we have begun working with Anne McNeill, and her colleagues, at Impressions Gallery, Bradford, in producing a show of our photography entitled ‘Beyond The Border’. The show will open to the public on July 1st, and there will be an opening night soiree on July 3rd. You’re all invited!
Last week we spent a very enjoyable and quite intense couple of days in the gallery working with Anne, laying out images, listening and learning from Anne’s experience in hangings shows, starting to decide the look of the show, deciding which of the four of us gets which wall (there were no arguments!), and in general starting the ball rolling to making it all happen.
Images were laid on the floor in the gallery, in the shadow of the show which was currently up, by Paul Reas. Debate ensued over a few images, over the way some work is taking shape. Advice and amusing banter was exchanged, but all with insight and years of experience shared amongst colleagues from various gallery and editorial backgrounds. It made for fascinating exchanges, and proves you never stop learning.
The work on show by the four members of Document Scotland will all be recent contemporary work shot in Scotland and the USA.
Over the coming weeks we’ll of course share more information on the show, and we’ll blog about the process as it happens, as the show takes more and more shape. But for now, enjoy some images of the first stages of editing, and mark the dates in your diary! ‘Beyond The Border’, at Impressions Gallery, Bradford, from July 1st until late September!
Also, please follow the progress of the show on Twitter, where we’re using the hashtag #BeyondTheBorder. Please come and join the conversation.
Sophie was recently invited to speak about Document Scotland as part of TalkSee Photography at Glasgow’s Centre for Contemporary Arts. It was a lively evening – a great turnout with a good debate afterwards and also it was the first time we met Arpita Shah – and saw her speak about her photography.
One of the projects Arpita presented was Ghar – which means Home in Hindi – an ongoing series of portraits that focuses around the lives of middle class Hindu families living in Scotland.
We immediately felt it was a project we wanted to feature on the blog – Arptita took some time to share some thoughts on her work and this project in particulate with us.
DS – Hi Arpita – can you talk to us a little about your motivations for starting this project and where it began.
AS – Ghar is an ongoing project and started back in 2006 during the final year of my post grad in Photography at Napier University. At the time I was writing a research paper on family photographs, in particular exploring my own family album. I became fascinated with childhood photographs of me and my brother dressed up as mythological Hindu characters or standing in front of very theatrical painted backdrops, which is quite common in the Indian family album. And so it was this concept of theatre and mythology and it’s relationship to Indian vernacular photography that visually inspired the work.
In terms of the motivation behind the project, ever since moving to Edinburgh I was really curious about the Hindu Community in Scotland, because I didn’t realise how large it was. With my interest in family photographs, I wanted to collaborate with Hindu families and make work, which explored the idea of home and identity. There was also this element of curiosity I had, having not grown up in Scotland, on what Hindu homes would be like, and if there would be any similarities or differences to my own childhood home which was scattered between India, Ireland, Saudi Arabia and England.
What I discovered was that, there was this strange familiarity in each home and in each family that reflected my own home, and even though I hadn’t met these families before there was just something intrinsically there that connected them to me.
DS – How did you meet and select your subjects?
AS – The Hindu community is quite tight knit, so at the start it was a little challenging especially because my family are not based in Scotland and so I was a complete stranger asking if I could come over to their homes and take portraits of their family.
So initially, I started off by contacting Hindu organisations such as the Mandir (Hindu temple) and meeting the community through events held there. Once I met my first family, they recommended me to another and it sort of continued that way. I always go visit the family first to get to know them between and once I learn more about them, it inspires the portrait and mythological characters they take on in their staged portraits.
DS – We at Document Scotland are fascinated by the way this project documents the homes of the people you photographed. Other projects you’ve made feature anonymous coloured backdrops, what made you want to photograph these subjects in their homes and can you talk a little about the importance that that plays in the images.
The home plays a very important role in Ghar, because it’s the interiors that initially transported me back to my memories of my own family home. The homes, I entered were so familiar, they were full of elements that reminded me an aunt’s house in India, or my childhood home in Saudi or England. And the families I met somehow reflected similarities to my own family, so the work is all about how these homes can be located anywhere in the world but when you enter one, there’s something universal and familiar about them which makes them a Hindu home and a Hindu family.
In terms of the staged aspect in the portraits, the home acts as an ideal backdrop for the themes explored in the work. After meeting each family, I selected Hindu mythological characters for them to take on in their portraits. Each family restaged a story that somehow reflected and revealed something unique and important about them and their family values. So having the portraits taken in the home is also really symbolic, because it’s all about retelling ancient Indian stories and placing them in a domestic setting, and so in a way bringing these cultural myths’ to life and showing how they still continue to have cultural relevance to contemporary Indians.
DS – How does this project fit within your practise in general?
AS – As an India-born artist, my work is fascinated with exploring themes around identity home and diaspora. I grew up between India, Saudi Arabia, Ireland the UK and so my work tends to focus around exploring the experience of shifting cultural identities. I am always meeting individuals in Scotland that share similar narratives to me, and the photographic work I make is all about collaborating with them, and sharing and celebrating their journeys, their histories and identities. I tend to reference cultural mythology a lot in my images, and Ghar is one of my earlier bodies of work where this interest began.
DS – With your continuation of the work are you looking for more subjects?
AS – Yes, I would be keen to collaborate with the Indian community in the Highlands. I think it would be great to represent a variety of Hindu families from all over Scotland.
DS – What do the subjects think of the work?
AS – As the work is ongoing, only a small preview of the work has been exhibited. The subjects have been really positive about the work, and I think when they see the portraits together – it really enhances their understanding of what the project is all about. Because there is such a large Asian community in Scotland, it can be hard to distinguish the various communities within it, so the Hindu community have been really excited about the project, as there hasn’t been specific work that has documented that particular community.
DS – Where is the project heading and any thoughts on its conclusion/display/exhibition /publication etc ?
AS – I would like to continue photographing Scottish Hindu families, and would also like to expand the series to documenting families in England and Northern Ireland. I envision the final work to be a touring exhibition as well as a publication documenting different generation Hindu families who have settled in UK. I think in the future, a book would great, because it would retell ancient Hindu stories through the experiences of contemporary Asian families living in UK.
Thanks Arpita –
To see more of Arpita’s work take a look at her website here www.arpitashah.com