The Glasgow Effect by Sofia Conti

Document Scotland is delighted to showcase the work of Sofia Conti, a Glasgow-based documentary photographer whose work focuses on social awareness issues. She graduated from Gray’s School of Art with a BA in Photography in 2020 and her work was recognised in the Student category of the Moscow International Foto Awards in the same year.

Here she writes about her latest work, The Glasgow Effect and where this work sits amongst the other projects she has been working on over the last few years.

“Whilst studying my BA Photography degree, I worked on a project titled Addicted to Life that focused on a section of Glasgow’s East End community who are now substance free. This was initially a short-term project, however, during the process I made connections with a range of charitable organisations that helped to develop connections with a number of people that I encountered. As a non-native and now a current resident of Glasgow, I noticed significant differences in the environment that differed from my background. Even though this project was completed I knew that this was the start of something more profound.

Photograph © Sofia Conti 2021, all rights reserved

When the pandemic occurred my career path changed, so I decided to continue with my academic studies by enrolling on a MA Photography degree at Falmouth University. Part of the two-year course was to propose my research project intentions and as Covid-19 was a major factor I delved more into the history of the Glasgow Effect in order to enable myself to still produce a strong body of work regardless of the limitations. The decision to work with the urban landscape was made as it would not be possible to produce portraits of the community during the winter lockdown months as it would present a risk of contracting the virus to the collaborative participants and myself.

Photograph © Sofia Conti 2021, all rights reserved

Witnessing so much neglect and desolation on a daily basis was difficult to swallow and it saddened me that many members of the East End residents commented, “that is how things are” in various informal discussions about their personal experience living in the vicinity. Contacting community groups, charities, engaging with the general public enabled me to find out more from an insider’s perspective. Embracing the personal stories of the people along with my own life experience living as a resident gave a balance to the work produced, that kept enough distance to illustrate each scene without it being fully my own subjective point-of-view. Being heavily influenced by New Topographics photographers such as Stephen Shore, Robert Adams and Todd Hido allowed me to explore the everyday parts of the mundane yet capture things in an intriguing way that allows the audience to negotiate their own reading of the imagery presented.

Photograph © Sofia Conti 2021, all rights reserved

In the beginning stages of the project, I produced work in the daytime, however, I had a personal battle when my academic learning enlightened me more on unethical representation of the landscape and the work appeared somewhat harsh in its literal interpretation. The night-time aesthetic personally felt a less obvious interpretation that shows each location in a way that it had never been witnessed before. The exploration into night, place/non-place and liminal space created a surreal environment from the reality of the situation. Saturating the images slightly in post-production produces an uncomfortable sensation as it was important to create this effect as I wanted the audience to initially be lured in to view the work for its beauty. They could then see the neglect that still occurs to make them question why. The rationale here was to demonstrate how certain parts of these locations continue to be placed in a state of limbo where they are unable to evolve. The main purpose for the project is about enabling the East End, like many communities in other cities around the world, to be seen and heard, as without that how will change ever occur.”

You can see more of Sofia’s work by following her on Instagram. Please get in touch with us with any suggestions of work to highlight on our website. Thank you to Sofia for her contribution.

All images and text Copyright © Sofia Conti 2021, all rights reserved. No unauthorised use permitted.

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