Robin Friend photographs the Man Fawkes Night celebrations in Lewes, while exploring the particular fragility of today’s sociable frameworks

Reading Time: 3 minutes

The annual Bonfire celebrations are captured in dark monochrome, because they link to the greater narrative associated with British existence

In the monotony of program and repetitive narratives associated with tradition, the extraordinary facets of our surroundings often mix together, transforming into the deceptively mundane backdrop of everyday living. For photographer Robin Friend , our collective habit of looking over the bizarre is what drives his artistic practice. Their previous book, Bastard Countryside , highlighted the relationship in between Britain’s rolling pastoral landscapes and its unkempt wreckage. Continuing to expose the tensions at play in cultural behaviors, Friend’s new work, entitled Apiary , focuses on Guy Fawkes Night, an evening of explosive celebration particularly renowned in the town of Lewes, where he currently resides.

Annually celebrated across the UK on 05 November, Guy Fawkes Night loosely commemorates the failed Gunpowder Plot of 1605. Situated as radical Catholicism effectively being snuffed out by the state, its historical circumstance has been bent, re-molded, overlooked and appropriated over ages, resulting in a generalised Bonfire Evening. “While many people attend to view the night unfold, the historical and cultural reasons behind its existence become more obscure plus ambiguous with every transferring year, ” Friend reflects. “In many ways, they have generally become a night to be able to protest and have one’s let-downs heard. ”

© Robin Friend 2021 courtesy Loose Joint parts

© Robin Friend 2021 good manners Loose Joints

As families and friends collect to engage in the collective catharsis of protest, one thing is for certain: fire is essential to all of their interpretations, and its chaotic luminosity is the protagonist in Friend’s photographs, whether a bonfire, its reflection in onlookers’ eyes, or sparked remnants dropping from the sky. The sundown celebrations have been intensely documented by photojournalists through the years, hundreds of images alight with the orange glow of burning up effigies.

In kampfstark contrast, Friend’s images are monochrome, filtering out the night’s overpowering noise, quietly linking the celebration to the greater narrative of British existence that results in the particular perpetual need for such a riotous night. “The fire in Apiary links the book, in many ways, to Bastard Country , ” Friend explains. “Our ancestors were able to master fire, which usually set us on a path to the Anthropocene and started our journey of splitting up with nature, and the crash of the human and the non-human. ”

© Robin Friend 2021 courtesy Loose Joints

© Robin Friend 2021 good manners Loose Joints

© Robin Friend 2021 good manners Loose Joints

© Robin Buddy 2021 courtesy Loose Bones

“To be honest, Apiary is not necessarily about Bonfire Night. I was more interested in utilizing the night as a backdrop to explore some of the themes and suggestions I’ve been thinking about plus struggling with over the past decade. ”

Sequenced together in a new book published by Reduce Joints, Friend’s cinematic pictures offer a shadowy back-and-forth involving the individual and collective expertise, the libertarianism that somehow manifests out of democracy, only to leave us frantically searching for local community. Friend agrees that his goal was to position Guy Fawkes Night as being a small slice of a higher whole.

He clarifies: “To be honest, Apiary is not necessarily about Bonfire Night. I was more interested in utilizing the night as a backdrop to explore some of the themes and suggestions I’ve been thinking about and struggling with over the past decade. ” With Brexit, the rise of far-right populism in Europe and North America, bulk protests and violence in Hong Kong, the last few years have got laid bare the fragility of democracy.

“I see Apiary as a prelude to Bastard Countryside in many ways, as both pose dystopian questions: What happens to society when it breaks down? What happens whenever our freedoms disappear? Democracy is far more fragile than we’d like to acknowledge, plus Apiary explores some of these ideas by posing the question: What if? It’s not the final curtain, yet it’s a peak behind it, to check in and remind us to look after this delicate thing we often ignore. ”

Cat Lachowskyj

Kitty Lachowskyj is a freelance writer, editor and researcher located in London. Prior to pursuing a career in writing, she trained as an archivist in Toronto, developing research on colonial digital photography albums at the Archive of Modern Conflict. She has completed residencies and fellowships at the Art Gallery of Ontario, the Ryerson Image Centre and the Rijksmuseum, and her current analysis interests involve psychoanalytical methods to photography and archives. Cat’s writing has appeared in numerous publications including Unseen Newspaper, The British Journal associated with Photography, Foam Magazine and American Suburb X, and she has held editing jobs at both Unseen Magazine and LensCulture.

Zero Newer Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *