Lewis Bush: General Interrogation and Jersey Metropole Primer

“There are downsides of course to these multiple identities. You can find yourself developing a bit of a split professional personality and it can make it difficult at times to know where to best direct your energies. Other people struggle with your split loyalties as well.”

Lewis Bush is among many other roles, an artists, educator, writer, perhaps even a photographer. His now on hiatus blog Disphotic is one of the only places where discontent, quality of writing and the problematic issues surrounding photography collude into a necessary platform in which the often-unspoken problematic issues in photography are discussed. His nearly mathematic and obsessive way of working-the mountains of notebooks and book maquettes shows a natural and serious dedication to living within the medium. Sometimes contentious in written form, I find Lewis one of the leading young writers and thinkers on photography. My hope is that he re-investigates his blog. He was kind enough to sit down with me over email to ponder over some of the issues mentioned above, but also to speak about his never-ending projects.

BF: You and I each entertain several positions in the small vapid world of photography that I think are often misunderstood, sometimes ruled by that which annoys us, but also difficult to maneuver through without the gathering hordes of half-ass haters trying to piss on our parade. This quasi-position that includes, but is not limited to the role of artist, curator, writer/critic, educator (in your case) and general miscreant when it comes to the market and general economy of photography presents a multitude of hats that can be overbearing to wear. I can’t think of many other people that share this position, let alone that ruffle feathers or are unafraid to call bullshit out. Do you find this position something manageable? I ask because I know that Disphotic, your blog has been put to sleep for a while. I can only guess that perhaps it was conflating one of your other hats and creating obstacles rather than doorways OR that you like the rest of us get tired of being the squire for the unappreciative. Can you give us a little insight of what it is like for you to operate in this capacity?

LB: Occupying several different roles just seemed like a logical way for me to work when I started becoming interested in photography. I didn’t initially train as a photographer and had picked up a set of other skills, particularly in terms of writing and research, which I didn’t want to abandon just because I’d started to use a camera. It also become apparent pretty quickly that these different practices could be complimentary and mark my work as somewhat different. It’s become an increasingly conscious strategy to let them connect and feed into each other, for example in the relationship between text and images in many of my publications, which are often as much ‘word books’ as photo books.

There are downsides of course to these multiple identities. You can find yourself developing a bit of a split professional personality and it can make it difficult at times to know where to best direct your energies. Other people struggle with your split loyalties as well, I so often get introduced as just a writer, or just a photographer, I think people struggle with the idea these things have equally weighting for me. Tied into that there is unfortunately still a strong sense in the photography world (that is the parochial, glorified camera club that still really thinks of itself as ‘the photography world’) that you should basically just focus on one thing and if you do several then it must mean you are actually a bit shit at all of them.

BF: That being said though, I can think of a number of writers that make photographs as an “artist” and almost without hesitation, I can ultimately say the “art” is fucking dog shit when they are considered important as a writer/thinker. This is mostly male-oriented and starts with Sekula and Burgin and works its way like my snakey mouth up to….well…I’ll leave that here. Why do you think this is? It seems to happen much more in photography than other mediums. So far, besides a couple of contemporaries, yourself included, I can think only of (Rest in Power) Lewis Baltz and Luigi Ghirri who managed to do both convincingly…any thoughts on that? Seem painters can write and paint….

LB: Labels are important. Even after doing this for the best part of a decade I have an uncomfortable relationship with the idea of being a ‘photographer’ and even more so an ‘artist’ because the connotations of these things awkward in many of the contexts where I find myself working. One of the advantages of doing lots of different things is it means you can shape shift somewhat depending on who it is you’re talking to. I might introduce myself as a writer if I figure that this is more useful in the present moment, or a photographer, or an academic, teacher, researcher, and so on.

BF: I get the same thing as a “collector” as that is how I was introduced to the contemporary scene through social media and my first book with SPBH. I always thought the position was spurious as if I get paid to spend money being from very humble origins. I guess having the carousel of mantels of which we are able to bestow on ourselves is ultimately helpful, but is also a bit remedial when others use it. Whats also equally rubbish is being introduced as a artistcuratorwritercollectorphotographerpublisher etc etc. I am actively trying to remove curator.

LB: As for my blog Disphotic, there were a few reasons for stepping away from it. One was definitely the sheer time and energy demands of blogging, but as you observe it also became increasingly difficult to write the blog in the way I wanted to, without making things difficult in other areas of my activities. That’s not to say that I’m afraid to ruffle feathers, but I’ve only ever picked fights after quite a bit of thought, because they seemed both worth fighting and would feasibly result in some worthwhile response or change. That was too often not the case, and I found it frustrating that people were very happy to congratulate me for sticking my head above the parapet, but rarely inclined to join me in getting it shot off.

BF: Its always the “reach around” DM isn’t it? I like that people send kudos after one of us rips down some bullshit, but I always wonder why its improbable for them to add to the fracas, even if evenly.

LB: Lastly, I didn’t want to get to a point where Disphotic was yet another monolith on the photography criticism landscape. That might sound counter-intuitive, but the fun of the blog was always the process, not the end result, and as it got more established it also got far more boring to write. Part of me hoped that other people might pick up the baton when I dropped it, new voices with different ideas might fill the gap left behind. I started writing the blog because I couldn’t find the sort of photography writing I wanted to read, and I hope that if nothing else ending Disphotic maybe means someone else might starts writing something more interesting in its place. Photography has enough white, middle class men hammering out their opinions on the medium, one fewer is no great loss.

BF: I guess this is probably reflective of culture in general. If you look at stats etc, its quite clear the general populace reads less and reads shorter writings. We have noticed this at ASX, especially the way in which apps and mobile friendly posts work. Its really tedious to write something long and well-governed, if contestable to see that people only respond in small bursts. You also see that with a few of the new blogs out there. Nice people, but everything for the most part is instafriendly posting i.e. short and image heavy. There is an interesting hypothesis about this in James Bridle’s “New Dark Age” about how technology may in effect have led us to “peak knowledge” and how knowledge is distributed much more in image-form where the agreeable is no longer governed by language, but rather lazy identification patters. There are some other bits of his argument related to climate etc, but the end result is a society relying on images and not language or communication.

BF: On the general condition of photography…and I use that term lightly as I think we get carried away with thinking of photography as one sinuous thing when we utter things like “what photography needs” etc. as if the portion of photography that we operate in has any calcifying effect on what photography is in its entirety from food pics to data storage. So disclaimers aside, our apportionment of photography seems to rest somewhere near the spheres or orbits of the art world, publishing and also that egregious term documentary. How do you see things in general when it comes to the condition of our community? Where are things balanced within and though this may be slightly easier, what do you see as being woefully out of balance? I am ok with reflecting on the state of European or even British photography if you want to outline your answers towards geography.

LB: I completely agree about the tendency to generalize about ‘photography’ when really we mean the specific subset we operate in. Rather like the multiple identities point, I’ve tended to perch myself somewhere on the fringes of the documentary, photojournalism and art photography communities, because I find different things about each of these areas useful and interesting, but other things about each enormously frustrating. Of the two I find it easier to reflect on the state of photojournalism and documentary, both because this is what I teach and most often engage with, and because documentary is the tradition I find my work sitting in perhaps least awkwardly. In the sense that I am interested in what are sometimes uncomfortably termed ‘social issues’ and in that I tend to work in a self-directed, long term way.

Photojournalism and documentary are both grappling with a wide range of issues at the moment, from revelations about sexual harassment and abuse by powerful figures within these fields, to continuing economic uncertainties and precarity. What links these and things is a sense of the need for change, and yet at least in terms of the way these fields practice photography, they seem to have changed very little in a century. They both still carry so much baggage with them, ideas which are rarely acknowledged, but which often contribute to aggravating or even causing the problems and scandals. One need only look at the recurrent debates around photo manipulation for an example about this. Even highly reflexive photographers find hard to fully escape this baggage.

One lesson I was well taught as a history undergraduate is that it’s immensely stupid to think you can escape the past, however well you know it, and in making my own work I often find myself gripped by the long reach of these traditions. I still worry on some base level about things like manipulating my images, even though intellectually I have no qualms about it. We will come back to it later but with my series Metropole people always imagine the photographs were done in Photoshop, when they were actually all made in camera, partly because some vestigial part of me would still feel a cheat if I had done them digitally, which I find very strange.

BF: I actually had no idea that they were in camera. That makes it much more technically interesting, not to be a dork.

LB: In short we are still stuck in many of the traditions of the last century, even as we face the problem of finding ways to document and draw attention to problems which are products of this new century, and which are often incompatible with the old ways of working. These traditions themselves are complete constructs, and when you return to the earliest forms of documentary film and photography they were simply not a factor. We need to free ourselves from them again, and we need to feel able to act radically in response to radical new problems. It was interesting to read Sunil Shah’s recent interview with Max Pinckers where Pinckers outlined his idea of a speculative documentary. While I don’t necessarily agree with all of his assertions, I do agree with the importance of pushing documentary away traditions many of which were frankly outmoded and conservative even at the time seen as their golden age. But there is such complacency amongst photographers, such willingness to carry on doing the same things in the same way, like a rare species unable, or unwilling to evolve in the face of the destruction of it’s habitat. In our case a failure to change won’t mean we face extinction, at least not quite yet, but we will face irrelevancy.

“Photojournalism and documentary are both grappling with a wide range of issues at the moment, from revelations about sexual harassment and abuse by powerful figures within these fields, to continuing economic uncertainties and precarity.”

 

BF: You seem to have a nearly obsessive way in which you make books. I have seen your notebooks and the stack of various maquettes that you employ when you begin the publishing part of your work, which is extensive. You seem to pour an incredible amount of energy into the process. How much of this is graduated practice in the sense that you may begin shooting or assembling a project, then get more images, then re-edit and make a new maquette etc. versus a number of maquettes with the same images, just different notes and arrangements? How long do you typically spend on one project from start to finish, excluding of course War Primer 3 and Metropole as they are re-investigations of earlier works, correct? Shadows of the state for example…. how did you begin that and how deliberate and long-winded was the process of making maquettes? Please feel free to illuminate our audience on the nature of the book, but perhaps also how you stumbled upon it as a project…

LB: That’s an interesting question, no one has made the connection between the notebooks and photo books before. In terms of the notes its certainly obsessive, hypergraphia has been suggested. I carry a notebook habitually and lots of things go into them, from notes about exhibitions, to ideas, to sketches for book or exhibition designs, and so on. They are partly just a tool for organizing my life and my thoughts, not that the notebooks are themselves that organized (or even readable) but they give some order to the thoughts I carry in my head. Writing something down isn’t useful to me in so far that it creates a record of that thing, rather it’s useful in the way writing helps to imprint a thought on your memory, and sometimes in the process also usefully changes and evolves that idea into something better. I also just like notebooks as objects, I usually end up decorating them with old prints and ephemera I pick up as I go, and as a result the covers of the 80+ notebooks I’ve filled over the last eight years become a sort of visual diary of what I’ve been working on or where I’ve been.

As for book making this is very much a part of the process of refining a project as I’m making it, and I find it very useful in helping me to think about things I might have overlooked or which I still need to find or collect. My approach is perhaps unusual in that I might start making a book dummy from very early on in a project, and initially it’s less about producing something I want to show to anyone else than it is about identifying the gaps and flaws in the argument or narrative that I’m trying to construct from images and texts. At the start of this process the maquettes tend to change quite dramatically from one version to another as I try out different visual and design ideas, and then gradually they stabilize to a point where the changes become very small from one version to the next. That’s usually the stage where I feel I can start showing the design to other people and getting their feedback on the idea and design.

This was the process behind Shadows of the State, my last book which focuses on covert radio broadcasts known as numbers stations. The book went through at least a dozen draft books, the first of which wasn’t much more that a folded envelope with a few sheets stuff inside, and the last of which was properly printed, bound and had a screen-printed cover. I am absolutely not a skilled book maker, most of what I’ve learnt has been picked up from online videos and a few workshops, but it’s been a really useful thing to have a basic understanding of when it has come to working with Tom Mrazauskas the designer I have worked with on my last two books, I think it has helped our dialogues quite a bit that I’ve been able to start off by showing him a physical dummy, and that I can just about follow along when he starts talking about different technical options.

BF: I have to ask about War Primer 3. I think Daniel Campbell Blight had actually advised me to pick that up in 2011 or 2012. I cannot remember when it was first published. I also was not collecting photo books (I still really don’t collect them as much as get occasional inspiration) as he felt the response was humorous, but also well-conceived in terms of the way in which negation of negation of text and in a roundabout way a new eulogy of Brecht by you happened as a consequence of your interest in abnegating the work done by Broomberg & Chanarin’ “War Primer 2”. Though I suspect it was never personal, I do wonder how you were led to create a sphere of criticality regarding their re-examination of Brecht? When I get something in my teeth to chew on, the result of mastication is never usually one of adoration or gentle solitude with what I am working off of….

LB: War Primer 3 is a complex work for me, not least in terms of the chronology. I made the first version, a very simple and quick digital collage, in 2013. Then I revisited it in 2015 to mark the 60th anniversary of the original publication of War Primer in 1955. This revisit was about making it more of a durable piece of work, correcting some things that had irritated me about the first version, reducing the focus on Broomberg and Chanarin, and also making a physical facsimile that was the exact size and shape of the original War Primer. Finally, I produced a trade print version in 2018 which was intended to echo the recent facsimile edition of War Primer 2 put out by Broomberg and Chanarin’s publisher Mack. It was amusing to see both facsimiles on display near each other in the Arles book awards this year, and also funny to hear that theirs won.

It’s nice of Daniel to have said that, in 2013 War Primer 3 felt like quite a throw away statement which I didn’t expect much of a response to, so it’s funny how actually the work has lingered on and evolved since then. The reasons for making it and persisting with it are various. Most basically it was an angry reaction to discovering that War Primer 2 had been produced by unpaid student interns, including friends of mine. I really admired Broomberg and Chanarin’s practice at the time and so my response was borne partly from a sense of disappointment that such an interesting work would allow itself to be undermined by something so obviously contradictory, even hypocritical. As I scrutinized the work and their practice more carefully I felt this admiration increasingly dissolve as I felt that much of their work didn’t really stand up to critical scrutiny or the bold claims being made of it. I’m still quite sorry about this because in many ways they have helped to push documentary photography away from the past that still lingers over it. Unfortunately that push has sent them into the arms of a contemporary art world which I feel is every bit as problematic because it tolerates, indeed runs on, exactly the sort of unpaid and unacknowledged labour that War Primer 3 is intended to be a critique of.

I also have to say, Brecht was also no hero and I don’t mean the book to be a eulogy to him. By many accounts he was a serial user and abuser of his creative collaborators, particularly women. These included Ruth Berlau, a Danish actress, photographer and writer who led an extraordinary if ultimately rather tragic life and was key to the creation of the original War Primer. Interestingly I’ve been to several talks by Broomberg and Chanarin where they perhaps accidentally misattribute Berlau’s words to Brecht, specifically her observation in introduction to the original War Primer that photographs are like hieroglyphics which we must learn to decode. If there’s anyone I would like War Primer 3 to be seen as a eulogy or memorial to, it’s actually Berlau, and the many others like her throughout history who have been silently used by people with greater cultural capital and influence. I’m interested in the issue of power, and quite often people think War Primer 3 is an anomaly in terms of my practice because it isn’t obvious about this subject. But influence is a form of great power, particularly in a realm like the arts.

BF: Surprise questions…what do you want from this? Where do you want to be? And what position is ideal in reference to question 1…

LB: That’s a difficult one! Someone I work with who has long been a bit of a mentor figure has often told me that I should be thinking about where I want to be in five year’s time and work backwards from there, thinking about what I need to do to get to that point. No matter how often I try this exercise I find it nearly impossible. I feel very lucky in that I am already in a position to make the type of creative work I want to make, notwithstanding the perennial problems of financing it and gaining access to the often rather secretive subjects that interest me. Creatively I want to continue refining my thoughts and approach to photography, and develop projects which are hopefully more insightful, and which continue to tackle these subjects like finance which are profoundly important but largely unrepresented. Making the work is the goal itself, it’s what I derive pleasure and stimulation from, and at least for the forseeable future that is all I really want to do.

As part of that I want to really think about who and how I reach with my projects. It’s another mid-century hangover to think that the successful work is the work which reaches as many people as possible. This idea still rests on the notion that the world changes through the ballot box, and that the press play a key role in influencing how people vote. While I don’t want to say this idea has no validity today, it’s certainly far more in question that it was a century ago. This is particularly true in some of the fields that I’m interested in photographing, practices and industries that are enormously powerful and which politicians are highly unlikely to act against. In this context speaking directly to the people involved in these areas, making work which approaches them in some way and encourages them to reflect on what they do also seems valuable. In this sense I’ve been very influenced by the work of Mark Neville, who has been doing something similar for a long time and with some very tangible results.

Beyond all of this I want to start organizing some of the things that I have been writing and thinking about over the last ten years, I have ideas and notes for several books (who dosen’t) tackling some of the things I’ve discussed here in greater depth. That also ties into my ongoing efforts to revise and develop what I teach and the way I teach it. Teaching has been one of the most challenging and interesting things I’ve done in my life, and I’m very conscious of it as a project I want to work at. Lastly I’m in the process of applying for a PhD to look at the impact of artificial intelligence and automation on visual journalism, an area little studied but with the potential to be as seismic as the arrival of the Internet and digital imaging was.

BF: Back to books. I remember penning something about Metropole 1.0 a few years back. I was really taken aback not only by the images, but the very simple notion that more people had not cottoned onto the propositions of failure that you were discussing-namely property terrorism in London, which seems to be continuing fairly unabated. The lack of critical work made on the topic is quite astounding. I can only think of Daniel Shea’s recent book, but that is New York. As a former London resident, all Brexit jokes aside, I can tell you it is the number one factor for my leaving the city that I actually love including my friends etc. The economics and quality of life had been drastically reduced since I had moved there in 2004. You have now published a second edition of the book that I believe just dropped. What made you go back to the work and re-propose it as a second edition (though re-edited with new images)?

LB: Yes I recall you wrote a great essay on the original zine published in 2015, the image of London eating it’s own children comes to mind from it. If anything this sense is even more acute now, London is becoming an unlivable city particularly for those who grew up here, many of whom are departing for cheaper parts of the country. What’s been noticeably since 2015 is how much the development has spread, and now even in areas like the one I grew up in which are some way from the center of the city we are seeing these same luxury developments sprouting up.

As to why I decided to make the new book, I didn’t really feel with the zine that the project was finished and over the subsequent years I found myself still drawn to continue visiting these developments and photographing more. Alongside that I became more interested in the mechanisms behind how these buildings get approved, the arcane terminology like ‘S106 agreements’ and ‘calling in’ which underlie the approval of schemes with very questionable benefit to ordinary people, and which sometimes actively displace and worsen their lives.

I also realized that the zine didn’t work quite as I had intended. The project got quite a bit of press in 2015 and as a result I was approached by several architectural firms wanting photos from the series for display in their offices. Discussing with them I realized that in most cases they actually built the exact kind of buildings I was objecting to, but they saw nothing negative or critical in the photographs I had taken. This was an important lesson about the ambiguities of photography. So new imagery, new research and a desire to make the work less ambiguous gradually led to a new dummy book, which I then worked on refining with Tom Mrazauskas who also designed Shadows of the State, and with Tiffany Jones who runs the book’s publisher, Overlapse.

BF: Oh, the Irony of Architectural firms wanting prints!!!!

“There is massive use of offshore companies to own London property and developments, as shown by the brilliant map Private Eye produced a few years back mapping land registry data to show just how much of the city is owned offshore.”

BF: Metropole visually exists in a realm that actually has some clear antecedents for me in terms of photographic history. I am reminded of the central tenets of modernism as it related to progress and the upscaling of New York architecture in the beginning decades of the Twentieth Century. Lewis Hine, Steichen, Margaret Bourke White-all had an infatuation with verticality, but also of the “new” as it related to the “American Century”. I guess that kind of capped off around say…2001. The images in your book fold in on themselves. They topple, collide and collude to bridge the abstraction of a market to the actual physical properties that they represent creating a claustrophobic environment that at once feels real in terms of economics, but also imagined in the sense of the looming dystopian infrastructure that you propose. I don’t know if I am reading that wrong or not, but was this choking, heaving sense of being trapped in the girders of “development” a conscious tactic?

LB: Yes there is absolutely a conscious reference to early twentieth century photography in Metropole, and to other media of that era. A major influence was actually the City Symphony movie genre, a series of films which began appearing in the 1920’s and which tended to eulogise urban living and urbanization. Films like Walter Ruttman’s Berlin: Symphony of a Great City (1927) and Dziga Vertov’s Man with a Movie Camera (1929). Many of these films were characterized by a documentary aspect (although often also blending elements of fiction) and by a remarkable willingness to experiment and innovate with narrative and cinematography. To me they really wonderfully encompass John Grierson’s early definition of documentary as the ‘creative treatment of actuality’.

Getting back to photography, one of the first city symphony films, Manhatta (1921), was actually co-directed by the photographer Paul Strand, although his co-director Charles Sheeler seems to more often get the credit for it. Manhatta is also interesting in that in contrast to the largely positive tone of many City Symphony films, it instead has a distinct feeling of dread about it. The city feels dark and alienating, and people often appear at a great distance, ant like at the feet of Manhattan’s enormous towers.

We are obviously now living at the opposite end of modernity from photographers like Bourke-White or Strand , and the aspiration and optimism that fueled it (and it’s documentation) seem to have mostly given way to pessimism and the documentation instead of the wreckage of modernity. I wrote about this recently in an essay for Foam magazine, and noted that it was interesting that so many photographers find themselves today returning to the same subjects as these photographic forebears, but with a completely polarized view on them. Metropole is certainly intended as an example of this, a documentation of towers which once represented the incredible wealth generating possibilities of financial capitalism, but today more often symbolise it’s stark human inequalities and it’s physical impact on the world.

BF: How much of Metropole is researched? What I mean to propose here is how much time were you looking at banks, property companies, tax evasive parasite companies, and property regulations by the UK Government when investigating this book? Did you run into the never-ending chasm of absentee landlords from Cyprus or were you able to confirm the “buy to offshore” schemes by oligarchs and Middle Eastern princes as having a major toehold in London? If you did, what was the most worrying or obnoxiously crude set of facts that you ran into and did your investigation cross over into your recent residency in Jersey? Can you give us some insight into what work you made while there?

LB: It’s difficult to put a time frame on the research, because as with Shadows of the State, the actual act of researching was very distributed and scattered amongst other activities (again the perils of wearing many hats). About a third of the book consists of the results of this, which are a series of texts looking at a number of companies and developments, covering the history of these projects, the wrangling that led to their approval often in the face of considerable protest, and any dubious activities like use of overseas companies, lobbying, etc. The research behind this is a mixture of my own primary research, information drawn from campaign groups and community activists, and from more mainstream sources like national or local press.

Very often that research trail did lead (and indeed abruptly ended) in offshore jurisdictions like the Bailiwick of Jersey, a self-governing crown dependency in the English Channel where I am currently finishing a six month residency looking at the local finance industry. There is massive use of offshore companies to own London property and developments, as shown by the brilliant map Private Eye produced a few years back mapping land registry data to show just how much of the city is owned offshore. A conservative estimate based on their data would put the value of UK property at over £92 billion held in Jersey alone as of December 2014, and there isn’t any reason to suspect this would have reduced since then, if anything the opposite seems likely.

This method of ownership is partly about tax, and there have been some well documented cases of developers advising their buyers on how to avoid things like stamp duty by using offshore investment vehicles. It is also about secrecy however, as these jurisdictions and the financial tools they offer make it possible for people to hide their ownership of these assets. This is particularly problematic in terms of what are termed Politically Exposed People, or PEPs, who often invest in property in order to provide themselves with a bolt hole and some assets should things turn sour in their own countries. Some jurisdictions like Jersey are much better at monitoring and limiting this than others, but it’s a field based on secrecy and arcane complexity, and it’s hard to regulate what you aren’t necessarily aware of.

BF: Is there anything that you want to tackle in this interview? Any fat to chew or complaints to be had or ideas that you wanna throw out there and land as it may regarding your process, the general scene or the future of the medium to consider?

LB: Jersey has been a fascinating and very challenging place to work. The nature of finance makes access very difficult, and even if you can get through the door what you find is not necessarily at all photogenic, or even particularly revelatory or explanatory about what goes on in a place like this. There are also so many aspects of finance that seem important to consider, indeed talking about ‘finance’ is about as useful as talking about ‘photography’ when as we noted earlier there are a great many subsets within that. And beyond the different types of finance, there are different aspect to consider, from the industry’s self-representation in architecture and photography, to thinking about how physical infrastructure and the population of the island support (or do not support) the industry’s presence here.

My response has been to try and employ a constellation of different visual approaches, ranging from conventional photography, to appropriated imagery, cameraless photographs, public polling, and the reuse of data sources. The aim of these things together is to try and give viewers a hint of what finance is in a place like Jersey, but also the strange nature of it. Finance here is the accidental product of events going back almost a thousand years, but it is also the result of very intentional choices made over the last half century. It is profoundly ancient and highly modern. It is in this, and in many other respects, a fascinating contradiction.

Six months is not long enough to do something so complex any real justice, and I see what I’ve done here more as laying the groundwork of a longer-term project. People often speak of ‘offshore’ but seldom think about what that means, that it implies a relationship to an ‘onshore’ elsewhere. If one were to identify that onshore in Jerseys’ case it would almost certainly be the City of London and this is where I want to turn my focus next as I continue this work. So part of the time here has been spent meeting people, making connections and contacts, and thinking about how things can evolve in the future.

 

Lewis Bush

Metropole

Overlapse

(All Rights Reserved. Text @ Brad Feuerhelm. Images @ Lewis Bush.)

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