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In this video, the acclaimed British photographer Stephen Gill demonstrates his original approach to photography, removing himself as the author when photographing, letting his subjects guide him to where the works need to go. Losing control in this way is a relief, he says.
Since he was a little boy, Stephen Gill has immersed himself in worlds of his own. Growing up in the city of Bristol, he was secluded from nature but always felt a strong pull towards it. As a child, he would take his bike in the early morning hours to go and explore plants and pond life which he then brought home to study under a microscope.
“With the microscopic world, you’re literally immersing yourself into a world where you could spend hours. Maybe in my adult life, it’s not that dissimilar. You’re intrigued, you have this heightened curiosity, and you immerse yourself in that world sometimes for a couple of years. I suppose I’ve learned to work with that,” he says.
Gill lived and worked in London for twenty years before moving to South Sweden, where he now resides in a rural area far removed from his former city life.
“When I moved to Sweden, I knew nature was going to play a big part in my work. I also knew that my imagination would have to work much harder because it’s visually so overwhelming in London. Because you have this bleak, flat open land here, I knew I would have to extract something that wasn’t always on the surface. That was quite an exciting thought to me,” he recalls.
For years he felt an urge to remove himself as an author in the process of photographing, wanting to let go of control. He started experimenting with this in the nature surrounding his new home, putting up two pillars in an open field. He placed a camera on one pillar and left the other bare for birds to land on.
“With the pillar, I had finally removed myself altogether. I’d literally stepped out of it as the author. These were no longer my works. The birds made that body of work. I kind of helped to enable it, to allow it to happen, but perhaps that was something I was leaning towards for years. This idea of allowing or enabling the subject to speak for itself, and hence the pictures have this amazing feel about them.”
Stephen Gill (b. 1971) is a renowned British photographer whose works are held in various private and public collections. His photographs have been exhibited at many international galleries and museums, including London’s National Portrait Gallery, The Victoria and Albert Museum, The Museum of London, Agnes B, Victoria Miro Gallery, Christophe Guye Gallery, Sprengel Museum, and Tate.
Stephen Gill was interviewed by Christian Lund at his studio in Glemmingebro, Sweden, in October 2020.
Cameras by Rasmus Quistgaard
Edit by Kasper Bech Dyg
Produced by Christian Lund
Copyright: Louisiana Channel, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, 2022
Louisiana Channel is supported by Den A.P. Møllerske Støttefond, Ny Carlsbergfondet, C.L. Davids Fond og Samling and Fritz Hansen.
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