Documentary Artist





Current Location:
London, UK.




Autumn ‘22
︎︎︎ Pain and exhaustion in exhibition

This Autumn I was lucky enough to spend a week working in Den Haag, the Netherlands, with students of the Photography and Society program at the KABK. With thanks to Andrea Stulties and Shadman Shahid for the opportunity. While there I was lucky enough to talk to so many inspiring students, who are making great work, ranging from reflections on abuse, to shooting missiles at the sky. The workshop I was aksed to deliver was part of a week long thematic seminar on the topic of photography and the anthropological method to look at migration. As a group we collaborated on putting together an exhibition at Amare, in Den Haag. The exhibition was produced by the students and looks fantastic and you can see some install shots below. As part of this show I also worked on refiguring my project Routes into a video installation (below).

As a part of this I was also lucky enough to collaborate with Jason de Leon, an academic and photographer I have long admired. Together with the students we producsed an installation of his show Hostile Terrain 94, the writing of 3800 toe tags, one for each body found in the sonoran desert, their deaths a consequence of US border policy. All 3800 tags are then pinned to a wall. The hand cramps, and back ache becoming part of this collossal act of rembrance and documentation.

I have also, over the last 3 months been working with the Penumbra Foundation in New York City helping put together a show on contemproary artistic uses of the photogravure process. The show opens at the Penumbra Foundation (36 E 30th, New York) on December 1st. Please do go and see it.

From the end of November I will be back in the UK and based in London, and have been lucy enough to be able to return to my jobs as a specialist photography technician at LCC. You will be able to find me in the media block darkrooms/studios, pottering away. Excited to rejoin my colleagues there.

Summer ‘22
︎︎︎ Shipping, seafaring, and flows

The first documentary project I ever made was the story of a young man who drowned in the English Channel trying to reach England. His body was swept on the currents and washed up on the shore of a Dutch island called Texel.

I was fascinated by how the flows of the sea, of the tide, sought to hinder this young man’s journey, blowing him off course, much like Poseidon did to Odysseus, though this man’s only blasphemy was to flee war. I titled the project Stroom, a Dutch word meaning, at the sime time, flow, current or stream. It was for me, an interest in how people can move as a flow, the contemporary fascist narrative of a ‘stream of arrivals’ and the currents of the sea itself that is both graveyard and transport for the bodies of so many thousands.

These flows too have a counterpart, and as the flows of people are restricted, the flows of capital, at least in our imaginations are seamless, rapid and uninhibited. Though this is not quite the case. the flow of capital cannot so easilty be divorces from the flow of goods, goods that are predominantly carreid over the worlds shipping routes, and it is here that we see the stickiness of these flows, the places that make them happen and the ways in which slowdowns and shitdowns occur.

The Evergiven was a prime example of this but the space of the port has long been a site on which the battle for supposed efficiency has been waged, at the cost of the worker, and the resident.

I have been reading, in tandem, two books that do a wonderful jub in highliting not only these flows, but also these sticking points where the economy slows down. Sinews of War and Trade, by Laleh Khalili, and Fish Story, by Alan Sekula. Both trace a history of global capitalism through the space of the port, Fish Story, looking at the world from a Western perspective, while Sinews looks at these histories from the perspective of the Gulf.

In a small piece of personal news, I will be moving to New York City for the months of September, October ad November this year, and so will be looking to connect with anyone there (and also join a friendly football team)!

(c) Nathaniel White-Steele, 2022