Denise Felkin
Photographer

All images ©Denise Felkin 2014 home

‘More and more people are concluding the ballot box is no longer an instrument that will secure political solutions.’ Tony Benn

I’m not voting because… compresses fragments of the past and present to raise a political debate.  It reveals a slice of history during a period of class conflict and the rise of mass movements.  During the last general election, over a third of the UK population refused to vote; some out of apathy, many as a protest.  What brought this to light was BBC Newsnight, Russell Brand identified himself publically as a non –voter. As the link hit social media, I witnessed there was a positive consensus about not voting in my community. It became evident  a project about non-voters was unexplored territory.  And how through British politics, I could find a way to position my photography with my growing political awareness. On the surface my project is about people that do not vote, rooted in there is a desire, as Brand proclaimed, for a Revolution. I hope my project will nudge people. Edmund Burkes quote “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing,” I agree with this statement on the surface. I believe, the quote looses its essence when numerous people who never vote, did so as a protest in the last General Election and lost.

I investigate how to represent reality style imagery and photograph an agnostic viewpoint. Every brick represents a member of the community. Each imperfect square of text demonstrates we can’t be squashed into boxes. Chris Killip’s pre-Banksy hero sketches the scene. ‘Don’t vote prepare for revolution,’  is graffitied on the brick wall in the opening images of In Flagrante”. I lived and studied in the North East of England during the 1990’s. Its tradition of shipbuilding and mining industry were in total decline; it was an utter shell. In Flagrante, is painted grey because Geordie-land is grey: The sky is grey, the buildings are grey, the sea is grey, the prospects are grey. The non-voters across my project wear grey or neutral colours  because we are the same people thirty years on. Nothing has changed, it just got worse.  What was swept under the carpet in the neglected North, has now bled down into the rivers trickled in around the rest of Britain.

Structured as a criticism against political power. I embed motifs to represent Britain during this perilous period. The images relate personally because of the era I was born. The discreet non-voters movement made its splash during the Eighties. After Thatcher ushered in the Poll Tax bill, which was a backlash in shunning people who resist the system from voting against them. The roots of my project are coded with many personal references, on my native soil. The project holds a mirror up to highlight a zeitgeist of the 1980’s. I left school in 1984, at the tail-end of punk rock. I pogo-ed to the Sex Pistols, ‘No Future.’ Margaret Thatcher was a household name. I learnt politics through satirical British humour of Not the Nine O clock News, Spitting Image, The Young Ones; Rik Mayall’s character Rick often made cutting remarks. “Back to Victorian values! I hope you’re satisfied, Thatcher“

Swarms of young people gather at the front of the book, with no idea, or interest in politics. All they can see is they have been cut a raw deal. The teenagers have outgrown their environments. William Shakespeare’s quote ‘All the world’s a stage. And the men and the women merely players. They have their exits and their entrances.‘ connects  the typological study of a tribe of twelve, to represent the stages of a man's life, between infant and old age.  Each character stands on an invisible line. My passion shapes how I control the light, posture and gaze. In that moment the essence is reversed to enable the visual context to be read from within the negative space of the image. Embedded in this layer, portals are used as a metaphor to reveal the flip-side of democracy. The people are there to reinforce the text. The meaning is open because the visual language in the picture anchors and relays the content.    

The book format is the size of a twelve inch vinyl album sleeve. I’m not voting because … is an alternate record of the flipside of democracy. It is a recording. I record their record. I use direct comments and jiggle them about to fit.

As Gil Scot Heron informs  ‘The revolution will not be televised.’

I’m not voting because … is aimed at all the people that have an election to contribute to. Empty promises echo on vacant channels, ballot papers remain uncrossed, a very loud silence is reverberated from a cross homeland. It is a transient time, an era where change is imminent.

 

 

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