Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Christopher Stweart's Insecurity

I discovered Christopher Stewart's project Insecurity today via an old issue of Seesaw Magazine. To my surprise and excitement, Mike Davis, the preeminent urban theorist and sociographer, wrote a wonderful essay to accompany Stewart's images. Davis observes:

"From our adolescent readings of Orwell's and Huxley's great dystopian fictions, many of us saved a question. 'How, exactly, would we know when Brave New World and Big Brother were on our doorstep?' Would a society of total surveillance and order arrive big bang fashion, in black uniforms and jackboots, or would it creep toward us like a fog, slowly enveloping our daily routines and indiscretions? And who would sound the alarm? Would anyone bother to listen or, as the case may be, to look?

Christopher Stewart's powerfully disorienting photographs detonate our Orwellian anxieties. Are they the warning from the totalitarian future that we have always dreaded? Or simply a reflection on the current sordid state of middle-class paranoia? Possibly they are both. Preliminary studies in the banality of dystopia.

These photographs, enigmatic and visceral are more than vaguely threatening. They are also disturbingly specific, impregnated with a sinister familiarity, like snapshots from an habitual nightmare. They evoke a feeling of discomfort, of wanting to be somewhere else. But this is the dilemma posed by Stewart's dossier, a realisation that there is no somewhere else to escape to which doesn't look uncannily like one of the places in his photographs."

All photographs from the series Insecurity

All Images © Christopher Stewart