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The HAT Project 2006/07 is supporting 20 exchange fellowships between England, South Asia and Australia

Johnny Magee

Residency at MIRIAD

Smash & Grab

Posted by Johnny Magee on 23rd December 2006

I've been back in the UK for a week now, following my trip to India & Pakistan. While out there I took 1,700 photographs and shot two films, one with Tom in Ahmedabad, the other with Tabitha in Lahore. I was meant to shoot a third film with Peter & Pamela but this had to be postponed due to ill health…… and will hopefully be made in the UK in the new year. Lionel’s day at NID will be expressed through the still image.

(film still) Tabitha in 'The Crossing' . The camera positioned in the centre of the road.... "if you stay still all the traffic goes around you" says Tabitha...!! I like this metaphor!

All attempts to capture the raw material for my work are through brief snatches of time. This methodology is more akin to the paparazzi than the carefully considered musings of an artist. This is nobody’s fault but my own, and is born out of working in an international setting, where long distant travelling means all sorts of constraints, and somehow aligning visits (to very patient and cooperative artists) with sparks of creativity and insightfulness …all through the veil of jet lag.

(film still) Tom in 'Silver'. We hired two rickshaws to film this sequence.... a road movie in search of silver jewellery. (I like the connection with HAT Australia/UK).

All this material - the 1,700 photographs and the two hours of video footage - is an ‘over compensation’ for the fact that I can’t go back. Once edited…. it will become a couple of five minute films and only a handful of usable pictures.

Lionel does business: The man (centre image) cuts the plywood shapes (see image below) used to make up his latest design work.

The plywood pieces are assembled in layers to create the shape of the 'computer designed' form.

I’ve long since thrown off the shackles of veracity and photographic representation, allowing playfulness with my interpretation in post-production. It’s a modernist thing! And if I am in the work….. What I need to understand (as a documentation artist) are my own experiences of being displaced as a traveller outside of my country against those who travel into it! i.e. I have a reasonable sense what it’s like to be an Englishman in India, I have much greater difficulty with an Indian in England.


Johnny Magee talks to conference during cHAT week at Sanskriti, Delhi, India. March 2007

Click on image to open QuickTime movie