Gordon Massie (b. 1965) is a Scottish artist based in the UK. He has spent a long time trying to understand the common thread in his photographs and what drives his passion.
At first glance abandoned houses in Johannesburg, a chapel on the altiplano, monuments in varying stages of existence and sparse savannah may seem to lack synthesis. However, for Massie, they have all come to reflect aspects, and in some cases a microcosm, of the politics of land and structures. It is that which he has consciously, or possibly not, documented over the last ten years. Repeating photographs, using varying vintage and modern equipment, has become a core part of his exploration of sites. It is a process that serves as a vehicle to identify change and stagnation but also to go deeper into the site.
Over the course of his life, Documentary Photographer Gordon Massie has resided, for extended periods, on three different continents. In each instance he actively embraced the culture and immersed himself in the country that he, for that period, called ‘Home’.
Most recently (and somewhat unexpectedly) London became Massie’s new Home when a transient business trip evolved into something more permanent. In March 2020 Massie found himself in a precarious position, ‘locked-down’ and unable to travel back to South Africa as the responses to the Coronavirus Pandemic spread from Wuhan, China across the world to the United Kingdom. In a strange twist of fate Massie discovered himself perfectly positioned to experience London as the city and its people evolved over the lockdown period.
Living in isolation, Massie took advantage of the allocated hour of exercise per day and plotted a thirty-minute radius from his apartment, allowing him the opportunity to explore a different part of the city each time he went for a walk (the ‘images of isolation’ that these walks inspired are currently in review for publication and are being compiled into a book that will be released later this year - contact us to find out more firstname.lastname@example.org).
Massie’s photographs capture the stark contrast between abandoned attractions that under normal circumstances would be bustling with activity and are now devoid of any human presence. Massie’s earlier photographs in this series permeate an ominous silence that would soon erupt with the voices of protesters demanding that monuments be torn down. Finding himself in the midst of these demonstrations Massie was able to extend a project he started several years earlier in South Africa when these debates were held on a public stage during the #feesmustfall movement. As a result, monuments are a recurring subject in Massie’s work - he has photographed them on three different continents over many years. Their intent, development, interpretation and symbolism can often be multi layered and problematic. At this moment in time, for Massie, it seems crucial to capture and document the making of another history.
The following selection of photographs demonstrates Massie’s exploration of, and engagement with, various types of ‘monuments’ that challenge and disrupt both geographical and intellectual boundaries.
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