You can listen in to this podcast where I discuss my practice and making Motherland & We English: http://bensmithphoto.com/asmallvoice/simon-roberts
A Small Voice is fortnightly podcast, featuring in-depth interviews conducted by Ben Smith with a diverse range of talented, innovative, world-class photographers from established, award-winning and internationally exhibited stars to young and emerging talents, discussing their lives, work and process.
Pierdom is featured in the Autumn issue of NECSUS (European Network for Cinema and Media Studies), reviewed by Lavinia Brydon (University of Kent) and Olu Jenzen (University of Brighton).
You can read the piece here:
A profile of Simon Roberts’ Pierdom project on the occasion of a major exhibition at Brighton Museum & Art Gallery (October 2015 – February 2016). The film, by Lindsey Smith, explores Roberts’ working process, the inspiration behind the project and the history of the British Pleasure Pier.
An interview and selection of my work published in the May 2015 issue of Von Magazine, download a pdf here.
Here’s a few sample spreads….
My Desert Island Pics interview with Stephen Bull is now available to listen to on the Photoworks website. In this talk for London Art Fair 2015, I reveal the eight photographs I’d like to have with me if castaway on a desert island. I discuss my choices and how they reflect on my life and career.
As a teaser, here’s my first selected image taken by an unknown photographer with my Dad’s camera. My Dad appears on the far left of the photograph with three university friends at the Houston Greyhound station during a three-month road trip across American in 1967.
See the rest of the photographs and listen to the interview here: http://photoworks.org.uk/projects/listen-simon-roberts-desert-island-pics/
Photographers: Simon Roberts (UK), Nick Hannes (Belgium), Kirill Golovchenko (Ukraine/Germany), Przemyslaw Pokrycki (Poland), Tomáš Pospěch (Czech Republic), Mindaugas Kavaliauskas (Lithuania), Vitus Saloshanka (Belarus/Germany), Gintaras Česonis (Lithuania), Borut Peterlin (Slovenia), Pekka Niittyvirta (Finland), Davide Monteleone (Italy).
From the publisher: Introductory texts of the book lead the reader from the idea of the joint project of the 74-ers generation in European photography to revealing their similarities, differences and unique features. Every photographer’s work is presented in slots of 10 to 12 pages that start with a picture of childhood. The sequencing of photographers in the book is based on their birth date in 1974. The book ends with questions by Irina Chmyreva and every photographers’ answers to them which help reveal individual roads photography through the labyrinths of the time rich in transformations.
Order the book here.
Editors Ángel Luis González (Spain/Ireland), Irina Chmyreva (Russia). Assistant editor Claudi Nir (Germany)
Design and layout Ángel Luis González
Texts: Mindaugas Kavaliauskas (Lithuania), Irina Chmyreva (Russia)
Print run 500
First Edition 2015
168 pages, Hardcover
Dimensions: 30,7 cm (height) x 24 cm (width) x 2,4 cm (spine depth)
Weight 1200 g.
Published by Kaunas Photo festival
We English by Simon Roberts, “Banal Nationalism” in Landscape? is a journal article by Karine Chambefort-Kay, Université Paris-Est Créteil, from the new issue of Journée d’études, entitled “The American and British Nations in Contemporary Landscape Photography” (December 2014)
This paper studies the case of a landscape photography project by British photographer Simon Roberts: We English—the project comprising the book published by Chris Boot in 2009, exhibitions of the large format prints of the photographs, and the artist’s dedicated website with a blog and forum for the public to propose subjects. We address the question of English national identity in Simon Roberts’s photos through the concept of “banal nationalism” coined in 1995 by Michel Billig. The first part draws on Billig’s thesis that the nation is “flagged” in the most banal everyday environment and activities, and discusses whether Simon Roberts’s documentary photographs evidence such subliminal national “flagging”. The second part shows the limits of the concept of “banal nationalism” when studying We English because of the complex, collaborative and reflexive nature of the project. By revealing how personal and intertextual references inform both the photographer’s and the viewer’s perception, the artist documents the dialectical process and negotiations at work in national identification. The third part contends that this dynamic approach of Englishness allows Roberts to propose his own re-imagining of the homeland.
On writing about my working practice for the project, Chambefort-Kay comments:
“A vast framework of references is the backbone of the whole project, and it is made visible through various devices. Simon Roberts opts for transparency on the genealogy of his pictures and on his authorial choices. He questions himself and his audience on the cultural filters and the modes of perception that inform their understanding of landscape. Therefore it is crucial to take into account the whole project, that is, to include both the blog and the pictures in our analysis to appreciate the full scope and impact of We English. Beyond merely documenting the English outdoors, Simon Roberts reveals the different ways in which people connect with the landscape both in nature and in pictures. He offers an insight into the mechanisms through which the national community is constantly re-created in landscape, showing that everything is negotiated individually and collectively.”
And in conclusion, writes:
“We English offers a renewed vision of England. New forms of cohesion and belonging are evidenced, but they are not exclusively found in urban areas. Simon Roberts does not reject the national frame, but reinvents it, by revealing the interactions and relations involved in national identification. The photographs of We English and the whole project actually display the openness of conviviality, which “makes a nonsense of closed, fixed and reified identity and turns attention toward the always unpredictable mechanisms of identification” (Gilroy, 2005, xvi). The nation is re-imagined through a new, dynamic, open vision of England.”
You can download a pdf of the full article here.
Chambefort-Kay recently completed a PhD entitled “Ecritures photographiques des identités collectives, Grande-Bretagne, 1990-2010”, which deals with many British photographers and exhibitions from the period and includes some chapters about We English and The Election Project.
Image: Outtake for my print ‘Ladies Day, Aintree, Merseyside, 2008’ from We English
Outtakes is a series of interviews with contemporary photographers who have been asked to share alternate versions of some of their most meaningful, successful and celebrated images. By looking at these outtakes along with the final image and by hearing from the artist directly, we hope to examine the different working methods and criteria that photographers regularly employ in an effort to push past the romanticism of the singular, iconic image and learn more about the way photographs are really made.
I recently did an interview for Photofusion talking about my practice and role as patron of the organisation. You can view it here: https://vimeo.com/95971786
I’m included in the current issue of Professional Photographer magazine’s 100 Photography Heroes.