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Anna Fox Photographs -

Anna Fox has been working as a photographer since . Her work has been included in major exhibitions such as Through the Looking Glass, Barbican Art Gallery, ; Warworks, V&A, ; Documentary Dilemmas, a British Council touring exhibition, ; Les Peintres de la Vie Moderne at Le Centre Pompidou, ; Centre of The Creative Universe: Liverpool and the Avant Garde at Tate Liverpool,  and most recently How We Are, Photographing Britain, curated by Val Williams and Susan Bright at Tate Britain in . Her solo shows include The Photographers’ Gallery, London; The Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago; The Primavera, Barcelona and Le Printemps de Septembre in Toulouse. In  Fox was awarded a Hasselblad Foundation Scholarship for her project Made in Europe, published by Milton Keynes Gallery. Other grants include Arts Council England, Southern Arts, Fotonet South and The Arts and Humanities Research Council. Anna Fox’s work has been written about extensively and her publications include: Work Stations, ; Zwarte Piet, ; My Mother’s Cupboards & My Father’s Words and Cockroach Diary, . Anna is co-editor of the Eighth Edition of Langfords Basic Photography published by Focal Press in  and is Head of the BA Photography Course at The University College for the Creative Arts at Farnham.

Val Williams

Val Williams is a curator and writer and Professor of the History and Culture of Photography, University of the Arts London. She is Director of the Photography and the Archive Research Centre at the London College of Communication and an editor of the Journal of Photography and Culture. She curated Martin Parr’s retrospective at the Barbican Art Gallery, London, and is author of Martin Parr: Photographs, Phaidon Press, . She edited the Photoworks book When We Were Young: Club and Street Portraits by Derek Ridgers and is co-author of Magnum Ireland, Thames & Hudson, . In , she co-curated the exhibition How We Are: Photographing Britain for Tate Britain. David Chandler is Director of Photoworks. Formerly Assistant Curator of Photographs at the National Portrait Gallery, London; Head of Exhibitions at The Photographers’ Gallery, London, and Projects Manager at The Institute of International Visual Arts (inIVA), he has also written widely about photography and the visual arts for a variety of magazines including Portfolio, Art Monthly and Photoworks Magazine. He is a Visiting Lecturer at the London College of Communication and an Honorary Faculty Fellow in the School of Arts and Architecture, University of Brighton. He lives and works in Brighton.

Anna Fox Photographs -

Mieke Bal is a well-known cultural critic and theorist and holds the position of Royal Dutch Academy of Arts and Sciences Professor. She is based at the University of Amsterdam. Her most recent books include A Mieke Bal Reader, The University of Chicago Press, ; Travelling Concepts in the Humanities: A Rough Guide, University of Toronto Press,  and Louise Bourgeois’s ‘Spider’ and the Architecture of Artwriting, University of Toronto Press, . She is also a documentary maker and video artist, and an independent curator. Jason Evans is a multi-disciplinary photographer best known for his style and music led work, which appeared in magazines internationally. Typified by an experimental, inquisitive approach he shows his projects on line as well as in the gallery. He is a Senior Lecturer at the University College for the Creative Arts at Farnham.


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Val Williams

Dedicated to Michael Fox

Anna Fox Photographs 1983–2007 Val Williams

Essays by David Chandler Val Williams Jason Evans Mieke Bal

Foreword Val Williams


Vile Bodies David Chandler



Basingstoke Zwarte Piet Mieke Bal

 Basingstoke

Village Masquerades Val Williams

 Basingstoke

On the Path Jason Evans

 Basingstoke

History Pages

 Basingstoke  Basingstoke  Basingstoke  Basingstoke  Basingstoke  Basingstoke Basingstoke

Foreword Val Williams

Anna Fox began working as a photographer in the early 1980s, emerging as one of the most exciting colour documentarists at a time when photographic and cultural territories were being radically withdrawn. Like many of the new colourists - the group included Paul Reas. Paul Seawright, Martin Parr and Paul Graham – Anna Fox was entranced by the ‘ordinary’ breaking away from, yet still owing something to, a strong tradition of reportage and documentary photography in Britain and Europe. The 1970s had seen a sea change in British photography; increasingly accepted as an independent art, new possibilities were opening up for emerging photographers, who were unwilling to be tied to the structures of editorial photography. By the 1980s, networks were firmly in place, which would ensure that photographers such as Anna Fox could navigate their way through the gallery, through education and, at times through the editorial and commercial photography worlds. Though the barriers between ways of working had not come down, they were certainly increasingly flimsy. Anna Fox’s photographic gaze could perhaps be said to be directed towards ‘ordinary secrets’. In the 1980s, she photographed the kinds of everyday things which are hidden from most of us- office life, weekend war games, rave parties, - semi public, semi private. She penetrated the inner workings of a rural village, seeing its sinister side as scissors flash, faux kisses are exchanged and charity is administered from afar. Her great comedy of British life, made throughout the decade of conspicuous consumption, was acute, yet also melancholy.


By the 1990s, her work, though still documentary, had assumed a more personal edge- her longstanding friendships with Linda Lumas and Alison Goldfrapp became a comedy of manners and costume, gleeful yet sardonic. She peered inside her mother’s meticulously arranged cupboards, and at the same time wrote down her father’s bloodcurdling invective, publishing the two together in a tiny pink book. She documented a plague of cockroaches in her London home and made a highly comic document in her diary about the divisions which arose in the household after a series of inept attempts to eradicate them. She photographed the interior of the house as if she was an explorer, attempting to decipher its chaotic interior and to make investigations about the strange tribe, which inhabited it. Returning to her home county of Hampshire in the mid 1990s, she became a satirical observer of rural life- there are few series of photographs which are as ‘English’ and as absurd as Anna Fox’s chronicles of life in the village of Selborne. Fairies grimace, men dress up as women, Guy Falkes effigies flop in chairs in the village hall, prams are raced, masks are donned and the village becomes a site for the harmlessly macabre. One suspects that in a hundred years from now, people will gasp in amazement at these photographs‘could it really’ they will say’ have been like this?’ Despite (or perhaps because of) their innate comedy Anna’s Fox’s photographs are, at their core, intensely melancholy. Always watching but never quite taking part, there is a feeling of someone standing at the edge, waiting for things to begin, and always, a sense of loss.


Anna Fox Photographs 1983–2007

Documentary photography, for Anna Fox, is also a kind of autobiography an intense peering into her own life, as reflected through photography’s idiosyncratic mirror.



Anna Fox Photographs 1983–2007

Vile Bodies David Chandler

As a key figure in the development of British photography over the last twenty-five years, Anna Fox nevertheless occupies something of an anomalous position in that, as yet, unwritten history. She is widely regarded as an important part of what might be called the ‘second wave’ of British colour documentary photography that emerged principally from the West Surrey College of Art and Design at Farnham in the mid to late nineteen eighties under the tutelage of, among others, Martin Parr and Paul Graham. But, the very fact that she was a woman in this group, and that the particular style she helped to form – in its combative, highly charged use of flash and colour – had certain male, not to say macho, associations, meant that she always stood slightly apart, with another dimension, some other subversive element, informing the work she chose to make. Much more than this, however, is the unique way in which Fox’s approach and preoccupations have evolved, principally into an autobiographical mode that has consistently explored that fine, and often uncomfortable line between being closely involved in her subject matter, and adopting a distance from and even a distaste for it. This ambiguous attitude – to place, community, home, family and friends – has given Fox’s photography a highly distinctive edge, full of unpalatable truths or at least honest speculations about the most intimate and personal facts of life. That might seem to place her in the ever-growing school of Nan Goldin, for example, with whom she admittedly shares some affiliations; as one of a legion of contemporary photographers who have turned the camera on their own lives and family histories for maximum integrity and high emotional impact. But again Fox stands apart from this tendency in several important respects.


Firstly, there is the question of her photographic style. Having moved away from the acerbic use of colour and dislodged compositions associated with that particular form of colour documentary in the 1980s and early 90s, she has gradually adopted something even rawer, that in a sense negates the very question of style altogether. Although she now adapts her approach from project to project, the dominant thread in her later work is what might be called ‘unconscious’ photography, a direct and uncompromisingly reflexive method of recording her immediate experience. The so-called ‘snap-shot aesthetic’ has of course become very much part of the contemporary photographers repertoire, but Fox’s work, for example in her series Afterwards or 41 Hewitt Road, is further pared down and often painfully stripped of any seductive artfulness. As the space between her life and her work has evaporated, so too has the sense of a deliberate or over-conscious making of pictures that might mediate or impose heavily on the desire (with its degree of manic energy) to quickly note down what was there, what was happening in a particular place at a particular moment. Finding the most functional means to meet the circumstances, Fox has produced a body of work that for many would sit uneasily aside that proud profession of ‘photographer’. In fact photography is more a useful tool for her now than an end in itself, and in a time of more fluid artistic categories she might now more usefully be called a diarist than a photographer, especially since she has frequently used text as a counterpoint to her images. From her earliest series on the incongruities within the local town of Basingstoke, through Workstations and on to her later books, Fox has used text to further extend the range but


Anna Fox Photographs 1983–2007

also highlight the ambiguities of documentary, and, later, to reinforce the sense of an explicit, and at times traumatised personal commentary. In works such as Cockroach Diary (1996-99) and My Mother’s Cupboards and My Father’sWords (1999-2000) text becomes another form of visceral evidence, painful to read and, no doubt, to compile, that finds the extraordinary and the disturbing woven into the placid texture of the most ordinary lived experience. Significantly these two series were produced as bookworks, deliberately small and diary-like (Cockroach Diary is presented as a facsimile notebook), their mixture of anger, desperation and confusion only given added force by their appearance as delicate miniatures. The paradox, however, through all these works is that – almost inevitably – Fox’s photographs are, in themselves, also consistently powerful and compelling, both as documents, as evidence, and as pure visual statements; something it seems she can never quite escape. Secondly, although Fox would not deny the influence of American photography, or indeed of many other international examples, she is at heart, embedded in a specifically English context, and even further in the ordinary strangeness of rural middle England, with its sense of remoteness from metropolitan living and all its quirky habits, customs and values. This environment is anathema to most contemporary artists, and far away from all those attractively damaged urban subcultures so familiar from the Goldinesque confessional mode. Fox now lives and works in the small village of Selborne in Hampshire, but she also grew up in the countryside and has remained there during most of her professional career. Her photography, although it occasionally drifts elsewhere for its subject, is grounded in

her sense of belonging and estrangement from this world; it has developed in reaction to what rural England has become, to its parochial and patriarchal ways, to its narrow mindedness, its culture clashes and its goings on, to what Val Williams has called ‘its rituals and its secrets’. …….. This essay will concentrate on Fox’s early colour documentary work made between 1986 and 1993 that established her reputation and through which her concern with rural places and cultures began to take shape. It is formed, principally, around a great trilogy of works that began with Work Stations (1986-88), extended into Friendly Fire (1988-91) and ended with TheVillage (1991-93).1 All three works are concerned with gatherings of people and with a kind of physical drama enacted in each of the very different situations. They dwell on a form of gestural expression, which is heightened by the various combinations of flash, acute angles and abrupt cropping and framing of the subject. It is a particular representation of the body that was not only a product of technical choices (in Fox’s case, the use of a Plaubel Makina 6x7 camera and Metz flash unit with a bounce card) but also seemed to spring from and immediately reflect the discordant spirit of its times, offering a new and effective photographic response to the culture that had emerged in Britain under Margaret Thatcher’s premiership. And, at the same time, and partly because of its tendency for summoning a disrespectful physical spectacle, it marked a definitive fracture in a long tradition of what David Mellor has recently called ‘sentimental Left Humanism’2 in British social documentary photography. The political sensitivities of this were complex but ultimately the new 1 During this period Fox was also making work that she edited later, and from a different perspective, into Afterwards (1983-1996), a series that forms a bridge between her early documentary projects and her later style.


David Mellor, No Such Thing As Society: 6. Society in Colour: Paul Graham, Martin Parr, Keith Arnatt and Peter Fraser, 1984-87, unpublished essay for the forthcoming Hayward Gallery Exhibition No Such Thing As Society, 2007.


colour photography was taken up as a critical and satirical weapon by a generation, including Fox, who were discovering in photography a new means to articulate strongly held personal and political views. Thatcher’s unseen presence hovers throughout Fox’s first three series, but two actual images of her appear: one in Work Stations, the other in Friendly Fire. This is, perhaps, not surprising since Thatcher was an iconic figure in the media, and her image, seen in a critical light, became a common focus of left-field photographic work of the time. But in both of Fox’s photographs, Thatcher’s image is significantly altered, in the Work Stations picture it is a mounted photocopy ironically vamped-up by hand colouring, in Friendly Fire it is violently splattered by bloody-red paint-ball explosions. Typically Fox’s inclusion of Thatcher’s face is complex: the assumed cultural hero of the office and the war game (and, we might add, the village), Thatcher is also a target, just one more figure to be ridiculed or defiled. The subtext of these early works is a form of personal and social aggression spreading like a disease, one that seems evident in every gesture, every pose, every point of human interaction. This, as Fox has seen it, is a society of increasingly destructive forces, a culture in the process of feeding on itself. The book and Camerawork exhibition, Work Stations, was a product of converging experiences and influences in Fox’s career, and, in the circumstances of its production, a reflection of the independent photographic culture in Britain – now strengthened by significant channels of public support – that she was emerging into3. The genesis of the work lay in Fox’s previous project, Basingstoke, which she worked on Work Stations was jointly commissioned by Camerawork and the Museum of London, and received an Arts Council Publishing grant, at a time when these awards were playing a significant role in helping to nurture independent photography publishing.


while still a student. As part of this project she visited offices in the town: ‘Basingstoke was the place that many people from Alton moved to if they wanted a decent job outside London. There were lots of office jobs there with very reasonable salaries.’ Basingstoke had a veneer of respectability and success, but according to Fox, ‘…it clearly had problems. At one time the multi-storey car park was said to be the most violent in Europe and the shopping centre was not a place to be alone in late at night. There was not enough for the local teenagers to do and this led to big social difficulties.’4 In this early foray into colour documentary, Fox had become interested in the disjunction between benign appearances and a deeper social instability, and, importantly, she had begun to find a way of using photographs and text as a critical device, one that might expose this disjunction and serve to undermine dominant media representations. Work Stations continued in this vein but by its inception in 1986 Fox’s had developed a more confident and forceful style to confront her subject head-on. The visual character of the new project further reflected Fox’s training at the West Surrey College of Art and Design from 1983-86, and the formative influence of the photographers who taught there at that time. Fox has said that when she arrived at Farnham, the Photography BA Degree was ‘already recognised as a great course’. The reputation of tutors such as Martin Parr and Paul Graham was growing. Graham had published his first, and seminal book of colour work, A1 – The Great North Road in 1983, and Parr was also moving into colour, significantly from 1984 developing the controversial series about Liverpool’s New Brighton that he would unleash as The Last Resort in 1986, the year of Fox’s graduation. Fox’s From an interview with the author, 4 October 2007. 4


Anna Fox Photographs 1983–2007

other notable influences at Farnham included Karen Knorr and Anne Williams, both of whom had been students of Victor Burgin’s at the Polytechnic of Central London, 5 and Peter Hall, a sculptor, who ran the course during Fox’s final year. Also the course was attracting an impressive list of visiting lecturers, such as the Czech documentarist Marketa Luskacova and Chris Killip, then already a national figure and a leading light of independent photography in the North East, whose masterpiece In Flagrante would also be published in 1988. Also important were the lectures of theoreticians and historians, including figures from overseas such as the American photo-historian and editor Sally Eauclaire whose books The New Colour Photography (1981) and New Color New Work: 18 Photographic Essays (1984) were to be key introductions for Fox and her contemporaries to the pioneering use of colour in the USA. Fox remembers the strong ‘sense of community’ at Farnham then: ‘the department had much more space than it does now and there were always people gathering in the base room, chatting about new work. It was a real privilege to be meeting all these photographers. And Martin (Parr) was always pushing us to go to things like the Arles Festival, and encouraging us to show our work to galleries – this was vital.’6 The questioning of objectivity, on various theoretical fronts, and the waning confidence in any form of photographic truth, led to a new emphasis on the idea of a ‘subjective documentary’ in new photography of the period, linking, for example, the otherwise distinct work of leading figures such as Chris Killip and Martin Parr. Of In Flagrante Killip would say: ‘This is a subjective book about my time in England. I take what isn’t mine and I covet other people’s 5 Under Burgin’s direction PCL had become the epicentre of poststructuralist photographic theory, which from the late-1970s onwards was to have such a pervasive impact on the making, exhibiting and publishing of photography in Britain and internationally.

From an interview with the author, 4 October 2007. 6

lives. The photographs can tell you more about me than what they describe.’7 But, despite this conscious distancing from his subject, Killip’s class solidarity and sympathies were clear. In The Last Resort however, Parr appeared to trample on any remaining sense of attachment to and sympathy for his subjects, and in doing so drew angry criticism, summarised here in a review by the critic David Lee: ‘Parr, a Southener… has habitually discovered visitors at their worst, greedily eating and drinking junk…Our historic working class, normally dealt with generously by documentary photographers becomes a sitting duck for a more sophisticated audience. They appear fat, simple, and styleless.’8 But, as David Mellor has pointed out, “What Lee was reluctant to recognize was the power of this brazen new colour art photography to destroy past frameworks, in this case the Left Humanist consensus around conventional documentary. The photographs came before the reader in a hot, estranging glare…colour took on a violence and insolence never seen before in British photography…’9 Like Parr, Fox registers in Work Stations a profound sense of alienation not just from particular surroundings but from an entire culture. In these cramped and overheated offices and interiors, whether she is picturing power-dressed senior operatives or their hapless (and mainly female) subordinates, there is no sense of empathy or generosity in Fox’s work. Unlike Brian Griffin’s black and white portraits of corporate executives and public figures in the magazine Management Today (published from the mid-seventies to the early eighties) whose highly staged light-plays left their subjects looking absurd but essentially unscathed, Fox’s work treats the office and the people in them as abhorrent, a microcosm of 7 Chris Killip cited from ‘Circulating Exhibitions’, in British Council Visual Art News, no. 30, July 1989, p.7. Quoted in David Mellor, No Such Thing As Society, op cit. 8 David Lee, ‘Photography, in Arts Review, 15 and 29 August 1986, p.440. ‘The Last Resort presents a harsh, cynically depressing picture…Parr’s


bitter insight merely records the humiliating and regrettable surrender of many people in Mrs Thatcher’s Britain to circumstances which they have unwittingly conspired to create and which are now thought to be beyond their control.’ Quoted in David Mellor, ‘No Such Thing As Society’, ibid. 9 David Mellor, ibid.

unfolding social ills full of grotesque characters. Her accompanying captions reinforce this. Importantly the quotes from interviews, business magazines and newspapers do not attempt to pin down meaning, as one option for politicized documentary would have suggested, but open out and enlarge the scope of the photographs, creating further layers of irony and suggesting a whole value system obsessed with power and ruthless competition. And yet in many ways this was familiar territory for Fox. Before studying at Farnham she had worked for an insurance company, and, as she has recalled, ‘at that time my whole family worked in offices’10. So Work Stations was a kind of return and there is a hint of revenge in its criticisms, the impassioned response of an escapee revisiting the site of some earlier confinement, some former identity. Something of Parr’s ‘estranging glare’ reappears in Work Stations but this time it has the fluorescent cast of office interiors and then often quickly falls away into murky darkness beyond the flash-lit space. Such spatial effects have long been a feature of flash photography, dramatizing the crime scenes in Weegee’s New York photographs, for example, or used to more sustained affect in fellow American Larry Fink’s work, particularly in his book Social Graces (1984), another key influence in the direction of documentary photography in the eighties. But the addition of colour, allied to a new critical purpose, brought a further layer of intensity to this ongoing drama. In Work Stations, Fox brings the hand-held Plaubel camera into tight close-up and tilts it into angles that suggest a continual jarring movement both within the images and from picture to picture. From an interview with the author, 4 October 2007. 10


Anna Fox Photographs 1983–2007

Compositions are further unsettled by distortion and in particular bodies are rendered unstable, often cut into by the frame. Skin, in particular, is one of colour flash’s prime victims, and here, in its alternately blotched, pallid and sweaty state, it becomes a recurring sign of discomfort, for the subject and, intentionally, for the viewer. Transformed by technology, by new working practices and by the sweeping free market dynamics of Thatcherism, the offices in Work Stations were Fox’s disturbing corollary to the images of industrial decline emanating from other areas and other photographers in Britain at the time. Through her combinations of images and text we cannot escape the photographer’s agitation in these places, and her sense of the office as a new civilian combat zone. Friendly Fire (1988-91) developed directly from Fox’s involvement with Work Stations when, during her research for the earlier project, she discovered how companies had begun to use war games as team building exercises. The same managers and executives who had expressed such stark power relations in their offices were to be found acting out war scenarios at the weekends, in full combat gear and equipped with paintball guns. Over a three-year period Fox arranged visits to various local paintball centres to record this spectacle, in which the concepts of aggressive competition and military-style teamwork, surrounded by the paraphernalia and simulated tensions of war, were reinforced. The tone was pumped-up and almost hysterical. One paintball centre in Hampshire still advertises itself as ‘the ultimate jungle battle site in the South East…When it comes to war games we’ve got the terrain, we’ve got the

tanks, we’ve got the armoured jeeps - paintball gear at its best! These are intense, adrenaline-filled and fully realistic tactical scenarios...Your elite squad of ‘soldiers’…must engage the ‘enemy’ and work together in order to achieve your objectives…(but) you’ll need to watch out for more than just the enemy, with terrain that features booby traps, land mines and trip wires.’11 But in 1988, only six years after the Falklands war, Fox began to think about the connections and contrasts between these sites of simulated conflict and the actual experiences of soldiers who had fought in the Falklands. As she has said: ‘I was interested in stories being told to me by two friends who had been in the Falklands war, a marine and a paratrooper. It was the first time I had heard first-hand accounts of war and they were so different from the information you receive in the media – through television, films and photographs. I was shocked by how damaged these two men were and then more shocked that other people were running about the countryside… replaying those things for fun.’12 Yet, if this contrast, between very real, deep trauma, and the bullish leisure pursuits of ‘yuppies’, became the motive force of Friendly Fire, the actual work, as it progressed, took on other, less anticipated dimensions. Visually the ten resulting photographs from the series oscillate between convincing evocations of war scenes – complete with paint-balled, ‘blood-soaked’ surfaces that appear to situate the action in a kind of abattoir – and moments of absurdity, such as the photograph of a toy-like ‘soldier’ perched in the window of a pebble-dashed façade, a ridiculous suburban guerrilla. The photographs carry through the jarring style perfected in Work 11 Quoted from the ‘Action Paintball – Andover (Hampshire)’ website: www. 12 From an interview with the author, 4 October 2007.


Stations, but now certain characteristics of the earlier work are given a freer rein. Deep into the spirit of the game, Friendly Fire’s portrait of simulation is doubled as Fox also begins to play out the crouching, running and hiding part of the war photographer, and something approaching an emotional charge gives the work a bizarre twist. In an instance of self-examination that was to reappear as a major theme of her later work, Fox admitted her own culpability in the spectacle: ‘In the end I realized that all of us have a fascination with war that is quite terrible. While my subjects were playing war games I was enjoying playing a war photographer.’13 It is ultimately this beguiling distance from her own role in the work, the ability to look back with a kind of critical innocence at being caught-up and swayed by the nature of events, that is the key to understanding Friendly Fire’s strange atmosphere, as a bad dream of conflicted desires. Underlying these ideas, Friendly Fire is also a work about the changing face of the countryside. The paintball centres featured in the photographs had been developed over land that suggests earlier rural communities, including the site of a disused hospital (closed down due to government cuts) and redundant farmland, originally set aside due to overproduction. Fox’s next body of work, TheVillage (1991-93), a collaboration with Val Williams, delved more deeply into country life, setting the idea of rural change, and another side contemporary of Britain, against an imposing history of deep-seated community values and structures. The project had a more personal basis, setting out to focus on women’s lives in the small West Sussex village where Fox’s From an interview with the author, 4 October 2007. 13


Anna Fox Photographs 1983–2007

grandmother lives and where her mother grew up. And, initially, she approached the subject as a reporter might: ‘Essentially I wanted to look behind the scenes…and going there to photograph and to interview people was the best way to do this, the best way to find things out.’14 Her intention was to re-examine and expose the popular myth of the village as a rural idyll and to question the very conservative values that had formed the moral backdrop to her own childhood. Again based on her own experience, Fox also wanted to dispel the idea of women as powerless in village life, to the counter the image of ‘busy-bodies bustling about the place with little to say’15 so familiar from Quentin Blake illustrations16. But the colour photographs that eventually formed the core of her work take us a step further, to suggest something more predatory. In these mainly close-up pictures taken at various village events, women’s faces and hands seem to build, frame by frame, into an elaborate and brightly coloured battle frieze. Everywhere violent gestures are caught by the merciless flash: mouths gape ready for attack, hands grab and squeeze other hands, and in one photograph of wedding preparations a pair of scissors appears to be aimed squarely at the back of the bride. However, there were two other elements making up the work, the piece being originally conceived as an installation for Worthing Museum and Art Gallery. Significantly having abandoned text for Friendly Fire, Fox resurrects it to startling affect in TheVillage. But this time it becomes part of a sound element in the work. This consisted of fragments from Fox’s interviews edited into a whispered mantra – Only housework for women.We are an island.We don’t see those sort of people round here.We have lost our childhood.We Ibid. Ibid. Especially his illustrations to John Yeoman’s children’s book Our Village (1988). 17 From an interview with the author, 4 October 2007. 14 15


are sending toys to Rumania. If you listen carefully you can hear the voice of God. Please give generously. Don’t forget the children – to which were added extracts from a BBC recording called ‘Village Sounds’. This soundtrack was played loudly inside a box, into which the colour images were also slideprojected, and around the box another series of black and white photographs, the result of the photographer ‘spying on deserted gardens’, were hung like a picket fence. In many ways, and certainly in terms of its subject, The Village laid the foundation for all Fox’s later work and overriding concerns. The village, so closely associated with her own history, was a microcosm of the rural culture she continues to have such ambivalent feelings about. It was she has admitted, ‘a difficult project’ and yet it was one she confronted without compromise, laying bare unspecified wounds and familial sensitivities in the process. ‘Don’t ever think the village is a nice place to live’17, said the wife of the last farm labourer in the village during one of Fox’s interviews. It could be the subtext for so much of the work she has made since. Life, and especially country life, is a strange concoction of opposing views and lifestyles, of the beautiful and the unbearable. To begin to make sense of it, Fox seems to suggest, we must enter unflinchingly into its stories, look at them plainly, dispassionately, and if need be under the microscope; after all the ordinary can also be extraordinary.



Basingstoke This series of 35 photographs was made in response to the social fabric of this southof England town and to the NEW critical documentary photography, which was emerging in the USA and Britain. ‘ I was interested in photographing the banal and the everyday, I photographed car parks, roads, housing estates, shopping centres, living rooms and office space.Through the combination of image and text, using extracts from interviews, newspapers and local publicity material, I intended to create a dialogue between the photographs and the quotes.’


Anna Fox Photographs 1983–2007

‘Basingstoke booms. Basingstoke, music hall joke of old, now jewel in the crown of the M3/M4 hi-tech corridor’. Basingstoke Gazette 1986


‘Basingstoke is creating wealth and wealth pays for our social dreams’. Basingstoke Gazette 1986


Anna Fox Photographs 1983–2007

‘This newly generated wealth will percolate To the rest of the country’. Basingstoke Gazette 1985


‘Hardly a week seems to go by without news of yet another local leaving town’. Basingstoke Gazette 1985


Anna Fox Photographs 1983–2007

‘This town needs love says priest’. Basingstoke Gazette 1985



Anna Fox Photographs 1983–2007


‘To summarise, Basingstoke has a strong and developing sense of social unity. But there is a disturbing level of social upsets and something lacking in social vitality’. Survey of Life in Basingstoke


Anna Fox Photographs 1983–2007

‘Since arriving here, we have watched with horror as the shops have slowly disappeared, and with total lack of thought, a menagerie of jewellers, shoe-shops and electrical appliances have slowly taken over, selling electrical monsters’. Letter to Basingstoke Gazette 1985



Workstations Anna Fox began Workstations shortly after leaving West Surrey College of Art and Design, where she had been taught and by Paul Graham and Martin Parr. After making a series about Basingstoke, she embarked on Workstations, a study of office life in the Thatcher years. ‘I found it fascinating- they were such odd spaces. Like houses in a funny way. My father would always come home with stories of the office. Office life is almost like private life. It is away from the family and people have a whole other existence. I felt that there were issues that seemed important but which didn’t normally get photographed.’


Anna Fox Photographs 1983–2007



‘Strength, stamina and precision had kept him at the top’. Business 1987


Anna Fox Photographs 1983–2007



Anna Fox Photographs 1983–2007

‘There is nothing wrong with avarice as a motive, as long as it doesn’t lead to dishonest or antisocial conduct’. Business 1986


‘Enjoy the benefits that have made an international success story... make stress work for you’. Advertisement 1986


Anna Fox Photographs 1983–2007

‘If we don’t foul up no-one can touch us’. Computer Weekly 1987



Anna Fox Photographs 1983–2007

‘Fortunes are being made that are in line with the dreams of avarice’. Business 1987


‘Having a secretary is a status symbol’. Eric Webster – How to Win the Business Battle 1964


Anna Fox Photographs 1983–2007

‘Should a competitor threaten to kill a sale, the mdem would provide a lifeline back to base computer’. Business 1986


Celebrating the killings.


Anna Fox Photographs 1983–2007



Anna Fox Photographs 1983–2007




Friendly Fire A series of 20 colour photographs documenting weekend paintball war games in the south of England. The games took place in disused hospitals, army bases and farmland. ‘ I came across paintball while I was working onWorkstations- sales teams would take part in the games to increase their team spirit and competitiveness. They were playing soldiers and I was playing war photographer, it was all very unreal.‘


Anna Fox Photographs 1983–2007



Anna Fox Photographs 1983–2007



Anna Fox Photographs 1983–2007



Anna Fox Photographs 1983–2007



Anna Fox Photographs 1983–2007



The Village The Village was commissioned by the Cross Channel Photographic Mission. Anna Fox collaborated with curator Val Williams, using still photographs, projections and sound to produce this study of women’s lives in a rural Village in west Sussex. ‘This project was made in my grandmother’s village; I wanted to spend time investigating the realities (that I felt were hidden) lying behind the façade of the typical English picture postcard village. I photographed family weddings, village hall parties, fetes, and women’s domestic lives.’


Anna Fox Photographs 1983–2007



Anna Fox Photographs 1983–2007



Anna Fox Photographs 1983–2007



Anna Fox Photographs 1983–2007



Anna Fox Photographs 1983–2007




Afterwards This series was photographed in the aftermath of rave parties in rural Hampshire. They were photographed on a miniature auto-focus camera. ‘ This was the end of an era; new legislation meant the end of large-scale rave parties. Most of these photographs were taken when I returned to Hampshire after spending some years in London, and the rave scene had gone underground. I found these parties and the people who attended them an extraordinary spectacle.‘


Anna Fox Photographs 1983–2007



Anna Fox Photographs 1983–2007



Anna Fox Photographs 1983–2007



Anna Fox Photographs 1983–2007



41 Hewitt Road This project includes two series of colour photographs based around Fox’s home in North London. The first series documented the rooms of 41 Hewitt Road; the second is a study of objects from the house, packed away to form an archive when Anna Fox returned to Hampshire. ‘ In the mid 1990s, I was often at home with my children so I began to photograph our immediate surroundings. 41 Hewitt Road was a chaotic place and photographing there meant that I could put distance between myself and it.’


Anna Fox Photographs 1983–2007



Anna Fox Photographs 1983–2007



Anna Fox Photographs 1983–2007



Anna Fox Photographs 1983–2007



Anna Fox Photographs 1983–2007



Anna Fox Photographs 1983–2007



Anna Fox Photographs 1983–2007



Anna Fox Photographs 1983–2007



Anna Fox Photographs 1983–2007



Zwarte Piet This series of 20 photographs documents the Dutch character Zwarte Piet, assistant to Sinta Klaus. Every year hundreds of Dutch citizens blacken their faces and perform antics for the general populace throughout Holland. . ‘ I first saw a crowd of Zwarte Piets out of my brother’s living room in Groningen. I was amazed to see such an anachronism in a modern and progressive country. I portrayed them in a dignified, painterly way, as significant members of the community. I thought it was important that they should be looked at more closely.‘


Anna Fox Photographs 1983–2007



Anna Fox Photographs 1983–2007

Zwarte Piet’s Bal Masqué Mieke Bal

They dance, jump about, play the fool. Colourful, festive, full of surprises, they turn boring, grey, early-winter days into a period of partying. They knock on windows while inside, near the hearth; children sing season’s songs. Sometimes, without anyone leaving the room, the door opens a notch and a handful of candies are thrown inside. They used to threaten and shake their roe, a birch rod of twigs for flogging, but these days they mainly reassure kids by giving them candy only. Reassurance is called for. This alone deserves attention. Fascination and reassurance - hence, a play with anxiety underlie the Dutch Sinterklaas and Zwarte Piet tradition. Anna Fox’s photographs explore the multiple ambiguities of that need for reassurance. From these ambiguities they derive their striking power as images, as instances of visual art in a performance of cultural analysis.1 Dutch society, like all societies, has traditions. The Easter Rabbit brings Easter eggs, brightly coloured, hidden in the garden. The pagan Christmas tree looms over the tiny statues representing the story of the birth of Jesus. And during that part of the year when American children try to overcome their fear of darkness, brought on by the gloom of shortening days and increasing cold, by dressing up and going out at Halloween, the Dutch are preparing for the annual visit of Sinterklaas. All traffic in Amsterdam is stopped when the long-haired, white-bearded Bishop of Toledo sails into the city, past the Saint Nicholas Church, named after him, the patron saint of Amsterdam. On that same afternoon in late November, he simultaneously enters all Dutch cities on a white horse, surrounded by his servants, black-faced fools, many of them


young, white women, who jump around handing out candy from a burlap sack to dutiful children, shaking their birch branches to frighten the naughty. The very bad ones might be put into the sack once it’s empty and taken back to Toledo, not to be returned to their families until the following year. I was bad, but never that bad - apparently. Like all European societies, Dutch society has changed. It isn’t as easy today to play the black-faced fool to a crowd of racially and ethnically mixed Amsterdammers, facing descendants of the very people who, long ago in a colonialist past, inspired the tradition that now slaps them in the face (then, it did worse). Bolder and less fearful than I was, today white Dutch children of kindergarten age persistently call out “hi Zwarte Piet” to black people they meet on the street, not realising, of course, how it feels to hear that greeting several times a day. Aware of the problematic nature of this particular tradition, one year the Dutch tried to have Zwarte Pieten with faces painted red, blue or green. It was a crucial moment, and it failed. Nobody liked it. So now they’re black again. Too bad; an opportunity to continue a tradition but adapt it to changing times - out the window. Down the drain. Anna Fox’s photographs are not obvious. They neither naturalise, endorse, nor indict the Zwarte Piet tradition; nor do they dismiss it offhand, showing how awkward it looks to her British eye. For, of course, there is no easy way for nationals of any Western country to point the finger at their neighbour’s racism without a good dose of self-reflection. This is not an ethnographic project about the Dutch. Instead, Anna Fox’s images probe many of the tensions the Zwarte Piet


Anna Fox Photographs 1983–2007

tradition harbours, exploring what it means to hold on to what at a rational level must be rejected, questioning what it means for specific individuals to perform, rather than watch, the representation of the very past on which, for better or for worse, today’s Dutch society rests. From a position both inside and outside the context within which this tradition functions, Fox probes and sympathises, lingers within positions of identification, then playfully moves out to show the problems, then moves in again. The images solicit a variety of identificatory moments, all implicating the viewer, who is gently prompted to go where perhaps she has never been.2 The reason why this tradition is really impossible is also the reason why it cannot be dismissed too easily. Dutch culture is changing; so is the meaning of Dutchness. To keep in touch with the culture’s past, it is no longer enough to be taken by one’s parents to the Rijksmuseum and shown what constituted the glory of Dutch art.What matters most in any present moment - hence, also today - is to watch over, indeed, cherish, a culture’s very changeability. The past can be neither dismissed nor repressed. Elsewhere, I have argued that if a culture is to fully incorporate constructive changes and the potential of changing more, it is of vital importance that it not eradicate its memories, the traces of its problematic past. (1996) For this reason, these portraits are best considered as an intervention in a larger European culture, where each country has its specific past yet today faces similar challenges. Ambivalence characterises these photographs. And ambivalence characterises the Zwarte Piet tradition. Replete with a many-layered history, the images constitute just such an act of cultural memory as any productive engagement with the past for the sake of the present requires. Let me highlight

a few of their aspects. They are portraits, indeed. The generic character, Zwarte Piet, is decomposed in as many individual faces, each begging to be looked at in detail, named, understood in terms of what its subject is doing dressing up like this. In the face of a tradition that lumped fantasmatic black men together under one generic name as if slavery were still alive, individualising them is already an act of display that does not simply reiterate. As has been argued elsewhere, the history of the portrait as genre is closely linked with specific social historical developments; hence, portraits carry the meanings this context has accrued to the genre.3 Here, the specific features of the portrait that stand out are the posing and the dark background, which, in conjunction with Zwarte Piet’s traditional white collar, strongly recall Dutch portraiture of the seventeenth century, the period of the joint successes of colonialism, slavery and capitalism. It is the dark background of the wealth that enabled the bourgeoisie, rooted in an individualism that is still with us today and that underlies the genre’s greatness, to rise to power. The photographs as portraits thus refer to - without reiterating - a tradition in art that was always-already problematic. But, as well as portraiture, these photographs deploy a dialogue with theatre, another significant practice of performance. For despite the fact that the figures in these images masquerade as such powerful figures, that is not what they are. The casual, unfancy backgrounds that shimmer through the artistic darkness - a radiator, the edge of a


Formica table - are indexes of the class background within and for which this play is being staged.Yet the subjects are dignified, not because their portraits are being made, but because, individualised as they are and unlike the black subjects of Western artistic tradition who remained confined to their subservient roles, they appear to be masters of their poses. The ambivalence of the genre and its history is thus inscribed in each image. The two conventions, reactivated here, come together in their working through of a painful tradition informed by moralism. In other words, moralism is not a critique of the tradition but an integral part of it. By virtue of their emphatic relationship with portraiture, Anna Fox’s photographs command an individualising attention that considers the masquerade as part of the subject’s individuality. They ask us to look through the disguise, the similarity, the assumption of generic identity that the collective name Zwarte Piet, the costume and the blackfacing offer, at “first sight”. The subjects are women, but in the photographs, nothing of their traditional gear helps us to notice their gender. No breasts, no feminine clothing, no ornaments, no poses. We are just looking at faces, painted for disguise, and yet, in most of the photographs, we see women. We see they are white. Many have blue eyes.Yet in some cases I hesitate: is the woman with the blue bonnet, red hood and white lace collar who looks me straight in the eye, white or black? To me, and to the friends to whom I showed the photographs, she “looks black”. This commands a closer look. I scrutinise the image with an incurable, acquired, ideological magnifying glass. From my stock of prejudices, I muster all the features I have learned to associate with black people, and


Anna Fox Photographs 1983–2007

here I am, detailing the racist taxonomy learned so long ago in geography books at the same age when I was still a little scared of Zwarte Piet. This is how the photographs implicate their viewers. The past, they say, is not out there, it is here, today; and to some extent, which I can neither master nor eradicate, it is inside me.

represented in this project, determines whether one is of a particular sex or gender or playing the in-between. In this series, gender, like race, is emphatically an event - an effect, not a cause or origin, of social positions. Hence it is bound to the subject choosing to act it, not an excuse to naturalise social positions and the inequities that come with them.4

Scrutinizing the image for gender and racial features: while I am doing this, knowing that I am doing it, I also see the whiter edges around the subject’s eyes, indexes of racial uncertainty, the hand that refuses to assert racial truth. Then I notice the smudge of black paint on the woman’s upper lip. This smudge works like a wink, as if she’s pulling my leg. “I am not who you think I am”, the figure seems to say. Is this a black woman playing a white woman playing a black man? What she is, here, isn’t the point; that is the point. The game she plays involves me, who I am, just as much as it involves the she that she does not want to reveal herself to be. The theatrical space opened up here is the space in which culture does not simply exist, but happens.

Each woman is different from every other. But this individuality does not entail distance. Despite resembling those paintings in Dutch museums in some ways, they are also very close, personal, looking me straight in the eye and inviting me to share the pride, boredom, fun, fatigue, resignation, fear, insecurity, comfort or discomfort that playing the role entails. Despite also resisting the precise reading necessary for such identification. The one in the Italian Renaissance pose - in bright red and blue, a pristine white colour, a Zwarte Piet clad in yellow in the background - looks the way I dreamt I would look when I knew I would not be chosen to be Zwarte Piet, due to my inability to muster that confident prettiness.

What this image does to my awareness of the race-consciousness within me also happens with gender.We see women, all different. Or do we? Is the proud-posing person in the purple mantle, whose wig or bonnet has slipped backwards to reveal, intentionally or by accident, a white hairline, a woman or a man? By way of the defiance in her gaze and on her lips, the figure’s gender becomes so emphatically ambiguous that I wonder if this is a man posing as a woman posing as a man. And so, again, I realise that sometimes you don’t know, and that sometimes it doesn’t matter. The posing itself, the choice of and mastery over the way each person is

The photographs I have touched on here represent for me, in the keenest possible way, the ambiguities and tensions of the Zwarte Piet tradition that Anna Fox has captured - not so that she can document them, but as a way of working through, and working with, the space they open up.Within that space, the tradition can be used, for better or for worse, to probe a culture in flux, both tragically locked up in itself and unable to maintain the illusion of self-identity. A culture is not condemned to forever maintain, let alone celebrate, in a profoundly nostalgic sentiment, its racist roots. On the contrary, it is, by definition, changing. This changing quality


does not mean change is automatic; the direction it takes is the subject of the continuous struggles of the subjects that constitute culture. It is fair to say that in the history of Western art, black subjects have been represented the way they were treated in social reality: marginalised or neglected; made ugly, sometimes monstrous; or idealised, always a projection screen for white painters’ fears and desires. Such representations are neither imitations of, nor disconnected from, social imagery and traditions. Art today cannot but interact with that embarrassing tradition if it is to be effective in its interventions in changing culture. It is neither by repressing nor reiterating the past that we can live with a present brought forth by that past and which still harbours it, whether we like it or not. Anna Fox’s photographs, humorous and tender, ironic and identifying, are powerful in the way they offer art as a means to face this need head-on. As I said before, her images avoid the two most predictable attitudes a project like this one might succumb to: the endorsement of reiteration and the moralism of indictment. To say they “avoid” is to say they do something. The quality of the images that I am implying through that phrase is their performativity. Beyond their artistic work of portraiture alone, beyond their theatrical play, they do something; they act. Like words. One of the many things these images do is to take advantage of the ambiguity of images as such. Images are readable, but what exactly they are saying remains subject to debate. In our case - the Zwarte Piet tradition and


Anna Fox Photographs 1983–2007

Anna Fox’s photographs of it - this is all for the good. The ambiguities here are indispensable, for, as I have suggested, moralism is part of both the racism and anti-racism that has coloured Dutch culture in the wake of post-colonial migration. Together with the taxonomies of race, gender and class that provide the grids through which children learn to bring order into the chaos of the world, moralism itself is tabled here. For it is moralism that attempts to channel children’s affective lives and fill them with ideological interests. The tool Fox uses to break this moralism open, while avoiding traps of any simple representation of the tradition, is an appeal to identificatory trajectories that powerful images are able to propose. These allow viewers to travel backwards in time, to relive their own childhood and perhaps exorcise the fear that came with fascination. The bed of the artificial ideological river that channelled childish anxiety through the specialisation of racial othering can be enlarged. Enlarged photographs of today’s images infused with pastness as if they were the products of double exposures may, I would like to suggest, serve to trigger, by way of the allegorical exploitation of their medium, an intensification of the reflection on where we can go from here. The emphatic effect of a masquerade that persuades us that there is no real identity to be seen yet no fictional mask to hide behind: this is simultaneously the photographs’ performance, the viewer’s liberation and Zwarte Piet’s démasqué.



Anna Fox Photographs 1983–2007



Anna Fox Photographs 1983–2007



Anna Fox Photographs 1983–2007



Cockroach Diary Cockroach Diary was published as an artist’s book in 2000; consisting of photographs and diary entries, it documented an infestation of cockroaches at Anna Fox’s home in Haringay, North London. ‘We were living a big north London house with numerous lodgers who came and went, our own two children and a friend’s baby. One morning the cockroaches arrived, we tried all kinds of ways of exterminating them, none of which worked, Living with them was traumatic, and so I started to photograph them.They were virtually impossible to photograph as they moved too fast. I kept a diary of all my frustrations with other members of the household. Everyone left except for me and my children; the cockroaches left just before we did.’


Anna Fox Photographs 1983–2007



Anna Fox Photographs 1983–2007



Anna Fox Photographs 1983–2007



Anna Fox Photographs 1983–2007



Anna Fox Photographs 1983–2007



Anna Fox Photographs 1983–2007



Anna Fox Photographs 1983–2007



Anna Fox Photographs 1983–2007



My Mother’s Cupboards and My Father’s Words Artist’s book also shown as exhibition prints. This series interrogated family relationships through text and photographs. ‘I found it fascinating- they were such odd spaces. Like houses in a funny way. My father would always come home with stories of the office. Office life is almost like private life. It is away from the family and people have a whole other existence. I felt that there were issues that seemed important but which didn’t normally get photographed.’


Anna Fox Photographs 1983–2007


I’m going to tear your mother to shreds with an oyster knife


Anna Fox Photographs 1983–2007

You toad. Pity I got rid of the well: you could have gone down there and been cemented over


She’s washed so many dishes, her hands have blown up like bear’s claws


Anna Fox Photographs 1983–2007

Beastly bitches. Filthy cows


I’m going to put her under the grill, I wouldn’t cover her in butter, I’m going to cover her in grease and fry her


Anna Fox Photographs 1983–2007


She’s bloody rattling again. Can you stop your bloody fucking rattling


Anna Fox Photographs 1983–2007

They shouldn’t be allowed to breathe the same air as me



Notes from Home This extensive series of narrative sequences was made when Fox returned to live in the village of Selborne, Hampshire. ‘I moved back to the area where I grew up, and found myself immediately surrounded by village life. I became fascinated by the domestic life going on in our new household, and began to construct photo stories about these very simple activities. Each story has its own title and was made in collaboration with another member of the household.‘


Anna Fox Photographs 1983–2007



Anna Fox Photographs 1983–2007



Anna Fox Photographs 1983–2007



Anna Fox Photographs 1983–2007



Anna Fox Photographs 1983–2007



Anna Fox Photographs 1983–2007



Anna Fox Photographs 1983–2007



Anna Fox Photographs 1983–2007



Anna Fox Photographs 1983–2007



Country Girls A collaboration with Alison Goldfrapp, resulting in a series of staged colour photographs based on the lives of young women growing up in rural southern England and on the story of Sweet Fanny Adams, violently murdered in Alton, Hampshire in the early 1900s. ‘ Alison and I had been fascinated by the Fanny Adams story since we were young girls, and we also felt strongly about how suffocating it was for young women growing up in the countryside in the 1970s. Alison brought clothes and make-up.We went out into the landscape, often at night or in the early morning, and made photographs that summed up these feelings’


Anna Fox Photographs 1983–2007



Anna Fox Photographs 1983–2007



Anna Fox Photographs 1983–2007



Anna Fox Photographs 1983–2007



Anna Fox Photographs 1983–2007



Anna Fox Photographs 1983–2007



Anna Fox Photographs 1983–2007



Anna Fox Photographs 1983–2007



Anna Fox Photographs 1983–2007



Anna Fox Photographs 1983–2007

On the Path

When we consider the photographs which constitute ‘Pictures of Linda Lunus’ and ‘Country Girls’ we could be forgiven for imagining different authors. A broader view of Anna Fox’s catalogue further intensifies this speculation. This significant gesture implies a sensitivity towards the subject, or rather both the human subjects represented and the broad subject of photographic portraiture itself. On closer inspection of her various bodies of work, both including the figure as well as their environments and doings, we are met with an inventory of strategic actions. Fox regularly reinvents her own tenets as she tests the parameters around the making of portraits. “Smile please!” I am pointing a camera at you. Do you remember feeling reticent when posing for a portrait? Some people take it on the chin, fixed smile, eyes searching for themselves in the lens.You see them at weddings and can only wonder about their assurance, and whether they might work in PR. For most of us it’s an uncomfortable formality, the stuff of holidays and new jobs, more a compliance with family or institutional convention than a dedicated record of our selfs. There we were: bounced on the knees of aunts, self conscious in new clothes, laminated to wallet sized pieces of plastic, flanked by the in-laws, holding the catch, arms around shoulders, sunburnt in front of a ruin. We’ve all been there; interchangeable protagonists united to stage a trusted format rather than risk a likeness. This universal acting-out undermines photography’s potential transaction but is nothing more than a coping mechanism for the social challenge of a snap. Conventions that shore up against the possibility of revealing an unnecessary truth.


These procedures are ripe for investigation and these ‘truths’ find themselves catalogued in Fox’s output. All a camera can really record is light bouncing off an object, right? Yet this flimsy approximation of oneself is loaded for speculation as we subconsciously draw conclusions from gesture, posture and expression. How we squirm when a likeness reveals something unlike our expectation, when the record reveals too much or not enough. The word ‘portrait’ fills us with heady expectations. We expect so much of a representation, more than a camera can ever manifest. Who, in their right mind, would choose to dedicate so much of themselves to 125th of a second, invested for a mortal eternity? Vernacular portraits often impart a tenderness too, or allow us to empathise with an unknown subject, the formats are a shared joke as much as a necessary evil, something we must accept with pragmatism, like a surgery scar. Snapshots are, perhaps, the lowliest portraits, and often the most treasured. A few rungs up the ladder from photo booth, web cam grab and surveillance frame, but there’s the significant suggestion of an ‘about’ rather than an ‘of’. When seen together, a collection of snapshots defy their familiar staging conventions and clichés to impart something more, the cumulative effect presents recognisable clues, implications, signifiers. As our gaze travels through someone else’s times we can’t help but draw conclusions about the reoccurring protagonists of a family’s album. The idea of the snap-shot has been revised in the last 30 years. Archivists bring their own readings to


Anna Fox Photographs 1983–2007

tacit collections. Curators, critics and gallerists ‘elevate’ the vernacular keepsake into marketplace commodity. Art photographer’s appropriate the ‘casual’ gesture into their aesthetic, the implication wrong footing the viewer into a false sense of intimacy and perceived artlessness. Fox too visits this territory, lulling us into a false sense of security whist constructing a cumulative sense of portraiture, meted out over time and interaction. In everyday appraisal ‘a good portrait’ is an over used phrase that generally describes a picture of a person seeming to engage with a photographer, and usually a picture that looks like a picture we already know or have had validated. The more the illusion of engagement the more successful the sitting is judged to be. When the subject looks at the lens they can create the illusion of staring back at the viewer, and also of that gesture of sincerity: eye contact. Thus a disingenuous caricature of honesty has become stock in trade, a banal convention that takes us further away still from the cultural expectations invested in the word ‘portrait’. Conventions founded in carved stone and oil paint were always going to need some serious repositioning if they were ever going to find meaningful equivalents in light sensitive processes. Few contemporary photographers allow themselves the luxury of time. Bodies of work can mature and develop over years of distillation. Typological bodies of work are often preordained executions of formal strategy and intellectual will. The work is generated methodically in such a way as to exclude fundamental medium specifics such as luck, capture skill and the

happy accident. Technique and authorship become less self-evident. Gone are the specific signatures of crop or exposure value. Missed are the lurches and swings of hand held formats and the compulsive frisson as obsessive scrutiny and subject meet on the path. These debates, and others, about Photography are all visited in the work of Anna Fox. She is a photographer who’s work could be mistaken for it’s subject, but one who understands and manages the difference between making work and what the work makes. As a fellow practitioner I know it’s relatively easy to make a ‘strong’ photographic portrait, or at least an industry standard ‘acceptable’ one, but acceptable to whom? Fox has a broad experience of the practise and could not be accused of being complacent. This may account for her choice of comparatively difficult paths of surprising and off-kilter techniques and presentation. There is a significant shortfall created by the relaxed ‘snap-shot’ attitude of her images. Her exacting agenda often leads us to a sense of visual familiarity, seemingly casual but accommodating complex underlying speculation. As much as Fox enjoys the various forays she makes into social landscapes at home and abroad she can also be seen to employ a broad interaction with the mechanisms and capabilities of Photography itself which was more readily self referential in the years just before she was a student, the mid/late-1970’s. Issues of the medium’s parameters have resonated in her work, particularly with respect to the impossible promise of photographic portraiture. Fox often finds she has made a piece of work in retrospect.


Her subconscious, ongoing commitment to motif or subject reveal themselves in time. Taking pictures is a part of the process, recognising the pictures in edit is something else. With the benefit of hindsight she has come to recognise thematic preoccupations in her own back catalogue. Images which, like snapshots found in a family album, can reveal a particular quality that can only be realised as a cumulative project. This is not a scientific measure of growth or decay, more a humane strategy worked out with an optimistic application of photographic apparatus. Sometimes pictures are felt. Pictures of Linda began, as they say, quite by chance, that quintessentially Photographic characteristic. Fox’s curiosity about this startling presence at the periphery of her social group led her to make an informal record, down at the pub one night. A stolen glance that was to have extraordinary consequences. It triggered an ongoing image based relationship that charts a range of experience whilst illustrating a commitment to the idea of a portrait as a collection of studies rather than a defining image. When I look at the products of their early sessions I am reminded of my own youth in provincial England. Another generation tuning in to John Peel’s eclectic radio shows, a cultural catalyst pre-internet. These DIY possibilities presented in the wake of Punk were very real and wonderfully multifaceted. The aggressive colonisation, branding and streaming of so-called youth culture was fledgling compared to the vulture that looms today. At that time we were liberated by a sense of possibility and united against Thatcherism, even before the regime was truly felt. Looking at Fox’s pictures of Lunus I can see the resulting

home fashioned exotica we paraded past hedgerows in rural Norfolk, where I grew up, were simultaneously every bit as outlandish in Hampshire. When I look at Linda as front woman to the group Fashionable Living Death I imagine a shared enthusiasm for bands such as The Birthday Party, Siouxsie and the Banshees or Southern Death Cult. All this communicated in a hairstyle. I try to remember who we imagined ourselves to be, we performed a young self in lieu of being. A pointed, black leather toe testing the waters of life. Saving up from my paper-round to go to Robot on the Kings Road to get a pair of faux-zebra creepers like Paul Simonon’s, the first pair of shoes bought with my own money. I can remember bunking the train to London, staying in squats and marvelling at hundreds of others, like us, congregating in the brooding violence of the Hammersmith Palais and the Camden Palace. I wonder if I was at any of the same gigs as Linda… Linda Lunus’ enthusiasm for style as culture developed, becoming more and more idiosyncratic as she informally proposed an ongoing record of her various states to Fox, which also developed into an exploration of the process of their relationship through video recorded sessions of dressing up and performing, even at times when Linda’s health might have seemed prohibitive to such a process. When Fox works instinct is paramount, and this awareness is the foundation for some of her most challenging work. A sense of trust is promoted through her process, which is as relevant a factor in photography as any mechanical setting, however undervalued. The resulting short film ‘Pictures of Linda Lunus’ has the post-punk DIY aesthetic all over it. Fox is the first to admit that the film of the project is inconclusive,


Anna Fox Photographs 1983–2007

is ‘unresolved’ in the traditional sense. Perhaps this unpolished quality is reminiscent of the amateur, when we watch the film there are awkward scenes which are left unedited, so as to demystify the process, offer an insight into the working relationship. We are looking at looking, a reoccurring theme for the practitioner in the digital age. Despite Linda Lunus’ provincial setting her keen sense of style, however outlandish, remained pertinent. As West Coast psychedelic aesthetics informed the visuals of Rave and Trance musics and the accompanying ‘free party’ scene, itself a natural progression from the Punk era, so Linda’s dress sense shifted away from the apocalyptic towards something vibrant. Similarly her colourful new styling attitudes were still informed by the sense of DIY that underpinned her previous incarnations. Her fast changing hybridized styles became her own, no longer easily classified. Keen too is her sense of the camera, and it’s conduit to an audience. Unlike the ‘good portraits’ discussed earlier whereby the lens is the point of a subject’s gaze, Linda appears to be looking through the apparatus, beyond Fox, to an imagined audience, the imagined public for whom she parades. At points in the film I think I can feel her addressing, not the video camera, but us. The mass of images of Linda serve to suggest how photographic portraiture could work, given the benefit of hindsight and time. We see pictures of an extraordinary person and sense an unflinching archive that is also an experimental cumulative portraiture. In their ‘Country Girls’ series Fox and long time friend and collaborator, the musician Alison Goldfrapp use the basis of portraiture to discuss and stage something quite different.

Rather than the ‘about’ of the Linda pictures, these women are talking ‘of’ an objectified version of country life. The series, informed by their shared experiences whilst growing up in rural Hampshire, plays with the sense of claustrophobia and danger that underpinned the lives of isolated young women. Unpunished sex crime against women was not unusual and formed a gruesome part of the folk lore of that often eulogised bygone era. That skulking fear and fascination of women perpetuated by insecure men is never far away in pictures which have the deliberate and authoritative construction of an editorial fashion photograph. The disarming aesthetic of the casual snap, which tricks us into a false sense of security in the Linda pictures, is replaced with something altogether more formal, more obviously constructed. In fact similar principals of construction are shared in the two projects. What is significantly different is the intention. This work rails against the limits of social experience and societal expectation in an age before digital connection. A crushing silence, not a breath, issues from these pictures in profound contrast to Linda’s hustle and bustle. The characters assumed by Goldfrapp and Fox try to escape, but are literally ‘stuck in the mud’. It is as if the landscape itself, so often referred to in the Feminine tense, has conspired to their entrapment. They act up, misbehaving, like Linda’s Punk, but cavorting a very different costume. Twin sets and tweed, Hunter’s and headscarves all communicate a very different sense of observed class to Linda’s ragtag urchin. When we look at Fox’s work over the decades time and time again we see a clearly defined sensitivity to costume, uniformity and dress. When you grow up in a non urban community


of limited choice and so-called conservatism the slightest differences and details count. Gossip and bullying prevail around the village green. Keep your head down and don’t draw attention to yourself were often governing factors before our current vainglorious culture of micro celebrity. These often drab communities have also fostered some unusual exceptions, light relief from the Morris Men and Mummers, oddball characters confronted by Fox in other projects. More often than not these outlandish roles and organised rites were reserved for male members of the community, further repressing any Female expression. In ‘Country Girls’ the ‘portrait’ is of a general idea of a person born of experience, rather than an actual individual. Both parties, Fox and Goldfrapp, have history invested in the outcome of the project.The catharsis of generating these characters has resulted in another challenging body of images, not yet complete. This reoccurring feature, of continuation, in Fox’s portraiture belies a commitment to the process and the subject, and a desire to tell as much as there is without the limitations of a photograph.


Anna Fox Photographs 1983–2007



Pictures of Linda Anna Fox has been collaborating with musician Linda Lunus for 22 years. Together, they have made photographs and video pieces documenting Linda’s costumes, hairstyles, surroundings and their continuing friendship. ‘ I first photographed Linda at a small party in Alton. I was fascinated by the dress style of small town punk bands and Linda was the lead singer of the band Fashionable Living Death. She invited me to photograph her to promote the band.We became friends and Linda became obsessed with having a document of herself, as she appeared in many different guises’.


Anna Fox Photographs 1983–2007



Anna Fox Photographs 1983–2007



Anna Fox Photographs 1983–2007



Anna Fox Photographs 1983–2007



Anna Fox Photographs 1983–2007



Anna Fox Photographs 1983–2007



Anna Fox Photographs 1983–2007



Anna Fox Photographs 1983–2007



Anna Fox Photographs 1983–2007



Anna Fox Photographs 1983–2007



Anna Fox Photographs 1983–2007



Anna Fox Photographs 1983–2007



Anna Fox Photographs 1983–2007



Anna Fox Photographs 1983–2007

Anna Fox: Village Masquerades Val Williams

In the summer of 2005 Anna Fox photographed the contestants taking part in a village Pram Race in Hampshire in the south of England. Set against a perfect English summer landscape, the men and women preparing for the race are dressed in outlandish costumes, elaborately made up or wearing masks. There are middle aged men dressed up as elderly women, an eerie dragon mask, a duck, a glowering doctor and a young man wearing a helmet made of a yellow rubber washing-up glove. These are simple portraits, made with the full co-operation of the subjectsif there is an element of comedy, then it is supplied by them, as they pose and posture in the full knowledge that their position as the Clowns of the Fete is unassailable. Many of Anna Fox’s photographs of the last decade have sought out the peculiarities of middle England. She is interested in the ways in which everyday life produces spectacles, which, through the prism of photography and the photographer’s gaze, emerge as vivid and remarkable. It could be said that Anna Fox is part of an established tradition of UK documentary photography, her work sitting within an area inhabited by photographers such as Homer Sykes, Peter Mitchell and Paul Reas, in which absurdity plays an important role. These British ‘photographers of the absurd’ have introduced characters to us who amble through a circumscribed landscape, oddly costumed, involved in arcane activities. Everything that Anna Fox photographs is tinged with the macabre. The Hampshire village Pram Race has a ghastly feel- one senses a conspiracy of villagers, unsmiling, masked, they are lost in their own ritual.


Anna Fox has been a resident of the small village of Selborne for almost a decade now. This peculiar epitome of Englishness- picturesque cottages lying in the folds of the beautiful countryside immortalized by the naturalist Gilbert White- is sliced in half by a dangerous main road. Its Gilbert White Museum is staffed by an idiosyncratic group of elderly women and its two pubs epitomize the class divide of the wealthy rural south, while the sparsely stocked village shop teeters on the edge of closure. Like all English villages, it has had to deal with significant changes as those who seek the rural idyll collide with long-term residents. The resurgence of interest in the vernacular culture of England after the end of World War Two produced a considerable amount of comment on the future of the English village. In his 1958 book English Villages in Colour, Geoffrey Grigson and photographers who included Kenneth Scowen, J Allen Cash and A F Kersting viewed the village as a place of antiquity. J Allan Cash’s photograph of Lamberhurst in Kent, shows a group of weather boarded houses and an inn, while Kenneth Scowen’s portrait of Snowshill in Gloucestershire is an unpeopled study of Stone cottages, estate- green paint and tumbling beds of wallflowers. Grigson, a far-sighted commentator on rural life, saw the village as a relic of the past, facing immense change: ‘If the villages pass away, not this year, or next, but patchily, and gradually, and sometime; if they retreat, so to say, into the towns, it may not be entire loss, at least for the villagers.Village man in England will then have overcome, or rather evaded, the primal curse, which he is the last to endure.The land and its sentiment


Anna Fox Photographs 1983–2007

may call the moneyed idealist of the towns out into the country, and may induce him to take up farming. But the labourer in the cottage, in the village, may have had enough. (EnglishVillages in Colour Batsford 1958 PP 30) It would seem, from Anna Fox’s photographs of Selborne, that village life, though not lost, has become almost an imitation of itself. Rituals emerge not so much from history or the land, but from a communality which is formed to reinforce the ‘otherness’ of country life, the rejection of modernity. Anna Fox has been fascinated by the ‘village-ness’ of village life for many years. In an interview for the Oral History of British Photography (British Library National Sound Archive) in the mid 1990s, she described growing up in a ‘cottage in a classic English village’ and attending ‘ a classic English village school’. At lectures given to students when she began teaching in the early 1990s, she would show Quentin Blake’s illustrations from Our Village (with John Yeoman 1988) She was particularly interested in the ways in which Blake portrayed women, as eccentrics and busybodies. Little Miss Thynne, Lily Binns , Elsie Crumb, Selina Scrubb and Dotty Lou are countrywomen of a very particular kind, busy but slightly deranged. In her own 1994 photo series The Village (shown at Worthing Art Gallery and Museum, photographs and AV installation), her interest in the grotesqueries of rural life emerged. The characters in her story- a bridesmaid bearing scissors, and elderly woman grimacing over a soft toy, a bleak kiss- were the stuff of fairy stories. Hers was a world of women and girls, submitting- so it seemed- the rituals which challenged the present, and insisted on some feudal past.

IN the 1980s, Anna Fox embarked on a singular rural adventure. With a group of friends, all attached to the music scene in Alton, Hampshire, she moved into Chawton House in the village of Chawton. Formerly the home of Jane Austen’s brother Edward Knight, and close to Jane Austen’s own cottage, Chawton House was in a state of decay, but for Anna Fox, it became a site for personal adventure and freedom from a middle class upbringing. Inside a village yet completely outside it, it was the launching point for a reflection on English society which has now occupied Anna Fox for almost two decades. With her friend, Alison Goldfrapp, she began a long-running series Country Girls, an eerie series of portraits, set deep in the Hampshire countryside. As young women, they had been intrigued by the story of Fanny Adams, a young girl violently murdered in Alton in 1867. They visited Fanny’s grave in Alton, and were intrigued by the discovery that sailors in the British navy, disgusted by the quality of tinned meat served while at sea, nicknamed the food ‘Sweet Fanny Adams’, a phrase which later came to represent poor quality- ‘Sweet FA’ becoming an abbreviation of ‘Sweet Fuck All’. In Country Girls, Alison performed and Anna photographed. They discussed locations and scenarios, all intended to evoke the experience of young women living in the semi-rural environment of the South of England. The portraits veer from sedate photographs of Goldfrapp dressed as a countrywoman, to a disembodied figure, lying in the mud, a head and torso protruding from crops at the edge of a field, stumbling in a party dress through a rocky stream. The fairy story, full of wickedness and darkness,


glimpsed in The Village, emerging in startling full force. Fox and Goldfrapp constructed a country fable, and Fox’s joy in the ‘ordinary menace’ of country life has continued through a number of subsequent series, all based around life in Selborne. In Guy Falkes (2004 -2006) she has made a series of portraits of Bonfire night guys in the village hall. In one photograph, a trio of guys with scrawled paper plate faces and two-toed feet lounge on a row of chairs. An almost faceless guy, dressed in a blue cloak and bonnet, gazes vacantly at the ceiling, while a pirate guy, legs made of crinkled plastic, sits assertively in front of a cardboard figure of Robert Kilroy -Silk, a popular TV chat show host and one-time leader of the UKIP political party. These creations, so badly made, so menacing, are ideal subjects for Fox’s continuing survey of village life, asserting, as they do, the importance of custom, yet at the same time illustrating its degradation. Another Selborne series The Village Play (2003 - 2006) uses the same methodology as Pram Race. Performers are photographed in their dressings rooms, costumed as characters from the past, tellers of the ‘History of Selborne’ and various fairy tales. All is cheap satin and pantomime hats, greasy make-up and badly made costumes, and history becomes a farce, pieced together by the well meaning, performed to the self-satisfied. There have been few photographers who have constructed a satire of country life quite so well as Anna Fox. Only perhaps the prolific Sir Benjamin Stone, who did so in a spirit of survey rather than satire, can begin to provide us with such a hilarious picture of the English dressing up. And, too in Homer Sykes’ 1970s’ series on festivals and customs (Once a Year, Gordon Fraser 1975) where pub


Anna Fox Photographs 1983–2007



Anna Fox Photographs 1983–2007

culture takes over from ancient lore and a nation desperately tries to keep in touch with its past against the background of rainy suburban streets, the spirit of the absurd is as strong and as pithy. Fox and Sykes have played upon differences, incongruities, small ironies- the lack of awareness of other cultures, other worlds, a desperate clinging to the past in the monoculture of the English countryside. Anna Fox’s photographs of country life are complex and contradictory. They satirize country life, yet are also an affirmation of it. The photographs which Fox made in London, before moving back to Hampshire in 1999, focused on chaos and infestation (in 41 Hewitt Road (1996 - 1999) and Cockroach Diary) (1996 - 1999). For Anna Fox, location is a major force in determining methodology. The interiors of 41 Hewitt Road are cluttered and dysfunctional, a scrawled child’s drawing sits oddly against the modish floral wallpaper left by a previous owner. Around every light switch there are squiggles and dots, as children are left, like some crazy, infant Bloomsburyites, to decorate everything they see. This is not an easy or comforting picture of ‘home’. There is dirt and dead things wherever you look, screwed-up bedclothes and dark, littered stairs. At 41 Hewitt Road, the familiar narrative and interchange of rural life had been replaced by the disparate experience of the fringes of outer London, by the anonymous suburbia of the blighted city. If Country Girls, is something of an autobiography in photographs then 41 Hewitt Road is Anna Fox’s meditation on herself, on life in the city, on communal living. The photographs portray disjunction and morbidity, dead things litter the series,


nothing is pleasant or agreeable; the careful decorations of past owners are trashed with scrawls and tears. In an already uncomfortable set of photographs, these perhaps strike the rawest note. Likewise, Cockroach Diary, made during an infestation of cockroaches at 41 Hewitt Road, is similarly bleak. The tiny cockroaches crawl across greasy surfaces, through half-made and unsatisfactory domestic interior and psychological knives are drawn. Old differences between the residents of the house emerge as quarrels about how to deal with the infestation break out. The city, for all its modernity, had failed to defeat an insect as old as history. Shortly after Cockroach Diary was completed, Anna Fox left London to return to live in rural Hampshire. The work she has made there continues to question how we live and who we are in an absurdist comedy of magnificent proportions. Fox’s countryside characters are as dejected and uncomfortable as the desolate interiors of Hewitt Road- and the magical combination of comedy and despair is just as acute.


Back to the Village In this ongoing series, Anna Fox has documented the social fabric of Selborne and surrounding villages in Hampshire, photographing rural events including fetes, Halloween festivities, Guy Falkes night and the village play. ‘When I came back to Selborne, I became increasingly aware of how fascinating the ritual of life in the countryside is. I had been looking at the photographs made by Sir Benjamin Stone as he travelled around Britain recording customs and festivals in the 1900s. This inspired me to make a record of my own.‘


Anna Fox Photographs 1983–2007



Anna Fox Photographs 1983–2007



Anna Fox Photographs 1983–2007



Anna Fox Photographs 1983–2007



Anna Fox Photographs 1983–2007



Anna Fox Photographs 1983–2007



Anna Fox Photographs 1983–2007



Anna Fox Photographs 1983–2007



Anna Fox Photographs 1983–2007



Anna Fox Photographs 1983–2007



Anna Fox Photographs 1983–2007



Anna Fox Photographs 1983–2007



Anna Fox Photographs 1983–2007



Anna Fox Photographs 1983–2007



Anna Fox Photographs 1983–2007



Anna Fox Photographs 1983–2007



Anna Fox Photographs 1983–2007



Anna Fox Photographs 1983–2007



Anna Fox Photographs 1983–2007



Anna Fox Photographs 1983–2007



Anna Fox Photographs 1983–2007


Photographs -



Anna Fox Photographs 1983–2007



Anna Fox Photographs 1983–2007

1983 - 1990 DOWN SOUTH Colour and B&W photographs, recording social events in rural Hampshire. Includes village fairs, train naming, fetes, private parties, portraits of musicians and bands (80’s small town punk), homes, hedges, gardens, village pantomimes, picnics, children playing. Punk portraits published in ZigZag and Wot magazines.


1984 - present ROAD TRIPS Colour photographs of rural and urban landscapes throughout Western and Eastern Europe, Western US, Turkey, North Africa, India, includes the series From Mumbai to Srinigar documenting tourism and commercialization in Urban India. Exhibited West End Centre, Aldershot. 1986.

1983 - present PICTURES OF LINDA LUNUS Photographs of Linda Lunus, 1980’s punk musician, made over a 22-year period (ongoing). Staged portraits and documentary photographs recording Linda’s extraordinary outfits, wigs and poses, places she has lived and visits to hospital. Also 12-minute


video piece documenting the making of the project and the relationship between photographer and subject (Anna and Linda) First exhibited in Fotofreo, Perth, 2006.

Anna Fox Photographs 1983–2007

1983 - 1996 AFTERWARDS Series of large-scale colour photographs, each one depicting a collapsed body, all taken at the end of private rave parties in rural Hampshire, photographed on a miniature auto-focus camera. First exhibited at Shoreditch Biennale 1998

INSIDE OUT 1984 - present Colour photographs of various buildings and houses, both interiors and exteriors, deserted and inhabited. Selection of tin houses, halls, chapels and beach houses.


1985 - 1986 BASINGSTOKE Colour photographs with text captions, a critical observation of Basingstoke life during the late 80’s. Includes urban landscapes, home interiors, people, office life, leisure and shopping. Captions taken from publicity material, interviews and newspaper articles.


The work was all made during the final year at West Surrey College of Art & Design (now University College for the Creative Arts) First exhibited at the John Hansard Gallery, Southampton in 1986

Anna Fox Photographs 1983–2007

HYDROCARBONS GB 1987 Commissioned by The Scott Gallery, Lancaster and British Gas. Colour photographs of office life at Hydrocarbons in Morecombe Bay. Exhibited at the Scott Gallery, Lancaster 1987.

1987 -1988 WORKSTATIONS Photographs of working life in Thatcher’s Britain. Commissioned by Camerawork and The Museum of London Published by Camerawork in 1988 with an essay by Sunil Gupta. Distributed by Cornerhouse. First Exhibited at Camerawork 1988


1989 PARK LIFE Colour photographs of leisure activities in London Parks, includes picnics, music playing, cycling, bowling. Exhibited at Fotoforum, Frankfurt 1989.

1989 - 1990 IN PURSUIT Colour photographs, captions and collected graphic symbols of British leisure industry. Includes sports centres, historical re-enactment clubs, paintball, offroading, archery etc. Exhibited at The Photographers Gallery, London 1990


Anna Fox Photographs 1983–2007

1989 - 1994 FRIENDLY FIRE Colour photographs documenting paintball/weekend war games in the UK, predominantly around the M25 and located in disused hospitals, army bases and farmland. Exhibited in Warworks at The Nederlands Foto Instituut, V&A, and Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography. Published in Warworks by Val Williams/Virago 1995.


1990 - present DUMB BRUNETTES Colour photographs of dummies/representations of women in public spaces taken in Europe, North Africa and India.

1991 REGENERATION ONE & TWO 1.Colour photographs with captions studying the redevelopment of Sheffield for the world student games and local attitudes in response to the changes. Commissioned by Site Gallery. First exhibited at The Mappin Gallery, Sheffield 1991


2.Series of seven large- scale panoramic portraits of Sheffield people who had played a part in the redevelopment process. Shot from the top of buildings overlooking relevant buildings/spaces. First exhibited in Site gallery, Sheffield. 1991

Anna Fox Photographs 1983–2007

1991 - 1994 WEDDINGS Behind- the -scenes photographs of weddings. B&W and colour. Partly commissioned by the BBC for the Photo Show


1991 -1993 THE VILLAGE Commissioned by The Cross Channel Photography Mission. A collaborative project with Val Williams using still photographs, projections and sound. An exploration of women’s’ lives in a West Sussex village. First exhibited at Worthing Museum, East Sussex 1993 Published in Soundings, Cross Channel Photographic Mission, 1993


1994 LA RETRAITE Commissioned by ARPA (Association de Recherché de Photographique Arts) Bordeaux and The Caisse des Depots et Consignations. Series of large- scale images, each made from 2 or 3 photographs depicting French retirees people engaged in range of activities such as gardening, walnut picking, reading, cooking.

Anna Fox Photographs 1983–2007

First exhibited in Caisse des Depots et Consignations, Bordeaux 1994. Published in

ZWARTE PIET 1994 - 1999 Colour portraits of Black Pete (Zwarte Piet) assistant to Sinta Klaus (Saint Nicholas) in the Dutch Christmas story. In mid November Sinta Klaas arrives by boat in every major Dutch city accompanied by a crowd of Zwarte Piets (predominantly white women and children, blacked up) who alternate between dancing clowns and menacing baton wielders. The


story originates from the 16th century, when Spain occupied the territory Moorish servants/slaves became Zwarte Piets. Published by Black Dog, essay by Mieke Bal, 1999. First exhibited at The Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago. 2001

1996 - 2001 COUNTRY GIRLS Collaboration with Alison Goldfrapp, a series of staged colour photographs based on both personal stories (experiences of growing up as young women in rural southern England) and the story of Sweet Fanny Adams, violently murdered in Alton in the early 1900s. . Also in the same series a number of short video pieces. First exhibited in Fair Play at Danielle Arnaud Gallery, London 2001

1996 - 1999 COCKROACH DIARY Text (in diary form) and colour photographs telling the story of a cockroach invasion in Anna Fox’s London house. A dramatic tale, which tells more about the dysfunctional relationships between the house sharers than the cockroaches themselves. Published by Shoreditch Biennale 2000 First exhibited in New Natural History, National Museum of Photography Film and Television, 2000


1996 - 1999 41 HEWITT ROAD Two series of colour photographs, one set of empty and chaotic rooms the other a set of objects (from the Hewitt Road Archive) photographed in a cardboard box studio, the project also includes a set of e-mail responses to the question ‘Do you remember 41 Hewitt Road?’ from people who had visited the house.

Anna Fox Photographs 1983–2007

Published in Fieldstudy 1, Photography and the Archive Research Centre, University of the Arts London 2001. First exhibited in London Stories, LCP Gallery, London 2003

1996 - 2003 NOTES FROM HOME A collection of short stories based around domestic life, mostly colour photographs, some texts and one video. Stories include: Gifts from the Cats 1996 2003; Making Cakes 1996 - 2003; The Rise and Fall of Father Christmas 1999; Super Snacks 1999 - 2001;


Chocolate Intake 2000; Coy Girls 2001; Pete’s Food and Flowers 2001-2003. The Rise and Fall of Father Christmas was published in The Photograph as Contemporary Art by Charlotte Cotton/Thames & Hudson 2005

1998 LA LYCEE Commissioned by Galerie le Lieu a study of teenage life in a French Lycee. Colour portraits and interiors from the Lycee, permanent installation in Lycee Colbert, Lorient. First exhibited at Rencontres de la Photographie, Lorient 1999

1998 - 2005 DREAM DAY Panoramic, Colour photographs of children in rural locations playing, crying, fighting, and simply hanging about. Exploring the fantasy world of daydreaming. First exhibited in Sanctuary at Fermynwoods Gallery, 2005.


Anna Fox Photographs 1983–2007

1999 MY MOTHER’S CUPBOARDS AND MY FATHER’S WORDS Colour photographs of exploring family dynamics Published by Shoreditch Biennale 2000 First exhibited at Centre de Photographie, Lectoure 2001.

2001 -2003 MADE IN EUROPE Funded by Milton Keynes Gallery, The Hasselblad Foundation, AHRB, The London Institute and The Royal College of Art. Collaborative project made with teenagers from five European cities: Kaunas, Florence, Los Cristianos, Goteberg and Milton Keynes. Using photographs taken by the


teenagers of their bedrooms together with texts and scribbles describing their hopes and fears for the future this project was designed as a series of five miniature books Published by Milton Keynes Gallery, First exhibited in Face On at Open Eye Gallery, Liverpool 2001

2002 - present BACK TO THE VILLAGE Colour photographs of Hampshire village events including pram races, the village play, Halloween and Guy Falkes. Portraits of players and masks.


2002 - 2003 MUM IN A MILLION Commissioned by Furtherafield, Liverpool. Colour inkjet prints installed in one room of a tower block flat made from photographs of Mother’s Day flowers given to the residents and ex-residents of the tower block Linosa Close, Liverpool. Linosa Close was

Anna Fox Photographs 1983–2007

demolished in summer 2004. Later produced as digimura wallpaper for Tate Liverpool. First exhibited in Further Up in the Air as part of the Liverpool Biennale 2003 Published in Futherafield.

2003 TALL TALES FROM THE BLOCK Commissioned by Furtherafield: video, still photographs and text telling stories about life in and out of the tower block Linosa Close. Published in Furthermore, A Book of Proposals 2003.



Anna Fox Photographs 1983–2007


Anna Fox Book  
Anna Fox Book