Joe Twigg . Cicadas

The photographs in this project were made during several long, unguided walks around South London, all within a few miles of my home. The images are of chance encounters with the mundane, all set in less documented areas of a late-capitalist suburbia. Leaving my house in order to get lost in my familiar day-to-day surroundings, the photographs made on these walks could be a document of the tension and an accidental beauty held in the outskirts of a city; or possibly the calm before the storm.

In the book, Wayfinding: The Art and Science of How We Find and Lose Our Way, writer Michael Bond discusses how people behave when they are lost walking in the wilderness. He writes that if you’re terrified, you make awful mistakes, you miss landmarks and other important information you require to orient yourself. Reason is lost by the extreme stress of the situation and can often lead to the difference between life and death. The brain’s evolutionary development of fight-or-flight releases adrenaline and makes the situation much worse.

These images explore my own feelings of paralysis, a frustration with an unmotivated government who drag their feet on the urgent decisions required on climate and biodiversity loss. A chance to stand back and evaluate the impossibly complicated causal factors behind our attitude to the environment in the UK, all seemingly tied up with a deep-engrained historical denial.

On these walks I was immersed in the contradictions London represents: A shameful colonial history of domination, industrialisation — with its beautiful parks and gardens. A city of ridiculous extremes in wealth and access to opportunity — a city I also love very dearly for its forward thinking, diversity and culture.

Bio

I’m a British documentary photographer based in London. I grew up in Salisbury, Wiltshire.

My work explores issues of human connection and mental wellbeing in relationship to our environment.

Discovering photography in my early thirties allowed me to join the dots between several related areas of interest. As an early school leaver, I’ve worked in the construction industry from a young age, informing an interest in working with issues of social mobility, mental health and vocation.

My recent work has been shaped by research from a project working with the people within the activist group, Extinction Rebellion. An ongoing photography project working in collaboration with the people who make up the movement.

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