Sam Clarke is not precious about a photograph as an object. We sat in his backyard on a breezy sunny afternoon and watched a pile of prints blow around on the concrete while we chatted; we liked it that way. Every so often one would catch our attention. It would get turned over to look at, or taped to a nearby fence. He is alone in it, in what he sees and how he wants to say things. Clarke has a way of constructing imagery and narratives that form unconventional uses that become totally unlocked. He admits that the immersive playfulness of the work may be a control thing, or a fixed thing. He may not realize it - or maybe he does - but he is a machine, an unstoppable force. He exemplifies a kind of thinking and engagement that some people never achieve.
What is it about someone that can connect so naturally? Clarke’s intention and exploitive search of the world around him is faithful. It effortlessly carves an unexpected correlation of story and mystery. How did this thing get here? His photographs seem to be obsessed with this question. The shape and articulation of objects and people birth translations and comparison to one another in his imagery. Things are inescapably connected by the invisibility of their reality. If nature is the subject of his work then it’s the disruptiveness of it that interests him. Clarke articulates to me that he is no hunter of photography, he is a passer by. He holds his camera in observation and something more like poetry happens. Solid metaphors and mountain peaks dawn out of the imagery of spoiled neighborhoods or uncollected debris.
This photography of clutter is not without its melancholy. Conflicted feelings of place and intersections of social and economic ideas associated with home reside the imagery. People are displaced, buildings demolished, everything out of place is ripe for the change of dichotomy. It is barbaric, the actions of some against few, the transformation and translation of communities is as significant now as it ever was. Clarke reinvents photographic conversations. He is building a new home, a new world for us all. Transient and transplanted, unearthed in a strange new orbit - one of Clarke’s curation - the photographs are veracious, vindicated, vexing.
It’s not so unusual that someone so new might be able to engage something as contemporary as photography. Clarke is soon to release a new publication, Transplant. The imagery of this publication comes from somewhere, the layers of which will force viewers to think. Interconnected and of consequence to each other the demoralizing quality of the photographs renew wonder. Their confusion is lyrical, satire ejected. And as the saying goes, “You couldn’t make this shit up.” They are as punk as they are whimsy, a collision of audible sounds that aren’t really there. Clarke is a progeny of music; the comparisons he draws always come back to melody. We are the heirs of this brood in observing the imagery. The why is this here isn’t nearly as important when tumultuousness holds such gazing reward.
Keep up with Clarke and see more of his work by clicking here.