A Storied Ground

  • Jojolola Dopamu

The interaction between the terrain and the individual is a very interesting and essential one. With ‘A Storied Ground’, Jermaine Francis seeks to exploit the visuality of British Landscape painting in the tradition of such important figures as Sir Thomas Gainsboroguh, Sir Joshua Reynolds and Sir John Constable to upturn the visual culture that produced the art and photography that have come to be perceived as classic and elite. Of course, the definition of what is classic and elite for the longest time has been wealthy white landowners, dressed in the finest garments of the time and enjoying leisure activities that were decidedly of the titled class.

Photography intended to highlight the wide connection between living individuals and the landscape, does more than generate an aesthetic – it tells a story. So, with ‘A Storied Ground’, Jermaine Francis utilizes the centrality of the body occupying space, compelling the audience to reconsider who is, or can be considered a natural occupant of the vast and homely British landscape.

This project, which is ongoing at the prestigious galeriepcp in Paris, takes the black body and places it within those landscapes with an undaunted prevalence as well as a natural ease, because it is supposed to feel like home. In manner of poses and ambience, participants of these photographs do not attempt to offer a justification of their placement in and on the landscape: they operate on the right to occupy that space without need for explanation. The lack of textual narrative in the exhibition, gives the viewer more room to engage the statements being made by these methodically intentional photographs and challenges the viewer to regard the black body within the landscape as neutral and with agency, as being in harmony with and not as an anomaly to that landscape.

The interaction between the terrain and the individual is a very interesting and essential one. With ‘A Storied Ground’, Jermaine Francis seeks to exploit the visuality of British Landscape painting in the tradition of such important figures as Sir Thomas Gainsboroguh, Sir Joshua Reynolds and Sir John Constable to upturn the visual culture that produced the art and photography that have come to be perceived as classic and elite. Of course, the definition of what is classic and elite for the longest time has been wealthy white landowners, dressed in the finest garments of the time and enjoying leisure activities that were decidedly of the titled class.

Photography intended to highlight the wide connection between living individuals and the landscape, does more than generate an aesthetic – it tells a story. So, with ‘A Storied Ground’, Jermaine Francis utilizes the centrality of the body occupying space, compelling the audience to reconsider who is, or can be considered a natural occupant of the vast and homely British landscape.

This project, which is ongoing at the prestigious galeriepcp in Paris, takes the black body and places it within those landscapes with an undaunted prevalence as well as a natural ease, because it is supposed to feel like home. In manner of poses and ambience, participants of these photographs do not attempt to offer a justification of their placement in and on the landscape: they operate on the right to occupy that space without need for explanation. The lack of textual narrative in the exhibition, gives the viewer more room to engage the statements being made by these methodically intentional photographs and challenges the viewer to regard the black body within the landscape as neutral and with agency, as being in harmony with and not as an anomaly to that landscape.

Issue 7

Free 30-day access