Interview: Jacqueline Ennis-Cole
Luca Curci talks with Jacqueline Ennis-Cole during MIXING IDENTITIES, third appointment of CANVAS ART FAIR, at THE LINE Contemporary Art Space in London.
Jacqueline Ennis-Cole (b. 1964 Manchester, UK) is a neuro-diverse lens artist. Her photography is an explores the physicality of objects and the atmosphere of places. Jacqueline Ennis-Cole exhibits works in the UK and Europe, including Four Corners, UK; PH21 gallery, Hungary; Stanley Picker gallery, UK; The Millepiani Gallery, Italy; The Institut d’Estudis Fotogràfics de Catalunya, Spain; The Lewisham Arthouse, UK; the Merton Art Festival, UK. Jacqueline initiated residencies with the Duke’s Wood Oil Museum, UK, and with the International NGO Standing Voice, Tanzania and UK. She was a recipient of the Poem Brut Commission Award (2019) and was long-listed for This Is Gender 2021 – Global Health 50/50, and was a MEAD Fellowship Award finalist (2018).
Luca Curci – How did you get to photography? Do you remember why you took your first professional photo?
Jacqueline Ennis-Cole – In my late teens, I was in Paris, France – the place where Henri Cartier-Bresson and other Magnum Photographers grew. I was very interested in street photography. At that time, I was unaware of neuro-diversity as a conceptual terminology; photography involved non verbal communication, a unique visual language. Photography opened up new ways of communicating.
LC – According to you, what makes a good photo? Which details do you focus on?
JEC – Photography is intuitive and instinctive, I enjoy the process of photographing this way. Why deconstruct the process. Why question if you enjoy the art. Though the camera is mechanical, we do not have to be rational in our approach – my approach is very intuitive and expressive.
LC – Where do you find your inspiration?
JEC – Through my photography I’m seeking to answer elusive and unformed questions. I’m questing for something that is not as of yet understood. Rather than finding inspiration elsewhere, photography is often a process of enquiry. Through photography, I may give voice to the understated.
LC – What is the most challenging part about creating your artworks?
JEC – When working with a human participant within the context of a long-term project I may need to form a working relationship that may not be easy — and is a learning process. I have a tendency to work long-term rather than short-term. I need that space to form a relationship.
LC – Do you use art to express something in particular? Is it like your medium of expression?
JEC – Photography is my main form of expression. I express my lived experience and being through poetry, scriblings and essays.
LC – What is the message linked to the artwork you have shown in this exhibition? How is it connected to the theme of the entire festival?
JEC – When creating the work, I was reflecting on Trump, Thatcher, Reagan, neoliberalism in Europe and the USA and impacts on the car industry, local garages and fossil fuels. With the climate crisis and carbon neutral targets, the transportation industry is having to go through rapid transitions to the detriment of the worker on the ground. We may all support a fossil fuel-free future – who though will be left behind in the process?
LC – Do you agree with our vision of art and what do you think about the theme of the festival?
JEC – I feel an instant positive response to the festival’s ‘Mixed Identities’ call because recently I’ve been looking at the term ‘Intersectionality’ – the life of the collective is complex and entangled, not compartmentalized, separated or divided into neat little boxes. Identities are multi-dimensional and ever-changing.
LC – What do you think about the organization of our event?
JEC – This time is challenging due to Covid-19 and multiple transnational lockdowns and yet ITSLIQUID has managed the situation with such grace and professionalism.
LC – Did you enjoy cooperating with us?
JEC – As a recent Photography graduate it has been an invaluable learning curve, an important ‘rite of passage’ within my practice in terms of working with various art professionals. I’m learning so much from this experience and I feel I have developed clear communications with at least three members of the staff at ITSLIQUID and this experience will be valued as I engage with future professional projects.
LC – Would you suggest a collaboration with us? What do you think about our services?
JEC – Lately, I have been showing work in Europe and I would love to engage in the project in the Pacific and/or Nordic Europe, including Iceland, Greenland, Finland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Japan, and New Zealand. The Martin Parr Foundation has just selected Intersectional Geographies, my curatorial project which addresses the climate crisis. We must all collaborate and find a way to respond to our common denominator, Planet Earth!