The task of covering an election, any election both here or abroad, for one reason or another, is a daunting task. To attempt to cover it artistically and in search of the occasional self-truth, well that’s just silly. One can’t help but slip into photographic cliché. Getting through this slip is easier if you accept the process, but even that won’t deliver you closer to the freedom you feel when shooting the street, or a lover. Still, for reasons we never know, sometimes the eye and the heart share a beat and the finger taps the old familiar shutter.
Sean Davey is warming up.
One night in November 2008 at his parent’s house in Canberra, Sean Davey sits in front of a television set watching the U.S election coverage. His chest is heaving with emotion but Sean still isn’t giving in. Following the counting of the votes, he sets his camera to a 15/sec and prepares. The occasional mishap grabs his attention and he
shoots after it, more hoping really than anything else.In the morning he looks over some two thousand images.
Most photographers think they have reached their end point. Not Sean. Sean has them printed small and lays them down across the floor of a large room. He stands in front of them, only wanting to feel now. Like the sober recalling after a night of wild dreaming, Sean realises he has only his starting point.
Stripping back the clichés, past the all too-familiar, the party flags, the candidate hopeful, the multitudes of media people, Sean pushes on, clawing at something more important, subtext. But even now he is suspicious. Preconceptions are falling quickly and he feels that’s a good thing. Certain images begin to emerge suddenly. One can’t help but feel exposed here, like being ashamed by your own dirty laundry. The image of a hooded black man walking his white dog heaves up at him. A young all American girl sits on her lounge, alone in her demographic, her eyes somewhere off screen, uncertain. The backs of men staring far off at some impressionistic background of simple circus architecture separates from the bulk, everyone and everything about the image hard and silent. A young diamond studded ear-pierced black man seems frozen in his muted howl, and you can’t help and think you may just know why.
Sean has his selection now. Sean has heard the subtext.
Now the images feel like those he has shot before, at home, with his lover, amongst his real friends. Suddenly the process has come full-circle. And then the realisation... the images in front of him, and those that flickered off the television set only the night before, were as real as anything he has shot previously, as wet with emotion as his very first selected image. The process was self-discovery.
It was never enough for Sean to have had just one hand in the now, grabbing at the election, hungry. Sean always kept his other hand free, pulling in the forever. Looking back at Sean’s final selection; one might ask “where is the election in all of this?” Well, elections come and go. What only remains is the subtext. And when you understand that, then there just isn’t much need for images of party flags and hollow candidate speeches.
Spiro Miralis, 2008
3 images from the portfolio, Sean Davey, 2008
TV ELECTION Portfolio
Portfolio includes 68 giclée prints (30.4 x 40.6cm)
8 page Japanese folded Introduction
Essay by Andrew West
Essay by Spiro Miralis
Edition of 10 +2AP
Individual images also available:
30.4 x 40.6cm (giclée prints) AUD$280
40.6 x 50.8cm (type C prints) AUD$350
Edition of 5 +2AP
(edition inclusive of both print types)