Saturday, 29 July 2017

Love on Trial

Lauri & Sylvia, London Studio © Richard Ansett 2017
Here is a new work of computer hacker Lauri Love and his girlfriend Sylvia, part of a commission by The Telegraph Magazine out today.

He is appealing against extradition to the US where he will stand trial on charges, which could see him jailed for life. He is diagnosed with some mental health conditions, most significantly in terms of his defence, Asperger syndrome. I attempted to capture him in an editorial way outside the old grey MI5 building and we took so long that they closed the shutters and the office workers (spies I assumed) could not get back into the office with their sandwiches. The police turn up predictably but the heady mix of known provocateur and me as representative of the 'mouthpiece of the establishment' was a little confusing even for them and they more or less left us alone. Its a free country after all, right?! Afterwards we went round to my studio.

Not since Thatcher, it feels like the political landscape is changing and new lines are being drawn, there is a sense that it is possible once again to protest against 'something tangible'. Meeting this new generation, the beautiful creatures of the revolution, there is an energy and hope that "if you think you are too small to be effective, you have never been in bed with a mosquito." (1) I am reminded of Satyagraha, to have nothing is to have nothing to loose and that freedom to hold onto any truth is dangerous to a state that blackmails us with our investment in society.

I am as much the hypocritical, liberal elitist as anyone else I know, so I greatly appreciate these grubby knights who dare to take on the state on my behalf, we should be grateful to them, they are exposed to powerful hidden forces and in photographing them it feels more like an act of ennobling rather than mere documentary record. I recall the photograph of the naked Alan Ginsberg and his life partner by Richard Avedon, natural in their defiance. Avedon had fine tuned his craft by then and understood the power of merely recording a moment for then and now. The subjects have done all the work in imbuing their image with their achievements, that's what celebrity portraiture is. 

This image is in my mind's eye and the nakedness in our portrait feels like a similar metaphor. I feel this is a perfect offering to The Telegraph. It is a game, a dare to publish and we are collaborating in this little act of provocation and in so doing creating a portrait, which is most representative of their relationship to the world.

Alan Ginsberg & Peter Orlovsky, 1963, Richard Avedon


1) Betty Reese, Leadership: A Publication of Christianity Today (Carol Stream, IL), vol. 16, no. 2, Spring 1995, p. 67