Thomas Sussex: Pathway Trace
Understanding other cultures and countries comes from walking the landscape, the cities, and engaging with the population, but how do we understand a country that has been under siege, experienced war, and has a new identity? UK photographer, Thomas Sussex (@tommy_sussex), has had a long interest in understanding Eastern Europe since 2014 when he began spending time with Ukrainian people of his own age and understanding the problems and restrictions they faced. His monograph, Our Sincere Toils was published in 2015 by Bloom Publishing looked at these issues.
Thomas states, “These personal experiences drew me deeper into this environment with it’s social and political background as the setting. My fascination with Eastern European communities living in a time of transition has lead me back to develop this narrative frequently and recently to Serbia to produce a series titled Pathway Trace. Producing this work has created ongoing relationships with people living in Eastern Europe. I am fascinated by certain communities’ responses to aspects of government corruption and cultural aggression.”
He continues, “I also understand that the creation of this work and these experiences only scratch the surface. I use the political and social background of Eastern Europe to understand the resident’s view of the world and as a result, this develops my understanding of these communities and my own. By extending my personal experiences to these foreign realities and via the act of making these pictures I have found universal truths have surfaced that help me understand aspects of core human values.”
Almost three decades after the breakup of Yugoslavia and the bloody Bosnian war, I aimed to challenge or reaffirm certain perceptions I’d created about Serbia and Serbians and this foreign reality. My curiosity lead me to explore what life is like in Serbia for a community with such historic and formative events within living memory. With a similar approach to previous work I have documented in Eastern Europe, I allowed my personal experiences to shape the images I photographed. These personal experiences and the resulting images ruminate on aspects of national identity and self-perception for those documented in Serbia whilst raising issues about my own identity and future as a citizen of the U.K as its government seeks to strengthen the divide with the European Union and it’s neighboring populations. I’m interested in exploring the lives and viewpoints of people within environments where figures of authority have acted in ways that have shaped our lives and understanding of ourselves. I’m interested in the effects of authoritative action which in certain cases has worked against our personal, political or moral belief systems.
Thomas Sussex b.1986 is a documentary and portrait photographer from Devon currently and working in London. The images he makes attempt to render an individual social reality that carries political weight. His process often attempts to navigate that which falls outside of expected photographic reportage, to encompass symbolic gestures and abstracted scenarios.
Sussex graduated the Ba Hons Photography Degree at the University of the South West of England in 2014. His graduation project titled ‘Our Sincere Toils’ and was awarded the South West Graduate Prize 2014 by Fotonow CIC and lead to a long term funded commission photographing an economically deprived area within Bristol City, U.K. This project culminated in his first solo exhibition at Knowle West Media Center in 2015. Sussex’s ‘Our Sincere Toils’ series documenting the Ukrainian revolution was published in book form by Australian publishing house Bloom Publishing and was featured as Dazed Digitals’ most exciting new photography books in July 2015. Sussex has spent the last four years developing long term documentary projects focusing on Eastern and Western Europe whilst working as a freelance photographer in London.
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