Josh Cole’s Physical Graffiti opening night at BRP
All photographs by Heather McCalden
In preparation for our first photographic exhibition - which opens this Thursday - and as part of the ‘Meet the Artist’ feature we are gingerly introducing on these electronic, somewhat viral waves, we took a timeout to sit down with Josh Cole to discuss his work. Results below …
Black Rat: Can you describe an image that you keep on file at the back of your mind that influences your work - or, can you describe your earliest memory of a photographic image that continues to come up in your life and work?
Josh Cole: I’m more influenced by my own life experiences really but I think its a very famous image of a shell-shocked soldier in Vietnam by Don McCullin. I’ve always been in awe of war photographers like Don.
BR: What are the most extreme conditions you’ve shot under - as in weather - or danger?
JC: Theres plenty of dangerous places and harsh weather come to that. If I had to pick the most dangerous it would probably have to be the slums in Goma, The Congo. It was a last minute decision to go and it was incredibly intense.
BR: Is there a difference in how you approach your commercial and personal work?
JC: The intensity is always pretty much the same- if I agree to get involved in a project I give it my heart and soul. There are obviously some where you go the extra mile. My artistic approach is often just to try to see through the eyes of others and to try to represent their reality.
BR: Have you, or do you currently work with film? Does the difference in aesthetic of film and digital matter for the type of work you do?
JC: I was shooting on medium format film cameras right up until 3 years ago when I bought a hasselblad digital camera. It was the first digital camera that had the feel of film. Now I couldn’t go back. For years I spent a lot of time in the dark-room printing shunning retouch but now I’ve embraced it- I feel it just expands the ways you can express yourself visually. The show is a mixture of film and digital images.
BR: Do you dance?
JC: Not at all. The main reason I started to take pictures is because I wanted to be involved with the hip-hop scene but I couldn’t dance or rap and my attempts at graffiti were laughable.
BR: At what age did you have your first kiss?
JC: Ha! First proper kiss was probably 12. Can’t remember.
BR: What is your favorite place in the world?
JC: So many and I like different places for different reasons. I’m gonna say Africa. As general an answer as the question is.
BR: In London?
JC: I don’t really like London but at a push I’d say soho.
BR: Caffeine, booze, nicotine - or all three?
BR: What is your preferred alcoholic beverage?
JC: A good aged scotch on ice.
BR: Where do you get your news?
JC: I don’t really watch mainstream news- don’t trust it. From @YourAnonNews on twitter and word of mouth.
BR: In preparing your images for this Black Rat show, did you have a mental - or actual soundtrack going? What is/was it?
JC: If there was a soundtrack to the show it wouldn’t be hip-hop- it would be emotional mood music- instrumental.
BR: What books, if any, do you keep in reach of your bed?
JC: A bunch but rarely get time to read these days- always reading or writing scripts. Probably my favourite book of all time is Another Day in Paradise by Eddie Little and favourite photo book is Raised by Wolves by Jim Goldberg.
BR: Can you name a few films that are dear to you?
JC: So many. Apocalypse Now, Natural Born Killers, Man on Fire.
BR: Do you see your gravitation towards moving images and filmmaking as a natural extension of the work you do already?
JC: To a degree but there are many more strands to film-making. The narrative and story is much harder to achieve but its these kind of challenges that keep me excited about my work.
BR: Could you take a photograph of yourself to accompany your answers to these questions?
JC: I don’t really do self portrait but there are a couple of me attached….
Q’s by Heather McCalden.