Josh Croll (he/him)
Josh Croll has just recently completed his Degree at The Glasgow School of Art for a BA Hons in ComDes Photography. His work is primarily focused on documentary, with an interest in the visual nature of how we understand social and political issues. Conceptual consideration and editorial based outcomes are at the core of his practice, and thinking through the photographic process and considering the role images play in our current social world are at the heart of each project.
All work is available in print to purchase.
The UK Asylum System
In the U.K. when someone awaits a decision regarding their asylum application, they have no legal right to work. Only 52% of these applications are successful, leaving nearly half of the forcibly displaced community with a longer wait in the appeals process, and the prospect of deportation or destitution. As they wait, people are given just over £5 a day to buy food, toiletries, clothes etc., and with the majority of applications taking far longer than 6 months to be processed, people find themselves in a state of limbo. In response to this aspect of the asylum system, Refuweegee make and distribute over 150 emergency packs within Glasgow each week. These include food and drinks, toiletries, sanitary products for women, educational support like books, pens and paper, various forms of entertainment, as well as other items like mobile phones and prams. Over the past months in between lockdowns I have documented how these packs are made and distributed, as well as some of the volunteers behind them.
‘The history of art is full of women lying around naked for erotic consumption by men.’ writes Siri Hustvedt in her insightful collection of essays. The distinction between viewer/viewed has been used in various forms for the benefit of men throughout art’s history, and in the context of photography this imbalance is no different. Berger also notes this in a wider frame of reference in his seminal Ways of Seeing, stating that ‘…men act and women appear. Men look at women. Women watch themselves being looked at.’
The following photographs have been taken with no one behind the lens – utilising the camera timer removes the normal relationship between looker (photographer) and looked at (subject). To remove this indifference, and become as much a part of the image as the maker of it, attempts to question some of the previously embedded forms of power and authority within the photographic image; the process instead becomes a collaboration between us both.
‘A’, who wishes to remain anonymous, was forced to flee his home country of Syria after the kidnap and killing of his cousin. After years of living in fear, he made the difficult decision to travel in search of asylum and applied in the UK. When I met ‘A’ to hear his story and photograph him, he had been in hotel detention for months without any money from the government and no legal right to work. He was hit by a shell in Syria before leaving, and was ignored by the Home Office as well as MEARS group when reaching out multiple times for documents to be able to access healthcare. This is just one story of the many who were forced into hotel detention as a response to lockdown. In 2020 alone, twenty nine people died in Home Office accommodation across the UK, three of which were in Glasgow. ‘What is my fate?’ tells ‘A’s’ story in both English and Arabic, containing six photographs in between translations. This project is in its early stages.
A short twenty page book; entirely printed using sunlight (Cyanotype process), on what would have been my Mum’s 52nd birthday. The pages document 7 objects I have kept since 2008 after she passed, alongside some text for each. The dimensions of each page are based from the box I keep these in – all spreads were printed from 9am – 2pm. Edition of 1.
Heavy Currents is an editorial in collaboration with fashion designer Nicole Norman, with Art Direction by Thomas Ive. The photographs consider Norman’s garments in the context of a dream like state, focusing on form and tone to invoke a nautical atmosphere.
How does a visual language derived from surveillance techniques change our reading of an image? This was the question that prompted a series of visual experiments in relation to surveillance and subsequently its importance to the asylum system. By international law, the master of a ship is legally obliged to help those in need at sea regardless of status. Thus, border control cannot watch people without the obligation to help; to maintain surveillance but limit help to those crossing borders at sea, arial drones are used as they bypass this law. Does the visual language of surveillance demonise certain groups of already marginalised people?