Iain Harker

May 26, 2009

Iain Harker Food Front

Iain Harker’s series ‘The Food Front’ present a fully-formed fictional domestic landscape, set in an imagined future. His photographs are constructed scenarios, and collectively they recall the science-fiction narratives of cinema and novels, in part. He gives shape to a post-apocalyptic scenario, where the causes of the changes to the means of production are unclear. What is wholly clear, however, is that in this fantastic world, whilst industry seems to continue, agriculture has been decimated. In the photographer’s words, “I have created a world where the everyday man is forced to look back at traditional cultivation techniques in order to evolve and apply them to an urban dystopia. Harker’s contribution to the iconography of future dystopias is, however, highly unusual. Unlike the high drama of recent cinematic productions like ‘28 Days Later’ or ‘Children of Men’, or the literary models provided by Philip K Dick or JG Ballard, there are no epic or heroic elements here; no cataclysmic events; no novel technologies. There is just the day-to-day prosaic business of ensuring one’s personal stock of food in adverse circumstances, using unexpected means. Harker’s situations record ordinary, domestic, situations in which the requirements of survival have caused strange additions to our present repertoire of domestic objects. As the photographer notes, “I want the viewer to think they’ve witnessed a secret event, or have just walked in on something they shouldn’t have.” The impression is of works which are one part tableux and one part ‘seen through a keyhole’, to use Edgar Degas’ words. They are both “heavily constructed” but “staged in a real environment” and “believable”, to use Harker’s. The tone, accordingly, is one where cheerful domestic ordinariness is scarcely interrupted by “sinister” and incongruous elements. This tone reflects the fact the images originated from Harker’s interest in both global food production and in the use of allotment spaces locally. His series links wider issues that affect us all, with speculation about how we would individually respond to a thoroughly plausible future crisis.



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