For Head On 2019 Jack Davies decided to photograph urban scenes from Moscow. We asked some questions about his creative process.
What interests you so much about urban scenes?
I grew up in the countryside and didn’t live in a big city (London) until I was 24: perhaps this explains my fascination with cities. They have become for us our natural habitats, built from the ground up, surface by surface. Over the years I have explored many urban areas, trying to capture something of what makes them unique, enjoying the process of following streets until the totally unfamiliar becomes somehow experienced and (partly) understood. Cities evolve over time and the layers we see around us tell us something of how they have been used over the decades, even centuries. We are present in the immediate city, but also in their pasts. The atmosphere of these places can be felt in unusual, overlooked corners as we make our own journeys through the city and construct our own personal interpretation of the place.
What did you try and focus on with your work?
I have tried to focus on the beauty that may spring to life when something usually ignored is observed closely. Cities tend to have a list of things worthy of our attention: parks, iconic buildings, museums, etc. These are important in a city, but what about the scenes that pass before our eyes the majority of the time? We see the textures and tones of a city in a multitude of flashes, but they are filtered out. I have presented scenes of Moscow that fall outside the parameters of ‘sights to be seen’, yet reflect the harmonies present within the city, made up of the materials subtly familiar to those who pass through the streets each day.
How did you decide what was worthy of shooting?
I was looking for compositions that jumped out of the mundane. Suddenly, as I walk through the streets, a harmony of colour and texture may present itself. Elements (permanent and temporary, old and new) combine without a plan and the scene is transformed into something worthy of preservation. The visual stimulation we seek in the gallery is present there before us on the street. My goal was to find scenes that I felt captured something of the atmosphere of the city, bringing them to life by framing and isolating them from the surroundings.