It seemed like the ideal place to attempt to create a world – particularly one concerned with slippage, identity and construct.
I suppose the advent of our current era of schizoid hyper-virtuality has thrown the constructed nature of identity and persona into sharp relief.
Nowhere: Hey Dorje, you’re the photographer of Nowhere’s Logbook Void Everything which was shot at The National Concert Hall (NCH) in Dublin. It looks nothing like a concert hall inside. What’s going on and why did you decide to shoot there?
Dorje de Burgh: The location of the NCH came about somewhat circuitously – some musician friends of mine are on a studio residency program which is located in a mostly unused wing of the main hall. I’d photographed them and another band in various rooms before, but it’s such a vast and varied space that I knew I wanted to explore and utilize it on a larger scale. When Brian and myself were discussing the thinking behind the shoot it was obviously a perfect fit, containing as it does spaces of both imposing grandeur and quite severe decay. Between these contrasting extremes are also areas that serve, or once served, on a purely functional level; stage sets, backstage areas and technical support. It seemed like the ideal place to attempt to create a world – particularly one concerned with slippage, identity and construct.
Nowhere: In several images the model is wearing a mask of himself. It makes us think of the death of the individual and the birth of the dividual, which is kind of how the Internet is showing up outside the network itself. We are all these contextual personas nowadays. What was on your mind when the mask idea was created?
Dorje: Yeah… good question. I suppose the advent of our current era of schizoid hyper-virtuality has thrown the constructed nature of identity and persona into sharp relief in many ways… But the notion of the divided self, or the potential sense of profound alienation from oneself, has been in circulation it would seem throughout the entire modern episteme, albeit in various different incarnations. I recently came across solastagia, which is a neologism coined by a professor of sustainability, essentially describing a feeling of homesickness even while at home – which is interesting but not really much a departure from Freud’s uncanny from just under a century ago. The idea of the masks – of which there was a series made, each distorted in different ways, from blur to posterizing – was to provide a playful nod towards some of these ideas alongside those connected to clothing as a more directly conscious vehicle for the creation of different versions of self.
Nowhere: You obviously created the Logbook in cooperation with Brian Teeling, the stylist (and also one of the founders of Nowhere). What dynamics makes your collaboration so special?
Dorje: It was funny, I’ve known Brian from around for years but mostly just in passing, but as soon as he asked me about working together we instantly connected on an aesthetic level. We both share a taste in music and a visual sensibility that would appear on the surface to be somewhat dark – even bleak or nihilistic, but pushed to the point where it’s almost funny. You can’t take it too seriously. It’s great to have someone who shares that particular outlook.
Nowhere: One of the most referenced images in the Logbook is the half naked model wrapped in construction plastic, tell us more about that one.
Dorje: That was just opportunism. In one of the more bizarre rooms in the NCH we found this strange frame-like construction made of wood and heavy tarp, and made Simon get into it. That’s it really!
Nowhere: Finally, what garment did you want to steal from the shoot?
Dorje: Hard to choose… but I’m pretty obsessed with all Matthew Miller’s stuff and immediately got one of his sweatshirts after the shoot so I guess that speaks for itself.
Nowhere: Thanks for lending us your great eye.