Being Framed

“In 1979, a police station in North London branched out to specialise in peculiar crimes. Leading the investigations was Detective Chief Inspector (DCI) Dean Wilson, who dedicated his whole life to fighting what the traditional, prevailing criminal justice system would consider “petty offences and misdemeanours”. From a young age, DCI Wilson took minor wrongdoings very seriously. Once Head of the Department of Marginalised Cases (DMC), he went above and beyond to fight any form of uncalled-for behaviour, confronting those who breached the established social codes of conduct. From secret gatherings and heated arguments with next-door neighbours, to stolen and broken possessions, it was his duty to handle the disputes between members of the community, treating each case equally and fairly.” 

Driven by mystery and deception, Being Framed is a multilayered project that explores the ideas of speculative documentary by questioning photography’s ambivalent status between fact and fiction within a narrative of imagined crimes, investigated by protagonist police detective DCI Dean Wilson. 

The title plays with the twofold-ness of the expression; how it can be used to refer to both incrimination and photography.  Operating at the edge of narrative plausibility, the work is presented as real evidence as part of a serious inquiry. Staged photographs intermingle with collages, ransom note-inspired documents, newspaper clippings and faked archival materials in a dossier-like structure — all culminating in a collection of images from an authentic-looking police report. Each case, however, remains left unsolved, questions unanswered, and facts are never fully established. Thus, the viewer is invited to take the investigation into their own hands, tasked with deciphering what to believe and with finding the missing clues within the visual puzzle.

Informed by research into the customs and formalities of police department photographers and their understanding of the medium, Being Framed integrates and references the techniques and aesthetics of photojournalism, forensic and documentary photography. Revolving around issues of make-believe and surveillance, the work explores the visual and dialogical properties of the overarching “detective genre” in relation to the mechanisms connected with looking and describing. I aim to make visible the similarities between artistic practice and criminal investigation by outlining the critical and stylistic abilities of the crime scene photographer to construct compelling observations from seemingly meaningless details.

With tongue-in- cheek humour, Being Framed discloses little information about, and makes creative connections between (at times) unremarkable and quotidian objects, people and events to study the complexity of photography’s truth values, as well as the psychological aspects of criminal activity and the documentation thereof.
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