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MONUMENT TO THE VANQUISHED (after Albrecht Dürer)
A REMEMBRANCE OF THE ENCLOSURE ACT
JOINT PROJECT WITH ANNABEL EDWARDS
PART I | THE COMMONERS
The enclosure acts describe the legal process through which common rights over land were terminated and the common land converted to the exclusive property and use of a landowner. This project starts from a belief that a deeper understanding of the enclosure acts, along with the industrial revolution and the American and Caribbean plantation system, is vital to having a critical understanding of the systems and politics that will inhabit now.
After a preliminary research trip in Shropshire, we identified the small pockets of common land that still exist. The stories behind the remaining commons and commoners that held the varied rights presented as an excellent mechanism for understanding the historic legacy of the Enclosure Acts. We started to make contact with people that still had common rights over land and discover how they exercise these rights. We photographed commoners in the common lands where they held rights and interviewed them to hear more about their personal stories, commoners’ status and to discover any historic stories they knew about the land.
The photographs were taken on an analogue medium format camera with black and white film and the subsequent prints are hand-tinted using traditional photographic dyes. We used this process to enliven the landscapes, through colour, with a form of magical realism and invoke the uncanny nature of the land. This serves to highlight a lost deeper, more mystical, often matriarchal and less mercantile connection to the land. It is the breaking of this relationship which Italian feminist historian, Silvia Federici, argues was central to the capitalist expansion of which the Enclosure Act was a dominant apparatus.
Hand-tinting by Marg Duston
2021 - Fuera de Lugar, Sabrina Amrani Gallery, Madrid, Spain