I had always intended to make a photographic road trip through the USA, so when the 2016 US presidential election became the increasing focus of the world’s attention, in a year that had already seen the United Kingdom voting to leave the European Union, my instinct was to be there. So, I packed my cameras and flew to Reynosa, from where I crossed the border into the USA arriving in Brownsville on Halloween, where the journey starts. I would drive 8,000 miles by car in 5 weeks, covering 13 American states as well as Washington, DC. The publication Divided States represents the fruits of my journey: 244 pages containing 154 still images and 18,000 words of text. Divided States takes us back to a moment when Donald Trump’s victory felt improbable, which in retrospect now feels like a time of innocence or naivety, a different era. On 8th November 2016, he was confirmed president-elect. Divided States is significant as it visually evokes the seconds before America set off on what has turned out to be one of the darkest periods of its history with the firestorm of the Trump presidency. The images viscerally drop you right back into a critical moment of change in American history. This was the moment when America changed and the world with it. Few if any of the people that I encountered on my journey could have imagined the tumultuous events, the twists and turns that would ensue. Those continue today. In the words of Kurt Vonnegut, “History is merely a list of surprises. It can only prepare us to be surprised yet again. Please write that down…”
It had been my intention pre the Coronavirus Pandemic to seek commissions/funding/grants to enable me to return to the US to make a successive journey, covering the 2020 election even more extensively than my first trip, but his prospect became impossible. With the 2024 Presidential Election approaching now is the time to consider planning a successive trip. Divided States is already a multi-media experiment, bringing still images and text together within a journal format. It now offers a foundation on which to build and progress. The still image – my fundamental mode of perception – would remain the key element of a new project. With the addition of moving images, sound recordings and more, it would be an opportunity to provide a fuller and more ambitious portrait, elements of which would be posted in real-time, bringing to life the road-trip experiences and encounters. Developing the concept in this way would create the potential for a different type of publication as well as post-event multi-media installation/exhibition that would offer a more dynamic, participatory experience for the audience whilst retaining the primacy of the still image.