Since its introduction photography has always been considered the perfect medium for recording one's life. Whether it attempts to tell a story, describe a personal bond, or is an aesthetic project that forms part of a larger body of work.
During the 1960's family photography increasingly became the chosen subject matter for aspiring documentary photographers. By choosing their family members as subjects these photographers moved away from the public realms and functions of the documentary. The results were intensely personal projects. These photographers made the most familiar and seemingly common the consecration of the family their own, whilst engaging in a more critical evaluation of the meaning of photography. These photographers began interrogating the family itself and its established traditions of representation. They took the family out of its established monolithic image context. They created a more honest contemporary history, shaped by the ideologies of race, ethnicity, gender, class and sexuality.
Documentary family photographers offer us a glimpse into other people's private lives. They create works that are not straightforward and celebratory (like the personal snapshot), a record of an intimate relationship, or even a mixture of the two. They interrupt conventions, scrutinize them with their cameras, and extract awkward and sometimes uncomfortable moments lurking just beneath the surface. By exploring the politics of familial representation, they incorporate the everyday practice of family photography into a multi-layered, exploratory, and self-reflective aesthetic.
'somewhere I have never travelled gladly beyond' was inspired by this tradition of family photography. It is an intimate portrait of the photographers' identical twin sister Jess and her partner Stan. These photos are frozen moments of their daily life. They explore visually how the couple's relationship 'works', in particular, how they negotiate the differences between them (age, background) and how they try to disengage from socially pressured, fixed stereotypes of who they are, and what roles they occupy. Jennie challenges our assumptions about, health, illness and bodies by documenting Stan and Jessie's experience of living with their respective chronic illnesses - Lupus (SLE) and Parkinson's disease. Jess and Stan's situation is unusual, even unique, but this view into their private lives reveals general and timeless meanings to external viewers: bravery, survival, love and transcendence. When many and varied viewers engage - potentially multiple times - with these images, new narratives appear. In the photographs of these two people, we see something of our own loved ones, their expression, a memorable instant, or ourselves. Just as Jennie watched and documented them, so too do we enter into the process of watching, and in doing so a sense of our own perspective is in turn perceived.