• Rasha Kotaiche

Chris Coekin: The Distance is Always Other

Exhibited at De-Montfort's Gallery

Series statement: https://www.dongola.com/product/the-distance-is-always-other-chris-coekin-and-noel-nasr/#:~:text=The%20Distance%20Is%20Always,and%20British%20photographer%20Chris%20Coekin.&text=The%20archive%20comprises%20vernacular%20images,the%20brink%20of%20civil%20war.

I hadn't heard of Chris Coekin until a friend who works at DMU contacted me and shared the details of the exhibition, with it being about Lebanon she knew I'd be interested. I travelled to Leicester to visit the exhibition, and all I felt by the end of the day was how pointless checking the exhibition felt.

This series was a section of a larger exhibition of Coekin's work, which I believe is what made me react less to this body of work; in comparison, this body of work had more meaning and exploration behind it, where as the rest of the work presented was simply comical work that looked like the work of a 15 year old who had just been shown how to use the studio and photoshop.

The layout of this particular project intrigued me, the mix of sizes, and different mediums used, from the small light boxes to the large prints to the documents and book to a custom made stereoscopic viewer. However, all I could think is why this man is making this work, when he has little, if any, connection to the country and the people of the archive he was responding to. This definitely came with bias and lack of care for seeing another Western photographer taking their shot at making work in the Middle East.

After reading more into the series of work, and developing my research into archives, I began to take a different approach in how I viewed the work. What I came to find interesting how Coekin, as well as Lebanese photographer Noel Nasr, were responding to a found archive, of an American couple, where they retraced their travels from Beirut to Baalbeck, as well as mimicking the photographic style the archives were taken.