Anywhere But Here
Photo Editions - 2021
In anywhere but here, Alison McCauley expresses the restless feeling that has haunted her throughout her life: that the place she is in isn’t where she should be, and a conviction that the next place will be better. Taken from 2008 to present, these images—taken in various locations around the world—are a deeply personal reflection of the artist’s emotions, photography being a cathartic means of coming to terms with her constant desire to move. As someone who has always led a semi-nomadic lifestyle, McCauley seeks to explore the idea of not belonging. Though she feels like she is supposed to belong somewhere, McCauley doesn't want to, as she recognises that it is the wonder of this belonging that is the impetus behind her work.
Devoid of geographical and temporal reference points, the images are figuratively and literally blurred to emphasise that this is not about a location or time, but rather a state of mind. For the viewer the series takes on a narrative of its own, unfolding like a dream sequence: a body submerged in water, a flurry of balloons released into the open sky, city lights streaming through a hotel room, and fleeting scenes captured from a car window. Just as she is drawn to movement, it is these liminal spaces that the artist gravitates towards – the chaos, the stillness, and the magic in between. “The work comes from reality, but it’s a reality that’s distorted by subjectivity,” says McCauley. “It’s an expression of my state of mind during these restless off-moments.”
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Alison has itchy feet and can never quite settle down anywhere, hence the title. The maker of numerous hand made books has finally mass produced one (mass meaning more than 30!) Poetic, dreamy, surreal a totally unique photographer. Pleased to see McCauley collaborated with the bright, shining photobook design star Tom Booth Woodger to make this gem.
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I included Alison as a special mention on my 2020 list, and I am so happy to see that this year her first commercially available book has JUST been released, and it is every bit as wonderful as I knew it would be. Dealing with her restless sense of memory and place, this a truly beautiful publication. For those who may have been frustrated at not being able to acquire one of her handmade books, this is a wonderful way to begin your own wanderlust journey with this talented free spirited artist.
› JM Ramírez-Suassi
The human being is a labyrinth, because this is how his thoughts run, jumping from one place to another, asking ourselves questions and trying to answer them, letting ourselves be carried away by our ideas. Reality is not interpreted in a linear way, reality is complex, multifactorial. And in Anywhere But Here, by Alison McCauley, reality is like that. The place has disappeared. It doesn't matter where the photograph was taken, the important thing is to change course, to have the ability to decide in any circumstance.
Alison McCauley has chosen for her book the idea of not belonging, and I don't think it is because of an egocentric question, but on the contrary, rather because she knows how to identify the emotions and sensations in herself.
The journey she proposes takes us slowly towards solitude. Her photographs become tenebrous and urge us to leave behind the known security to march without a net into the abyss, not in vain any aspect of life is a combination of light and shadow. Anywhere But Here points to the darkness in which we live, unable to relate, fearful of contact with the other, but, nevertheless, longing for a close voice.
Anywhere but Here was selected as one of Vanessa Winship’s Photobooks of Note 2021 Deadbeat Club list.
› The Collector Daily – Blake Andrews
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› The Eye of Photography