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Clement Cooper- Deep

Clement CooperWhat's unique about DEEP is the way the images look straight at you, like there's some deep meaningful exchange between them and you.

Between 1994 and 1996 Clement Cooper a mixed-race photographer of Jamaican and English parentage journeyed to and lived in several port cities in the UK. The locations were Toxteth Liverpool, St Pauls Bristol, Bute Town, Cardiff and Manchester.

One of the reasons for Clement's journey was to explore the contentious issues surrounding mixed-race identity through image and oral testimony. The other reason was because as Clement puts it. 'I hated myself and wanted to feel human again. Looking deep and hard into others gets you to that point.'

The result of Clement's labour was the critically acclaimed DEEP, which was accompanied by an ambient CD sound track and since its first showing in 1996 has toured extensively. In an interview held at the time cooper explained his personal motivation behind the work, 'the very thing they tried to destroy in me I now photograph.'

What's unique about DEEP is the way the images look straight at you, like there's some deep meaningful exchange between them and you.

Clement believes the portraits make a very powerful statement. 'When you come across a photograph of a person looking at you, a very simple picture it's a very powerful statement. They're saying something very personal to you and that message is very different for whoever looks at that picture.'

Toni Blackett, Toxteth, Liverpool from DEEP by Clement Cooper 'The way I approach a photograph is so simple. I use simple equipment, simple darkroom techniques. I don't invent things. I don't put things in. I don't try to manipulate the subject matter. It's all in front of me.'

For DEEP, Clement used available natural light and a bronica medium format camera with tripod, he left out the use of elaborate lenses and fill in flash and this some say contributed greatly to its success.

Although there was originally a book to go with DEEP only 400 copies were made and we were not able to get hold of a copy. Apparently a copy made it onto EBAY a while ago and was priced at £200. The good news is that Clement has just re-mastered the original soundtrack of mixed-race people talking about their experiences which accompanied the book and is planning a reprint in the near future. There is no text to go with DEEP, instead Clement has combined the audio and images together into a movie which is due to be completed in 2007.

Since DEEP, Clement Cooper has gone on to do other socially important collections such as SISTERS, which explores the complex issue of Hijab expressly from the point of view of young British Musimah in the north west of England and Primary, portraits of children from culturally diverse and mixed-race backgrounds, a direct response to his aversion to advertising images that casually exploit innocence.



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