125 x 100 cm / 80 x 60 cm, C-print Fuji Matt Crystal archive paper, © 2012
In 2012, I traveled to the Tuscan coast to photograph the wreckage of Costa Concordia. The Italian cruise ship capsized and sank after striking an underwater rock in January with the loss of thirty-two lives when the captain deviated from the computer-guided course to give a more dramatic sail-past to onlookers on the Isola del Giglio. The stricken ship remained beached near the island for months, offering me an opportunity to create a photographic series that reframes the scene, representing it as a wider metaphor for the defeat of human progress and its technologies. By photographing it from as close up as I could manage, it draws attention to the visual and literal absurdity of the ship’s predicament. The cruise aligner has listed onto its side, forced up at a steep angle to reveal the deck, colourfully split into a pattern of swimming pools, water slides, tennis courts and funnels “like an assemblage, a dada version” of itself. The incongruity of these sites of entertainment, that have been emptied of people and thrown unexpectedly up against the sky, is disorienting, “almost funny, fantastical and grotesque… like watching a Federico Fellini Film”. This blackly surreal quality both belies and ultimately reveals the subject’s seriousness as a site of unnecessary human failure and tragedy.