I am pleased to be able to share the news that I am the recipient of the Images Vevey - Heidi.News prize. The award will help fund a new body of work.
“The jury unanimously wished to recognize Jack Latham as an exciting voice in contemporary documentary practice. This Heidi.news Prize – Reportage is an opportunity to launch a new project for this photographer, who uses methodical research as a foundation for his practice. He has already proven to be skilled at revealing the hidden structures and systems that shape our lives in his prior projects, Sugar Paper Theories and Parliament of Owls. This new proposal, Beggar’s Honey, will examine the emergence of “Click Factories” that have popped up throughout Eastern Europe and Asia in secret warehouses in which thousands of phones are programmed to influence public opinion by aggregating “likes” and “comments”. An issue considered to be a significant and very real part of the “fake news” crisis.”
Nestled within the redwood forests of Monte Rio, northern California, sits Bohemian Grove, a 2,700-acre retreat owned by the exclusive gentlemen’s San Francisco Bohemian Club, founded in 1872.
Every summer, the retreat is frequented by the political and business elite of the US. Shrouded in secrecy, the activities at the grove have become the subject of countless conspiracy theories and rumours.
In 2000, Alex Jones, the founder of infowars, broke into the encampment in an attempt to ‘expose the new world order’ and filmed the Cremation of Care, a theatrical ceremony in which an effigy of the members’ 'worldly cares' is burnt.
Beyond inspiring a bizarre attack on Bohemian Grove by a masked vigilante calling himself the Phantom Patriot in 2002, the release of the video footage, set within an alarmist context, was instrumental in increasing Jones’ profile as a far-right activist and subsequently spring-boarded infowars to become an influential outlet of fake news in recent US politics.
In 'Parliament of Owls', Jack Latham investigates the effects that a vacuum of information can cause.
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I was very pleased to find out this month that I was shortlisted for the Aperture Portfolio Prize for my recent work ‘Parliament of Owls’.
Excerpt from Apertures’ Emily Stewart below:
In the redwood forests of Monte Rio, California, sits an expansive 2,700-acre retreat where, every summer, an elite invitation-only social club founded by a group of male artists, writers, actors, lawyers, and journalists meets. The Bohemian Club, founded in 1872, has inspired conspiracy theories, protests, and attacks since its founding days. In Jack Latham’s new project, Parliament of Owls, he investigates the secrecy of the club and the wider political effects this has caused.
What happens when the country’s top lawmakers, politicians, artists, lawyers, and businessmen meet behind closed doors? What secrets are being swapped, plans being made? For years these questions have been at the root of protest groups and journalists hoping to expose the truth. Latham takes the viewer on a journey of discovery, showcasing the town surrounding Bohemian Grove (the club’s rural outpost) and its people. His photographs also depict the rise of Alex Jones—conspiracy theorist and founder of InfoWars—and how his break-in at the Grove led him to become a household name with the antiestablishment crowd. In 2000, Jones released alarmist footage of the club’s “Cremation of Care” ceremony, which inspired the attempted attack led by “Phantom Patriot” Richard McCaslin two years later.
Latham describes his work as “an attempt to explore the dangers within society when voids of context are challenged.” His images are beautiful and thought-provoking, often leaving the viewer feeling mystified and intrigued. Because nonmembers aren’t allowed inside, Latham instead photographs spaces that are in some way tied to the club and its members—for instance, his image of an empty, glittery stage was taken in a strip club owned by two members. In one of Latham’s photographs, three Bohemian Club members can be seen standing on a viewing platform inside the Grove. The image is taken at such a distance that the members almost disappear into the surrounding forest, solidifying the fact that for the majority of us, the club will always be a remote mystery.