Q&A: Ewan Telford

13.11.16

Have you recently been living by any life philosophy? Flying by the seat of my pants. What will baffle future generations about our day and age? That we were so short-sighted and that so many allowed so few to get away with so much. Are you aware of any conspiracies? Yes. There are conspiracies taking place all the time, from the innocuous to the scandalous. I am not a conspiracy theorist, but of course there are conspiracies. What is it that interests you about photography? Photography can be much more than a means of recording moments in space and time. I think that is how it is popularly conceived. At the moment I think of photography as something akin to sequential art, perhaps, or non-linear or impressionistic storytelling that is suggestive or allusive rather than definitive. What is the worst thing about city life?Corporatised hyper-gentrification and high rent blight. What part of the planet would you like to explore? Patagonia. What do you think is the most plausible of the supernatural? None of it, really. Though if any of it were proven to be existent, it would necessarily be a phenomenon of nature, not supernature, whatever that is.

If you had to align yourself with a leader in history, who would it be? They all have their drawbacks. Martin Luther King. Pick a field of science to be an expert within. Astrophysics. What moment have you most wished you’d had a camera when you hadn’t? I can’t think of one. Having said that, personal, social moments rather than anything of unusual or journalistic interest would be my choice. Choose a job you would be willing to do for free on the side. Chief inquisitor at the trial of Bill and Hilary Clinton. Or wolf tracker. Describe the most important photo you’ve seen. Nick Ut’s famous Vietnam War photo. Photography rarely competes with music or literature as a means of expression, but that photograph is impossibly moving. I don’t know how one could be more so. The rest is largely prettiness and photojournalism today has been all but neutered. How often do you take other people’s advice? On Tuesdays. Describe a personal hell. Imprisonment abroad. Which living person do you most admire? Chelsea Manning. On what occasion do you lie? When the police come round. What was the last crime you witnessed? The US political system. What is the best way to educate yourself? Travel. Visit the library. What is the next book you want to read? An Indigenous People’s History of the United States.

Ultimate camera? I don’t have one. For the most part I don’t think it really matters; it’s what you do with it. Most used camera? Pentax 67. What object do you want? A pair of rabbit fur trousers. What object do you need? New bellows for my Toyo 4×5. How would you explain the internet to someone from the 1950’s? An endlessly growing library of everything in the form of text and images, which you view on a television-like box and that you can contribute to with no jurisdiction, for now. Are you satisfied with your level of physical strength? Hell yeah. Describe a cheap thrill. Ring bell run. Pick an historic moment from the last hundred years to bring a camera to. The assassination of Franz Ferdinand. Well, 102 years ago. Are impulses more important than consequences? No. Which talent would you most like to have? Mind control. What is your plan for the next 24 hours? Go to the bank. Continue processing a new group of photographs. Cook. Eat. Sleep.

Trona is a mining town in the Mojave Desert near Death Valley, California. The town receives three inches of rainfall a year and averages a high of 106°F during the summer.

An urban experiment, Trona was established in 1913 by American Trona Corp to house a workforce extracting borax and soda ash from Searles Dry Lake. ATC wholly owned and operated the town, which grew into a community of 7000; it built housing and schools, grocery shops, dance halls, cinemas, a lido and a golf course. ATC payed its employees in part in its own currency (company scrip) redeemable solely at company owned facilities.

The 1970’s and 1980’s were beset by Labour disputes and by the mid-80s, over 75% of the workforce had been fired or made redundant. As decline set in, houses were abandoned, shops and facilities shuttered.

Though the processing plants still produce two million tons of industrial minerals a year, Trona’s population today is 1100 and falling.

Rock Salt is available as a 40 page full color photo zine through Deadbeat Club and features an essay by Kevin O’Sullivan, it’s purchasable here – deadbeatclubpress.com – For more of Ewan’ work head to his website – ewantelford.com