PJ HARVEY & SEAMUS MURPHY at les Rencontres d’Arles



From 2011 to 2014, singer/author/composer PJ Harvey and photographer Seamus Murphy travelled through Kosovo, Afghanistan, and Washington, D.C., continuing a collaboration begun with the album “Let England Shake”. There Seamus Murphy collected images (photo and video) marked by an aesthetic developed since the 1990s in his work as a photojournalist; PJ Harvey collected words that would nourish poems and songs.

Their work is the subject of an exhibition at Les Rencontres d’Arles, the French leading photography festival presented in Arles in the South of France.

The work reflects the sensitive interrelationships between territories, images, and poems in an ambitious publication, “The Hollow of the Hand”. Post-war Kosovo, its villages abandoned and empty; Afghanistan in a state of perpetual conflict; Washington, its neighbourhoods evoking alternatively the symbolic loci of power or the underworld of a fractured society: Seamus Murphy and PJ Harvey examine tension and muffled violence, but also the strange, thrilling immanence of the everyday.

They go beyond simple reporting; they set conflicts in a context, both wide-ranging and manifold, which includes recording reality, representing it, and putting it into perspective through poetic texts.

These poems, photos, and films are never confined to a literal, illustrative role. They are multiple, dimensional forms emanating from a single path, a single journey. They are gestures, ways of exploring the real, of experiencing it and performing it, in order to share it with the other side of the world.