But Still, It Turns explores new forms of documentary photography, framing the chaotic world that surrounds us
“We spend our lives inventing stories, but the story actually doesn’t exist. We exist, and our apprehension of a story is how we explain the kind of meanderings that we take,” observes the Scottish film director Bill Forsyth, in one of several quotes printed in But Still, It Turns, published by Mack. The quote, accompanying a powerful introductory essay by Paul Graham, seems to encapsulate the book’s thesis, which examines what Graham refers to as ‘post-documentary’. In the wake of magazines and newspapers declining, the internet disseminating images for free, and mobile phone photography rocking the industry, post-documentary emerges as a new photographic genre. It is free from the “restrictive briefs and reductive narrative within which places and people are all too conveniently shuffled,” writes Graham. “Talented artists know when to leave the poetry of the world alone. No editorialising, no words to illustrate.”
In recent years, Graham has observed that “the pendulum has swung against” photography that engages with real life. And in its place, constructed, conceptualised and staged imagery has taken centre stage: “artworks where the artist crafted something in their mind, or the studio or in the computer, or staged it in the world, according to the strengths or weakness of their imagination,” as Graham articulates it. But Still, It Turns attempts to nudge the pendulum back a little, and to provide a gentle reminder that framing life is what “photography does best and the reason many people fall in love with it in the first place”.