Gabby Laurent falls, over and over again

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In her new book and exhibition, the significance of falling is two-fold

To fall is to plunge. But, it is also to change: to shift from one state to another. As photographer Gabby Laurent tumbles through her latest publication, Falling, published by Loose Joints, she experiences both of these things. Stumbling down stairs and tripping on curbs; lurching through fields and desert. But she also falls pregnant and, undoubtedly, a great many other things. As the text punctuating the photographs muses, one can fall “asleep, behind, ill, in line, in love, pregnant, from grace, prey, apart,” to name but a few. 

Laurent’s falls are also symbolic of the tumult of life. People come and go; things rarely remain the same. And, reflecting on her own experiences of loss and new life, the photographer lets herself collapse into time’s ebb and flow. However, the images are not as coincidental and free-flowing as they may initially seem: Laurent stages each photograph; her falls are performative. And, in sequencing them repeatedly, she forces us to wonder at the significance of falling for her and ourselves.

As Falling draws to a close, we observe a heavily pregnant Laurent rise from a set of starting blocks. She pushes forward, tense and focused. However, we do not see her fall. Instead, in a successive image, she accelerates, leaping out of the frame. The sequence is compelling and exudes strength. Indeed, it reminds us that to fall is to change, not just to descend.

Falling by Gabby Laurent is published by Loose Joints. Falling accompanies an exhibition at Webber Gallery until 19 June 2021.

Hannah Abel-Hirsch

Hannah Abel-Hirsch joined British Journal of Photography in 2017, where she is currently Assistant Editor. Previously, she was an Editorial Assistant at Magnum Photos, and a Studio Assistant for Susan Meiselas and Mary Ellen Mark in New York. Before which, she completed a BA in History of Art at University College London. Her words have also appeared on Magnum Photos, 1000 Words, and in the Royal Academy of Arts magazine.