The background story on the industrial setting for Chris Coekin’s The Altogeher is a UK factory that began manufacturing copper wire over one hundred and fifty years ago in 1834. Recently the factory was shut down in conjunction with the laying-off of all the employees.
Coekin has designed the book to sequence through three sections, although not easy to determine the transition as all of the photographs are bound as a gatefold. Thus you can say that his story literally, as well as metaphorically, unfolds in the telling. The folded pages have a series of poetic text that reads like an old cinema commercial, one phrase on a fold, followed by the next phrase on the following folded page.
The first series of photographs are staged individuals who play-out the work and working relationships. Perhaps tough-in-cheek as best done in the style of dry British humor, is the individual saddled with chains, a wonderfully humorous node to Charles Dicken’s A Christmas Carol and his character Jacob Marley.
Not as humorous is the second series of deposits, stains and remains that might accompany a steel processing factory. I read this short narrative as regarding the past environmental transgressions for the sake of economic gain. Sadly, this is a criticism of current industrial practices as well.
The last section are photographs that are liken to a future archeological dig, in which various industrial hand tools are found amongst the waste of this industrial site. Similar to the preceding section, these are ambiguous photographs of worn and heavy used objects without a direct connection in which they are used. Lying in the dark, oily grim, these tools are not shown in a neutral and objective context, but situationally such that I derive a sinister undertone surrounding these objects.
The book object is very intriguing, the hard cover is foil blocked and embossed and all of the photographs are hand-folded gatefold running concurrently the length of the book. Opening the series of gatefolds results in a slower read in which the viewer may have more of an opportunity to reflect on the content. The book is accompanied by a unique seven-inch vinyl record produced from the factory floor. The recoded audio is Days at The Factories c/w CuSO4 Shuffle.
Note: I have selected this book for my 2012 Fotografia di Roma photobook exhibition theme of Work. This photobook exhibition is also scheduled for one night pop-up at the Irvine Fine Art Center, Oct 18th 2012.
Douglas Stockdale for The PhotoBook