Flags of Convenience is a photo-essay examining 21st-century seafaring practices, and the laws that have allowed corporations to transform our relationship with the sea. Focusing specifically on the modern cruise industry as a symptom of a larger problem, Flags of Convenience combines text, photographs, and found/historical images to comment on the flawed sociopolitical system that exists on ships and hides in the background of the global tourism industry.
I have begun collecting screenshots from security cameras and webcams placed on the bows of various cruise ships. The work deals with tracking, movement, and communication between a ship at sea and the outside world. The images are often pixelated, distorted, and glitched. Sometimes the cameras are pointed down to the bow-deck, which is often used as a recreational deck for crew members; other times the camera is steadfast in its isolation of the landscape off the bow. Although I’m responsible for choosing the decisive moment, the ship and captain are in charge of composition and aesthetic, so it is a collaborative effort.
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The title “How to Get to Heaven” comes from a postcard handed out at a church in a shopping mall. For a breif period of time, this mall played host to almost two dozen small churches in need of cheap real estate. The shops had all moved out; only a large Dillard’s anchor store remained. The ceiling was leaking and buckets were placed every few yards along the walkway. Some local residents would come here to walk or jog, as it was heated in the winter. Towards the end, they put up signs banning these activities. Only church attendees would be allowed into the mall. Eventually, the whole thing was torn down. These images document the end of the mall’s life, when it was still cohabited by capitalism and religion.
This project was turned into a small-production book as part of MOCA Cleveland’s Art Book Fair, in a collaboration with 19 other artists.