Big Fence / Pitcairn Island
An enigmatic place; legendary and infamous. A volcanic blip in the vast blue of the Pacific: 2 miles long, one mile wide. About as far from anywhere as it is possible to be. Once on Pitcairn, there would be no escape until the boat returned 3 months later. Today just one child and 42 islanders remain.
Pitcairn the paradise – Mutiny on the Bounty island, the Anglo-Tahitian idyll, the Hollywood adaptations that followed. But there was another, darker, side to the island. Secrets that had ripped the community apart, convictions that had shocked the world. Wounds that would never heal. Spurred by testimony from one brave Pitcairn girl, a total of 8 living Pitcairn men were convicted of sexual crimes against young girls in 2004, one of whom is the island’s current mayor, Shawn Christian. Paradise Lost.
I had been stockpiling expired Polaroid film for the trip, a dying medium. It would be used to capture the fragility of the place - its instability echoing the scarred underbelly of the island, its dreamlike quality capturing the whimsy of the legend.
On Pitcairn, every problem is amplified, and there is no respite – honesty is eclipsed by need, women relying on their abusers. In this most isolated of places, claustrophobia prevails. A complex and tense environment where loneliness and secrecy thrive. Relationships are fractured, locations bare scars. Was it possible to move on?
Unwanted sexual advances and public showdowns peppered my stay and almost everyone was photographed in private, inside, away from judging eyes - a covert operation. With each subject I had just one opportunity - many taking months of coercion. As a result, those absent in the project perhaps tell a more potent story than those who are included. Empty rooms, rock fissures, and damaged found photographs of long departed islanders hint at a concealed darkness.