Jordan Madge is a 20 year-old Australian photographer born and based in Melbourne. For Backwoods, Jordan follows the steps of a non-existing hermit in a work that mixes fact and fiction.
Hello Jordan, thank you for this interview. What are your main interests as a photographer?
Hi, thanks a lot for having me. Photography allows me to wander and let my intuition guide me in the search for something, without having to justify why or what it is I’m doing.
I also love that it can be used as a platform to explore various subject matter and having the freedom to create narratives, try all different genres of photography and shoot impulsively what goes on around me.
What is Backwoods about, in particular?
When I initially began making Backwoods, I was spending a lot of time driving into the hills about an hour or two from Melbourne. I became fascinated with the idea of living away from the hustle of the city.
Aside from being about a fictional hermit, Backwoods hints at the idea of getting away from society to search for something different: by the time the project was finished, that something turned out to be solitude and stillness.
Besides the landscape photographs, Backwoods is punctuated with images of small objects and books. What is the story of these items?
Most of the objects stand as metaphors. For example, the cone shell represents misplacement and home, symbolic of a nomadic lifestyle and portability, where someone is able to willingly live on the move or to be in constant transience while being content and happy.
The wooden pear stands as a symbol for the idea of fact and fiction. In fact, it isn’t a pear, it is merely a representation of one – much like the back bone of the narrative I created.
In using photos and scans of books I wanted to create an extra layer, an extra world. Through non-English texts in particular, I wanted the viewer to think about where the project is situated in real-time and place.
Tell us more about this photo.
This photograph represents the elusiveness of someone who has been avoiding contact with others, like a road block that you can still move through – not easily, but you can. It’s also about the realization that even if someone does decide to live a life of solitude, the world will continue to spin, with or without them.
Stumbling across a situation like this makes me feel quite lucky. If it wasn’t for taking a curious left hand turn in the middle of nowhere I’d never have found it.
Did you have any specific reference or source(s) of inspiration in mind while working on Backwoods?
Christian Patterson’s Redheaded Peckerwood had a heavy influence on my work. The idea that a narrative can be built on a factual basis, but then move to a personal level and become a hybrid of fact and fiction really fascinates me.
There were countless photographers and artists that were inspiring for me at the time of making Backwoods, but I relied a lot on news articles and documentaries of real life hermits as well. Those true stories were the facts around which I created my narrative. With the encouragement of photographer Katrin Koenning, I was able to experiment with various modes of visual language and clarify the ideas that I used in this body of work.
Is there any image in Backwoods that you consider particularly significant or is a favorite, and why?
I don’t think I have any particular favorite in Backwoods, I always feel as though my work is better viewed as a narrative or in sequence. But if I had to choose one, it would probably be this photograph of a tree stump in a natural spring. I’m not sure exactly why, but I feel drawn in, perhaps because of how surprised I was when I stumbled upon it.
Who are some of your favorite contemporary photographers?
I really love Regine Petersen’s Find a Fallen Star, Jan Rosseel’s Belgian Autumn: A Confabulated History and Heikki Kaski’s Tranquillity. They’re probably the three artists that I’ve been going to for inspiration and continually looking through their work at the moment.
Do you have any other passion beside photography?
I love driving to new places and camping, getting lost and making decisions based on curiosity alone.
Searching. Curiosity. Place.