Nick Clements, cultural memory and vintage simulacra / re-creation
In my own Afterhours work I don’t think the intention had ever been to create an exact replica of times gone by; more to capture a particular spirit of something – a re-imagining that was in part inspired by and filtered through my own experiences, alongside personal cultural explorations, memory and representations…
…and along the way, an interview I read with photographer Nick Clements in Nude magazine (not a nude magazine please note) which quite possibly helped to bring together and coalesce my ideas.
Some of the concepts Nick Clements talked about in that interview seemed to somewhat haunt me for a fair old while – possibly in the way that William Gibson talks about ideas not falling fully formed from his brow, more in the intangible sense that he saw something sprayed on the side of a skip and it haunted him and that formed the basis for a story.
Along which lines, from the interview:
“(My photographs are) reconstuctions… but not of any existing photographs or illustration. Instead they have been reconstructed partly from the memories of those who were there at the time, and partly from my own memories of events, films and photography of the period… the perfect thing about memory is that it is imperfect…
“…if I did it from photographs that would be re-enactment and what I’m doing is re-creation. One comes from memory and feeling and intuition and the other is a historical phenomenon. Many of my “memories” stem from pop culture as seen through television programmes like Happy Days…
“We loved Happy Days as kids but even then we didn’t take it seriously as an exact re-creation. In the same way, the film American Grafitti had lots of historical errors in it: the length of hair and so on, but the emotion that George Lucas put over had a very authentic ring to it.”
The full interview can be found in Bare Essentials: The Best Of Nude Magazine 2003-2011 – which can be found and purchased as part of a somewhat bargainous package along with The Graphic Art Of The Underground.
Nick Clements Simulacra book, where I first saw his work collected together is sadly somewhat rare as hen’s teeth but you can find other of his publications via his Men’s File archive or a collection of related work in The Best Of Men’s File, published by Korero Books.