Jermaine Francis is a British Artist
Episode 271: Jermaine Francis is an absolute legend. He is also a very talented artist whose self-published books give some perspective about the last two years that we have all been forced to cope with.
I first encountered Jermaine while reviewing his excellent book Something that Seems So Familiar Becomes Distant for American Suburb X. This book was quickly followed up with receiving his equally excellent and compelling Rhythms From the Metroplex-a complex pre-covid body of work published during the heart of the plague. Receiving the book after Something That Seems So Familiar Becomes Distant was jarring in a way. With the first title, Jermaine took the time to face the Covid moment full-on and the book shows this-lots of masks and distancing. It was a sort of elegy to the time we were all struggling through.
With the follow-up book, it is a compendium of photographs made right before the pandemic struck, which makes their order of publishing incongruent, uneasy, and again, compelling for people following the work. It is a strange Back to the Future Past slippage of time to view them in order and during the midst of everything. It was implicit and typical of Jermaine’s canny ability to play with time and memory, under duress and in direct confrontation with the conceptual framework channeled through what at first appears as street photography, but which, underneath has much more going on. When you observe the work and unravel the layers, you can see Francis playing with the moment, the present, and the disruption of the idea of now.
During the episode, we spoke about his background growing up and how he came to photography, and what his work means. You will notice that we got on like a house on fire. Jermaine and I had a lengthy conversation about everything from self-publishing to the writing of Martha Rosler. It was riotously funny at times and made me quite endeared to Jermaine’s wit and candor. This, in turn, made his work all the much more powerful. Be on the lookout for Jermaine and his new works as they come out. I am personally incredibly excited to see his Post-Industrial Daydream published over the course of the next year.