Chasm of Sorrow

Chasm of Sorrow is a collaboration with Andrew Dawson as he explored Anton Chekhov’s time as a doctor living on Sakhalin Island whilst he created a theatre piece. In 1890, Chekhov knowing that he was ill with tuberculosis undertook an arduous journey from Moscow across Siberia to the penal colony on the island of Sakhalin. He stayed for 3 months documenting and conducting a personal census of the current and former prisoners, their families and their guards and how they lived on the island, an underworld suffering and lifelong exile at the edge of the map taking him to the very edge of emotional and physical extremes. This resulted in a book ‘Sakhalin Island’ published in 1893.

In this collaboration with Andy I was photographing the process of his research, exploration and all the elements that go into bringing a piece to life, what happens behind the scenes in the privacy of the rehearsal room. From there I began playing with not only my images but also some archive photographs that he was using, combining some of the bits of texts with the photographs. There was a lot of layering of the present with the past and sometimes using black and white film and sometimes colour. Gradually the process of photographing and selecting and playing with the images formed into a book in a very symbiotic and alive way. It was very exciting and creative to be able to work with such freedom and collaborate at the same time.