“People ask me, is it a love story? Sorry, nothing like that. Frustrations, desire, loneliness. That’s how it was.” Like a secret journal entry, these are the simple words that make up photographer James Pfaff’s intimate photo series, You Wouldn’t Like It Here.
“You Wouldn’t Like It Here is a tough story,” he shares. “The title refers to the notion that on the surface this could look like a pleasant situation from a male perspective. But actually no, it’s not pleasant or comfortable here at all.”
James’ approach in photography is deeply personal. In the photo series, viewers are invited to take a look at seemingly random snapshots of a naked girl, a dead bird, a shattered glass window, a lightbulb and a calendar along with several images of external foliage. It’s like watching a fragmented scene of someone else’s life, a character looking for something to fill an emotional void one day in 2007.
You Wouldn’t Like It Here strongly evokes a fragile impression as the images begin to present themselves as a collection of delicate memories. The naked girl bares out all the vulnerabilities that one encounters on a physical and emotional level.
“This was a desperate evening where for me her beauty was the central driving force and for her, my main purpose, was simply to help stave off the deep sense of loneliness she was feeling. It was under these circumstances, in Paris, that I made the images. We would both take what we needed and would give what we could,” he said.
On the other hand, James strongly relates to the the shattered window. “It’s a strong metaphor for how fragile and imperfect we all are, how we are held together with tape. It’s a theme I’m very interested in promoting. Life is messy and far from perfect. The more that people understand this the happier we might be.”
It’s fairly difficult to realize how You Wouldn’t Like It Here make sense at first. But upon learning the way James Pfaff presents his works, he pretty much lays out everything on the table. Each experience he encounters in different periods of his life are recorded as a visual diary. He doesn’t mind being vulnerable and open so long as he can share life’s frailties.
“These are deeply personal but universal themes which are central to my practice. I’m happy to show my vulnerabilities.”