Jack Latham and his series A Parliament of Owls is this year’s winner of the prestigious British Journal of Photography International Photography Award.
“The idea of a context vacuum is a fascinating one,” says Jack Latham of his BJP IPA winning series Parliament of Owls. “I think it’s only natural that we would want to fill these voids with theories.” Focusing on Bohemia Grove – an elite men’s club in California – Parliament of Owls explores the dangers of conspiracy theories and fake news. The club’s antics during its yearly retreats – often shrouded in secrecy – have become subject to allegations of devil worship and mock human sacrifice. “They say ‘conspiracy theories make sense of a senseless world’, and I would largely agree with that,” adds Latham.
– Jack Latham in Interview with the BJP
A Parliament of Owls focuses on the narrative behind the far-right conspiracy theorist Alex Jones and his rise to prominence after a shunt to expose the so called ‘New World Order’ at Bohemia Grove in 2000. Latham has focused on the location of the Grove itself and those individuals associated with it. The series however does not offer an explanation to the mystery and instead it adds to it. Shot exclusively in black and white, the erie landscapes and disconcerting portraits that populate the series are designed to simulate the context vacuum Latham describes as being a major part of the Bohemian Grove story.
For Jack Latham, a Bristol based photographer, this is his third award winning publication following A Pink Flamingo (2015)and Sugar Paper Theories (2016). Latham’s work explores what some may consider controversial or divisive narratives, from forgotten ‘fly-over states’ in the US to mishandled murder enquires in Iceland. His photo books present these topics in a visually exceptional manner but offer no answer, instead they challenge the viewer to explore what they are seeing and to understand a story they may otherwise be ignorant of.