Magazine article Geographical

Nick Danziger Q&A. (in Conversation)

Magazine article Geographical

Nick Danziger Q&A. (in Conversation)

Article excerpt

PHOTOGRAPHER, WRITER AND DOCUMENTARY FILM-MAKER, NICK DANZIGER IS KNOWN FOR HIS WORK ON REGIONS OF EXTREME CONFLICT ALL OVER THE WORLD. IN 1994 HE SET OFF ON A JOURNEY ACROSS BRITAIN TO DOCUMENT THE LIVES OF PEOPLE AT BOTH ENDS OF THE SOCIAL SPECTRUM. WINNIE LIESENFELD TALKS TO HIM ABOUT HIS BOOK, THE BRITISH, OUT IN PAPERBACK THIS MONTH

What is the first journey you undertook on your own?

I spent my teenage years in Switzerland and, inspired by Tintin went to Paris for a week. I was 13 years old. I left without my parent's permission, without tickets or passport. I ended up in Paris living a really rough life, because I had so little money. I slept in parks, and it opened my eyes up to a very different world.

Has life on the margins of society always fascinated you?

Not really. But as part of my holidays I tended to end up among people who were living on the margins. My first major journey was to South America, aged 18; I wanted to go to a Bolivian tin mine. That altered my view of life, seeing the conditions that people are forced to live in.

What made you undertake the project of The British in the first place?

I've lived almost all my life outside of Britain. I wanted to discover something about my roots, my mother being English. I've had lots of photographic exhibitions across Britain, and given talks about the foreign work that I've done, these extraordinary and exotic places. But I always saw Britain in a similar way. What I understood from the reaction to my work was that there was a similar journey to be made across Britain.

What did you enjoy most about working on The British?

There's an incredible entrepreneurship and dynamism among young people living on the margins. A lot of it is channelled into illegal ways of making a living.

For me the happiest and saddest thing was the young people. The incredible potential that there is in Britain and the sadness of so many kids who never really have a chance, because the environment is set against them. …

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