Unseen Waterloo: The Conflict Revisited

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9780957540569: Unseen Waterloo: The Conflict Revisited
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Unseen Waterloo: The Conflict Revisited, is a series of portraits by photographer Sam Faulkner exploring how we remember the fallen from a time before photography was invented. Since 2009, Faulkner has travelled to the annual Waterloo re-enactment in Belgium to photograph the soldiers who take part, dressed in the historically accurate uniforms each participant creates, with painstaking attention to detail, for the event. From his pop-up studio situated on the battlefield, Faulkner has made dramatic and painterly portraits which evoke the forgotten faces of Waterloo and re-imagine moments of glory, of hope and defeat. This limited edition book accompanies the exhibition of the same name at Somerset House London. Curated by international stage director and designer Patrick Kinmonth, the exhibition presents 70 life-size images hung against a backdrop of Hainsworth fabric, the rich scarlet woollen cloth used to dress the red- coat soldiers in 1815, still made today in exactly the same way at the original British mill. The book has a first print run of 1815 copies plus 200 numbered Artist's editions. It was officially launched at Somerset House on 18th June 2015, the 200th anniversary of the battle. It is a large photo book measuring approximately 370 x 290mm with around 240 pages. Limited to a print run of just 1815 copies, the 1815 Edition is beautifully finished in blue cloth with a silver map of the order of battle debossed on the cover. The book includes three texts; A preface by Sam Faulkner, the artist; A historical essay by writer Nicholas Foulkes; and an essay about the art inspired by Waterloo by art historian Satish Padiyar. Unseen Waterloo: The Conflict Revisited is my attempt to re-interpret and imagine the non-existent portraits from 1815. Waterloo is often cast as a battle between Great Men and certainly we ve all seen the grand paintings of Napoleon and Wellington from the con- flict, however we don t have personal images of the men who actually fought and died that day. A hundred years later in the First World War, the fallen soldiers names are chiselled forever into granite in every town of Europe, but the forces of Waterloo are virtually unknown. This work attempts to reclaim the Battle of Waterloo for the valiant 200,000 who have been lost to history., Sam Faulkner 2015.

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About the Author:

Sam Faulkner grew up in Norwich. After graduating in philosophy from King s College London in 1994, he immediately went to Afghanistan looking for ad- venture and with a dream of becoming a reportage photographer. He has worked around the world for The Telegraph Magazine, The Independent, The Sunday Times Magazine, GQ , Esquire, Vogue, Stern and Paris Match among many others. In 2oo1 Faulkner started shooting Cocaine Wars, a long term project about the collateral damage of the war on drugs in Colombia, Bolivia, Peru, Brazil, Haiti, Mexico and the USA. He lives in London with his wife and two young children. Unseen Waterloo is Faulkner s first project to be repre- sented by Hamiltons Gallery in London.

Review:

Waterloo was where Napoleon famously went down to defeat in 1815 at the hands of the British. The battle changed the course of European history overnight, and ushered in Britain s proud era of 19th century imperialism, industrialism and Victorian rectitude. Photographer Sam Faulkner grew up on a steady diet of that British glory, and is still fascinated by how war reverberates in the popular imagination. Unseen Waterloo is his contribution to the legend and narrative of that storied place. A former conflict photographer, Faulkner writes in the book s introduction that the project arose from his interest in "photographing something through its absence... Unseen Waterloo...is about what isn t there. The carnage, blood and gore are absent. The mighty ferocity of the unbridled slaughter has passed.... By focusing on the individuals rather than the scale of the battle, I hope to reframe Waterloo in more human terms." With a portable studio, he went to Waterloo and made lush, moody portraits of battle re-enactors, all of whom are in character, and dressed in meticulously re-created military uniforms of the period. The officers put on upper class airs, while rank-and-file soldiers show the wear and tear of working class life. More than a few look as if they ve recently awoken in a trench after a night of carousing. Faulkner avoids caricatures, and in a nod to the Old Masters, uses a black background and a touch of underexposure to dramatic effect, subduing the bright colors, baubles, and accoutrements of the uniforms, as well as the glint of the period weapons. How authentic the portraits are is impossible to say. Photography wasn t invented in 1815, so contemporaneous photographs of actual Waterloo soldiers don t exist, and Faulkner is careful to emphasize that Unseen Waterloo is a work of historical fiction. But it is an artfully convincing and compelling re-imagination of the soldiers of Waterloo. DAVID WALKER --Photo District News, December 2015

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