Barry
2001 / 14 photographs



Barry and I met while I was photographing  born-again Christian churches in South Wales. Barry suffers from schizophrenia, a gambling habit, and alcoholism. He had attached himself to one of the big evangelical congregations where we became friends while smoking on the street outside.

The thing that fascinated me about Barry was the way he seemed to play a game at church – he would never overtly pledge his allegiance to god, refused point-blank to be baptised, but he would graciously accept the support and gifts offered to him by the church folk. He looked around – sometimes apparently amused – during animated and emotional prayer, and he slipped out of services when things became too intense for his liking. In his non-commiting way Barry let the congregation be convinced of his salvation.

As I shifted focus to Barry's story rather than the church as a whole, he quickly adopted the same game with me. Similar to the way he controlled the congregation's perception of him, he governed the way the camera saw him with amazing dexterity. This quickly became an unspoken agreement between us, he wasn't going to ignore the presence of the camera, he was going to cooperate when he wanted and not when he didn't. I let him pose, he let me shoot. So together we quietly conspired a fiction: an amalgamation of my idea, his idea, his interpretation of my idea, and my interpretation of his idea.

Barry
2001 / 14 photographs