2015 | Safe Distance: Pirates

“Wherever people feel safe (…) they will be indifferent.”
― Susan Sontag, Regarding the Pain of Others

Pirates is the third part of the Safe Distance series. These images are based on found footage taken on board vessels either being attacked by or themselves attacking ‘pirates’ off the Horn of Africa.

The online footage caught my eye because of its resemblance to classical naval or maritime paintings, specifically from the Dutch Golden Age. The footage is shot from the perspective of the victor and often glorifies the destruction – by overwhelming force – of the small vessels used by the local men, who feel forced to take up the role of coast guard in order to bring a halt to the exploitation of their lands and fishing grounds. They are usually referred to by the media as ‘pirates’, an archaic and dubious term which helps blur the line between the mythical and Hollywood-inspired presentation of ‘the pirate’ and the harsh reality of what drives these men to desperate acts.

The series, Safe Distance, is an attempt to interpret the original footage as well as to question the position of the viewer: What is my role in the events that I so eagerly observe from a safe distance?