Born, raised, and based in South London, Alfie’s work explores the nuances of everyday life, focusing on moments of emotion and human intimacy which he finds meaningful. Photography acts as a vehicle for Alfie to explore his personal interests and passions, and as a way of navigating through the world and communicating his interpretation of it as he does so. His work fits into the documentary practice and holds strong elements of street photography, but is better to be considered a continuous visual-study on human and social conditions, seen through Alfie’s lens both literally and metaphorically.
Q: WHAT WAS YOUR ROUTE TO YOUR CURRENT ARTISTIC PRACTICE?
Three years ago, 18-year-old me graduated from college without the faintest idea of what to do with my life. Faced with the void of adulthood, mounting existentialism, and pressures to go into further education, I went into retail work with the idea that I would begin an electrician apprenticeship the following September. Those around me called me a fool and said I need to give photography—strictly a hobby at the time—a shot, and so I did, saying to myself that if it didn’t work out I would just continue my original plan in the world of electricals instead.
It didn’t work out, but I’m stubborn and found what could be a small calling on the way. I’m literally unqualified to do anything but be creative, so here I am, attempting to make a living off of that. It’s been about two and a half years now and whilst circumstances have changed, the process is more or less the same: making images that are meaningful to me and that communicate my interpretation of the world, to the world.
Q: CAN YOU IDENTIFY ANY ELEMENTS OF YOUR COMMUNITY OR COLLABORATORS THAT HAVE HAD A STRONG INFLUENCE?
Back when I was working a retail job in 2018, I would watch people outside from the shop floor. I remember seeing all these moments and feeling so touched by them, wishing I could capture them in some way and share them with others. In that sense, it’s been the community itself that has influenced me the greatest. It was around the same time, though, that I discovered Andre D. Wagner’s work, which really opened my eyes to the type of imagery that can still be made today. I’m still influenced by my community, and those moments still touch me as much as they did back then. Nowadays, I’m influenced a lot by people around me, artists and non-artists alike. Contemporaries include but are nowhere near limited to Aliyah Otchere, Sara Messinger, Brian Wertheim, and Andre, of course. I went to an exhibition by an artist and friend of mine called Jenna Coombs back in the beginning of 2020, and that really had an impact on how I thought about art and my work, influencing it in a more personal direction.
Q: HOW IS YOUR PROJECT TIED TO THE CIRCA X DAZED CLASS OF 20:21 THEME OF ‘COMMUNION’?
It’s simply my interpretation of the word. I thought about what the word meant to me and wrote the piece first, then paired appropriate imagery of mine which also in their own right embody its meaning. My archive acts as a sort of continuous documentation of my own existence, so in using these images I’m just essentially visually tapping into all these experiences and emotions which I communicate verbally in the video as well. I’m not sure if that’s a suitable answer, but I think my video is quite unequivocal in its theme.
Q: HOW WOULD THE CIRCA PRIZE OF £30,000 IMPACT YOUR FUTURE PRACTICE?
It would allow me to properly invest in my work without sacrificing other things, providing a massive security blanket for me to comfortably work without constantly thinking about money and jobs, and would mean I could finally sign off of Universal Credit (woo!). I know £30,000 is life-changing for everyone, but it’s so much for me that the idea of it is almost abstract; even if I added up all the money I’ve earned from 16 years old, it wouldn’t come close to that amount.
At times, I wonder if this is actually working out, if my ‘practice’ is a practice at all and isn’t just a daydream I’m attempting to realise. The prize would work things out, would make my practice a practice for certain and would solidify that daydream into more of a feasible reality, making my ‘future practice’ something of certainty. A goal of mine is also to eventually live and work in NYC—not permanently, but for a bit. It’s more of a dream than a goal but having this money would make it seem a whole lot more possible.
FOLLOW ALFIE WHITE ON INSTAGRAM