Glasgow International Festival of Contemporary Art

Sarah Booker, INQUEST and bereaved families

Irish-born Sarah Booker spent much of her early life and teenage years growing up in West Africa and the Caribbean. In the days of adequately funded community projects, she worked for many years teaching photography and darkroom skills. It was here that she grappled with the complexities of the ‘politics of representation’ and the need for communities to develop skills to represent themselves.

Influenced by her background as a paralegal in asylum law, much of her photographic work centres on the global movement of people and the mechanisms that criminalise individuals and by extension cultures. With an intense interest in how social and political issues affecting communities are played out in the legal arena, Sarah spent two years working on a project with the lead lawyers representing families at the Hillsborough inquests. Here she documented the relationships between the families and their lawyers throughout the two-year legal process. The inquests led to a historic victory in all 97 cases with the finding of ‘unlawful killing’. She is currently working with mentor and photographic artist Cristina de Middlel, president of Magnum Photos, Sarah’s practice is shifting away from traditional documentary towards a more conceptual approach, which questions the veracity of the photograph as ‘evidence’.

It is from this position that she has worked alongside these seventeen families, supported by the charity INQUEST, to produce text and image which counter the ‘truths’ of institutional narratives. Sarah will continue to collaborate with communities to push through narratives that speak to those whose lives have been taken by state and institutional violence and their surviving families.