Green and Pleasant Land is a visual poem about modern English identity.
The project began in May 2016 when I made a homecoming visit to the U.K and started to photograph an informed outsider’s perspective on class, commerce and culture in modern England. I was a resident in the United Kingdom for eight years before I was involuntarily required to emigrate back to the United States because of complications with my visa two years prior. A month after my visit, Britain voted to leave the European Union and the project took on another level of personal meaning and importance. The “Brexit” vote, fueled by anti-immigrant sentiments, added to the unnerving sense of exclusion I felt from the United Kingdom.
The project is inspired by the poem Jerusalem by the English poet William Blake. Many of the photographs were directly inspired by the poem’s lines and phrases and they are also used to bookend and guide the narrative. Jerusalem is often read as a collocation for a identifiably English landscape and society and commonly viewed with strong nationalistic undertones. However, to me, Jerusalem has a universal message about the personal struggle for identity and acceptance in society.