In the words of Laura Pannack, "I learn most when I walk with a camera; about myself and the company I share. I am engaged. I stop mentally. I listen." This was certainly shown in Laura Pannack's project The Cracker. Here the photographer interestingly mentions that according to travel psychology, the appearance of similarity between any two places, is directly proportional to the distance between them. Anything different would seem absolutely foreign. Being renowned for her social and documentary work, connecting to the subject through photography- you can see how the relationship between the camera and the subjects is so intimate because the images are so raw and authentic.
Motivated by research-led self-initiated projects, Pannack pursues to fully understand the lives of those she captures on film in order to portray them as pure and honest as possible. Perceiving "time, trust and understanding" to be the key elements to achieving this, many of her projects develop over several years, helping her attain a genuine connection between herself and her sitter and allowing her to capture the intimacy, shared ideas and shared experiences of this relationship. "This particular approach allows a genuine connection to exist between the sitter and photographer, which in turn elucidates the intimacy of these very human exchanges," she says in her artist's statement.
Keeping her core focus tight, Pannack positions herself at the key meeting place where young people would flock to socialize. The Cracker in Tipton and Topside in Gagebrook. The uncanny often subtle parallels are a stark reminder that youth is universal and growing up in a tight-knit community brings often-predictable trends, relationships and behaviours. Island Symmetries begins at a vast wasteland standing between two estates. 'Tibby'; is a cul de sac of residential houses that curls around a small playground. Kids push prams with their hands high above their heads or zip past on chunky bikes. Through a narrow alleyway, you enter the Cracker; rolling grass lined with blackberries and stinging nettles. Motorbikes, peds and quads bark loudly every day and at all times. The boys race them until they burn out, perfecting the art of the wheelie. Horses are usually kept in the back gardens or local stables and are just as popular.
On the adjacent side lies 'The Lost City Estate'. Most of the boys meet at Jack Barrett's bars (a metal fence that lies at the opening of the field). They perch, and exchange stories, cigarettes and zoots alight referring to each other affectionately as 'Mush'. The kids are on the edge of adolescence. The tipping point. They're bored, wild-eyed. They ride BMXs and watch as low-slung, red and metallic Holden Commodores growl and screech into 'burnouts' around us. Dirt bikes roar through the playgrounds, their helmet-less riders pulling wheelies. Just like on the Cracker, the kids swig back energy drinks faster than water. Dilated pupils and excited squeals follow. Small crossbody pouches and the latest trainers are boasted. The fickle and intense friendships are identical on both sides of the world. The air is filled with tension, drama and aggression. Someone is threatened with a knife. Affirming and promotion of one's strength and dominance. Mostly these kids are still soft, and polite. Sometimes they call her 'miss'. Pannack's work without a doubt captures the intensity and gritty nature of this community, however, it is portrayed amongst the chaos that they are indeed children, which is shown strongly through her alluring and compelling images.