Jack Latham – Parliament of Owls
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Nestled within the redwood forests of Monte Rio, northern California, sits Bohemian Grove, a 2,700-acre retreat owned by the exclusive gentlemen’s San Francisco Bohemian Club, founded in 1872.
Every summer, the retreat is frequented by the political and business elite of the US. Shrouded in secrecy, the activities at the grove have become the subject of countless conspiracy theories and rumours.
In Jack Latham’s Parliament of Owls, he investigates the secrecy of the club and the wider political effects this has caused.
What happens when the country’s top lawmakers, politicians, artists, lawyers, and businessmen meet behind closed doors? What secrets are being swapped, plans being made? For years these questions have been at the root of protest groups and journalists hoping to expose the truth.
Latham takes the viewer on a journey of discovery, showcasing the town surrounding Bohemian Grove (the club’s rural outpost) and its people.
His photographs also depict the rise of Alex Jones—conspiracy theorist and founder of InfoWars—and how his break-in at the Grove in 2000 led him to become a household name with the antiestablishment crowd.
In an attempt to ‘expose the new world order’, Jones released alarmist footage of the club’s “Cremation of Care”, a theatrical ceremony in which an effigy of the members’ 'worldly cares' is burnt.
Beyond inspiring a bizarre attack on Bohemian Grove by a masked vigilante calling himself the Phantom Patriot in 2002, the release of the video footage, set within an alarmist context, was instrumental in increasing Jones’ profile as a far-right activist and subsequently spring-boarded infowars to become an influential outlet of fake news in recent US politics.
In 'Parliament of Owls', Jack Latham investigates the effects that a vacuum of information can cause.
The series gives only glimpses into Bohemian Grove, itself fuelling its mystery. Shot entirely in black and white, the series offers a view into the club’s winding path, or a photograph taken from the perspective of somebody hiding in the trees. The images are mysterious; they offer no answers of their own, and are therefore a vacuum of context themselves.
Jack Latham (born in Cardiff, 1989) is a Welsh photographer based in the United Kingdom. His work primarily focuses on aspects of storytelling throughout society. Past works including A Pink Flamingo (2015) and Sugar Paper Theories (2016) have featured in a number of solo shows which including, Reykjavik Museum of Photography, TJ Boulting Gallery and the Royal Photographic Society. Latham’s projects have also gone on to win multiple awards including the Bar-Tur Photobook award (2015), Image Vevey - Heidi.News Prize (2019).
Parliament of Owls was winner of the BJP International Photography Award in 2019.