Amani Willett is a Brooklyn and Boston-based photographer whose practice is driven by conceptual ideas surrounding family, history, memory, and the social environment. Working primarily with the book form, his two monographs – Disquiet (Damiani, 2013) and The Disappearance of Joseph Plummer (Overlapse, 2017) – have been published to widespread critical acclaim.
Amani completed an MFA in Photography, Video and Related Media from the School of Visual Arts, NY in 2012 and a BA from Wesleyan University in 1997.
In addition to his artistic practice, Amani currently teaches photography at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design in Boston.
Video: Amani Willett – Photographer by School of Visual Arts (Youtube)
Exploring themes of history, place and mythology, Amani Willett’s photographs track the hermit’s overgrown trail through the land his family now owns. Willett’s father, unaware of the reclusive man who roamed the area nearly 200 years before him, acquired the deed 40 years ago with the intention of establishing a rustic retreat.
Upon learning of Plummer’s existence, Willett endeavoured to photograph a fragmented narrative amidst the same landscape he once inhabited. He scoured local archives to find first-hand written accounts describing the hermit’s character, as well as bona fide personal effects which appear in the book. Adding to the visual journey are historical portrait and landscape images from the region that inspired Willett’s physical intervention in the form of destructive applique and collage.
The resulting work mirrors the past while keeping Plummer’s unknowable history intact. It also reveals how the hermit’s existence still resonates today – not only as a constant counterpoint to our fast-paced, technology-driven times – but in conjuring the same romanticised allure that tempts new generations to also venture off-grid.
Hardcover | 17 x 22 cm portrait | 136 pages | 50 colour and 28 b+w photographs | Published in October 2017.