Fool me Once, Fool you Twice

Fool me Once, Fool you Twice is a series of analog double exposures taken by young British-Canadian photographer Tee Ferguson, recently published in a zine available on her website.

Playgrounds, landscapes, celebration objects, pets, but also self-portraits and pictures of her family, friends, and strangers, are shown to us as a combination of two images into one. All subjects refer to her personal notion of ‘home’: “not a place but a state of mind”, in her own words. The focus is on the search of that feeling when she is far away from her hometown, as she moved several times. Sometimes it’s about dealing with uncertainties; all kind of feelings, even the most unfamiliar and uncomfortable are welcome, as long as they continue questioning her and the way she connects to different environments.

By looking at Tee’s pictures, we realise we are invited into her gaze, as if we become spectators of her mnemonic registration of what surrounds her. What she is suggesting to us is that even what may seem irrelevant at first sight can surprise us (or “fool us”), as it can assume meaning and build a deeper connection with us in time. Perhaps, it can also tell us more about who we are. The double exposure of her photographs becomes a way to unveil the fragmentation of the mind and the elaboration of memories, where past and present coincide.

After these first considerations, I wanted to know more about the series: what is the meaning of the title, how are the pictures technically built, how is the zine organised and, above all, how are the ideas of past-present-future and the feeling of home vehicles of the photographer’s search for identity and personal expression. This is why I met Tee and invited her to talk us through Fool me Once, Fool you Twice more closely.

EP: Does the title have a particular meaning or is it a key sentence to read the whole series?

TF: I made a first series called Fool the Guesser. This time I made a second one because I moved to a different country and questioned myself about the idea of home. I thought this was an appropriate title: when you look at the photos, you have to continue looking at them because there are two photos overlapping each other, and you’ll see something different every time you’ll look at them. This kind of recalls the idea that it “fools you”. I didn’t want people to recognise it straight away, I wanted it to be kind of mysterious.

EP: Who is in the pictures and how are they questioning your identity?

TF: I started using myself because I travel and take myself to places alone, thus, I started the idea around myself – indeed, there are a lot of self-portraits in it. Then, I realised that it is not where you go in the world that defines the idea of home. So, I decided to look at people I am surrounded by, at my friends, family, or also strangers with whom you have a connection and that bring you positive vibes. Hence, I started looking at people around me, but also working a lot on myself.

EP: How are the pictures technically built? How does the double exposure technique work; did you shoot all the pictures in one roll? TF: I shoot on one roll all at once and then I take it, even after months, and shoot over it again, not remembering what was on the first one. So each of the roll are random, I never plan what’s on them, so when they come out they are always a surprise. Sometimes I use two different cameras: one can be a manual camera more for portraits, and one a small pocket camera that can be carried around, that could be more spontaneous and useful to take more random shots. I just switch on the film and never know what I am going to get.

EP: When organising the zine, did you think of it as a whole or is there an internal distinction? TF: It was really difficult to decide. I had so many random photos and asked to myself: what story do I want to tell? The beginning of the book is more about party-fun photos and then we get to a break, where the pictures become quieter and fantasy like. This is when I moved to a new house, so the photos changed too, giving more space also to landscapes and family members.

EP: Past—Present—Future. How are these three dimensions present in the pictures?

TF: I think I am always daydreaming about Berlin where I’ve lived for two years. I really had an attachment to that place. It took a bit to call it ‘home’, but once you meet beautiful people, you realise friends can be home too. I feel like in some of the pictures, especially in the first part, I tried to catch that essence of Berlin for me, that comes from the past; but also capture the present and then adding this futuristic imaginary, through the use of bright colours and textures.

EP: “Home is not a place but a state of mind” is written on one picture and well-described on the final text of the zine. Could you elaborate more on your feeling of home? TF: Home is not a physical place. I kept moving around and, in every place, I searched for that feeling of ‘home’; but then realised that it was not around my family and friends that I had to look for it, that it was not only them that made up that idea. That is why I tried to put myself into uncomfortable situations, where I felt out or not connected: it was then that I looked for a food, a particular smell or walked down streets, waiting for those memories from my childhood to come to me and make me feel the way I feel at home. I believe you need to make yourself uncomfortable in order to get comfortable and at ease with yourself.

EP: “The greatest treasures are those invisible to the eye but felt by the heart” is written on last page of the zine. Is it a final realisation of what the whole project is about?

TF: I wanted this piece of text to be small and hidden so that when you see it you can be surprised and say - “oh, that’s how it feels”.

Author, Eugenia Pacelli - Instagram

Illustrations and Photographers featured in this Article

Photographer, Tee Ferguson - Personal Website

Zine, Fool me Once, Fool you Twice