Looking at Fever Coat by Toronto-based photographer Jamie Campbell (b. 1983) we have the feeling that something has just happened, and we’re just left to wonder what. It’s like a thriller that leaves the viewer bewildered already at the beginning.
“Fever Coat is a colour-shift in the animal’s hair follicles that occurs after a feline’s immune system has fended off a major fever or illness”, explains Campbell. “This transformation is an outward sign of inner trauma that might otherwise have gone undetected. This visual evidence of bygone sickness, much like a photograph, offers insight into the past only after the condition to which it testifies is gone.” Once the metaphor is explained, the key to read and interpret this body of work is provided. Campbell takes advantage of a contemporary approach to image editing that merges diverse visual approaches, alternating spontaneous portraits of people and animals with studio photographs of cats. The peculiar association of images along with the project’s title are enough to arise the viewer’s curiosity. By comparing photography with the delayed evidence of some illness, the series aims to make the viewer consider the circumstances that have led to a particular photograph.
Campbell states: “Just as Fever Coat unveils illness retroactively, similarly the photograph offers delayed evidence of the photographic subject or situation. In both cases, knowledge is made available only after the fact. In this process the actuality of the situation is lost, and only hints remain.”