For 6 neon-drenched weeks, Peggy’s has acted as Douglas Prom’s underground hive for debauchery. As her run draws to an emotional crescendo, we caught up with local photographer Jess Kneen to discuss her recent exhibition at the pop-up discotheque.
For those of us who have frequented Peggy’s over the festive period, it’s doubtful many among the bleary-eyed revellers would have seen the stealthy ninja of photography – one Jess Kneen. But she was there almost every night darting in the shadows and snapping away. Eschewing digital techniques in favour of more traditional film, Jess’ methods have not been without their controversy.
“So many people hated me taking their photo at first, they wanted re-takes so they could look better”
For Jess, there’s a real satisfaction in film photography; the authenticity being at odds with the Instagram age. There were no filters here – this was wild and primal; essentially, the Manx purge being captured in real-time.The photos themselves are monochrome snapshots of time; the untamed and carefree, hair down, inhibitions left at home as we look on vicariously at the hedonists lost to the call of the Disco Ball. Also: lots of snogging. Jess acknowledges the strange vibe of not only being sober among the intoxicated but the fact that she was taking photos, what she deems invading personal space. Soon enough, such self-consciousness left her and she had created a body of work that truly captured the spirit of Peggy’s: demented and cool like a Pirate in Aviators; sweaty and loose like your Aunty on a hen do.
Whilst some of the party-goers were less than keen on having a camera thrust in their unsuspecting faces, the narcissists were soon out in force and ready to embrace it. If with alarming arrogance…
“One guy said to me, ‘Take my photo! I’ve got the look’. It was amazing. People wanted to be a part of this and they do love the attention of a camera”.
So what has Jess learned during the experience?
“Dads know everything!”.
Well, in Jess’ case, hers certainly does in this regard. Local photography legend Phil Kneen happens to be her Father and was on hand for tips and advice. It’s safe to say we now have a photography dynasty on our hands. She was, inadvertently inspired to become a photographer due to forever being in front of the camera as her Dad was learning his craft.
“I became sick of being told to ‘not smile’ so I got behind the camera instead”.
She finishes college in May 2019 and then she hopes to continue her photography study at university. She, like all of us, just hopes for a life where she can get paid to do what she loves. Or more specifically:
“My dream job is for someone to pay me to travel around the world and take photos in a little van with a portable darkroom”.
You wouldn’t bet against her. Check out the rest of her photos on Instagram @jessmfilm and remember, it’s your last chance to cradle yourself in Peggy’s sweet pink bosom on Boxing Day.