Summing up the story of Benny Profane in just a few lines is not easy, yet the title already encapsulates a number of key references. Benny Profane is one of the protagonists of Thomas Pynchon’s novel V, that of a man who embarks on a precarious odyssey that leads him to wander amid purity and blasphemy. A similar precarious odyssey is experienced by the protagonists in the images of Ken Grant, an English photographer interested in portraying the life of the English working classes in long-term projects. The place where this story unfolds is a port district where Grant worked as a labourer in his youth, and with which he formed a strong bond. A world on the edge of the River Mersey, in its hinterland, particularly in the vast expanse of marshland known as Bidston Moss.
From 1989 to 1997, Ken Grant immersed himself in that world and those who depended upon it for their survival. The result is a narrative in which the people photographed navigate their lives in search of stability, at a time when little is stable. Moving through the Moss, the docklands, its overflow canals and the edges of the city itself, Benny Profane is an extended account of an area and those who shaped it during its final years. In 1997, waste disposal operations at Bidston Moss ceased, and the area was turned into a nature reserve.