Featured post

Contemporary Narratives - Photography: A Short Guide to History, Theory, and Practice: Online Course Starting April 27th 2022

  Sign up to my new series of talks on Contemporary Narratives - Photography: A Short Guide to History, Theory, and Practice .  Starts on Ap...

Friday, 2 March 2018

Britain's Snow Crisis in Pictures

It has all been terribly exciting here in the UK where temperatures have been below freezing for a few days and there has been quite a lot of snow.

A little bit of snow shuts everything down here, so you can imagine what quite a lot does. The shops have run out of milk and bread, nobody is going to work, the buses and trains have stopped running and there are stories of people stuck on roads and on trains.

The news bulletins are full of it. It's a rolling news cycle of disappointing weather-porn with pictures that fall into basic categories:

  • Idyllic snow-covered landscapes from hill country where people are 'used to the snow'
  • Aerial images of fields almost covered in snow.
  • Disappointing pictures of motorway junctions where the roads are not quite covered in snow. 
  • A bus skidding on a road
  • A car spinning its wheels in the snow
  • Live reports of people trapped on motorways.  
  • Images of abandoned cars. 
  • Someone digging out their cars.
  • and so on....

But the image at the top is my favourite. It's people on a train that was going from London to Christchurch (a journey of a couple of hours). It left at 5pm on Thursday and was still on the tracks at 8am on Friday, with no heating, no food, no water and all the rest of it. The driver of the train hid in his carriage by one account

And that's the picture. It looks like it was taken by an old Nokia. It reminds me of the early days of phone photography, and that's what makes it. It has a post-apocalyptic feel that is accentuated by the rough quality. They are wearing bad hats and even worse fleeces and one guy is wrapped in what looked like a space blanket but might just be a giant piece of clingfilm. The picture is blurred, they have yellow-eye and they are halfway there to being part of a Richard Mosse installation.

They are also just standing there looking for leadership, spaced out and on the verge of anarchy in this strange enclosed space with no light, that looks almost like some kind of salvationary pod rather than the height of technological excellence that is a Southern Rail Train. These are feral people, on the verge of leaping up and thrashing into the viewer in some crazed commuter-zombie feeding frenzy. And the guy in the back with no hat who is smiling? Who knows?

But it's also a look into the future, especially because the only relief from the snow chaos news is Brexit chaos news, which is no relief because it's like a three-year stammer of but-but-but and wtf-wtf-wtf-wtf-wtf and why-why-why and wondering why crazed gunment never get the right people because I have a list if you need one.... And as you watch the snow and the Brexit, they  become conflated until the image of the people on the train looks (as Jamie Dormer Durling puts it) like a flash forward to 2019 and this becomes a bunch of English refugees caught in the Channel trying to escape to France.But they've been caught off the coast of Calais and are being returned for reprocessing back into the United Kingdom of Taking-Back-Control.

No comments: