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Wednesday, 19 September 2012

The Brave New World of Photography Week: Day 3 - Stephen Gill

The land, the land, the land? What are we going to do with the land? Especially when it is going to be dug up, have all the life ripped out of it and be turned into a shopping mall. Because, much as I loved the Olympics with its Mo Farah and Jessica Ennis and Bradley Wiggins, the Olympic site is just a big mall that mystifies sport, removes land from true recreation and will in no way whatsoever encourage or develop sporting activity in this country in any way, shape or form. Making all swimming pools free would do that. Building tennis courts, cycle tracks, parks and not building houses on sold-off school playing fields might help people get out more.  

So I loved the Olympics, but really let’s get back to reality. Stuff the Olympics. And whilst we’re at it stuff the World Cup and the Winter Olympics too. Let pockets be lined in some other way.

Where does that take us? To Stephen Gill. Stephen Gill is clever and as with Mishka Henner, he is adept at the one-liner; toy cameras, buried prints, flowery collages, decayed negatives, detritus in the camera, all underpinned by a homespun publishing house that came before homespun publishing houses were ten a penny.

However, it’s the theme of the land, in particular Hackney Wick and the Lea Valley, the area that was destroyed when London’s Olympic Park was built, that puts Gill into this week’s list. His practice is connected to the land, to marginal landscape that directly links to the people, the land use, found photographs, the visual history of Hackney and the foliage of the land. And it virtually unique given its focus on in-between places in being full of energy and life. It's rich stuff in other words. My favourite Gill book is obvious -  Hackney Flowers; it’s warm, witty, charming and gritty. There are seeds, there are flowers and everything’s pretty.

As you can see from the pictures below. 

1 comment:

Philip said...

If you get a chance to look at this one: http://nobodybooks.com/shop/products-page/book/44-photographs-trinidad/ (there are some copies in the photographers gallery). Hasn't had much hype but is very cleverly (or fortuitously) put together. Has a message on the back of each print and all fits together perfectly.