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Thursday, 4 April 2019

Chris Killip's Brilliant Pony Box Newspapers

Some snippets of my review of Chris Killips four newspapers published by Pony Box.

These images are from the 1970s but the message of globalised manufacturing, cheapened labour, the disposability of a community, and marginal citizenship could be from the present day. That contemporary relevance is given added weight by the design and printing. Newsprint can have a cheap, disposable quality, and that can be used to its advantage. But it’s not the case here. Printed on a slightly grey paper to give added luminosity, the pictures have both a wide tonal range and a depth that brings the images out of the page. And size matters here. The images are huge, printed on black with Niall Sweeney’s graphics providing a modernist nod to the historical economic and metaphorical power of steel.


They are not still images. They are quietly made, but have an energy that lives beyond the moment; the turns of the mouth, the looseness of the cheek, the drop of the head are expressions of a real self. They are pictures where the camera is, in true Victorian fashion, an evidential recorder of the physiognomic and bodily self.


It’s the high Thatcher, high unemployment years, when the Falklands War and the Miner’s Strike had been won, and her record disapproval levels of the early 1980s had evaporated in the face of repeated sell-offs of state assets and the rise of the cult of the financial markets. But this is the north-east and it’s a time of industrial decay and high unemployment – and in terms of regional intensity, Thatcher’s disapproval ratings are at record levels. The people you see in The Station are part of that world and these are rituals of rebellion. They seek escapism in Friday nights in the mosh pit. Killip shows kids with faces knotted in the concentration to escape, lost in the music and the sweat and the energy.

Read the whole text here.

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