This week of stories introduces us to places and people, forgotten and abandoned, torn off from the modern world. The first one depicts the remains of the past via architecture, while the next two show us communities and areas that are either stuck in the past or surviving the aftermaths of a crisis.
Monday, 25 Oct
For his project Cinematic Decline — a continuation of his 2019 series and book Odeon Relics, Philip Butler traces the remnants of what once were brand-new, purpose-built cinema venues, incongruous with their surroundings back then, and some of them are still so even now. The key point of difference here though, is that none of these buildings continue to screen films, instead they showcase the cinematic afterlife bingo, pubs, churches and dereliction.
Taking his inspiration from John Maltby, a photographer who was commissioned to document the new venues as they were being completed, Butler would go on to recreate his photographs for the 21st century. He has deliberately attempted to emulate the angles and the general aesthetics of the images, the only difference being that Butler’s images are in colour and they depict what perhaps is the end of the building’s life rather than its beginning. In a poignant way, the two photographers have produced something similar to bookends — Maltby is the fresh beginning, Butler is the finale.
I am fascinated with the architecture of this period and have undertaken the endless task of documenting the surviving buildings left in the UK. My work focuses primarily on the street-facing facades, which in many cases were – and still are – utterly incongruent with their environment.
— Philip Butler
Wednesday, 27 Oct
Saldaña’s project Casitas exposes the living conditions that Puerto Ricans have to endure such as natural catastrophes, limited government support and unstable electric service. Although the series began in 2013, it wasn’t until 2017 when Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico that Saldaña realised the series is something more than just a personal project — it is a testament of the residence of the local population. It’s incredibly easy to take things such as electricity for granted and forget that fellow Americans who don’t live on the other side of the world have had to adapt their lives to make do without the luxury of modern conveniences.
Casitas is a photography project that documents the living conditions of Puerto Ricans in the mountains of the island. The project aims to provide the international community a look into the current living conditions of fellow Americans by collecting oral history and learning about the residents, their families, and challenges they must overcome in the face of climate change, unstable electric service, limited economic support and many others.
— Annie Y. Saldaña
Friday, 29 Oct
Yassen Grigorov is a Bulgarian photographer who moved to England a few years ago to pursue his photographic ambitions. Even when one leaves their home country, however, roots are strong and they don’t get eradicated easily. Grigorov carried the memories and impressions of Bulgaria with him and the most natural act was to document the Eastern European country.
The raw images in Exemplary Home exhibit a place that appears derelict and forgotten, yet inhabited by people who are full of warmth and humanity.
It engages with the surreal air of the province and its people through the viewpoint of a Bulgarian expatriate, returning to a landscape leaden with childhood memories. This moment led to the discovery of an intersection of narratives, spanning the periods of The Bulgarian Renaissance, through the Soviet and now Post-Soviet era. The commentary feels particularly relevant in today’s time, with the tide on globalisation turning towards increased disunion and protests against the government breaking out in the nation.
— Yassen Grigorov
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