Reality Crossings

I’ve just today got my copy of the Winter 2007/8 issue of ‘European Photography‘ magazine (no. 82 – the web site is out of date and still shows 81, another worthwhile issue, but on ‘Photography in Berlin’ as the current issue), which is devoted to the project ‘Reality Crossings’ shown at the 2nd Fotofestival Mannheim_Ludwigshaven_Heidelberg (FMLH for short) in Sept-Oct 2007. Unfortunately I wasn’t invited to be there, but from this magazine issue I think that ‘Reality Crossings‘ may well turn out to have been one of those significant defining moments in photography – like such shows as Szarkowski’s “New Documents” in 1967 or William Jenkins’ “New Topographics: Photographs of a Man-Altered Landscape” at George Eastman House in 1975. And although I didn’t see either of those shows, they changed photography and they changed my photography.

Reality Crossings was a much more diverse show than either of those I’ve mentioned, and the issue contains a photograph (or in some cases, several) and a short statement (mainly by the curator) about the work of around 66 photographers as well as introducing almost 20 videographers. You can see some of the work on the festival web site, (the link is to the English version). I’d recommend anyone with an interest in contemporary photography to both buy the magazine and to look at the work on the web.

Of course many of the photographers in the show will be familiar. They include several I’ve written about elsewhere, including Michelle Sank, Michael Ackerman, Christian Schad and Michel Tichy (as you can see, not all the work is contemporary) as well as a number already on my ‘to-watch’ list.

Of course a publication – or even an exhibition – with such a large number of voices has to be unsatisfactory in that it can only give the merest glimpse of what activates the various authors. It’s even rather an introduction than a manifesto, but, as the introduction by curator Christoph Tannert states, it is “based on realism as an outlook on life” and demonstrates “that courage is indispensable in the pursuit of truth.

He goes on to say “The documentary must be confronted with the psychedelic extravagance of the photographic eye, which also involves conjugating structures, reflecting on form itself.” This is a thought which resonates with me (and I think will do so with all fellow ‘post-street‘ photographers) and which reflects some of the spirit which has inhabited my own work, both in the post-industrial landscapes of ‘London’s Industrial Heritage‘ and in the web-centred profligacy of ‘My London Diary.’

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