Depardon’s Glasgow

Despite suffering from a terrible amount of that horrible creeping zoom that really does mess up looking at still photographs – which get much of their power from the fact they are still, fixing a moment in a way that video or film doesn’t, Zisis Kardinos‘s Glasgow by Raymond Depardon is worth watching. The powerful atmosphere of his images still comes across, and the musical accompaniment generally goes well with the pictures, apart from one rather embarrassing moment with a “1.2.3” where it persuaded the editor into a very silly visual trick.

If nothing else, it got me looking for the pictures themselves, and you can see 82 of them on the Magnum site, starting here – then click on the first image, then ‘show image only‘. It’s just slightly disappointing that clicking on the ‘View information’ link below the pictures adds nothing, and makes the image smaller again, but good to be able to see them.

I’ve not seen the book, simply titled Glasgow, but you can read about it in ‘The Scotsman‘, and a more perceptive and personal view from someone who was a 13-year-old growing up in Glasgow when Depardon made his two visits to photograph the city.

It might have been a little less dangerous than his work the same year covering the civil war in Beirut, but in the ‘Dailyrecord‘ you can read some of the photographer’s own thoughts – and how despite being “shocked by the destitution” he loved every minute of his time there.

It says a great deal about about the political direction of the British press that the Sunday Times which had commissioned the prize-winning photographer to give his personal view of the city decided when they saw it not to publish it. It wasn’t, as most writing about it now seem to believe that it was shocking, but that it was an unpalatable truth. Then as now there are many stories that don’t get published, stories that the papers and particularly the BBC, never mention or quickly buries to keep on the right side of proprietors and their political allies. Depardon’s work showed the Thatcher era only too clearly.

The bi-lingual book Glasgow (ISBN-10: 202130362) came out at the end of February from Editions du Seuil and has text by William Boyd, who studied in Glasgow in the 1970s. Some of the pictures were shown at the Grand Palais in Paris from Nov 2013 until February 2014 and are perhaps the best reason to go and see Strange and Familiar which is at the Barbican in London until 19 June 2016.

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