Robin Maddock, England!? les anglais ont débarqué!

JTF (only facts): Self-published in 2021 under fire/pit imprint (here). Softbound Hardcover Book, 27 x 19 cm, Unique hand-painted hardcover, 248 pages (4 manually removed) with numerous hand-drawn photos, illustrations, collages and notes. Includes an article by Johnny Bates. In an edition of 750 copies. (Cover and post the shots below.)

Comments/Context: England is the land of tradition. For English photographers, few traditions are as attractive as defining the size of their country of origin. Although this was a popular pastime dating back to Talbot, it took off in 1897, with the formation of the National Photographers Recording Association by Sir Benjamin Stone, which established a central repository of home photos. Photo books have followed suit, including Bill Brandt’s English at homeDon McCullin in EnglandJohn Anderson English JourneyHomer Sykes‘This is England,’ Martin Bar Think of EnglandSimon Roberts we are english, To list some of the most notable titles. In recent years Cafe Royal Books (reviewed here) has created a cottage industry of English photographers depicting various English subjects, with an archive of hundreds of embellishments.

There may be a degree of patriotic stare at these posts, and their control by white men narrows their perspective. Despite their limitations, they draw the rough outlines of the national picture. Each can be taken as evidence taken from a place on the English language timeline. Collectively, they provide historical clues to the essential questions: What makes England look and feel like England? What distinguishes this place photographically from other countries? What about this small island that had such a huge impact on the geopolitics and history of the world?

Robin Maddock is the latest English photographer to deal with England. His latest study has just been released after several years of observing the country and, most importantly, its people. His project has gone through several working titles over the course of that time. At one point it was to be called Englandand later Heaven under England. Maddock finally settled on the title England!? English has landed! (Loosely translated: “England!? The English have gone down!”). At least that’s how it is listed online. But even this name may be weak, because each individual copy is engraved on the inside cover with its own unique title. mine called Make a bed and then lie in it! Colin Bantal reported that he owns Dreams of the asshole sadness and pebbles dash. The other copies each have their own. Considering the version is 750, these character engravings were a huge chore, with Maddock’s design revealing a hint of English intent.

Names may change, but national identity is difficult to uproot. This cognitive dissonance has always been latent in England. But the focus was urgently placed on Brexit in 2016. Like the US presidential election I predicted, the referendum to leave the European Union was a blow to self-perception. English citizens were forced to immediate reckoning. In what country did they live? Who are their countrymen? Where did this decision come from?

Maddock’s earlier books had stabbed the edges of English self-identity, but they were never all. Our children go to hell (2009) A life lesson in Hackney and East London. God’s Forgotten Face (2011) did the same for Plymouth. After a short trip in California to play with the monochrome sculpture – the book Third, external topic reviewed here – he was ready to take on the whole country. But at first he made his way out in English, heading to southern France—English has fallenIn factA better launching pad from which to reach the island via the channel, which now seemed strangely unfamiliar. “I’ve spent three years traveling trying to get to know my country better,” he wrote on his website. “We all should have known better, before this sudden decision pulled the magic carpet out from under our feet.”

Perhaps all this French Riviera sun came as an additional shock to the Maddock regime. Or perhaps he was better able to gauge the size of England’s cultural mix from a distance. Or maybe it was just the middle age stage, being transplanted into another country with new patterns and patterns. Whatever the ingredients, the resulting study is an aesthetic leap over its predecessors. England!? English has landed! It is a patriotic-temperature examination of astonishing diversity, with a bewildering array of visual styles, colours, treatments, and images, all regularly annotated with wandering ideas about nationalism, art, class, music, and, well, just about everything.

If European unity, and British unity with it, is challenged, why bother with figurative unity? At least it seems to be thinking here. Fonts change from page to page, as do background colors. Images come in all shapes and sizes, some with labels, sunned differently, painted, trimmed, highlighted, taped, collage, or typefaced. No two pages are exactly alike, and no other photographer has done a study quite like this. Probably Raised by wolvesAnd Dan Eldon magazines Or Peter Beard books found in the public neighbourhood, as well as recent empirical studies by Theo Elias, Chloe Snell, or Vince Delbrück. All of them push the standards of graphic design in their own way. But Maddock has mostly carved space for himself, a fact he double-checked by painting the casing and edges with airbrushed spots, and writing written notes at various points inside. And of course each book has its own title. If Brexit was a step back from multiculturalism, Maddock’s book doubles down on the effort. This thick book bulges out in a rainbow of ideas, images, and humanity.

Maddock creates some parameters with two initial script segments. Both take an extended and somewhat poetic view of the homeland. The book begins by saying: “England is expressed daily, like milk,” “…a woman in the street cries on the phone to the utilities, like an overweight school girl in an elongated uniform, leaning against a wall by a canal …” on the next page More emphasis is placed on national temperature screening through an understandable list of ‘English historical tropes’. stoicismAnd dog loversAnd Sugar (sic), civilized forceAnd gardeners, and so on. The phrases are paradoxical, silly, and subtle, grouped with crackling cleverness. Some may play with preconceived notions, but most have an iota of truth. This is a good starting point for surveying English generalities on a single page, and also the basis for their critique. Several pages later, a series of haiku-like poems allude to Maddock’s displeasure:

All these people in their homes, All those invisible neighborhoods, Move in small circles.

trash talking, In old regional dialects, About the next city.

Internal divisions point to Brexit as merely an end product of long-term changes, none of which are particularly welcoming to Maddock’s calculations. He later wrote several pages wistfully: “There was once an underground,” “England has turned itself upside down … putting our favorite songs on advertisements, essentially a void, when (sic) is all about money that children can feel Him, (sic) ridiculing them.” And a few pages later: “The Lost Left.. Victory was talented, we played, we rolled.” These are just a few examples of the many recurring passages in which Maddock recalls a bygone era, always better. “The formative moments of my life in England were during rave culture, and I have never felt so optimistic and proud to be English,” he wrote on his website. “It was a country in which codes and social order could be rewritten and set by example to work again through music, drugs and shared experience… How did we lose this DIY spirit? How did we assimilate all this commercially and so intentionally remove our transformative social power? .. Damn you so much England , I love you… you survived.”

excellent. The upper lip stiffens and persists. But still, oh. The rejected lover describes the mood after Brexit, for Maddock and many others. There may be some nostalgia for the past, a tendency to romanticize the freedom of youth. These sentiments are muddled and consumed by Maddock’s outspoken critique of globalization and neoliberalism, and his desperate observation of England’s widening wealth gap, all among the many forces that paved the way for Brexit. Everything in Maddock’s mind was better before…before Something. Maddock never defined the pre-Flood state, but his vague sense of loss crystallized in Johnny Bates’ essay that appears near the end, a scathing critique of economic class, imperialism, and “the end of empire.” Bates and Maddock are angry at the Right for its exploitation and greed. They are angry at the left for its shortcomings. If they contravene prevailing wisdom and anticipated political divisions, they follow only English tradition, for rejecting authority is an old English custom. Perhaps Brexit is a traditional English outcome?

Maddock is clearly a man of ideas. He is keen on translating the book “Writings and Pictures about the Country in which I was Born”, with a focus on writing first. But what about the pictures? This is after all primarily a picture book, a monograph, at least in principle. With a few exceptions, Maddock’s topic is people. As one might expect in a book that celebrates diversity, it has captured a broad spectrum of humanity here. Every race, age, class, religion, or fashion can be found somewhere in its 248 pages, thrown on the page in a genre-defying mix of portraiture, hues, street scenes, events, offices, and situations. Some comments have been commented out with likable, personal notes. Most of them are unknown. Surfing their many faces is the literary equivalent of walking through Hackney, knives into the deluge of mankind.

Despite the intense tone of voice and emotional yearning, there is a strong creative spirit in it England!? English has landed! It is hard to be pessimistic about England’s prospects after browsing through its rich and exotic material. It’s a game of strength, an artistic triumph, and an endearing work, with a warm affection for his native country. If this is the kind of book that English photographers have produced, the boycott should do it Something the correct. Maddock may disagree, and pessimism may triumph. It’s early in the post-Brexit period and history is still being written. But adding one sample point to the country’s long tradition of photography, this book offers a glimmer of hope, and an English happily ever after.

POV collector: Robin Maddock does not appear to have a consistent gallery representation at this time, and as a result, interested collectors will likely follow up directly with the artist via their website (linked in the sidebar).

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