Tuesday, 8 December 2009

We English, speak for yourself.

Copyright Simon Roberts?
Copyright Peter Bialorzeski

I've never got what all the fuss is about when it comes to we English by Simon Roberts. Starting with the title, it makes no sense. The work is clearly only about one very slender section of English life. Leisure, and a very slender section of leisure at that. It should be called 'These are the leisure pastimes of the readers of The Daily Mail with one picture of pissed scousers some, Blackpool shots and a picture of some Maccum footie fans thrown in to represent the North and non Mail reading English folk'. Although granted that's not such a catchy title but it is more accurate. No signs of Multiculturalism or Diversity in Roberts England. Us English are apparently forever condemned to live in the home counties in 1955 with just the odd trip to 'The Lakes'. It received Arts Council money, I hope The National Trust have put their hands in their pockets, it sure looks like one of their ads.

I can hear people saying jeez why the spleen over poor Roberts. I don't normally get stuck into other photographers that's true (OK the cliches bit I mean besides that) but if public money is going into a series/book/career then I reckon they should be accountable. And besides fellow Manc bloggers BLACKLAB posted
THIS . Too much coincidence for my liking. There's an interesting interview with Peter Bialobrzeski HERE. Be sure to read the first question.

6 comments:

marcus doyle said...

I would never dis a fellow photographer like Roberts and I have never met the guy. I consider him to be a talent, but from a photographers opinion this book is utterly awful and certainly does not deserve the popularity the public seem to be giving it. I think Roberts was in a position to do something wonderful, but as I do not know the full set of circumstances (deadline etc) I will say no more.
Maybe I am missing something, or maybe its just a case of not being a photographers photography book..

TomRS said...

Mark
I followed the we English blog while Simon was doing the project... but after seeing the final work (photographers gallery and in the book) I was somewhat dissappointed especially in the light of his previous book Motherland (although when viewed as single images they are impressive)... and for sure his vision of the English has no relationship to the English I know/live with/work with/watch on TV/read about/reality etc. and spend my life with. Regarding plagiarism... big expansive views with tiny people have been done so many times by so many that I think it would be hard to not look similar to someone else's work. Although Blacklab does present a compelling comparison. I think for me I wanted him to succeed with this project but now my dissapointment seems to colour my view of this work. I have wondered many times where our modern day R Frank is and hope that he surfaces soon to bare our current failings/fabrications. Tom

CMS said...

I love your alternative title. This is an England Simon Roberts wants and not one that actually exists for most people.

borzoj said...

Some people on Flickr noticed that as soon as the book came out:
http://www.flickr.com/groups/onthestreet/discuss/72157621992737841/#comment72157622002862193

Mark Page said...

borzoj,
first off I'm glad I'm not alone.

CMS,
So it would be truer if it was called Simon Roberts England? Off the top of my head where was football, Mardi Gras, Eid, Carnival, Shopping at The Trafford Centre or even bloody BBQ's?

Tom,
yes a Frank art the very least. Can we no longer expect a W. Eugene Smith someone who puts so much into a project that it destroy's them?

Marcus,
I agree it's not a photographers book which begs the question why have so many photographers,pundits, writers and bloggers took it to heart?

TomRS said...

I doubt it for lots of reasons