This is a series of portraits made under a concrete railway bridge in Shoreditch where nobody would normally stop. Over time, the series will show how a cross-section of Londoners looked in the setting of a quintessential twenty-first century space of transit between the corporate, artistic, and post-working class communities of East London. The series emerges from my interest in London as a contentious public space of translation, displacement, and experimental travel.
The optics that translate concrete and skin into photographs are the same. As one grazes on the space between them one is also grazed by the city. In Black Skin, White Masks (1952), Fanon gives one of the most bruising accounts of how physically uncomfortable the resulting friction can be. He is optically pinned by the metropolitan gaze of another when he is spotted as a black man. Clearly, to write about cities and photography is to give an account of skin-to-skin experiences.
I have been particularly drawn to the symbolism of concrete and bridges.
Bridges because they connect separate parts of the city and distinct populations. But also because bridges offer me the opportunity of interrupting their transit and creating temporary situations where encounters can take place, where dialogues can take place.
Concrete because it is a material that is ambivalent about its symbolic modernity, its gesture of utopian democracy.
Concrete is a fluid reflector and diffuser of light whose hue and saturation follows the seasons. Sometimes a marine light, sometimes parchment, always skin.