10 Apr 2018

dear, damned. deceptive city

I'm always on the lookout for photography books about cities - London in particular of courseso I was really pleased to discover both a wonderful book and a photographer I'd known nothing about. It affirms my faith in the photobook as a 
Londýn 60. let / Sixties London by Miloň Novotný affirms my faith in the photobook as not just a nostalgic trip to the past or an arms length glimpse of a  another world but as much a reflection on our own place and times. I found myself visualising the exact spots where Novotný would have stood in Picaddilly Circus, Tottenham Court Road or Cornhill. Reminds me of the Street Museum idea that I still would love to do something with. Oh dear. Too late.
Milan Novotny's londyn 60. let review 
For me there's a connection to the work of Markéta Luskačová and Sergio Larraín which makes it all he more interesting, a kind of cross referencing of people and place with the eyes of a outsider.
Social class as explicitly referenced in the photographs of the City and the East End is a common denominator but so is the less stratified world of the West End. It resonates with me as I've always enjoyed the social mix drawn by the shops, businesses and tourist attractions there. The City has some of that and arguably the East End is on its way. Maybe it's the South Londoner in me that's behind this so I love to see how photographers from different backgrounds approach the city.
I couldn't resist titling this post with a phrase A.G. Hughes uses in his essay accompanying Novotný's photographs. Dear, damned, deceptive city. It's a dramatic phrase, in a way at odds with the images at first glance. Yet thinking of the times these pictures were made London was undergoing enormous social and physical change, transforming the city in similar ways to our present time. I can't see it appearing as an advertising strap line on the Tube but I feel it around me. 
 Dear, damned, deceptive city.