15 Dec 2019

a cruel beauty

It's that time of year for me to enjoy the guilty pleasures of the photobooks I've picked up over the years. I say guilty as they do feel like an indulgence. Often bought on a whim, they still serve as an inspiration. I don't have a most wanted set and I don't really keep up with the latest releases, apart from the ubiquitous lists at this time of year. I just tend to let them find me. 
So it was with Krass Clement's Drum. 

The circumstances in which the photographs were taken have a romanticism underpinned by a sense of absence and loss. Arguably that's a reflection of a lot of cultures not just Irish but it's one I have to say I identify with. The world depicted by the images evokes memories of not just back home but here in London in the world my dad and his compatriots recreated.
I was taken aback when I found the work was made in 1991. It's space borrowing time from another dimension. Ireland again. I recall the disorientation of entering bars - and homes - like that. A certain theatricality to the arrangement of the room, the order of who sits where, the silence.
Family at home in Ireland

It's interesting how much the analysis I've read is about the photographer's empathy with the others in the bar. Each an outsider in their own way. A form of reflective photojournalism. Not judging. Observing a ritual.
 
Bearing witness. 

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