TIGER BAY_ research_1

Tiger_Bay-1959

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Tiger Bay is the name that was given to Cardiff Bay and Butetown areas in the old times. This place is the subject of our group project on communities. I have begun a research to know bit more about the place. One of the first things that i came across with was this 1959 film called “Tiger Bay”. It gave me a kind of perspective on how the place was at the time. The docks, the busy streets and the kids playing around, the seamen, the mix of cultures and traditions…

“Tiger Bay  was a local nickname for the general Cardiff Docks area, the evocative phrase deriving from the area’s rough-and-tumble reputation. Merchant seamen arrived in Cardiff from all over the world, only staying for as long as it took to discharge and reload their ships: consequently many murders and lesser crimes went unsolved and unpunished, the perpetrators having sailed for other ports. In Victorian times, the name “Tiger Bay” was used in popular literature and slang (especially that of sailors) to denote any dock or seaside neighborhood which shared a similar notoriety for danger”. (from    wikipedia.org)

 

The movie is about a murder and could be labelled as a noir cinema piece, but as many movies from this gender, it also has a socio documentary vision. It shows an old time which isn’t that far but seems that nothing has survived from it. I wished the place was like that, with all those things happening in the street and having the opportunity to photograph all that movement.

But not further from reality, the visitor finds a quiet street life, except from the weekends, when Cardiff Bay becomes a meeting point of people spending their leisure time eating, drinking, playing, walking the dog, meeting, doing sport. This is the place where the city faces the sea, and on its back we find the houses of Butetown, the historical part of the Bay, where most of the African people who were working in the docks, established to live. Today it is home of citizens from different countries and Islam is the majoritarian religion.

As I started my project with the purpose of photographing the signs of a knock down of the history of the place, in favor of big investments with the purpose of stimulating consumerism in the area. At this point of the project I think that I am getting interested in signals of the social differences that appear to be more clear in a place which is a meeting point for many people of the region and the town of Cardiff, especially during the weekends. And at the same time it is the place which is home to one of the biggest communities of African people (especially from Cape Verde, Somalia, Yemen) in the UK. The fact that this big community is sharing the space with all this commercial paraphernalia and the luxury apartments around, gives the place a complex existence which makes arise many symbols of inequality which are not exclusive to Cardiff Bay. I could find in Cardiff Bay a metaphor of a global phenomenon.

Another part of the research comes with the study of photographers who have been working in similar subjects. I have to say that in this point, my aim is not finding a micro story which tells the macro story. It is certain that for this project I thought in working in a more free way and my only purpose is an exploration of the place from a social point of view. If it is superficial or not, it is not me who has to judge it.

 

 

RICARDO CASES
http://www.ricardocases.es/

is a Spanish photographer born in 1971. His works “The City that I am ” and “Serrano Boogie” talk about the city where he lives showing signs of the transformation through details of construction works, architecture and other elements in the public space, combining them with a visual approach to the people who uses the space. The approach is not candid at all and he leads you through an analyses of the modern man and his restlessness.

Luis López Navarro writes about his work in the BLA Bla BLA section of Ricardo Cases’ website:

“His photographic work focuses on the yearnings of the human being- the deep and universal longings of the citizen of the mass society, fighting against banality in an effort to transcend, confronting his own dignity with a medium always untrustworthy. To this end, he turns his eye to expressions of contemporary folklore, looking for the truth of the spaniard: a towns man who is forced to live in the city, in modernity. beyond a pop appearance- distant and cynical- he is interested in what is human and anthropologica. Beyond the social and documentary, he searches for the truthful and universal pulsations beating beneath the banal surface-often kitsch and lacking glamour- of contemporary Spain”

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PAUL GRAHAM

is a British photographer born in 1956. His book “New Europe” can be seen in the link below.  He “made numerous trips through nine European countries between 1986-1992. He covered different traces of European history by capturing subtle signs of the past in the present” (extracted from     lostinpublications.com)

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“Empty heaven” is another book from Paul Graham. The book is showed in the link below.  A “monograph published in 1995 by Scalo, investigates the construction of a post-war Japanese sugar-pop capitalist identity as a way of covering up the atrocities perpetuated and suffered by the Japanese people during World War II. In Empty Heaven, Graham employs a series of close cropped deadpan photos of objects, rephotographed images, portraits and scanned surfaces, to establish a series of clearly defined motifs. Graham uses the polemic of cultural wrapping, to investigate the masking of history and power in contemporary Japanese society. (…) Graham asserts his main contention, that Japan has guised its abhorrent past with a present that embraces the immediacy  and easiness of consumerist culture.” (from    ahornmagazine.com)

graham_empty_heaven_book_cover

 

 

 

BILL OWENS

is an American photographer, photojournalist, brewer (wikipedia dixit)  and editor born in 1938. He is best known for his photographs of suburban domestic scenes taken in the East Bay, California and published in the book “Suburbia” in 1973.

His book “Leisure. A particular kind of strangeness” was published in 2004. This is a final volume on the several series he made about the American life. “The pictures oscillate between irony and admiration, absurdity and sadness, and truth and fiction. Quotidian settings like the home, the yard, the club, the workplace or the vacation spot serve as backdrops in which small events are played out in front of the camera. Owens’ photographs use telling details, odd occurrences, and quiet revelations to transform these familiar scenes into small dramas”. (from   americansuburbx.com)The use of an objective style of photography in an effort to locate a perfect tension between banality and beauty, domesticity and nature, criticism and admiration.

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