Sunday, 17 October 2010


Seminal American Depression-era photographer Walker Evans' work currently features in a small show at The Highgate Society, a humble community hall in north London's most atmospheric village (below). The building resonates with civic charm, its dusty pink interior walls dotted with a royal Victorian coat of arms, along with marble busts of (presumably) local people of note. (below bottom).

Evans' haunting, sepia-toned images depict the dead-eyed reality of the grinding rural poverty, desolation and hopelessness characteristic of the mid-1930s American mid west. The photographer's work emanates a stark, dignified sympathy towards his subjects, while remaining unmistakably political within a subtle, almost stoic aesthetic framework. Certainly, the irony must not be lost on The Highgate Society's curators in featuring such emotive photographs of hardship and despair in one of London's most affluent boroughs during these times of modern financial armageddon. We may not be eating out of dustbins just yet but lets hope when our time comes we all appear as photogenic as Evans' 1930s models.

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