For just a brief period of time – from 1st to 11th August 2013 – Brick Lane Gallery hosts a wonderful group exhibition called ‘Photography NOW’ including works of David Neve, Hersilia Alvarez, James Burns, Justin Welch, Nazanin Moradi, Sylvie Varnier, Sue O’Meara, Sian Hallam-Davis, Tatjana Glomm and Milly Coley. The small art space on Sclater Street showcases a great selection of vibrant ideas, styles and techniques of contemporary photography, but there’s one artist I’d like to highlight in particular: Spot on for Justin Welch and his ‘abandoned’-series.
Essentially, the title says it all. For his project, the London/Paris-based artist went on a road trip to the US to capture the many decaying faces of abandoned buildings in the margins of 21st century American civilization. The photographic output is indeed intriguing, both individually and as a whole. It’s not only the hidden message that fascinates me about Welch’s works – it’s the way he evokes a cinematic déjà-vu that draws the observer into a neo-Western setting: The time seems to stand still in this long forgotten ghost town near the Mexican border, while the whistling wind, the screeching shop signs and the rustling tumbleweed seem to be the only audible noises. The rusty pumps at the local gas station have run dry ages ago and the tables at ‘Rubee’s Diner’ are vacant ever since. Shop windows are barred with wooden panels and all usable steel has been taken away by scavengers. There’s not a single soul to be seen in this eerie solitude.
Welch’s photos seem to be facing both the remnants of the past and hinting at the potential consequences of our ever-changing world. Will our homes be immune to the challenges of the future lying ahead or will they suffer the same fate as the deserted buildings?
‘Photography NOW’ still runs until 11th August 2013 at Brick Lane Gallery – The Annexe, 93-95 Sclater Street, London E16HR.