Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Think of England

The Burry Man (Homer Sykes, 1974), which is on show at a new photography exhibition at Tate Britain

@ The Guardian

From gardening, carnivals and dog shows to more eccentric pursuits such as bottle kicking or body painting, Blake Morrison reflects on what our photographic heritage reveals about our changing national character

A photograph seeks to capture the present, but by its nature can only contain the past. However alive or "gritty" or imbued with a sense of instantaneity, the photo can't help but be nostalgic, since its subject (whether a face or a landscape) is frozen in the moment the shutter clicked - a remembrance of things past. When Philip Larkin, writing lines on his girlfriend's photo album, said that photography is "as no art is, / Faithful and disappointing", this was the paradox he tried to pin down - that on the one hand photos seem immediate and "empirically true", but on the other they commemorate "just the past":


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