Initially these images and accompanying texts were taken for inclusion in Jane Tormey’s book “Cities and Photography”, under the section “Dreams and Memory”, to be published later in 2012 by Routledge. 4 to 6 images will be used in the book. However the project has become, for me, a piece of research in it’s own right under the working title of “The Lamentations”.
In this section of her book Ms. Tormey considers ideas put forward by Michel de Certeau about the “rhetoric of walking” and Victor Burgin about “looking for the city”. She also embraces the poetic theories of Andre Breton outlined in his book “Nadja” concerning observations of his day-to-day life, episodes, encounters and reflections of events and subsequent associations. It was the Surrealists who positioned the parallel activity of unconscious thought alongside everyday experience permeated by memories of the past.
My photographic images are taken in the area of Manchester known rather emptily as Eastlands or Sportcity. I spent my childhood and teenage years growing up in this east central part of the city, which was then called the district of Bradford, Manchester, famous for its gritty industrial heritage and manufacturing potential. These pictures exhibit locations as they are today and have not been edited to make them into “nicer” or “better” photographs. The addresses describing each site indicate buildings and places that are no longer there.
The associated texts, often anecdotal, reference events and narratives of this “not there” and contradict these often anodyne scenes of the newly mapped “now”. They create poetic paradox where the past flows through the remapped and re-edited present to shape a non committal future. These texts are purposefully sporadic, bitty and brief glimpses of past events, mimicking myriad universes of fragmented but simultaneous occurrences of lived experience. The overall effect is one of an overlapping and meshing, web like narrative extending into infinity.
The visual banality of these black and white photographs introduces spaces for contemplation. Spaces filled with subjective memories that are still compellingly crucial histories to the tribe that made them. Histories that serve to steer sublime emotional experience to an anchorage of place. These once physical happenings are now earthy and pithy verbal recollections made conjectural by time’s passing and the intermittent but relentless deaths of characters, individuals and protagonists.
Pete Ellis, 2012.