22 August 2016
The third show in our series of emerging talent to exhibit alongside Honorary Fellow Brian Griffin’s Himmelstrasse is Carla Borel's "The Animals Were Beautiful" and will be showing from Thursday 25th to Saturday 3rd September, during normal opening hours of The Magic Gallery (see above).
The animals were beautiful is a series of haunting and ethereal portraits of strangers travelling on the London Underground. Using figurative gesture and reflection, as well as elements of the train itself, The animals were beautiful depicts the people, textures, poetry and abstractions of subterranean London life.
The series began in response to a sense of loss and aloneness I felt at being out of work for the first time in 20 years and the isolation of not being surrounded by colleagues and daily work life. Taking the tube here, there and everywhere all over London, meeting with friends, going to the cinema, and so on, gave me the pleasant illusion that I had a routine once again. Instead of reading a book, I would use my iPhone to record the moments of poetry I came across on these journeys. What started as a way to pass the time, soon became a compulsion. And the strange sense of loneliness that comes from being surrounded by a group of strangers actually made me feel less lonely.
The layers of life that came through to my phone screen were exciting and curious. Not only was I fascinated and delighted by the people I was capturing – a peaceful solitary woman looking at her phone; two lovers engrossed in each other; a child hugging his grandmother – but also intrigued that posters on the platforms were adding topical or twinning elements; or that the doors and barriers of the tube itself created abstract shapes in my compositions. The photos are almost all of reflections, and so the people were not really aware that I was photographing them, and as I was using an iPhone, I believe they thought I was taking photos of myself.
I had been wanting to leave London for a more distant and far-away place to discover but in the end everything was already here. While researching the other very famous photographers who had previously photographed the underground life, I came across a video of Bruce Davidson discussing his Subway project and how he was searching for something to do after a loss, and ended up shooting in New York on his doorstep - he "didn’t need to go to the Serengeti plains, the animals were right here and they were beautiful”.
Images and text © Carla Borel