Spanish version

'Chris Killip - trabajo/work' at the Reina Sofia Museum

The exhibition 'Chris Killip - trabajo/work' has been organized by the  Reina Sofía Museum and the

Chris Killip
Chris Killip

 Folkwang Museum in Essen (Germany) where it took place last year. The exhibition shows over 100 black and white photographies about daily life in Great Britain from 1968 to 2004.
Chris Killip was born on the Isle of Man in 1946 and started working as photographer with the publicity photographer Adrian Flowers in 1964. In 1969 he saw a documentary photography exhibition at the MoMa in New York which impressed him so much that he decided to leave his career as commercial photographer. He started showing people that lived in his country and the social changes that were taking place.

Chris Killip, Ute Eskildsen, curator of the exhibition and Joao Fernandes, assistant manager of the Reina Sofia Museum attended the press conference introducing the exhibition.

Joao Fernandes said that  Chris Killip belongs to a cultural background where landscape has always been unstructuring that same culture. It represents great changes, it is a document of them. Chris Killip shows us the changes due to industrialization and, afterwards, the result of these changes during the time of Margaret Thatcher's government with photographies about  unemployment, deindustrialisation and human and social crisis. We are going to know about people's lifes during that time and situation. Chris Killip rescues them from oblivion.
Killip's photography is not only a representation. He also shows us his point of view about reality. This is the aspect that makes him coincide with those photographer who showed interest for reality and its discussion. It is a way of giving humanvalue to little known aspects.

He shows a world full of contradictions which can be recognized through his photographies.

Ute Eskildsen
Ute Eskildsen



Ute Eskildsen told, that in 1977, while she was still working as a photographer herself, she saw a title page of 'Creative Camera'  made by Chris Killip. In those days European photography was dominated by reportage. Independent photography, equivalent to indepent film, was missing. For  Eskildsen Chris Killip was one of the few photographers which followed an independent, critic and social road, not bound to a narrative. He produced individual images dedicated to concrete situations in a concrete context.
In 1980 Chris Killip published a book about the Isle of Man which astonished Eskildsen. It was unusual that such a book was dedicated to a rural area. Since that moment on she started following Killip's work. The deindustrialisation was one of his main topics for several years. The regional aspect of his work was a great influence on the new generations of photographers.

He does not only concentrate on one topic, but also go in depth into the social changes with a great empathy and a sensitive observation transforming it in a visual  non dramatic language.
Chris Killip also supports the development of a new British photographic conscience. He was the founder of the  'Side Gallery' where he was curator for several important exhibitions.
Chris Killip explained why he worked as photographer. While in United States he met a former trade union leader, owner of a bar. He was a very special person and one day took Killip to the center of Boston where he had lived as a child. The house he had lived in wasn't there anymore, it had been demolished to build the city civic center. He started naming the street, who had lived where, where they were then... Chris Killip thanked him for telling the stroy of the place.  The man turned round, got him by the neck and said: 'I have no f... idea of history, I´m just telling you what happened.' And that was the moment when Chris Killip understood what he had to do.
In 1975 he went to live to Newcastle, in those moments industrial center of the country. He never thought that 15 years later all industry would have dissapeared. There is nothing left. That is why he is happy to have taken all those photographies so that now people can see what it was like.

For Chris Killip it is unsettling to see in his photographies people that have already died. When he takes the photography he does not know if the photographed person will die in one or two years. For example, when he was taking a series of photographies a young fisherman helped him a lot convincing the others to let him take pictures. He never asked him why he was there. He just helped him. Some time later he drowned. For Killip it is a strange feeling to think that having died already he is still a main reason why his photographies are exhibited.

In another case one of his photographies helped in a trial to prove the changes suffered by a girl after an accident. The accident  caused her  certain brain damage. She was unable to walk in a straight line. In order to demonstrate that she had been different before a photography was shown where she could be seen balancing on top of a horse. Killip now asks himself if there was any reason for him being there at that moment to take the photography.

When he was a teenager he was very influenced by T.S. Elliot's book  'ABC of culture'  which presents the idea that culture is not only what is socially accepted by upper classes. Culture are the values people have. It is important to remember and value them. People have more inside than what we just see. Photographies don't show the complete person, but it is the best he has been able to do. For Chris Killip the world is a stage and people the actors.
He likes to photograph what is happening and not 'create the situation'.
Photographies: Rafael Castañeda Fotografia

@Copyright 2008, 2009 Mª Dolores Diehl Busch. All rights reserved.
Sponsored by Keydomo S.L.