'Chris Killip - trabajo/work' at the Reina Sofia Museum
The exhibition 'Chris
Killip - trabajo/work' has been organized by the Reina Sofía Museum and
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
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
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
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
He shows a world full of
contradictions which can be recognized through his photographies.
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
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