August 22, 2019

Life in France's Peculiar "Little Britain"

“The London-born photographer Mark Neville is best known as a documenter of discrete communities, whose circumstances and concerns he records with an activist energy. In 2004, in Port Glasgow, he completed a series of photographs that was distributed, in book form, only to inhabitants of the troubled mercantile and shipbuilding town. Seven years later he was engaged by the British Army as an official war artist in Helmand province, Afghanistan. He returned with P.T.S.D., and subsequently published “Battle Against Stigma,” a campaigning, two-volume work on behalf of veterans afflicted with the disorder. Though he has no children of his own, Neville is an especially subtle photographer of them; his 2016 book, “Child’s Play,” brings together many such pictures, to protest the disappearance of public play areas in Britain and elsewhere.

Neville studied fine art in school, and was educated in Conceptualism and institutional critique before being drawn to documentary practice. But for him art alone is never the point, even if his images are notably artful. He is indebted to socially engaged photographers such as Tom Wood and Chris Killip, and was sharing an exhibition with both of them in the town of Guingamp, in Brittany, when he conceived of his most recent project. They were there at the time of the Brexit vote, in June of 2016, and Neville found himself apologizing to his Breton hosts, ashamed of his own Britishness, though Brittany (France’s “Little Britain”) is home to an estimated thirteen thousand British citizens. Beginning that month, and finishing in April of this year, Neville documented life in the region, mostly in or around Guingamp, hoping to show the complexity and openness of what may seem to be a tribal, inward-looking place. In color and black-and-white, in large and medium format, with varying degrees of planning and artifice, the pictures—collected in a new book, “Parade”—show an agricultural community that is thoroughly modern and industrialized, devoted to its traditional sporting and cultural pursuits, but sharply aware that neither agribusiness nor rural nostalgia will provide a viable, or ethical, future.”

Read more

JJ Editor's Picks

"The United States and Russia are entering a new arms race, and the costs aren’t just monetary. On August 8, Russian civilians around the remote village of Nyonoksa found themselves downwind of a military nuclear propulsion experiment gone wrong..."

"I don't know about you, but for me "Having more people run for president and effectively doubling the number of primary contests" is not up there with "Michigan beating Notre Dame in the playoffs" and "A new deluxe edition of Barbara Bush's..."

"A growing body of research suggests that, rather than posing a threat to individual wellbeing, adopting a more sustainable lifestyle represents a pathway to a more satisfied life. Numerous studies have found that people who purchase green..."

"What should a parent do when a 2-year-old shrieks inconsolably because her string cheese wrapper tore “the wrong way”? Increasingly, the answer is “snap a photo, add a snarky caption and upload it to Instagram.” Publicly laughing at your..."

"The yield curve’s inverted! The yield curve’s inverted! That was the news I awoke to last Wednesday on CNBC as the 10 year Treasury note yield dipped below the 2 year yield for the first time since 2007. That’s the sign everyone has been waiting..."

"Even a casual observer of the entertainment industry knows that Hollywood is hooked on established intellectual property at the expense of original ideas and awash in more money than it knows how to sensibly spend. But three stories about the..."

"One of the formative texts of the Safed myth, which first portrayed the town as a unique place and which was responsible for spreading word of it all around the Jewish world, is the four letters that Rabbi Solomon Shlumil of Dreznitz sent, in..."

"There are lots of reasons to patent something. The most obvious one is that you’ve come up with a brilliant invention, and you want to protect your idea so that nobody can steal it from you. But that’s just the tip of the patent strategy iceberg..."