October 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

"During the debate on Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s new Brexit deal in the United Kingdom’s Parliament on Saturday—which ended, as these things often have, with a vote calling for another delay—Johnson exposed the most basic blindness of Brexit..."

"Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff, wants to change his story about Ukraine. On Thursday, at a press briefing, Mulvaney confirmed that when President Donald Trump suspended military aid to Ukraine in July, one reason was that..."

"I travelled with Bedouin in the Western Desert of Egypt. When we got a puncture, they used tape and an old inner tube to suck air from three tyres to inflate a fourth. It was the cook who suggested the idea; maybe he was used to making food..."

"The ultrasound technician places the wand on my daughter’s lower abdomen and moves it slowly across taut skin glistening with gel. I’ve been holding my breath since being ushered into the dimly lit cubicle to witness a sonogram that will..."

"Even many Democrats are criticizing Senator Elizabeth Warren for refusing to admit, in plain words, that her Medicare for All plan will require taxes to increase. They’re right to complain. The point could hardly be simpler: All presidential..."

"How do you update Watchmen for 2019? That might sound like a question with an obvious answer: You just do Watchmen. After all, the graphic novel, which has been consistently in print since its 12-volume run ended in 1987, is pretty terrific..."

"The climactic face-off of the 2019 Israeli Apartheid Week at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg took place on a wide, sunny plaza, between a statue dedicated to the millions of anonymous miners who had toiled under inhuman..."

"Mark Zuckerberg has rarely been so compelling. Facing increased scrutiny — especially after leaked audio of an internal meeting in which Zuckerberg called Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) an existential threat — the Facebook CEO outlined his..."