Mass Observation: This Is Your Photo at the Photographers’ Gallery
Russell Roberts is the curator behind Mass Observation: This Is Your Photo, a fascinating exhibition currently on show at the Photographers’ Gallery. It is essentially a collection of photographs, books, essays and more based around the general public observing and taking note of the behaviour of others in society, working en masse to record the masses.
A lot of the best pieces are from founders Tom Harrisson (anthropologist), Humphrey Jennings (painter and filmmaker) and Charles Madge (poet and journalist), who established the Mass Observation archive in 1937. Photographer Humphrey Spender was also heavily involved and took a vast amount of stunning photographs of the general public in the 30s and 40s. In their own individual styles they’ve captured people going about their everyday lives. Over the years, many have added to the archives, and the This Is Your Photo collection features some of the best and most poignant work. The audience can witness and understand the delight in the most ordinary activities, such as going to the pub, meeting for coffee or going to work.
Well worth a visit, the exhibition displays an array of art and photography around its walls, as well as information on the project and quotes of interest. There are tables where viewers can watch videos or read books and essays submitted over the years. The work compiled is not only beautiful, but also completely fascinating in terms of its meaning and content. The vivid efforts of so many photographers working towards one goal are a powerful accumulation to view, despite the fact that so many of those participating in Mass Observation were/are not trained in photography, but have an innate interest in those around them, which gives the exhibition a strong character.
Mass Observation: This Is Your Photo project is at the Photographers’ Gallery until 29th September 2013. For further information visit the gallery’s website here.