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a photographic exhibition curated by The Photographic Angle The Photographic Angle Registered Charity 1135750


Rituals of recreation

The Photographic Angle holds free exhibitions that travel across the UK transforming vacant spaces into temporary galleries. The exhibitions showcase the contemporary work from students, graduates and enthusiasts of the art of photography giving the public the chance to see the current practices from this dynamic field. For each exhibition, a professional in the photographic field is invited to select a new theme inspired by their own research for which artists can submit work to tour around TPA galleries throughout the UK.

There exists a historical link between the photographic image and recreational space in Western society. From the concept of the holiday to current ideas of world travel, recreation and photography are modern twins. Since its early invention, photography has become associated with traveling from the traditional landscape photography of Ansel Adams photographing in Yosemite National Park, to the American ‘road trips’ of contemporary photographers like Stephen Shore, photography have been used to capture these recreational spaces. The idea of where and how we spend our ‘free time’, in itself a relatively new concept, have been a rich source of image making either by the tourists themselves through their own snapshots and postcards, or the photographer wanting to capture this ritual. At the same time photography has been used to create a myth on which the tourism industry is built. The dream of the deserted beach or exciting city depicted in holiday brochures will inevitably be shattered by the bus of German tourists showing up. With our cameras we then crop out those tourists and other unwanted elements to recreate that manufactured idea of ‘paradise’ we have been sold. We create our own paradise, our own memories regardless of how true they might be. Photographer Martin Parr, know for holding up the proverbial mirror to show us the strange rituals we partake in, captured this in his book Small World (1995). Exploring tourism worldwide, Parr’s images

Joe Lang - Storm Trooper from Familiar Stranger 2010

known for both their humorous and disturbing qualities, exposes the increasingly homogenous global culture of tourism by depicting how tourists interact with these recreational spaces. Norwegian artist Juha Suonpää terms it ‘tourist choreographies,’ the ritualised movement and actions of tourists through these spaces. Delving further into the representation of recreation Parr coproduced the book book Our True Intent Is All For Your Delight: The John Hinde Butlin’s Photographs (Published by Chris Boot, 2002). It includes pictures of the nine holiday camps, shot in the late 1960s and the early 1970s for Butlins. Created initially for publicity, they where never considered art or social documentary, yet today these strange almost surreal images have taken on a life of their own. Parr also produced a book entitled Boring Postcards (2000) depicting the extremely banal everyday spaces captured on postcard in the 1960s. This was a time when the sending of postcards was commonplace to show ‘we where here’, even if it was the most mundane of settings. Today we would rather snap a picture with our mobiles and send it to a friend, but it is still the same ritual. A complete different take on the subject can be seen in the work of Beate Gütschow who uses the ideas behind 17th Century landscape painting to create computer constructed utopian images of sweeping landscapes dotted with a few people relaxing or enjoying the view. Yet there is something disturbing about these ‘idyllic‘ scenes. Gütschow’s images ask questions about our preconceived ideas and

relationship with nature itself. This history of images around recreation brings up many questions: How does photography mediate tourists’ experiences of places and produce tourist geographies? How do we interact with these spaces in a recreational way, from the public parks, swimming pools and playgrounds in our cities to the Butlinslike packaged holiday plan? How do we even define recreational spaces today, a pristine landscape or a space of luxury and opulence? These are, and have always been, fertile grounds for reflecting on the human condition.

Paul Sucksmith - Night life 2

cover image: Stephen Connell

Dragana Jurisic - A bird in the head III

Rituals Of Recreation  

Rituals Of Recreation is the theme of one of several exhibitions held and toured around Britain by the Photographic Angle

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