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FIRST PHOTOBOOK SHORTLIST: ​Magic Party Place

CJ Clarke
Magic Party Place

Kehrer Verlag, Heidelberg, Germany, 2016
Designed by Teun van der Heijden, Heijdens Karwei
kehrerverlag.com

Magic Party Place chronicles the daily lives of people in the lower-middle-class English town of Basildon, photographer CJ Clarke’s hometown, presented here as the epitome of “average.” The book is peopled with classic English characters who feel increasingly marginalized—and who, according to Clarke’s text, polled at 81 percent likely to vote for Brexit. Grainy, high-contrast, black-and-white images are printed full-bleed, on both toothy and glossy papers. The sequence of images is interrupted by occasional quotes or news headlines printed on newsprint. Clarke presents moments of the everyday, while also capturing a latent sense of unease in a demographic that is both ignored and derided, while at the same time relied upon for electoral support. “While Clarke’s photographs and texts touch on pervasive nationalism and xenophobia in Britain,” says Ann-Christin Bertrand, “they resist judgment or condemnation by virtue of an intimate, empathic connection with the people of a place he calls home.”

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