Mitra Tabrizian: Leicestershire
The Wapping Project Bankside is delighted to announce the first UK exhibition of Mitra Tabrizian’s new series Leicestershire (2012). Tabrizian has won this year’s Royal Academy Rose Award for Photography (previous winners include Gillian Wearing and Cindy Sherman) and has recently exhibited at Fondazione Fotografia Modena (2013), the Museum of Anthropology, Vancouver (2013), the Victoria and Albert Museum (2012); National Gallery of Modern Art, Queensland (2010), Tate Britain and Tate Modern (2008). This will be her second exhibition at The Wapping Project Bankside since joining the gallery in 2012.
Tabrizian’s new series was shot in Leicestershire – a major centre of the hosiery and textile industries, which has witnessed the dramatic decline of its manufactures towards the end of the 20th century. Originally commissioned by Loughborough University, the first two photographs were installed as 3 x 7m billboards in preeminent locations of Leicester and Loughborough. Once the commission was complete, Tabrizian decided to continue working on the project. The series now counts 13 large scale photographs, 7 of which are exhibited at The Wapping Project Bankside.
The backdrop for Leicestershire is a quasi-deserted post-industrial landscape of dystopian aura. Abandoned manufacturing plants stand therein, in various states of dereliction: they bear testament to the region’s former industrial glory and point out to its uncertain future. Solitary human figures occasionally appear, set against the threatening skeletons of the crumbling factories.
Leicestershire functions as both a historical documentation and tribute to the forgotten citizens who helped build what were once major industrial cities. Tabrizian cast real people – all former factory workers, to embody the isolated wanderers who appear in the photographs. Suleman Nagdi looks melancholic as he walks away from the colossal architecture of the Wolsey factory, the now derelict production plant of one of the oldest textile companies in the world. A third generation Indian from Zimbabwe, he came to the region in the 70s and worked in textile factories for most of his adult life. With this series, Tabrizian addresses ideas of disillusionment, dislocation, of being simultaneously part of a city and excluded from it. She often recounts how much Nagdi was looking forward to have his photograph displayed on a large billboard in a city where he ‘always felt invisible’.
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