Welcome to Cardiff a few years ago. It's a Saturday night and in Chippy Lane the takeaway containers start to pile up. Later on they'll be miniature skyscrapers, balancing precariously amidst streams of gravy and curry. Just around the corner is St Mary street, a half of a mile strip of nineteenth century buildings filled with clubs and pubs. R&B filtered through thick stone walls is drowned by the shouts and laughter of thousands of people heading for the next drink. It gets so messy that on weekends police close the street to traffic. The boys are out in their droves, in jeans and short sleeve shirts, no matter whether is a rainy August or a snowy March. Groups of giggly girls in their weekend best, which most often implies very short, lead their path. All around, the sheer mass of people keeps constantly moving, briefly pausing on the curb of the road, chatting, and doing all those strange things that only happen after midnight.
Cardiff After Dark is an incredible document of night life in Britain. Photographed over seven years by Polish documentary photographer Maciej Dakowicz, it focuses on the alcohol fuelled nights of just one tiny patch of Cardiff - a city like any other British city. At night, Cardiff becomes a large white canvas for the surreal and humorous, laced with some grit and sadness. Men dressed as women, women dressed as policemen, policemen losing their hats. A man seducing a woman in a club while his friend tries to seduce her hand. Superman walking off into a dark alley. A man at a ninety degree angle being blown away by an imaginary tornado. The longest continuous stream of vomit you will ever see. Together with giant human tapestries, it is these unique, decisive moments that bring us clear memories of a hazy night.
Maciej Dakowicz is a London based photojournalist and documentary photographer born in Bialystok, Poland, in 1976. He has been widely exhibited and published across the world. The opening of this exhibition coincides with the launch by Thames & Hudson of his first monograph, Cardiff After Dark.
This exhibition is sponsored by Swansea Metropolitan University, Otley Brewing Company, Cards in the Post and Thames & Hudson.
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