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Whilst research into Urban Planning has dwelt on the growth of the megalopolis, the research drawn together for this international project examined historically significant cities whose populations were in significant states of decline. The photographic research considered the centrality of hidden economies within a de-industrialised region in the Northwest of England. The work was a contribution to a major international research project that gathered the findings of urban geographers, curators and architectural historians, and presented them adjacent to international and diverse responses from artists, cultural theorists and intervention. Work presented was the result of a sustained research into the activities of long-term unemployed families who drew income and materials from a land-fill site in a former industrial/dockland region. The materials reclaimed became a variable in an introspective and discreet economy built on both trust and an alienation from the more general opportunities for employment in the region. In the development of the work, key issues addressed questions of narrative, representation of class within British social constructs, and the production of work that fore-grounded such issues . The consequent presentation of the work engaged with the sequencing and cohesion of photographs, and examined the potential of site-specific display. Consequently, the scale and reception of the work was a key aspect scrutinised during the work’s consolidation. The resulting work was shown at Kunst Werke, Berlin, in 2004, at the invitation of curator Phillipe Oswalt. The show then toured to the countries from which much of the research had been drawn, including Ivanovo, Russia; Leipzig, Germany and Detroit, USA. A 500-page catalogue was first published in German by Hatje Cantz to comprise all work drawn together throughout the project. An English translation followed. The show continues to tour internationally and will visit Liverpool and Manchester in November 2007.
Shrinking Cities: Kunst Werke, Berlin, pp.
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