LONDON CALLING – AN EXHIBITION BY THE PHOTOCOPY CLUB
Photography for many could seem like a daunting remit. Especially exhibiting your photography. It’s one that supposedly requires a lot of time, expense and a university degree- seeming essentials that many less fortunate cannot equip themselves with. Though image capturing technology in modern times has become increasingly available to all peoples, it is thanks to fellow creatives championing a DIY ethic with inexpensive remedies that can encourage a wider audience to get out there, and give it a try. It is a necessary pursuit to ensure that the art we consume and create is a diverse, objective and honest one- and the true path to discovering the unique, the untainted and the underground.
Here at Underground- we love nothing more than the people who work tirelessly to promote the punk spirit- the thing that drives everyone and anyone of all walks of life to voice their opinion and try their hand at whatever they feel. Art is for the many, after all.
Ahead of his open submission exhibition entitled ‘London Calling’, we meet Matt Martin from The Photocopy Club- a London collective that champions xeroxed photography for all. With a city as diverse as London, the required medium of lasered printer paper is accessible enough to assure a democratised exhibit, fairly reflecting all gazes of London. With the phrase ‘A growing photographic exhibition celebrating the people and places of London’ advertising the exhibit- we were curious to find out what London collectively feels like to its inhabitants, and to its strangers.
So Matt, can you tell us a little about the The Photocopy Club and your project
So the photocopy club is an open submission exhibition project that I started in 2011. We do short run exhibitions with open or selected themes and photographers submit their black and white xerox/photocopy prints via post. The idea was to make an easily accessible photography exhibition that was affordable for the photographer, the curator and the collector. We have done exhibitions in the UK, USA, South Africa, Hong Kong, Germany and more and we also run workshops and publish zines for photographers. London Calling is a photographic project celebrating the people and places of London through photography. The exhibition is happening at V3 in Waterloo, an exhibition project space that is being demolished in February this year, and is on from the 11th of January till the 2nd of Feburary 2018.
What is it about Xeroxing photos, which somehow amplifies the feeling they
evoke? When in fact it decreases the quality and clarity of the image?
I have used photocopies in my work since I first started taking pictures. To me it was a quicker process to making a print than being in the dark room.
But since then the photocopy has been an inexpensive printing method that is open to all at low cost. What’s also great is the quality of copiers range from place to place. Some are brand new. Some are very old. So you get this great visual effect through all the different submissions. It all leads back to zines and punk. All the inspiration comes from a DIY practice of just trying to make something with as little as possible.
It seems like it’s a beautiful and collaborative time capsule of 2018 London’s
underground scene. Which some argue doesn’t even exist in this age. What do
you make of sub and underground culture in the city today?
I think it’s great to exhibit history from whatever time period, and using the photocopy can add this timeless effect to the work. We can have a image from the 1970’s next too an image from now and they can be displayed on a level playing field. The underground will always be there, its just seems to be more of the norm these days. But from whatever underground scene breaks into the main stream there will always be another to replace it. I believe we still have these and for the people outside these scenes, they are the ones that say it does not exist.
Is there one submission that has particularly stuck out in your head?
We still have a lot of work still to open. With Christmas and New Year in the way, most of the post has been delayed until now.
But I’m sure there will be some amazing working coming through the doors in the next few days.
Are there any recurring scenes or places that keep appearing within the
submissions? What can you take from that?
Everything has been pretty varied so far, from portraits to landscapes. Nights out to families at home.
A lot of documentary street photography. The real plan with this is to get an overview of what people think about London, or what it means to them.
Hopefully a lot of the work will be from people that don’t live here also, so you get those different view points.
From looking at the overall set of submissions- do you feel like London’s
inhabitants are angry, proud or sad?
I think it’s a mixture. They mix from very British images to small details to just images of friends having fun in the city.
What’s good about doing a project about a city like London is that because its such a big city, it really opens the theme up to interpretation.
Some submissions could have been taken in any city, but too the photographer that image says London to them.
I think people are proud of London, however much they complain about it.
What is it about London that sets it apart from other major cities in the world?
I’m not sure if it should be set apart. It’s shit in the winter and great in the summer. If a fun place to live- but so is Brighton, Bristol, Glasgow, Nottingham, Liverpool, Leeds and so on.
I don’t want this project to say “Hey look at London!” I want it to be a stepping stone for all other cites to say: “Hey look at us”. We have a great scene here too. We have an important history too. And that’s what I want to do with the follow up to this exhibition is to travel to these places and do the same thing.
The venue the images will be exhibited in is under threat of closure. Can you tell
me a bit more about how you got involved with V3 and why do you think it is
important to support them?
V3 is curated by my Friend Helen, and we have worked together before on photocopy club projects when she ran Protein Gallery.
So it was a perfect fit to have the final exhibition at V3 and have an exhibition that celebrated the area. They have been working with artists who have been doing projects with areas of London and people from all backgrounds and it’s a real shame to see it go. She is opening a new space this year in Waterloo, which will still carry the same ethos in supporting artists from all backgrounds.
You work with a lot of zines at The Photocopy Club. Do you have any favorites
that we could look for?
Yeah we publish a bunch of stuff that you can get on our depop or online shop. We also stock in Foyles, the Photographers Gallery and in Claire De Rouen.
Anything else you are doing at the moment that you want to tell us about?
The plan for myself is to work on some new personal work. Hopefully to bring out a book this year. Also to expand the city projects to the rest of the UK and hopefully abroad.
LONDON CALLING WILL BE OPEN FROM 11th JANUARY – 1st FEBRUARY AT V3 GALLERY IN WATERLOO.
It’s Free Admission
and the prints will be available to buy for 5GBP on the 1st February.
You can find more information at their WEBSITE.