Exercise · Survival program
The photos from this documentary series are compelling. The other day I was walking through Bethnal Green and one can get a clear sense of the tenements and the streets as holding a wiff of the past. The area has become gentrified and at the same time it still maintains this sense of poverty and run down neglect. It’s as if over the last four decades certain things have definitely shifted, but others have not. The multicultural nature of the east end really stands out but there does not appear to be racial tension. Compared to the city where clearly investment money has been pouring in, the east end which is located only twenty minutes away seems positively another world.
These images have a real visual impact. One notices that reactions come up looking at them. This was my era. I grew up on the periphery of London in the 70’s and although have no memories of poverty as such, I am told that we lived through some of this. There is enough said in the photos I feel for there to be little need of a commentary or caption.
The images summon up feelings of ‘just getting by’ and parents doing what they can to give their children a head start but also knowing that their prospects are slim.
It is also curios to see that the nature of history is cyclical. In many cases it seems incredible to witness for example, several reasonably well dressed people drinking on the streets. Passing cold nights out in the open must be one of the worst experiences a person can have. This social issue still seems to be as alive as ever. The theme of racial tension, whilst not one that I personally witness, is evidently still an alive topic today, especially with much talk of Brexit and boarder separation. The common themes of the 20th century still seem alive albeit in different forms.
I image that these images did give rise to social change, but I questions wether these types of classical documents would have the same impact today?