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Indepth Arts News:

"Dave Lewis: Photographs and Text Combine to Address Racism"
2001-10-05 until 2001-11-18
Photographer's Gallery
London, , UK

It is now over eight years since the murder of Stephen Lawrence on Well Hall Road, Eltham, South London on the evening of 22 April 1993. The resulting investigation, trials, reports and Inquiry have kept the case in the public realm, even more so because the murderers are still at large.

Artist Dave Lewis, using selected quotes from the Sir William Macpherson Inquiry - the official document generated in the wake of Stephen Lawrence's murder, published in 1999 - has created a dialogue between the public manifestation of the murder, outlined in the Inquiry, with a set of photographs depicting intimate and psychologically charged images of a black man at home. Lewis says I have deliberately reconstructed the sentences (albeit in document order) not so much as an anchor for the photographs, but to try and engage the viewer in the significance of the public report, i.e. an official document that envelops us all. In fact the quotes do not give any direct meaning to the photographs, but act more like sound vibrating in the background, a sound without any source that continues regardless of whether it is day or night.

This juxtaposing of quotes from a key chapter in the Macpherson Inquiry entitled Chapter Six-Racism, with photographs of private domestic moments, brings to our attention that racism is not only something that takes place on the streets, at work or inside large institutions, but can even undermine a person1s individuality in their own private space.

The first photographs from Dave Lewis' new project, Wall, metaphorically broadens the perspective of the narrative Chapter Six-Racismin terms of culture and the physical structure of institutional racism. What appear to be architectural photographs, devoid of people, challenge the viewer to think about what happens behind these seemingly innocent 'walls'. The image, Crown Prosecution Service (Wall), showing the silver handle on the door of the building, encourages us to consider not only the way in which institutions are built - but their uses and functions. Is the wall a barrier and if so to whom?

Dave Lewis studied Film and Photography at the Polytechnic of Central London (PCL) now the University of Westminster. He has a personal commitment to teaching and has conducted many workshops, in particular in schools, promoting the creative potential of photography and digital technologies. He has exhibited widely both in Britain and internationally. He is a member of Autograph ABP.

Paul Wombell, Director


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