1981 & 2011
Paul Graham, winner of the 2012 Hasselblad Foundation International Award in Photography, is a vital figure in contemporary photography, working for over thirty years and continually challenging different genres of photographic practice. His work has been widely embraced, with exhibitions at the Tate and the Museum of Modern Art, and published in more than 12 monographs. The Hasselblad Award is considered photography's highest prize for lifetime achievement and the list of past winners is a roll call of photography's greatest masters.
In honour of the 2012 award, the Hasselblad Centre in Gothenburg, Sweden is showing an exhibition, together with this book 1981 & 2011, which unites Graham’s first published work A1 - The Great North Road (1981) and his latest The Present (2011). Edited by Paul Graham in collaboration with Dragana Vujanovic and Louise Wolthers from The Hasselblad Foundation, the book links this thirty-year span, together with an essay written by David Campany, author, curator and artist.
At the beginning of the 1980’s Graham was among the first photographers to unite contemporary colour practice with the classic ‘social documentary’ genre. In 1981/2 he completed A1 – The Great North Road, a series of colour photographs from the length of the British A1 road, which forged a dramatic challenge to the black and white tradition that dominated British photography to that point. This work, along with his other photographs of the 1980’s, were pivotal in reinvigorating and transforming photographic practice in the UK and abroad.
In 2011 Paul Graham released The Present, which embraces street photography, a genre unique to photography where the artist works with the ceaseless flow of life. These images break with the traditional approach of locking the world into frozen instants and instead brings us each scene together with its double, the briefest fraction of time apart, so that we glimpse the continuum, the before/after and coming/ going of life's dazzling dance.
Designed by Paul Graham and MACK, printed in colour throughout, 1981 & 2011 aligns these two bodies of Graham's work across the 3 decades spanning his career. With David Campany's incisive essay, we can piece together and explore the concerns that link and bind an artist over the years making this a salient book on the passage of creativity in the observable world.