London: Anna Fox, Resort
Accomodation, 2010 © Anna Fox
Bar rosso, 2011 © Anna Fox
Billy's buddies parent and toddler play area, 2011 © Anna Fox
Bowling alley spring, 2011 © Anna Fox
Fairy make up, butlins, 2010 © Anna Fox
Family, 2011 © Anna Fox
Ocean hotel restaurant, 2010 © Anna Fox
Splash waterworld, 2011 © Anna Fox
Wooden donkeys, 2011 © Anna Fox
Anna Fox: Resort opens this week at James Hyman Gallery on Savile Row. The exhibition features the photographer’s newest body of work commissioned by Pallant House Gallery, Chichester on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the creation of the Butlin's group of theme camps in 1936.
Anna Fox has been one of the most influential voices in contemporary photography for more than two decades. Strongly inspired by both the British documentary tradition and the American New Colourist movement, Fox came to define a concrete expression of her personal artistic research with Workstations (1987-88). The series, with which she first gained attention, represented a critical observation of the highly competitive London office life during the years of Margaret Thatcher as Prime Minister. The same approach can be seen in Friendly Fire (1989-94) that recorded the leisure activity of weekend Paint-balling in the manner of war reportage. Workstations and Friendly Fire already displayed the elements that now define Fox’s visual language.
In 2009 Fox started working on the Butlin commission; she spent two years photographing the holidays of the working-class families at Bognor Regis in the West Sussex, one of the only three parks still active in the UK. Fox followed in the footsteps of photographers such as John Hinde and Martin Parr who also documented the folklore of Butlin. A reference model of organised mass entertainment that had become an important part of the British culture over the years.
The photographer explores the phenomenon from the privileged point of view of an insider documenting with her images a contemporary “social landscape”. Anna Fox’s newest series Resort is composed of two chapters: Family Breaks, which she worked on from 2009 through 2011, that focuses on family holidays, and Adult Breaks, that will be released in 2012, that investigates the new wave of adult recreational activities.
With Resort the photographer reveals, with a touch of sarcasm and sense of humour, the contradictions and absurdity of this peculiar way of experiencing the holidays and leisure time with the family. Her large format, colour-saturated images give the immediate feeling of a preconceived “advertising campaign” through their hyper-real playfulness and staged settings within which unaware private and personal relationships take place.
Fox is able to create and offer to the attention of the viewers surreal, entertaining and highly charged parodies of the experience. Bright hues, juxtaposed with common use elements such as fences or air conditioning vents, along with well thought-out lighting—both natural and artificial from video games, beauty-spa mirrors, mood-lit bars and fruit machines—contribute to enhance the photographer’s critical message. Resorts embodies Anna Fox’s thinking and conveys an important record of social history.
Anna Fox: Resort
Until November 12, 2011
James Hyman Photography
16 Savile Row
London W1S 3PD