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Matinee: 'Abandon Your Dreams' Share This on LinkedIn   Tweet This   Forward This

9 July 2022

Saturday matinees long ago let us escape from the ordinary world to the island of the Swiss Family Robinson or the mutinous decks of the Bounty. Why not, we thought, escape the usual fare here with Saturday matinees of our favorite photography films?

So we're pleased to present the 456th in our series of Saturday matinees today: Rab Harling's Abandon Your Dreams.

This 4:25 video follows the photographer Rab Harling as he describes his 2009 project Abandon Your Dreams.

"I guess I'm driven by the injustices I see in my community," he begins.

That sensibility had its photographic roots in this masters project he started at the London College of Communication. "It was primarily focused on billboards," he says, "the absence of any advertising on them."

It was the fault of the banking crisis of the time. Nobody had any money to spend, so nobody advertised.

He started looking for these empty billboards to frame against empty skies above empty streets. "The void within the billboards," said, "also represented the void in the dominant capitalist ideology that demoted the presence of humans, of people, into nothing more than consumers."

He shot the series with a 4x5 Japanese cherry-wood field camera with "absolutely no technology." It was slow, difficult and expensive. But it produced "stunning image quality" and it made him think.

The project got him interested in activism, which he has "carried on through" in his practice as an artist.

Empty billboards, abandoned dreams. And a photographer with a message.

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