The Romanian Architects’ & Urbanists’ Forum (RAUForum), in partnership with The Photographer’s Gallery,
hosted a panel discussion on the subject of ‘The City through the Lens’ at the RIBA Forum in London on 16
November 2019. The event was chaired by Brett Rogers OBE, director of The Photographers' Gallery.
The debate centred on how photography is impacting on a better understanding of the city and the way people relate to it. David George, Chris Dorley-Brown and Ioana Marinescu gave an insight on some of their projects, in which they documented the constant change of the post-industrial landscape of the North of England or East London in the last decades, and how photography can engage and re-purpose public space. Iolanda Costide, co-founder of RAUForum with Ana Becheru, and Iulia Fratila, project coordinator, opened the event with a short introduction on the ideas behind the panel discussion, the work of the association and its partnerships with the RIBA and the Order of Architects in Romania.
Brett Rogers OBE opened the panel discussion with a short introduction on The Photographers Gallery and its role in the British photography as the first publicly funded gallery. She concluded the presentation with an invitation to the public to explore the gallery, now located in Soho, in a newly transformed building. David George started the series of presentations with his project ‘East of Eden’ and took the public through a journey along the River Tees, which he had recorded on a three meter long map, also physically displayed in the space. He explained that his interest, when taking photographs, lies in recording the landscape and the constant change of how we use this landscape.
Chris Dorley-Brown’s presentation was focused around his work in East London, which he has been documenting for the last four decades. He explained that this long series of photographs taken in Hackney started around 1985, as a personal interest as he: ‘wanted my mother and father to open up about their youth. They were both from east London families and had this generation thing where they wouldn’t talk about the past and the effects of WWII. So I used photography to do that.’ He showed photographs of estate buildings demolitions which were part of the Council’s programme at that time and followed with a series of ‘before and after’ images which clearly show the juxtaposition of urban change.
Ioana Marinescu framed her work at a smaller, human scale. She took the public through the ideas and design process behind her work ‘Gravid’, which was exhibited in the UCL Main Building colonnade. She explained the relationship between the large scale photograph of a human body and how that interacted and changed the stark, masculine and rigid space that was hosting it. The second project she talked about, entitled ‘Billboard’, looked at using photography as a way to raise questions, remember and provoke further considerations about the Parliament Palace building in Bucharest and the historic urban context it had obliterated when it was built. A common theme became clear in the work of all three photographers - that of memory and the importance of recording it.