Black Country was made by Gilden in 2013 whilst on commission for Multi-Story projects. During his three week stay Gilden documented overlooked people, factories and homes in the Midlands in order to unveil and study the changing landscape of post-industrialised Britain.
Gilden focused on the neglected and marginalised communities; his goal was to shine a light not only on people who are often ignored in day to day society, but also on the trades and ideals that are slowly fading into history in the UK.
The design of his new monograph directly draws upon the themes which Gilden investigated whilst producing the work. Bound using stainless steel screws to appear like a factory manual, the book is presented in a beautiful cover printed with silver on black paper.
Screwpost bound softcover, 57 images with 6 gatefolds.
Bruce Gilden first journeyed to Haiti in 1984 to document the famous Mardi Gras festivities in Port au Prince. Fascinated by the country, he returned many times and his landmark monograph Haiti, a culmination of these photographs made during this period was first published in 1996. Gilden has continued to return to Haiti, and this new expanded edition of his book includes over thirty additional photographs made up until 2010, completing Gilden’s vision of the county.
Though only an hour’s flight from Miami and the US mainland, Haiti remains the least-developed country in the Western Hemisphere. Haiti was freed from French colonial control and slavery in the early 19th Century but this independent came at a cost of an ‘independence debt’ which was not paid off until 1947. In addition, chronic instability, dictatorships and natural disasters in recent decades have left it as the poorest nation in the Americas.
The carnival which first drew Gilden to the country continues to be a symbol of resilience and determination in the face of struggle. It is the unique energy of the country which led Gilden off the beaten track to photograph its inhabitants, streets, stray dogs, markets, slaughterhouses, barber shops, funerals and celebrations. In line with Gilden’s well-known style, the photographs were made as close as possible to his subjects. The result is an underlying sense of tension and movement, as Gilden leads the viewer to encounter the country as he did on his journeys through its streets.
‘And yet, you tell him, this country is hanging on to its last breath. Teeming, throbbing under the sun, sex aroused, bursts of life in mourning garb, relentlessly trying to mute the trumpets of death. Eppur si muove. And yet, the country is still going. In the eyes of the women and men who inhabit it. In the smiles of its children. In the hope deeply rooted in their hearts, which refuse to give up. Even backed up against the wall. In their songs. In their dances. In their everyday words. In their ability to swap the havoc of distress for stardust.’ - Louis-Philippe Dalembert.
"Hey Mister, throw me some beads!" is a phrase that is iconic in New Orleans' Mardi Gras street argot. Strings of beads, doubloons, and other trinkets are passed out or thrown from the floats in the Mardi Gras parades to spectators lining the streets. In 1974, Bruce Gilden was a young photographer when he first went down to Mardi Gras to shoot his first personal essay away from his home city New York. But when Gilden first stepped foot in New Orleans, he found himself in »a pagan dream where you can be what you want to be.« So Gilden became a regular, making seven trips down to the mayhem of Bourbon Street between 1974 and 1982. The energy, the mentality, social / cultural mores of Mardi Gras were all new for Gilden, but he captured the carnival crowds with the same raw intensity and poignancy that characterize his most iconic New York street photographs.
"For an hour you could feel the tension winding up in the hall like tape on a spool, fuelled by lager and bravado, and at eight o’clock, when the lights went down, it was as if someone had hit the pause button. Plunged into momentary darkness, the hall held its collective breath.
‘Fighting’ Brian McCue, a small man in baggy shorts, the upper half of his body covered in tattoos, removed the gown embroidered with the words ‘Charlie’s Bar’, and rested against the ropes as if in a trance, while a little man in a black trilby hat jabbered kill-him stuff in his ear.
McCue had travelled down from Blackpool that morning in a rented Ford Orion witli four friends. He is 32 years old, 5ft 4in, and was once, he tells you with some pride, the smallest professional heavyweight in Britain.
This is in the past tense, not because anybody smaller has come along in the meantime, but because Brian is no longer professional. Nowadays he works as a nightclub doorman. in Blackpool. The money he will earn tonight is something extra. His opponent, Michael Taylor, 35, from Woolwich, south London, is a nightclub doorman too. He is also a scrap metal merchant, and sometime professional strip-o-gram (policemen and ‘Chippendales’ a speciality), who says he will fight ‘anyone, anywhere’ for the money. Michael is dead straight about this. ‘I ain’t that good a fighter, but I make it hard for those that are.’ " - extract from Mick Brown's article Rough Diamonds.