“The force of Graham’s Beyond Caring photographs remains undiminished. [...] one of the most commanding and gravest monuments to Thatcher’s Britain produced by any British artist” – David Chandler
Originally self-published in 1985, Paul Graham’s renowned series, ‘Beyond Caring’, was made in the waiting rooms and corridors of the Social Security and Unemployment offices around the UK, documenting the long waits, queues and poor conditions of an overburdened system, to produce a powerful series of photographs conveying the hardship people experienced. Denied official permission to make the work, Graham’s photographs were taken discreetly, usually without looking through the camera, resulting in a spatial disorientation that emphasised the unmoored distress of vulnerable citizens. The work shocked many on its release – leading Magnum photographers were outraged by its use of colour in a classic documentary topic, while others celebrated how it straddled the world of activism and art (it was exhibited at both Trade Union conferences and the Museum of Modern Art, New York). Graham forged a fresh form of engaged photography, mixing elements of social documentary, ‘new colour’ and reportage to create a striking body of work that endures to this day. Many decades have passed since their making in 1984, but these images have grown not only in photographic importance, but also as a unique historic record of the mid-1980s unemployment crisis in the UK. This edition of Beyond Caring is part of Graham’s iconic 1980’s trilogy of UK books, being republished by MACK, which also includes A1 – The Great North Road(2020) and Troubled Land (Fall 2021).
The signed edition includes an extra image plate signed by the artist and glued into the inside back cover.
An iconic project made at the height of the ‘Troubles’, Troubled Land deals with the small but insistent signs of political division embedded in the landscape of Northern Ireland. At the heart of the Irish conflict lays the land — who owns it, who controls it, whose history it expresses. Paul Graham’s quietly radical book keeps this material truth in mind as it uniquely combines landscape and conflict photography, seducing us with bucolic views in which telling details only gradually appear: painted kerbs, distant soldiers or helicopters, flags and graffiti, paint-splattered roads, each tacitly aligning that location to its Republican or Loyalist allegiance. Pastoral photographs of green fields and hedgerows reveal themselves to be images of conflict and dispute — despite the steadiness of the photographic frame and the clarity of Graham’s vision, this is unsettled land. Originally published in 1986, Troubled Land is reprinted here for the first time in thirty-five years. Controversial then for its use of colour and refusal to follow the clichéd tropes of photojournalism, the book was pivotal in providing a fresh perspective on Northern Ireland’s ‘Troubles’ and left a lasting impact on landscape photography, suggesting how it might engage with politics and society rather than escape from them. Together with A1 – The Great North Road and Beyond Caring, it completes a new edition of the remarkable trilogy of books Graham made in 1980s UK.
The signed edition includes a previously unpublished image as a plate signed by the artist and glued into the inside back cover.