Magnum Photos presents a selection from Chris Killip’s remarkable life and work at its Paris gallery, located in the 11th arrondissement. The exhibition features four of Killip’s projects from the 70s and 80s, drawing on photographs that are now recognized as some of the most important visual records of British life made during this period.
The over 50 works of the exhibition cover 15 years of his photography, during which Killip — who’s estate is now represented by Magnum Photos — was at his most prolific. The selection draws on a series of works: Isle of Man (1970–73), where he grew up; Seacoal (1976–84), Skinningrove (1982–84), and Killip’s groundbreaking photobook on the devastating impact of deindustrialization, In Flagrante (1973–85). His photographs take us far beyond the dry words of history books, documenting people and their daily lives through periods of change and hardship, showcasing the power of photography to capture the mood of the time and immortalize communities for future generations.
The continued pull of Killip’s pictures stems from the sustained relationships he built with the people he photographed. There is an intimacy — a sort of mutual understanding and trust between photographer and subject — with which he shot. And behind each of Killip’s photographs is a story. In one photograph, we see a black-and-white composition of a man, a horse, and a cart in the sea, taken from Seacoal, in what Killip himself said resembled the “Middle Ages and the 20th century intertwined.” Yet what we do not see is the six years it took to gain the trust of the people of Lynemouth before they allowed him to document the struggles of their daily lives.
“He spent a lifetime photographing in places where he had built relationships, where there was trust and respect,” Magnum photographer Gregory Halpern, who was mentored by Killip at Harvard, explains in the book Chris Killip (1946–2020). “That dynamic is the first thing I see when I look at Chris’ pictures, both in the way he looked at the people in front of his camera and in the way they looked back at him.” Samantha McCoy, Paris Gallery Director, states: “These are complex images that stop us in our tracks, force us to think and not just look. They are as gripping as they are hauntingly beautiful. It is no surprise that Killip is an influence for so many photographers today.”
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