David Moore, Lisa and John, Belfast Exposed, May 4 – June 16 2018

The eighteen  photographs Pictures from the Real World  are displayed  in a rumbling visual essay of small formats that accentuates the feeling of gentle trespassing into  private lives, this time with the  enthusiastic agreement of the participating family.


If the display  makes you to question the ethics of trespassing into someone private life, it would be both in line with Moore’s intention and the issues of representative visual art, in particular lens based.

(all 18  photographs on http://davidmoore.uk.com/projects/pictures-from-the-real-world?)

The  two channel video   Look at us in the upstairs gallery obeys so much of the nonchalant confidence that their aesthetic impact becomes minimal.


As visual thoughts  the images are similar to the stills downstairs,  while it is assumed that every visitor can follow the spoken part.  I could not, I refrain from any conclusive thought here, except that the sound marred my experience. However, when shown at the festival it earned highly positive comments. e.g.

“..fascinating to see how you’ve progressed the collaborative practice thing to the point that most of the usual criticisms of documentary just don’t apply. I felt Lisa and john seemed to represent some part of the atmosphere of Allenton as a whole. Really good work, congratulations”


“Out of everything that I saw over the Format launch weekend it has stayed with me the most. It felt highly relevant within the context of the festival, but also an important endeavor within its own right” – Mike Brown / Arts Funding Derby City Council”

(accessed on http://davidmoore.uk.com/words/the-lisa-and-john-slideshow)

In addition BX displayed also  small maquettes  Lisa and John, Oh My Days


The BX handout  text provides interesting teasers:

1.It is a new solo exhibition …. it is a multi-media exhibition … it is a document Moore made between 1987-88 in his home town Derby, England.

2. The 18 photographs were published in 2013 as Pictures from the Real World 

3.It is a collaboration  with Lisa and John between 2015 -2017 to create this exhibition described as “archive intervention”  – apparently they were invited separately to make their personal edit.

On my visit – I did not judge it multi -media … although there were photographs, video and three- dimensional maquettes.   Somehow they all  jelled into one – like a river, flowing at times, hitting stones at times, accepting tributaries at times.  There was no one centre or hierarchy. Also uneven aesthetic impact.

In the context of visual art Moore images connect to  European 19thC narrative paintings, and in the way the lens dwells on objects they admit themsleves to the long line of  still lives.  Chardin and mid 19th C realism come to mind.  Moore avoids  both socialist realism’s cosmetic lies and fragmentation favoured by Modernism, not escaping the renewal of slow perception as in cinema verite and some late 20th C video, Sophie Calle, for example, or the Canadian story telling at Venice Biennales.

Moore avoids conflicts and does not always manage to hold to  the possible emotional charge.  It is as if the creation of “normal” being in the world  were on its way out  of the world of wars, shooting and conflicts,  needed Moore’s documenting, protection by  holding it in memory.

Are his images alluring?  They are marginal – but not extreme.

Whereas, in its display of photographs by 60 artists  the current  EXTREME  RAY    touches on extremeness as alluring.   (https://ray2018.de/)

” Crises, wars, extremism, and populism shake our values, norms, and organizational infrastructures. The extreme is booming. Especially in this age of digitally circulating information and images that demand an economy of attention, the extreme triggers the desire to be captured in an image. The more extraordinary and marginal the image, the more alluring it is. “(my emphasis)

Moore offers not exactly the mid 19th C “gemuetlichkeit ” of the Biedermayer, nor the blink of 17th C Dutch still lifes … and he escapes the “improvements of the real”  favoured by the  20th C socialist realism.   How? By attention to narrative observation of  what is there… not what may be there.  I found an oblique confirmation in Moore’s review (2013) Alec Soth’s Looking for Love. Moore writes:

Returning to and publishing old work can be an interesting and problematic proposal, particularly if the photographs haven’t been seen before. Various questions present themselves; does one re-edit, reproaching one’s younger self? Is it desirable to avoid the contemporary in your reselection? How important is the work in the ‘photographic canon’ and what are the reasons for publishing now?

A fetishisation of the everyday re-surfaced within documentary genres In the mid to late 1990’s and by the end of the decade was beginning to circumnavigate in a descending and self referential cycle downwards into the pay of the advertising.

Moore escaped the sleekness of adverts by earthiness of colours and by cropping the  scenes to obtain the  suggestive power  of a convincing lie: to make me a witness.


Easy to “hear”  the noise the children  make… to feel the temperature … to register the smell of stale air …

Images accessed on http://davidmoore.uk.com.


About Slavka Sverakova

writer on art
This entry was posted in essay, review and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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