Exhibition: Mass Observation, This Your Photo

Mass obs this is your photo press release

John Hinde, From Exmoor Village, 1947

The Photographer’s Gallery until 29 September 2013

The Photographers’ Gallery presents Mass Observation: This is Your Photo, the first exhibition to focus solely on the Archive’s visual legacy.

The first part of This is Your Photo will present material from 1937 – 48. Graphic responses to the work of Mass Observation in the form of caricatures, drawings and isotypes will also be on display along with ephemera including Julian Trevelyan’s Collage Suitcase, a self-contained, portable studio which always accompanied his travels throughout Bolton. The second part of the exhibition will present photographs, mainly snapshots, taken from questionnaires, known as Directives, from 1981 onwards. Here pictures are often accompanied by extensive written accounts and are focused on the observer’s domestic life.

The exhibition is curated by Russell Roberts, Reader in Photography, European Centre for Photographic Research, University of South Wales.

Founded in 1937, Mass Observation began as a radical experiment in social science of its kind in the 20th century. It was formed by anthropologist Tom Harrisson, journalist and poet Charles Madge and Surrealist painter and filmmaker Humphrey Jennings. The organisation in its original guise aspired to gain insight into the lives, opinions and daily thoughts and habits of the British people. The objective was to counter what the group perceived to be the inaccurate representation of the nation as set out by the media and politicians.


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