White Columns is pleased to present ‘Pages From A Magazine: CAMERAWORK’ the first in a new, occasional series of exhibitions that will reconsider seminal, but now overlooked or obscured magazines, periodicals and journals. The first presentation in the series considers the late-1970s to mid-1980s British photography magazine CAMERAWORK.
Writing about this presentation White Columns’ Director Matthew Higgs has said:
“I first came across CAMERAWORK as a teenager in the late 1970s. The magazine was sold alongside other alternative political and cultural titles at Manchester’s ‘Grass Roots’ bookshop – one of many left-leaning book stores that thrived at that time in the U.K. (It was at ‘Grass Roots’ that I also came across Rosetta Brooks’ legendary ZG Magazine and the now forgotten but equally influential British Performance magazine.)
CAMERAWORK was launched in 1976 and evolved out of the Half Moon Gallery and the Half Moon Photography Workshop. (These organizations had themselves emerged out of the Half Moon Theatre, founded in 1972 in London’s East End.) The magazine’s mission statement, authored by co-founder Paul Trevor stated: "By exploring the application, scope and content of photography, we intend to demystify the process. We see this as part of the struggle to learn, to describe and to share experiences and so contribute to the process by which we grow in capacity and power to control our own lives." Trevor, along with Jo Spence (1934-1992), and a small group of passionate and committed practitioners acted as the magazine’s co-editors. The magazine was according to Trevor “… the collective expression of a small, committed editorial group who worked for nothing to get it out. It was a collaborative effort, based on trust and mutual respect.”
These copies of CAMERAWORK are from my personal collection – which comprises issues #2 - #32, from the period April 1976 to the Summer issue of 1985. (I still have yet to locate a copy of the elusive first issue.) The magazine illuminates both a decisive and divisive period in British history – the magazine’s central focus would remain the social and cultural context of the U.K. – which saw the transition from a failing Labour government in the mid-to-late 1970s to the emergence and subsequent domination of the Thatcherite ideology through the 1980s. Parallel to these political shifts, the emergence of youth subcultures – such as punk - and the rise in academia of postmodernist theory would both eventually have an impact on the magazine’s editorial approach by the early 1980s. (By which time the magazine’s direction seemed to be increasingly influenced by the emerging field of Cultural Studies.) The pages presented here are, by necessity, selective, yet my hope is that they stand for the larger ambition and achievement of CAMERAWORK, its editors and its many contributors; an ambition that sought to develop an informed yet accessible response to the social, political, cultural, and ideological conditions of the era, and explore the role that photography – and photographers – might occupy within such a dialog.”