Paul Graham at the Whitechapel Gallery: 20 April-19 June 2011

Baby, DHSS Office, Birmingham, 1984 (taken undercover) from the series Beyond Caring

The Whitechapel reminds me a bit of Edinburgh. Everyone knows it exists, everyone knows it’s wonderful, but noone ever seems to go there. When one finally does pay a visit it vastly exceeds expectations.

Such was the case with my visit to the Paul Graham exhibition. This fantastic show displays a breadth of photographic work shot primarily in the US, UK and Japan. Graham has an eye for turning the mundane into the absurd. He captures ordinary moments with such extraordinary honesty that we can instantly recognise the place even if we have never visited there. A Birmingham dole office becomes a familiar scene of British suburban life; a perfectly kept weatherboard house screams of American idealism we all know and loath; and scenes from Belfast are instant reminders of a war we all somehow feel connected to.

If the Whitechapel is on your to-do list now is a good time to tick it off. Read more about Paul Graham at the Whitechapel Gallery / 20 April-19 June 2011

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