Revisiting my city...

An expectation on hold…

‘Everybody is gone’ is a new project from photographer Pau Ros.

An alternative visual exploration of London as a big urban city, looking through the cracks. Quiet moments of suspension, observing silence aside from the crowd. Is all about expectations, hopes and disappointments in a fast-growing city.

This project also reflects on what it is to be a photographer today. When everybody has a photographic device in their pockets, with enhancements and filters, and people digest hundreds of images per day, what a difference a photographer makes?

The starting point is a simple man, with a camera and a 50mm lens, taking a bus ride and getting lost in the city, drifting, peeking behind the main roads, till finding some urban development or a story to tell…

The visual language is purposely simple, and snappy, avoiding wide spectacular shots and dramatic editing. The only filter is the tainted glass window of the top deck of the bus. Im not looking to impress, or embellish the urban development I photograph. I want to return to this Magnum style 50mm lens-based street photography. The 50mm lens is the one closer to what the human eye sees, therefore the images become more “real”, and more believable.  A sharp contrast with what we see daily on Instagram.

I’ve always been a people’s photographer, with a background in theatre and dance I spent my career taking photos of humans; portraits, faces, bodies and souls. Now that I feel older, it is for me a new challenge to take pictures of empty streets. This project is also about people, about their absence!

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“I came to London on September 1995. Then, it was a very different place; we needed to buy olive oil at the pharmacy and East London was a dangerous wilderness, full of cockneys, artists and perils. Spitalfields market was populated with artist’s studios, and the only place to have a snack on Shoreditch was the 24h bagel shop (and the Bangladeshi restaurants, of course!) on Brick Lane. Once, on visiting the London Film-makers’ Co-op in Hoxton Square, I was advised of how dangerous it was to venture there.

With the new millennium, arrived the enormous development of The City, skyscrapers started popping, and the artists were forced to move east, to Hackney Wick and beyond. Old Street became the city’s epicentre in just a few years. Hoxton Square, with the bright White Cube featuring the brand new YBA’s, was now the more expensive area to invest in. Gentrification fulfilled!

Olive oil and other essential ‘continental’ foods appeared in the shops. The Schengen Treaty was on in the EU, not in the UK, but ‘things start flowing’. It was a time of splendour that finished with the 2008-16 crisis and the new period of fiscal austerity.

The London Olympics in 2012.

In 2016 Brexit won the referendum by 52% (against 48%) and was finally implemented on 31 January 2020. With Brexit and the recession, olive oil become much more costly again. To this, add the COVID years (2020-23). I was given permanent residency status.

Regardless of all these obstacles, the real estate market in London is now back to the exact top highs as before the 2008 crisis.

The metropolis is young and moves quickly; before you know it, everybody (you met before) is gone..!”

Pau Ros (Barcelona, 1965)

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