BILLINGHAM~Richard. Ray`s a Laugh.*(sold)
Publisher: Scalo Publishers, Zurich
Richard Billingham, # Ray`s a Laugh.
100 p., 55 color, 21.5 x 28.5 cm, Softcover.
“My dad, Raymond, is a chronic alcoholic and has drunk so much during his lifetime that he now looks drunk after two pints. He doesnot like going outside and mostly drinks homebrew. My mum, Elizabeth, is Ray’s second wife. Liz walked out on him a few years ago because of the booze. They now live together again in another tower block. She surrounds herself with pets. My younger brother Jason gets a job for a week or two then leaves it. Not long ago he became a father. He takes drugs a lot and dosses about. Jason thinks RayÃ‚Â´s a laugh but doesnÃ‚Â´t want to be like him.”
Snapshot aesthetics in photography have become increasingly popular in recent years. RayÃ‚Â´s a Laugh was a seminal influence on this development, with its radically honest, unadorned, and shocking photographs of BillinghamÃ‚Â´s dysfunctional family ravaged by alcoholism and poverty. Billingham documents their squalid surroundings and violent relations to each other with unflinching candor.
Billingham blasts the lid of one of the few remaining taboos. He shows both the desperation and affection of a lower-class family in Birmingham, UK-confronting us with a way of life that is as frighteningly alien to most of us as its emotional intensity is harrowingly familiar to all of us. Billingham has taken a long and hard look at his own family-pitilessly honest and loyally loving.
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