Photographs by Stephen Gill.
Nobody., London., 2005. 64 pp., 12x10¼".
Signed copies available!
Driving at dusk one night in Denver, Colorado, a man emerged from an overgrown section of park on the periphery of my vision. Turning to glance at him, his destitution was clear from the state of his hair, hands, pants and footwear. As a sort of tunic, he had adopted a half-destroyed, bright orange safety vest. He may have at one time held a job, like vending newspapers in the streets, that required the vest or he may have simply found it, but it immediately called to mind Stephen Gill’s anthropological urban photography and his book, Invisible. Wrapped in a bright “danger yellow” jacket, Invisible is a thin and precise series of images, documenting the strange irony that occurs when high-visibility gear becomes camouflage. Working in London, Gill shoots frame after frame of maintenance and construction workers, road crews, engineers and refuse haulers, each revealing how their conspicuous garb fades into the routine of the city and the colors of commercial enterprise—his subjects are invisible because they have become no more or less the fabric of urban life than a mailbox, a row of mopeds, a shopping cart; things more notable in their absence than their presence. The man living on the street in Denver had known instinctually that wearing the safety vest would hide him. The proof? When Gill documents his city scenes, he dons a bright yellow slicker and mounts his camera on a surveyor’s tripod. No one ever notices him. ZANE FISCHER
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