My neighbour Joe with our view of the Edgar Thomson Steel Mill, 2012
Ray and Jerry’s Bar, 2012
Republican Fundraising Event at the Allegheny Country Club, 2012
Rumshakers Nightclub no.2, 2012
The Boston Arms, 2011
The dance floor at Boujis Nightclub, South Kensington, 2011
Mark Neville began his career as an artist and sculptor, using the camera primarily to record his installations. His first documentary photo project came in 2004, when he spent a year photographing local residents in Port Glasgow, a Scottish town now beset by the industrial downturn, where his subjects included neighbours, patrons of bars and clubs, and members of diverse urban groups from football teams to Christian communities. His ‘Port Glasgow’ photo album was based on these images. Calling on boys from the local football club, Neville then distributed the books to every household in town: his aim to reach every individual featured in the project, especially those unlikely to purchase a photo album with high production costs from a shop. There was a huge response to the book: some accepted the artist’s view, but many felt he had exaggerated and deliberately shown the town and its inhabitants in a negative light. After ‘Port Glasgow’ Neville decided to continue his focus on documentary photography and for him this became an instrument of social criticism.
From late 2011 to summer 2012 Neville carried out two photo commissions almost simultaneously: one on London for The New York Times, the other on the city of Pittsburgh for the Andy Warhol Museum. The result of Neville’s six-month shoot in London was the ‘Here Is London’ series, while Pittsburgh produced the ‘Braddock/Sewickley’ slideshow installation. For Neville this was his first experience of cooperation with periodicals, and the first time he had created works for display in an American museum. According to the author, he had never worked so quickly before. Since the interval between finishing one project and starting work on the next was just five weeks, they became interwoven.
In Pittsburgh Neville worked in two areas that were diametrically opposed in social terms — respectable Sewickley and working class Braddock, the latter having developed around the steel giant before languishing in the 1980s, when American industry hit crisis point. In London Boujis, the nightclub frequented by Prince Harry, represents one extreme, the subcultures generated by abject poverty the other.
Neville shows modern-day contrasts by applying the visual style of cult photographers active in the 1970s and 1980s, those who photographed the USA and UK in times of recession. It soon becomes clear that little has changed in the intervening years.