Fotograf Magazine

Paul Reas

Empathetic Critic of Consumption

For Paul Reas the second important topic of the 1980’s was the phenomenon of the so-called Heritage Industry (here we could loosely translate this construction as an industry focused on cultural monuments). This “industry” began to take off in fact in the 1980’s, supported paradoxically by a cultural crisis caused by consumption and globalization. Critics however consider it to be an idealized view of the past with an aim to reduce it to the level of free time consumption. It’s about nostalgia and sales with all possible souvenirs and visitors armed with cameras and photo apparatuses. In this case, it’s Reas‘ photographic guidebook that is significant: one that attempts to give visitors a view of the “authentic” landscapes from the pictures of John Constable. Photographs from this collection dating from the 1980’s and 1990s were published in the book, Flogging a Dead Horse (an expression meaning a futile effort, literally to beat a dead horse) in 1993; once again with a text by Stuart Cosgrove.

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