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Wow, a giant!  Not quite.  Don’t be misled, those are actually very small houses…

Like doll’s houses?  Exactly like doll’s houses…  Collected by the British artist Rachel Whiteread over two decades and kept in her basement ever since, the doll’s houses now get their chance to be centre stage.

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Read the papers: modern life is symbolised by the recalcitrant mosquito swarm of the paparazzi; the beleaguered celebrity constant prey to the hordes of vicious fucks with the telephoto lenses.  And well, yeah, they are.  But then they also have their bodyguards, expensive lawyers, millions of pounds in their back pockets from selling the non-pap photos of their firstborn, plus an apparently incurable desire to eat in restaurants that happen to have hordes of those vicious paparazzi fucks outside.  You win some, you lose some.

Tate Modern’s sporadically fascinating new photography exhibition – Street & Studio: An Urban History of Photography – tells another story though: the control that a photographer can wield over the lives of those who have neither resources nor power.  This mastery is a truly double-edged sword.  The documentary evidence of cruelty, war, poverty and pestilence has often proved a vital catalyst for social change.  On the other hand, the intrusion into the personal misery (or even just mundanity) of those whom are otherwise nameless, penniless and occasionally also oblivious to their role as subject, raises some weighty ethical concerns.

 

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