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PAUL SEAWRIGHT - Invisible Cities

The fastest growing cities in the world today are on the African continent. By 2015 Lagos will be the second largest city in the world, following closely on the heels of Tokyo.

Photographic representation of Africa in a Western context – characterised by largely pejorative imagery – has always held an intense fascination for the artist, Paul Seawright, and Invisible Cities was conceived as an attempt to add another, less prescriptive, layer to the pictorial mix. The exhibition title – taken from Calvino’s book of the same name, asserts that a city is less defined by its physicality and more by the way its inhabitants move within; something unseen that hums between the cracks. Combining portraiture and architecture, these photographic works made in Lagos, Johannesburg, Lusaka and Addis Ababa, focus on those seemingly interminable prosaic moments, glimpses of the everyday in the hidden recesses of the city.

Since 2005 Seawright has been returning to areas that, notwithstanding their scale, remain largely hidden in the visual lexicon of the West. The images depict burgeoning settlements on the edges of these cities; settlements that become cities in their own right, that are unplanned and chaotic, and that dwarf the metropoli that spawned them. These powerful pictures give voice to these new urban developments and highlight a dramatic, shifting and sometimes troubled landscape apparently invisible to the developed world.

Paul Seawright is Professor of Photography at University of Ulster, represented Wales at the Venice Biennale in 2003 and exhibits regularly internationally. He is represented by the Kerlin Gallery, Dublin.

A major new hardback book of Invisible Cities will be published by Ffotogallery in May 2007. It includes an insightful essay by the acclaimed author John Reader (Cities, 2005, and Africa: A Biography of a Continent, 1998) and an interview between the artist, and the writer and curator Russell Roberts.

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