Monday, March 16, 2020

Crash landing

Documentary photographers are sometimes accused of peddling "poverty porn", displaying what is perceived to be an unsavoury fascination with the victims of austerity (an unfounded accusation in the vast majority of cases, I've argued). By contrast, in 2008 Stephen McLaren found himself in the City as the financial crisis unfolded, photographing austerity's architects - or at least those whose bullish recklessness resulted in enormous bank bailouts from the public purse and gave the Tories the hint of justification they needed to slash benefits and social support. The epithet "wealth creators" could hardly have been more ironic.

And yet, when McLaren's book The Crash was published a decade later, he lamented that very little had changed and the same scenario is likely to play out again: "The 'too big to fail' nature of British banks is even more of a systematic booby-trap these days, as competition has been stripped out and some are still relying on tax-payers' money. Last time round few saw the calamity coming. I think next time will be more foreseeable but just as unavoidable. Can someone else take the photographs next time though, please?"

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