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THE 2 WEEKS of MADNESS PROJECT, in search of the olympic spirit

My friends at Fallen Empire have launched a new project:

“THE  2 WEEKS of MADNESS PROJECT, in search of the olympic spirit”

No press pass, no digital camera, no contacts, no iphone, not a clue.

“For the next few weeks we’ll be working on the 2 weeks madness project, a non-objective anti-journalistic critical account of all the you-know-what’s going on in London. Two rolls of film a day, more or less.”

 

fallen empire photobook trailer

The second edition of London 2012, Fallen Empire first photographic book will be realsed in July 2012 – date TBC.

It will be available directly from the fallen empire website

fallen empire have prepared a trailer of the book with music by  Cheveu (http://www.myspace.com/cheveu).

 

Fallen Empire, the book

we meet in an italian restaurant on upper street, not because we’re all italians, just because it seems to be the only place open late enough to accommodate for the late arrival of alex and valentina, the couple behind “fallen empire” – each coming from a different part of london.
earlier that day, alex has witnessed a militar-esque parade of religious people in support of the olympics; valentina instead tells stories of the magnitude of daily turnover of the store (or is it just a floor?) of a famous chain where she works, which leaves us in shock and reminds us that london is a place of such extremes and such weirdness as we have never encountered…

fallen empire have “day jobs” to pay the bills, but they are artists, photographers, writers, aspiring psychogeographers, italian expats, emigrants, immigrants, and they have just published their first book. a collection of photographs to recap their story in london so far, the dreams, the clash with the harsh reality, the choice to use a media considered at least anachronistic, film, paper, to perform all steps, photographing, developing, printing, exhibiting, writing, publishing, distributing.

italy is (or perhaps, more precisely, was) a country of “artisans”, or better “craftsmen” (sounds more anglo-germanic). there is/was a pride in the manual ability, often accompanied by the use of a traditional tools, to achieve a result of great quality and value. in an era of digital photography, alex and valentina have chosen to swim against the tide using traditional methods which remind me of that italian tradition of craftsmanship.

as alex arrives, we’ve just finished our dinner and he goes straight for an “amaro”, the closing of italian meals, followed by a beer – an almost lethal combination, until finally valentina arrives and imposes on him half of a pizza.

while they drink and eat after a long hard day at work, we flip the pages back and forth, my wife focusses on the images and asks questions about them while I, OCD driven, have to read the notes of Chapter Two for each photograph, and by jumping back and forth eventually I lose myself and realise that I have been reading the wrong notes, which upsets my OCD. finally I decide to wave OCD for once and just focus on the beautiful images.

despite we’ve lived 7 years in london, this book is for us a trip in unchartered territory, and the experience reminds me of reading Lights out for the territory before moving to London, while living in Germany, and having to imagine all the places described by Iain Sinclair in the book: watching these photograph is a trip in a world that although photographed out there in this metropolis, is an imaginary world, because we are looking at it through alex+valentina’s eyes.

there is so much to discover about each photograph, that we can just scratch the surface, it’s soon time to go, even this italian restaurant must eventually close on this Saturday night and Valentina must go to work at 10am next day.

we take our copies of the book to bring to Italy and Germany as an exotic prey from a safari in this metropolis whose lights burn at night like a vast bonfire.

The book Fallen Empire can be ordered directly from Alex and Valentina at http://fallenempire.co.uk/shop-2

Fallen empire prints can also be ordered, contact them

Fallen empire is also a photography studio: http://fallenempire.co.uk/studio

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“We shape our cities, then they shape us” Fallen Empire at the Bristol Photography Festival

Fallen Empire The Book, out on 5th of May 2012

Fallen Empire first book will be available starting from May 5th. It can be ordered directly via the Fallen Empire website.

The book contains 82 photos by the by italian couple Alex and Valentina.

I asked Alex to tell me the story behind this book:

“I came to London with my wife two years ago, strangers in a strange land. We were soon stricken by the turmoil of contradictions just under the productive surface of a city struggling to propose itself once again as a world capital. 

As photographers we started using a camera to make sense of our surroundings, exploring city corners, looking for places where the progress comes in a different fashion, with another timetable other then the escalator race during the rush hour. We followed Iain’s advice: go off piste, look for the places they don’t want you to see.

Even if the colonialism in strict terms is over, the city is still colonizing the collective imagination as a sort of El Dorado, people still come to London attracted by its endless opportunities and its “gold-paved-streets”. As for the big drive of the entertainment, the bet is now on the Olympics and their smoke-screen, the O2 big shows, the Royal catwalk.

 The photo book Fallen Empire is a subjective map of this city, it traces the invisible correspondences between buildings and men, the places which will disappear during the relentless run for redevelopment, it uncovers modern mythologies, following ley lines of history forever repeating itself.

The city itself is a product of imagination, in the impossibility of grasping its totality, you have to create your own boundaries. 

The book is the map we made while getting lost.

It will be released on 5th may in Bristol during a street exhibition for the festival of photography. Also we’ll have another exhibition in Room 212 gallery. If you happen to be in Bristol you’re welcome to join.

We’d like to thank Iain Sinclair  and his website for his support.