The Observation of Trifles

The human experience of borders is a contradictory one. People are continually drawing boundary lines. At the same time, throughout history, and especially in modern times, people have tried to transcend the borders established by their ancestors. Often, borders are portrayed as a relic of the past. In recent decades, advocates of globalisation have insisted that a more globalised world, with greater movement of goods, services and people, would make borders redundant. And yet the record of globalisation indicates that, the expansion of mobility notwithstanding, borders in their geographical, symbolic and virtual forms remain very salient features of our lives.
My work “The observation of trifles” (2013-2016) is about how a foreigner finds his way in a new country and a new neighbourhood. I am the immigrant. Taking objects that I found on the streets and using them as a kind of visual archaeology, I discovered East London and its denizens. I focus on the neighbourhoods of Tower Hamlets and Hackney. I live on the border in between both of them. The combination of objects with photographs helps me to introduce to the audience my work through a more physically way and with a mystery feeling. Thanks to these elements I am making an analytic and expressive world: urban furniture reproductions; landscapes of council houses created between the 50’s and 70’s for Londoners and immigrants with low rents; details of letters with notes, drawings… But the most important aspect of this work is the people who I met thanks to the signals and ways that I followed guided by the objects that I found on the street. They are the key to open an unexplored world and new life stories.
The drawing of borders is a psychological and cultural phenomenon, too. People’s identity and sense of belonging and difference depend on having a sense of borders. The drawing of borders is a precondition for human cognition. For example, through the medium of culture individuals internalise the line, the border, between the sacred and the profane, between good and evil, between adult and child. Although these distinctions can appear as arbitrary, they provide the cultural resources through which people understand their day-to-day lives.
“The observation of trifles” is a work that is at the crossroads of the collection, history and architectural document, visual and social analysis. I have attempted to do not forget the photographic aesthetic and the photographic poetic value.


About the photographer
Carlos Alba (Madrid, b. 1984) is an independent visual storyteller from Madrid (Spain) based in London (UK). His work is focused on human relations in the modern world. His photographs have a conceptual approach and they reflect contemporary social issues. His tools are objects and archives that helps him to find the photographs that he wants to take. He was a recipient of the Landskrona Foto Residency (2017), Zona C Visual Artist Awards (2016) and Flash Forwards UK (2016). He was a finalist of BMW Gobellins Residency (2017), Encontros Da Imagem (2016), Grand Prix Fotofestiwal (2016) and Descubrimientos PhotoEspaña (2015). He was shortlisted for the Nexofoto IberoAmerican Award (2016). His work was exhibited at various galleries and museums worldwide, most recently at Format festival (Derby, UK, 2017), Ciudadela Museum (Pamplona, Spain, 2017), Auditorio de Galicia (Santiago de Compostela, Spain, 2017), La Fabrica Gallery (Madrid, Spain, 2016), Fotofestiwal Art Inkubator (Lodz, Poland, 2016), PhotoEspaña (Madrid, Spain, 2016), Festival Circulation(s) (Paris, France, 2016) DOCfield, Arts Santa Monica (Barcelona, Spain, 2016), Bitume PhotoFest (Lecce, Italy, 2016), Thessaloniki Museum of Photography (Thessaloniki, Greece, 2016)… His recent monograph “The Observation of Trifles” published by La Fabrica (2016) was shown on ‘Photobook Phenomenon’ CCCB (Barcelona, Spain, 2017), SCAN photobooks festival (Tarragona, Spain, 2016) and Impressions Gallery (Bedford, UK, 2016). His first monograph is part of several art books collections such as Tate Moderm, Harvard, Landskrona Museum and FotoColectania.
Object: Map. Saint Judes Rd., Tower Hamlets, 2013. Photograph: Dalston Ln., Hackney, 2014.



Object: Drawing. Saint Judes Rd., Tower Hamlets, 2013. Photograph: Wizzie & Jeson, Hackney Downs, Hackney, 2014.



Object: Photograph, Hackey Central, Hackney, 2015. Photograph: Brick Lane, Tower Hamlets, 2015.



Object: Ruler, Victoria Park, Tower Hamlets, 2014. Photograph: Daniel, Haggerston Park, Hackney, 2015.



Object: Poker card, Pritchard’s Rd., Tower Hamlets, 2014. Photograph: Haggerston Park, Hackney, 2015.



Object: Slide, Punderson’s Gardens, Tower Hamlets, 2013. Photograph: Rober Adams, Mile End Rd., Tower Hamlets, 2013.

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