Chris Killip captured the country during crippling social change in the 80s – a time when most people were choosing to look the other way
In Flagrante was released by Chris Killip in 1988 after the Isle of Man born photographer had immersed himself in broken Northern English communities for several years. Between 1973 and 1985 he captured monochromatic images showing desolate towns and intimate portraits at a crucial time of social change. The title In Flagrante is a latin term for caught in the act – in this case, the act being capturing the fast changing and violent chapter of Northern England’s past.
“The objective history of England doesn’t amount to much if you don’t believe in it, and I don’t, and I don’t believe that anyone in these photographs does either as they face the reality of de-industrialisation in a system which regards their lives as disposable” – Chris Killip
“You didn’t have to be a genius to realise how important it was to get in and photograph it before it all fell apart. The strange thing is, I didn’t realise how quickly it would go.” Killip told The Telegraph on the subject of his monographic release – which has often been described as one of the most important English photo book of the late eighties.
Decades later and its importance is no less, with Steidl creating a re-edition of the sought after photobook. Titled In Flagrante Two, the book is printed in a larger format and with just one large image on each otherwise blank double page. The foreword, written by Killip, preempts the bleak yet ephemeral nature of the images to follow, where he states that “The objective history of England doesn’t amount to much if you don’t believe in it, and I don’t, and I don’t believe that anyone in these photographs does either as they face the reality of de-industrialisation in a system which regards their lives as disposable.”. Killip seized these moments in time in a period where others were looking away, from this honest narrative his photography encapsulates an often forgotten yet deeply ingrained part of British history.
In Flagrante Two is available from Steidl now