This research based photographic project takes place in some of the wealthiest neighbourhoods surrounding Hyde Park, in the centre of London. These areas – Kensington, Mayfair, Belgravia, Chelsea, Holland Park and Notting Hill have the highest price tags for residential properties in the United Kingdom. In these spaces, financial elites who buy homes, are buying and inheriting a history and heritage that has been preserved. For some, this heritage meets the need to salvage an essential sense of self from the debris of modern estrangement.
In London today, there is a new class in which the financial constellation is dominant and which ultimately traces the roots of its new wealth to the deregulation of the financial markets. These new financial elites are the true heirs to the long held imperial legacy connected with London; their power has grown to a dimension that is truly imperial in the modern world. London is now the destination of choice for the world’s multi billionaires, it is virtually a tax haven, and a large proportion of these new residents now live in the areas McCormack chooses to photograph for Facade.
The images taken for this project, give a perception of the city as a site of mystery, they seek to reveal and construct a conceptual portrait of this wealthy portion of society. In doing so, they look at how space is formed and organised around them, as social identity is defined and asserted through difference.
Walter Benjamin’s writings throw up numerous metaphors for the ways we make sense of the city, he likened these to the work of digging and collecting. The city is understood as a material form that imbeds or encodes meaning; it surrenders these meanings in the form of fragments, clues, hints and echoes.
Utilising a form of psycho-geography to overcome the processes of banalisation in the city, where experience of our surroundings becomes one drab monotony. This projects aim, is to seek out spatial inequalities, using the spaces photographed as a vehicle to create a dialogue around social stratification and the complexities contained in urban life.
Robert McCormack is an Irish visual artist, currently living and working in Co Meath. He is a graduate of the Dublin Institute of Technology where he received a BA in Photography in 2013 and has recently completed an MA in Photography & Urban Cultures from Goldsmiths, University of London, 2015; this course was undertaken after he received the Kirsty MacColl scholarship for artistic and academic excellence. His work has been shown in numerous galleries in Ireland including the Royal Hibernian Academy, the Gallery of Photography and SO fine art editions.
Robert’s current works question spatial inequalities, exploring how the structure of urban environments affect the mental states of the people who live, work and move through these spaces.