Unclear Family: Crook 1993
Focusing on the theme of contemporary family experience, an international documentary workshop in South West Durham.
Under the umbrella European Identities four workshops were set up between 1993 and 1996, a collaboration between photographers and photography galleries in NE England (Side Gallery); Cheb County, Czech Republic (Galerie 4); The Somme, France (Lucioles) and the Ruhr Valley in Germany (RuhrlandMuseum). Based on a model originally developed by Galerie 4, the Crook workshop was the first.
In 1993, the UK government embarked on a high profile ‘back to basics’ Family Values moral crusade. Both the church and single parents were getting blamed. Other headlines centred on Tory MPs fathering children with single parents. The Child Support Agency was established. The Family became the subject for the Crook workshop and then for the subsequent ones.
In this presentation, the order of the photographers’ work is: Peter Bialobrzeski, Steve Conlan, Mik Critchlow, Richard Cross, Tim Curtis, Stefan Dolfen, Richard Grassick, Véronique Lespérat-Héquet, Michelle Johnson, Dana Kyndrová, Miriam Reik, Dayanita Singh, then Jindřich Štreit.
The Crook workshop was organised by Amber’s Richard Grassick, who was developing the role of photographer-activist in Co Durham, as the group shifted its focus to the county from North Shields, where it had been engaged in a residency between 1986 and 1991. The active engagement with Europe began in 1987 and an exchange with the East German documentary studio DEFA, which resulted in From Marks & Spencer to Marx and Engels. In 1988 Grassick visited a workshop organised by Galerie 4 in Cheb County.
All images © the individual photographers