From London to Tokyo, Antony Cairns sees cities in a different light

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Antony Cairns photographs a world under construction. His use of experimental darkroom processes renders cityscapes abstract to the point of being nearly unrecognizable, reduced to stark shapes in black and white. His book “CTY” is an edit selection from various works in London, Las Vegas, Tokyo and Osaka, Japan, along with six texts by Simon Baker, director of the Maison Européenne de la Photographie in Paris. The texts are prefaced with a quote that introduces a theme of urban life, describing cities with such words as “drowned,” “ruined” and “endless.”

The section titled “Endless City” begins with a quote by Daido Moriyama from “Dog and Mesh Tights.”

Something suddenly occurred to me. This was the fact that I had spent my life using a camera to create a photographic city, a photographic map; it was a most natural feeling. … In a way it resembles a jigsaw puzzle, but unlike a jigsaw puzzle there is no limit to the number of pieces it contains and no matter how many photographs I may take, it will never be complete. Therefore, I have no option but to continue to photograph on a daily basis, adding as many pieces as possible to this unfinished, virtual city.

Baker connects Moriyama’s words to Cairns’s photos.

Beginning in London, but then moving to New York, Los Angeles, Tokyo and Osaka, Antony Cairns can likewise, in retrospect at least, be considered to have been in the process of making a single city of his own; a city in which it is always night, and where light is an artificial commodity: an aqueous, dream-like space with a geometry resting permanently on the verge of abstraction. Assembled from a seemingly endless supply of buildings arrested nocturnally in various states of mid-development, Cairns’s virtual city is likewise destined to remain unfinished in perpetuity; an ever-lengthening foreshadow of its future self. Therefore, perhaps, he too has no option but to continue.

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