Panoramic view of Naples by Gabriele BasilicoCities On The Edge

Edited by John Davies
Liverpool University Press. £25

Reviewed by Colin Serjent

Cities On The Edge is a transnational project involving six photographers, including Liverpool-based John Davies - who is also curator of the exhibition at the Contemporary Urban Centre (see review of the show on this website) featuring photographs from this beautifully produced book, which he edited.

Except for Davies, the other five photographers - Ali Taptik (Istanbul), Phillipe Conti (Marseilles), Wojtek Wilczyk (Gdansk), Sandy Volz (Bremen) and Gabriele Basilico (Naples) - covered their own cities as well as travelling to Liverpool to take pictures for the project. Each of them has twelve of their photographs included in the book.

I have never been a big fan of photographs which have a person standing in the middle at the forefront of the shot staring at the camera, but Ali Taptik employs this techniques in a number of his pictures.

He also tends to take images of rundown areas of Liverpool, which there are many of in the city, but perhaps that is his point in doing so.

Conti takes a different approach in locating nearly half of his photographs indoors in both Marseilles and Liverpool.

But nevertheless the most striking of his pictures is taken outdoors in Toxteth, in which he frames rows and rows of Muslim people praying to Allah at the back of a block of terraced housing, while a passer by fails to pay any attention to what is going on beside him.

The work of Wizczyk does not involve people but rather industrial buildings, dockland and high rise flats, which are surprisingly colourful in their appearance.

Volz prefers to take photographs of particular details of rooms, most of them appearing to be in old fashioned pubs.

This selection of images did not particularly enthrall me. Dull subject matters tends to lead to dull pictures.

The most spectacular set of photographs is taken by Basilico. They include outstanding panoramic scenes of Naples and Liverpool. His black and white shots of Naples, taken mainly in the dockland area of the city, include stunning aerial views of the Liverpool business area.

Davies - with his outstanding compositional skills and eye for detail - has produced a series of highly creative photographs, including his sideways shot of the entrance to Liverpool Chinatown, an unusual view of Duke Street (where the Catalyst Media office is based), and Slater Street, with its kebab and pizza outlets.

In regard to this latter image, there is no sign there of any input from the massive investment of finance pumped into Liverpool over recent years.

This also applies to his shot of Seel Street, also based bang in the city centre, with its derelict buildings and sheets of corrugated iron.

Towering cranes, symbolic of Liverpool's 'regeneration', feature in three of his six black and white pictures.

Given the cost of a lot of photography books, £25 for this publication is a snip at the price.

Both the book and exhibition are Liverpool Culture Company commissions.

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