A lot of the photographers we’ve shown here have set off for distant zones to find their images: India, Antarctica, the mines and rivers of China. Tom Hunter finds beauty and trenchant political insight in his own backyard, the ravaged East London neighborhood of Hackney, before it became the gentrifying realtor windfall of today. In the 1990s Hunter became part of a vibrant community of squatters who transformed abandoned industrial spaces with creative lifestyles, until they faced eviction. He captured many of his comrades, but not in straight documentary fashion so much as in tableaux that echoed admired artists of the past, from Vermeer to the pre-Raphaelites.
In a separate series, he focused on the adventures of a caravan of old buses and trucks that trekked around Europe, gypsies in search of the sublime, much as Hippies did a generation earlier. In all of his work — including the latest series about a double-decker bus refitted as a rolling café by Hunter and his fellow nomads (in a newly released book, Le Crowbar) — he brings a lucid, unsentimental eye to scenes that vividly convey layers of meaning, from lofty historical references to class-abrading dislocation to government-mandated socio-urban evolution to the fine grain of everyday existence.
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