Mixed Messages

Review by Frank Orthbandt

"Paul Treacy's book presents us with a more classic approach to street photography, full of attitude and politically-charged.


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He presents sequences of images shot at public gatherings, election rallies, demonstrations against abortion, capitalism and war, religion, but also footnotes on everyday absurdities.



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All of the images work with written messages in form of protest signs, advertising, guidance notes, or street signing and each message is presented in a unique contextual and visual setting, distorting and altering their original meaning.



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A great deal of time is spent surrounding the US election campaign and the anti-war demonstrations during the Bush era, and it surprises how these very recent events have already been coated in a sense of history. However the images also cover patriotic demonstrations in Paul's native Ireland or London's recent anti-capitalist gatherings. These pictures are multifaceted and built around a very personal and unique view of the underlying situations, achieved by intelligent composition, active use of contrast, focus and colour. These images do not try to be objective, but are meant to provoke.



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Paul calls himself a 'photohumourist' and in his images he uses irony and humour to contextualise the described situations to great effect. His humour works on different and subtle levels, sometimes immediate, but in many cases it develops and is referenced throughout a series of pictures.

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Personally I am always slightly reserved when images rely on language or signage to convey content, but in this example the approach works beyond doubt because it has been applied throughout the book with a formal stringency, embedded in compositions in such a way that it does not dominate but rather compliments the visual storyline. Check it out. Highly recommended!"


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