Each summer since 1973, artist Tom Phillips has taken photos of the same twenty places in his South London neighbourhood. The resulting artwork – 20 Sites n Years – is both conceptual art and social history
Every year, artist Tom Phillips follows a carefully plotted nine-mile walking route around his southeast London neighbourhood taking photographs. It is the only time he ever uses a camera, and he has been doing it since 1973. The expedition is not undertaken for sentimental reasons (although the timing has a personal connection) and it is not for a photo album. The purpose of his journey is a work of art: 20 Sites n Years. And though the work began in the pre-digital age, shot on analogue colour film, it seems made for the 21st-century art world, digitally archived with an online slideshow and now – to Phillips’s surprise – even a hashtag.
Site 5. The Marlborough pictured in 1977 and 2001. By 2013, the pub had been demolished to make way for new housing. Site 6. This site was originally the business premises of an increasingly eccentric local called Dennis Noble.
Top: Site 11. In the Camberwell housing estate. Site 15. The site named ‘Obart’ shows what began as a terrace in Wingfield Street, Peckham, half of which was demolished in 1975.
John L. Walters, Eye editor, London
Read the full version in Eye no. 92 vol. 23, 2016
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