Critics’ Picks

Shannon, Chris and Alex's Tinker's Bubble, Somerset, June 2004.

London

David Spero

The Photographers' Gallery
16 – 18 Ramillies Street
July 25, 2013–February 5, 2006

In recent years British photographer David Spero has visited communities spread among the forests of the British countryside in which houses and communal spaces—built with natural and often recycled materials locally sourced, make use of renewable energy sources. His new series “Settlements” presents portraits of these dwellings designed with a great respect for nature. He seems to deliberately have chosen moments of idleness and mimetic symbiosis between humans and their environment to best capture ideas about sustainability, independence, and an intuitive understanding of nature’s rhythms. The inhabitants appear only in the titles of the works: In Shannon, Chris and Alex’s, Tinker’s Bubble, Somerset, June 2004, one can see a dense cloud of white smoke blowing away from the roof of a precarious lean-to covered by a camouflage tent that disappears into its leafy surroundings. Another shows an enormous dish pile drying in an open-air communal “kitchen,” and yet others depict small tree houses. What most impresses about these pictures is their ability to plainly communicate the harmony and ecological awareness of the settlements, subtly revealing the radicalism of how these people’s lives reflect their serious concerns about environmental issues.