New York

Nick Waplington

Burden Gallery

Nick Waplington’s vision has been likened to Breugel’s, and yet, while these photographs of two working-class families at home in their Nottingham council flats have the manic ebullience and macabre aimlessness of a Dutch peasant debauch, the people portrayed are quintessentially English, and the interiors bear all the grubby claustrophobic signs of bad British housekeeping. But Waplington isn’t appalled by the overflowing ashtrays, cheap furniture, kitsch-lined shelves, and low ceilings; indeed, it is his complete lack of irony or distance from the subjects that makes these pictures so incredibly beautiful in their frightening way. Diane Arbus would present these same people as monsters or grotesques; Waplington’s photographs hit closer to home. We can’t stand off to one side and snicker at them, or look on in voyeuristic thrill.

These pictures owe less to Breugel than to the grotty old

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