London Underground

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Photographs by obsessive compulsive tube photographer Bob Mazzer from the 1970s and 1980s; scenes from a subterranean netherworld, neither here nor there, suspended between departure and arrival, an in-between place of shared destiny, temporary community, surrendered dignity.

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I found these photos thanks to Lauren Elkin who in turn got them from unicornology. They’ve been doing the rounds, appearing in the Guardian, Telegraph, Standard, Huffington Post to name but a few and not surprisingly all links lead back to the ubiquitous Spitalfields Life.

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Looking at these photos I’m drawn back 35 years to when I first arrived in London. I knew hardly anyone, I spent hours alone in the studio and the tube was a place of consolation and adventure. I once found a great roll of magnetic yellow ticket tape abandoned in Seven Sisters station. Cut into standard issue stubs it gave me weeks of free travel; a prototype Freedom Pass, the city was my oyster.

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The soundtrack is We Travel The Subways by Hal Willner from his album Whoops, I’m An Indian.

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Almost inevitably the thrill faded, the novelty wore off. Rush-hour travel, overcrowded carriages, forced intimacy, claustrophobia and panic attacks are what I remember most. And also the strikes.

Frames of reference

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