If you can piss, by David O’Mara


For once, I am not going to write about a published book. « If you can piss » is, so far, just a dummy. David O’Mara is a photographer living in London. He is known for his previous newsprint project called « Detritus » which focus on different wastes related to photography (I have already published a post about an issue). But well, making a living in photography is not the easiest thing to do, so, about ten years ago, when he arrived in London, he found some jobs for construction companies. And, as many photographers, he always carry a camera with him, shooting here and there, what appears to be of any interest.

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If you can piss could be David’s biography, showing us ten years of his life, sharing his everyday. This is the exact project I could love. No drama, no hype subject, but a strong connection with real life through the team of workers, and a social concern background.

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The dummy I have in my hands may be subject to a few changes but the main lines are already drawn and defined.

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The book is very dense, all photographs are printed full page or double-page and a few breaths herein are black pages. Moreover the whole book is black and the site is « enlighten » by the progression of the work. The quality of this book is its proximity to the construction site. The photographer is not foreign, neither passing through nor visiting. He is part of the team, what we fully feel in the pictures.

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I especially like this book because it deals with two elements that are important to me. The first deals with the essence of photography, writing by the light and this is revealed in the book. Among the sweat and dust, the light illuminates a gesture, touches material and reveals the beauty that lurks in this chaos that is difficult to understand for the uninitiated. There is a transfiguration which operates under the auspices of light and reveals the transmutation of chaos to the aesthetics and this refers to the second element very touching which is the amount of work the worker to build our society. The bodies suffer, they are cut, sliced, crossed by the space where they work. They are exhausted at the end of the day, and so we are, but there is a real added value with their job : from a pile of stones, sand and water, workers will make a wall. Their hard labor will produce a manufactured product. This is a knowledge that is not within the reach of all, and unfortunately forgot in our modern societies for the benefit of activities of appearance and illusion.

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David’s photos make us the world endearing. We no longer look at a wall, an opening, or even a scaffold in the same manner. The book smells of sweat, dust and those smells remind us a certain amount of things, especially because the book is crossed by moments of grace : a look that you come across, a curtain fluttering in the wind, a light on a torn wallpaper, the trace of a hand on a lamp and this beautiful image of a hand, along a working jogging holding a smartphone showing the photo of a girl, with a mixed feeling of both pride and humility! Another point which is particularly successful is the alternance between individual and collective. In this kind of job, you can’t survive alone, you need the coherence of the group. You need to find your place by your own, but you also need the collectivism of the group. Work can’t be accomplished by a single man. Well, maybe this is something we call… society !

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We never completely see David in the photos, apart on the cover, behind the hand painted dust jacket which lets us discover a self portrait, repeated, slightly differently on the back of the book. And from page to page we discover a hand, a foot which can be his… or ours ! The book ends with a touching dedication to a former co-worker we have already met in previous pages of the book.

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I would really love to see this book comes true. It remains a few adjustments, but that would fairly be the job of a publisher.

Softcover 15 x 21 cm with hand « paint it black » dustjacket, 132 pages.

More info about David : http://www.davidomara.com/#/homeportfolio/4540332014

Follow David on twitter : https://twitter.com/Detritusphoto

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