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Work / Photography

German photographer Miguel Brusch documents Blackpool like you’ve never seen it before

“My work often deals with the psychological effects of interactions between people and their surroundings,” explains Berlin-based photographer Miguel Brusch. “I like to explore the state of mind of certain groups and the social and political causes that lie behind it.” Although Miguel’s portfolio is grounded in this documentary tradition, he mixes elements of the fantastic with reality to produce work that toes the line between documentary and conceptual photography.

Last year, Miguel completed his studies in photography at Ostkreuzschule für Fotografie but during this time, he was one of eight students given the opportunity to travel to England to shoot a project about Brexit, granted by a small Berlin art foundation. “I decided to shoot my project in Blackpool after I got to know that a large majority in this district voted to leave the European Union,” he tells us.

“Although millions of tourists come to Blackpool every year, the town is struggling with falling revenues. Hundreds of hotels are in a state of decay and the unemployment rate is among the highest in Great Britain,” Miguel continues on why Blackpool was his chosen area to document. Over the course of a year and a half, the photographer set out to capture the contrast between the tourism industry – one that locals have been promised will boom post-Brexit as Brits look to holiday at home, instead of travelling to the more expensive Continent – and the “precarious economic and social conditions” in Blackpool.

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Miguel Brusch: The Black Pool

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Miguel Brusch: The Black Pool

The resulting series, The Black Pool, however, takes on a somewhat abstract approach to telling this story. Instead of straight-up photos of facades that have seen better days, and empty arcades, Miguel thoughtfully captures the nuances of the life Blackpool promises, and the one it delivers. Through portraits and images of banal landscapes, he mediates on the aspect of escapism and illusion that the holiday destination attempts to create.

It’s a series full of cinematic and drama-filled moments. Despite its prevailing quietness, The Black Pool features a tension akin to Nicolas Winding Refn’s Drive or Neon Demon. It’s Blackpool but unlike you’ve ever really seen it before. This aesthetic and tonal quality is the direct result of Miguel’s path into photography, which began with a course in film analysis and theory at the University of Hamburg, leading to a documentary filmmaking course.

Today, the still image occupies the creative’s time because of its ability to open doors to others’ lives. “Because of their fragmentary character still images are more open to interpretation than moving images,” he adds. “If I look at a good picture it triggers a thought process about the depicted situation and about the circumstances this picture was made in. I start thinking about the before and after of the scene. And in the best case,” Miguel concludes, “it triggers reactions on a complex emotional level.”

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Miguel Brusch: The Black Pool

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Miguel Brusch: The Black Pool

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Miguel Brusch: The Black Pool

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Miguel Brusch: The Black Pool

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Miguel Brusch: The Black Pool

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Miguel Brusch: The Black Pool

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Miguel Brusch: The Black Pool

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Miguel Brusch: The Black Pool