Flanerie: Street Photography
The title of this exhibition uses the noun originally from French Flăneur to ‘saunter or lounge’, for its description. Flănerie is the act of strolling with all of its accompanying affiliations and used here to describe an association named ‘street photography’.
Unlike the country romance of the hiker or rambler communing with raw nature, the urban street photographer walking the streets detached, strolls aimlessly but with aesthetic purpose, to capture the feel of not only the built environment but also to absorb the poetic city humanly constructed.
It was the cultural critic Walter Benjamin (1892-1940), drawing on the poetry of Charles Baudelaire, who made this figure the flăneur, the object of Modernist scholarly interest in the 20th century, as an emblematic archetype of urban, modern experience. Particularly in his Arcades Project,1927–40, an incomplete book on the 19th c arcades of Paris or Passages where idling and people watching under the cover of the glass roof continued as an extension of the open streets. The American hyper mall is our equivalent.
“the flâneur was a figure of the modern artist-poet, a figure keenly aware of the bustle of modern life, an amateur detective and investigator of the city, but also a sign of alienation of the city and of capitalism,” ¹
¹ Gregory Shayas,The Flaneur, the Badaud, and the Making of a Mass Public in France, circa 1860-1910. The American Historical Review Vol. 109, No. 1 (February 2004), pp. 41-77 (37 pages)
Alan Spackman .