Invisible Angels was made on the Heygate Estate in 2009 after the majority of residents were evicted or relocated. The site was subject to controversy for various reasons including the high levels of poverty and the future plans for the site, which presented a conflict of interest for the council.
The four young men in Invisible Angels are aged between seventeen and twenty. They wear domestic temporary materials including bin liners, tin foil, cling film, news paper and shopping bags. Although wearing strange clothes, and standing in a decaying environment, the men present themselves as confident and dignified, without aggression or threat.
In each performative photo the young men stand in groups, pairs or alone. They stare at the camera or far into the distance. Sometimes the artificial nature of their arrangement suggests that they are a product (fashion-shoot, boy-band, fiction, myth, construct). Running concurrently with the Heygate demolition plans, UK media were increasingly portraying young groups of black men standing on urban streets as threatening gangs. The clear undertones of racist stereotyping revealed ongoing problems within UK society and media, rather than presenting the reality for any individual young man targeted.
The architecture has the typical towering, vast, concrete and grey features associated with estates. Shot in many different corners and roads within the complex, the maze of this residential land is also explored. The spaces are empty except for two occasions when a family pushes a pram in the far distance or when 2 policemen look at the young men wearing blue bin liners.
This project was made possible thanks to the generous collaboration of all four models/performers, stylist Debbie Spink and assistant Tyrone Grosvenor.
Fuji 5x4.5 & Hasselblad X-Pan using Kodak VC 120/35 film, C-Type Matt prints, 65 x 30" & 45 x 36".
(To see all images in the series please contact K. Yoland)