Traveling with Merlin Dalman is wandering until your leg hurt. And then continue for an hour or two. Here in this dark street, where smells like urine? Of course. You never know what will be beautiful, tragic or crazy in the end. This can be a teenager buying pairs from a dealer. Or an elderly woman in her scooter with the British flag on the fender. Or an iconic couple with a cap wearing a cone The chips Makes soldiers.
Over the last wild Brexit years, Merlin Daleman has traced from sheep farmers in the British Isles, County Farmanagh, Northern Ireland, to Polish Piogee restaurants in Lincolnshire, from Aberdeenshire fish auctions to public housing around Grenfell Tower in London. I often traveled with him.
As a reporter I wanted to make up stories about the United Kingdom, which was a foreign country I knew better and better. Dalman wanted to do something different. She is half british, half dutch The roots Outside Birmingham and in Brabant in the Black Country. Dalman wanted to understand why the British chose Brexit in 2016.
Dalman’s approach is simple. It looks good, works quickly with some small cameras and natural light. Pure street photography. Usually the people he takes pictures of have barely known what is happening. When they speak to him, he has a chat. Open, disarmed, honest.
Dalman has an unwavering eye for the gray shades of British class society. His best photographs demolish the British welfare state, which is a major reason for the 2016 Brexit vote. This is where Dalman is at his best. When we are thriving, neatly in some parts of the country, like a time in Stratford-upon-Avon, his eyes shine less. There Dalman sees coastal cities such as Morchembe, Grimby or Skegnes because of the short running of the story.
Merlin Dalman’s exhibition ‘My Brexit 52/48’ can be viewed from Saturday 19 September to Sunday 14 February 2021 in Kunthal Rotterdam.