Ray's a Laugh

Billingham, Richard ORCID: 0000-0002-6474-5656 (2024) Ray's a Laugh. Mack Books, London. ISBN 9781915743329

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First published in 1996 to enormous acclaim, Richard Billingham’s Ray’s a Laugh is one of the most significant photobooks of the turn of the twentieth century, as well as a cornerstone work of the Young British Artists generation. Formed of starkly intimate images of Billingham’s often chaotic parental home under the heavy effects of alcoholism and poverty, the book was produced in the 1990s with editors Michael Collins and Julian Germain. This new edition restores Billingham’s original vision for his deeply personal work for the first time. Including numerous unseen images and a distinct approach to sequencing inflected by Billingham’s training as a painter: it constitutes a ‘director’s cut’ and reintroduces a vital and consistently challenging work for a new era. Chris Wiley, The New Yorker, 29th February 2024 wrote - ‘A landmark look at family dysfunction … from today’s vantage it looks just as bracing and uncompromising as it did when it was originally released – and perhaps even more relevant in the post-Brexit era of increasingly intractable inequality.’ Tim Adams, The Observer, 10th March 2024 wrote - ‘[The new edition] is closer to Billingham’s original intention, even more full of complicated affection and disgust and black comedy and overwhelming anxiety about his family life. The flash lit shock of the original is preserved but is given depth and context in a series of previously unseen images.’ Jim Lewis, Artforum, wrote of the first edition in 1996 - ‘Ray’s a Laugh is a parlour drama of sorts, as tightly composed as a Pinter play, and considerably more gruelling … [it] changed the way I looked at photographs, changed what I thought a photograph could do.’ The 2024 edition is accompanied by ‘Ray’s a Laugh: A Reader’, edited by Liz Jobey, which traces the book’s compelling history from Billingham’s ‘discovery’ at Sunderland University, through his Turner Prize nomination, to the present reworked edition. It also included a selection of conversations and essays from 1996 to the present by writers including Charlotte Cotton, Gordon Burn, Lynn Barber, and Jim Lewis

Item Type: Book
Related records:
Subjects: N Fine Arts > N Visual arts (General) For photography, see TR
T Technology > TR Photography
Divisions: Schools and Research Institutes > School of Creative Arts
Research Priority Areas: Creative Practice and Theory
Depositing User: Anne Pengelly
Date Deposited: 23 Jan 2024 11:33
Last Modified: 08 Apr 2024 10:25
URI: https://eprints.glos.ac.uk/id/eprint/13668

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