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I'm now a respectable citizen

As Richard Billinghams photo book "Ray's a joke" in 1996 in Zurich, Scalo publishers came out varied reactions between admiration and horror. Because Billingham photographed his alcoholic father Ray and obese, chain-Smoking mother, Liz almost disgusting to be honest. Nevertheless, he managed to capture in the midst of Filth, squalor and neglect a twisted beauty in the picture. Now, twenty years later, returns to the Billingham to the motifs from the beginning of his career, this time as filmmaker . To be in England for the national debut prize-nominated movie "Ray & Liz" comes at us in the cinema. We spoke with the 48-year-old Director in Zurich.

Mr Billingham, why return thematically to their parents, Ray and Liz?
Let me end with a question: How do I have that effect on you? As a typical representative of the middle class?

Mmm, Yes. You act as a teacher. You are also, isn't it? A Professor at an art school?
Exactly. I'm now a respectable citizen, and I can offer my children everything: good schools, healthy food, care around the clock. And yet the observation of their Childhood, makes me thoughtful.

Why? Because the was so much more difficult?
My Childhood was certainly different. Therefore, the desire to reconstruct our domestic scenes of that time as authentically as possible in a Film grew in me. Before I was a father, I had not the need.

Was not done with the theme with the series of 1996?
These pictures at the time, I made it just for me, because that was my familiar world, and I saw something in her, what the others saw. I have to issue a fight even, but in the series publicly, because I felt you as a private. But after I was rejected to 16Universitäten, I wanted to be approved for an art education. By coincidence, the publishing house Scalo of my photos learned and suggested me to make the book. I was hoping that the work with a recommendation, word of Robert Frank would refuse to make the selection Committee harder for me. It worked.

Ray alcohol disease, and Liz's apathy in the photos, and now also in the movie is very visible: the neglected body, the injuries, the dirty environment. One is ashamed as a child?
I'm not ashamed of it. Our life did not differ greatly from that of the other children in the school, back in Birmingham. They were also poor, we were all poor. In school, the other didn't look poor – I have – but I remember the smell when I visited her. In the case of my school friends it smelled strictly, in the case of a piss, feces.

And at home with you?
it stank, but you get used to your own stench. When you own saliva, you don't know how it tastes.

The Film is more brutal than the photos. For example, if the power drunk tenant, the uncle and the mother incites to beat him. The Medium of Film demands such scenes?
I invented nothing. Perhaps I haven't summarized the plot a bit so that the scenes drag on for too long. I would remind you, in how many films today, heads are cut off, or else the blood in torrents flows. That's what I call brutal.

In the Film we also see how her little brother without any supervision with a knife, handled, or with the gas stove plays. After that, he is in care – it's too late?
no! We had a happy Childhood, even if it is hard to believe. We were able to do what came to us just in the mind. If we wanted to play with someone, we simply tapped on his door. Or we played on the street. My children today have such a verplantes life, as if they were already employed. And you are scared because you hear all the time from climate change and the destruction of nature. We knew nothing and felt safe.

The figure of her little brother Jason is in the movie Central was he okay with it?
I showed him the rough cut, and he just said, Exactly the way it was. So I think he has nothing against it. After the Film had been nominated for the Bafta debut award and also won, we were both anyway speechless.

Our mother has watched the award ceremony on TV. Now she is in a strange way, a part of it, thanks to the movie. Mirakulös. My parents are by the way both for more than a decade, is dead.

your photo series was widely discussed. Many saw in its unvarnished depiction of a criticism of the great Britain of the Thatcher Era. Right?
The Interpretation is left to the viewers. My intention wasn't polemic. I wanted to shock or shake-up.

You have seen the images as a metaphor of the British state of Mind.
A critic wrote at the time a little of the "British inertia and resilience". But I don't know ...

Due to the Brexit debate, one wonders what is going on with the British ...
I was recently in the Northern English city of Sunderland. In the city centre, it looks like everywhere. But if you go in the suburbs, one encounters on a derelict factories, closed Pubs. Therefore, the poor for the Brexit vote I thought there – because they think that after that, everything as it used to be that these buildings are coming back to life.

As an artist you have become, in the meantime, a romantic landscape photographer. You will be recognized as the photographer of Ray and Liz?
O Yes, if you Google my name, come first five pages with my work on the family. You might be thinking, I never would have done something else.

Annoys you?
no. It is just like that. Probably the people prefer to watch people than landscapes.

tomorrow in the cinemas. (editor-in-Tamedia)

Created: 07.05.2019, 17:56 PM

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