London-based photographer Marc Vallée talks through his latest project Tiergarten Transgression, ahead of his book launch at The Photographers Gallery.
Vallée’s zines have been critically well received – Tate Britain got in touch a couple of weeks ago to acquire the full set. “I went in for a meeting and was given a tour of the basement at Tate Britain to see the artist book and zine collection,” he says. “It means a lot. It’s nice that those tasked with building the collection has noticed what I have been doing and want to include it”. Across the pond, MoMA has also added Vallée’s work to its collection. “I did a book, Millbank and that Van, for Café Royal on the London 2010 student protests and that led to interest from MoMA,” he explains.
Vallée is launching Tiergarten Transgression at The Photographers’ Gallery, which has a certain irony for him.“Their bookshop took a pass on my first three zines but took Number Four in 2013,” he says. “Since then its taken everything before and after which is pretty cool. I had been on my way to Claire de Rouen Books to drop off its order for Number Four and was passing The Photographers’ Gallery and thought, ‘Sod it it’s only going to taken a few minutes to say no again’ but to my surprise it was a yes.”
Beyond his zines, Vallée is an established documentary photographer who has spent years covering various political protests – his frontline work has seen him assaulted and hospitalised by the police on occasion, and he has worked on major investigations for The Guardian and The Financial Times. I ask him whether this project is indicative of a change of direction in his work, and he says yes and no. “I’ve not moved away from street photography but it’s true I don’t document political protest any more,” he says. “Respect to those that still do. Bottom line it was time to move on, to get back to my core passions and interests”.
For Vallée those core passions began twenty years ago when he found himself in South New Jersey working at an arts camp for the summer. “I had just finished my first year at art school in London. On my days off I documented my American friends, skaters, punks and surfers. Processing film and printing in a converted chicken coop was an interesting experience. One day I picked up a copy of The New York Times and read an article about a guy called Larry Clark and his first film Kids. Everything pretty much came together after that. It was then I knew the kind of photography and subjects that I was interested in not only had a place in the photography world but had an important history too.
“To bring things full circle, last year The Photographers’ Gallery asked me to do a talk about one of my favourite pictures and I picked one from Larry Clark’s book The Perfect Childhood”.
Find more of Marc’s work here.