‘Matador’ is my awkward air-kiss to Milan. An oblique portrait of the oblique city I’m struggling to call home.
I’d love to say I skipped off the train, turned on a sixpence and effortlessly found the back of the net. But the truth is I turned up in the Winter gloom looking a bit gaunt. Luckily now, I have more good days than bad.
For the outsider, Milan is a city of fashion, football and finance but I live behind that veneer in a city of soulless commercial stunts, jobsworth security goons, thick mist and graffiti. I’m told the typical Milan citizen was renowned for being a kind-hearted sort and I could swear I spotted one yesterday in the bank. But they seem to be a disappearing species. Now I wonder why that might be? Since it’s not a city that soothes me, I use photography as the flaming stick that keeps my inner hyenas at bay. That frictional relationship means there’s an element of confrontation at work hence the title ‘Matador’. But where I come from we tend to enjoy a wee confrontation, so hopefully there’s a little panache in the pictures that betrays the pleasure I took in taking them.
Most photographs were shot during 2017 but will have to continue passing muster or else they’ll be out on their arse and replaced by next year’s knee-tremblers. This is not some sort of empirical snapshot of the city. More a sideways squint through a sleep-glued eye, loosely wired to a hungover brain ticking over on paracetamol. It’s old school street photography in the sense of subjectively documenting the daily as opposed to being the tiring syntax of the silly.
Each and every one is a little vindication (for me) and V-sign (for others). My shark-like necessity for forward propulsion. My fix. On the other hand, when I come home with nothing in the net (like today) I’m a porcupine presence around the flat, as my girlfriend will confirm.I’m not sure what other people will actually make of the pictures. Hopefully they’ll love them. Or hate them for all the wrong reasons. Skimming through them I have the impression of, I dunno…an uneasy absence; something slipping through fingers. Or maybe I’m reading time’s arrow in reverse and in fact something is about to happen ? Maybe something good for a change.
People who are familiar with me will know I’m not always the most talkative person on the planet. But if I could leave you with one final word it would be Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch. I doubt it will ring a bell. It has nothing whatsoever to do with ‘Matador’ nor even photography in general. It is in fact a little town in Wales with a very big name. More importantly, it should help edge the article over the required ‘600 words minimum’ threshold that was asked of me. Still, I like to imagine that there’s a photographer living there who also struggles to call it home.
About Stuart Paton
I was born and raised in the central belt of Scotland. The next half of my life was spent in France before turning up like a bad penny in Milan just before Christmas last year. More shadowboxer than prizefighter, I nonetheless aspire to pictures with some lo-fi sociological value and soul. I’m a photographer because I couldn’t face a dreary 9 to 5 and it offers the only hope I have of self-validation and re-enchanting my world. I shoot street photography in the spirit of reportage and vice-versa then hope it throws up something that looks like a mixture of ‘Guernica’ and The Shangri-Las. [Official Website]