While city centres generally claim all the attention and headlines, it’s the suburbs – the unspectacular areas that surround our cities – that quietly host the real stories. That’s the thinking behind new magazine Arcades, a bookish 296-page volume from French photographer Wendy Huynh.
Each issue documents the suburbs of a different city; Wendy started with her home city, Paris, wanting to present an alternative representation to the clichéd rough-and-tough image the banlieues suffer from.
The new second issue looks at London’s suburbs, a vast world of different races, religions and lifes. Like a vast issue of LAW, but less styled and knowing, Arcades reflects a real life of amateur football, postmans’s trolleys, local shops, community radio and young people in search of themselves.
Huynh’s idea of the suburbs is more a state of mind than a distinct geographical area. We visit the relatively central Notting Hill and its summer Carnival (above), and later end up out on the English east coast at Canvey Island.
Arcades is a magazine that adds up to more than the sum of its parts; some of the photography isn’t so great, and the printing could be better, yet somehow neither issues matter. We’ve seen plenty of pictures of teenagers hanging out in shopping malls on their bikes, yet they fit in here, as do Surrey gymnasts and young Hasidic Jews of Stamford Hill and their Purim festival (both above).
A more traditional image of the suburbs is included too – a visit to the Harrow on the Hill sees a man walking his dog in a leafier part of town (below).
Mixed throughout are slightly more mediated stories, some fashion shot of the edges of the Thames at Wapping; a series about the wannabe performers of the BRIT school (below); interviews with artists inspired by the suburbs.
It’s the collection that works, presented in portfolio style, with handwritten titles and notes and generous double-page images adding mood scenes of London’s suburbs, like this shot from a train rushing through a station (above).
Arcades is a mood-piece, a fascinating piece of magazine-making that records the everyday life of the less glamorous parts of our cities.
Arcades is one of the magazine included in our next magCulture Boxset. Find out more here.