you don’t know what nights are like?

Mitra Tabrizian

Art on the Underground invited Mitra Tabrizian to explore London as a 24 hour city.
13 January 2017

The project focuses on night-time workers, with a number of interviews made with those who regularly work nights across a wide range of job roles. Those interviewed often work between 8 to 12 hour shifts, some have been doing so for over 15 years.

Tabrizian has taken an abstract approach to representing night-time workers. She has photographed the image of an individual walking through an empty landscape. The boundary of day to night is captured through a gloaming sky. The landscape appears at first glance to be rural, but is in fact in the city, with glimpsed train tracks and flat blocks beyond.

In a second image, devoid of people, an isolated building stands alone against a wide sky in a dawning light. These images stand in for a wider community of night time workers living as if on the edge of the city.

The works are displayed at huge scale at Southwark station, utilising billboards on The Cut and Blackfriars Road. Sitting prominently in the city centre, the project is an attempt to bring the margin to the centre, to indicate the significance of the people whose work is essential to London’s existence, without which the city would not survive.

Alongside the photographic works, Tabrizian has included short interview fragments from a selection of those interviewed. These fragments provide an interior narrative of working at night and give a voice to the emotional reality of night time working from a number of different perspectives. One quote extract provides the title of the artwork.

Mitra Tabrizian says: ““I wanted to focus on the night-time workers, and the effect that working long hours has on their lives. Fragments of the interviews are used to depict ‘interiority’, interior emotional states of the individuals who are living on the margins, running the infrastructure of the city, and yet remaining invisible.”

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Visiting Information

Artworks for this project are available to visit at the following stations. Where more detailed visiting information is available, page links have been included in the list below.

The Unseen City

By Eleanor Pinfield, Head of Art on the Underground
Further reading

Link to Download