‘This lone figure, overwhelmed by the scale of the buildings around her, was part of series about work culture and burnout’

When I moved to the UK nearly a decade ago, the City of London was one of the first places I visited. I joined a Jack the Ripper tourist walking tour on a Sunday, and I was really struck by how empty it was. All the shops and restaurants were closed, and just a few people were walking in the streets. It was shocking that one of the economic centres of the UK, one of the most powerful financial districts in the world and the site of such immense wealth, felt so totally dead. The word I always use to describe it is uncanny. Here is a place that hums with economic activity, but there were almost no people. It’s a symbol of accumulation but without any real subjects. Who is driving this rush to accumulate ever greater wealth? Who is benefiting from it? And to what end?

I’ve always been a local photographer. I take inspiration from the social life of the communities I’ve lived in, but here, in the City of London, it just felt like there wasn’t one. I decided to take a series of pictures of the empty streets, to capture the strange ghostly place that I had encountered that Sunday. However I soon discovered that I could take similar images during weekdays but with solitary lonely city workers in the cityscapes, which gave the images a whole extra dimension.

Jordi Barreras’s Already But Not Yet is published by Punctum

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