East London comes alive in Mimi Mollica’s latest photobook

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The East End’s vibrant characters populate Mollica’s return to photography 

“I’m a Brixton boy at heart. When I moved to East London in 2000, I didn’t like it at all,” Mimi Mollica explains. “[South London], especially Brixton, was my universe. Nothing could compare to the vibrancy, the beauty, the multiculturalism.” Some 21 years on, East London has changed that. “I didn’t know the area, I wasn’t delving into it. This is what I’ve now done with my camera, I’ve dived into it.”

East Up Close, Mollica’s latest photobook, is a love letter to his found home. Published by Hoxton Mini Press, the book is the15th in a series of photobooks, each chronicling East End life through the lens of different photographers. 

Mollica’s perspective is of a bizarre, sometimes surreal land.. Colour comedy pairs images in playful ways, as the photographer navigates the characters, streets, clothes, and animals that call this side of the capital their home.

London is a unified city, yet it can help to view it as a collection of villages and towns, each blending into and out of each other. Each location, street, and person, has a unique story, a history specific to them. East London is no exception. Mollica’s images reflect this multifaceted nature of the city. They fuse the East End into a playful and animated slideshow, capturing the complexities of its shared identity. 

Born in Sicily, Mollica now calls Hackney home. East Up Close begins in a  time when Mollica was dealing with mild depression, a time which caused him to “withdraw.”  While creating East Up Close, his work became his play, a chance to understand his adopted home and its characters, and force himself back into his surroundings. “This is what I do; walk around East London, building this mosaic, seeing the characters and small details that you find while walking down the street,” he explains. “My daily outings were constantly filled with new adventures, and this grew and grew. The more I photographed, the more I found a direction that was mine.”

East Up Close and other books in the East London Photo Series can be found here.

@mimimollica

Isaac Huxtable

Isaac Huxtable joined the British Journal of Photography in October 2020, where he is currently the Editorial Assistant. Prior to this, he studied a BA in History of Art at the Courtauld Instititue of Art, London.