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Manik Katyal on Thomas Mailaender “The Night Climbers of Cambridge”

Thomas Mailaender (born 1979) is a French multimedia artist living and working between Paris and Marseille. Known for his use of a wide range of techniques including ceramic, photography, collage and installation, he employs diverse materials, often re-appropriating images from the internet or his own huge archive.

United Kingdom –

With an elegant black velvet cover, ‘The Night Climbers of Cambridge’ is an enthralling collaboration between London based Archive of Modern Conflict and French contemporary artist Photography feature – Thomas Mailaender presenting a humorous and adrenalin-filled adventurous account of Cambridge.

The book “The Night Climbers of Cambridge” was orginally published in 1937 by prestigious Chatto&Windus in England, authored by Noel Edward Symington, who went under the name of Whipplesnaith – an alias that combined the Middle English verb Whipple (meaning to move around quickly) and is known to be the first documentation of urban climbing.The alternative term “night climbing” was introduced in the late 1930s, and has become the standard term since though climbing on the walls and roofs of colleges was nothing new.

Even though Geoffrey Winthrop Young had written a Roof-Climber’s Guide to Trinity in 1899 as well as Wall and Roof Climbing in 1905, ‘Night Climbers’ presented the incredibly brave and amusing narration of students climbing the ancient Cambridge university buildings which would also get them  rusticated. And not only they did rarely use ropes, they often climbed barefoot, wearing blazers and tie.

Known for his photographic travesty, Mailaender quotes,” In the case of the Night Climbers, i felt this story very close to my own body of work. Those guys would go out at night to have a forbidden underground activity, a mix of stunt and gentle anarchy, and all this would happen in the thirties.”

With AMC, Thomas presents an impressive collection of historic photographs, bursting with British buffoonery.The more outlandish Thomas gets with his projects, the result is even more fascinating and whimsical.

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