21 March – 6 May 2018 

Private View: Tuesday, 20 March, 6 – 9 PM

“Abramson comes much closer to recording the sound of these clubs than we would have any right to expect from a photographer.”

– Nick Hornby (London, 2009)

MMX Gallery presents “Tales from the South Side. 1970s Chicago Clubs”, a solo exhibition by the late American photographer Michael Abramson.
The exhibition focuses on his best known photographs from the 1970s, documenting the nightlife of Black clubs on Chicago’s South Side and the underground funk/blues and early disco scene. It’s a celebration of the style and culture of a bygone era.

As a white photographer working in black nightclubs, which was taboo at the time, Abramson was always welcome to photograph and became a functioning part of the club’s atmosphere, he gained recognition and respect for his photographs giving many of them away to the clubbers. He also embraced the sounds and the ambience of the nights. In his own words: “I had a ball”.

This series won Abramson a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts in 1978 and launched his career as a photojournalist. Eventually the project resulted in a hardbound book, Light: On the South Side, including the Grammy and Mojo nominated album, featuring Chicago blues as heard in the clubs from the stage and the jukebox.

“A camera is a window through which a photographer interacts with the world, and it’s up to the operator to decide whether his camera will be a barrier or a mirror between he and his subjects. In the 1970s, Michael Abramson chose the latter path when he brought his camera to Pepper’s Hideout on Chicago’s South Side. Following in the footsteps of his acknowledged influence Gyula Halász, a Hungarian photographer better known as Brassaï who became the pre-eminent chronicler of the Paris nightlife he loved so much, Abramson initiated himself into the nightlife of Chicago’s predominantly black neighbourhoods. He was very much a part of the scene he documented on film, drinking, laughing, and dancing with his subjects into small hours and becoming as much a part of the atmosphere as the locals who frequented the same nightspots he did.” – Joe Tangari (Numero Group, 2009)

All works in the exhibition at MMX Gallery are vintage silver gelatin prints made by the photographer at the time there were taken. This will be the first time Abramson’s work will be shown in UK.


Note: This exhibition has been extended! Selected prints are on show now at ME London Hotel to coincide with Photo London.
10 May – 17 June (ME London)
Open to all & Free entry
ME London Hotel, 336-337 Strand, London WC2R 1HA (opposite Somerset House)