Making Bacon by Daniel Gonzalez
Making Bacon is a visual exploration of identity made in Ely and Caerau, Cardiff. Using thirty-five-millimetre photography and scans from archival microfilm, the work aims to challenge the established media narrative that surrounds Ely and Caerau. The work acknowledges the subsequent stain left on Ely’s reputation following irresponsible newspaper coverage of the ‘bread riots’ in ‘91 and seeks to challenge that narrative by juxtaposing it against expressive themes of individual characteristics.
Although the media continually reported that the catalyst for the rioting was racial in motivation, more in depth coverage pointed to an underlying socioeconomic cause: unemployment and political disenfranchisement sown by the conservative Thatcher administration, an 11-year reign that had only ended a year prior. In 1991, criminologist Dr. Michael Levy observed that “[the people of Ely felt] frustration at unemployment and poor life prospects” and that the troubles in Ely were a “form of collective bargaining by riot”.
In a 2005 BBC interview with Ely councillor Susan Goddard, she is quoted saying “the press seems to like slagging off Ely.” Goddard isn’t wrong. Stigmatising headlines and stories that contribute to the pigeonholing of Ely’s residents as bad people are easy to come by.
Making Bacon offers a disruption of that narrative by focusing on the colourful metaphorical and literal expressions of identity shown by Ely’s residents. The images are displayed alongside blown-up and disjointed newspaper coverage of the rioting to contextualise the political background that frames not only these images, but the discourse around Ely and communities just like it up and down the United Kingdom.
With special thanks to Gwyn, Maria, Steve, Dave, Dave, Alan, Specky, and the United Kingdom’s best orthopaedic shoemaker whose name I’ve forgotten for making me feel so welcome in their community, and for their understanding of the project’s goals.