Union responds to how the institutions of organised labour, designed to protect workers from exploitation in the nineteenth century, have responded to the crisis of today. Noel Bowler’s photographs document the interior spaces of trade union offices in fourteen different countries—Ireland, Britain, France, Russia, Germany, Scandinavia, Canada, and the United States, all with distinct cultural and historical differences. The series provides a glimpse into the normally unseen spaces where the decisions and policies are created that affect so many. These offices share commonalities in terms of bureaucratic and organisational structures—an iconography of organized labor. Combining photographs of these interior spaces with portraits of union leaders, Union is a journey through an anxious world where the apparent certainty of the past faces an unknown future.
Noel Bowler is a Photographer and Educator, born in Ireland (b.1978). His work has been exhibited worldwide including New York Photofestival and Les Recontres d’Arles.Bowler has been nominated for the Prix Pictet Photography Prize in 2012 and for the Deutsche Börse Photography Prize in 2011. His most recent body of work Making Space was published by the Gallery of Photography in 2011. He is currently a Lecturer in Photography at University Campus Suffolk.