Tag Archives: Photo London

Photo London 2016

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I attended this yesterday, along with three other OCA students. It is an enormous exhibition, and cannot really be done justice in a single day, but I managed to glimpse most of the works on show, as well as attending talks by Alec Soth and Richard Misrach. Practically every photographer of note was represented by at least a couple of images, while several, including Don McCullin, Andre Kertesz, Alec Soth and Nick Brandt were given their own rooms.

Best display: Don McCullin’s – dark, brooding and beautifully lit, although I didn’t spend any time looking at the images, wanting to see work that was unfamiliar to me.

Most interesting conversation: Milly from Lensculture, who gave me a personal tour round their awards show and seemed like a really nice lady.

Most stunning work – Nick Brandt’s wildlife images. Gloriously large, and with a strong message about what humans are doing to the planet.

Most expensive image I saw – £175,000, though I can’t remember what it was.

Most ubiquitous photographer – Martin Parr. He seemed to be everywhere.

Book I bought – The City is a Novel, by Alexei Titarenko. I love his work.

There was just so much to look at that it is impossible to really do any of it justice in a single blog post. I’d therefore like to make some comments on the exhibition as a whole. Firstly, it is a real mishmash of styles, with everything from Victorian photographs to this year’s work, often all displayed together. Photo London’s main purpose is to sell works, and most of the stands seem to have been set up without any theme at all. This meant one had to look at each image without any context – not ideal where some of the more   conceptual stuff was concerned. The same images also turned up at different stalls, which reduced their value as artworks IMO. Only a few galleries made a real effort, and the Hamiltons one was a standout among these.

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There were a lot of wealthy looking people wandering around waving cheque books, so presumably things were selling, but there were not many images that I would have paid my last shilling for. For me, these were the standout works, which I have put into a grid  below. The Abelardo Morrell was stunning – rich and with depth. Craigie Horsfield’s work was beautiful, and Kamolpan Chotvichai’s hand shredded 3D hands were intruiging. The Deadhouse exhibits had a wonderfully Victorian atmosphere, with images having been printed onto chipboard, and Floriane de Lassee’s upside down bridges were starkly minimalist. One could go on, and on.

I very much liked the fact that photographers from outside the Europe/USA/Japan nexus were on show, and found the work of some of the Russian photographers interesting. Kitty Chou‘s Accidental Photographer series was lovely, and Martin Schoeller’s portraits of celebrities reminded me of Bruce Gildin’s Faces, but  kinder to the subjects.

Overall, I’m glad I went, and even more pleased to find how many of the photographers on show were already known to me. Two I was particularly pleased to see were Laura Hospes, who I had looked at when doing TAOP assignment 5, and Corrinne Vionnet, who I’d considered during C&N assignment 1.As a result visiting, there are some new photographers to add to my research list, including: Hendrik Kerstens, Karen Knorr, Susan Derges, Christina de Middel, Minor White, Bertien van Manen, Doug & Mike Starn, Motohiro Takeda, and Awoiska Van Der Molen.

Finally, there were a couple of images which I loved, but forgot to get the photographers’ details. If anyone can give me a clue as to who these two are by, I’d be most grateful.

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Photo London 2016 – Richard Misrach lecture

This lecture was late in the day, and the room where it was held was unbearably hot, so there was not, perhaps, the air of enthusiasm that Soth had enjoyed in his morning presentation. Misrach talked about his ongoing opus Border Cantos, which comprises a group of series on different themes  to do with the US/Mexican border. He is working alongside a Mexican collaborator, who specialises in building musical instruments. One element of Misrach’s work is that he brings items he has found near the Border to Guillermo, who turns them into musical instruments and the music is an accompaniment to the images.

Richard Misrach border cantos

© Richard Misrach

Misrach showed us the futility of trying to build a solid barrier between the USA and Mexico, with a selection of rather funny pictures of wall ends which anyone can walk around. He talked  about the measures that the US Border Patrols take to prevent and capture migrants entering the USA, which are often draconian and fatal in their implications. He also collects images of strange scarecrows that people make, using the discarded clothes they find. He doesn’t know why they do this, but thinks it might have something to do with the Aztec tradition that every object has a soul/history/voice, which can be exposed.

Misrach’s describes his work as documentary landscape. He deliberately excludes people from the images, preferring to infer their presence through the artefacts he photographs. The work is quietly but overtly political, and he gives some of the money he makes to groups which trey to prevent migrants dying from thirst and starvation during their crossing. On a visual level, his work is a curious mixture of diagonals, centred objects and random positioning, but enough for me to have specifically noticed it.

During the questions section, Misrach was asked what the purpose of the “Canto” was, and he replied that all of the different series are loosely linked together, and the musical vocabulary of cantos being songs/chapters of a larger body of work seemed to fit.

I really liked Misrach’s work and motivation. There are parallels with Salgado’s political work, but in a less market oriented way – you get the impression that Misrach is driven primarily by what he wants to photograph, rather than how well it will sell*. There are also parallels with Andy Goldsworthy and Richard Long’s work on the landscape and the marks we make upon it.

More information about Border Cantos can be found at http://www.bordercantos.com

Footnote

One of the jaw dropping moments of the Photo London exhibition was Salgado’s $4000  limited edition of his recent work Genesis, which come with its own stand, so one can read it in the manner of a Bible.

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© Holly Woodward