East London Photomonth Opens

Tonight I was one of rather few people at the opening party of the 10th East London Photomonth, a festival which had been organised over the years by a Maggie Pinhorn of Alternative Arts along with her very small team.

There were quite a few other photographic events on last night – and I’d come to this as one of the several hundred photographers taking part, whereas otherwise I would have chosen to be elsewhere.

This year’s venue – Amnesty in Shoreditch – didn’t have the attraction of last years Bethnal Green Museum of Childhood, and certainly the show there by Paul Trevor attracted a number of leading members of the photographic community, making it a very much more upbeat occasion.

Photomonth has grown into a pretty vast event – as we saw from a continuous projection during the evening showing the press images from the participating galleries (though unfortunately as too often at photographic events nowadays showing them not quite sharp so I kept reaching for my glasses only to find I was already wearing them. There are apparently over 200 events in the programme.

Photomonth is the only photographic festival we have in London and I’ve supported it over the years, organising shows for the last three editions, but tonight I couldn’t but feel that it needs to evolve. One of its great strengths is participation – anyone who can find a space can take part – but it is also, as that projection at times demonstrated, a weakness.

It seems to need a clearer focus, perhaps with a more central photographic core. The festival events do include some lectures but possibly there should be some more high-profile shows as a central feature – rather than the current rather peripheral events (and some of which I’d gladly see downplayed.) Comparing it with the Mois de la Photo in Paris, at the moment it seems to be almost entirely the fringe ( Le Mois de la PhotoOFF) with nothing at the centre. It isn’t just or even mainly about quality, although perhaps some lines do need to be drawn, and if you’ve visited Paris during the festival or read some of my accounts of it here you will know that some of the best work is to be found in L’Off.

(This picture was the only one where the low light levels in the hall became a problem. Digital has made it quite possible to work in almost any available light, but the girls (who were waiting to collect a bottle of champagne on someone else’s behalf) were in a fairly dim area, and at f4 there wasn’t quite enough depth of field.)

You can look at the full programme on line or pick up a printed version at any of the participating spaces which this year include a great many eating places in what is called eatyourartout.  On Saturday we hang our show Paris – New York – Londonat the Shoreditch Gallery, which is part of a café, The Juggler, though unlike some café shows you can see it easily without having to clamber over café clients. The gallery, although linked to the café has a separate entrance, and though I can personally recommend the rolls and coffee (and they sell one of the few truly drinkable bottled lagers) you can see the show without feeling that you have to buy anything. It was due to open on that day, but anyone who comes early will have to look at it on the floor rather than the wall.

Today I got the copies of my postcard for the show, and earlier in the week some copies of the Photo Paris book. The next post here is the invitation I’ve been busily sending out for our ‘opening/closing’ party on October 20th. We delayed it for a couple of weeks until John Benton-Harris gets back from another visit to New York. And if you are in London it really is an invitation to come and meet me and the others and to see the work.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.