Photo London

I wasn’t going to bother with Photo London. I’m rather busy and thought there were better things I could do with my time, so hadn’t bothered with accreditation. But a day or two ago I decided I could fit in a few hours there on my way to something else, and took up an invitation to a book launch (more of which in a later post) which included a complimentary day ticket.  If you have to pay, a day ticket costs £20 (concessions £17) and the show continues until Sunday 24 May.

There certainly are things worth seeing, particularly the first UK showing of a remarkable project by the late Iranian documentary photographer Kaveh Golestan in the in the Citadel of Shahr e No (New Town), Tehran’s red light district, a walled ghetto where 1,500 women lived and worked, between 1975–77. With the Iranian revolution the whole area was destroyed, together with many of the women in it.

Beneath the Surface, 200 rarely-shown photographic works from the Victoria & Albert Museum Photographs Collection, features a fine collection of work by William Strudwick (1834-190), an employee of the V&A. The museum purchased around 50 of his cityscapes, ‘Old London: Views by W Strudwick‘ in 1869, and then proceeded to disperse them around their collection, only re3cenly reuniting them for this show. There are some other interesting prints from a century ago or more, but the choice from the last hundred years was rather less interesting, with a number of good but well-known works, and some more contemporary work about which the museum may well feel rather embarrassed in another hundred years.

I was disappointed by the show of Sebastião Salgado’s Genesis series as large-format platinum prints. Frankly many of these images were more convincing on the magazine page. Making platinum prints doesn’t necessarily mean better prints as this exhibit proves. Elsewhere on some of the gallery stands there were rather better prints of his work and I think it is more suited to silver or inkjet.

The backbone of Photo London is of course the commercial gallery shows, and in the main I found these a little disappointing. There was an awful lot of large and rather empty images and a dearth of interesting photography, and the range of work didn’t seem to match that which I’ve seen at every Paris Photo I’ve attended. There were things that were good to see, but most of them I’d seen before, and very little that was new.

One of the more interesting was the series series Liverpool 1968, by Candida Höfer, black and white images made during a trip there when she was twenty-four years old. If anyone doubts the dire effect of the Dusseldorf school on photography they should go and study these images made long before she studied with the Bechers, whose work I admire but who seem as teachers to have inspired a huge pyramid of boredom, with just the occasional photographer and work of interest. They were I think at Galerie Zander.

Another set of pictures that I really admired was by Anthony Hernandez, Landscape for the Homeless showing at the Galerie Polaris stand. A book of these was published by the Sprengel Museum, Hannover, Germany,in 1996 and there is an article in Unhoused. The book was a relatively small print run and is fairly rare and a little expensive.

Somerset House is a fantastic building, but a rather confusing layout which wasn’t quite clear to me from the exhibitor map, and I had to ask my way a couple of times but eventually I think I managed to find everything in the show, including the LensCulture area which is all on its own with a separate entrance, and where work by all 31 award-winning photographers of the LensCulture Exposure Awards 2014 was on show.

Raina Stinson, with her winning image ‘Alluring‘ at top left, holds the Lensculture Awards Catalogue

Also on the LensCulture web site you can see their view of Photo London – rather different to mine, but recommended.


My London Diary : Buildings of London : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

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