New Topographics Revived – No UK Show

In 1975, I was one of many youngish photographers to be excited and to an extent influenced by the work shown in an exhibition at George Eastman House curated by William Jenkins called “New Topographics: Photographs of a Man-Altered Landscape.” Not that I went to Rochester, but I read the reports in the US magazines, looked at books and catalogues, and at pictures which did come over to exhibitions here, and even went and did a workshop with one of the photographers included, Lewis Balz. (The full listing of those included: Robert Adams, Lewis Baltz, Bernd and Hilla Becher, Joe Deal, Frank Gohlke, Nicholas Nixon, John Schott, Stephen Shore, and Henry Wessel Jr.)

I think you can see a certain influence in some of the work I’ve done since then, particularly on the urban landscape, a genre central to the show.  Without it I don’t think I would have set up the Urban Landscape web site, or produced many of the images on it – such as this of the DLR at Blackwall:

Blackwall © 1984 Peter Marshall
DLR Blackwall, 1994, Peter Marshall

The NPR article on the show, with a slide show of a dozen images that is worth viewing at full screen – for once you really do get larger images, not just fuzzier ones, is surely quite wrong to state that the paradigm shift this show produced “was imperceptible at the time.”  To photographers such as myself it was as imperceptible as a thunderbolt.

The reason for the feature is that a new version of this show, new version of this seminal exhibition, organized by  George Eastman House with the Center for Creative Photography at the University of Arizona opens at GEH on Saturday, June 13 and runs until Sunday, September 27, 2009. As well as 100 works from the 1975 show, it also has “some 30 prints and books by other relevant artists to provide additional historical and contemporary context.”

After Rochester the show will travel to eight international venues.

  • Los Angeles County Museum of Art (Oct. 25, 2009–Jan. 3, 2010);
  • Center for Creative Photography (Feb. 19–May 16, 2010);
  • San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (July 17–Oct. 3, 2010);
  • Landesgalerie Linz, Austria (Nov. 10, 2010–Jan. 9, 2011),
  • Photographische Sammlung Stiftung Kultur, Cologne (Jan. 27–April 3, 2011);
  • Jeu de Paume, Paris (April 11–June 12, 2011);
  • Nederlands Fotomuseum Rotterdam, the Netherlands (July 2–Sept. 11, 2011);
  • Bilbao Fine Arts Museum, Bilbao (November 2011–January 2012).

Like me you may well be devastated but hardly surprised that no venue in the UK is on this list. After all it is a major photography show, so you can’t expect the Photographers’ Gallery or the Hayward or the Barbican to take much interest.

4 Responses to “New Topographics Revived – No UK Show”

  1. ChrisL says:

    Or Bradford :-(

  2. I think Paris is easier for me to get to than Bradford, but yes!

  3. Roy says:

    Unbelievable! – no UK showing for a this ‘redux’ of a show that undoubtedly influenced a significant number of photographers over here – myself included.

    I first came across the work of the original contributors through the pages of Creative Camera; the idea that you could use photography in the ways they did changed my outlook on the medium forever.

    Having made one hectic day trip to Paris this year I’m glad that I’ve got a two year gap before the next one though…

  4. I had a very nice week in Paris last November and saw around 40 shows as well as Paris Photo – so that was pretty hectic. Such a different atmosphere photographically.

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