It was all a bit samey
Photo London always seems to me to be a great opportunity to see what is going on in the photography world – who the up and coming photographers are and what sort of images they are producing.
I have found the whole exhibition exciting. Inspirational and fascinating as one wades through the variety of techniques and pieces of photographic art work on display.
This year it was good and within minutes I was wowed by Paolo Pellegrin’s Antarctica placed strategically near the entrance. But then there was a lot of Nick Brandt and Don Mc Cullen all of which has become quite familiar.
Perhaps it is that many galleries (for it is the galleries who display the work) are finding that the buying public are joining the trend to retro. This was noticeable even last year as the old masters from the turn of the 20th century were on display and presumably on sale. And even more of them this year.
Even Stephen Wilkes whose panoramas of night to day were editions of pictures we had seen before at Photo London. Wilkes, I feel. is such a hard working photographer. His images are the result of many hours with a camera and that is before the processing takes place. However I felt his new piece Day and Night at Varanasi didn’t really work. I suspect he would have done better to have waited for a Kumbh Mela there to get the crowds in to it.
The German gallery Camera Work tried hard to break the mould with their presentation of Albert Watson’s Andy Warhol. Did it work? Possibly!
It was also interesting to see that Cyanotype photographs were present, although probably not produced by the old slightly volatile darkroom technique, Inga Lisa Middleton’s Phytoplankton – (yet another protest against the use of plastic) was distinctive and Tessa Traeger’s Chemistry of Light – which takes old photographs and gives them a new (sometimes negative twist) was someone I had not come across before.
Gerhard Richter’s presentations “Flow” were as always wonderful splashes of colour.
In the past there have been some amazing techniques – rotating images on glass, wonderful detailed photographic maps of cities. But even some of Michal Macku’s work we had seen before – the exception being this one.
This year despite a few bright spots it felt rather like galleries going through the motions. Bored reps talking endlessly on their mobile phones while the fee paying public rotated around them shooting pictures of their pictures.
Come on guys you can do better than this.