Earlier this year I became Editor of fLIP magazine which aims to provide readers with a broad dialogue concerning photography. It includes an informative Events listing and each edition has an overarching theme, the next of which is Nomadic. The magazine is produced three times a year by London Independent Photography, who are currently celebrating their thirtieth year. Though primarily a showcase for members work, submissions are welcome from all photographers, worldwide.
Last week in London was awash with all things photography. Here's what I did:
Wednesday started with a breakfast invitation for Surface Tension, curated by Cheryl Newman and held at the Magic Gallery, underneath Charing Cross Station. A group show from members of both LIP and The Royal Photographic Society: it was well orchestrated, with some clever hanging devices - my favourite being an abstract flock of birds by Pennie Dixie printed onto a large piece of vinyl and hung from the ceiling.
Within minutes of arriving I was offered a croissant and a choice of beverages - I kickstarted the morning with a Black Velvet, which was new on me - Guinness and Champagne. Nice!
From here, I hot-footed it along the Strand to Somerset House. Photo London was about to kick off, and fLIP's designer, Anita Chandra and myself attended a 10am Press Call. We had a welcome and introduction to Photo London which is now in it's fourth year from the founders and directors, as well as from Jonathan Reekie, the director of Somerset House.
They say that "the fourth edition of Photo London celebrates the power of photography to profoundly alter the way in which we see things". There was a lot of new and expansive work, as well as some iconic images, held by famous galleries and sold for tens of thousands of pounds.
This year's fair included over one hundred galleries from eighteen different countries, but since attending the last three shows I still haven't shaken off my bittersweet reaction when I first walk in: with a £30 entrance fee, it feels a little exclusive. However, once you're over the heavily coiffured and immaculately dressed there is so much photography to feast your eyes on, and of course I welcome sales and promotion of photography as an art-form.
After the press call which included an on-stage informal discussion between Edward Burtynsky ( I liked when he said "we are experiencing a renaissance of lens based art") and Es Devlin we headed to the show proper. We split for an hour to look at work, and discussed our favourites after hooking up: Anita was drawn especially to a lot of the American Artists showing great vistas and American culture, whilst I was time and again pulled in by the work of Japanese photographers. I learned of Provoke Magazine, which was a short-lived production from the late 1960's, comprising a small group of critics, photographers and writers. Anita and I were both a little smitten by the work of Anja Niemi, represented by a rather dismissive pair from Little Black Gallery. The artist stages and performs all of her own shots, and her current work She Could have been a Cowboy is a delight.
On Thursday I made a quick visit back to Photo London to see Bruce Gilden's work, and The Photography on a Postcard display. So there I am wandering in one of the new galleries and I spot Brian Griffin having a cup of tea. I went to say Hi, and realised he was in deep conversation with Martin Parr. As I looked around I saw a friend of mine and Brian's, Lizzie Brown, who is Events coordinator of LIP. She was there with her husband, so I sat down for a catch up. In walks Bruce Gilden, who was about to do a book signing, and that was when I realised this was too good an opportunity to miss, so thanks to being acquainted with Brian, I introduced myself and the magazine, and Lizzie took the picture above! Serendipity at it's finest.
Friday evening I headed to Peckham 24 which acts as a fringe event to tie-in with Photo London. In stark contrast to the palatial setting of Somerset House, this festival is on the streets, in the warehouses and all around. Peckham had my attention the moment I stepped out of the station. It was raw and alive with people sights and sounds. I've been hearing a lot about Peckham, so I'll be heading back to explore for sure.
There were several smaller venues holding exhibits, but I spent the evening across Copeland Park, a former industrial estate and the Bussey Building which used to be a cricket-bat factory. Just on the edge of the industrial estate were two dilapidated terraced houses that had been used to host Solid Liquid by Jo Dennis, and 'Overhaul' which featured collaborative works from Rhiannon Adam, Laura Pannack and Natasha Caruana. Clever methods of display added to the venues bare walls, lack of floorboards and bare electric sockets. A refreshing change.
Emma Bowkett curated My London in the Copeland Gallery - showcasing nine photographers that she had commissioned for the Financial Times Weekend Magazine over the past year. An eclectic mix of imagery in two large rooms full of dynamic young image-makers, and a few more established ones too!
With my appetite whetted, I thought I'd go for a final helping on Sunday!
Another Kind of Life - Photography on the Margins showing at the Barbican until 27th May has been widely covered in the Press. It's a collection of works from twenty photographers, individually curated through a series of snaking rooms. This was more story-telling through pictures, across several decades, honing in on groups of individuals who may not fit social norms or have created their own worlds. Two of my favourite photographers were represented, Alec Soth and Daido Moriyama (again!). There is an abundance of work, so it's hard to reflect on all that I saw- kind of wish I bought the Show Book now.
I visited with a friend, who in fact was a large part of the frame-making arm of this exhibition. Very nice frames they were too!
Because of the content of some of the work, it seems odd to call them favourites, but in his approach to photographing some of the California street kids, Jim Goldberg's Raised by Wolves was very stirring. Including items of clothing, drawings and notes written by the teenagers he got to know so well as he followed their paths, sometimes to destruction.