Friday, 27 May 2016

art fairs.....on telling stories, working in series and ways to show art

Photo London at Somerset House 2016 © Caroline Fraser

One week, two photography shows, a book fair and plenty of food for thought.

First up, Photo London at Somerset House.

Bigger than last year, and so much busier. Expensive too.

So much to see that people got tired, and had to have a little sit down under some scrumpled up photos.

I started in the portacabins and found a work that instantly caught my eye.

A varnished photographic collage made by twin brothers.

Right up my street. So much so that I asked the price.

Only £42,000.

I resisted.

doug and mike starn 'the no mind not thinks no things'

I reckon I'll make my own.

For size,  execution of an original idea and emotional impact it was hard to resist Nick Brandt's series of 100inch and larger monochrome prints from his series 'Inherit the Dust'.

The series highlights the loss of animal habitat in Africa.

I found them very moving and of extraordinary quality.

Nick Brandt 'inherit the dust'

Nick Brandt 'inherit the dust'

Which got me to thinking about the strength of work in series. Something I have been aiming towards for a while.

There were several series on show....

Photographs of highly respected physicists' (working on quantum mechanics) blackboards around the world from the series 'Momentum' by Alessandro Guijarro.

.....'bridging the gap between science and art'

from Momentum by Alejandro Guijarro

Or what about children's playgrounds around the world.

James Mollison 'playgrounds'

Described further on James Mollison's website....

'Various scenes of laughter, tears, and games demonstrate the intense experiences which happen in the playground. For each picture, Mollison sets up his camera during school break time, making multiple frames and then composing each final photograph from several scenes, in which he finds revealing “play” narratives.'

Not as simple as it might first appear, and I didn't pick up on the constructed play narratives in the way intended, but found the series fascinating none the less.

So what I need now is a brilliant idea for a series that takes me around the world at someone else's expense. Ideas on a postcard please.....

And talking of postcards, I do struggle a bit with some of the statements about artists' work.

For example, the text below

He could have just written;

' I really like clouds and rocks'

'they show that nature is much more powerful than humankind'

Add caption

The stand out, most interesting piece of work for me was the reworking of a true story of a group of failed Arctic adventurers by Christina de Middel. 

Jan Mayen  is about a group of scientists who didn't wish to lose face after a failed adventure, so they constructed a photographic record of a fake 'landing' on an Icelandic beach , pretending that it was the island of Jan Mayen that they never reached. Christina has used sound found imagery and combined it with her own work to tell a story of her own, blurring further the line between fiction and reality.

Jan Mayen by Christina de Middel

detail from Jan Mayen by Christina de Middel

It reads more like a book, and got me thinking about storytelling with photography.

In fact the more I got thinking the more I felt that I need to try harder.

Stories, series, books.....

there is nothing like an overwhelment of images to get the creative juices going.

I haven't even got you to the book fair or FixPhoto

but I have created a new collective noun (I think).

Time for some lunch.

Martin Parr sandwiches


  1. I have always noted that any description that begins along the lines of 'These photographs explore ...' tends to presage a load of pretentious claptrap!