A couple of weeks back we took a little culture trip to London and visited some exhibitions which will be well worth your time, and as an added bonus all of the shows are free.
The first one, a retrospective on British photographer Paul Graham at the Whitechapel Gallery closes on the 19th June, which is this Sunday. It is a huge collection of his work and as this photographer has played a incredibly influential role in shaping photography in Britain we really recommend you make it along before it closes.
Paul’s work takes a unflinching look at life with subjects as diverse as dole offices in the 80′s from the work “Beyond Caring” and the ‘great’ route of the A1. This is the first major retrospective of his work, and also includes his more recent images made in America for “A Shimmer of Possibility”. The standard of printing alone is worth a visit, as is the reproduction of the sheer poverty and desperation of 80′s England, and the troubles in Northern Ireland, before the beauty of some of his later work. The overexposed series American Night definitely take on a very different meaning in a gallery, where as in a book they just don’t translate at all- somehow on this scale they do appear to hurt the eye in the way the sun in the Southern states can, and not, as in the book, just give the impression of bad printing.
Paul Graham, New Orleans (Cajun corner), from the series Shimmer of Possibility
Paul Graham Texas, 2005, (Pepsi Walkers), from the series A Shimmer of Possibility
Guardian Interview with Paul Graham. and this Guardian link is worth it just for the comments alone.
As always the fantastic site American Suburb X has a wealth of good content on Paul Graham’s work, here
Also currently on show at Tate Modern is a room dedicated to the prints of Diane Arbus. The 2005 Revelations at the V+A, was undoubtedly the most inspiring expo that we have been to see and although the Tate Modern expo is much smaller in scale it still shows some of Arbus’ finest work as well as a chance again to see her prints up close, they really have a different depth and resonance to them as opposed to when viewed in a book or onscreen. Photography should after all be about prints, and take this chance to go and see some brilliant work.
Diane Arbus Teenage couple on Hudson Street, NYC, 1963
Arbus essays and further reading on American SuburbX
Finally, but by no means lesser than the other two, is Roid at Spruth Magers an exhibition of over 100 previously unseen Polaroids by Philip-Lorca Dicorcia read Press release here again please note this closes for the final time on Sat 18th June.
Dicorcia is one of the masters of turning the built environment into his studio, in his hands the streets become theatre and with his lighting flourishes he heightens drama and converts ‘real people’ into momentary actors whose narrative we can only guess at.
Further reading on Dicorcia on American SuburbX
So there’s a quick round up, we haven’t reviewed the work, but theres a wealth of information in the links included, and 3 very different exhibitions of work on an extremely varied scale and subject matter, presented in three contrasting ways. If this doesn’t leave you walking away inspired about photography after at least one of the three then we suggest putting down the camera for a long long time. Hope you enjoy it as much as we did. Oh and a word of caution Do Not Enter the bookshop (it will leave you with a very empty wallet) and we can heartily recommend some well deserved Beer and BBQ afterwards, you can, after all, have too much culture in one day….