2013 looks to be an exciting year for London’s already burgeoning photography scene, with numerous major institutions holding large survey shows, some engaging with the medium for the first time, not to mention an M.A Degree show from one of the most respected courses in the country.
Probably the biggest of the major surveys will be ‘Seduced by Art: Photography Past and Present‘ at the National Gallery from October. The first major Photography exhibition to be held in the venerable Sainsbury Wing, the show will juxtapose both early and contemporary images with the work of Old Masters in an effort to examine the dialogue between the two, whether it be in terms of genre or content. In so doing, the show will also trace the development of the Photographic medium from its early beginnings. With over 90 images as well as paintings, this display is an exciting proposition, long overdue as a concept and indicative of the significance photography has now taken in terms of its venue. Works by Martin Parr, Sam Taylor-Wood and Richard Billingham will be, amongst others, part of the exhibition..
‘Everything Was Moving: Photography from the 60s and 70s’ is on at the Barbican from early September. Taking an international approach to ‘a golden age in photography: the moment when the medium flowered as a modern art form’ according to the press release, and comprising over 400 works, this exhibition is particularly mouth-watering due to the artists involved, even if the concept is slightly tenuous. Under-appreciated and under-represented masters like David Goldblatt, Shomei Tomatsu and Bruce Davidson will be shown alongside art photo darlings such as Malick Sidibe and Boris Mikhailov. The works of Chinese and Eastern European artists will also be on display. This could well be the major show of the season in terms of its scope and what promises to be some astute curation. It’s been a while since the Barbican has shown photos so let’s hope this is a statement of intent.
For those in the know, Tomatsu (mentioned above) is the undisputed master of Japanese Photography, but his former apprentice and general wild-man, Daido Moriyama runs a very close second. His brand of kinetic, threatening, voluminous and grainy monochrome imagery has come to define a nation’s aesthetic and position its creator as the Tom Waits of the photography world. Moriyama’s work will be shown alongside his European Rock-n-Roll equivalent, William Klein, at the Tate Modern from October . Klein, one of the most important post-war artists, is a reminder of what the medium could achieve post Cartier-Bresson and pre Eggleston, when the city was still important and worth looking at. Both master-bookmakers, each serves as a marker for late- modernist, avant-garde image-making, trying to push the boundaries of both representation and subjectivity, but without giving up on the idea that a camera can move, can feel and can provoke. This is an ingenious double-retrospective and further proof of the Tate’s increased commitment to the medium.
As if the previous shows weren’t enough in terms of surveying the medium both historically and conceptually, the V&A finally returns to the fold with ‘Light from the Middle East: New Photography’. A timely exhibition, it promises to encompass the exciting innovations taking place in the region from which the works have been drawn, and will be on show from January. Featuring Walid Raad and Abbas amongst others, this exhibition is the result of a collaboration between the V&a and the British Museum with support from the Art Fund. The show will be divided up into the three main strategies Middle-Eastern artists have used to respond to the sea-changes effecting the region: ‘Recording, Reframing and Resisting’. This is an interesting approach, offering up new perspectives on a little-known but hugely significant part of the Photographic world, as well as way in for the uninitiated.
For the completists out there, the ‘University of Westminster MA Photographic Studies Degree Show 2012‘ at Ambika P3 from the 5th of September, promises to offer a new batch of Graduate excellence. Now considered on the key Photography M.A’s in the country, the work produced by this institution’s graduates tends to be edgier and more consistent than either the RCA or Goldsmiths.
Taken altogether, this Autumn’s photography shows offer an almost complete overview of the form and represent not only its significance, but its ability to draw in the crowds, long denied the wonders of what the medium has to offer by the city’s major institutions.
Words: Kerim Aytac ©2012
Seduced by Art: Photography Past and Present @ The National Gallery
31 October 2012 – 20 January 2013
Everything Was Moving: Photography from the 60s and 70s @ The Barbican Art Gallery
13 September 2012 – 13 January 2013
William Klein/Daido Moriyama @ Tate Modern
10 October 2012 – 13 January 2013
Light from the Middle East: New Photography’ @ The Victoria & Albert Museum
13 November 2012 – 7 April 2013
University of Westminster MA Photographic Studies Degree Show 2012 @ P3 Ambika
4 September- 9 September 2012