The World in London is a major public art project initiated by The Photographers’ Gallery, to coincide with the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. The project set out to commission 204 photographic portraits of 204 Londoners, each originating from one of the nations competing at the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. The portraits are exhibited as large-scale posters at two sites close to Olympic venues: on the external wall surrounding the BT London Live site in Victoria Park in East London, and across a city-block in Central London covering the façade of the new Park House development in Oxford Street.
The World in Londonexplores portraiture and cultural diversity using photography, one of the most accessible and democratic artistic mediums of our times. The project celebrates London as a place where individuals from all walks of life and all parts of the world live side by side, each of them contributing to make London the unique city it is. Emerging photographers are shown alongside leading national and international artists, such as Faisal Adu’Allah (took the photograph for Benin), JH Engström (Georgia), Joakim Eskildsen (Czech Republic), LaToya Frazier (Cayman Islands), Toby Glanville (Venezuela), Jim Goldberg (Dominica), Dryden Goodwin (Syria), Tom Hunter (Iceland), Nadav Kander (Lesotho), Karen Knorr (Puerto Rico), Mary McCartney (India), Dennis Morris (Haiti), Anders Petersen (Serbia), Rankin (Niger), Stefan Ruiz (Djibouti), Nigel Shafran (Gabon), Alec Soth (Netherlands), Vanessa Winship (Colombia), Tom Wood (Barbados) and Catherine Yass (Hungary). Portrait workshops held in the lead-up to The World in Londonprovided training and skills development for participants new to photography. These resulted in ten portraits featured as part of the project.
Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, said: As London welcomes the world for the 2012 Games, this timely exhibition encapsulates one of the most important things about the capital and what makes it a great world city. People drawn from every corner of the globe have brought talent, dynamism and a multitude of influences, which have contributed to our city’s social success as well as its prosperity. It has also created unparalleled international links, so that when the Games begin on Friday, athletes from every nation will be cheered on by home-grown compatriots and supporters.
Brett Rogers, Director of The Photographers’ Gallery said: As London’s premier institution for photography, we are proud to have initiated a project that engages with the cultural diversity of London at the same time as celebrating photography as one of the most powerful visual mediums of the 21st century. Commissioning such a variety of photographers has offered us an unrivalled opportunity to highlight the creative potential of the portrait genre. Whether seen through the eyes of a celebrated figure or realized by an emerging talent, these portraits reflect an impressive array of approaches to photographing the human figure.
All of the photographers have been commissioned by The Photographers’ Gallery to take portraits of the sitters over the last three years. The image for Great Britain is a portrait of the late Alexander McQueen, the fashion designer legend who was photographed by American born photographer Andres Serrano in February 2009, a year before his untimely death.
To ensure its legacy, The World in London project, comprising a full set of portrait prints, along with supporting materials in the form of video, oral history and written interviews, will be donated to the Museum of London where it will form a part of the museum’s permanent collection.
Exhibition: The World in London Victoria Park Dates: 27 July – 12 August 2012 Park House Dates: 27 July – 30 August 2012 Admission: Free Venues: Victoria Park, E3; 453 – 497 Oxford Street, London, W1 Website: theworldinlondon.org.uk. To be launched on 27 July 2012
Photo: Dennis Morris, Judith Craig Morency-Nalus & Afrykah-Amaya Morency-Nalus, Haiti,