An Intimate Look At Photo London By Paul Carey Kent

Paul Carey-Kent has sifted through Photo London the UK’s leading photography fair to put together this themed pick of what caught his eye. The most impressive Photo London yet runs 18-21 May. Art Fairs are not by their general nature intimate experiences, but photography as a medium is certainly capable of intimacy. So it was interesting to hunt down the latter within the former… 

sue Barnes England & Co, London

Sue Barnes: Untitled (Bath Series No 27), c1976 Archival print England & Co, London

Where could be more intimate than the bath? Little-known Sue Barnes explored self-identity and domesticity in her South London flat in the 1970’s, including a series in which where she photographed herself naked in a bath with a variety of plastic creatures.And there’s something nicely Daliesque about shaking claws with a lobster, even if it isn’t real.

  Martina Sauter: Legs, 2017

Martina Sauter: Legs, 2017 Collage (c-print, paper, documents), 89.5 x 158.5 cm Van der Mieden Gallery, Antwerp

This very large close-up of a woman’s legs sprawled out on a bed is taken from the film ‘In the Mood for Love’ by Hong Kong director Wong Kar-Wai. Düsseldorf-based Martina Sauter isolates grainy film stills and adds subtle collages by attaching papers to the back which are visible – as in the white discs on the dress – through small surgical cuts which, once seen, draw you in close to work out how, from  the back, the ‘negative’, if you will, must be quite striking.

Sakiko Nomura: Another Black Darkness 1

Sakiko Nomura: Another Black Darkness 1 Akio Nagasawa Gallery, Tokyo

Sakiko Nomura – for many years Nobuyoshi Araki’s assistant – showed another means of luring you in. For the beautifully printed series Another Black Darkness, she solarised images darkly enough to require intimate engagement to work out what was revealed to her friends and personal landscapes – in this case, a tender nude quite different in a register to the various Araki images around the fair.

 Scarlett Hooft Graafland: Rock, 2017

Scarlett Hooft Graafland: Rock, 2017 Hand Embroidery on C-Type Print, 144 x 180 cm  Flowers Gallery, London

Can a rock be intimate? Oddly, yes, if its colours are micro-heightened by the embroidered stitches which almost disappeared into its already greenish surface… but all the primaries were hand-sewn in there on close inspection of this monumental one-off print by a Dutch artist who recently showed her surreal peopled landscapes in London to impressive effect.

Paul Schneggenburger:The Sleep of the Beloved IV, 2010

Paul Schneggenburger: The Sleep of the Beloved IV, 2010 Archival pigment print, 65 x 80 cm Galerie Johannes Faber, Vienna

Austrian Paul Schneggenburger has a bed in his studio, where he has made 80 photographs to date of lovers overnight, capturing the dance of their sleep with a single six-hour exposure lit only by candlelight. These had me wondering whether the question ‘back to back or not?’ tell us anything about sub-conscious feelings…

Ishiuchi Miyako: Mother’s #39

Ishiuchi Miyako: Mother’s #39 C-type print, 28.5 x 19 cm Michael Hoppen, London

Ishiuchi Miyako (born 1947) represented Japan at the 2005 Venice Biennale, and is known for addressing post-war trauma and the influence of the US servicemen living on the naval bases during the subsequent military occupation. This is one of two photographs of lipstick from s series of memorial recording of her mother’s possessions.

 Moira McDonald: Fog Studies (Pacifica), 2016

Moira McDonald: Fog Studies (Pacifica),  2016 Fog on silver gelatin paper, 14×22 inches Rubber Factory, New York

For her series ‘Pacifica’, Australian-American photographer Moira McDonald captures San Francisco’s characteristic fog with a material directness: she exposes old photographic paper with a high silver nitrate content on overcast days to absorb the pervading atmosphere. We’re brought up close to nature breathing its presence into automatic abstractions.

 Maisie Cousins with 'Finger' from the series 'grass, peonie, bum', 2016

Maisie Cousins with ‘Finger’ from the series ‘grass, peonie, bum’, 2016 pigment print on archival paper, 40 x 26 inches TJ Boulting, London

Maisie Cousins told me that the fresh and zingy up-close hedonism of her performative body-plant mash-ups emerges naturally from the ‘macro working’ suited to her lack of studio, meaning that she is mostly producing in her kitchen. Her own finger and a friend’s bum (‘belfies’ being technically tricky) were prominent in the selection here, culled from her current solo debut in Fitzrovia.  

 Mat Collishaw: Thresholds

Mat Collishaw: Thresholds VR installation Blain |Southern

The most impressive of the special projects at Photo London is a large scale virtual reality installation which incorporates some special effects but, more persuasively,  uses the medium more for time travel to an analogue past than for fantastical exploration of present dimensions. Visitors get a close six-minute encounter with Fox Talbot’s 1839 exhibition of photographs in the now-demolished Gothic splendour of King Edward’s School in Birmingham – one of which also stands in here for the substantial range of vintage photographs at the fair.

 Larry Sultan: Studio #13, from the series The Valley, 2013

Larry Sultan: Studio #13, from the series The Valley, 2013 C-print, 152 x 183 cm Galerie Thomas Zander, Cologne

Larry Sultan’s famous series sets the fake intimacy of pornography in the incidental intimacy of seeing inside the homes of typical professionals’ homes in the San Fernando Valley. Their use as locations give the films their particular look and is the aspect foregrounded by Sultan’s on set shots. I couldn’t resist snapping four women attending to four women attending to something we can’t quite see…

Top Photo: Isaac Julian ‘Looking For Langston’ Photo London – Victoria Miro


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