The scale of this year’s presentation was daunting. With over one hundred international galleries representing multitudes of photographers, plus publishers and book stalls, my two days visit wasn’t really sufficient to comprehensively take it all in.
I was pleased to experience the heightened activity and expectancy, despite the gloomy economic climate, and there appeared to be some positive buyers shopping around on the first day.
I was challenged by the sheer cacophony of excited sounds and vibrant visuals, but it was the variety of new experimental works that drew my attention, especially the artists using diverse materials such as copper plate, aluminium and various textiles. Archival Kozo Japanese paper was used by Itamar Freed & Kristina Chan (represented by Litvak Contemporary of Tel-Aviv) to create “Peacock” a stunning monochrome of classical beauty.
A growing number of art photographers have layered their works with exotic textiles, even extending to the frames. The idea of camouflage jumps to mind, such as in the works by Alia Ali from Yemeni, in her “Poppy” series (2023) in which she explores cultural binaries, and confronts the dualists barriers of conflict, notions of gender politics, media and citizenship. Cecilia Paredes “wrap, cover or paint my body with the same pattern as the backdrop and represent myself as a part of that landscape and so I build my own identity” camouflages her body against patterned backdrops raising questions about how our environment influences who we are.
Britain was represented by Martin Parr’s iconic images and books in a huge space, as was the newly established Centre for British Photography, which supports British photographers. It holds an impressive archive of both contemporary and vintage work, in addition to presenting exhibitions, talks, and courses, in its own venue in London SW1. James Hyman, the Founding Director, is passionate about photography and his present exhibitions are “The English At Home”, 20th century domestic photography by Bill Brandt, Bert Hardy, Roger Mayne, Marketa Luskacova, and Martin Parr amongst others. But his prize show is about women and empowerment “Headstrong” curated by Fast Forward, Women in Photography, celebrates work by women photographers, work that is playful, often painful and powerful. Artists include Anna Fox, Jo Spence, Joy Gregory, Whisky Chow, Trish Morrissey. These two exhibitions are on at the Centre until end of May.
Next year, I shall set aside at least four days to explore Photo London, which has now become part of the international photography landscape as much as Paris Photo.
Photo London continues online at Artsy until 29 May.