6.Marc Sommer (Esther Woerdehoff Gallery)
When socially-oriented photography gets too much, Marc Sommer’s absurd juxtapositions refresh like a glass of cold water on a hot day. The Strasbourg-based, self-taught photographer infuses his images with dark or ironic humour and builds up a scene on paradoxes and tricks. Especially compelling is the quiet, contemplative character of the photographs where weird things occur without any elaborate fantastical framework- it’s as mundane as having a cup of chocolate (although with rabbit ears sticking out) or knitting a piece of clothing (possibly your own cocoon, burying yourself alive).Sommer is new on the exhibition scene but his contribution this year was very much appreciated.
7.Francesco Pergolesi (Catherine Edelman Gallery)
Born in 1975 in Venice, Pergolesi speaks like the ultimate Italian romantic: ‘I remember I loved to spend time in the little cobbler or the grocery where my grandmother sent me to shop. Time seemed to be extended and let me feel the sense of freedom. I grew up loving neighbourhoods where human relationships were the centre of life.’ It is these independent merchants and their quaint shop fronts that are on the verge of dying out and Pergolesi’s series Heroes is then rightly devoted to them. Presented in miniature frames and centrally lit, the photographs invite an intimate look at the charm and warmth of places that will be missed.
8. Ted Croner (Howard Greenberg Gallery/Michael Hoppen Gallery)
A member of the New York School of Photography, Croner (1922-2005) became the less dangerous version of Travis Bickle from Taxi Driver (1976) – just like the life of the troubled film character, his black and white images teem with the city’s night life, taxis, cinemas and bars. Nothing seedy and no gritty realism, either; Croner simply pursued the rushed pulse on the streets interspersed with moments of solitariness. His photographs have been described as cinematic and atmospheric but their blurs and streaks contain highly expressionistic elements, too.
9.David Goldblatt (Goodman Gallery)
If Ted Croner is synonymous with New York, David Goldblatt’s (b.1930) name is firmly attached to the social history of South Africa, particularly Johannesburg. The photographer has documented the local upheavals and socio-political shifts while also found time for less direct, allusive compositions. Looking at Goldblatt’s pictures, it is possible to imagine how his camera accompanied and bore witness to real lives, real conditions of living and yet did not become terse or repetitive.
10.Marc Riboud (Magnum Photos)
Another prominent photographer (b.1923) and member of Magnum Photos, having established as his domain the photographing of the USA, Africa and Asia. Riboud’s immortalisation of Chinese cultural revolution and Vietnam War are now part of the canon, as is The Painter of the Eiffel Tower on the right. He is praised for great compositions and a striking awareness of the geometry of the image whether he shoots in a war zone or on the street.
I could go on and add a good few names to the list (Hiroshi Sugimoto’s awe-inspiring long exposures, Nick Brandt’s solo show at the Atlas Gallery, Don McCullin’s exhibition organized by Hamilton’s Gallery, Luis Gonzalez Palma and his photographs on gold leaf, Cecilia Paredes and her photoperfomance containing flowers and camouflage, David Monteleone’s seascapes, Jane Hilton’s project based on teachers shooting guns in their free time or the collaged images hanging in the booth of Galerie Lumière Des Roses which demand time for fuller understanding). There was an abundance of material to view and to ponder at Photo London 2016, including special exhibitions, award ceremonies, film screenings, talks and book signings. But most importantly, it was a chance to discover new and re-discover old photographers and get a taste of the achievements in the photographic medium. For many, too, it was an opportunity to sell and buy stuff 🙂 but poor photography lovers, such as myself, were equally welcome 🙂