By Lauren Bodiam & Leonore Leitner
Dot to dot
Hello it’s Lauren and Leonore here. Its SCAB day. Half term is is coming to an end. D&AD is drawing closer. We both realised our promises of visiting exhibitions over half term were not completed. The Ace hotel and our screens took up our time. With two days until term begins it was time out to take a break from research. Get out. Explore the nice galleries London is offering. Collect the dots. Here is a low down on what we found, missed, and recommend. Our opinions vary.
Diane Arbus - In the beginning follows the first 7 years of her career. All photos were taken by 35mm which she primarily used early on.
The exhibition was unlike most. I’m used to a guide whereby there is a order on what you see first. It usually tells a story from beginning to end. Vistiters for this were free to explore any room first …. The individual plinths gave the impression each image was a story in itself and allowed visitors to delve in to each image without connecting it to the others in the room. The unstructured layout of the exhibition did wonders for crowd control. It meant i could wonder the rooms without losing context and see the photos without having to wait or peer over a strangers shoulder.
I think what makes Diane Arbus photography is how personal each print is. images that show personal experiences. They reflect truth and emotion. You could see it in visitors eyes in their words they spoke to others in the exhibition. One of my favourite photos was child teasing another. It shows the care free attitude that children possess that many lose growing up. looking at her images we invent back stories and narratives we can never be sure of. She makes us stop and look. I overheard a women talking about how it reminded her of when
she used to play knock down ginger as a child. I think that’s what the most brilliant thing about this exhibition. The photographs weren’t extraordinary in terms of lighting or technical ability. They excelled in storytelling. teasing our imaginations with images that dramatise the everyday experiences we have. She captured moments. moments that happen in a split second. It made me question the relationship between the subject and photographer. A lot of images that you see today look staged. A photographer sees something asks, and the image is recreated with less authenticity than what was first seen. Arbus’s work feels different. Almost all images look like they were shot with luck. Arbus was there at the right time. Right moment.
As Lauren highlighted, the exceptional thing about this exhibition was the missing
structure. All the photographs were only beginnings. In exhibitions you very rarely
see photos, that document people as natural as Arbus ones. She catches them on
the streets, in their daily lives. Nothing is staged. This – and the interesting people
she choose to capture – together with some random, but expressive photographies of things like tv movie scenes, makes the exhibition worth seeing.
Another exhibition we went to see In the Hayward Gallery was: Kader Attia – The museum of emotion
It was varied. The exhibition had a range of mediums from installation, photography, moving image, sculptures and taxidermy. Each room touched on a different social topic. My favourite piece of this exhibition was the artists response to picasso’s cubist movement and Edvard Munch’s scream. Attia responded by placing African masks next to work. I found it interesting to see where influence comes from and how its reflected when the art is put back into society. with the art pieces next to each other you can see the similarities between the two. Alone they look separate and have their identity.
For me, this one was more interesting than the first exhibition. Attia is not only a very socially aware and critical artist, his work is also very diverse. A wide range of art was displayed. From photographers of people living in an housing estate in ‘inhuman modernism’, to video installations and wooden sculptures. His pieces of art touch on a lot of interesting topics like police violence in france.
For me the most interesting part of Attias work was in Room 5, where he presented his reflections on the different concepts of repair. Repair of humans. He showed findings from his extensive research on these differences, with objects like african masks, vintage photographs, newspapers, books. His work highlighted that, while western societies seek to erase marks left by injury or trauma, in ‘traditional societies’, it’s the opposite. They have ways to fix an injury that keeps it visible. What he shows is partly disgusting and very fascinating.
After this great start we walked to Jerwood Space. It was a nice walk in the sun, but not really worth it. Exhibited are only a handful pieces of art, that aren’t really exciting.
But we discovered a beautiful, sunny winter garden at the gallery, which definitely is worth a visit if you are searching for a calm place to work. Also comes with loads of daylight.
We enjoyed watching the people outside. There was someone with tights round the neck trying to swing and knock a bottle down. It was like watching a attenborough documentary.
After this short visit in Jerwood Space, we went to The Photographers Gallery. The first exhibition was called ‘All I know is what’s on the internet’.
This was the most interesting exhibition of the day for me! It was very relevant to our everyday lives and mainly about our behaviour online. From google, AI and internet content moderators, to the hidden traps social media and their algorithms are baring for us. It makes you rethink your behaviour and what you disclose about yourself online.
It was displayed as a mix of art pieces and video installations. I really enjoyed not only the way they were presented, but also the content and information behind it. Everybody who interacts online and uses social media will find this exhibition interesting.
This made me want to go on the dark web. start a revolt. delete facebook and smash my phone to a million pieces. It was like Adbusters made a exhibition. This exhibition was not what i first thought it would be. Its held in the photographers gallery. I was expecting a lot of images of people on phones and the internet. It was far from that. It many included machines, video and some print work. The exhibition was about how real social media and thing on the internet are. It showed how the internet is humans trying to connect with one another. How this is achieved by machines, people and robots.
The rest of the gallery was displaying ‘Roman Vishniac Rediscovered’.
The russian photographer Vishniac captured the life of people between and after the world wars. His photographs were social documentaries, showing different live stories, with a focus on the difficulties jews were facing before, during and after second world war. He shows a lot of young people, as well as the city of Berlin in an after-war scenario and the life of jewish refugees establishing themselves in america. The way he captured society is very expressive and even though his photographs show horrific times and you can feel them, you won’t leave the exhibition with an queasy feeling.
Some further recommendations, if people want to go see some inspiring pieces:
‘Barbican OpenFest: Art 50’ at Barbican Centre ‘Is this tomorrow?’ At Whitechapel Gallery ‘Subversive Stitch’ at TJ Boulting
‘We live in an ocean of air’ At Saatchi Gallery ‘Life Death Rebirth’ at Royal Academy of the Arts
We didn’t have time or money to see a lot of these. So don’t hold us to them being great. We cannot guarantee this. If you do see them, and they are great, let us know!
The copy scores 63.9 in the Flesch Reading Ease test