Explore the London Photography Festival this June
Tiksi, Evgenia Arbugaeva
The London Photography Festival is currently running until the end of June, with several venues near King’s Cross Station. There are eighteen exhibitions, sixteen of which are free, providing plenty of opportunities to experience lens-based artwork this month. Many of the exhibitions in this years festival lean towards street photography, but the Festival itself has shed the title London Street Photography Festival that it utilised last year, opting for a wider, more versatile range of images to work with. Operating with the theme, Inside Out: Reflections of Public and Private. This shift away from street photography is important.
Street photography is generally the most accessible form of photography however; forcing a genre title on this festival would inhibit the inclusion of many of the artists that are part of this year’s exhibition. This festival offers an engaging depiction of public space, and gaging from the versatility of artists presenting, the quality, as well as the reception of the festival so far, it looks as though we can expect great things from this festival in years to come.
Public space helps shape our perception of the nature of the society we live in. The exhibitions in this festival deal with issues of the social media revolution, the effects and the ethics of publically displaying private images, censorship of images, as well as the continuous blurring of boundaries between the public and the private. Exhibitions range from the Firecracker’s group exhibition at the William Road Gallery, the Lives of Others that addresses issues ranging from death to adultery, to Evgenia Arbugaeva’s imaginative portrayal of her hometown in the Siberian Tundra at the Calumet Photographic Gallery entitled Tiksi. Each of the participants deals with the festival’s theme in the broadest sense.
Untitled, Laura Hynd
The exhibition, Camera Obscura, at the Minnie Weisz Studio, addresses the liminal moods of derelict spaces as well as the spatial identity we find in these spaces. For Weisz, camera obscura becomes a ‘key which unlocks a dialogue between the exterior and interior world’. The images generally do not include the presence of people; Weisz’s work instead provides a commentary on our perception as well as our delusion of public and private spaces. Each photograph is beautifully shot; some are even reminiscent of the late Francesca Woodman’s work, Weisz’s ability as a photographer stands strong in this exhibition. The Minnie Weisz Studio is small, but beautifully laid out; this exhibition was definitely one of my favourites in the festival.
One of the most prevalent, and perhaps largest draw of this festival for me, may Steve Bloom Beneath the Surface: Photographs from 1970s Apartheid South Africa. Held at the Guardian Gallery. Marking the 35thanniversary of Steve Biko’s death, this exhibition includes many images that have never been exhibited before. Bloom’s work is suggestive and edgy, accompanied by a short article entitled, Beneath the Surface: Steve Bloom’s Portrait of the Apartheid. This article, written by the artist himself, allows for a more in depth understanding of Bloom’s practice as a photographer and his experience with apartheid-era South Africa. Bloom’s work illustrates just how powerful the camera, when used correctly, can be. For Bloom, photographers have the chance to influence our view of the world. His documentation of apartheid-era South Africa is affecting and penetrating as he expertly captures the urbanised moments of a highly charged time period.
Grande Parade, Cape Town, South Africa 1976, Steve Bloom
Many of the exhibitions are small, and within walking distance of each other, making it ideal for a nice summers day in London. No matter what kind of images you’re interested in, this festival will surely satisfy them. All information regarding exhibitions and events can be found in this day-by-day diary
All photographs courtesy of London Photography Festival