Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Stephen J Morgan

This amazing exhibition is currently on at a relatively new gallery just next door to Purdy Hicks on Hopton Street. It is called the Wapping Project and it has a lovely space. These photographs were beautifully curated and hung. The website is less impressive, sadly.
image from here

I have very slowly begun to catch up with some exhibitions currently on my must see list, it is not easy, an hour here an hour there. I have so far seen The Family and The Land by Sally Mann, currently on at the Photographers Gallery. Her early images are beautifully printed, worth the journey alone, her most recent images did not work, the images are beautiful but the printing was clumsy and did not work for me.
Next up was the Voyeurism show on at the Tate Modern, my initial thoughts were too much porn and not enough street, but hey the clue was in the title, no? I remembered they had done a 'street & studio' show a couple of years back and obviously tried to avoid repetition, but this inevitably creates a lack of cohesion which for £10 is irritating. (I have just bought a ticket for the National Theatre's production of Hamlet and I know what I feel is better value for money. )
One photographer went up hugely in my estimation and that was Harry Callahan whose series Women Lost In Thought is just brilliant, especially when you understand how hard it was to take these photographs in the pre digital age. To catch people off guard like that is genius and you can see them here
Although the visit was a bit whistle stop it was also very cathartic to have a whole gallery to myself, the rest of the world was visiting the free sections downstairs.
I also had an epiphany, I have for a long time struggled to 'place' my work. I try this, I try that, without much cohesion. What this exhibition made me realise is that I am happiest when I am watching unseen, it is not voyeurism, I get no sexual satisfaction from it but I do love watching people and I love photographing people unseen. It is this that I will take with me back to Cyprus this year, although I'm glad I took the photographs of the villagers, I realise they are a bit gauche and lack my particular eye, whereas when I was poking my camera into peoples homes unseen, those images were more true to myself and my viewpoint.
So finally I have my agenda, not sure if it will work in Scotland, we will have to see. I am probably going to try and draw as much landscape as I can.


materfamilias said...

so many things here I'd love to sit down and talk with you about over coffee! When you talk about the more recent Sally Mann photogs, do you mean the ones in the downstairs rooms?
And weren't the Japanese park photographs crazy in the Tate exhibit??
And do you have any concerns about permissions, etc., when you're doing the surreptitious photographing?
I found much of that exhibition fascinating for the questions it raised about our actions and their significance if observed or not, our absorption of "the social gaze" whether it's marked by the camera's seen or unseen presence or not.
Etc., etc., with the questions
(oh, and what did you think of that whole hotel maid concept piece -- have to admit I found it a bit of a cheap trick, and disturbing violation of an assumed contract, personally, especially as one currently staying in hotels!!)
anyone, I'll look forward to seeing what you do in Scotland -- I liked your windows photos, and also the moms on beaches, which was also a certain kind of voyeurism, no?, in that they were unaware you were watching. . .

indigo16 said...

Yes, I do mean the Sally Mann images downstairs, I really thought the scale and style of printing very clumsy. Imagine them much smaller, more intimate with a really big thick boarder that would draw you in?
Thos Japanese Park ones have REALY unsettled me, I mean I have BIG issues with the way the Japanese treat woman and deal with sex in general. Did you know there is virtually no such thing as rape out there? That is why I feel so uncomfortable and yet they certainly had impact!
No, I do not really worry too much about being invasive, I know the law is on my side and I feel that my images are a celebration rather than like some in the exhibition sensational for sensations sake.
But yes, the whole exhibition was very powerful and really made me think about my work. I think this type of photography is VERY important despite its invasiveness.
My sister was a chamber maid and dear God the stories she could tell? I do have a soft spot for Sophie Calle, I am really in awe of the inventiveness and presentation of ideas. But I see your point too as a guest, the law is not on her side.
Yes, the mum's on the beach are a perfect example of this and yet in recording it I feel I was really empathising with how it felt and that it was a story that needed to be told.
A cup of Earl Grey would really hit the spot right now...