The Female Gaze and What Could Have Been of Photo London 2017

Ellen von Unwerth, From Original Sin, 1998-9

Last week’s Photo London left a slight bittersweet taste for me. The fair brings together a great selection of galleries and it is a must-see for anyone interested in photography. However, there was an overwhelming presence of fashion photography and female portraiture. At worse banal and celebrity-driven, at best a lush sensuous rich experience.

After the Kate Moss overdose, Helmut Newton’s ubiquitous iconic images of determined women, Horst P. Horst’s timeless classics, Irving Penn’s soft touch, Norman Parkinson’s old-world glamour, Miles Aldridge’s dolls… the penny dropped heavy. With the exception of very few works dotted around by Lillian Bassman, Sarah Moon and Ellen von Unwerth, a wander around the fair felt like I had been transported to another time, ignoring the contemporary appetite for female voices. The male gaze was starting to give away a rancid whiff.

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May Art Gallery Highlights: Photography

Massie Cousins, grass, peoni, bum

Photo London opens next week on Thursday 18th until Sunday 21st at Somerset House in central London. In its third edition, the fair has gained momentum and photography is settling into London’s annual art calendar. To accompany the fair, three exhibitions by Mat Collishaw, Isaac Julien and Taryn Simon will also open at Somerset House. Since the coming week will all be about photography, May’s gallery highlights are commercial exhibitions on the medium. Expect pleasure-seeking from a young Maisie Cousins, a look back at Renate Bertlmann’s feminist wit and timeless elegance on the nature of desire and the gaze by Isaac Julien.

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A Tapestry Renaissance

Laure Prouvost Swallow me, From Italy to Flander, a tapestry, 2015 200 x 462 cm Image courtesy of MOT International

The arrival of Independent to Brussels at the end of April has brought over 60 international galleries to the city center. Since its founding edition in 2010 in New York, Independent is a by-invitation only fair with a slower pace and a duration longer than the usual 4 to 5 days of most international art fairs.

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