Snezana Lukka-Biesek, Russia 2010 (c) Véronique Rolland, who is one of 204 photographers commissioned for an exhibition as part of the London 2012 Festival.
The Photographers’ Gallery has revealed its contribution to this year’s Olympic games, announcing The World in London, a major outdoor exhibition for which it commissioned 204 portraits.
Each of the 204 subjects originated from one of the 204 countries competing in this summer’s games in the capital, all of which will be shown together as large-scale posters in Victoria Park in east London (which hosts the 2012 Olympics), as well as in the pedestrian zone outside the gallery’s soon-to-re-open venue in Soho.
“The World in London explores portraiture and cultural diversity using photography, one of the most accessible and democratic artistic mediums of our times,” says the gallery. “The project celebrates London as a place where individuals from all parts of the world live side by side, each of them contributing to make London the unique city it is.”
The photographers commissioned include 2011 Deutsche Börse Photography Prize winner Jim Goldberg, whose portrait represents Dominica, alongside images captured by emerging artists, together with a host of some of the best-known names in contemporary photography, including: Faisal Abdu'Allah (Benin), JH Engström (Georgia), Anna Fox (Gambia), Jacqueline Hassink (Morocco), Pieter Hugo (Rwanda), Tom Hunter (Iceland), Nadav Kander (Lesotho), Dennis Morris (Haiti), Martin Parr (São Tomé and Príncipe), Anders Petersen (Serbia), Rankin (Niger), Stephen Shore (Kazakhstan), Alec Soth (Netherlands), Vanessa Winship (Colombia), Tom Wood (Barbados) and Catherine Yass (Hungary).
All have been commissioned by The Photographers’ Gallery to take portrait shots of the sitters over the past three years. The image for Britain is a portrait of the late fashion designer Alexander McQueen, photographed by Andres Serrano in February 2009.
Involving Londoners of all ages and from all walks of life, each portrait is unique in its composition, setting and style, and provides the viewer with an insight into the individual’s story and experience,” says the gallery.
“Judith, a young mother from Haiti, proudly holds her baby daughter. Snezana, a Russian woman, is photographed [above] on her Thames River houseboat wrapped in a blanket, the pink of her slippers accentuating the winter sun behind the bare trees on the opposite shore. Laka, a Mongolian-born Londoner, is portrayed at his workplace, the kitchen of a pub, surrounded by freshly cleaned pots and pans. Lord Paul, who was born in India, is photographed in the Ambika Paul Children's Zoo in London Zoo, a place he has supported for a long time.”
The gallery is now looking for its final six sitters for the project, representing American Samoa, FS Micronesia, Guam, Marshall Islands, Nauru and Palau.
The World in London is supported by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation and by Arts Council England and is part of the London 2012 Festival, the 12-week nationwide celebration running from 21 June to 09 September.
The outdoor exhibition in Victoria Park will go on show from 27 July to 12 August, while its Soho counterpart will continue into October. A dedicated website – www.theworldinlondon.org.uk – will be launched on 27 July, offering access to the personal stories behind each portrait. The website will also feature on the BBC and Arts Council England's experimental arts-media service and commissioning programme, The Space. A free schools resource has also been produced.
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