Famously described by Susan Sontag in her 1964 essay Notes on ‘Camp’ as “a sensibility (as distinct from an idea)”, the appreciation of camp was born out of artifice and opulence, a vulgar fascination with theatrical exaggeration. And while it has long been tied up with LGBTQI culture, it has become a compelling way to convey messages without limits. “To me, camp is a very powerful thing,” says Phillip Prokopiou. “It’s a form of satire – a way to exaggerate and ridicule things that are very serious.” Prokopiou, a South Africa-born, London-based photographer behind an eponymous studio, which he co-founded with his partner-in-life-and-art Panagiotis Poimenidis, has long been fascinated with the power of kitsch to communicate our deepest hopes, fears and fantasies – whether they manifest in the form of a moustachioed Virgin Mary (stage name: Virgin Xtravaganzah) sitting chastely in the glow of ‘Gawd’’s glory, or an otherworldly extraterrestrial gazing into the distance.
James Hyman Gallery opened in 1999, aspiring to deal in museum quality fine art of art historical importance, with a particular focus on twentieth century British artists. In 2008, James Hyman began to develop a programme of photography exhibitions, which led to the creation of a new company, James Hyman Photography. The gallery has since hosted many high-profile photography exhibitions, including one devoted to the work of Linda McCartney, co-curated by Paul McCartney and James Hyman. As well as exhibitions, art fairs, scholarships, and selling and loaning works to museums and public collections across the world, James Hyman maintains a core business as an art advisor. He supplies bespoke, expert advice to both first time and experienced collectors of art and photography. In this interview, he gives us an insight into the UK’s current photography market. What excites you the most about exhibiting your artists at Photo London? We have exhibited at Paris Photo and the Aipad Photography show in New York for many years, but it’s very exciting to be part of something so …
Travelling to Kiev in the wake of protest, revolution and civil war, Belgian photographer David Denil set about documenting the aftermath of conflict in the minds of ordinary people still coming to terms with the country’s sharp divisions. The resulting series, Let Us Not Fall Asleep While Walking, departs from journalistic record, instead attempting to depict “the psychological state of this Ukraine looking at its future while haunted by its past and memory,” he says. “The images are metaphorical representations from the everyday life encountered where time seems frozen but dreams of hope still linger.”
“Tu sais qu’est-ce que c’est le rayon vert?” Marie Rivière’s listless character Delphine asks, her legs swinging, in Éric Rohmer’s 1986 film Le Rayon Vert [The Green Ray]. The film – a portrait of its main character’s halting search for summer romance – was based on Jules Verne’s 1882 novel of the same name. While in theory its title refers to an optical phenomenon – in which the appearance of the sun as it rises or falls beyond the horizon creates a brief flash of green, and with it a supposed moment of mental clarity for all those who see it – in reality its subject matter is far more elusive. “I related the ‘rayon vert’ phenomenon to the process of photography – this special and quick moment that happens rarely,” Swiss photographer Senta Simond explains, referring to her project of the same name. Her series, which will be published by Kominek and shown at London’s Webber Gallery soon, adds a new, compelling layer to the meteorological event/Jules Verne/ Éric Rohmer mix of references. Indeed, Simond, a former student of ECAL, University of Art and Design Lausanne, from which she graduated last summer, first encountered the concept via the 1986 film.
First established in 1970 by Angela Flowers in London’s West End, Flowers Gallery now has two central London locations – one in Mayfair and another in Shoreditch, along with a space in New York. The gallery currently represents 48 international artists working across a wide range of media. Flowers Gallery has been recognised for its engagement with important socio-cultural, political and environmental themes. We spoke to Director of the Photography Department, Chris Littlewood, about the artists’ work he is bringing to Photo London later this month, which include an array of well-known names such as Edward Burtynsky and Nadav Kander. Littlewood has also helped predict a number of future trends, from experimental installation techniques, to elements like 3D printing and augmented realities. What excites you the most about exhibiting your artists at Photo London? It’s always exciting to present at fairs, especially if the work is fresh and audiences are engaging with it for the first time. If someone appreciates an artist’s work the same way I do, an amazing energy can come out of …
BJP has joined forces with 10 cultural institutions across Europe to promote emerging photography talent under the umbrella of a new photography network, named Futures. Initiated by Unseen Amsterdam and the fair’s owner, Vandejong Creative Agency, the platform launched in spring and continues with a series of shows, events and residencies across the continent, culminating in a large-scale exhibition at Unseen in September. The partners include museums and galleries in Hungary, Belgium and Italy, alongside photofestivals in France, Germany, Poland, Ireland and Romania. Each will present shows and events of their own talent programmes in their own countries, and then elements of these events will come together for the collaborative exhibition in Amsterdam, showcasing 10 emerging photographers from across the continent – a pick from each country. “We realised that we could do more to create opportunities for artists, and that is where we came up with Futures,” explains Menno Liauw, strategy director at Vandejong, which is coordinating activities, having created the platform in the mould of Unseen, the first art fair of its kind, …
Nigel Shafran first came to fame in 1990 with a series of images published by i-D; showing teenage shoppers in a down-at-heel precinct in Ilford, it was the antithesis of a high-end fashion shoot. His first venture into publishing, Ruthbook, had a similarly pared-down approach; showing his girlfriend shot mostly at home, in her dressing gown, say, or blowing her nose, alongside details such as crumbs on a kitchen work surface, a pot on the stove, or a hair stuck on a bar of soap. Shafran hand-wrote the title, in pencil, on all 600 copies. Now he’s found a new twist on this everyday approach, putting his work books on show. Dating from 1984 right up to 2018 they’re a creative insight into his working process and life, and a typically understated collection – though it’s the inaugural exhibition at Sion and Moore, the gallery run by Claire de Rouen’s Lucy Moore in the space that used to house Wolfgang Tillmans’ studio.
Alighting at Peckham Rye train station in south London, a short walk across a busy market street takes you to the Bussey Building complex, a former cricket-bat factory that is now home to an assortment of bars, music venues, yoga studios and art spaces, including the Copeland Gallery. This bright exhibition space is once again the main site of Peckham 24 festival of contemporary photography, celebrating its third edition this year and running over the weekend of 18 to 20 May to coincide with Photo London – more than the 24 hours with which it launched and gave it its name. “Last year we were literally pushing people out of the door at midnight,” laugh the co-founders, Vivienne Gamble, whose Seen Fifteen gallery is in a nearby space, and artist Jo Dennis.
With its dungeon-like chambers, ghostly corridors, and casemates on which guns would have stood, Coalhouse Fort in East Tilbury, Essex, is an unlikely art gallery. But on 28 April 2018, the 144 year fort on the edge of the Thames Estuary will open its doors to the public for a pop-up exhibition, featuring artists such as Felicity Hammond, Dafna Talmor, and Corinne Silva. Caught between a military past and its current use as a tourist attraction, the fort’s identity is shifting. The building is deteriorating and being reclaimed by nature – the antithesis to its original role as a robust military base. A team of volunteers is working with the local council to restore it, and keep it from falling into obscurity. But while it may be ramshackle, it is a space full of artistic possibility, and that is what captured my imagination when I was invited by artist and lecturer Michael Whelan to curate a pop-up exhibition there. Whelan had been working with Thurrock Council to digitise its rich archive of photographs, documents, and military-related artefacts and, noticing the site’s potential as a space to show art, decided to put on an exhibition.
Lucus Joyce’s weekly People’s Choice winning portrait is a haunting image of his friend Ashley, who lives with pernicious anemia. Inspired by the thousand yard stare, a term often used to describe the blank, unfocused gaze of soldiers who have become emotionally detached from the horrors around them, Joyce sought to use the portrait to depict the many aspects of Ashley’s life and identity.