Signs of a Struggle at the V&A.

I was disappointed by this show, for me it didn’t hang together. Kind of jarring. Single works. Ment to examine an element of Postmodernism….photographs that reference themselves. I felt that many of the images belonged in a series. I felt that many were too knowing. ..
But not all the images.
James Casbere’s “Golden Apple” seemed understated but strong amongst all these images. The use of a light box giving added strength…a different look. An inner glow. Painterly. The degrees of white and grey. the gentle shadows. constructed photography. Sculptures them photographed. Referencing itself and the history of art.
A sample of James Welling’s fabrics. deep and dark and textured. Subtle and luxurious. Physical. Folds. Melted chocolate and bodies of water at night.
One photographer was given space for a series, Clare Strand. There is strength in the series. It works to reinforce elements and themes of the work. To creat a body of work, layers. And for this it seems much stronger. The images are finely finished. They are shown as an archive. Items recovered from a filing cabinet and displayed in a gallery. Detail. The punched bindings, the plastic cover, the browning tape. Photography as art and science, as detection and narrative. Mundane places transformed by details. They are pictures of nothing. They are pictures transformed by annotation. Lifting a carpet tile, a flower bed, a cross on a tree. Marks, type writer text, arrows. The situation. The context changes the images. And we as a viewer apply a narrative.
The images work together and need each other. This gave this series in this show strength and weakened others. Some almost exist in a series as the work is known to us. Or they ideas around them are known. I was researching some of the other photographers in the show I came across the work by Sian Bonnell. Which I found much more interesting as a body. the internal connections. the feedback of images. Even images that I don’t enjoy still add to the mass.

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Filed under Readings, September 2011

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