In looking ahead

For 4 days, Somerset House has been fantastically transformed into a labyrinthine expanse walled with art. Control of what’s on offer has been divided between an ambitious 89 galleries whose curatorial teams have succeeded in enticing a wide audience with offerings of varying tastes for a broad selection of palettes. Collectively, various displays chart the development of our medium’s historical form through early experiments, alongside work which begins to challenge the conceptual confines of contemporary photographic practice. 


The huge quantity of work on display is sure to contain both old and new found favourites. However, before recommending particular works, Photo London’s size perhaps makes it more relevant to first recommend planning a whole day or multiple days for your visit in order to take it all in. Highlights include experiential installations by Taryn Simon and Juergen Teller who are both situated on the lower floor. Perhaps the most charming way to end your visit would be to spend time contemplating the time and effort put into all of the genial work involved in David Hurn: Swaps, curated by Martin Parr. The exhibition consists of works collected without money trading hands, instead, only through a print swapping process between new and old Magnum photographers. Through ‘costing nothing’ to curate, this print-swap cleverly provides comment on its immediate surroundings and galvanises tangible inspiration for younger artists; being a reminder of the accessibility of photography as a medium— a dream for any Magnum enthusiasts. 


The preliminary years of projects so grand in scale and investment often struggle to balance expectations and future projections— yet simultaneously provide key evidence for deciphering an intended direction. It is an intriguing topic of speculation and in looking ahead to Photo London 2018, both the continued expansion of the Discovery Centre and initiative to include emerging artists would do well to cement the conceptual narrative territory Photo London intends to inhabit in years to come. Both photographic art practice and dissemination ultimately benefit through variation— Photo London does that and much, much more.