The Photographic Object, Photographers’ Gallery

I’m quite a simple man. Ask anyone. “That Jon,” they’ll say, “he’s quite a simple man.” Maybe that’s why I’m ambivalent about the latest exhibition at The Photographers’ Gallery and why it’s taken me so long to get around to writing about it.

The Photographic Object is an exhibition that, I guess, it meant to make us think about what the purpose of a photograph is and to think about how ‘photography’ is created. I’ve mentioned elsewhere how a Gerhard Richter painting is more photographic than an entry for a photography prize – and Gerhard is here, albeit some more recent work splashing paint on tiny photographs. Wolfgang Tillmanns is here too, offering up large scale single colour prints. Then there are some close ups, a few artefacts and the image that’s on all the posters.

I did however enjoy the work of Alina Szapocznikow, which is basically sculpted chewing gum. It’s shot wonderfully in black and white and presented as straightforward, well-lit shots of sculpture. They are beautiful. Just don’t tell anyone that they’re gum.

But it didn’t feel that it hung together well. Maybe it needed a single voice to explore the subject rather than a few representations from so many people. Moments of inspiration are lost in the muddle.

I think I’ll go back and look over it again. It’s not bad at all. But it isn’t great. There is good stuff from Guy Tillim in the Print Sales section but that’s nothing to do with this exhibition. That said, they still do good coffee and it’s still the best place to see photography in London so get yourselves there.

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