Gets everywhere does that Rankin fellow. His flawless, direct portraits will probably be the style by which this period is remembered in the same way that his (apparent) hero David Bailey defined his with flawless, direct, contrasty monochrome. So, it’s good to see that lenswork being put to good use with a collection of portraits from the Democratic Republic of Congo which provide a starting point for the personal stories of those photographed and the work carried out in that country by Oxfam.
The exhibition is in the form of two round booths on Theatre Square outside the National Theatre – the interactive one of which wasn’t working when I was there. The collection of Rankin’s portraits is complemented by a selection of pictures taken by the subjects themselves with disposable cameras.
The balance between the mannered, controlled work by Rankin and the more spontaneous images captured by the disposables is nice and allows some much-needed light into the very dark stories that are detailed. The nearest shot on the picture above for example is a grandmother holding her granddaughter. She has to. The baby’s mother died in childbirth.