Photo London 2018

Photo London is back at Somerset House for its fourth year and the many galleries exhibiting are more international than ever. Port joined the bustle of photographers and art enthusiasts to pick out some highlights from the fair.

© courtesy of Christophe Guye Galerie

Erik Madigan Heck – Junya Watanabe (Honeycomb) at Christophe Guye

Erik Madigan Heck is bringing fashion photography to the contemporary art world by blurring the boundaries between the two. His compositions have a sharp, polished edge to which he adds a feeling of fantasy through his vivid palette. It shows the clothes to their best advantage, but his treatment of the models is more intriguing, sublimating their human aspects into still, semi-robotic shadows of a high fashion concept. The look is pure and cohesive.

© Evgenia Arbugaeva. Courtesy of The Photographers’ Gallery

Evgenia Arbugaeva – Untitled #51, 2016 at The Photographers Gallery London

Taking the surreal in a totally different direction, Siberian photographer Evgenia Arbugaeva’s Amani series is an unsettling narrative feast focused on the semi-abandoned Amani Malaria Research Station in east Africa. Set up by German colonists in the late 19th century, the centre was originally intended for botanical research but was eventually taken over by the British and converted into a lab that explored new solutions to the spread of malaria. The images, filled with dusty old insect specimens, shelves of discarded bottles and aging piles of paper, reanimate a deserted site beset with allusions to its past.

© Alexander Gronsky / Courtesy Polka Galerie

Alexander Gronsky – Norilsk #5, Russia, 2013 at Polka Galerie

Alexander Gronsky has spent a lifetime studying the Russian landscape, however bleak it can be, with his interest lying in the power of our environment to shape emotions and behaviour. Norilsk is a northern industrial city that lies inside the Arctic Circle. In his muted and monotonous study of its outskirts, Gronsky highlights the ways we articulate our landscapes with man-made infrastructure, leaving an imprint that becomes inseparable from its surroundings.

Susan Derges, c/o Purdy Hicks Gallery

Susan Derges – Kingswood Bluebell No. 14 at Purdy Hicks Gallery

London-based photographer Susan Derges studies natural phenomena with an eye for its intricacy or more minute moments. Inspired by the way light reaches through a forest and illuminates its flora, she exposed the plants she gathered onto photographic paper in a makeshift darkroom hut in the woods. The result is a stark contrast between the luminous semi-translucent plant forms and a vacant black background. Once divorced from its original context, the plant is magnified for a more imposing sculptural presence. 

© Christian Tagliavini / Courtesy of CAMERA WORK

Christian Tagliavini – Plator at Camera Work

Best known for his elegant portraits, styled with all the austerity of the Northern Renaissance, Tagliavini has embraced the absurd with a sinister collection of masked figures with protruding beaks. Fully anthropomorphised, the models nonetheless appear stiff and lifeless like ancient taxidermies dressed up for a perverse joke.

Peckham 24

Port‘s photography director introduces one of the most exciting events from a weekend devoted to photography in London

The third week in May is fast becoming the most important in the London photo calendar. In part, this is because of the launch of Photo London, Foam Talent opening at Beaconsfield Gallery and Offprint taking over the Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall. The most exciting event, however – taking place in the south London district of Peckham – is the three-day festival, Peckham 24My London, one of the highlights, occupies the trendy Copeland Gallery, tucked away behind the Bussey Building, a Victorian cricket bat factory-cum-mixed-use art space.

Since the first edition of the art fair Photo London launched at Somerset House in 2015, The Financial Times Weekend Magazine has been publishing a photography special to coincide with it. For each issue Emma Bowkett, the director of photography at the FT Mag, has invited four contemporary photographers to produce a series of images about the city. Bowkett, who was also the photography director for our 19th issue, is showcasing works from nine artists involved in the special issue of the FT Mag: Campbell Addy, Jonny Briggs, Antony Cairns, Juno Calypso, Chrystel Lebas, Tom Lovelace, Hannah Starkey, Dafna Talmor, Lorenzo Vitturi.

Tom Lovelace, Black-Marble London No.1

There are not many young photographers who can claim to be more London than Juno Calypso, who was our alternate cover star for our five year anniversary issue. Over the past few years, she has been taking the capital’s art world by storm, and it’s fitting that visitors to Peckham 24, the capital’s youngest and coolest photo festival, will be greeted at My London by Light Therapy – a larger-than-life, pink, three-meter-tall self-portrait of Calypso. Campbell Addy, who heads up Nii Jornal and Nii Agency, is showing a new series of twenty-five images of his milieu, in a work aptly titled My World. The photos sit in what is one of the most interesting and ambiguous spaces in photography – somewhere between fashion and art.

Contrastingly but also newly produced, Dafna Talmor has photographed the Thames and produced an artwork by collaging sliced negatives. The work fits within her existing practice and becomes part of her series Constructed Narratives that “references early Pictorialist tendencies of combination printing as well as Modernist experimental techniques such as montage, collage and multiple exposures.”

My London runs at Peckham 24, Copeland Gallery, Copeland Park, 133 Copeland Rd, London SE15 3SN from 18th-20th May 2018