Thomas Struth at the Marian Goodman gallery

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Struth took the photos of the series 'This Place' in Israel and Palestine between 2009 and 2014.


"In the end, I strive to make pictures that are arresting, that you have to keep looking at. Homi Bhabha said something that resonated with me. He was talking about works of art that you cannot forget but don’t remember in detail. The drive to not forget emerges when the artwork touches your core, when it has a central narrative that is understood generally through its specificity."

Joao Penalva- Simon Lee gallery

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large scale grey photographs of London's pavement printed on linen and mounted on aluminum. Penalva proves that a simple subject, the pavement can be turned into large abstract works of art.

Another series of Penalva's was part of the Tate exhibition "Conflict, Time, Photography".

Hidden within- Samantha Roddick

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Michael Hoppen Gallery

Inspired by Carlo Mollino's (1905-1973) polaroids of nude women, Samantha Roddick recreates these erotic scenes, staging these women in the same poses to comment on the male gaze. Mollino's story is even more interesting in a way. For 13 years, the designer secretly invited women to come and take their clothes off for him in his semi-secluded house, villa Zaira. Mollino would mount the polaroid unto a cardboard. Roddick chose twelve of his polaroids but reproduced twelve to show the seriality and how the women all look the same. Similar poses, similar outfits.

Salt and Silver- Tate Britain

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This small exhibitions looks at the earliest salt photographs (1840-1860) which originated in Britain. Most of them are by famous photographers from Talbot to Nadar. Salted paper prints were invented by William Henry Fox Talbott in 1839. It's the very first form of paper photography. The light sensitive paper is covered in silver salts. I don't know if it's due to their fragility but the medium died out by the 1860's. Daguerre, who was contemporary to Talbott created daguerreotypes which have a shinier effect.

Discovered that the first successful studio was in Edinburgh.

I particularly enjoyed a photo of a "cantiniere" by Roger Fenton. He went around the soldier's camp and without any set studio took portraits. A portrait of a weary young Captain who looked much older than 23 kept my attention as he looked fatigued and thunderstruck.

Robert Adamson's portrait of Newhaven fishermen's quite appealing in the men's natural pose and humanity.

Paul Klee on images

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In the past artists represented things they had seen on earth, things they liked seeing or might have liked to see. Today, they reveal the relativity of visible things, they express their belief that the visible is only an isolated aspect in relation to the universe as a whole, and that other  invisible truths are the overriding factors. Things appear to assume a broader and more diversified meaning, often seeming to contradict the rational experience of yesterday. The artist strives to express the essential character or the accidental.

Paul Klee, Berlin, 1920.

Qu'est ce que la photographie? -Beaubourg

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This exhibition asks the simple or not so simple question "What is photography" but leaving the gallery I got the sense that the artists presented showed predominently works about mise en abime. For example, Robert Morris's box with a photo of a door on the cover and the photo of the door inside the box. In Jochen Gerz's film we see the artist standing in front of a photograph of him inviting passers by to question which is more real. The first photograph of the exhibition by the Dutch photographer Paul Citroen has the most intriguing features. In a dark theatre room, we see a a man's back as he is peering through his spectacles toward a screen or a stage. 

Michel Campeau presents two photos as part of a series he has undertaken on film labs and that are soon to be cast aside.

The photograph I liked the most was a photo by James Welling photographing gelatin.

One Way Song, a performance by Broomberg & Chanarin

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Listening to drumming from the sidelines

On Monday evening, a crowd of around 150 people gathered at Tate’s exhibition “Conflict, Time, Photography” for Broomberg and Chanarin’s “One Way Song” performance. People wandered around the exhibition galleries, several noticed the nine drums placed in front of specific photographs. A small, hand-sewn booklet showed the photos that corresponded to the time frame and drum locations.

 Downstairs, the seminar room already had four cadets getting dressed. One hid the hole in his sock while another looked distressed at the sight of his imperfectly polished boots. He gave them a final polish before putting them on. Another’s jacket was too tight leaving him no neck while a scraggly boy floated uncomfortably in his jacket. The uniforms not yet fit for these young boys bodies. It felt like the backstage of a play or a school show. These were regular teenagers but the costumes they were putting on were not. The boys and girls present belonged to the Army Cadet Force, an organization they can join outside of school.

From the third floor, you could hear the thumping of the marching up the stairs getting louder and louder as the steps grew closer. Lt. Peter Oweh led the group of eighteen anxious teenagers, his voice resounding clear. For most it was their first time playing in front of an audience, let alone a major public institution like the Tate.  They marched in step towards the exit door of the exhibition. The entrance of the exhibition, where I was standing, had a few eager visitors stepping out to see where the commotion was coming from. It seems that a few felt the noise was coming down through the air vents. After each cadet was placed in front of his drum, the drumming started. It was booming. A little girl put her hands on her ears to muffle the sound.  Only now did I fully understand the relevance of the earplugs handed out at the entrance. Lt. Peter Oweh loudly recited: “These are our children. Stunned and bloody-faced” from Bertolt Brecht’s quatrains from his book, War Primer.

The cadets took turns to drum. Every two minutes, following a signal, without thinking they followed the process. Were they being sent to the battleground in the same mechanical way?  Drumming originally started as a signal for command or to administer punishment. Here, the drumming was continuous. One drummer marched over and relieved another so that there would be no interruption. It stopped. In line, the cadets marched out. They came back out sweating, their arms aching but happy to have maintained their concentration throughout the drumming. A few of the cadet parents proudly snapped some photos.

 I watched attendees come out of the galleries, waiting to listen on their impressions and comments but they appeared at a loss for words. Many had visited the exhibition and had looked at the photographs of the conflicts of the recent past while perhaps being detached from them.

Anti-capitalist, pacifist poems juxtaposed with Army Cadet Force children drumming, stone faced, left a powerful impact. This brought to mind all the children sent to battle in The Great War or the ones in Iraq, Sudan or any other part of the world today. The photographs are striking but being confronted with a live performance resonated differently. Throughout the exhibition we see the devastations of war on objects, people, landscapes, at the time as well as through recovery. If the show is asking us to think of conflict past and present through a lens, the performance with the cadets gets to the heart of the matter.  Ruins don’t just apply to buildings but to people as well. There are few portraits in the exhibition but looking back at a photograph of a Japanese woman’s scarred face next to one of these drummer boys rosy cheeks, it was striking a different chord. Here we stand in front of an uncorrupted young man or woman. We confront the legacy of war by looking at these awkward but determined teenagers.