Deutsche Borse Photography Prize 2012

Notes on the Deutsche Borse Photography Prize 2012 at the Photographers’ Gallery, London.

John Stezaker – I really enjoyed his exhibition at the Whitechapel Gallery last year. His deceptively simple collages take vintage postcards and publicity portraits and combine them in often unsettling ways. The works feel like throwbacks to Surrealism, something that the source material – which looks to date from the 30s and 40s – only adds to.

Christopher Williams – I can’t say his photographs made any impression on me at all (which probably means he’ll probably go on to be seen as the greatest photographer of his generation and years later I’ll be slapping myself on the forehead wondering how I could have been so short-sighted to have overlooked him).

Pieter Hugo – beautiful, large-format portraits of the scavengers who eke out an existance on the technology dumping-grounds outside Ghana’s capital city.

Rinko Kawauchi –  a real favourite of mine. I was really looking forward to seeing her photographs in a gallery, only ever having seen them in books before, but sommehow the way they were presented (small prints under perspex frames, haphazardly arranged across two walls) didn’t capture the intensity of her books. There’s more light in a single Kawauchi photograph than we seen in a whole summer in England. I enjoyed browsing her collection of books in the basement store (these books are really hard to get hold of in the UK too – I had to resist spending a fortune).

Strangely Pieter Hugo’s images were the opposite, the book just didn’t capture the impact of the prints (that almost looked like paintings – they made me think of Richard Hamilton’s portraits based around the troubles in Northern ireland).

Stupidly I completely missed that that there was also an exhibition of Japanese Photography books on the second floor (I’m still not entirely convinced by the gallery’s redesign btw – particularly the cafe’s move to the ground floor)

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