1 February 2014

David Lynch and more at The Photographers' Gallery

The Photographers' Gallery was new to me and it definitely was not in Ramillies Street when I worked on its junction with Great Marlborough Street in the early 90s.

I only discovered it on the morning of the day that I went. I was at home looking for somewhere else to go to to fill a gap in my schedule for that day and referred to the ever-helpful Art Fund app for some suggestions. I had not heard of David Lynch but I know cooling towers when I see them and that was enough to put it on the list.

I got there after a prompt lunch (coffee and sarnie) with about an hour to fill before a matinee performance.

I was not sure how long the visit would take but the entry fee was only £2.50 for Art Fund members (it was £4 normally) and I was happy to pay that for an hour's browsing even if, as it turned out, that was insufficient time to do the gallery justice.

Having bought my ticket for the galley I was happily surprised to see that it covered three separate exhibitions. I was there for David Lynch so I first headed up to the top (5th) floor.

I could not see any "no photography" signs but it was realistic to assume that this was the rule, and everybody else seemed to think so too. I resisted the temptation to take photographs of the photographs but I did allow myself this one shot to show the layout of the gallery.

It was an odd shape and the spur off to the left only went about 3m so the picture shows almost all of the gallery. It also shows that there were many photographs on display, in clusters, and that they were all black and white.

Most of the photos were from Berlin and Lodz (Poland) but there were just a few of an undisclosed power station in England, these were the familiar cooling towers and electricity pylons that had attracted me to the exhibition in the first place.

For some reason these were among the four pictures chosen by the gallery for use by the press which is why I am able to share them.

They were not typical though and most of the pictures were of derelict factories. I remarked on the composition of the one below when I saw it so I am glad that it also made the press pack.

The themes of these pictures, broken windows, rubble-strewn interiors, abandoned machinery, etc. were familiar enough, and were the sorts of pictures that I like to take myself, but photography is about more than just being there with a camera and David Lynch had captures the sense of other-worldliness magnificently.

I spent most of my allotted hour with David Lynch and that left little time to see the photographs of Andy Warhol and William S. Burroughs (!) on the two floors below. I walked quickly around both exhibitions just to get a sense of them and to see if it would be worth spending more time with them later.

Burroughs was the big surprise. Known as a writer he was also a prolific photographer and even made, according to him, good money with his portraits. Most of his pictures captured the minutiae of life with, for example, one series of pictures on the aftermath of a traffic accident and another on the state of his bed after sex.

What was interesting was what he photographed rather than how he photographed it. This was a time when few people were taking photographs and even fewer were taking them of mundane things. The world has changed since then and sites like Instagram are full of the mundane.

Warhol was more familiar territory with, for example, pictures of the inside of a larder sewn together in a grid. It was Warhol art but in another form.

In just a few hours The Photographers' Gallery went from being somewhere that I did not know existed to somewhere that I want to visit again.

1 comment:

  1. Hello Matthew,

    I just wanted to let you know that Lynchland has shared your review and your text. Thanks !

    Roland K. / Lynchland


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