Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Exhibition: Out of Focus Saatchi Gallery OCA Study Day

Forgive me Blog, for I have sinned, it is too long since I wrote up some of my study days and personal gallery visits....over the next few days (as I have to be in for roofers to come and look at a leak I suddenly seemed to have acquired) I hope to address this issue...though looking at how many I need to do I don't think they will all get done and some maybe more in depth than others.

Firstly I'm going to concentrate on the Saatchi Out of Focus OCA study visit that was done back in the summer of 2012. Yes, THAT long ago. Having recently used information gathered and photographers displayed in this exhibition I realise how important it is to take notes, keep exhibition guides and complete a write up no matter how brief.

I think that the write up would have been different had I done it at the time and looking at it respectively has given me a different perspective. To remind myself of the exhibition I have re-read online reviews, both from other students and online publications.

So here goes me....

On reading the reviews I was reminded that this exhibition was the first one held at the Saatchi gallery in over ten years. Quite a few of the writers were scathing about the curation stating "Entitled ‘Out of Focus’, ironically, there is not much focus to the works overall" continuing with "there is a lack of consensus from room to room," Another writes "Saatchi captures the confusion of contemporary photography... messy, sprawling [with]... uncomfortable truths about the current state of photography." Yet another wrote “I left feeling rather perplexed — the variety is astonishing but it feels uncurated. The catalogue suggests looking at this show through “an appropriate lens — a kaleidoscope”

The following quote comes from the book which accompanied the exhibition and here I give a nod to Armano's blog and fully admit to getting it from him, so thanks Armano in helping me complete this write up, even if you are unaware of it! A link to Armano's blog is at the end and he also has some wonderful pictures from the day which brought back memories.

William A Ewing wrote "I believe that we are missing something essential if we don’t acknowledge that photography covers a much broader field than what is found on museum or gallery walls.”

And there I think we have the rub. An exhibition about contemporary photography will by default appear messy and random, with so many new technologies and avenues to explore, the ability to try new things and be unfettered it will seem a little uncurated. It wasn't an exhibition about contemporary landscape, or contemporary portraits, it was well...just...contemporary. This does not mean to say that it was not a little overwhelming. With 38 photographers on display and quite  a few pieces from each, there was a lot to take in and I probably skipped some accidentally and glazed over with others. It is quite easy to become tired walking up and down flights of stairs and through 15 equally-proportioned exhibition spaces, which when opened in October 2008 were described by the Observer as being “the most beautiful art spaces in London...as light, as high, and as beautifully proportioned as any in London”. The space is gorgeous, high white walls and ceilings, well lit with ample space to stand back or view from a high gallery to take in the displays.

In all honesty I did find it a little confusing, but when you go to any museum as you wander from Romans, to silverware to costumes to glassware then a selected exhibition you do get accosted by different sights and cultures and we accept that so why not this?

What I took away from this exhibition more than anything is that you should feel free to experiment with photography, size, colour, assemblage, collage and even the controversial. There were some images on display that I didn't like (Pinar Yolacan and her offal series, sorry,  Perishable series comes to mind) but who am I to say that she does not have a message to send about how in the end we all perish, and "are what we eat"?

Out of the huge array on offer the most memorable for me, in no particular order and not to say I did or did not like them were:

Katy Grannan, David Benjamin Sherry, Mitch Epstein, Sohei Nishino, Luis Gispert, Ryan McGinley, Mariah Robertson, Mat Collinshaw, Noemie Goudal and Hannah Starkey. The Richard Wilson Used Sump 1987 installation was stunning.

Usually I write a little about each photographer but that is when the visit is a little more recent and not quite so many to talk about? Instead I will just end on a conclusion.

In flicking through the exhibition guide and the Telegraph slideshow these were the artists that I can honestly say I remember seeing, I have excluded artists that I already was aware of. This is the power of imagery and messages, what remains after we walk away. I found it really interesting to note that I didn't remember Broomberg and Chanarin, I remember the red images under glass but their names didn't stick, likewise Elina Brotherus, all of which I have recently seen again. Guess what ...Elina was naked in a bath....







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