10 Of The Best Images At Photo London
East 100th Street. © Mr Bruce Davidson, courtesy of Magnum Photos
What to look out for at the art fair in the capital.
MR PORTER has teamed up with Photo London to ask some experts from the world of photography – as well as some enthusiasts from our own team – to select their favourite image from the fair.
Mr Ben Palmer
Creative Director, MR PORTER
Illustration by Mr Joe McKendry
Mr Ben Palmer has chosen the image above by 84-year-old photographer Mr Bruce Davidson. For two years in the late 1960s, the Magnum photographer took shots of a single block in East Harlem, New York. He would travel to the block day in, day out, building relationships with the many families that lived there, and photographing life as it spilled out onto the street.
Mr Davidson’s narration of real lives, which captured people with a sensitivity and regard that transcended a magazine’s page layout or the demands of a newspaper looking for a splash, marked him out as one of the great social photographers of his time and a singular conveyor of New York life.
“The intensity of these two young guys really demands your attention, but there’s still a feeling of youthfulness,” says Mr Palmer. “I love that this picture looks so timeless.”
Mr Thomas Kuijpers
Cargo (Weapon), 2017. © Mr Thomas Kuijpers, courtesy of LhGWR
Ms Brett Rogers
Director of The Photographers’ Gallery
Photograph by Ms Kate Elliott, courtesy of The Photographers’ Gallery
Ms Brett Rogers was awarded an OBE for the way she has led The Photographers’ Gallery, the publicly funded institution that remains London’s primary space dedicated to contemporary photography. She has chosen an image from the series Cargo (Weapon) by Mr Thomas Kuijpers, in which the 32-year-old Dutch photographer uses found and archival photography to explore societal fears of terrorism.
“Thomas Kuijpers believes there are already too many images in the world,” says Ms Rogers. “We don’t need to produce any more, but instead edit the material out there. He collects images from our mediated environment and translates his findings into conceptual artwork. He slows us down and asks us to think about our image culture in a more critical fashion. It makes him very relevant and very meaningful.”
Mr Roger Ballen
Girl In White Dress, 2002, from the Boarding House series by Mr Roger Ballen. Photograph courtesy of the artist and Camara Oscura Galeria de Arte, Madrid
Mr Simon Bainbridge
Editorial director, British Journal Of Photography
Photograph courtesy of British Journal Of Photography
Mr Simon Bainbridge is the long-term editor of British Journal Of Photography, a leading photography magazine that has been published continuously since 1854. He has selected an image by Mr Roger Ballen, the New Yorker who has documented the margins of South African society since the 1970s, establishing himself in the process as one of the most divisive and influential photographers of his generation.
“Ballen’s work is unquestionably beautifully crafted, yet it has a moral ambiguity, and I think that’s what makes it so intriguing,” says Mr Bainbridge. “With Outland, and then the follow-up series Boarding House, from which Girl In White Dress is taken, he crossed the line, moving away from the straight documentation of poor, white, rural communities in South Africa’s dorps to make collaboratively staged tableaux with seemingly vulnerable subjects who were, as Outland’s short introduction explained, ‘scarred by history, in the process of losing the privileges of apartheid which had provided them livelihoods and sustained their identity for a generation’.”
Ms Sarah Moon
Marthe, 1997 © Ms Sarah Moon, courtesy Michael Hoppen Gallery
Ms Siân Davey
Photograph courtesy of Ms Siân Davey
Ms Siân Davey came to prominence with her portraiture series Looking For Alice, which explored her relationship with her daughter, Alice, and society’s treatment of people with Down’s syndrome. Her recent series, Martha, has established Ms Davey as a leading figure in feminist photography. Her chosen image is by Ms Sarah Moon, a largely unheralded 78-year-old French-Jewish former model turned photographer, who captured female life in 1960s London using Polaroid film.
“I think Sarah Moon is the greatest living fashion photographer, an artist who has always taken her own route and always existed outside of the mainstream,” says Ms Davey. “Here, she used a Polaroid camera before scanning and pigment printing the image, creating this ethereal surface quality. It’s a very beautiful photograph that has to be seen in a gallery.”
Mr Antony Cairns
Antony Cairns, IBM LDN5\_51, 2017. © Mr Antony Cairns, courtesy of Roman Road Gallery
Ms Hannah Watson
Director of TJ Boulting Gallery
Photograph by Ms Juno Calypso, courtesy of TJ Boulting
Ms Hannah Watson, who runs the Fitzrovia-based gallery TJ Boulting and adjoining publisher Trolley Books, has chosen a science-fiction-inspired image of London at night, taken by resident photographer Mr Antony Cairns. The image is part of the series IBM LDN5_51, about to be published as a photobook by Brixton-based publisher Mörel Books, and part of the group show Shape Of Light: 100 Years Of Photography And Abstract Art at Tate Modern.
“Antony Cairns’ images are ghostly monochromes of London at night,” says Ms Watson. “They’re created using forgotten and old technology, such as Kindles or memory cards. He turns the defunct and discarded into the creators of beautiful and delicate images.”
Mr Erik Madigan Heck
Muse, 2013. © Mr Erik Madigan Heck, courtesy of Christophe Guye Galerie
Ms Brandei Estes
Head of Sotheby’s photographs department
Photograph courtesy of World Photography Organisation
Ms Brandei, who runs the photography department at art auctioneers Sotheby’s, has selected an image by Mr Erik Madigan Heck, the 34-year-old photographer from rural Minnesota who has become a celebrated and respected fashion photographer.
“I stopped buying fashion magazines almost 20 years ago,” says Ms Estes. “I felt they did terrible things for women’s self-esteem and confidence. But Erik Madigan Heck is different. It’s rare to get a eureka moment in photography, but Heck’s fashion photographs are painterly and romantic. He is one of the few artists today capable of making colour the protagonist, as Matisse did.”
Mr Daniel Shea
Superquadra I from the series 43-35 10th Street, 2017. © Mr Daniel Shea, courtesy of Webber Gallery Space
Mr Michael Mack
Founder of MACK Books
Photograph by Mr Pete M Boyd
Mr Michale Mack, founder of the independent photography book publisher MACK Books, chooses an image from Mr Daniel Shea’s recent series 43-35 10th Street, a study of American architecture that won the Brooklyn-based photographer the prestigious Foam Paul Huf Award.
“Daniel Shea has achieved something extraordinary,” says Mr Mack. “He made a brilliant book, and then worked really hard in thinking about how to translate the book to the gallery space. The way he explores the relationship between photography and the built environment exhibits a clear intelligence and intensity, and the photographs themselves are exquisite. For anyone interested in acquiring new works, I think Daniel Shea is a really good bet.”
Ms Evgenia Arbugaeva
Untitled 52 from the series Amani, 2015. © Ms Evgenia Arbugaeva, courtesy of The Photographers' Gallery and the artist
Mr Roger Ballen
Photograph by Ms Marguerite Rossouw, courtesy of Roger Ballen Studio
Mr Roger Ballen, the Johannesburg-based American photographer whose photobook Outland is considered a classic of the genre, selects an image by Ms Evgenia Arbugaeva, a photographer known for her exploration of the Russian Arctic, where she grew up. The image, of a “mouse trapped in a glass cage”, is part of the 2015 series Amani, which explores the once lauded, now semi-abandoned Amani Malaria Research Station in Tanzania, east Africa, through the experience of its devoted former lab assistant, Mr John Mganga.
“This image affected me,” says Mr Ballen. “I related to it, consciously or subconsciously. I was struck by the mouse in the glass cage. It’s an animal in a Ballenesque space, complex, surrealistic and psychological. A place of organised chaos.”
Mr Arko Datto
Untitled, from the series Shunyo Raja. © Mr Arko Datto, courtesy of East Wing Gallery
Mr Adam Welch
Editorial Director, MR PORTER
Illustration by Mr Joe McKendry
Mr Adam Welch has selected an image by the emerging Indian photographer Mr Arko Datto. Exhibiting for the first time, Mr Datto is using Photo London to showcase his three-year project Shunyo Raja/Kings Of A Bereft Land, which documents life on the world’s largest delta, the Ganga-Brahmaputra-Meghna, and details the challenges faced by the residents of the delta’s archipelago of islands – a delicate balances between land, air and sea.
“I have a quiet obsession with islands, perhaps because life off the mainland is as difficult as it is beautiful,” says Mr Welch. “Mr Datto captures this brilliantly throughout Shunyo Raja, but I particularly like this beach shot, both for its painterly colour and composition and its element of suspense and uncertainty. The boat could be coming or going. You have to wonder what it might be bringing, or who it might have taken with it.”
Mr Saul Leiter
Round Mirror, 1950s. © Mr Saul Leiter, courtesy Saul Leiter Estate and Benrido Collotype Gallery
Ms Katie Morgan
Picture Director, MR PORTER
Illustration by Mr Joe McKendry
Ms Katie Morgan chooses an image from the late photographer Mr Saul Leiter, who moved to New York as a young man and became a contemporary of the great documentarians Mr Robert Frank, Mr Walker Evans and Ms Diane Arbus. Together, they were founding members of what became known as the New York School Of Photography, a movement defined by its humanistic ideals towards photography.
“Saul Leiter worked as a fashion photographer, but he’s best known for his photographs of the streets of New York and Paris in the 1940s and 1950s,” says Ms Morgan. “He must have spent an awful lot of time in cafés and bars, just watching and waiting. He had this amazing ability to create quiet, still snapshots of a city. There’s something poetic about his photographs, a little glimpse into someone’s life that almost feels as if its accidental but, of course, it can’t be.”