On a visit to London today I visited three exhibitions. The first was at the Institute of Contemporary Arts and was Viviane Sassen’s Pikin Slee. A year ago I saw her Exhibition Umbra and was interested to see this newer work. In common with Umbra, these pictures were about abstracting from the everyday. The images told you nothing of the settlement of Pikin Slee and could have been made anywhere tropical. The sense you do get is of the utility. The simplest of things are recorded reflecting a simpler place. Water pots, food, simple buildings but he inclusion of a cell phone, plastic bags, an aluminium pie dish show everything that is poor, alongside worn fabric, broken wood, earth and stones. I think this is what she is aiming for, the depiction of a simpler, slower pace of life before it is lost.
Next, I visited the Photographer’s Gallery to see Human Rights and Human Wrongs. A litany of man’s inhumanity to man, depressing but not entirely without hope. As long as there are people to record and keep bringing these things to our attention then maybe there is redemption in some distant future. The exhibition was large and a lot of the images were familiar.
The final exhibition (and the reason for the visit to London) was They All Say Please by OCA tutor Sharon Boothroyd. I have seen various images from this exhibition over the past two years and it is nice to see it complete. Sharon’s idea is a very simple one, she has interpreted prayers (many from on-line prayer forums) into images. One side of the gallery has one caption per photo, the other has the images arranged in tiers where one image can have several interpretations according the caption you read. The link to Sharon’s web page and a more detailed explanation of her thought processes during interpretation is here: