Although the London Art Fair showcases work from across the wide spectrum of contemporary art practices, it is worth noting that each year, photography holds a special place at the fair. Titled "Photo50," the exhibition is annually guest curated to provide a fresh look and a critical forum for examining the most distinctive elements of current photographic practice.
This year's edition has been put together by Sheyi Bankale, of Next Level Projects. It features 9 photographers and comes with the enigmatic title "Against Nature." Bankale's selection hopes to pose a series of questions that consider what it is to look at and display a photograph, and how a photograph can become elevated to the status of an object, act or intervention.
The exhibition's titles apparently comes from a French novel by the same name. In the words of Bankale, his hope is to explore "the possibilities of how we relate to renewed storytelling within the photographic medium, blurring the boundary between the tangible object and the aesthetic plane."
The exhibition is made up of several distinct installations, which underscore the variety of what constitutes a "photographic form" today. For example, appropriated materials are commonplace with many of the artists working at the intersections between photography, sculpture and performance. Besides pushing towards new expressions of the medium, the exhibition also features re-imaginings of older forms. Thorsten Brinkmann’s "photo assemblages" recall the long-standing practice of montage, but incorporate staged photos and installations in refreshing combinations. Another artist, Adad Hannah, captures almost still scenes with video, combining still life with tableaux vivant [see the 1-minute clip below].
Of course, not everything in the show will be for everyone. But it's great to see photography taking center stage alongside the other forms of art. And besides, what is contemporary art without some healthy debate, even a little controversy?
Editor's Note: The London Art Fair will run from January 21 to January 25, 2015. You can find out more information about Photo50 on the fair's website.