The year ahead has the usual annual photography festivals to look forward to – Paris Photo (Nov 14-17); Les Recontres d’Arles (July 1-September 22); the second edition of the Unseen festival (Amsterdam September 19-23); PhotoEspana (5 June-20 July) on the theme of Eroticism and the Body as well as a growing number of UK festivals: Format (March 4-April 6); Look! Liverpool (May 16-19); Cardiff International Festival of Photography (1-31 May) and Belfast Photo festival (from June 6). There are also a host of other exhibitions to start planning to see.
For this year’s Les Rencontres d’Arles, Director Francois Hebel has chosen a pertinent theme which might strike some as surprising – focusing the entire festival solely around the theme of black and white photography. While the artistic direction of this festival was originally associated in the 1970s with the photojournalistic legacy of Magnum, their decision to devote the festival to this subject represents a leap of faith as the organisers acknowledge the recent re-engagement with this particular area of the medium by a wide range of interesting contemporary photographers. Alongside some recognisable major names, which the festival always showcases, the Discovery Award this year will present lesser-known contemporary practitioners working in black and white. In an attempt to correct decades in which women have rarely featured on the curatorial side of Arles, Hebel has chosen an all-woman shortlist of nominators: Diane Dufour (LeBal Paris); Olga Sviblova (Multimedia Art Museum, Moscow); Alison Nordstrom (George Eastman House, Rochester New York); Zeina Arida (Arab Image Foundation, Lebanon) and myself.
Tony Ray-Jones, Windsor Horse Show, 1966–67 © NMeM / Tony Ray-Jones / Science & Society
Other big touring shows which I will be anxious to see during the coming year include:
- Robert Adams at the Reina Sofia Museum Madrid (until May 18, then at Josef Albers Museum Bottrop in summer 2013). This major retrospective of 300 vintage prints from Yale University’s collection traces Adams’ engagement over 4 centuries with the American West.
- The Rise and Fall of Apartheid curated by Okwui Enwezor at Haus der Kunst Munich (15 May-26 May) and organised by the ICP, New York. In this bold re-examination of the Apartheid period, Enwezor has broadened the range of South African photographers beyond the usual handful we are so familiar with, to around 70 – with over 500 photos, films and magazines this is bound to be a hugely important show in Europe.
- Margaret Bourke-White – organized by La Fabrica Madrid (and travelling to Martin Gropius Bau, Berlin (January 18-April 14) and then travelling to the Hague in 2014.
Closer to home and paralleling the career of Bourke-White, Duncan Forbes will be curating the first major show of the work of another woman photographer at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh (March 2 May 22) who is long overdue closer examination. The Viennese-born Edith Tudor Hart (1908-1973), who studied photography at the Bauhaus Dessau, began taking photos in South Wales during late 1930s for The Listener before going on to focus on social inequality in the East End of London. Coincidentally Tudor Hart was Wolfgang Suchitzky’s older sister and was influential in encouraging him to choose photography over science as his profession, when he arrived from Europe to London the 30s.
Very shortly Sebastiao Salgado will launch his ten year Genesis exhibition here in London at the Natural History Museum (11 April-8 September). Long-awaited, Salgado’s project is bound to produce as much general interest as controversy.
Margaret Bourke-White, Couple pulling a car loaded with children, Germany, 1945, Vintage gelatin silver print, Courtesy Syracuse University Library © Time & Life / Getty Images
Geoffrey Farmer, The Surgeon and the Photographer, 2009-13 © Rachel Topham, Vancouver Art Gallery
Geoffrey Farmer’s Leaves of Grass was one of my favourite works at last year’s Documenta and therefore I am looking forward to seeing another work (26 March-28 July) at Barbican Curve – the premiere of a new installation and film The Surgeon and the Photographer, which is the culmination of 3 year’s work in which the artist has blended collage, assemblage, chance and animism in the creation of hundreds of puppets made from images drawn from old books and magazines.
This coming autumn we may not be as spoiled for choice as we were last autumn, when major shows such as Barbican’s Everything was Moving and National Gallery’s Seduced by Art coincided. However, we will have the opening of the Media Space at the Science Museum to look forward to – launching on September 21st with the work of Tony Ray Jones, as well as a small but carefully curated show of work by the little-known American photographer Harry Callahan at Tate.
Brett Rogers, Director of The Photographers’ Gallery