Thursday, June 28, 2007

Photo opportunity

I've just visited the Tate Britain's excellent exhibition of photography, How We Are, which is on until late September. The first picture was a photo by Fox Talbot of Trafalgar Square in the lates 1840s, when Nelson's Column was still under construction.

On the fence next to the bottom of the column a sign reads Bill Posters Will Be Prosecuted, which has been completely ignored (some things never change). Out of all the adverts one in particular caught my eye: Polkamania! I'm used to seeing Dance Nation compilations of Ibiza-style techno tracks, but I had no idea that they were strutting their funky stuff as long ago as 1847.

Other gems in the exhibition include this superb photo by Martin Parr:

This intriguing one by Angus McBean:

25 years later, he took this iconic image:

Which isn't in the exhibition. However, this portrait by David Bailey is:

With so much choice the curators must have had a tough time making the final selection. Many famous images are missing, for example, Bill Brandt's Lambeth Walk, but perhaps that's the exhibition's greatest strength as it was refreshing to see so many unknown pictures. There was one glaring omission, however: Richard Billingham. He was shortlisted for the Turner Prize a few years ago and no exhibition of British photography is complete without a contribution from him:

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