by Penny Martin .

How We Are

A tip for our London faithful: get yourselves down to Tate Britain to see the extensive and gripping How We Are: Photographing Britain show that opened last night. Taking on the rather thankless task of documenting all 168ish years of British photography, the exhibition's curators -the brilliant Val Williams and SHOWstudio contributor Susan Bright- do an impressive job of combining historic survey with sensitive summations of individual photographers.

I listened to Esther Freud review it on Front Row and she felt the 1970s fared particularly well, which is probably right. She speculated that this might be related to the age of the curators, but it's pretty well documented that photography in the UK was getting more organised (and funded) in the 70s and that this was supported by art school education that was increasingly attentive to photography and critical studies.

This period onwards is difficult to deal with from a curatorial perspective because most of your artists are still alive and the British photographic community is notoriously political and voluble: I spoke to more than one contemporary practitioner whose reservations about How We Are boiled down to the fact that their work hadn't been included! Two people that can't complain are SHOWstudio darlings Jason Evans and Simon Foxton, whose three images from the seminal 1991 i-D shoot 'Strictly' featured heavily throughout the show, from the walls of the final, conclusive gallery to the covers of the gallery leaflets everyone was carrying and the exhibition catalogue (pictured). Why, there was even a Tate postcard printed in their honour. It was a proud moment!

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