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Photo London preview

19 May 2015

The organisers of Photo London have made bold claims for the first edition of the new photography fair, which runs from 21–24 May. Last year, Michael Benson, one of its co-founders and the director of Candlestar (the arts organisation that also runs the Prix Pictet), said that it would ‘utterly transform the photography audience’.

The fair will certainly provide a focus for all kinds of photographic activity. While over 70 galleries are bringing works to Somerset House, where the fair is based, Photo London also gives London-based galleries a chance to put their best foot forward: the timing of ‘André Kertesz in Europe’ at James Hyman gallery (also at the fair) and Thomas Struth at Marian Goodman is no coincidence (see our latest ‘London Diary’ for details). Sotheby’s, Phillips and Christie’s will also all be holding photography sales this week (Christie’s is online only). And at Tate Modern, Offprint is a fair of photobooks, featuring 150 artists and independent publishers.

Among the Photo London exhibitions and special commissions, ‘Beneath the Surface’ looks to be a highlight. Martin Barnes, senior curator of photographs at the V&A, has curated a show of 200 prints from museum’s permanent collection, some of which have never been seen in public before. I’m particularly looking forward to seeing William Strudwick’s views of London in the 1860s. London is also a subject in the more recent and more conceptual work of Rut Blees Luxemburg and Stephen Gill.

Another highlight of Photo London is its talks programme, sponsored by the LUMA Foundation and curated by Francis Hodgson. The events strike a good balance between an audience with big names, including Stephen Shore, Sebastião Salgado, Don McCullin, and more thematic panel discussions, such as ‘The Dissolution of Photography’ and ‘Photojournalism’.

I’m most curious about Mitch Epstein’s collaboration with the composer Erik Friedlander, who has composed a score to accompany some of the images from Epstein’s American Power series. In the piece, originally commissioned by the Walker Art Center, Epstein will be narrating and Friedlander will be performing live.

Photo London is at Somerset House, London, from 21–24 May.