Opening Friday 13 July at The Photographers’ Gallery are two excellent (and free!) exhibitions: the heady and contemplative Deutsche Börse Photography Prize 2012 and the breezy and light-hearted Contemporary Japanese Photobooks. Both yield wonderful opportunities to view amazing photography and to consider contemporary trends in the field.
The Deutsche Börse Photography Prize 2012 show is a biggie. Founded by The Photographers’ Gallery, and now in its sixteenth year, the prize is one of the most prestigious international arts awards and has launched and established the careers of many photographers over the years. The four artists shortlisted for the 2012 prize are Pieter Hugo, Rinko Kawauchi, John Stezaker and Christopher Williams. Works by these four will be on show until 9 September 2012. The winner of the prize will be announced at a special ceremony at the gallery on 3 September.
Of the four photographers’ works, South African Pieter Hugo’s stark shots “from a vast dumping ground for technological waste” on the outskirts of the Ghanaian capital of Accra are especially powerful. His unflinching gaze cast upon the excesses of Western consumption mesmerises as it brings home the consequences of convenience and uneven wealth.
Much less ponderous and actually a whole lot of fun is concurrent exhibition, Contemporary Japanese Photobooks, which takes over an entire floor of the gallery and transforms it into a reading room with a variety of more than 200 Japanese photobooks that are virtually impossible to find in the West. All the books have been published within the last ten years and features virtually any and everything that could ever even be conceived as photogenic. A monkey riding a piglet? Check. A pink hued tea party with an alpaca (or was that a llama)? Check. Etc etc etc? Oh yeah.
The Photographers’ Gallery is located at 16-18 Ramillies Street, W1F 7LW.