Saturday, 12 September 2009

Type & Rank....

....Two more exhibitions on my day off. Two total opposites. Rankin Live on Brick Lane houses a retrospective of his photography, but also an ongoing project to photograph members of the public and display their images almost instantaneously on the gallery walls.

I found that the show totally divided my opinion. On the one hand I think his fashion photography is poor. High gloss, super retouched, naff themes, artistically flawed. His self portraiture misses all intended irony and is a self loving, poorly conceived set of photos. However he pulled me back in with his project for Oxfam in the Congo, intended to highlight the forgotten conflict in the country.

By setting each subject against an infinite white background, the context of the Congo is lost, but in the immensely sharp details and the faces that show personality and suffering in one, Rankin has shot a wonderful series of images for a worthy campaign.

I also enjoyed his portraiture of famous celebrities and politicians - recognising many of the photos and never realising they had been shot by him. Like this classic of Vivienne Weswood, that encapsulates all her eccentricity and creativity.

Lastly, the 'live' part of the shoot produced a mass of portraits of the public, crammed together on the walls. It was fascinating to scan the images, (interestingly 90% white men & woman), and see vast differences in form and beauty between them all. We're a generally ugly bunch in reality!

The second show I visited was with Richie. Typographica at Kemistry Gallery, is small, but sweet.

The exhibition is named after the groundbreaking design journal, first published in 1949. It set the benchmark for type setting, photo documentary and experimental publishing that magazines and typographers still aspire to today. It was a little too historical for me, but for the uber type geek in Richie, it was well worth it.

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