Photo London at Somerset House brings together artists, galleries, auction houses and museums from across the world to give our great city the celebration of women’s breasts it deserves.
Mooching through its central pavilion and labyrinthine wings is like creeping through a stately home filled with 1970s erotica, a sprawling playground for men who want to gaze at pictures of boobs without the threat of their wives discovering their browsing history; you can’t get in trouble if it’s hidden in plain sight! It’s not porn if it costs £2,000!
It’s dispiriting that nearly 180 years since the medium was invented, the camera is still utterly fixated on the naked female form. In one snap a woman looks up orgasmically as she prepares to couple with a swan. In another a plume of peacock feathers emerges from a prostrate lady’s bottom. There’s a close-up of a silky gusset given a veneer of class by the pattern of fish-net stockings. Seriously, boys, just log on to Pornhub and be done with it.
It’s a shame, because there’s some great work nestled in this ungainly melange. Wistful Americana is a recurring theme; a blonde wanders through fading desert landscapes in a series by Kourtney Roy; palm trees and chevvies typify 1970s California in Henry Wessel’s black and white shots.
Eric Madigan’s pictures of women wearing huge hats become almost abstract through their use of stark, block colour; Darren Almond’s landscapes are impressive in their depth and scale; Gregory Scott cleverly overlays photos of galleries onto video, bringing the “paintings” to life.
But the surefire way to sell your pictures, it seems, is to make sure there are tits in them. I know people have to make a living, but seriously, it’s not a great look.