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Photographers' Gallery

  • Art
  • Soho
  • price 0 of 4
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Recommended
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Kate Elliott

Time Out says

4 out of 5 stars

The Photographers' Gallery's six-storey premises on Ramillies Street has reopened after a full facelift. Original plans for the new site were for a striking, angular structure with giant floor-to-ceiling lightwells grasping for the sky. After a fiscal wake-up call (the budget was cut nearly in half to £9 million), the Irish architects O'Donnell+Tuomey returned with a handsome refit and recladding of an old brick building, plus what amounts to an extravagant loft conversion, adding two whole storeys and just one thin sliver of those firmament-reaching windows. What hasn't been lost is any of the interior space. The upper floors boast two airy new galleries, while a bookshop, print sales room and café have been dug from the ground floor and basement levels. In fact, the climb-down from landmark building to tasteful conversion is no great loss, given the building's move to an unprepossessing corner plot in a back alley south of Oxford Street. The Photographers' Gallery has kept faith in its location, however tricky and inhospitable their new plot on the vaguely insalubrious Ramilies Street might seem. Indeed, the new site maintains the gallery's roots in Soho (just) and will hopefully come to be as embedded here as it was in its former location on Great Newport Street, which, despite its inelegant, warren-like unsuitability for showing great photography, will also live long in the memory.


Ramillies St
Tube: Oxford Circus
Opening hours:
10am–6pm daily
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What’s on

Daido Moriyama: A Retrospective

  • 4 out of 5 stars

This exhibition starts with a lie. ‘I don’t know if individual photographs contain ideas, worlds, history, humanity, beauty, ugliness or nothing at all. I actually do not really care. I just extract and record things around me, without pretence,’ says influential Japanese photographer Daido Moriyama (1938-). And he doesn’t mean a word of it.  Because what makes this show so good, makes Moriyama’s work so good, isn’t that it’s some objective documentation of the world around him or a philosophical quest for photographic truth; it’s the impossibility of that truth, and the way he intentionally blurs the awkward boundaries between documentary and fiction, reality and what a picture of that reality means.  It starts with images of Tokyo street life, foetuses in formaldehyde and traditional Japanese theatre. The actors in their thick makeup are caught between tradition and modernity, keeping their culture alive in a country that’s changing, westernising, at lightning speed. This is the closest to classic documentary that Moriyama gets. It’s all ultra-blown out, super harsh, high contrast, fragmented and dark After this, he starts to distance himself from truth. He creates a series of ‘accidents’, images of car crashes, assassinations, bodies on streets, crowds being crushed. But the car crash is a rephotographed poster, the assassination is photocopied from newspapers, the crowd crush is just some people at the beach. He’s appropriating, twisting, reshaping, showing that photos a

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