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Why you need to visit the V&A's new Photography Centre

Written by
Rosemary Waugh

Avo on toast? Snap. Autumn outfit? Click. Dog in a new coat? Snap. Every second of every day? Click. Yep, with everything from breakfast onwards worthy of a pic, photography really is everywhere.

But its ubiquity means we easily forget how recent an invention photography is. In fact, it’s less than 200 years old and, from October 12, Londoners can explore its accelerated growth as an art form at the V&A’s new Photography Centre.

V&A Photography Centre - Render of The Bern and Ronny Schwartz Gallery and Gallery 101 (c) David Kohn Architects.

As well as housing a specialist ‘dark tent’ for projections, the gallery space is split into two sections, one for part of the V&A’s collection and one for a new commission. Excitingly, both sections are scheduled to keep changing.

Thomas Ruff, Tripe_01 (Amerapoora. Modhee Kyoung, 2018, C-type print © Courtesy of Thomas Ruff and David Zwirner Gallery

It opens with ‘Collecting Photography: From Daguerreotype to Digital’ and a new series by German contemporary artist Thomas Ruff, who’s used digital technology to transform pictures of Burma and India in the 1850s into huge, hazily beautiful new images.

J. D. 'Okhai Ojeikere (1930-2014), HD17670 (Fro Fro), 1969-75, Gelatin silver print, printed 2012 © J. D. 'Okhai Ojeik, V&A.

My favourites? The off-stage shots of ballet dancers by Mary McCartney, Peter Funch’s candid pictures of commuting New Yorkers and JD ’Okhai Ojeikere’s portraits of Nigerian women’s hair. Gorgeous. Go see – and make it snappy.

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