Lights, cameras, emotion! The new photography dazzles in the rooms of the V

the victory.

Oliver Thansan
Oliver Thansan
04 June 2023 Sunday 04:28
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Lights, cameras, emotion! The new photography dazzles in the rooms of the V

the victory

Just 125 years after its opening, in 2007, the V

Martha Weiss, head of the photography area, arrived at the institution in 2007 and saw that, with such a rich background, a creative tsunami was needed and the conquest of more space. But at that time, photography did not enjoy the recognition or the museum weight of today.

It has taken years but the beautiful temple on Cromwell Road has opened the largest space in the country with a permanent collection of photography. From the portraits of the astronomer Herschel by Julia Margaret Cameron, going through a session in Cape Canaveral by Richard Avedon and arriving at a video from a few months ago that demonstrates the failures of AI when it comes to representing the queer community.

From the little room of almost 25 years ago, it has gone on to a space with seven rooms, some that preserve friezes and frescoes from the first years of the building and others that have been redesigned (but respected) from the plinth to the ceiling. Some, the first ones, came to light thanks to figures like Sir Elton John (and her husband David Furnish), the last ones, presented a few days ago, come with the support of the magnate Monicka Parasol or the Kusuma Trust.

"Photography has become a growing presence in our lives and here you can explore its entire history from the late 1940s to the present day," explains Martha Weiss during the visit to Magazine, which she recognizes as a priceless gift the gift of the fund of the Royal Photographic Society in 2017.

Actually, photography could take up the entire museum in South Kensington, but it all takes time: “For decades there was a struggle to see what photography was, whether it was art, whether it was part of the scientific process and that is why it always had a hard time. find an appropriate place in museums… and here in the UK I think we were a bit behind other countries”, he confesses. “But the last year and the last week have been especially exciting,” Weiss exults.

Catherine Troiano, one of the coordinators of the new rooms, gives details of the project: "We had to ensure that the spaces, which are very different from each other, function dynamically and combine photography from two centuries ago with images taken with mobile phones without forget -remember- the library or creations that explore artificial intelligence”.

“What happened in the last week? “Only little tweaks –Troiano clarifies with a smile- and a lot of excitement to show the result. Each room has a different air, we wanted it to have a different flavor and atmosphere, lighting, decoration… and a theme”, he adds.

It is not only the variety of works, the angles and the intentions of the artists (more artistic or documentary, more aesthetic or political, bucolic or elegant violence) but also how the traditional format of photography rebels, escapes from the wall and after the frame to be presented in special showcases, on shelves or come to three-dimensional life as the photo-sculpture by Noémie Goudal, named Giant Phoenix.

The young photographer Tony Cairns displays his 21st century calotypes in a special showcase. Ancient techniques, digital touches. Cairns is a visual chronicler of nocturnal and ghostly London, like Samuel Pepys in the 17th century, more daytime and pen in hand.

“I like spaces that are half or in between something in cities that are always moving and that, at night, slide very slowly. For me -Cairns confesses- it is a pride to exhibit here because I have always come to the fourth floor of the V

The museum has not only bought works from immaterial time. It has also organized prizes to detect those artists who work on the cutting edge and have created scholarships so that the exhibited works not only have technical quality, but also open new paths.

Special mention for the work of Gauri Gill. The prestigious Indian painter, who photographed, without any human presence or any symbol of violence, the long protest (and final victory) of the Indian peasants against the government of Narendra Modi.

There is a perfume of poetry and surprise, black and white and highly saturated colors in the seven rooms dedicated to photography in the V

It is almost impossible to continue touring the museum to see, for example, the medieval rooms, or the famous cast room, The Cast Courts, which reproduce great wonders of the ancient world. And yes, Donatello, you deserve a visit and pay the ticket religiously, and stand in line (this is what the British like so much), but not today, it will be another day, it is barely noon and the eyes can no longer take so much overflowing beauty.