Francis Kearney, Fine People Thinking the Same Thing II, III and V, 1998.
View of the front of the gallery.
Oliver Boberg, Anliegerweg (Residents' Path), 2000.
Wang Qinsong, Night Revels of Lao Li, 2000.
Tucked away in one of the display rooms at London’s Victoria and Albert Museum is ‘Making It Up: Photographic Fictions’ – an exhibition that, in spite of its deceivingly small size, has a lot to say to all those who happen upon it. The exhibition brings together a varied array of pieces by British and international artists alike to communicate a seemingly obvious, yet somehow intriguing and mystifying message to its viewers.
Showcasing works from the past few decades as well as older pieces dating back to the late nineteenth century, the exhibition tells of photography’s growing use over the years for capturing a fictional narrative and stimulating one’s imagination, rather than as fulfilling its traditional and assumed role of representing reality. There is certainly a strong story behind each of the carefully-selected photographic gems on display, all of which one must attentively look into in order to best understand the core of the exhibition.
Each of the works is rich in context and significance and does not fail to speak loudly to its viewers: one’s visit unavoidably begins with Cindy Sherman’s ‘Untitled 74′ (1980) which, in facing the entrance, is set to impact one from the get-go with its morally-driven representation of a female archetype. Through the rest of the works, the exhibition’s concept and purpose only grows stronger: Hannah Starkey’s ‘Untitled – May 1997 (Couch)’ (1997) features two female students in a scene that appears real at first glance, yet that has been meticulously staged by the artist; similarly, Jeff Wall’s ‘The Outburst’ (1989) is a fictional depiction of working life in a garment factory, directed by Wall himself. A total of nearly 30 photographs can be savoured, not least for the smart and diverse techniques employed by their creators – from the use of photo booth strips by Jan Wenzel for the creation of ‘Bastler IX’ (2000), to the film-like sequences of photos in Duane Michaels’ ‘Chance Meeting’ (1972).
‘Making It Up: Photographic Fictions’, in room 38A of the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, until March 16th 2014.