Saatchi Out of Focus: Photography
The attempt to show diversity within a contemporary art practice must result in a presentation as varied as the entire world. And this is exactly what happens in the Saatchi Gallery’s exhibition entitled Out of Focus, the first major photography exhibition at the gallery since I Am a Camera in 2001.
As William A Ewing states in the catalogue: “Photography is a very strange place to be right now, either inside looking out (the producer) or outside looking in (the public)”. Saatchi’s exhibition shows how accurate this statement is, comprising all the elements constituting “the entire World of Photography”: Commercia, Documentaria, Amateuria, Artistica, and Artcontemporanea. Among them are Mikhael Subotzky’s pictures of African residents, as well as 20 distressing portraits by American photographer Katy Grannan and collages by Londoner John Stezaker, whose Surrealistic and Dadaistic inspirations affect not only the medium but also the disposition of his images. Octopus Portrait by Yumiko Utsu is equally entertainingly disturbing. The celebrated portrait of the Queen with closed eyes by Chris Levine is presented, along with AL Steiner’s images examining the body, sex, and femininity.
Apart from them, Saatchi Gallery presents 32 other artists from 14 countries, including Michele Abeles, L Raphael Agbodjélou, Olaf Breuning, Jonny Briggs, Broomberg & Chanarin, Elina Brotherus, Anders Clausen, Mat Collishaw, JH Engström, Mitch Epstein, Andreas Gefeller, Luis Gispert, Daniel Gordon, Noémie Goudal, Matthew Day Jackson, Matt Lipps, Ryan McGinley, Mohau Modisakeng, Laurel Nakadate, Sohei Nishino, David Noonan, Marlo Pascual, Mariah Robertson, Phoebe Rudomino, Hannah Sawtell, David Benjamin Sherry, Berndnaut Smilde, Meredyth Sparks, Hannah Starkey, Sara VanDerBeek, Nicole Wermers, Jennifer West and Pinar Yolaçan.
Featuring nearly forty artists presenting all these trends and approaches, Out of Focus indeed lacks focus and an underlying ordering idea. Instead, it demonstrates Charles Saatchi’s eclectic taste and provides a synergic empowerment for a Google Art Photography Prize display taking place in adjacent rooms of the Gallery, as both exhibitions are sponsored by Google. Basically, it offers a cross-section of what is happening in the diverse universe of photography, which does not head in one direction but spreads, penetrating all possible areas. To summarize and classify it is unmanageable. This difficulty, as it is, constitutes the greatest strength and fault of Saatchi’s exhibition.
Out of Focus runs from 25th April – 22nd July at The Saatchi Gallery in London. More information is available here.