Landmark at Somerset House
Somerset House is currently holding Landmark: the Fields of Photography, a collection featuring over 70 leading photographers whose work captures the world as it is, as it was and as it changes.
Through meticulous placement, curator William A. Ewing smoothly guides the viewer from piece to piece. His passion and charisma reflected throughout, he unveils our changing planet with taste and sometimes humour, allowing us to review the relationship between Man and nature and to reconsider the definition of the sublime – or as Ewing describes it, “the ridiculous”.
The exhibition begins with a small collection of untrammelled landscapes with signs of humankind introduced later, from pastoral to urban construction to demolition. There lies the idea of nature existing artificially and, more so, conveniently, adapted to our ever changing way of life. Soon it becomes clear what Ewing means when he refers to the sublime as ridiculous: as the shift in power turns, vegetation becomes more controlled and eventually imitated.
Contemplating the journey through this exhibition it is strange but interesting that the end is so similar to the beginning. There’s clearly an attempt to copy and paste, trying to recapture the scenic through controlled materials and through the internet. Penelope Umbrico and Justine Blau both use images found on Flickr and Google to invent landscapes, which demonstrates how much we’ve come to depend on reproduction. Another example is Florian Joye’s Bawadi, a crude, image of Dubai – a city that fabricates the world’s top landmarks in one spot.
It is an ambitious exhibition with over 130 original works, all of which make you step back and truly consider the state of the planet, pointing out that tomorrow it will be different. Fearless and eye-opening, this is a must-see. It will leave you wondering what the next step is for landscape photography.
Photos: Jay Shaw-Baker
Landmarks: the Fields of Photography is at Somerset House until 28th April 2013, for further information visit here.