A mixed bag with a couple of sweets and a few bitter lemons..

Picked up a copy of Peter Mitchell's wonderful Strangely Familiar book yesterday from the splendid Photographers Gallery bookshop. Its a delightful collection of images.

This is the first monograph by this quite important British photographer. His colour work shot in the streets of Leeds ( during his job as truck driver) proved to be a landmark in the history of British colour photography. It was shown for the first time in 1979 in a personal show at the Impressions Gallery in York, and was included a few years ago in the seminal survey on British photography " How we are: Photographing Britain" at Tate Britain. The book is the seventh title in the ongoing collaboration between Nazraeli Press and Martin Parr, who contributes a lovey introduction to Peter Mitchell's photopgraphs.

As I happened to be in the gallery, I was intrigued to see the Jacques Henri Lartigue show, Bibi and so worked my way up the stupidly narrow staircase of the gallery. Now I love the early work of Lartigue, and by that I mean really early, before he was a teenager, photographing those high society types walking dogs and flying kites. This work though is much later and focuses on his images of his then wife Madeleine Messager, otherwise known as Bibi. Basically I found the whole thing one big pointless fart in the wind and by the end of it I just seen Lartigue for what he now was; someone with too much money, spare time, and talent lost to his childhood. Of course it all ends in divorce and bitterness.. Unfortunately after this I ventured up the next flight of narrow stairs to the HOME TRUTHS: MOTHERHOOD, PHOTOGRAPHY & IDENTITY 
The title alone was very off putting, but I decided to fill my photographic repertoire. At first I thought I had entered into a labor ward as I was confronted by an image of a large  pair of breasts and a stapled cesarean. The images then proceeded to get worse as all the usual photographic cliché of mother and child continued to sting my eyes. The highlight of the show (if you can call it that) had to be the random soft porn image of a mans tongue adventure with a womens noo noo. Vile, ghastly, and enough to put you off your frothy coffee. And all this in the name of photography. 
Anyway, it was worth it for the book..


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