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The Photographers’ Gallery

February 11, 2007

A CHARMING SMALL gallery near Leceister Square in London…The Photographers’ Gallery is split into two street-side buildings, including a small crammed bookshop. The gallery was closed on Wednesday, when we first went to see it, but reopened on Friday, and we walked through Trafalgar Square towards Chinatown a second time to discover it. It is free and intimate, with an auction space upstairs. It is also apparantly one of the only galleries devoted solely to photography in London. Definitely worth the visit. We saw the breathtaking black-and-whites of Anders Petersen, the curious “found art” and exploration of cultural bounderies which marks the work of Fiona Tan, and the work of Simon Roberts and Philippe Chancel, who explore the reclusive and exotic cultures of Russian Siberia and North Korea, respectively…

Also, this is one of the only galleries in all of London in which I have been able to photograph the art. I often sneak photographs, though. The act of taking photos in art galleries is so pervasively frowned upon here that there aren’t even signs that forbid your taking pictures…the condition is understood. Therefore, I am consistently having the experience of being politely but forcefully told to put my camera away. Which bothers me, because without a camera and a pen and paper I cant properly record the images that are moving to me, in order to find out more about the artist later. The question constantly in my mind, when I am feeling a bit indignant after being reprimanded yet again, is why? Do they insist that photos cannot be taken because the art is property and I am somehow stealing it…like the belief in some more sequestered culture-groups that taking a photo of someone could steal their soul? Or is it a moral stance? Am I defacing the art in some way? After all, what does it mean to take a photograph of a photograph? How far removed from the subject am I, how limited is my view, my understanding, by the perameters of my camera lens? They probably wonder why I am taking pictures in the first place…nostalgia, proof, touristy representations of times spent…or as a reference point for my own work, for the pot of creative stimulation i am constantly churning in my brain…. I prefer to think that is the later, but cannot be sure. This is a persistently unresolved question for me…

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Green Eyed Muse permalink
    February 12, 2007 12:31 pm

    my apologies to the person who left the original comment on this blog suggesting i research brtitish copywright laws. i made a rash decision to delete it in a way that it cannot be retrieved. this is in part because my blog is open primarily to the viewing of my friends and family. i have been personally attacked here before, and misread the previous comment as an attack on my character.

    i will consider the commenter’s suggestion. thank you.

  2. pahrens permalink
    August 10, 2008 5:38 am

    I to sneak photos in galleries, the only use I have found for the camera in my mobile phone. I feel others try to prevent you doing this as they do not know your intention, although it may be pure you cannot prove it. People just want to protect their work.
    I use it for inspiration, I would never copy or try to reproduce it in an exact way.
    I am not sure where you are from but here in Australia a photo is legally yours, even if it is of someone else. Because we own the photo people cannot make us delete a photo if it is of them. We must still get a model release though if we wish to use the photo for commercial purposes.

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