So, as a fully papered museums and galleries specialist I would be being ignorant and foolish to assume photographs were allowed at a multi-nationally renowned, severely high profile and very very fashionable light box expose of fashion photographer Tim Walker at Somerset House. Naturally, that day I was feeling especially ignorant and foolish, right up until the valuable moment that reassured me the gallery assistants were of the highest caliber, having eventually been reprimanded.
This exhibition, if you haven’t yet popped down to the river today, is outstanding. Totally cheeky and at times, sickeningly clever and pretty, this guy does something breaks aesthetic and photographic moulds with clean lines but multifaceted subtexts. Beautiful women run riot amongst creatures large and small; insects creepy and human sized, try to join your party, and invade the surreal and ghostly spaces of the model protagonists in the framed photographs on the walls. What is fact, what is fiction? Who or what is where and how is it possible that all of this fancy can be so intelligent and compelling yet silly and overt?
Oh! Well. How fiesty. How debonair. What this exhibition tells me is that with a very strong, very pernickety installation team, great ideas that are always held up to the team on proverbial billboards throughout the entire process, fairytales are made relevant all over again. Nothing is lost here. Millions will disagree as art as with life partners as with shoes, are subjective but I know I am not alone in my appreciation of the strength of idea, of the competency of design and the skill of photography and scene selection , skills which Tim Walker, research tells me, has held true and worked on painstakingly, since his own creative beginnings. His technical guise is clear to see. Karlie Kloss is a bit of a star here and gains kudos in my eyes as a model for emerging a little nifty story teller herself. She is hauntingly striking.
Walker describes that he wants his protagonists, the models, to be the actors in his snapshots for silent films. They certainly appear fully immersed.At times I considered too much of the space perhaps; certain corners seemed empty, but not in an intended sense. A little scratch or peel here and there threw me right off, but these are just public exhibition and general spatial upkeep occupational hazards. The giant bugs are contrived, playhouse-ey and childish. One blogger recommends no better place for a day out with the kids. Pfft. I slightly resent this. This exhibition struts some pretty risque stuff.
I may be one of very few highly regarded remaining fans of Surrealism but despite Story Teller’s similiarities with the installations of these artists, i was neither won over by the random objects thus swaying my entire opinion, nor was i seeing any truly direct parallels. What struck me between the eyes was the quality and lustre of the photographs themselves, that brought the objects and creatures alive, not the other way round.
The quote below muses, is self indulgent and philosophical but is also powerful despite itself; childish fancy is often frowned upon, made a mockery of in later life if dwelled upon too heavily by a lonely individual, for example. The true power of art (it is argued) lies in wait in the imagined, not so easily is it conceived and then, once it physically exist given its critical dues. Maker and made struggle, tussle with the former’s concept and the latter’s fruition.
Perhaps, in the end, it is about growing up and knowing too much
For me, the sheer joy that I experienced during this exhibition came from the idea of Walker and his team squeezing giant bees and planes through doors of stately homes, of adjusting the props and the lighting and the sets to make the just that bit more of a snap from a story, just that bit more grandiose, ridiculous, enigmatic, memorable, iconic. His images are said to be as you see them. They are unmanipulated, ‘shopped, edited in any way. So there is a lot to be said for Walker’s skill and his practical and physical groundwork.
Well done Jessica Stam. I believe that is you yes. Hats off to Stam there.
So don’t let this guy see you off – he doesn’t work there. I took my photographs…and then I checked.
The exhibition runs until January 27th, 10 – 6 pm daily and until 9 pm Thursdays, at Somerset House on The Strand.