Image from Passing Through Eden - Photographs of Central Park by Tod Papageorge
Four artists are in the frame for the £30,000 prize and there's a distinct tang of Americana in the air. The ground floor gallery puts Paul Graham's "A Shimmer of Possibility" series, originally published in 12 slim hardback volumes of closely observed, everyday American suburban life from a roadtrip perspective, on the fresh white walls. There's beauty in a residential sunset, dark stems of roses, a man smoking a cigarette.
Up on the second floor (beware, the lift's not working yet so ring ahead if you've got any accessibility issues) Tod Papageorge's black and white photos taken in Central Park over the course of 40 years or so capture strangers snogging, sunbathing or relaxing, some images posed, some stolen. Taryn Simon's knack for presenting the extreme, obscured and prohibited parts of life is showcased in "An American Index of the Hidden and Unfamiliar" giving us the Braille version of Playboy, confiscated goods in customs and the luminescence of a nuclear waste storage facility.
Finally, departing entirely from America and pure photography, Emily Jacir's installation about the life of murdered Palestinian intellectual Wael Zuaiter in 1972 called "Material for a Film" mixes photographs and personal paraphenalia. There are pictures of Zuaiter's English language books, a coin on a string used to cheat the lift, newspaper cuttings; all overlaid with the artist's own involvement, pulling together the pieces of this lost life.
The winner will be announced on 25 March.
The Photographers Gallery is at 16-18 Ramillies Street, W1F 7LW. Open Tues-Sun, free admission.