A Sprawling Mess: Photo London 2016 Reviewed

Photo London, Somerset House ★★☆☆☆

Tabish Khan
By Tabish Khan Last edited 95 months ago
A Sprawling Mess: Photo London 2016 Reviewed Photo London, Somerset House 2
Nick Brandt's photographic series show animals in desolate wastelands as a sign of humanity's impact on the world. © Nick Brandt, Courtesy Atlas Gallery

Last year Photo London debuted to great fanfare. London had been crying out for a photography fair and we finally got it, it was critically acclaimed and we loved it.

Now it's back for its second year and it's even bigger than last year with 85 galleries showcasing their works. The second year is always the acid test for a new fair as the novelty value has worn off and we get to see if it can become a welcome fixture to the art calendar.

Thera are some special exhibitions including a dedicated exhibition to legendary photographer Don McCullin but it's a tough one to find. And so is everything else this year.

An early daguerrotype of the Monument. Courtesy Bernard Quaritch Ltd, London

The pro-EU posters designed by Wolfgang Tillmans are plastered on the back of the pavilion and they are easily missed. Even with the map and the helpful staff it's a pain to navigate and we're still not sure we saw everything.

Somerset House is a fantastic venue, but unfortunately it's not the right one for this fair. On the weekend we imagine it will become busy and difficult to navigate the narrow corridors. It also gives visitors very little time to dwell on images before feeling the pressure of other people waiting to look at the work or to sneak past.

Most of the works in the booths feel similar to last year. We get more of Steve McCurry and Sebastiao Salgado, and Edward Burtynsky is being shown by at least four different galleries. These are all fantastic photographers but there's very much a feeling of 'been there, done that'.

We're photography fans and even we found this to be a sprawling mess. Looks like the novelty factor has worn off.

David Bowie astride Kate Moss is one of several celebrity photographs on show. ©Ellen von Unwerth

Photo London is at Somerset House, 19-22 May. Tickets are £27 for adults, concessions available.

Last Updated 19 May 2016