Exhibition Review: Landmark,The Fields of Photography

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Olaf Otto Becker. River Position 7, Greenland © Olaf Otto Becker

Olaf Otto Becker. River Position 7, Greenland © Olaf Otto Becker

We’ve all grown up with images of Landscapes, from paintings over your grandparents fireplace to holiday adverts. But Art Director Tom Laybourne visits an exhibition that while visually epic, asks us questions of what we want from Landscape imagery

Who?

Photographers include Mitch Epstein, Nadav Kander, Robert Adams, Simon Norfolk, Hiroshi Sugimoto, Lee Friedlander, Simon Roberts, Toshio Shibata, Robert Polidori…

Simon Roberts. Camel Estuary, Padstow, Cornwall, 2007 © Simon Roberts

Simon Roberts. Camel Estuary, Padstow, Cornwall, 2007 © Simon Roberts

What?

Landmark: The Fields of Photography at Somerset House, London. An exploration into the idea of what a Landscape photograph is in 2013. This is not The Hay Wain.

David Maisel. Lake Project 15 © David Maisel

David Maisel. Lake Project 15 © David Maisel

Decisive Moment?

Before you even enter the exhibition you can see Edward Burtynsky’s iconic ‘Nickel Tailings No.34’ featured in the posters promoting the exhibition. An image whose striking beauty is at odds with its content, a harsh reminder of what we have done to the planet.

Edward Burtynsky. Nickel Tailings no.34 © Edward Burtynsky, courtesy Nicholas Metivier Gallery, Toronto/Flowers London

Edward Burtynsky. Nickel Tailings no.34 © Edward Burtynsky, courtesy Nicholas Metivier Gallery, Toronto/Flowers London

Trend?

Environmental photography, issues of Sustainability. The sheer diversity of the imagery makes us think again about our assumptions about the natural world. The depth and breadth of this exhibition is astounding, from the variety of locations to the visual approaches of every single photographer who shine in their own right. It’s fascinating to see how each photographer has approached their subject.

Daniel Beltra. Amazon 10, 2008 © Daniel Beltra. After extracting the most valuable species, the forest is burned to plant soy or raise cattle, Porto de Moz, Para State, Brazil, November 29, 2003.

Daniel Beltra. Amazon 10, 2008 © Daniel Beltra. After extracting the most valuable species, the forest is burned to plant soy or raise cattle, Porto de Moz, Para State, Brazil, November 29, 2003.

Also the photographers’ ability to create stand-out images from not only renowned areas of natural beauty but also from industrial locations, areas of natural disaster and places that would normally be considered mundane or ordinary. Photos such as Michael Light’s extraordinary image of a Golf course as a kind of lunar landscape challenge our assumptions about what a landscape image is, what it looks like, and what we expect emotionally from such images.

Michael Light. Wolf Creek Golf Resort, Looking Southwest, Mequite, Nevada, 2010 © Michael Light

Michael Light. Wolf Creek Golf Resort, Looking Southwest, Mequite, Nevada, 2010 © Michael Light

Which Image/Which Room?

Daniel Beltra’s image of the Brazilian rainforest, an arrow of foliage lost in the reflection of the sky. Graphic and abstract, it would hang in my lounge, where I could escape into the image.

Daniel Beltra. Brazil 3, 2012 © Daniel Beltra. Para, Brazil. February 11, 2012. Aerials south of Santarem and along the road BR163. Rainforest in the Tapajós River, coordinates: -4.737923-56.448047. Photo by Daniel Beltra for Greenpeace

Daniel Beltra. Brazil 3, 2012 © Daniel Beltra. Para, Brazil. February 11, 2012. Rainforest in the Tapajós River, Photo by Daniel Beltra for Greenpeace

1 Question?

This was obviously a group exhibition but if I could ask Daniel Beltra one question, how would you begin to go about finding something like that image? How did the shot come about?

Landmark,The Fields of Photography is on at Somerset House, London, until 28 April.

David Malin. The Sombrero Galaxy, M104 in Hydra © Australian Astronomical Observatory, David Malin. Three-colour image made from plates taken at the AAT.

David Malin. The Sombrero Galaxy, M104 in Hydra © Australian Astronomical Observatory, David Malin. Three-colour image made from plates taken at the AAT.

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