Since 1991, Photofusion has offered photographers a space to show work, darkroom and studio facilities, training, outreach programmes and, above all, a community. Arts contributor Rachel Segal Hamilton discovers that nowhere is this more apparent than at SALON/13, Photofusion’s fifth annual members exhibition, which launched on Thursday 12 December.
Any member of Photofusion can apply to be in the show SALON/13. From more than 750 images submitted, 101 have been chosen. The 90 members represented at SALON/13 are at various stages in their careers and working in a diversity of photographic genres, including landscape, street photography, fine art and portraiture. There is no overarching theme, beyond showcasing talent. “The judges were simply looking for work that was visually captivating and communicated a strong story or concept,” says Jenna Banat, Gallery, Membership and Marketing Administrator at Photofusion.
The result is a wonderful, sprawling patchwork of an exhibition, where contrasting styles and methods sit happily alongside each other in a salon-style display. From Judith Lyons’ kaleidascopic images of plants to Andrew Meredith’s ghostly dilapidated buildings and a magical portrait of a young woman by Alys Tomlinson, juxtapositions abound. Somehow seeing images taken out of context and reassembled like this makes them more accessible. Instead of trying to make sense of the show as a whole, viewers are encouraged to notice visual connections between pictures, through common colours or shapes between the frames.
“I’m a little awed to be showing my work in the company of such a diverse and talented pool of photographers and artists,” says Jonathon Vines, a recent photography graduate who is showing a rehearsal shot from a contemporary dance performance. “Working in rehearsal gives you much more freedom to move around the dancers and the space to explore the more interesting angles,” he explains. “In this case I was able to capture the choreography in a way that hopefully intrigues the viewer but also references the typical ‘mirror wall’ of a dance studio.”
Photography is an art form in transition. Thanks to the explosion in ‘smartphonography’, a wider public than ever before is regularly producing and looking at images. Many photographers and artists, meanwhile, are turning inwards and exploring their medium in unusual ways. Jenna Banat again: “What was of particular notice from this year’s submissions was the range of experimental techniques that artists have been using in their photographic work, such as montage, collage and multiple exposures.”
Local photographer Andrew Youngson created his featured image, Prenzlauer Berg, Berlin, 2013, “by layering over one hundred exposures onto a single negative and resurrecting the image when the negative is scanned”. Youngson’s method echoes “the archaeological nature” of his work. The photograph comes from Subterraneans, a series about the thousands of unexploded World War Two bombs beneath Berlin, which “uses the shapes of trees growing on the city’s former bomb sites to suggest past and future explosions.”
For members, SALON/13 is a way to gain exposure and recognition. Through the SELECT programme, Photofusion offers four photographers a bursary and mentoring, while the winner of the Hotshoe Photofusion Salon Award, this year Katerina Mudronova for her conceptual still lifes, gets a double-page feature in Hotshoe magazine. In keeping with the participatory spirit of the show, visitors can also vote for their favourite image in the Public’s Choice Award. And on the closing night, the gallery will host a photo forum for exhibitors to discuss the ideas behind their work. All of which shows that while, as Andrew Youngson points out, photography can be quite a solitary profession, “a resource like Photofusion allows photographers to become part of a ready-made community.”