Work Stations in the exhibition: Observers , Sao Paulo

© Anna Fox from the series Work Stations 1987-88

Observers: Photographers of the British Scene from the 1930s to now
SESI Art Gallery, Av. Paulista, 1313 – São Paulo – SP – Brazil.
24th September 2012

This is the first exhibition ever staged in Brazil to chart a course through British photography in modern times.  It spans almost a century –  from the new photographic directions of the 20s and 30s that developed alongside the emergence of mass media, to the diverse practice of today’s image-laden world – and features the work of many of Britain’s most significant, celebrated and influential photographers.

The exhibition takes Britain itself as subject –  its society and culture, places and people – presenting the work of those photographers who, rather than looking at the world beyond or at inner worlds, focused their attention on their own country  – on the customs, character and conditions of those around them . As such, it explores a fertile and dominant strand of subject matter, changing over the century – a swathe of British social and cultural history – and a broad tradition of documentary practice which has always been at the core of British photography.

It explores the ways in which humanist and social documentary modes emerged as a dominant force, the motivations and conditions that sustained these modes – professional, artistic and political –  and the ways in which they have been challenged, changed and superseded. The photographs on display draw on, or work against, a variety of visual codes, clichés and conventions.  They cross genres from the urban street scene to landscape and the portrait, and touch on an extraordinary range of subjects, from celebrity and high society to gritty realism and subversive street culture. Photographers adopt varied positions from detached voyeur to committed participant; the photographs portray attitudes of nostalgia or rebellion, moods of elation and despair.  Throughout, the exhibition questions its own premises, asking what, if anything, can be portrayed in images of the essential character of a people over time; and it asks questions of the nature of the photographic medium itself, and the uses to which it has been put.

The Photographers in the exhibition are:

Cecil Beaton; Bill Brandt; Humphrey Spender; George Rodger; Paul Nash; Mme Yevonde; Nigel Henderson; Roger Mayne; Ida Kar; David Bailey; Don McCullin; Ian Berry; Shirley Baker; Tony Ray-Jones; Raymond Moore; Paul Trevor; Tish Murtha; Daniel Meadows; Chris Killip; Martin Parr; Paul Graham; Keith Arnatt; Anna Fox; Derek Ridgers; Peter Fraser; Jem Southam; Richard Billingham; Paul Seawright; Wolfgang Tillmans; Jason Evans;  Simon Roberts; Nigel Shafran;  Karen Knorr; Rut Blees Luxumburg; Sarah Jones; John Duncan; Gareth McConnell; Norman Parkinson

more info to follow