Somerset House, April 2013



Landmark is the second installment of curator William A Ewing's extensive survey of big-name art photography. This time works by leaders in contemporary landscape image-making fill nearly a dozen rooms of the East Wing at Somerset House.

These include the non-pictures of Hiroshi Sugimoto. Chris McCaw's sun-charred and heat-crumpled ten eights. Pete Bialobrzeski, with his ghost-skyscrapers. Nadav Kander and the Chinquing military housing ruins.

Robert Polidon, whose multi-frame stitched (serrated edge still showing) gigapixel image Amurut Nagur H2, Mumbai, India in its phenomenal level of depicted detail makes traditional large format/epic-sized prints look almost inadequate - although Thomas Struth's El Capitain, Yosemite is undeniably impressive at 2m by 2m but there's more to it than that. The positioning high on a wall of Olaf Becker's photograph of a Norwegian concrete chute invokes non-critical wonderment at the vertiginous precariousness of human intervention in the most forbidding of environments. In almost modest contrast the NASA Curiosity panorama of assembled frames taken remotely on the Martian surface looks oddly clumsy but is an early step in lens based ground-level exploration of another, untouched world in the tradition of Timothy O'Sullivan.

David Maisel, Lake Project 15 and Terminal MIrage 18, offer decorative abstraction (in the Franco Fontana tradition), as too Daniel Beltra with the iridescent Oil Spill 4.

Edward Burtynsky's poster image for the exhibition, Nickel Tailings 34, is visually thrilling while on-message, a diptych of toxic mining effluence flowing like hell on earth. Pieter Hugo covers similar didactic territory with his triptych Zahavia Salifir, electrolysis salvage in Ghana.

Dan Holdsworth - who is more than the token Brit on this occasion - with synthetic data mappings which challenge what many might still consider a conventional landscape photograph can be.

Raphael Dallaporta - his name missing from the listed artists in the guide - maybe gate-crashed, as his complex and compelling images of Afghan ruins are, refreshingly, simply pinned to the wall.

Yao Lu, with a circular landscape pays respect to an 800 year old Chinese art tradition Susan Evans bypasses conventional lens-based methodologies altogether - whether descriptive, abstract or environmentally aware - her text-based work consists instead of nouns - bush, rock, tree, path, etc. - sprinkled across a black background in an array that suggests a careful articulation of a specific view.

 

 

Landmark until 28 April 2013 (free)