Petra heads down to the Out of Focus exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery, and uncovers the mystery of the title: there is no focus
Unlike public institutions, Saatchi doesn’t use curators, preferring to mount large exhibitions of his favourite work loosely grouped under themes such as “contemporary photography” or “new art from Germany” (his last show). Accordingly, Out of Focus is either an eclectic mix or a ragbag collection of 38 artists’ work, depending on how you look at it. It’s tempting to call it a survey show but it isn’t really that either – the work that will be on show hasn’t been picked out because it’s particularly representative or unusual; it’s there simply because Saatchi liked it. When you look at it that way, the Out of Focus title seems particularly apt after all.
Most of the work in this show, though, is of a high quality and worth seeing.
A series of LA portraits by Katy Grannan, taken from the series Boulevard, is presumably the most absorbing; Grannan’s stark light and sharp focus picks out every flaw in the sagging bodies of her old bikers, thinning trannies and over dressed eccentrics.
Personal favourites I hear you cry? John Stezaker’s witty collages of faces and landscapes, Sohei Nishino’s unique “maps” of New York, Paris and Tokyo. These all consist of multiple photographs, taken while walking around urban spaces, which are then pasted into large-scale dioramas, thus depicting his personal impressions of world cities.
Overall, Out of Focus does not pretend to be a survey of contemporary photography: as the catalogue suggests, you should be looking at this show through an appropriate lens – a kaleidoscope of different concerns perhaps – to understand a bit more the so “out of focus” concept of contemporary photography.
This is definitely one of the show that you’ll have to go and see yourself and the most beautiful thing? It won’t cost you anything to do so.
It’s on until July 22th, sponsored by google. More info can be found here.