London gallery opens, features urban photos

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Batman and Robin kissing

AND TO THINK IT TOOK US 70 YEARS TO MAKE A MOVE...GOOD THING SUPER HEROES DON’T AGE. Terry Richardson’s Batman and Robin piece is one of many urban and youth-centric shots featured in the Community Outreach Gallery’s 8 Photographers.

The 8 Photographers exhibit at London’s new Community Outreach Gallery features urban photographs taken over a 60-year span.

“The show is made up of a group of photographs that I’ve collected over the years before I started the gallery,” says gallery owner and curator Paul Bright.

“I’ve been collecting art for quite a while now, so I already had some of the work. We wanted the first show to have some impact.”

The exhibit features photographers like Larry Clark, director of Kids and Bully, and Ed Templeton, founder of Toy Machine skateboards.

“[These] artists are quite recognizable, so we wanted to start off with something that would have a broad appeal, nothing too obscure or difficult,” Bright says.

The artists’ work focuses on society’s outer edge, showcasing gang culture and youth subcultures like skateboarding.

“This type of photography is starting to be taken more and more seriously,” Bright says. “[Featured photographers] like WeeGee, Clark, and [Josh] Wildman were doing this stuff in the ’50s, ’60s, and ’70s.

“Now there’s a new group of younger photographers that are also doing this style of photography. It’s become incredibly influential in popular culture, commercials and print ads.

“A lot of magazines now have that point-and-click photography where it just looks kind of amateur but gritty and has got some real feel to it.”

Photographer Tobin Yelland’s striking pieces display images like a teen breaking a car’s windshield with a skateboard or a burning apartment with the Empire State Building in the background.

Terry Richardson’s work includes a blown-up picture of Batman and Robin French kissing.

“[The Batman photograph] is about 40 by 60 inches and it’s situated in the gallery so that when people walk by, they could see that thing from across the street,” Bright says. “It’s brought people into the gallery.”

Bright’s personal favourite is San Francisco photographer Ray Potes’ picture of Latin American guerrillas posing in the middle of a tropical forest. Potes also has a disturbing shot of a hooker under the influence standing in the middle of traffic.

“They were a really powerful group of images that I went out of my way to get [Potes] to send [me] for the show,” Bright says. “Those weren’t something I had before.”

Wildman’s work is more violent; one portrait is of a man missing teeth and sporting a big black eye.

Templeton and Ramon Muxter’s photographs feature youth culture in social settings with kids hanging out and smoking.

WeeGee’s shots are of 1940s crime scenes taken after the bodies have been removed but the blood still remains.

“This type of photography hasn’t been shown in London,” Bright says. “I don’t want to use the word ‘movement,’ but it’s certainly a genre that needs to be taken seriously.”

8 Photographers runs until Jan. 31. The Community Outreach Gallery is located at 101 Stanley St. and is open Tuesday to Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

"with files from Desiree Gamotin

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