Photographers Gallery

The Photographers Gallery: Speed Of Light/Made You Look

This weekend I went along to The Photographers Gallery to catch its two latest exhibitions – Terence Donovan: Speed Of Light and Made You Look, Dandyism and Black Masculinity. Speed of Light is the English photographer Terence Donovan’s first major retrospective. Donovan was a key player in the post-war renaissance of art, fashion, graphic design and photography, with a fresh approach to fashion and portrait photography. He was a genius observer of the swinging sixties and brilliantly portrayed this era through his camera lens. His original and defying techniques of composition captured the essence of the 60’s, its protagonists and cultural landscape. He was a trendsetter in photographing fashion models in unusual and urban settings and was the go-to photographer for ‘difficult’ sitters. The exhibition showcases his most popular works of portraiture and eye-catching magazine spreads as well as unpublished materials, sketches, notes, contact sheets and diaries. Made You Look – Dandyism and Black Masculinity – brings together a group of geographically and historically diverse photographers whose imagery explore black masculinity as play and performance featuring works from the Larry Dunstan Archive, Liz Johnson Artur, Samuel Fosso, Hassan Hajjaj, Colin Jones, Isaac Julien, Kristin-Lee Moolman, Jeffrey Henson Scales and Malick Sidibé. The exhibition explores how black men shape their self image for the camera, in particular the performance of the black ‘dandy’, and how the dressing of stylish clothes acts as a form of radical personal politics, a performance that is highly provocative and that defies the conventional social order that so often stereotypes black men. The compilation of strong, artistic and sometimes colourful images doesn’t fail to remind us of the recurring and tragic news headlines and that although in the 21st century, black men are amongst the most influential trendsetters in fashion, music and culture this hasn’t changed the fact that they are amongst the most vulnerable.

The Photographers Gallery Until September 25