The Best Exhibitions to Look Out For at Photo London 2024

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Kennedi Carter, Whitney (2019)
Kennedi Carter, Whitney (2019)Courtesy of the artist, Cierra Britton Gallery

From 2024 Master of Photography Valérie Belin, to work by the likes of Sarah Moon, David Bailey, Daniel Jack Lyons, and Coco Capitán; here’s your guide to navigating this year’s fair

Photo London opens this week with a selection of indelible imagery by iconic image-makers and new voices in photography. From antique French calotypes to documentary imagery, and from fashion photographs to the multilayered practice of 2024’s Master of Photography Award recipient Valérie Belin, this year’s fair is a celebration of the history and possibilities of the medium. Across Somerset House are pictures pulled from deep inside archives to those freshly lensed by emerging visionaries. Here we present a list of highlights.

Valérie Belin, Silent Stories

French photographer Valérie Belin is the ninth recipient of the Master of Photography Award, and her exhibition Silent Stories spotlights three decades of photographs trained on the surface of things. Revealing the flostam of daily life in images as intricately layered as cubist paintings, Belin’s work is like an X-ray of the image. Models merge with urban landscapes or are superimposed onto fragments of print and film media, while bodies appear as sculpted objects, faces as simulacra or masks. It’s eerie and beautiful, a compelling nightmare wrought from a vortex of reflections and reproductions.

Siân Davey at Trolley Books/Michael Hoppen Gallery  

Intimacy and love suffuse the images of Siân Davey’s The Garden, which pictures friends and family among the wild flowers and grasses of Davey’s garden in Devon. The project originated with a suggestion from the photographer’s son to transform an overgrown patch into a place of refuge where visitors could come and be photographed, and the resulting images are now collected in a publication from Trolley Books. For the fair, Trolley Books and Michael Hoppen have recreated a magical little corner of the garden in a recessed space featuring a cornucopia of blooms around a pink brocade armchair flanked by photos from the series.

Lydia Goldblatt at Robert Morat Galerie

British photographer and Taylor Wessing Portrait Prize-winner Lydia Goldblatt’s analogue photographs captivate in their quiet depictions of domesticity. Part of the photographer’s wider Fugue series, which she began during the pandemic when Goldblatt was processing the loss of her own mother alongside the experience of being a mother herself, the works on view make magic out of the everyday, from the ghostly reflection of a domestic tableau in a nighttime window, to the sky seen through a cutout of a bird.

Kennedi Carter and Satchel Lee at Cierra Britton Gallery, Discovery

Curated by Charlotte Jansen, Discovery is the experimental area of the fair, showing emerging photographers as well as works by artists yet to have gallery representation. Among the brilliant stands in this section is New York’s Cierra Britton gallery, which is exhibiting portraits by Kennedi Carter and Satchel Lee (daughter of Spike). Titled Body and Soul, the show centres the Black femme body in safe spaces during moments of intimacy and repose. Carter, who was famously hand-picked at just 21 to shoot Beyoncé for a Vogue cover story, pictures her subjects deep in contemplation, their expressions peaceful, at rest. Lee’s self-portraits, meanwhile, depict the artist wrapped in soft spools of unused braiding hair in a surreal, sensual expression of self.

Daniel Jack Lyons at See/Change, Art Collection Deutsche Börse @25 

Celebrating 25 years of the Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation permanent collection, the exhibition See/Change comprises work by ten artists whose work focuses on underrepresented people and places. Especially striking is the collection of lyrical portraits by Daniel Jack Lyons of teenagers in the Brazilian Amazon, giving particular space to members of the trans and queer community there.

Belmond Presents Shifting Horizons

Luxury travel company Belmond presents three of its locations/experiences around the world, as seen through the lens of Coco Capitán, Letizia Le Fur and Rosie Marks. Slow travel devotee Capitán journeys on the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express, Marks documents daily life and staff at work at the Mount Nelson Hotel in Cape Town, alongside its delightful animal guests, and Le Fur (herself a student of Valérie Belin) brings out the mythical in the landscape surrounding the hotel Caruso on the Amalfi Coast. Wish you were there.

David Bailey at Camera Eye 

Camera Eye brings together a selection of portraits, landscapes and still lives by David Bailey, showing the breadth of the iconic photographer’s work in images as varied as a photo of a young David Hockney, a memento mori, and a film noir-ish vision of St Pancras station from the Euston Road in 1981.

Portraits at Galerie Sophie Scheidecker 

Sophie Scheidecker’s exhibits are always a standout and this year is no exception, with the Paris gallery focusing on portraits by a stellar cast of image-makers including Justine Tjallinks, Nan Goldin, and Wolfgang Tillmans, among others. Highlights include a print by Nan Goldin featuring frequent muse Greer Lankton, and a portrait of Francis Bacon by Peter Beard.

Sarah Moon and Donata Wenders at Persiehl & Heine

Hamburg’s Persiehl & Heine is showing a collection of prints by luminary Sarah Moon, alongside delicate images of the natural world by Gregor Törzs and Donata Wenders. Moon’s ethereal images of different incarnations of the Dior silhouette includes a dazzling vision of Andrea Gutiérrez in a design by John Galliano for the house. Complementing Moon’s poetic, black and white images are Wenders’ gorgeously moody prints on Washi paper of images from the set of husband Wim’s recent Oscar-nominated film Perfect Days.

Prospect Cottage: Derek Jarman’s House

Derek Jarman’s Prospect Cottage, with its black tar exterior and lovingly tended garden in the wild shingle of Dungeness, never fails to captivate. Over several years, Gilbert McCarragher documented the interior of this unique home, where the late artist lived and worked alongside his partner Keith Collins in the last years of his life, in a series of photographs collected in a new book published by Thames & Hudson. For the fair, Sean O’Hagan has curated a selection of these images, which show the late visionary’s modest yet beautifully decorated rooms, as well as the view from this singular sanctuary out onto the shingle. 

Rodney Smith at Staley-Wise Gallery 

Staley-Wise presents the first exhibition in the UK of work by the late commercial fashion photographer Rodney Smith, whose whimsical and witty images are the subject of increasing posthumous acclaim. The son of fashion executive Sanford J Smith (founder of Anne Klein and Pierre Cardin), Smith studied under Walker Evans, and his elegant sensibility, seen here in crisp black and white shots, mingled beauty and melancholy, alongside frequent nods to René Magritte.

James D Kelly at Guerin Projects

Hedonism and escapism fill the black and white images by London photographer (and sometime Another Man contributor) James D Kelly. Mined from his own private archive, and exhibited here for the first time, Kelly’s images are unvarnished, unapologetic odes to joy, where ecstatic limbs fly free, tinsel tangles with legs, and a couple kisses passionately in the midst of the party.

Shashin Ron (On Photography) at Dazed Space

Outside of the fair, make sure to visit Dazed Space, which is hosting a photography exhibition to celebrate the return of cult menswear bible Another Man under the editorship of Ellie Grace Cumming. Images by a host of luminaries who have contributed to the new issue, from Lucas Blalock to Jack Pierson, Viviane Sassen, and Nick Sethi, to name just a few, bring the pages of Another Man, mark two, to life.

Photo London is at Somerset House until 19 May 2024.