Friday, 24 January 2014

LS ARTS: Portrait Salon 13 – Salon des Refusés, or ‘Exhibition of Rejects’

Salon des Refusés is French for ‘exhibition of rejects’, and has been a method of showing work since the 1830’s.

This particular Salon des Refusés showcases the works rejected by the judging panel for The Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2013 and takes the form of magazine, launch and projection across four British venues on the same night.

The White Cloth Gallery hosted it’s share of Portrait Salon 13 in the bar and gallery; guests walked through a room of invited stallholders, where they could purchase the magazine newspaper hybrid and move through to see the photographs projected onto a clean white gallery wall amongst their current exhibition of works by Tom Stoddart. The informality and joviality of the evening made it easy for people to mingle and discuss the work at their leisure and to take a seat and browse the magazine.

Judges Harry Hardie, founder of Here Press and director of cultural projects for Panos Pictures, freelance architectural photographer, curator and writer Jim Stephenson and documentary and portrait photographer and founding member of A Fine Beginning Abbie Tayler-Smith chose from more than 2000 images from more than 700 photographers to create a slick publication designed by Stanley James of 41 well juxtaposed images and a foreword by Christiane Monarchi.
A short Q&A with judge Jim Stephenson reveals his approach to selecting the 41; the politics of making these selections, what to omit and what counts as a portrait but most importantly he explains that the photographs selected do not present ‘a selection of unanimous decisions’ . The images shown in the magazine and projected on to the wall are, in his words ‘an exploration [of sorts] of what portrait can be, from the studio to the rolling hills of some far foreign land.’

A new aspect of Portrait Salon 13 is the introduction of a live link up. At 8pm on Tuesday the four galleries: Four Corners in London, Stills Gallery in Edinburgh, Hotel Pelirocco in Brighton and our own White Cloth Gallery on Aire Street in Leeds ceased projection for a few minutes to allow this to happen. It was initially unclear what this was supposed to bring to the launch as a whole; perhaps in a more intimate surrounding and with more focus on it’s importance there would have been a greater chance of it reaching it’s full potential. The night was certainly no poorer for it, however. Portrait Salon describe their work as ‘as much about debating the competition process as it is about showcasing good portraiture’. Which as a mission statement encompasses everything Monday night achieved and set out to achieve. The eclectic mix of people in attendance, some of whom had work entered into both the Taylor Wessing and the Project Salon, were happy to discuss their experience and the outcomes of their participation, strengthening the waves Portait Salon is starting to make in the world of photographic prizes.

Portrait Salon 13 magazine will be available to buy from their website from 17th November 2013. 

Originally written for Leeds Student

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