Cruel and Tender, Tate Modern London UK june 03

From: JJ
Category: Exhibitions
Date: 17 June 2003


A survey of realistic photography of the last 100 odd years. Imagine how uncool, and more interesting, a survey of arty photography would have been. But deadpan is in and selling well. So ok.

Photos seems to fall neatly into genres, or subjects. Here are portaits, there are landscapes, now some buildings, and over there groups. This is not always bad, but subject really overwhelms all else. So the most interesting photos are of the most intersting things, for example Sandler's people, because we don't remember what they looked like. Or parties from the 60s because of the clothes and the personalities, or naked poor russians because they have a ghoulish charm. Nowhere is much transformative buzz, the shriek of art or surprise, or a wow factor.

It's a nice show, like in an ethnographic museum, nice to see images of history, but what else much can well composed (often obeying so many boring current conventions) pictures do? From this show: nothing cruel or tender. Viva passport photo chic!