The Photographer’s Gallery, located in central London has been host to many contemporary and stimulating photography exhibitions. It was the first gallery opened in Britain, which was devoted entirely to the art of photography. Since its creation in the 1970’s the gallery has been a vital medium for reinforcing the role of photography and its capacity to play an important function in both society and culture. Lorenzo Vitturi’s ‘Dalston Anatomy’, currently on show in the John Lyon gallery, exemplifies this capacity. Vitturi is a Venice born artist, formally cinema set painter, who currently resides in Dalston, East London. As an artist he uses photography in order to cross boundaries and re-shape and interact with the world around him.
Vitturi’s work, in this series, documents the changing landscape of Dalston; an area of London, which is rapidly undergoing a process of gentrification. This series is the end point of a 7-year documentation process in which Vitturi witnessed his local neighbourhood transforming at an accelerated speed. The artist’s interests lie in documenting this process of decay. Such interests are highly visible here in the gallery where the Ridley Road market square is represented as lively and vibrant, yet the process of its decay is highly detectable. This photographic and sculpture exhibition seeks to capture these precarious conditions in an image.
The gallery space is a vivacious and uplifting burst of colour. Such vibrancy is the artist’s representation of the energetic streets of Dalston. In order to produce this series Vitturi collected objects that were discarded from the Market – he literally collected up the pieces of the changing Dalston streets. Vitturi uses many of these organic and discarded materials to which he gives a new form. The market square is brought to life within the gallery space; it is there to be seen and admired in all of its vibrancy, but Vitturi has re-shaped it and given it a unique new form as an artwork. Some of the objects were used as found, others were doused in pigment, others were taken apart, dismantled and left to rot. Many of the objects are seen in these varying states of decay, perhaps metaphorical of the adapting world that Vitturi witnessed around him.
His arrangements are produced to great effect – combined with sculpture he creates a dialogue between the photographic images and the materials used. There is a distinctive play on form in this gallery and an interesting re-composition of shapes. His exploratory artistic practice involves multi-layering objects and textures, which create energetic and dynamic pieces. The centrepiece is an almost ceiling high sculpture which gives form to various recycled materials, a beach ball, plastic cups, wooden pallets and synthetic hair. This work reinvents the meaning of the objects used, they are taken apart and dissected – they become repositioned and shifted to become part of Vitturi’s re-imagined ‘Dalston Anatomy’.
The walls of the gallery contain many of Vitturi’s photographic portraits of market traders and other local residents. They are often hung alongside of other images, which contain an arrangement of fruit and other items. The people and the market are always represented as inter-connected in this way. On occasion they appear faceless – their faces are covered with chalk powder and other materials.
On the floor of the gallery lays a huge carpet. This carpet spans almost half of the floor space. The composition of which is extremely distinctive; it was produced in collaboration with the poet Sam Bergson. The words written on it are words, which the poet and the artist placed together to mimic the rhythm of the market street. The viewer is deliberately confused here in order to represent the confusion and busyness of the street market.
Vitturini’s work may seem confusing and whacky – its powerful use of colour is certainly not understated. Yet, if the viewer looks beyond the piles of waste and decaying bananas one can see the portrayal of a unique and individual neighbourhood. The market and the surrounding are is represented as an area, which is slowly falling apart and being adapted to suit contemporary London, but the market itself is resisting. The market holds a unique character in spite of the process and adaptation of the surrounding areas of East London. Vitturini’s work makes statements about the ever-changing landscape of London; his work is both contemporary and energetic.
This gallery is extremely thought provoking – it moves beyond being a photography exhibition, which simply represents the world and the artist’s surroundings. The photographic images here are the end product of a wider process. This style of photographic movement is becoming ever more politically minded – it is important to document these neighbourhoods before they are changed beyond recognition. Viturri’s artistic mood captures a working-class market attempting to gain some stability against a backdrop of rapidly changing east London.
The images and the formations he produces show the capacity for such adaptation and the vibrancy and individual character of the market is still maintained.
Dalston Anatomy is currently on show at The Photographer’s Gallery, W1 Central London Until 19th October 2014. For more information visit the Photographer’s Gallery Website: www.thephotographersgallery.org.uk