Early one morning: John Riddy. Palermo @ Frith Street Gallery
There is, at the moment, an abundance of cracking good photography exhibitions on in London. And this is up there with the best of them.
Large black and white Atget-esque photos of central Palermo. Atget like in the absence of visible people, Atget like in the presence of people through the layers of existence and the detritus of urban living.
There’s something here I don’t quite know how to articulate, but it goes like this. First we depict beauty, then we depict ugliness and then we depict the inconsequential, the traces of existence. The ordinary that is somehow more affectingly beautiful than the conventionally beautiful because it is the ordinary, because it is the stuff of our daily lives, because it is home. A very modern sensibility. And that portrayal of the inconsequential traces of existence is, it seems to me, what Riddy is doing with this group of photographs.
So imagine a rather potholed road going down to the sea, not a beach but a jetty, a pierhead. There are a few boats waiting, waiting for what? Some leant up against a wall, some upside down. A single car in a row of empty parking spaces. A supermarket trolley and two huge arcing street lights. An urban park through railings on one side, nondescript buildings to the other. At the end of the buildings and overlooking the boats, a statue of a saint on a narrow plinth, a bit down at heel, a bit tatty, with a neon halo.
A view of life in Palermo now. Make of it what you will.