Soho, the back garden of Oxford Circus, the home of G-A-Y – and the rainbow Nando’s sign. Shoreditch before Shoreditch was Shoreditch, you know? Where else in the world can you pick up a cup of Fiorucci branded coffee, a tee from the new Palace drop and a bottle of poppers in a trip consisting of ten steps or less? Aside from becoming London’s hype-beast playground in recent years, you’d be foolish to assume the one-square-mile of Westminster wasn’t steeped in some of the cities’ richest cultural history, making it an excellent subject for the latest exhibition at The Photographers Gallery ‘Shot In Soho’.
SHOT IN SOHO
Shot In Soho: An exhibition spotlighting the late Corinne Day and more at The Photographers Gallery.
Curated by Julian Rodriguez, Head of the Department of Film & Photography at Kingston University and Karen McQuaid, TPG’s senior curator, the exhibition aims to “celebrate Soho’s diverse culture, community and creativity at a time when the area is facing radical transformation.” In the wake of increasing rent prices (up in the area over 50% throughout the last ten years) and the completion of Crossrail, the mega-southern railway network soon to be finishing a station in the heart of the area at Tottenham Court Road, we could soon see it’s streets change beyond recognition, making the preservation of Soho’s history a necessity.
The exhibition will feature works from the late Corinne Day, taken inside her Brewer St. flat where some of her most iconic images were captured. Day was one of the most prolific fashion photographers of the nineties, with close ties to the controversial Heroin Chic movement. Her raw documentary style of photography resonates still with so many, and is just a small but imperative glimpse into the areas budding creativity and those who helped give it this label.
Works by William Klein and John Goldblatt depicting the giddy men of Soho’s sweaty sauna fronts or the powerful women of it’s strip club dressing rooms will also be on show. These images are a testament to the areas’ once budding sex industry, formerly known as London’s red light district. It’s this seedy underbelly of Soho that is mostly part of its appeal, a place that became a cultural melting pot for those in the LGBTQ+ as well as immigrants from Hungarian, Jewish, Chinese and Bengali communities who found refuge in its sordid streets away from judging eyes.
It’s exactly this reputation the area has, for seeking love, connecting people and showcasing creativity, that the exhibition’s only new commission from artist Daragh Soden seeks to highlight. The Irish photographer, famous for his award-winning Young Dubliners series, brings an element of modernity to an otherwise historic project, showing the area is still full to the brim with the character and charm that’s defined its history.
So, if you’re yet to take a photo in front of the saucy and forever Instagram worthy ‘Adult Video’ and ‘Strip Tease’ signs outside of hidden Mexican restaurant La Bodega Negra, now’s your chance. Maybe you’ll be featured in Shot In Soho II.