19th June- 4th September
Opening hours: Weekdays 10am- 7pm, weekends 11am- 6:30pm
Admission: 7,000 won
Walker Evans (1903- 1975) is one of the most influential photographers of the 20th century, meaning that this exhibition at the lovely Hanmi Photography Museum is not to be missed. Evans took his photos from straight forward, eye level viewpoint when other photographers were experimenting with strange angles to make the familiar appear unfamiliar (think Bauhaus) or different techniques to create dream-like or nightmarish visions (think Surrealism). However, Evans strove to produce honest pictures, sans illusions. The kinds of pictures familiar from newspapers, postcards and real estate adverts; pictures of his America.
The selection of photographs in this exhibition are largely taken from the 1930′s; a most productive period in Evans’ career. The work he is best known for is the work he did for the Farm Security Administration, documenting the effects of the Depression in the rural southern states. These pictures relay images which I, for one, have come to associate with early 20th century deep south; dry, dusty poverty with a big dollop of faded glamour. He shows us families in their minimally furnished, worn but tidy houses, or out on their wooden porches, shaded from the heat. He records people-less interiors with empty chairs, walls adorned with disused coca cola ads, beds with rifles hanging above. These pictures are solid and dignified, the light perfect. One is reminded of the still, silent houses as families toiled all day long in the sun; these mute objects communicating as much as his human subjects.
Evans also takes us to 1930′s New York; into the streets and into subway where he took pictures with a hidden camera in his jacket. We’re also shown pictures of Cuban workers in much the same vein as his portraits of the deep south. However, despite different subject matter, all photos seem to convey a solid sense of carefully catching and preserving a segment of time.
Don’t be put off by the 7,000 won entry fee. It’s a steal for seeing the works of one of the socio- realist photographer heroes of our time. So Walker on over there!