Installation view of Central Hall. Photo: John Bodkin/DawkinsColour Arranged by Michael Craig-Martin, this room greets visitors with a celebration of photography. For the first time in the long history of the Summer Exhibition, the walls of the Wohl Central Hall are hung solely with the work of artists who use photographic media. And their fascinating variety is evident at once.
The most dramatic image is a monumental Cindy Sherman photograph called, enigmatically, Untitled no. 472. Although Sherman always models for her own work, she is almost unrecognisable here. The female subject grins as her cheeks flare eerily in the darkness.
Sherman’s exhibit could hardly be more different from Cornelia Parker’s two images of hands clutching the battered suitcases that the Chancellor of the Exchequer used to wield on Budget Day. Their decrepit condition reflects the state of the British economy today.
Michael Vogt’s H32 Daguerre juxtaposes ancient and modern ruins in a strange, eerie fusion, while his other exhibit lodges a classical painting in a derelict power station. Darren Almond’s immense photograph of a swampy landscape is haunting to look at, pitching us into a mysterious world. And Petros Chrisostomou photographs a weird, fantastical white sculpture of strange growths isolated in the middle of a very formal gallery.
It prepares us for the surprising impact of the only sculpture here: Martin Creed’s Work no. 998. Four chairs are balanced on top of each other as they ascend towards the ceiling, asserting their defiance while struggling to avoid collapse.