back October 2008


Dryden Goodwin's Cast, Photographer's Gallery, October 2008

For the last show at its Newport Street location, the Photographer's Gallery is hosting Cast, a solo exhibition by street snapper Dryden Goodwin, who - in the manner of Garry Winogrand, or more contemporaneously, Philip-Lorca diCorcia - takes apparently candid shots of unwitting passers-by. In the gallery's first piece, Cradle, five black and white photographs of Londoners taken around the West End are blown up to large scale. On top of these images, Goodwin has streaked the faces with wrinkles and lines, drawn on by a digital stylus, with only the lips left unblemished.

Such vandalism is used for a more unsettling purpose later on in Caul. Goodwin adopts the same technique to people photographed on the upper deck of a London night bus, but this time his scrawls are made in blood red, as if the head has been injured. The moral ambiguities eked out by Goodwin's invasive technique are augmented by consternation that one might happen across his or her own graffiti-ridden visage - nocturnal bus rides will never seem so innocent again.

This contrast between photography and illustration informs other works in the show. Shapeshifters comprises 700 quickly-sketched pencil drawings taken of fellow passengers encountered on public transport, with a video screen nearby projecting the sketches in a continuous loop. Casting combines the two approaches neatly - photographs of street scenes, in which the pedestrians are usually enveloped by shadow, form a series of dyptichs alongside tiny sketches of the characters Goodwin imagines he might encounter in each space. The final piece, Rock, sits hidden away in an enclosure at the gallery's far corner, and boils his twin methods down into their element - images drawn in red projected on a small video screen, the cranial sketches emerging from a black void before dissembling again. It's a subtle, understated finale, and a fitting goodbye to Newport Street.If you think there's no imagination, soul or talent in contemporary British art, this journey through the streets of London will make you change your mind.