Metro, October 2nd 2008


written by Zena Alkayat

Soho Archives: 1950s & 1960s; Dryden Goodwin: Cast


These two exhibitions are the last you'll find at Great Newport Street. In December, The Photographers' Gallery is moving to a temporary space at Ramillies Street (around the corner from Oxford Circus), which will be steadily turned into a flash new home ready for 2011.

The shows only partly succeed as a fitting farewell, however. In Soho Archives, an even portrayal of the area as a cultural melting pot is mistakenly forgone in favour of scandal and sexuality. Admittedly, work by the late nude photographer Jean Straker is brilliant, benefiting from a remarkable lack of sleaze, while David Hurn's document of strip clubs eerily decapitates its strippers. But the subject focus is too narrow to say anything new or of note about such a vibrant area.

Cast, on the other hand, offers a unique snapshot of Londoners. British artist Dryden Goodwin's collection is based on photographs taken of unwitting passers-by. He then mutilates - or decorates, according to your perspective - the images with web-like etchings. In the case of his Caul series, Goodwin uses a digital stylus on the faces of night-bus users with terrifying results. Is this voyeurism? A hostile act? A comment on surveillance? Or an artist reaching out to connect? The readings may be as numerous as the intentions.