Gimpel Fils: Corinne Day 'May The Circle Remain Unbroken' (until 23rd November 2013)

With its press images revealing a 'young man in a yellow crocheted bikini talk[ing] on the phone', I had to go and see Corinne Day's photography collection at Gimpel Fils, W1, for myself - is it a collection of extrovert, novel setups? Certainly not. Instead, what the viewer is presented with is something more reminiscent of a lost youth. Despite the photographs having only been taken in the 1990s, there is a definite feeling that comes with the exhibition that this is the past. Day shows us the golden period of one's life, in which actions and situations we find ourselves in are not limited by rationality.

One of the first images, 'Yank Watching The Fire', appears to be an immediate reflection on life. Day's choice of the word 'Yank' suggests an American subject, suggesting indulgence and excess. Personally, the curatorial decision to place this image near the start of the collection is a puzzling one. The aim to maintain the viewer's attention span should translate throughout the exhibition, and I believe that this photograph would certainly sharpen the viewer's ideas, particularly as the final image of the exhibition sits snug with the exit of the gallery. The beauty of 'Yank Watching The Fire' lies in the ambiguity of the subject matter's environment. A raging, cindering fire blurs our view of the image's entirety. The use of curtains in the background additionally makes us unsure as to whether the fire is taking place inside or outside. This reminds us of adolescent passion, taking place both internally and externally. Wanting to be different and as expressive as possible, yet restraints on how we must be the same are constantly in the periphery.

Day enjoys showing us the polarity of adolescent life, and the curatorial positioning of each image has been done to emphasise this. For instance, the placing of 'George on the Bus' next to 'Vinca Nude with Mask' shows the contrast between the everyday and the ridiculous, which of course is the reality of life; nothing is entirely as it should be. The 'poster' image for the exhibition, 'Kevin on the Phone' is certainly one where the viewer 'can almost hear the laughter out of shot', as the press release boasts, and rightly so. This particular image is interesting, as it exudes youth, dressing up in an attention-seeking (and finding) way, but is also not so far away from the attire of Sacha Baron-Cohen's recognisable alter-ego, Borat.

There is a very personal, candid feel about the photographs on display at Gimpel Fils, and with the knowledge that it has been curated by the artist's widower, Mark Szaszy, enhances this sensation. The idea that the photographs are of a subject matter, a utopia, that is lost can now be considered on a new, more poignant level. One of the collection's protagonists, 'George', who is featured in one of Szaszy's accompanying videos, is portrayed in several scenarios, allowing the viewer to experience a didactic tale of adolescence. As a fashion photographer, it was said of Day in 2010 in The Daily Telegraph that the artist showed us that 'the fashion industry didn't have to be this exclusive club for the privileged and perfect.' Although she is perhaps most famous for her 1991 photograph of Kate Moss, you can't ignore the feeling, which is evident in 'May The Circle Remain Unbroken', that her work was set out to disestablish the norms of [fashion] photography, and present its reality.

'George in Stilettos' by Corinne Day
Courtesy of 

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