Review Structures.

Throughout this post I will explore elements of exhibition reviews from Source magazines in order to influence my own final review for this unit.


Source, The Photographic Review, Autumn 2013, Issue 76, p54-55. 

Ever Young, James Barnor, Impressions Gallery.

The Time of Optimism.

Review by Mick Gidley. 

James Barnor, Eva, 1960

James BarnorEva, 1960



Mick Gidley’s review of the Ever Young exhibition by James Barnor consists of descriptive paragraphs about the exhibition and it’s content. Throughout the introduction Gidley gives us an insight to exactly who he is talking about, a short biography of the photographer and what they’re all about. For the duration of the review we read heavy descriptions about the work being shown and the exhibition, what it consists of, what it represents and what it’s intentions are. The review seems to be mainly descriptive about what to expect in the exhibition, a descriptive insight which tells you about the contextual side of the show. Unfortunately the review for me doesn’t do the show or images justice, after researching more about Barnor and finding more images online I was excited by what I saw, for me the description even though elaborate for a short review does not come across as anything other than unfortunately quite dull.

More information at:


Source, The Photographic Review, Spring 2013, Issue 74, p50-51.

Woo!, Juergen Teller, ICA.

Serious Photography.

Review by Eugenie Shinkle.

Juergen Teller

 Juergen Teller, Vivienne Westwood, No.1, London, 2009. 



Personally I find this review to be much more experimental and imaginative with the use of words compared to Gidley’s review of Ever Young. The review starts with a controversial statement about how ‘serious photographers don’t do fashion’ and by listing other photographs works who we are familiar with helps to give a better understanding of what to expect within the exhibition. After this, much like Gidley there is a short biographical paragraph about Juergen Teller and his past work which gives you an understanding of his background and why this show is not what you’ll expect. Onwards the review again is very descriptive about the exhibition, more specifically this time with an explanation of what is exactly in each room without giving away too much, just enough to make you want to go and see for yourself. Towards the end of the review Shinkle talks about the main controversial element of the exhibition being the nude photographs of Vivienne Westwood, including this keeps the reader interested as it’s a popular part of the show. The end summary explains critical concerns but in a tasteful and respectful way. The controversy creates debate around the review and exhibition. I find this review to be much more to my taste as the vocabulary is rich and vibrant, every adjective seems to be invigorating and makes for a much more interesting read.

More information at:


Source, The Photographic Review, Autumn 2013, Issue 76, p60-61. 

Man Ray Portraits, National Portrait Gallery.

With Mystery.

Review by Isabel Stevens. 


Man Ray, Catherine Deneuve, 1968. 

Reviewing a show by a well known famous pioneer has a different output compared to contemporary, it is unnecessary to be descriptive of the photographs because generally people who read the review will already be aware of what they will look like. The intro still consists of a slight biographical piece of information but the structure is different, it does not list facts but alternatively elaborates on well known information in an attempt to try and write something which has never been said before. Throughout the duration of the review there is clear evidence of historical research and facts which you may or may not be aware of, these facts are extended with interpretations and opinions of what the photographs may have meant at the time and how they are perceived today. What I found to be interesting in the review was the explanation of Man Ray’s photographic practice which is included in the show, that fact alone made me want to visit the show for myself, as it sparks intrigue of the reality, secrets and mystery’s of working process of the surrealist photographer.



During our lecture today we learnt about semiotics which is simply the study of signs and symbols and their use or interpretation.

“It is…possible to conceive of a science which studies the role of signs as part of social life…We shall call it semiology (from the Greek sèmeîon, ‘sign’).  It would investigate the nature of signs and the laws governing them…Linguistics is only one branch of this general science. …”

Saussure, Course in General Linguistics, 1916

We can deconstruct an image by what we already know, the obvious suggests a narrative from what we already know due to our social and political upbringing. By reading the signs in the picture such as the words, gestures, colours, etc we are able to come to a conclusion of what it means to us based on our experiences. Other religions and cultures may read images in different ways. I believe that as soon as the creator presents an image it will become open to interpretation. No matter what the creator intends to portray in the image it still has the ability to affect someone else in a different way.

I have decided to find an image I know nothing about and try to read the semiotics from what I can see without being distracted by what I already know about the artist and photograph.

Joan Jonas, Mirror Piece I, 1969.

Joan Jonas, Mirror Piece I, 1969.

My interpretation:

Knowing nothing about this artist and piece I have come to the conclusion of what the image and title suggests to me.

Using the mirror suggests to me the artist, subject and viewers reflection on perception. I believe that showing the bare legs in a field and being 1969 the era has had an influence on this image. The rise of the hippie counterculture which involved a lot of sex and drugs may have been the vortex of this image. The mirror suggests to me another dimension in a way, which the use of psychedelia certainly enhances and opens the mind to the possibility of other dimensions.

The use of reflection could be an interpretation on the reflection of the model and the exploitation of their sexuality, perhaps she is hiding herself because she is ashamed or embarrassed by her naked body as society suggests we should cover ourselves up.

On the other hand, sat on the grass suggest that she is grounded within nature and is portraying to the viewer that being naked is okay, it’s completely natural and that we should be comfortable with our bodies. There is no reason to hide them on a summer’s day, it is not an offence to be free.

What does the image portray to you?