Real Life? features nearly 30 photographers, ranging from Wolfgang Tillmans who has used friends as models to make the photographs more "real", to Elaine Constantine, whose images, typically, look spontaneous and "snapped", but are actually carefully staged. All the photographs debunk accepted notions of beauty and aspiration, and the clothes often seem incidental, almost like product placement in works of art. But while the genre has its roots in the non-fashion art world of the Eighties and the work of documentary-makers such as Nan Goldin, the reality is that these photographs are there to sell a product or a dream, in the same way as any Beaton or Parkinson. As the question mark in the exhibition's title indicates, these images are not "real life" at all. In fact, Williams thinks photographers will return to the studio more and more in the future as the dirty realist style becomes increasingly ubiquitous and devalued. Like fashion, she says, "It's all about newness"
`Real Life?' is at the Crossley Gallery, Dean Clough, Halifax (01422 250250) from 4 July to 30 August and at the Levi's Gallery in Regent Street, London W1 from 14 July. An accompanying book, `W'Happen', edited by Jason Evans, is published by Shoreditch BiennaleReuse content