The imminent completion of London's new Cross Rail makes Soho a prime target for development and threatens its existence as a place of unorthodoxy and independence.
But one can hope, as Soho has always been a site of resistance. Although relatively small in size – approximately one square mile – and bordered by some of London’s grandest and most commercialised streets, it has stood up to its neighbours, repudiated gentrification, nurtured difference and maintained its reputation and resonance as a village affair; a hotbed of unpredictability, disobedience and diverse cultures.
From market-place to movie-set, sex shop to coffee bar, crime scene to cabaret, Soho is an unfolding and complex spectacle, central to the music, fashion, design, film and sex industries alongside being a vibrant hub for LGBT+ communities. Across the centuries, it has also been home to a variety of immigrant communities from the French Huguenots, through Italian, Maltese, Chinese, Hungarian, Jewish and Bengali cultures.
Now a new exhibition at The Photographers' Gallery, Shot in Soho, will celebrate Soho's diverse culture, community and creativity at a time when the area is facing radical transformation.
It's a timely opportunity to see the area through the lens of renowned photographers, such as William Klein, through a rare presentation of his candid 1980s Sunday Times commissioned photo essay; Anders Petersen with a selection of his 2011 Soho series, which capture the neighbourhood with his trademark lyrical melancholy; Corinne Day, whose images take us off the streets into her Brewer St. home where some of her most iconic editorial and personal work was shot; as well as work from less familiar figures such as Times photographer Kelvin Brodie’s night-time forays with police teams, John Goldblatt’s strip club dressing room scenes and Clancy Gebler Davies’s work in The Colony Room Club.
The exhibition features a commission from the artist Daragh Soden who will present a new body of work focusing on Soho’s reputation as a place of connection, performance and the pursuit of love.
Shot in Soho will be on display at The Photographers' Gallery, London from the 18 October 2019 until 9 February 2020. A specially produced publication by Prestel titled, Shot in Soho: Photographing Life, Love and Lawlessness in the Heart of London, will accompany the show.