Like the Turner Prize, the Citibank has managed to avoid the insularity of nationalism by inviting submissions from those who have ‘exhibited or published a substantial body of photographic-based work in the UK’ for a certain period. This means that artists from other countries, such as the American Roni Horn, can show their photo-pieces here. Horn’s images are close-ups of the surface of the River Thames: neutral enough, large-format, and reminiscent of the unfriendly quality of its dark waters. But beneath them are footnotes that lend the images a Grand Guignol tendency to the river – her own musings, combined with a London Gothic sensibility that feeds from writers such as Ian Sinclair and Peter Ackroyd and which engenders the strange ambivalence of the urban river as drain, suicide spot and cleansing stream. For her, the Thames is not just the social divide of London folklore but a pestilent ditch of rats, sewage and bodies. Their humour and energy will reward those who take the time to read Horn’s footnotes – although their small type and user-unfriendliness will disappoint graphic designers.
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