This Season’s Biggest
UK Photography Shows

This Season’s Biggest <br> UK Photography Shows

Zanele Muholi. Graciela Iturbide. Franki Raffles. These names stand as luminaries in the realm of photography, each offering a powerful voice and vision. This summer, their remarkable works are being brought to the UK, hosted by galleries including Tate Modern and Baltic Centre. From Muholi’s powerful portraits within the LGBTQ+ community in South Africa, to Raffles’ extensive social documentary practice in the Soviet Union, these exhibitions invite audiences to look more closely at the world around them. Discover extraordinary image-making this summer, spanning across landscape of culture and identity.

Zanele Muholi | Tate Modern | Opens 6 June

Acclaimed photographer Zanele Muholi is a visual activist and artist whose powerful images are internationally recognised. From the early 2000s, they have documented and celebrated the lives of South Africa’s Black lesbian, gay, trans, queer and intersex communities. In a display showing 260 photographs, Tate Modern displays the full breadth of Muholi’s career to date. Included will be their early series Only Half The Picture, capturing moments of love, intimacy, but also trauma, as felt by the LGBTQIA+ community in South Africa, Brave Beauties, a work celebrating non-binary people and trans women, and Somnyama Ngonyama, an ongoing series exploring themes of Eurocentrism, labour, Eurocentrism, racism and sex.


Franki Raffles: Photography, Activism, Campaign Works | Baltic Centre | Until 17 November

Baltic presents the first major retrospective of activist, feminist and social documentary photographer Franki Raffles (1955-1994). Raffles documented the lives of women in the UK, predominently in Scotland, and during travels with her family in the 1980s across the Soviet Union (Russia, Georgia and Ukraine), China, Zimbabwe, the Caribbean, Israel and Palestine. The artist is known for changing social attitudes both behind the lens and through her campaigning and charity work to raise awareness of violence against women and children. This exhibition will concentrate on her creative activity over a period of ten years when she was most active, producing an astonishing output of approximately 40,000 images.

Graciela Iturbide: Shadowlines | The Photographers’ Gallery | Opens 14 June

The Mexican photographer Graciela Iturbide self-described her black and white imagery as “an abstraction of the mind.” Her images are widely recognised for their poetic inspiration, as the artis approached and captured her subjects with depth and sensitivity. Her images offer up a unique perspective on Mexican society, often exploring themes of Mexican culture, identity and belonging. Throughout her career, Iturbide has documented the lives of Indigenous people, often living closely with them for months. Shadowlines will include works from Juchitán de la mujeres (1979-1989), where the artist focused on the Zapotec culture, highlighting the strength and vitality of the women living within the Oaxacan community.

C. Rose Smith: Talking Back to Power | Autograph | Opens 13 June

C. Rose Smith uses the camera to propose a re-appraisal of Black histories. Smith examines the role of images in constructing layers of identity and individuality. Her series Talking Back to Power (2024) was completed at former plantation sites throughout the Southern United States. She shines a light on the forced labour of millions of enslaved Africans, as well as the lingering spectre of violence and anguish as felt by chattel slavery. These pictures examine how the past informs the present whilst critiquing social norms. Throughout, Smith uses gender fluidity to repudiate histories of colonial dress imposed on the formerly enslaved, as well as to examine contemporary attitudes surrounding gender expression.

Photo City: How Images Shape the Urban World | Until 27 October

The explosion of photographic experimentation in the mid-19th century coincided with the rapid growth of cities. V&A’s exhibition explores this phenomenon as it brings together iconic images from its collections as well as works by contemporary photographers, architects and digital artists. A highlight of the exhibition is an exclusive commission by Sohei Nishino, comprising a five-metre work made up of thousands of images brought together in a cornucopia of interaction, overlay and play. The collage features Dundee’s football grounds, pubs and the River Tay. Nishino explains, “Dundee is the smallest city I have worked in, but the final result was bigger than many of the other cities because I focused more on the people and events.”

Image Credits:

C. Rose Smith, Untitled no. 55, Nottoway Plantation, White Castle, Louisiana, 2022. From the series Talking Back to Power. Courtesy the artist.

Zanele Muholi, MalD IVNew York, 2018, Silverjet gelatin print, 80 x 70.5cm. Courtesy of the artist and of Stevenson, Cape Town/Johannesburg.

Franki Raffles Soviet Women © Franki Raffles Estate, all rights reserved.

Graciela Iturbide, Mujer Angel, Sonoran Desert, 1979 © Graciela Iturbide

Sohei Nishino. Commissioned by V&A Dundee.