Chris Shaw - Night Porter

Open Eye Gallery
20th March – 24th April 2004
Admission Free

Reviewed by Adam Ford

Chris Shaw spent the years between 1993 and 2003 working as a night porter in London hotels. It was difficult, tiring work, and - trusty camera in hand - he saw a lot of things. It’s just that not many of them were very interesting, and certainly not worth inflicting on the innocent gallery-goer.

Parts of the exhibition may be trying to give the impression that hotels are some kind of seedy hinterland somewhere between the home and London’s nightlife. And this does produce a few striking images: a woman covered only by £10 notes, the naked drunk locked out of his room, and the wide-eyed wino propping up the bar. But that’s three out of maybe fifty. Did Chris Shaw tell his friends about all the people he saw sleeping? I doubt it, so why bother showing us? To make matters worse, on the rare occasions you are sufficiently moved to read the caption, you’ll more than likely find it obscured by the frame.

They say every picture tells a story. Unfortunately, the only story this tells is of a society where mundane, pointless images are considered ‘art’ and put on display for the mundane, pointless consideration of the public. Still, it is free, so pop in anyway and see what the night porter saw. If it’s raining.