Basically, the show is, as it is titled, Out of Focus. If this symbolises the future of photography, then frankly, it's depressing. It is rambling, with too many photographers; it is dated, with some new names doing the same old thing (think John Baldessari style of thing); it is a hotch potch of different genres, without giving a smooth overview of the genres of photography (Michael Subotzky, for example, is the only nod to reportage); it is inconsistent, giving some photographers a whole room while others just have a single print.
If nothing else, it is worth the trek to the West End to see a whole room filled with portraits by Katy Grannan. She steals the show; her larger than life portraits of people she has come across on the boulevards of LA and San Francisco are hyper real and evocative of a more glamourous era. Each portrait seems to be a more crumbly version of a celebrity - there is Marilyn Monroe, here is Jimi Hendrix. A modern day Diane Arbus, she seems to have a knack for photographing true characters, and the harsh sunlight and pale backgrounds really put these people under the spotlight.
In short, the message of this show to me was that the future of photography was going backwards, with photographers once again exploring analogue means of creating an image, and manipulating their work in the darkroom. This harks back to the talk I chaired at Photofusion, which I wrote about here; but to me, those artists I talked about experiment with photography in a much more 21st century way, and if there is a future of photography I consider it to be more like that. But what about reportage photographers? What is the future there? Again we arrive at the same old question of photography vs art. The Saatchi show is full of artists, not photographers. When will this distinction ever end?