Category Archives: Study Weekend Brighton October 2018

Brighton Photo Biennial Tour 27th October 2018

The eighth Brighton Photo Biennial drew on the UK’s current immersion in the geopolitics of the ongoing Brexit negotiations which have dominated the mass media and thus people’s thoughts, beliefs and feelings since the Referendum in June 2016.

Much of the photography in Brighton in Brighton Photo Biennial 2018 responds to this current uncertainy.  Visitors are invited to examine Britain’s geography as an island: simultaneously divided and connected. They can also reflect on the ongoing refugee crisis and photography’s role in the construction of national identity.       (Photoworks 2018)

We had a very busy itinerary for Day Two with a guided tour around the curated shows. Our group met tutors Jayne Taylor and Gina Lundy at the University Gallery in Edward Street, and were then introduced to Julia and Lisa from Photoworks who would be with us as guides for the rest of the day.  This was an excellent idea as it gave Jayne and Gina the time to interact with us as a group and discuss the various Exhibitions we visited across Brighton.

As previously, I’m focussing this blog post on Exhibitions which particularly struck me.

Émeric Lhuisset

L’Autre Rive

Émeric Lhuisset grew up in suburban Paris. He graduated in both Arts and Geopolitics and considers his work as “an artistic transcription of geopolitical analyses”.This project L’Autre Rive is a tribute to my friend, Foad, who disappeared in the Mediterranean Sea while trying to reach Europe. The work is comprised a collection of cyanotype prints which are progressively disappearing as they are exposed to sunlight”.

In the video below he explains how shocked he has been by the way in which refugees are represented by populists such as the extreme right and he feels it is his responsibility to fight against this. Many of his friends are on the refugee route – some arriving in Europe, others vanishing.  He follows their journeys through selfies and messages but his friend, Foad, never arrived and this project is a tribute to him.

Lhuisset decided to meet his refuge friends in Europe and photography their everyday life – the banal pictures which “….can be your life; the life of anybody”. The pictures were then printed through the cyanotype process, an old method which creates images in blue monochrome.  For him this monochrome is a metaphor for the colours of Europe and the sea where some people disappear.  Usually cyanotypes are ‘fixed’ through a rinsing process but he left his cyanotypes ‘unfixed’ which means they are progressively disappearing as they are exposed to day/sunlight – just as many on the refugee routes disappear.

As Lhuisset talks in the video above (presumably filmed early in the Exhibition) you can see the cyanotype prints behind him  Usually, if cyanotypes are left ‘unfixed’ they gradually fade in the light – yet, by the time we saw them his cyanotype had darkened over the time they were exhibited in the gallery. (You can see some of them in the photograph I took when we were listening to the talk by Lisa, Photoworks). Some of us spent quite some time discussing how this could be and wondering whether he had introduced some other process. I carried out some experiments myself when I returned home and will write about these in a later post .

I think his concept certainly complements his theme but felt concerned that the importance and tragedy of the situation he portrays can be dissipated somehow by too much wondering on how the technique works – style taking on too much importance over content.  However, I was struck by the thought of ‘Time’ – how it changes everything and nothing stays the same despite our desires to hold it fast, to fix it in a photograph, to stay in an unsafe place because it is “Home’.

Tereza Cervenova

June  

“…exploring how meanings of home and plans for the future are now shaken and in limbo”

Tereza Cervenova was born in Bratislava, Slovakia and moved to London. She  travelled around Europe to create this series which is an autobiographical response in 2011 to the June 2016 Brexit referendum.  She discusses the series here 

At first she had thought the series seemed disjointed but then she realised the connections with dates of various events and how they could affect people in her situation. The work was presented as unframed images on walls; loose booklets by different dates, on a plinth and available to be looked through; bound by rings and also in a glass-topped display case, alongside their enfolding slipcase, made from a deep-blue velvety textured cloth.

Her aim was to use the work as a voice, to give it a physicality, and to use the structure of the theme as a ground for a conversation. What,  I took from this series was this sense of people living their lives in infinite variety whilst events unfolded elsewhere which could have an enormous impact on their lives.

From the University Gallery we moved on to view several other Exhibitions around Brighton. – stopping off for a photoshoot on the beach along the way – and finally ended up at 23, Dukes Lane to see an Exhibition installation of the work of Hrair Sarkissian.

Hrair Sarkissian

As a young teenager in school, this Syrian photographer witnessed a public execution in Damascus – a common sight before the Civil War broke out. The memory of what he saw drove him as an adult to photograph squares where execution had taken place. He now lives in London.

In 2014 Hrair Sarkissian began to create his first two-channel video Homesick  .  He recreated and destroyed an architecturally accurate scale model of the apartment building in Damascus where his parents still lived, having refused to leave Syria. He asked his father to photograph the façade of the actual building and then worked with an architect to build the model over a period of a month. This building represents more than just a house – it acts as a representative for sense of belonging, container for memories and a place for the collective memory of his family.  In destroying its model he attempted to regain some control over what was happening, the destruction and fear for the future; asking the question “Can we fast-forward the present and acknowledge loss and begin reshaping a collapsed history before the event?”.

The first project of the video shows the demolition of the model, without sound, in various stages of damage leading up to a pile of rubble. The second projection, with sound, shows Sarkissian taking a sledgehammer to the model which sits off-screen.  You can see the emotion on his face as he wields the sledgehammer; the sweat pouring off him and his increasing exhaustion.

 

Watching the video installation had a powerful effect on me as I identified with the grief he expressed over the destruction overshadowing his homeland and circling around his parents. Will this conflict ever end so that people can re-build their lives?  An article here begins with a quote from Edward Saïd, Reflections on Exile(2002)which I think is so relevant:-

Exile is predicated on the existence of, love for, and bond with, one’s native place; what is true of all exile is not that home and love of home are lost, but that loss is inherent in the very existence of both.

Gathering up some of the threads

I was particularly struck by the way in which these artists acted as a ‘voice’ for themselves and others who have been affected by this “Brexit” fiasco which seems to be unending.  I’m imagining that even though it may not happen they may never feel the same about this Country that they might have seen as a safe haven. The cracks occurring on our democratic veneer have revealed what can lie underneath (as it has in some other EU member States).  On the one hand there’s the sense of people carrying on with their everyday lives whilst, on the other hand, there are others who are having to come to terms with the loss of a safe homeland and culture that is unable to sustain them.

 

 

References

http://hrairsarkissian.com

http://hrairsarkissian.com/work/homesick/

http://terezacervenova.com

https://photoworks.org.uk/watch-brighton-photo-biennial-artist-emeric-lhuisset

https://photoworks.org.uk/watch-brighton-photo-biennial-artist-tereza-cervenova/

https://universes.art/en/nafas/articles/2015/hrair-sarkissian/

https://www.emericlhuisset.com

 

 

 

 

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“Over Hills and Seas”: Tim Andrews – 26th October 2018

Tim Andrews, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease in 2005, at the age of 54.  He was working as a solicitor at the time.

“Having PD mean that I was able to retire and being able to retire meant that I could do all the things I wanted to do but never had the time i.e. watch cricket, go to the cinema and go out and have a coffee and do the crossword. As it happened, these things were not enough as they were all solitary experiences and I missed the daily, hourly contact with other human beings. So, when my photographic project came along, off I went into to the stratosphere.” (online blogpost 25thFebruary 2016)  

His self-instigated project  began in 2007 after he responded to an advertisement in “Time Out” magazine looking for 100 people to pose naked for a new book by photographer Graeme Montgomery .  Within the next two weeks there were further requests listed from two other photographers so he responded to those as well. In 2008, he discovered that Graeme Montgomery was advertising on Gumtree and whilst searching for photography he found a lot of people, mainly students, looking for people to photograph. Thus, his project really began.  In total, from 2007 to 2016, Tim was photographed by 425 photographers and he brought his project Over the Hill to an end in 2016 wanting it “…to be complete, to put it into a box, tie it with ribbon and place it on a shelf so that, every so often I could take it down and look inside and marvel at all the great times I had with these wonderful photographers”.

Tim took the box down this year however having decided to present another exhibition of 32 photographic works from both the project and subsequently, with the theme of Landscape (including Seascape) – the purpose being to examine how these photographers changed their approach to photograph Tim.  Here’s a view of it – be aware it’s marked “Mature” :-

 

 

Tutor Jayne Taylor had organised for us to meet with Tim Andrews, after the Exhibition at the Regency Town House closed for the day, for a guided introduction.  I experienced him as a very engaging speaker, full of anecdotes about his experiences with the various photographers and obviously immersed in his project and enjoying being in front of the camera and having attention.  I’ve always enjoyed watching Gareth Malone, the English choirmaster and broadcaster giving a singing voice to people who never thought they had one but gave it a try anyway. Gareth Malone describes himself as an “animateur” and I think that term perfectly describes Tim Andrews in the way he contacted his potential photographers; directing proceedings (often collaboratively); posed in all weathers; starred in the theatre of his performance and collected and curated this Exhibition which is all about himself. His enthusiasm and energy would be impressive in even a fit, young man.

The theme of nudity does crop up quite often so I was surprised to read In an interview with Vice.com magazine (pub. 4thAugust 2016)  that the percentage of nude photographs of Tim is less than 20 percent. Maybe he chose a higher proportion for this Exhibition; I was more aware of them just because he was nude or because he spent quite a while standing talking to us in front of a photograph of himself nude, painted blue all-over and wearing a turban  – the photographer being Karen Knorr.

What did I gain from the talk and the Exhibition?

I was reminded of Isabelle Mège (who I read about in a blog post by my student colleague Sarah-Jane Field  a medical secretary in Paris who, over two decades, persuaded many renowned photographers (mostly male) to take a photograph of her with an initial request of,  “I would like to see myself from your point of view”.  Mège amassed a large collection of photographs, in a large variety of styles, not all of which could be called portraits, but they all depicted her body. In 2016 Anna Heyward of The New Yorker interviewed one of the photographers, Fouad Elkoury who had photographed Mège in 2002. He told Anna Heyward that he had agreed to Mège’s request because, “I could tell this project came from an obsessive mind, this strange project of being photographed by photographers she liked—not those she thought were famous, but those she liked.” He was taken aback when they met. “She was veryordinary, a very normal-seeming person. I had thought, based on her letter, that she might be unusual.”

The philosopher Jean-Luc Nancy wrote in an email to Anne Heyward that the key to understanding Mege’s work was that it was an act that made her an artist of some sort; one whose medium is other artists He invented new words to describe this “It’s a selfothermade ….. not an auto-portrait…. But it’s not an alloportrait either”.  Somehow this takes it beyond notions of the male/female gaze into another realm – a work created through some kind of projective identification between subject (initiator) and artist. There is a video about her on YouTube but I won’t give the link here as it contains a fair amount of nude photography.

Returning to Tim Andrews and his Exhibition – I was very impressed to see so many different versions of Tim by so many photographers, although I would need to do much more research on them all to gain a sense of how much was their own way of working anyway and how much they were responding to Tim ‘in the moment’.  My favourite photograph overall was the one of Tim wearing his grandmother’s dress (also exhibited) from 1904 – shot by photographer Clare Park. There was something very poignant about it for me with his wistful, painted face as he holds the golden dress against him.

The series that attracted me was

A section of a larger piece by Tina Rowe Sixty Minutes (2015)

Tim wrote of being ‘hooked’ by Tina’s work after seeing it in a Photomonth brochure in 2014 and so he wrote her a message asking her to photograph him, “What she didn’t know was that it wasn’t purely portraiture I was after. I wanted to be in a photograph taken by her. I liked the way her mind worked.  In particular, I liked her series ‘My Mother’s House” as I very much identified with this having made a documentary about my own mother’s house a few years ago.”

Tina writes about the session here .  She had intended to use a wide angle pinhole camera with camera flashes for a particular effect before she met him, “…but when he walked into my studio I realised that he isn’t the sort of person who should be summed up in a single shot …..I had looked at the work of other photographers in his project and there was a wealth of different interpretations of him as a human and as a canvas.  They didn’t really help because they are all so different. Just talking to him made me drop the one idea and pursue the other”.

So, there we have the two different types of personal alchemy resulting in the series created through joint authorship. The photographs were taken with a hasselblad camera and using a pack of fuji instant film.  The emulsion was then lifted from the instant film and placed on oak blocks. Reflecting on the whole process, Tim wrote in second blog post at that time “I love the fact that these are so delicate and are not digitised”.    I agree with him very much.  There’s something about those small vignettes, taken in the moment, catching him in various poses.  The wooden blocks look a bit battered now – perhaps grown into the metaphor of his life – but their oak remains stout.

 

References

Heyward, H.A. the Opposite of a Muse (2016) The New Yorker 17.9.2016 (accessed at https://www.newyorker.com/culture/culture-desk/the-opposite-of-a-muse28.11.2018)
http://timandrewsoverthehill.blogspot.com

https://timandrewsoverthehill.blogspot.com/2015/05/ten-into-sixty-tina-rowe-part-one.html
https://timandrewsoverthehill.blogspot.com/2015/09/60-minutes-by-tina-rowe-part-two.html
http://tinarowe.co.uk/portfolio/objects/60-minutes-with-tim-andrews/
https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/jmkmg7/parkinsons-over-the-hill-tim-andrews

 

Phoenix Brighton: 26th October 2018

 

Collaboration and collective working are the core aims of Brighton Photo Fringe   and, in all, they presented eight Collectives this year, selected from open submissions and showcasing new photography in all its forms.

 

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  1. An afternoon at Phoenix, Brighton. 

I arrived slightly late for the meet-up at Phoenix, Brighton, due to having got lost and driving round in circles trying to find my hotel.  This meant that my attention was scattered once I did arrive – looking around to see who I recognised and for some familiar faces whilst trying to key in to the works that were being discussed, but my attention was caught by this

Zoe Sim

Friston Forest Glitch – Exhibited in the Artefactcollection which comprised work by artists from Metro Imaging’s Mentorship Programme in addition to Metro’s own team.

Zoe uses infrared photography to oversaturate landscapes into pink worlds, believing that “…the aesthetics of pink can trigger contradictory emotions because pink is associated with many politically charged stereotypes. Zoe’s use of pink connotes a futuristic environment where technology is beginning to seep into nature, whereas I used near-infrared in Assignment 1 to signify what we are unable to see in the world with our normal vision. Furthermore, Zoe also uses asymmetric and jagged shapes to add to the surreal and ‘uncanny’ effect of her sublime. There is an interesting article here about some earlier work where she used pink in a different way to create a more dream-like world and critique female objectification by mimicking classical poses from paintings – I was reminded here of the work of June Calypso and her use of pink.

Now feeling more ‘at home” I went off to explore the other rooms.

Glen Turner

Rose (2018)

Glen Turner, a mixed-media artist, was exhibiting with the Ontic Collective  – a collective of lens-based artists working in Brighton. who aimed to present “a wider joint narrative about artistic practice post digital revolution ”

His series information states

In this series I have merged 3 elements resulting as the 4thelement.  The 2 photographic layers were made by winding back an analogue film and retaking the next layer, creating random compositions. Roses from Preston park, layered with a familiar suburban and industrial walk, with a textured traced layer from a plastic Braille map of England leaving a gold/graphite layer upon the surface, make up the total form of the images.

 David Cundy

Also exhibiting as part of the Ontic Collective.

 

 

An installation of framed prints on the wall and small images on top of variously sized ‘blocks’ arranged on a plinth. The narrative behind the presentation of these pinhole photographs concerns the execution of Lady Jane Grey in 1554 (see also)  She was beheaded on Tower Green and the ground keepers at her home are said to have marked the occasion by pollarding the oak trees on the estate in a symbolic beheading.  A chilling event and a very effective presentation.

Although this work does not appear on David Cundy’s website it does on his Instagram feed .  Whilst looking at his website I also took note of his use of image and handwritten text.

 Creative Storm

Curate with us.

A collective pod comprising two different exhibitions where two artists each brought a developed body of work and, over an afternoon, attendees discussed and contributed to the decision making in curating and installing work.

This was the outcome of one of the events.  I liked the idea of such an interactive event and a way of involving viewers in the work. I think it was the work of Tom Heatley as I recognise the roof and chimney pots.

New Grounds Collective

This collective invited viewers to, “a space where we speculate and delve into the ‘conjectural’ facts regarding the fluctuation of the natural, urban and cultural environments.

Idil Bozkurt

 

Deconstruction with Walter in Gallerio Umberto I(2018)

This is a representation of a shopping arcade in Naples, built between  1887-1891, designed by Emanuele Rocco and named for Umberto I, the then King of Italy.

It’s a one-off Installation piece – suspended transparent prints on a frame-based substrate I found it fascinating and had to keep going back to have a look at it.  Peering through the stacked translucent layers, trying to work out how it was done and admiring the 3D effect. Also for sale at £10,000 in Phoenix Brighton online shop I’ve just discovered.

I talked with fellow-student Karen Gregory about this installation and she said she’d created something like that which she has – see here

I think it’s a very effective and different way of representing depth in an urban landscape.

London Alternative Photography Collective

Their show brought together artists who ‘point’ their cameras at the sun and included alternative processes such as pinhole solargraphy, lunar photography, motor-controlled time-lapse and chemograms. It was good to see work displayed by many of the photographers I already follow on Instagram.

 

I was so busy discussing this installation with Karen and acquiring  very useful information on how to create pinhole images that I forgot to check the name of the photographer, which is really annoying. I think it’s from Pauline Woolley  Large versions of pinhole images on the wall and a display of the cans that held the photopaper. I am now collecting cans to use as containers!

MAP6 Collective

A group of nine photographers who work together to make new work about the complex relationship between people and place.

The Shetland Project

On this occasion they worked in the Shetland Islands for six days and I think the work produced is a wonderful example of the way in which collaborative projects can work – exploring the same place/location yet producing individual and distinctive interpretations of it.  It’s the kind of project I would very much like to be involved with one day.

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This was a full afternoon with so much to see and absorb and I took much away with me about the nature of collaborative work presentation/installation and alternative processes. Still a late afternoon/early evening  visit to come with a walk to The Regency Town House, Hove to see Tim Andrew’s Exhibition Over Hills and Seas, with a personal guided introduction by him.

 

 

References

https://glenturner.myportfolio.com/roses-1

https://newgroundsuk.wixsite.com/newgrounds

https://www.cundy.net/projects

https://www.instagram.com/creativestormbrighton/

https://www.instagram.com/map6collective/

https://www.instagram.com/p/Bo4OHrCl8uo/

https://www.instagram.com/photofringe/

http://www.map6.co.uk

http://www.map6.co.uk/the-shetland-project

https://www.ontic.photography

http://www.pinkthingsmag.com/photo/infrared-venus

https://www.tomheatley.co.uk/there-we-have-it#7