Saturday, 4 September 2010
After attending the preview of Light Sensitive on Thursday night, I felt compelled to write about it & urge anyone who reads this blog to go & visit. The exhibition comprises of 24 graduates from the MA in Photographic Studies at the University of Westminster. This class of 2010 are a diverse group of individuals whose work has been beautifully curated by Elizabeth Upper, the editor of Above Magazine. her use of the impressive P3 space seamlessly guides you through the work from every angle, nothing jars. Upper has managed to showcase the work somehow uninterrupted - that is, each body of work breathes & commands its own space- so one can view & absorb each series in isolation without distraction. However, the flow & choice of placement appears effortless despite the broad range of imagery on offer. Curating any group exhibition is difficult, yet Upper has wielded her skills to produce a duality of bold & subtle arrangements to great effect, she is definitely one to watch...
When asked to write the essay for the catalogue I was delighted to do so. Of course I would encourage you to buy it, especially if you happen to be a photographer. Why? Well, instead of a long arty ramble I decided to be honest, brutally so in fact with 20 top tips or rules for photographers' which has so far gone down quite well... (as far as I can tell anyway) I hope this essay proves useful for their future in the field of photography.
Having walked around the exhibition there are definite highlights, the first of which is the series that opens the show by Debra Fabricius called Urban Drift whereby she has covered a nine mile span of Regents Canal, taking photographs from the towpath. They reveal the scars left by urban development as nature keeps growing & flowing around it.
disruptus by Colin Coutts was a visceral delight comprising stills, video & audio to impressive effect. His portraits of worn deteriorated gardening gloves on metallic paper are superb. Combined with the mesmerizing video & audio, the darkened space pulls you in as the gloves wave you in & out of the space! (As I have done here with the images chosen)
There were several projects which were conceptually fascinating also, to mention but a few Sharon Boothroyd's If You Get Married Again, Will You Still Love Me? tableaux's inspired by remembered words from children whose father's were separated from their partners are sombre, my favourite was Boy On Chair. Secondly Kossi Kunakey's exploration into the Black & Asian beauty industry discusses the troubling notions of beauty in those communities whereby hair straightening & hair lightening are sought in order to procure a more Western appearance. As a curly haired woman myself I have often been bemused by those who feel that straight hair is the only way to be attractive & love to see an afro in all its glory, ditto with dark skin. Naturally dark skin - in my humble opinion - is much more appealing than orange fake-tanned skin, which is the preferred look of many young Western women. Oh why can't we all just get on with what we've got without resorting to nasty chemicals!
On the subject of colour, Elliot Wilcox's images of climbing walls are abstractly enticing, cropping the walls in order to photograph the details & variations of the walls to great effect. This transforms a rather hard surface into a more meditative image from an unlikely source.
Jessa Fairbrother's series Subtitled portray whimsical self portraits exploring clichés. I cannot say too much about this work other than to urge you to go & see it. Read the text in a frame first, then admit your own guilty cliché pleasures before passing judgement. Enjoy the wistful long exposures.
There is some very strong landscape photography in this show too. Caroline Brown's Sandlings series, you are invited to immerse yourself in the Suffolk countryside, from low vantage points. Some make you feel like a field mouse nestled in the grass looking out into the big wide world with wonderment, surely an emotion felt by Brown also?
I feel I must stop here, less I give the game away. Go & see for yourself!