Sunday, 1 June 2014

Telling Tales #2 Brittain Bright 'Opening Lines'

Series: Opening Lines
©Brittain Bright  

They say a picture can speak a 1000 words – so a photograph trying to introduce the thoughts & ideas one has when reading an entire novel would seem like a very tall order indeed. However, this is exactly what Brittain Bright set out to do from the viewpoint of the reader in her series Opening Lines.  Using the first lines of various novels, both real & fictitious she drew upon her extensive knowledge of the texts & genres she chose to create this fascinating series. As a Harvard University graduate of English & American literature (BA Hons), holding an MA in Fine Art Media at The Slade School of Fine Art & about to complete her PHD at Goldsmiths University in English Literature,  she was well placed within the literary & artistic world to take on such a challenge. 

Each image contains the same protagonist, a woman (the reader) & also occasionally other characters whose character whose sex may or may not always correspond to the original text. The viewer becomes the reader, whose omniversal presence we see throughout. She places herself into the narrative as she reads rendering the text immaterial. “This is a form of extreme personalisation to consume the text by entering into it’” says Bright. In doing so Bright allows the viewer to open up to a similar experience – posing a more interactive experience.

Series: Opening Lines
©Brittain Bright  

Choosing to photograph on medium format black & white film the photographs are instantly imbued with a sense of period, something past, something written, thus placing the pictures in the past tense whilst present. Without the distraction of colour the authenticity of each ‘opening line’ is reinforced.

Don’t be mistaken that Bright’s series bears any relation to Cindy Sherman’s Untitled Film Stills series. This common misconception is easy to reach at a glance. Sherman’s work typifies film genres – appropriating styles, generalising styles – to raise memories of film through self-portraiture. Bright does not appear in Opening Lines other than as the architect & director of her photographs. Sherman’s role is that of an imaginary blonde actress styled to embody post war American clichés in cinema such as murderess, sex kitten, housewife or ice-cold sophisticate amongst others (there are 69 in total) without a hint of irony. As Andy Warhol said, “She’s good enough to be a real actress.”

In Brittain Bright’s series the educated eye sees beyond the staging & into the connection with the work it relates to. However, when this work is exhibited the ‘opening line’ is not prominently displayed – in fact the reverse is true. The books, which coincide with the work are also displayed – in order to suggest not only the literary implications of the photograph but also to impart the viewer – inviting them to read & experience the work first hand. This results in a more visceral incentive to become part of the work. 

Series: Opening Lines
©Brittain Bright 

By placing her audience into a more responsive mind-set Bright leaves us room to breathe & enter into more imaginative realms. You are no longer a passive onlooker but a protagonist of the work itself. Being given such freedom – or should I say options (you can opt out & not take part at all if you wish) – the narrative can be bent & twisted to expand much further beyond Bright’s (the author’s) vision.

Opening Lines are open-ended questions, the beginning of something, filled with possibilities, starting a sentence that you feel duty bound to finish – or asking a question in which you need to seek the answer.

Each photograph is inspired by the imagination, skill & authorship of a work that although now rested in the canon of literary history can now re-animate in the minds of a new audience – literally growing in depth meaning before our eyes…

Witty, serious, dramatic & detailed, each picture dangles a thread waiting to be pulled.

Opening Lines by Brittain Bright will be on display at L A Noble Gallery as part of Capturing The Narrative: A visual exploration of fact & fiction
Exhibition dates: 12 June  - 5 July 2014
Venue: L A Noble Gallery, Maybe A Vole, 51 King Henry's Walk, London N1 4NH
Transport: Dalston Kingsland Overground

For further details see the website here.

Narrative Values – Artists Talks & performance programme – Wed Evenings at L A Noble Gallery

18 June 2014  - 18.30 – 20.00
Brittain Bright will discuss the use of narrative as a constant theme within her practice, followed by a Q&A. 
After the talk in response to Bright’s Opening Lines series in collaboration with Goldsmiths Writers Centre : Corrine Barber, Charlotte Heather & Elly Parsons will be performing 5 minute spoken word pieces especially for the exhibition.

Places are extremely limited. To book a place, please email with ‘Narrative Values – talk reservation’ in the subject line. Spaces will be reserved till 6pm. 

Tickets on the door will be subject to availability on the night. Any latecomers will not be able to enter the building after 6.30pm until the mid-point break & will still be charged the full ticket price.
£5 per-person. (Please include your telephone number for conformation.)

The gallery will be open as usual from 11.00 – it looks to be a fascinating & intimate evening – we look forward to welcoming you.

All works on display are for sale - for further information please contact the gallery. 

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