Brighton Photography Biennial: A Photoworks Guided Tour
Day 2 of the study visit to Brighton saw the group meet first thing at the University of Brighton main campus for a bespoke guided tour with Lynn and Lisa from the Biennial’s organisers, Photoworks.
The theme of the Biennial for 2018 is positioned as:
Examining the current state of flux as the United Kingdom redefines its role in Europe, the eighth Brighton Photo Biennial draws on one of the most important geopolitical events of our time. The UK’s status within the EU may be changing, but geographically we will remain part of Europe – with a shared history and intertwined future.
Much of the photography in Brighton Photo Biennial 2018 responds to this current uncertainty. 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’ own beginnings are revisited with the Cross Channel Photographic Mission, created to mark The Channel Tunnel physically linking Britain to the continent for the first time in 12,000 years.
Over the course of the day we viewed many exhibitions including:
Émeric Lhuisset – L’Autre Rive
Tereza Červeňová – June
The Cross Channel Photographic Mission
Why are we Leaving? – A Photography Club project
Heather Agyepong – Habitus: Potential Realities
Robin Maddock – Northing We Can’t Fix by Running Away
Donovan Wylie – The Lighthouse
Hrair Sarkissian – Homesick
Harley Weir – Homes
Rather than describe each exhibition for the purpose of this blog post, we asked participants to tell us which show stayed with them, what they responded most to and took away from the event in order to compile a snapshot of the day.
The resounding favourite on Day 2 was, Emeric Lhuisset’s work, L’Autre Rive, a series of cyanotype prints, which had been left ‘unfixed’ by the artist. Over the duration of the Biennial, the original exposures continued to develop losing the original detail in the print, slowly becoming mono blocks of blue/black paper stuck to a wall. To view the work at the end of the show was a very different experience from when first the work was hung. This journey, or process of obfuscation was intentional on the part of the artist.
You can view Emeric discussing his work in this video.
“Émeric Lhuisset’s unfixed cyanotypes tell stories of different generations who have migrated to Europe. The images will fade to blocks of blue – reflecting the sea and the colour of the EU flag.”
“The first exhibition we saw on the Sat has really stayed with me – Emeric Lhuisset, L’autre rive – I think in particular because of the way the images are dynamic, changing over time, going darker and how this relates to the concept of the work. They started pale blue and it seems he intended his photos to be the colour of the sea by the end of the exhibition. Building time into the photographs contrasts with the way that many photographs are typically a moment in time…
“Even though these photos may have ended up darker than he planned (?), just the idea of them losing all detail and becoming the colour of the sea – the place where so many refugees have drowned – has stayed with me because it makes me think about how the detail of people’s lives and their dreams/hopes have been swallowed by the sea. The theme of the biennial is Brexit and there was a very interesting group discussion about the ambiguity created by the way the photos had changed: ending of the time in the EU as negative and sad for some; a new beginning in a positive sense for others This reminds me to try to look at the possible ambiguities in photographs from a range of angles.”
“Not for the first time, I realised the folly of judging without thinking. What is even more interesting is that the artist clearly did not expect this result. He was expecting a wholly opaque blue image, not black and no shadow of the original left by this stage of the exhibition. Sadly, I presume the shadow will disappear in due course as light continues to cause a chemical reaction. I would love to see these traces of image captured more accurately and preserved as a work in their own right. They seem to me to more properly complete the cycle than the total oblivion of full black. Something of us is left even at the end, even if only a memory.”
“I really appreciated the Photoworks tour on Saturday. It was such a good idea to have two Photoworks representatives as guides as this enabled the two of you to spend more time interacting with all of us, discussing and de-briefing as we went along.”
“But for me the best aspect of the three days was spending time with other OCA students, a small number of whom I’d met at the previous study visit I attended, to see the 2018 Deutsche Börse Prize nominees at the Photographers Gallery. Meeting so many fellow students (I would estimate around 20–25 attended in total over the three days) has further strengthened my sense of being part of something bigger than just my own studies, which was something I lacked until I started participating in the forums and group hangouts in around June or July this year.”
Jonathan Lamb made this short video piece in response to Photography Club’s ‘Why Are We Leaving?’ exhibition: https://vimeo.com/297689873
You can view more student responses to the visit at via the following learning logs:
Hazel Bingham: https://hazel-redsquirrel7.blogspot.com/2018/11/brighton-photobiennial-26-8-october-2018.html
Julia Salisbury: https://myocablog.uk/the-brighton-biennial-study-visit
Barry Rourke: https://barrysidentityandplace.wordpress.com/2018/10/28/395/
Come on more study visits!
Featured image: © Jayne Taylor