© Karen Rangeley Patchwork Planet 2016
Photographer and member Rachael Burns visited Brighton Photo Biennial and Brighton Photo Fringe for Redeye. Here she selects some of her favourite exhibitions.
By Rachael Burns
Redeye’s Lightbox programme has resulted in two exhibitions currently on show in Brighton. Seven Day Suit takes the tracksuit as the common source of inspiration, with the seven photographers all exploring different facets of this multifaceted and often contradictory garment. Richard Stout focussed on one moment in the history of the tracksuit, working with archival video to produce the piece 1986_ Act of Possession. Looking exclusively at the year of the collaboration between Adidas and Run DMC found footage is cut together producing a witty and energetic video installation. Fellow contributor Karen Rangeley chose to commission two tracksuits to be made by students from Manchester School of Art that imagined the future of the garment whilst considering possible environmental and social changes. The resulting works are almost hypnotic, displayed digitally to allow for very slight movement in the otherwise static images.
Seven Day Suit is exhibiting at Brush as part of the Brighton Photo Biennial until 30 October 2016.
Strand Collective is exhibiting as part of the Photo Fringe, with a set of diverse practitioners responding photographically to the notion of a Second Skin. Since first forming in September last year the group have been working under the mentorship of Dewi Lewis, who has found the experience ‘fascinating to see how seven highly creative individuals, each with their own distinctive practice, have come together in a truly collaborative way. Equally fascinating is that the theme of their exhibition almost reflects this process, focusing as it does on the shaping of identity through complicated social, family and environmental demands.’
The Smart Panopticon by Peter Barker revisits the concept of Jeremy Bentham’s prison design, arguing that we are all now effectively both the guards and the guarded. This is translated visually into beautifully eerie series of images that make you acutely aware of what may be your own role in the system. Ruby Robinson’s take on Second Skin is an irreverent look at the objects that occupy our domestic spaces and usually remain hidden from view. Nude provides a voyeuristic glance into a series of bedrooms and subsequently the lives of their inhabitants with a unifying washed out color palette.
Second Skin was on at No Walls Gallery until 8 October 2016. You can find out more about the collective and the exhibition on their website.
Other best picks from the Biennial and Fringe.
Ewen Spencer’s Kick Over The Statues examines the cyclical nature of youth culture, a phenomenon which he is uniquely placed to observe having documented subcultures for the best part of two decades. Street cast models found along the route of Notting Hill carnival are shot in stage like scenes, often with Spencer’s own archive images projected onto them to reference the original styles now being re-appropriated by a new generation. The exhibition takes place in Fabrica, with billboard sized prints and low lighting creating an environment not dissimilar to that in which the participants were photographed. The scale of the prints makes for a truly immersive experience, whilst displaying full scale the meticulous details and subtle tribal signals that continue to define subcultures.
© Ewen Spencer, from the series 'Kick over the statues', a Fabrica and Photoworks co-commission for Brighton Photo Biennial, 2016
A standout of the Fringe exhibitions was The Lithuanian Project from collective MAP6. Over the course of six days they set out to document the country that lies geographically at the heart of Europe, with the resulting work shown in a beautifully produced exhibition at Onca Gallery. Jonty Tacon and Laurie Griffiths worked collaboratively to produce the project Babochka, in which they visited Visagina the site of Lithuania’s only nuclear power station. Decommissioned in 2009, this project explores all aspects of the town surrounding the site from the abandoned buildings and remaining residents to a haunting series shot inside the power plant.
Spectrum Photographic are hosting an exhibition of the work of Tom Wood, a retrospective guest curated by Karen McQuaid of The Photographers’ Gallery and including work from acclaimed series Looking for Love, Photie Man and Men/Women. All of the work on display has been hand printed by Spectrum, with the exhibition also allowing the rare opportunity to see the work prints alongside some originals from Wood’s own archive.
King’s House was the space for collectives in the Photo Fringe, and the exhibition by platform Reconnecting Arts was particularly cohesive and well curated. Reconnecting showcases the work of eight emerging artists from the Middle East who all deal differently with the subject of identity and the medium of photography. These themes have been covered extensively and yet are handled by these artists experimentally and with a sense of lightness that keeps the work fresh.