Friday 2 November 2012

Brighton Photo Biennial & Photo Fringe Uni Trip

Though it's been 5 weeks since I started my second year on my BA Photography course at Southampton Solent University, it's taken a little while settling in, especially living in a new house (rather than uni block of flat halls of residence) and getting back into education after a long & lovely summer break. So it was nice little treat to go to Brighton for the day for the Photo Biennial & Photo Fringe to inspire us and ignite our minds with creativity on 17th Oct. Having never been to Brighton I was unexpectedly surprised by how much I loved the city and preferred it to Southampton in an instant; the quirky little vintage markets, cafes and independent and unique stores made it come to life. I felt like I went to the Camden of Brighton and loved it!

I really enjoyed the Biennial which is a photo festival spanning over a month (6 Oct - 4 Nov 2012) of various free exhibitions, events and interventions throughout the city which takes place every 2 years making it a unique exclusive event in the photography calender. The Photo Fringe runs alongside the Biennial and is devised for local artists to get involved and exhibit in the community in places such as independent stores, small galleries, cafes, pubs around Brighton. This year saw the Biennial being curated and produced by Photoworks, a major visual arts agency for photography in the UK. See the Photo Biennial and Photo Fringe site for more details.

We hopped onto the coach and left uni 9.30am to arrive at the University of Brighton Gallery which featured Jason Larkin and Corinne Silva's 'Uneven Development' that focuses on the human and environmental impact of urbanization, Edmund Clark's 'Control Order House' that examines space, control and criminilisation and Omar Fast's video installation 'Five Thousand Feet is the Best'. (See gallery images below)

Jason Larkin and Corinne Silva's 'Uneven Development'

 Edmund Clark's 'Control Order House'

Galleries I visited:
Orange - Biennale
Black - Fringe
Purple- not part of Biennale or Fringe

University of Brighton Gallery
Moksha cafe
Redwood Coffee House
Mange Tout*
Gallery 40*
DPM Images
PS Brighton*
Taylor St. Baristas
The Hope*
ink_d Gallery*
Jubilee Library*
Jubilee Square*

One of the bigger galleries part of the Fringe festival was the Phoenix ( where many artists were exhibiting. The major showcase at the gallery was 'On the Surface of Images' by Jinkyun Ahn (06 Oct-18 Nov) where this is Ahn's first major solo exhibition. His work explores the relationship between Ahn's parents and his family's relationship with death and the afterlife. I like how the exhibition isn't a conventional photography show, he uses modern art mediums such as digital projection and mirrors to enhance the viewer experience and his concept.

'On the Surface of Images' by Jinkyun Ahn

Some more pics from inside the Phoenix gallery:

After the Phoenix we went to this lovely little exhibition in a cute second hand furniture store, Bellerophon 'Modern Miniatures' by Helen McDonald (06 Oct - 18 Nov). I love how she has framed her panoramic images of landscapes, it reminds me of a high end postcard. It amazing what you can do with a camera phone and to have it exhibiting in a leading photographic festival.

Helen McDonald's 'Modern Miniatures'

One of the exhibitions that I wanted to see was Nazare Soares 'Too Many Words for an Eternal Silence' at a lovely chic cafe restaurant Mange Tout (24 Sep - 03 Nov). I loved her double exposures / overlay images and use of figures and colours. I would have liked to have viewed them more closely and discuss with my friends however the cafe was rather busy which took away the focus of the beautiful images which is a shame.

Nazare Soares 'Too Many Words for an Eternal Silence'

After this we also viewed 'So the Wind Won't Blow it all Away' by Maeve Berry, Sam Taylor, David Wilkinson, Gavin Bambrick, Tim Burrough, Joanna Burejza (University of Westminster graduates) at Gallery 40 (6-21 Oct). It was interesting to see a photograph that I recognized at the gallery as one was published in University of  Westminster's graduate degree show booklet which I had picked up from the open day 2 years ago when choosing universities. It made me realize how images can stick in your head even after such a long time and how pictures can trigger memory. This was the photo I recognized by Joanna Burejza.

Joanna Burejza

After that we had a wander around the lovely hippy, alternative, vintage streets in Brighton. Some street art around Brighton:

We had a break from all the galleries and whilst exploring the many independent shops decided to find as many vintage cameras as I could find. I really wanted to purchase one, they're so pretty!

The next gallery we went to was the Lighthouse exhibiting Trevor Paglen's 'Geographies of Seeing' (6 Oct - 4 Nov). He uses photography to explore the secret activities of the U.S military and intelligence agencies. He documents astral movements that don't officially exist. I really like the more abstract pieces in the showcase especially the astronomical images featuring the vast night sky.

Trevor Paglen's 'Geographies of Seeing'

After that we visited Taylor St. Baristas, a lovely little chic cafe house that offer great tea and then headed to The Hope pub down the street to see 'Best Before' by James Kendall. It's about the photographer's 90 year old grandmother-in-law who doesn't believe in best before dates, having lived through WWII. All the products shown here, he believes, were intended to be eaten (6 Oct- 18 Nov). The candid aesthetic reminded me of Andy Warhol's Campbell's Soup Cans.

'Best Before' by James Kendall

We made a quick visit to the Jubilee Library to see Photobook show where there was a diverse range of over 50 hand crafted and self-published books that were selected from open submission. The books reflect on this year's Biennial theme - photography and the politics of space. Outside the library in Jubilee Square were photos from the Argus archives, 'Whose Streets?'. The presentation was interesting and industrial looking and made the photographs 3 dimensional that interacted with the space and viewer.

'Whose Streets?' - Photos from the Argus Archive

Overall I really enjoyed my visit to Brighton and the vibrant culture it offers as a city and a growing art space for many creative outlets. It's hard to pinpoint my favourite exhibition as I found the diversity between what was shown interesting and intriguing. I would certainly visit Brighton again and look forward to the next Brighton Biennial and Photo Fringe.

Also on the day I collected tonnes of flyers, leaflets, booklets, postcards, art newspapers... a good day's work I think! :)

Postcards I bought in Brighton

Have you been to visit Brighton's Biennial and Photo Fringe recently? Let me know what you thought and your highlights of the festival.

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