Over the last decade, the Brighton Photo Biennial has become the UK’s significant celebration of the artform. The programme for the fifth Biennial is being curated and produced by Photoworks, the South-East based visual arts agency for photography. Collectively reflecting on the theme, ‘The Politics of Space’, 2012′s Brighton Photo Biennial runs from 6 October until 4 November and will include work by Edmund Clark, Omer Fast, Julian Germain, Jason Larkin, Trevor Paglen, Corinne Silva, Thomson and Craighead and more.
Photoworks take up the baton from Martin Parr who curated the highly successful 2010 event which attracted over 60,000 visitors. “BPB12,” announces Photoworks, ” looks at how space is constructed, controlled and contested, how photography is implicated in these processes and the tensions and possibilities this dialogue involves. BPB12 provides a critical space to think about relationships between the political occupation of physical sites and the production and dissemination of images. Responding to recent efforts to politically re-imagine urban space through social and civic uses, BPB12 presents photography and imagery generated by professional photographers and the public at large; grassroots activism and media spectacle; established names and recent finds; contemporary work and older photographic practices.”
The Brighton Photo Biennial’s website is live at bpb.org.uk.
Confirmed highlights include:
The Beautiful Horizon, No Olho da Rua an acclaimed project, documenting a long-term collaboration between young people living on the streets of Belo Horizonte, Brazil, and artists Julian Germain, Patricia Azevedo and Murilo Godoy. The project demonstrates how photography has been used to intervene in the urban landscape, offering a platform to the socially and economically excluded, enabling them to express their ideas, thoughts and feelings. The installation includes an archive of photographs produced over sixteen years, plus street posters and other material examining the process through which the work has developed during a period of unprecedented economic expansion in Brazil. This project is presented in partnership with Autograph.
Omer Fast, 5000 Feet is the Best, 2011, Digital film, 30 minute loop, Still by Yonn Thomas. © Omer Fast, Courtesy of the artist, Arratia Beer, Berlin and gb agency, Paris.
The UK premier of Omer Fast’s Five Thousand Feet is the Best [main picture and above], first shown at the 2011 Venice Biennale. The film-work takes its name from an interview between Omer Fast and a former Predator Drone aerial vehicle operator. A drone operator for sex years, his base was in the desert, an hour outside of Las Vegas. On leaving the service, he stayed on in Las Vegas and at the time of his conversations with Fast, was seeking work as a casino security guard. The operator recalls his missions in Afghanistan and Pakistan, although of course he never went to these countries, he was a world away, activating the unmanned plane to fire at civilians and militia from the optimum height of five thousand feet. Moving between fact and fiction, documentary and blockbuster style, the film juxtaposes the drone operators’ account with enacted dramatisations of alternative- scenarios, played out with an unforgettable ending.
Thomson & Craighead, October, 2012, Two channel installation. © Thomson & Craighead
October A newly commissioned two-channel installation for Photoworks by artists Thomson and Craighead. It explores the uses of imagery by various Occupy and protest groups, identifying common phrases and gestures. Drawing together a wealth of images produced by activists and onlookers across the world, the artists create a portrait of a global movement. As a wall projection displays fragments and short sections of video, a second projection of a compass on the floor will respond by pointing towards the location where each video clip was shot, locating the images in physical space.
Trevor Paglen, crop of MILSTAR 3 in Sagittarius (Inactive Communication and Targeting Satellite; USA 143), 2008, C-Print, 95.3 x 76.2 cm. © Trevor Paglen, Courtesy of Galerie Thomas Zander, Cologne and Altman Siegel Gallery, San Francisco.
Trevor Paglen Often described as social scientist and provocateur, the American artist identifies and photographs classified US military bases and satellites, lending visibility to spaces that would otherwise remain out of sight. The exhibition will include works employing high-end optical systems to photograph government sites, as well as images drawn from data of amateur astronomers to track and photograph classified spacecraft
in earth’s orbit.
Corinne Silva, Accidental Topography I, Oasys Theme Park, 2011. © Corinne Silva.
Corinne Silva BPB12 presents work addressing urbanisation and landscapes shaped by the forces of global capital. UK based Corinne Silva explores the relationship between human mobility and the physical environment, using still and moving image to explore architecture and topography.
By focusing on the formation and reconstruction of geographical and photographic landscape aesthetics, Silva creates a space for the consideration of imagined landscapes. These landscapes bring to the fore traces of past narratives and the potential for their future political sustainability or modification.
Jason Larkin Larkin has collaborated with The Guardian’s Egypt Correspondent, Jack Shenker to produce Cairo Divided, which documents the creation of suburban enclaves for the wealthy on the outskirts of Cairo along with the labourers who build them. To date, the project has been conceived primarily as a newspaper, including an essay by Shenker, which has been freely distributed internationally.
Edmund Clark Shortlisted for the prestigious 2012 Prix Pictet, Edmund Clark will present and discuss new work for BPB12. Clark uses photography, video, found imagery and text to explore the link between representation and politics. He is best known for his work on control and incarceration in the monographs Still Life Killing Time and Guantanamo: If The Light Goes Out. His latest projects experiment with how multidisciplinary collaboration and new technology further address these themes. The only artist to gain access to a house where a man suspected of involvement in terrorism lives under the restrictive conditions of a Control Order, Clark explores this space and ideas of control and criminalisation through photography, film and other visual forms we associate with acts of consumer choice and control. A multimedia collaboration between Clark and a Waziri poet contextualises the use
of American unmanned drone weaponry in Waziristan through video, film and Pashto translations of iconic classical poetry.
Occupy Everywhere Occupy Everywhere examines the rich photographic culture that surrounds urban exploration, accessing and photographing normally unseen or off-limits parts of the urban environment such as building sites, industrial facilities and underground transportation networks. Groups of urban explorers have recently received widespread press attention in the UK, following their infiltration of London’s ‘phantom’ underground stations and The Shard.
Someone Else’s Home (working title) An exhibition that makes a strong connection with the history of protest and the locale, drawing on Brighton’s vibrant squat culture from the early 1990s to the present. Working in collaboration with local squatters’ networks, activists and historians, BPB12 curators are drawing together photographs that will be presented in the same locations where they were originally taken, throwing into relief the changing face of the city and the encroachment of its gentrification.
Three Routes (working title) An original body of work produced for BPB12 by the collective Preston is my Paris directed by Adam Murray with photographers Jamie Hawkesworth, Robert Parkinson, Theo Simpson, and graphic designer Ben Mclaughlin. Using the concept of political constituencies as defined in the UK General Election, the work explores current debate about possible constituency reformation in Brighton, raising enquiries around how these ‘borders’ are decided and the consequences that this has on residents. The project will take the form of site-specific street posters and a pamphlet encouraging visitors to explore the politics of space as a local reality, by exploring the routes.
The Argus Archive Brighton Photo Biennial is working with photojournalists at Brighton’s local newspaper, The Argus, to source and collate a selection of images drawn from their archives, and revealing Brighton’s rich history as a contested political space. Images feature events and stories from the 1970s to the present, including anti-government, Poll Tax and TUC protests, CND marches, an ambulance strike, a Brighton Polytechnic sit in, a National Front march, and more recent protests against tax avoidance, education funding, and even an anti-Nudist Beach campaign. The Argus is a programme partner of the Brighton Photo Biennial.
Alternative News Agency The result of a series of workshops focused on images of revolutionary Cairo. ANA participants work in and across different fields, including art, photography, journalism and activism. The resulting exhibition, Critical Image Cairo, will include additional video work about the Ultras football fans by artist Ronnie Close.
Urban Farming in London and Havana In partnership with FotoDocument, BPB12 presents a photo essay by Lulu Ash. The work has been commissioned and curated by FotoDocument as part of its rolling programme of exhibitions on positive environmental initiatives. The exhibition takes place at Brighton Station.
Self Published Books Brighton Photo Biennial will present Self Published Books at Jubilee Library in partnership with Photobook Show. A display of self-published artists’ books will result from an open-submission related to the theme of BPB12.
Seminars, masterclasses and weekend residencies A month long programme of BPB12 events and activites across the city includes The Magnum Workshop Brighton, will provide an exciting opportunity for photographers to develop their long term photographic goals under the guidance of experienced Magnum practioners. Candidates will spend five days alongside their selected photographer developing visual language, photographic identity, practical, technical and conceptual skills and the expertise required to compete in a changing marketplace. Visiting lectures from the faculty at the University of Brighton will provide a theoritical and conceptual context to the practical photography element of this event. The workshop will culminate in a public screening of the work at the close of the festival, and the production of books through Blurb.
Photoworks special issue A special expanded issue of the influential journal, Photoworks, will include extensive visual material relating to the Biennial programme and essays, articles and interviews providing a critical discourse on its key themes and ideas.
Programme updates will appear on the BPB12 website.