Study visit: A trio of exhibitions
Join photography tutor Derek Trillo on the 20 May for a varied trio of exhibitions in Bradford at the Science and Media Museum (formerly National Media Museum) and Impressions Gallery. The exhibitions are close to each other and there will be breaks for sustenance, questions and discussion between exhibitions.
First is the companion exhibition to the BBC4 series Britain in Focus: A Photographic History, intended to show how photography has shaped our ideas about Britain’s history, culture and identity. This is a tall order for any exhibition, even with the accompanying three one-hour TV programmes. We will discuss whether this (necessarily) brief overview can encapsulate the photography of any country, especially as it has a focus on photography’s dissemination, which is now global.
It is recommended that you view the programmes before the exhibition as this will help to contextualise what you see, in particular the selection and organisation of the exhibition by the curators. If you missed them, they are available on catch-up here
The invention of photography was a quest to fix the images seen in the camera obscura. It has been argued that the specificity of the medium — the properties that make a photograph different from any other type of image — is clearer without the intervention of the lens, shutter etc. This is a point to wrestle with in an exploration of contemporary pinhole photography, Poetics of Light.
Abandoning the complications of technology that may (depending on your point of view) facilitate or obstruct a photographer’s vision, can lead to images that are visceral, accidentally beautiful and unpredictable. How does this ‘back to basics’, process-driven work compare to that produced by combinations of camera and lens, with all of the baggage of what we’ve been taught, cultural conventions and the advertised ability of each generation of photographic technology to capture ever-better images?
The last exhibition is across the road at the excellently curated Impressions gallery. Mother River is the acclaimed project by British/Chinese photographer Yan Wang Preston. She followed the 6,211 km route photographing at 100km intervals. This enforced rigidity for choosing locations is at odds with the usual mode of photographing whatever appeals to the expectations of the project. I suggest viewing Nadav Kander’s project on the Yangtze — The Long River — before the day, to compare with this exhibition.
Kander’s version is less photo-journalistic, more tender and lyrical, possibly even romanticised. We will contrast the two photographer’s methodologies and personal origins, to examine how each might shape their respective views.
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Originally published at WeAreOCA.