Spring is almost always synonym of renewal. After the busy season of graduate shows, students are still at the forefront with the new exhibition organised at the Photographers’ Gallery: a good occasion for us to spot tomorrow’s talents. Created 7 years ago, Fresh Faced + Wild Eyed aims to give young graduates from across the UK the opportunity to exhibit their works in one of the most dynamic galleries in the country. This year, the selection is not lacking diversity. On your way, you will find well mastered series of black and white prints, digital assemblages of colour photographs along with hand crafted collages, but also some experimental videos and narrative book projects. In short: a fireworks full of promises!
Here is a selection of the best projects:
Lives and works in London (b. 1991, UK)
The techinical quality of the shots are undoubtedly impressive, but what makes this series even more powerful is the performative essence of the entire work. The body confronts the space as the subject oppose the background on a picture. The contorted bodies transform themselves and by taking unusual shapes become real objects that come off what surronds them. One might think the photographs had been digitally modified, because no one can take such poses, it is phisically impossible. The answer is no: only the angle chosen by the photograph and the successive poses adopted by the model are necessary to create the work.
“I want to allow people to look at the body in different light and think about it in a way they wouldn’t usually think about it. (…) The work is an unsettling exploration into the human condition, demonstrating an alienation from our own bodies.” (Interview from the Photographers’ Gallery)
Lives and works in London (b.1990, UK)
From far away, this work is intriguing. You even wonder why they put it in a photographic exhibition as it appears to be a kitsch fabric with strange patterns on it. But when you get closer, you realise that the patterns are actually a digital assemblage of the same photograph endlessly repeated. The work reflects on the point of view one should adopt to look at a picture, but also on the unlimited reproduction of images and their use in the current world. It appears to question the role of the media in society and how the mulptiplication of violent images around us can affect people.
Lives and works in London (b. 1985, UK)
Despite the clear scientific reference in this work, the images convey a strong poetic feeling. The series presents a set of about twenty images that looks like illustrations of a scientific study book dating back to the early years of the 20th century. Each photograph is neatly centred on white paper and accurately captioned (Fig. 1 – 2 – 3, etc…) as if refering to a particular text. Overall, the entire series trigger a wave of nostalgia and memory of a now lost time.
James Duncan Clark
Lives and work in London (b.1987, UK)
This work was one of the most originally displayed. The author, instead of classically hanging framed photographs, chose to gather his photographs in a paper (the paper in question is hooked to the wall with a newspaper handing clip and the visitor is free to take it and browse it). This choice is easily understanding as the series is intented to be a documentation of the Olympic area’s transformation in London just before the games. The paper is then seen as a report of the photographer’s observations made during the period which higlights the transitional character of the process.
“Direction of Travel documents a landscape still in transition on the periphery of London’s Olympic Park. Using photographs and found ephemera from the streets of east London, the body of work questions the commonly accepted narrative and seeks to distance itself from the communal endorphins supplied by the transitory Olympic spectacle. It attempts to grapple with the everyday and the commonplace, and explores the complex relationship between the landscape and its inhabitants during a time of radical change” (Artist’s Statement)
Have a look to the publication on Self Publish Be Happy.
Lives and works on Canterbury, (b. 1990, Finland)
At first sight, those images doesn’t look like real photographs but rather like old and tired photocopies that had been cut and past many times. Usually, the framework is composed of fading and grainy-textured prints that open up on a more contrasted and precise images. The conjonction of the two makes us feel that one of them is the origin point of the other. A strange relation of kinship emerges from the photographs which seems to keep track of long forgotten narratives.
Bruno Freitas de oliviera
Lives and works in London, (b. 1973, Portugal)
Looking at the pictures on display, it is hard to find some homogeneity. Athough they are all vintage lookalike landscapes, the photographs are taken from different places and composed of various fragments. The frame is usually visible, as well as the negative, which give an unfinished and amateur look to the images. It seems that they come from an old box of photographs long forgotten, at the time when film photographs where still the predominant technique used.
“The condition of photography as a medium and its contingency as a representational tool is pivotal topic in my practice and research. (…) Folding different representations of time and space in one single frame, frequently showing the interruption of the negative and part of the following still, disclosing the performative nature of the work and generating narrative possibilities.” (Artist’s statement)
Lives and work in London (b. 1980, Slovakia)
Altought the nice composition and the colours of the photographs appeal to you, this work is highly disturbing. The pictures are both playful and worrying as the everyday cooking tools become real instruments of torture and the usual cooker a persecutor. Meat, fruits and vegetables are alternately mashed, pealed or scaled. The work appears to awaken collective awarness on our behaviour towards food and mass consumption.
Lives and works in London, (b. 1989, Romania)
Iringo Demeter was the only photographer in the exhibition coming from a fashion background. The works on display are black and white studio photographs depicting pair of twins. Be they dressed with funny pygamas and rabbit ears, or with a toga that reminds us of greek tragedies, the characters convey a strong sense of drama. On most of the photographs faces are hidden, or when they show up they remain neutral. As a result, it is the body in its entirety that becomes the main focus of our attention. Thanks to the plane grey background, they are put forward and transform into lokelike plaster sculpture casted in a same mould.
“I wish to accentuate a strong sense of togetherness, but one which is slightly disturbing and holds mixed feelings within it.” (The Photographers’ Gallery booklet)
Lives and works in London (b.1980, Scotland)
This artist also used a quite original display for her photographs. The images are classifed in a long fold-up book, hence suggesting a reading order. Altouhgt the selection is quite diverse and the pictures range from different genres, the viewer almost suddenly try to recreate connexions between them (but not necessarly in a linear order) and find a theme that link them all. The result is quite poetic and personal, and could be read as a sort of journal.
“Housed within a photobook, this work takes two intertwined but unravelling strands to explore the possibilities of narrative using a combination of landscape, still life and vernacular photography to tell a cautionary tale about certain symptoms that ail our time. (…) The story unfolds to reflect on love, land, morality and control, in a place where time is not linear and the past, present and future find themselves sharing uncommon ground; the beginning is not the beginning and the end is not the end, and like the filing away of our memories, order is in disarray.” (Artist’s statement)
Have a look to the video of the book on YouTube.
Lives and works in London (b.1973, Italy)
Photography is here used as a mean of documentation and as a tool to recreate fictional stories. On each pictures, the same character is present, the only thing that changes is the location and the time of the day (underlined by the change of shadows in the image: hence the title). It is as if we were following someone. Going through all the pictures, you start to ask yourself question: Where is he going? What has he been doing before? Is he running from someone else, or on the contrary, following someone? (as we currently do). In other words, it is the time component that governs the whole series, and so our own interpretation and reading of the images. With this work, an endless running away starts, and you cannot control it.
Lives and works in London (b.1978, Germany)
The work presented in the exhibition consist of black and white photography showing objects and hands manipulating them. The pictures appear to come from a pratical activities book; each one illustrating a particular process. This leads to the creation of truly humorous images where the hands, and what you can do with them, take the central stage.
Geiste Marija Kincinaityte
Lives and works in London (b. 1991, Lithuania)
The shots in the series Illuminated seem to have come right out a David Lynch movie. First, because of the strange, if not worrisome, light that spread along all the ghostly images; and secondly, because of the composition that enables strong sequential narratives to emerge, as if they were screenshots taken from an actual story. In spite of their diversity, standing in front of the photographs will make you start to tell your own story in your head.