Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Brighton Biennial & Brighton Fringe highlights...

© Laura Noble
A sunny day in Brighton this weekend was the perfect opportunity to catch up on the Biennial. We arrived as the sun was setting on Saturday evening. It was  enough to see the sea after the fast paced day we had had in London prior to this after a big night the night before celebrating my life on earth for one more year! As we had one day to see as much as possible I have decided to post on my personal highlights as there are far too many shows to cover in all. 
© Laura Noble
After a fish n chips as is the tradition our Saturday night came to a close with a view of the pier.
One of the first which must be mentioned is 'So The Wind Won't Blow It All Away' by the AgNO8 collective shown at Gallery 40. With a selection of 8 photographer's to choose from there is something for everyone, from the deeply moving abstract images of the interiors of cremator furnaces with Maeve Berry's 'Incandescence' series to the abstractions caused by interfering with a discarded negative from his family's collection by Sam Taylor in 'Family Obscured' which is displayed as a 5m long negative in a double sided lightbox.  
© Edmund Clark
Edmund Clark's 'Control Order House' at The University of Brighton Gallery is definitely worthy of a mention, due to the access for the first time by a photographer to the house in which someone placed under a control order under suspicion of terrorism. His photographs were carefully scrutinised by the authorities to ensure the anonymity of the location. The resulting images speak volumes through the banal surroundings, both absent of any character human or otherwise. Although you would not necessarily want to have these on your wall at home, they are revealing. Perhaps placing them in a fine art context will give them more longevity than an image in a newspaper which is soon forgotten.
© Omer Fast
Also at the University of Brighton Gallery was a film which once seen is hard to forget. With high production values, slick filming & a seamless 30 minute loop, Omer Fast's 'Five Thousand Feet Is The Best' was riveting. In a pitch dark room (so much so it took me a long time to figure out how to get across the room to sit down without falling over something or someone) a former drone operator talks of his experience flying unmanned planes from a control base in Vegas. His targets, both the militia & civilians in Afghanistan & Pakistan may be far away but the effects of his actions can be felt in his voice. Alongside this interspersing with the narration & blurred visual of the operator are 2 dramatisations, the 1st of a man in a motel played by Denis O' Hare (better known by most as Russell Edgington in True Blood) & a tense tale of a family going for a day trip with tragic consequences. 
© Omer Fast
It has spectacular arial shots of Las Vegas that invoke awe but also act as a sombre reminder of the optimum height & firing position for the drone as suggested in the title. If you can see this film. 

Then in the same vein, Trevor Paglen's excellent show at Lighthouse 'Geographies of Seeing' exploring the unseen pictured the astral movements of spacecraft as tracked by amateur satellite watchers that don't officially exist & covert bases, top-secret government sites with a super-strength telescope he adapted to photograph sites up to 65 miles away. 
The images themselves were vague & beautiful. Without the captions they are as anonymous as they are intended to be by the authorities. 
The place was very busy & rightly so. Go & see for yourself.
© Louise Maher
'Origins of Encounter' at Phoenix Brighton included 3 photographer's work exploring site specific notions of place. The presentation of Louise Maher's work on wooden tablets showing 'Roadside Mariolatry'. Each photograph of the same location photographed 6 years apart & engraved with the year (2006 - 2012) looks at roadside shrines or grottos in Ireland. I would have preferred the prints to have been c-types as the ink jets looked less precious than the tablets themselves, which were crafted so beautifully.  
 This image shows the intimate scale of the work, on shelves, lovely curation.
The Shadow Dial Studies II - VI by Joan Alexander also worked beautifully in the space. Her delicate projection of a medium format slide worked well. I wish there had been room for more as one wasn't working at the time, so we had to be content with a lone image from this gorgeous vintage projector. 
We did see more, but with stomachs rumbling we headed to Bills, the best place in town for great affordable food. 
Here is the motley crew clockwise from left: Photographer Lisa Creagh, Photographer & picture editor Elizabeth Orcutt, commercial photographer Stefan Ebelewicz, the delectable (& well known to all my readers) photographer Gabrielle Brooks, serial blogger & my long suffering boyfriend Mat Barnett.

And what a meal it was, I would strongly recommend the Eton Mess, yum!




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