Brighton Photo Biennial gets an above-Parr treatment | Visual arts reviews, news & interviews
Brighton Photo Biennial gets an above-Parr treatment
Brighton Photo Biennial launched
“Leisure, consumption and communication are the concepts I’ve been researching for decades now on my worldwide travels,” Parr says, and those elements link his selections for this ambitious event. His appearance at PhotoEspaña (PHE) Madrid and his curations for New York Photo Festival and Rencontres Arles (France) have groomed him for the job. And with Brighton packed with overseas students and a rapidly expanding, ethnically diverse population, the Biennial needed this international vision.
Parr’s BPB festival menu is unlike anything that’s gone before in Brighton or elsewhere in the UK. Among the eclectic subjects, photographers and sources, there’s a noticeable absence of archival collections, which are major attractions at most festivals. Because, as he explains, it is “the world’s first ever entirely un-framed exhibition”, and it makes sense; saving on framing is obviously economically savvy, but it denies the possibility of including fragile, expensive works from distant decades, which are major attractions of such festivals.
But to have works stuck on walls with Sellotape or hung off pegs would not be appropriate; only new, emerging, unknown photographers and a handful of international, award-winning names who agree to such treatment. The latter group includes Stephen Gill (Hackney), Rinko Kawauchi (Japan) and Alec Soth (US) who were commissioned to respond to Brighton as a location for Strange and Familiar: three views of Brighton. The results, Parr says, promise to be poetic, literal and abstract. And funnily enough, Brighton Photo Fringe, the exciting, risk-taking younger sibling operating without Arts Council funding, will almost certainly include frames.
Martin Parr’s passion as an avid (obsessive?) collector exposes his taste for the surreal, humorous, bizarre and incongruous, and is applied here to the House of Vernacular (see photo right) an intriguing collection that includes 1950s and 60s Litter Bins found in the Design Council library, and vividly hand-painted portrait photographs from Brazil.
For me, one of the main attractions will be New ways of Looking, a mosaic of new work by nine international photographers, reflecting the diversity of approaches, aesthetics, concepts and technical details in their territories. Oscar Fernandez Gomez, a Mexican taxi driver who shoots through his cab window, emerged at last year’s PhotoEspana’s show of young Latin American Discoveries and his presence is a reminder that Latin Americans are the rising stars in international photography circles, with Argentina leading the way and Colombia close behind.
For a separate show, A Night in Argentina, two contrasting Buenos Aires’ photographers were commissioned to shoot during darkness. And back in the UK gay capital, Queer Brighton turns to the lesbian and gay community through the lens of two Americans, Molly Landreth and Zoe Strauss. Something for all the family - not as bracing as Skegness in winter, but equally refreshing.
- New Documents 2 October-14 November at venues in Brighton & Hove
- And along the South Coast, at the De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill; Towner Gallery; Eastbourne; Pallant House, Chichester; Aspex Portsmouth).
Subscribe to theartsdesk.com
Thank you for continuing to read our work on theartsdesk.com. For unlimited access to every article in its entirety, including our archive of more than 10,000 pieces, we're asking for £2.95 per month or £25 per year. We feel it's a very good deal, and hope you do too.
To take an annual subscription now simply click here.
And if you're looking for that extra gift for a friend or family member, why not treat them to a theartsdesk.com gift subscription?
more Visual arts
The reportage of the Welsh photojournalist is being celebrated in a new exhibition
The Victorian artist who created an unforgettable world of fairies
Long-awaited retrospective liberates the sculptor from Henry Moore association
Portrait of the artist with a passion for questioning everything
Small but powerful survey of the American artist's late figurative paintings
theartsdesk recommends the half-dozen top exhibitions
Images from a new exhibition and book celebrate the unsung pioneer of UK press photography
Later works offer calmer, more sensual pleasures, but Riley remains an optical magician
A desperate effort to prove that history painting is alive and well only saps what life is left
Disappear down the endless walkway and, like Alice, enter another world
The American artist plays with perception in a mind-altering display of his light sculptures
Ravishing paintings perfectly poised between conceptual clarity and sensuousness