Monday, 20 February 2017

Discursive Documents - Exhibition Opening; Reflections of the first event

The discursive documents exhibition held at Huddersfield art gallery, Princess Alexandra walk, Huddersfield opened its doors this evening to a curated framework of three exhibitions.
Gallery space provides interaction with artefacts that encourage viewers to discuss and debate both the artists work and the issues that have been highlighted by their work.

There are three sets of two artists (six in total).
The first pair of artists explore the difficulties faced by individuals and families who are seeking asylum and safety after fleeing various threats to their lives, persecution and war from around the Middle East and North Africa. The artists engaged in this exploration are Seba Kurtis and Alex Beldea. These two photographers have adopted very different approaches to presenting the challenge that refugees and migrants face when attempting to find a safe refuge within the continent of Europe and the United Kingdom.

The second pair of artists is Richard Mulhearn and Richard Higginbottom. Both of these photographers will present their work that explores how the 'quotidian' or everyday gestures can relate to photography and vice versa. They are interested in the unspoken conventions that humans tend to conform to and gesture.

And the final pair of artists are more sculptural and visual media users. They are Sara Eyers and Leila Sailor, who provide an exhibition that explores the representations of objectification of femininity and fashion.

The show was opened by Dr Liam Devlin who introduced the agenda for the evening.  This included an overview of the curatorial framework of the exhibition together with a short contemporary performance dance piece, organised by Gerry Turvey.

The whole show is set up to 'situate' art spaces to interrogate and instigate debate.

How people respond to Artworks is through various discussions, however, in this case, the interpretation can also be made through movement, which Gerry Turvey's team of dancers were able to articulate through gesture. They created a piece in response to each artistic point, and each dance piece provided a snippet of reflection against the artworks presented.
The dancers moved around the gallery space a great deal and so, the audience were requested to position themselves in between the dancers and the artworks. However, it was necessary for the public to also move continually so that the dance was unencumbered.
The curatorial framework of the exhibition really is set up to explore the fascinating and ever-shifting subject of blank spaces, which in a way this gallery space is.
Photographic practices and ideas of social agency discuss the idea that photographs and cameras are now everywhere; they are ubiquitous.
In Dr Liam Devlin's words, "we have cameras now where we don't think we even have cameras. We carry around smartphones, for example, which are perfectly adequate, and yet highly sophisticated and complex tools in themselves for the recording not only of photographic records but also audio and video files.
The photograph has become embedded into our society, in ways that we don't always fully appreciate. They are used in almost every aspect of life including documenting events, to constructions of identity. For example Snapchat amongst other applications, giving immediate access to photography and global communications. Photographs now circumvent the globe in virtually unquantifiable amounts. This is why the understanding of photography has expanded beyond recognition.
A lot of the critiques of photography in the 1970s, attacked perhaps, that photography needed to record only "events of reality". It challenged its authority to speak of this. At the time this was very useful, but having said that, it is necessary to understand that photographs still operate pretty much as visual documents. They are therefore immensely important in how we structure and in some ways limit the way that we see the world and this in itself raises the question "what is seeable". What is invisible?... What is not photographed and what is not photographable.
Equally we need to consider what can be said, what is sayable; audible, and so this becomes intensely powerful, because it is political.
The aesthetics of photography are fundamental to politics (with a small p), as arguably, any photograph is a political act.

The notion of an aesthetic aspect of the political debate is not a founding rationale for the documentary practice in particular; that is, socially concerned photography, but initially, photography relied on their imposed voracity.

However, there is now a much greater opportunity for photographic images to be used in a much more explicit, and yet a much more refined way, as a reflexive articulation of an idea, or point of view; Rather than an old and "only" claim which was, 'to represent reality'.

Therefore this exhibition is a call to arms if you like, to bring together practitioners and audiences together to discuss, and to test. It is a formulation of a photographic discourse that frames the photograph as an object of debate. And as "Discursive Documents".

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