Exploring the UK’s largest international photography festival
What: The Brighton Photo Biennial.
Where: Jubilee Square, Jubilee Library, Fabrica, University of Brighton Galleries at Edward Street and Grand Parade and plus other venues.
How much: FREE.
By Harvey Johnson
WITH public exhibits sprawling everywhere from Jubilee Square to Fabrica and Edward Street, the seventh Brighton Photo Biennial explores the theme of Reshaping Image with startling sensitivity and creative depth.
To use the old cliché, there really seems to be something for everyone, regardless of whether you are a seasoned connoisseur or photography-illiterate like me.
Set up by Photoworks and featuring photos from a wide variety of sources from schoolchildren to internationally-acclaimed photographers, the project deals with photography’s role in informing our understanding of subjects such as gender and sexuality, the politics of style and subversion of cultural and social norms.
Helen Wade, sales and marketing manager at Photoworks, pointed out that while there are lots of galleries in Brighton, unlike other large seaside towns it does not have a dedicated large contemporary gallery:
‘With Turner in Margate, De La Warr Pavilion in Bexhill and Towner in Eastbourne, people are surprised Brighton doesn’t have a similar large gallery dedicated to contemporary visual art exhibitions,’ she says.
“We are focussing on new audiences, people who wouldn’t otherwise set foot inside an art exhibition, who wouldn’t normally be interested but are interested in their own city.
“I think that making people question the imagery around them and how it can be used is something that’s very important.”
Mainstream of fashion photography often centres in on the young and the beautiful.
These projects diverge and give a platform to otherwise marginalised or misunderstood subjects to express their own stories – all the while challenging stereotypical and monolithic understandings of black male identity and the elderly
The sources of the two exhibits couldn’t be more different – Dandy Lions is an international collection from more than 30 professional and amateur photographers, curated by Shantelle P Lewis.
Our City, How Do We Look is a project undertaken by four photography students from the University of Brighton.
They are equally successful at providing the viewer with vivid, stylish portrayals of subcultural individuality
and proving that fashion is not simply the reserve of the Paris Fashion Week or Vogue magazine.
It is through this relatively narrow comparison that the democratic nature of the Brighton Photo Biennial really shines through.
One gets the sense that this exhibition is not simply for the people but about them.
Its attempts to provide an insight into our idea of identity and self-representation are undoubtedly successful and thought-provoking.
However, for me what it does most successfully is that, for a month at least, it provides Brighton with good spaces for contemporary visual art.
If you are a Brighton resident or simply find yourself down by the seaside this October, I would whole-heartedly recommend stopping by the Jubilee Library, Photoworks, Fabrica or the University of Brighton and soaking up the enthusiastic, creative buzz. After all, the best things in life are free.
For the full range of events taking place go to: www.bpb.org.uk