Taking this questioning lyric as our title this project offered an ambiguous and open-ended ‘manifesto’ statement of intent to a wide range of participants (24 in total), all of whom had a connection with the BA (Hons) Contemporary Photographic Arts Practice programme at Northbrook College, Sussex. Participants included recent and not so recent graduates, tutors and lecturers, former and current external examiners and other ‘friends’ of the course. The ‘manifesto’ statement provided a deliberately contestable space for dialogue and practice, proposing an engagement with notions of transition, global economic uncertainty and political change. From this the trans-generational composition of the group offered opportunities for younger participants to engage with more experienced artists in a mutually supportive, inclusive, process orientated and networked model of creative development.
Utilising on-line and real-world spaces, in a nine-month process involving regular meetings, discussion and developing creative practice, the project established opportunities for sustained dialogue, skills sharing and the building of networks and communities of practice, culminating (though not ending) in an exhibition as part of the 2012 Brighton Photo Fringe.
In line with the Fringe’s ethos, the diverse creative outcomes of the project (including but not limited to the ‘exhibition’) were subject to dialogue and negotiation with all participants and thus came to reflect the open, inclusive, process-orientated approach central to its development. Through this recursive process a number of motifs and themes were elaborated upon, and came to be articulated in the exhibition and its accompanying events and activities.
- a critical, questioning approach to what constitutes the ‘photographic’
- an interest in relationships between works and between the contexts of works, including a critical questioning of what constitutes a ‘work’, and a participatory engagement with ‘audience’
- contextual re-purposing – specifically in the context of the post-industrial gallery space, with work reflecting on and playing with that historical context
The exhibition was open for 9 days, from 12th to 20th October 2012 and drew in several hundred members of the public. The opening and closing nights proved particularly popular, and provided a range of special events and performances in addition to the exhibition of work. A mid-week ‘special film screening’ event drew a smaller but very appreciative audience who enjoyed a varied programme of artists’ 16mm film projections. One notable aspect of the exhibition was the way in which it engaged audiences (children in particular) in its participatory elements of self-assembly zine making and harmonograph drawing.
exhibition documentation and examples of work here:
is this my beginning...
...or is this the end?