MA Photography Brighton 2016 Catalogue

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04 Joanna Lowry Foreword 12 Martin Seeds Assembly

08 Georgs Avetisjans Homeland

18 Anita Mecseki Trauma

14 Mengbing Zhong Museum

10 Yiorgos Doukanaris Toward

24 Peter Thornton Running a frog over with a lawnmower

20 Lauren Shields Circus Street

16 Pixie Bowles Kesennuma (気仙沼市)

30 Richard Burniston Hogsmill Valley (26th November 1977)

26 Sam Threadgill Wild

22 Richard Boll Six Degrees of Freedom

32 Marta Benavides Eclipse

28 Gabriel Andreu Men’s Tears / Las Lagrimas De Los Hombres

Joanna Lowry Foreword

In recent years photographic practice has increasingly begun to inhabit a number of slippery spaces between representation and documentation, fact and fiction, history and the imagination. If in the nineteenth century photography was dominated by positivist discourses that emphasized its evidentiary relationship to the world, and in the late twentieth century it was dominated by debates around the simulacrum and the copy, at the beginning of the twenty first century we can see that photography has increasingly become a vehicle for telling ‘other’ stories. This has involved finding ways to subvert the smooth ideological surfaces of the image world and offering new ways of giving voice to more marginal narratives that have been suppressed or simply lost from view. This is predominantly a discourse of fragments. It is made up of broken archives, unfinished narratives, ambiguous allegories and uncertain confabulations. The messages that come to us from this

underworld of broken conversations are not always coherent and cannot always be articulated clearly – but it is often in the spaces between photographs, in the chaotic mixing of genres and in the endless aporias that open up between text and image that something important, some truth that we recognize, every now and then gets glimpsed. This is the operation of CounterMemory, a concept first coined by Michel Foucault – not the collective memory that bonds communities and nations together in a dominant discourse that supports the status quo, providing us with symbols that confirm the stabilities of nationhood or binding us together through the seductive image-world of advertising and consumerism. This is a more disruptive form of memory that irrupts into those cultural spaces and offers the opportunity for something alternative to be revealed, maybe something that we can hardly name, a story

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spoken by someone who might be forgotten returning us to a moment in a history that has become deformed, a desire that we fear to recognize, or a personal memory that has lost its original shape and which forces itself to become visible and taken account of at this moment, in this image, in the here and now. In his extraordinary study of a community in Latvia Georgs Avetisjans shows us the different ways in which people remember the past, the individual memories threading through the landscape, giving it a collective meaning but one which transcends the dominant history of the break-up of the Soviet Union. In contrast Yiorgos Doukanaris, dealing with the challenges of the future rather than the past, observes the experiences of refugees in the proliferating camps of Northern Europe, trying to construct fragile communities of experience out of a hostile environment and trying to tell their own stories in hostile places that are effectively locked out of history itself and that have

been pushed to the very margins of the civilized world. Martin Seeds explores the capacity of photography to generate allegory – in considering the fragile composition of the Northern Irish Assembly at Stormont he lets the plants, the foliage, the trees around the government building begin to tell their own stories about the nature of political struggle and the complex and fragile political ecology of our times. All three of these bodies of work attempt to subvert the certainties of conventional history and to find alternative means to tell stories and to find the right words to encapsulate political realities that are fragile, complex and impossibly difficult to resolve. Ivy Zhong takes a more forgiving look at the symbolic architecture of the dominant culture, exploring the subtle narratives that people build for themselves as they wander through our museums and galleries, interacting with objects as they please, taking time out, withdrawn into themselves.

Places, though, also have the capacity to tell us their own stories, and we can use photography to let those places take on a more vivid visibility and reveal to us the traces of moments that have marked them, left them with scars. Photography provides us with one of those selective portals through which the object world can really speak back to us. Pixie Bowles has developed a body of work in Kesennuma (気 仙沼市) in Japan, one of the sites of the devastating 2011 tsunami – a landscape that literally bears its recent trauma on the surface of the land and on the broken walls of buildings, but which also can be urged, gently, through a variety of subtle interventions and moments of recording, to yield more. Anita Mecseki‘s work involves a constant revisiting of sites of trauma – whether the site of a drowning or the memory of immolation in a fire. Her sensual black and white images literally sear themselves into your imagination. Lauren Shields explores the sedimented

memories of abandoned buildings, using them also like cameras in their own right to illuminate another more secret life. These are places where objects we once thought we owned and knew well reveal an uncanny underside. This strategy of finding ways to let the material world tell its own story is one also employed by Richard Boll who struggles with the natural elements and sails out to tie his pinhole camera onto buoys floating in the estuary waters of the Solent, letting them reveal to us a set of eerie seascapes of a more elusive other world. Peter Thornton’s strange studies of domestic plant life can also be seen as messages from a natural world that does not sit easily within the space of culture – their hallucinatory jungle forms reminding us that nature at least is never really within our control. Sam Threadgill’s studies of animal life are also an attempt to recognize the void that constantly threatens to open up between the human and the animal – the point at which language ceases


to bind us to a contract with the observed. A number of artists here consider Counter-Memory at a more subjective level: its relationship to the formation of the self, and to the way in which memories trouble us right the way through our life. Gabriel Andreu has made a series of works about men crying: his father namelessly shedding tears in front of an open sea, himself crying for all the men who failed to shed their tears – works that performatively enact the work of countermemory, forcing emotions to be felt and feelings to be shown. And Richard Burniston returns obsessively to the site of his own childhood memories, his childhood self like a trickster avatar set free to explore a world once forbidden to him, and creating a new set of alternative stories through which his own history can be told. And finally Marta Benavides, tellingly rephotographing a torn wedding album that signifies the end of

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one very important story, and then projecting onto a screen images spliced from the ends of reels of photographic film from her family’s archive. These, technically speaking, are the points at which both memory and history failed- but which in this installation become the beginnings of another story, radiant and bright and full of possibility. These then are the strategies of Counter-Memory: artists telling it slant, contriving narratives out of a discourse of fragments and anecdotes, looking at the spaces in-between images, playing at the edges of the film, pointing us to a world beyond language, to objects that cannot always be seen and to things that cannot normally be said. Joanna Lowry, 2016

Georgs Avetisjans Homeland The longest village in Latvia is located between the forest and the sea around 100 km northwest of the capital Riga. In the latter half of the 19th century and early 20th century it was the second most productive village in the country. 55 seagoing sailing ships were built there. With the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 the local economy changed, and in 2004, upon joining the European Union, it changed again on an even wider scale. There were no more barriers between the village, the Western world and progressiveness. These historical shifts made a huge impact on the society and its dreams, many of which the younger generations abandoned. After being away for many years, I decided to return and revisit my homeland through photography, trying to retrace the landscape, and evoke the memories and emotions of the local people.

This project reflects on their existing relationship with the land and, most importantly, their emotional attachment to the sea, forest and rocks. It is a journey back to the motherland and a return to my childhood. But it is also about the nation as a whole, its values, rituals and traditions. It also might be the story of many other places grappling with historical change. This is a search for imagined and real national identity, a creation of place, or perhaps collection of many other places into one place through the operations of memory. The village seemed to become a metaphor for a way of life or the passing of time – the past, present and future - and for how time affects and changes our sense of place.

Untitled / 2016

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Yiorgos Doukanaris Toward Growing up in an environment socially and politically affected by the recent war in Cyprus, my work is inevitably influenced by issues of conflict. I want to show how different political developments affect people and to comment on the multiplicity of ways in which humans interact and communicate with each other. The recent refugee crisis of 2015 refuelled my interest in finding out more about what it really means to be a refugee. I started visiting the refugee camp in Calais regularly. Since Calais was not an official camp and was not supported by the state or big NGOs, the conditions there were unorganised and inhumane; but the lack of anyone being in charge created a situation in which different groups of people came together based on different cultures, religions, habits etc., to give each other a sense of security.

I was immediately affected by the conditions these people were enduring. This forced nomadism engenders a situation of passage in which something is always left behind. The camp is the site of traces and marks - signatures that signify the passage of people through it. My work tries to capture this constant sense of change in the camp with a focus on trying to evoke the atmosphere. I am trying not just to provide a record of a place but to ask the viewer to question the conditions that define humanity, the naming of a name – what it really means to be a refugee and the values that things attain or lose under such catastrophic conditions.

Untitled / 2015

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Martin Seeds Assembly Assembly is a body of work set in the Stormont Estate, the home of the Northern Ireland Assembly. The work uses the power of photography to generate allegory - letting the plants, trees and foliage deliver a message from the grounds surrounding the Northern Ireland parliament building about the struggles embedded in a fragile political landscape. Created as an outcome of the 1998 Good Friday peace agreement, the Northern Ireland Assembly consists of a coalition of members elected by proportional representation. All elected parties have to be part of the Assembly in order for it to function - everyone has to have a say or no one does. In reality the Assembly consists of single identity parties who, for the most part, have antagonistic agendas – either nationalist and for the unification of Ireland or loyalist and against a

reunification. Placing these incompatible agendas within a constitutional framework in which power is shared by all, creates a government based on difference in which agreements are hard to come by. Assembly suggests the importance of the grounds as a common material space beyond culture in which difference and likeness are both articulated and intertwined in a natural world outside of the political chamber.

from Assembly vi / 2016

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Mengbing Zhong Museum This series of photographs focuses on the representation of the space of the museum and the gallery, exploring the relationship between individuals, artworks and spaces. I want my audience to consider the structure of the building and its relationship to the objects within it. And then to think further about what experiences visitors have within those spaces. This image shows a person who was standing in a corridor and looking down into the gallery. In that moment, like a freeze-frame, the structure of the museum and the light falling in from outside come together to give us a new sense of the space as it is experienced.

QUIET / 2016

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Pixie Bowles

Kesennuma (気仙沼市) In the summer of 2014 I met a place called Kesennuma, a costal city located in the Myagi prefecture of Tōhoku, Japan. It is a city with a strong bond with both the land and ocean, celebrated through unique cultural traditions, festivals and folklore. Kesennuma has a rich and complicated history entwined with tales of various warlords, samurai rulerships and has connections with the Date clan. On March the 11th, 2011 it also became one of the cities most severely devastated by The Great Eastern Japan Earthquake and Tsunami. In Kesennuma alone a total of 1159 individuals were killed, and a further 8,136 people remain missing or displaced as a direct result of the disaster. Exploring my position as an “outsider” who was introduced to the region of Tōhoku as a site of one of the worlds greatest natural disasters, this body of work

seeks to look beyond the media representations of Kesennuma as a disaster stricken city, and try to uncover the histories which have been hidden in the wake of 3.11. This body of work has been born out of a collaboration between the city of Kesennuma and myself; by listening to the many stories residents shared, submerging myself into the ocean, and touching the land scarred by the disaster. Through this journey I had immersed myself in the pain and wonder of the city. The photographs are a visual manifestation of my fascination and desire to learn more about a pre-disaster land, rendering permanent a fleeting experience of a place undergoing a continuous state of change.

Ground Zero’, located in 3 Chome-1-25 Minamimachi, Kesennuma / 2015

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Anita Mecseki Trauma I am interested in trauma and the psychic and therapeutic power of photography. Photographs can have an impact that words do not. Photographs have the power to make people reflect. They can take their breath away. My initial idea came from a childhood memory of mine: When I was about ten years old, my brother and I were collecting fish hooks from trees on the frozen river at winter time. The ice broke under me. I was drawn under the ice an I could not find my way out. The memory of that trauma has stayed with me. Since then I have also had experience of fire. I have become very interested in using photography to address my memories of these traumatic experiences. This project involves a constant revisiting of sites of trauma and the memory of immolation in the flames. I sought out locations where there had been a fire.

My interest was mostly in the aftermath of catastrophe and what is left behind. I have created a video dealing with the theme of post-traumatic stress disorder’s symptom: flash back. The software programme chooses my images randomly so timing, spaces and order are out of my control, mimicking the experience of flash back. My aim is for the viewer to experience a flash back and to somehow live again that experience that I have been through.

Untitled / 2016

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Lauren Shields Circus Street Circus Street is a site-responsive exploration of the Circus Street Annex; a building which housed the photography department of the University of Brighton for over 23 years, which is soon to be demolished. I captured these abandoned spaces once full of creativity and transformation, photographic dark rooms and work spaces, using a combination of Polaroids, film, and camera-less photograms which incorporate physical elements of my subject. The prints exhibited have been created in the darkroom using remnants Polaroids, the bits that are usually discarded and never printed from. My processes evoke a sense of melancholic memories, and of a world we can’t quite step into.

Colour Darkroom / 2016

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Richard Boll

Six Degrees of Freedom Six Degrees of Freedom is a response to looking at the late seascapes of the painter J.M.W. Turner, and to the challenges photography faces in expressively rendering the sea. The project involved attaching a pinhole camera to navigation buoys in the Solent, and making exposures ranging from two minutes to an hour. The channel flows around Cowes, the town of my upbringing, and an area in which Turner produced several seascapes. It is famous for the strength of its tides and currents. The project creates an interplay between control and chance. The aspects of control include the selection of the buoy, the choice of the time of day to make the images and the duration of the exposures. There is chance, however, in the unpredictable movement of the buoy, as dictated by the movement of the

sea. The resulting photographs are renderings of the sea and sky, directly produced by the six directions of movement that affect a buoyant object. The movement of the sea during the exposures helps to generate a deep ambiguity in the images. The resultant photographs echo the diffuse and indistinct visual effects found in the paintings of such artists as Turner, Caspar David Friederich and Mark Rothko. This is part of the language of the sublime referred to by Immanuel Kant in his Critique of Judgement of 1790. He distinguished between the differences of the Beautiful and the Sublime, noting that beauty “is connected with the form of the object, having boundaries”, while the sublime “is to be found in a formless object, represented by a boundlessness”.


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Pete Thornton

Running a frog over with a lawnmower There is another world that is overlooked in our houses. It is an almost unearthly world, that hides underneath the potted plants - roses, lilies and aloe vera. There is a micro ecosystem, in sight, but still invisible. When we look closer, we start to see little features that we did not notice earlier. These spaces are imagined in the minds of the people that make them, that cultivate the plants, that prune them and put them in pots for display. It is not real until you look at the small details. The presence of the camera, and the process of photographing on paper reveal a spectrum unseen to the human eye. The subjects are venomous, deadly, sharp, looming and hide dangers behind their alluring petals

Running a frog over with a lawnmower refers to the everyday act of having to mow the lawn, and to suddenly discover by accident that a frog has been distressed, a small being that would have been in the wild, displaced into a garden.

Lily / 2016

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Sam Frederick Wild An ideology that seeks to order and take the wild is prevalent within Western cultural institutions. Within the museum’s walls an attempt takes place to capture the other, to classify it and systematize it across the abyss of difference. Here there exists a representational wilderness, both perpetuated and denied by the glass of the displays. Museums of natural history offer a false escape: on the one hand inviting us to enter worlds different from our own, on the other, within a framework of anthropocentrism, rejecting those worlds.

Untitled / 2016

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Gabriel Andreu

Men’s Tears / Las Lagrimas de los Hombres Men suffer just as much as women however it appears that women are less inhibited in the act of crying than men. In this work I am exploring the relationship that men have with crying: emotional suppression versus expression. Men are not as free in shedding tears due to our pervasive cultural and social ideas about manliness. Las Lagrimas de mi Padre / My Father’s Tears My first piece for this project was produced using an ethnographic approach. I interviewed men from different countries and backgrounds. I asked them several questions about crying, the last question being: Have you ever seen your father crying? This was the seed for the concept underpinning this video installation. The different experiences that each sitter had with his father caused me to

think about my own experience. To see your father crying can be the most painful and at the same time the most liberating experience that a man can have. I am Going to Cry for All the Men Who didn’t Cry / Voy a Llorar por Todos los Hombres que no Lloraron As an actor my profession forces me to express feelings on command. As a boy I was told, “Boy’s Don’t Cry”. Boys are effectively detached from their emotions and feelings; this emotional cost exacted by our culture turns emotionally whole little boys into emotionally debilitated men. For me, to study drama was a way to reconnect with my emotions and feelings again, to be free. With this piece I want to shed the tears that all the men have held back through the ages.

Las Lagrimas de mi Padre / My Father’s Tears / 2016 Two-Channel Video Installation HD Video 03:52 min.

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Richard Burniston Hogsmill Valley (1977) “He who seeks to approach his own buried past must conduct himself like a man digging.” Walter Benjamin The death of my parents awoke within me a realisation that their memories of me, as a child, perished with them, and that my own oldest memories were imperfect, fragmented and disordered. Perturbed by this fading away of self I travelled to a place forbidden to me as a child, a wooded valley bordering our suburban home, and set loose a counter-factual proxy - a boy of ten who was like me but who was not me - to play freely in this archaic green space. The return to the place of childhood is a double return, it also embraces a temporal return, to 1977, the year the boy will celebrate his tenth birthday, see Star Wars, listen to the Sex

Pistols, get his first summer job. A year of expanding horizons. I tracked the boy for months, staging and photographing sites where he played, determined for my pictures to yield an anterior space of new memory and an alternative history that might replenish my own diminished inventory of childhood recollections. But, like Benjamin’s “man digging”, I began to understand that the making, and taking, the inventory, could never satisfy my desire. It was the endeavour, the process itself, the obsessive revisitation of the valley at all hours in all seasons, the walking and wading, the methodical exploration and mapping, the numerous little rituals, repetitions and frustrations associated with making work, that had been laid down as fresh strata of memory for me to excavate.

Hogsmill Valley (26th November 1977) / 2015

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Marta Benavides Eclipse 35mm film leaders (family archive 1984 to 2004) Expectations of remembrance are embedded in photography from the very moment at which the film is loaded into the camera. Negatives are sometimes kept in family archives as treasures capable of transporting us back in time. Bits of film that register the beginning of the process of image capture are inadvertently stored right next to the successful photographs that configure the imagery of the family. These threshold traces are rarely printed along with the rest of the material in the family album. Through the process of scrutinising these scraps and using technology to transform them into images, I have enabled these film leaders to transcend their garbage status and become symbols of the fragility of memory.

Delicate gradients of colours are created when the film is approached with a forensic view, with allusions to a microscopic or even astronomic gaze. When light trespasses these brief splices of film once again, they become a portal into the past and honour the memory that the limitations of the apparatus never allowed to fully exist.

Summer Holidays (1989) / 2016

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MA Photography Course Leader: Joanna Lowry

The graduates are indebted to Tutors: Fergus Heron, Aaron Schuman, Joanna Lowry, Judith Katz, Xavier Ribas and Mark Power Support Staff: Mark Hawdon, Matt Page, Simon Sandys, Linda Finch, Sean Burnie, Helen Gibbs, Lea Vittone and John Williams. Š All works of art, copyright the artists All rights reserved Design by Georgs Avetisjans Printed by Gemini Print Published in conjunction with the exhibition Counter-Memory 16-23 September 2016

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