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Saturday 08 August 2020

Brighton Photo Biennial Gives Way For Inaugural Photoworks Festival Which Audiences Can Experience In Three Ways

Photoworks Festival is the reshaping of one of the UK's longest running photography festivals - Brighton Photo Biennial - and is an idea developed by Shoair Mavlian, Director, Photoworks, which asks what a photography festival can be and who they are for. 
Credit Alberta Whittle

The 2020 edition - Propositions for Alternative Narratives - can be experienced by audiences in three ways; via a printed 'festival in a box', through a major presentation of outdoor exhibitions on billboards spanning Brighton & Hove, a vibrant cultural city on the south coast, and online through a digital festival hub.

Participating artists include: Farah Al Qasimi, Lotte Andersen, Poulomi Basu, Roger Eberhard, Ivars Gravlejs, Pixy Liao, Alix Marie, Ronan McKenzie, Sethembile Msezane, Alberta Whittle and Guanyu Xu. 

Shoair Mavlian, Director, Photoworks, said: 

"Our inaugural Photoworks Festival rethinks both the form and content of traditional festivals and attempts to disrupt the well known histories of photography, breaking them apart to include new perspectives. 

"Our festival acknowledges that the idea of a distinct history of photography is problematic and aims to highlight propositions for alternative histories alongside contemporary work that sets out to show a new or alternative perspective on a subject or topic. 

"We look forward to presenting the festival across these three formats, allowing a wide range of audiences to engage with what a photography festival is and could be and enabling a global audience to access our festival for the first time."

The programme ranges from the Afrofuturist inspired works of Alberta Whittle, to Ivar Grāvlejs poetic compositions of the everyday captured in supermarket checkout-lines, and Farah Al Qasimi's brightly coloured observations of postcolonial structures of power and gender in the Gulf region. 

These works will sit alongside the poignant telling of a cross cultural relationship as experienced by Pixy Liao. 

The sites of past borders as observed by Roger Eberhard, and Poulomi Basu's exploration of the war between the government and the Maoist insurgent group People"s Liberation Guerrilla Army in India feature.  

Alix Marie meanwhile, asks us to consider the body's tactility and capacity to provoke emotions when transferred to the photographic medium. 

Sethembile Msezane's interdisciplinary practice combines photography, film, sculpture, and drawing to explore issues focused on spirituality, politics and African knowledge systems. 

The Brighton Photo Biennial (2018)

Ronan McKenzie's project explores the colour brown as a concept and a starting point. Lotte Andersen's work will bridge the online, and the real life, using collage, photography and text her flyer displayed outdoors and in the 'festival in a box' will act as an invitation to an online work taking place in October.

Photoworks Festival in a box 

Referencing Marcel Duchamp"s La Boîte-en-valise (1936 - 1941) and inspired by Dayanita Singh's innovative and seminal 'mobile museums# Photoworks will create a photography "festival in a box" which will be released in September but available to pre-order by signing up as a Photoworks Friend.

Designed as a deconstructed magazine, each audience member will become a curator and can choose how to install the festival at home or in their own community space. 

The 'festival in a box' includes posters of varying shapes and sizes made by the festival artists. 

This limited edition object also includes texts by Julia Bunnemann, Simon Baker, Pamila Gupta, Shoair Mavlian, Thyago Nogueira and Lucy Souter and others. 

It has been designed by artists Giliane Cachin & Joshua Schenkel and includes a combination of different textures, shapes and forms to experiment with at home.  International partners collaborating with Photoworks to bring a festival in a box to their own spaces, will also be announced later this month. 

Outdoor Festival 

An open air exhibition in Brighton & Hove which can be viewed across the city will appear this Autumn. 

It will be presented on poster sites and billboards across the city, from BN1 to the outer suburbs, bringing this global roster of artists to the city streets for the first time. 

Residents and visitors will be able to visit the sites via a digital map and explore the works in greater detail using QR codes.  

The outdoor festival has been made possible thanks to a collaboration with Ground Up Media and Jack Arts. 

Online festival hub 

Photoworks' digital platforms will also be transformed into a festival hub, connecting the physical work and the digital audiences. 

Events, artist films, podcasts and special content will connect the 'festival in a box' and the outdoor festival within the virtual realm.  

Events programmed to coincide will span talks, virtual tours and an extended issue of Photography+.

The first Photoworks Festival - Propositions for Alternative Narratives - takes place from 24th September to 25th October 2020, with eleven international artists coming together to exhibit work for audiences to engage with in real life and online. CLICK HERE for more info.

by: Mike Cobley

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