Brighton Photo Biennial’s Seventh Edition Focuses On Identity And Representation

The seventh edition of the Brighton Photo Biennial opens on 1st October. It is an international photography festival produced by Photoworks. October 2016 is the seventh edition and presents new and international work from invited artists and independent curators. Previous editions were curated by Jeremy Millar (2003), Gilane Tawadros (2006), Julian Stallabrass (2008), Martin Parr (2010) and Photoworks (2012, 2014). BPB is a multi-dimensional platform for new ideas, engaging intercultural audiences and diverse communities in the potential of photography.

The Biennial sets out to explore understandings of identity and representation – our personal and projected image – as influenced by the pervasive genre of fashion and style photography. Brighton Photo Biennial 2016 (BPB16), Beyond the Bias – Reshaping Image, will address and further question how photography can inform and reflect socio-political issues.

Curated and produced by Photoworks, themes investigated include representations of the body, gender, and sexuality; the subversion of social and cultural norms; photography’s function within the fashion business; the politics of subcultures and tribes. At the core of BPB16 are three major exhibition projects, one a European premiere of an exhibition from the USA, the others being two new commissions; one centered on British Youth Style, the other a UK/India collaboration exploring sexuality and identity.

Showing for the first time in Europe, this exhibition explores global expressions of the ‘Black Dandy’ phenomenon against the backdrop of contemporary life in cities around the globe, including works shot throughout the Diaspora, from Brooklyn to Johannesburg to Kinshasa and London. Women dandys will feature for the first time in this exhibition. 

Presenting 150 images from over 30 photographers and filmmakers, it has been curated from an international open call by Shantrelle P. Lewis, an independent curator based in Brooklyn and Philadelphia. The first comprehensive exhibition of its kind, it highlights young men in city landscapes, defying stereotypical and monolithic understandings of Black masculinity, by remixing Victorian-era fashion with traditional African sartorial sensibilities. Following acclaimed showings at Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago and Museum of African Diaspora, San Francisco, the European premiere will also include vintage family and archive images. Some of the works will be new for the UK exhibition and there will also be a global call out for additional submissions.  Images submitted to this call should feature men and boys in families and communities whose self-styling expressed their masculinity, manhood, and dignity, regardless of their environment or time period.

Ewen Spencer will cast young Londoners against locations along the route of the 2016 Notting Hill Carnival and also feature young people in Liverpool. Notting Hill has been synonymous with Youth Culture since the late 50s, but Ewen’s series will explore contemporary representations of Sub-culture through today’s youth style. Large format images posted onto custom-built billboards in the gallery space will be supplemented with music and projected images from Ewen Spencer’s extensive personal archive. Ewen’s projects include those for The Face and Sleazenation, for media.

 Olivia Arthur (UK) and Bharat Sikka (India) have collaborated for the first time to explore the private and public presentation of self-image in relation to the body, gender, sexuality and fantasy. Working with communities in both Mumbai and Brighton, cities with sharply contrasting politics of gender and sexuality, the photographers have collaborated with their participants to produce a new documentary project.

The work they have researched and developed together revolves, to a large extent, around individuals who identify themselves as being part of the LGBTQ+ community and importantly, a community that represents contemporary diversity in relation to sexuality and gender.The public and private spheres in which the photographs are set to present a contrast and raise questions as to the private and public presentation of self and the influence of locale on gender and sexuality.

A Photoworks/FOCUS Festival Mumbai co-commission in partnership with the University of Brighton. Research and development supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England’s Re:Imagine India programme and the University of Brighton.

Celia Davies, Director, Photoworks, commented, “We are delighted today to announce the programme for BPB16 and to be working with so many internationally renowned photographers, partners, and curators to deliver this year’s festival. The programme of new work and commissions has been brought together by the Photoworks team and it’s something we believe brings new insights on the politics of identity and representation and Photography’s role in that.” The core exhibition projects are complemented by a series of specially conceived exhibitions.

In Fashion shows. British photographer Nigel Shafran, has been invited by Photoworks to create a ‘cabinet of curiosities’, especially for BPB16.  A carefully crafted and edited installation, Fashion shows. combines unexpected images and objects that provide an alternative and visually rich view into notions of beauty as circulated by the fashion photography industry. This bespoke exhibition presents imagery from a range of eras, including Paul Elliman’s moving image version of his iconic September magazine, highlighting the glut of imagery delivered via the standard issue glossy magazines.

The installation’s eclectic character is drawn out through objects including model cards and vintage beauty treatment manuals, creating connections that encourage us to examine the tools, strategies, and distractions used by the fashion world.

Participation is an intrinsic characteristic of all BPB16 projects and is extended throughout the programme, to ensure opportunities to take part are embedded from the commissioning through to delivery.

An exhibition of new photography by four University of Brighton students co-commissioned with the Together the People festival – Brighton’s independent, green-field, music and arts festival. The exhibition will focus on Brighton & Hove communities, fashion, and representation, reflecting the theme of BPB16. Before it’s Brighton Photo Biennial showing, a selection of the student’s new work will be shown at Together the People Festival 3-4 September in Preston Park, Brighton, accompanied by family photography workshops.

A Photoworks and Together the People co-commission supported by the University of Brighton.

An exhibition charting progress of this major, multi-partner heritage-learning project with local young people, re-examining the city’s rich LGBTQ+ past and creating a new archive of queer youth experiences. Led by respected photographer Helen Cammock, 13–25-year-olds have been examining how issues faced today by young people identifying as LGBTQ+ compare with those faced by young LGBTQ+ people over the past forty years, using an extraordinary collection of autobiographical writing and ephemera submitted by over 700 people between 1986 and 1994.

Into the Outside is supported by Heritage Lottery Fund and Brighton & Hove City Council.

Youth culture as explored by young people themselves. A group of young people from Brighton & Hove present new work looking at how style, music, and clothes convey a sense of belonging and place. Complementing the Ewen Spencer exhibition at Fabrica.

Co-commissioned by Photoworks and Fabrica, co-financed by the Creative Europe programme of the European Union.

EVENTS Include:

The BPB16 exhibitions will be enriched by live events and digital programme, devised to throw a raking light on aspects of the ideas raised by the festival. The full events programme, taking place across the city of Brighton & Hove throughout October, will be online soon with events suitable for non-specialist and specialist audiences alike including artist and thinker talks, screenings, workshops, professional development opportunities, tours, activities for young people and families.

Opening Weekend

Friday 30 September will see a series of afternoon panel discussions. Curator of The Dandy Lion Project, Shantrelle P Lewis is in conversation with featured photographer Daniele Tamagni, author of Fashion Tribes, to discuss the evolution of style, identity and race politics. Magnum photographer Olivia Arthur and Bharat Sikka discuss their BPB16 collaboration, followed by the third and last panel discussion of the day with Ewen Spencer sharing his visual and music inspiration. Friday evening will continue with previews and our launch party. 

 Photoworks is a national development agency for photography. The programme includes commissions, new writing, participation and exceptional projects including the national Jerwood/Photoworks Awards, Photoworks Annual, and Brighton Photo Biennial. Photoworks aim is to connect outstanding artists with audiences and to champion talent and ambition. Photoworks is based at the University of Brighton, UK and is a National Portfolio Organisation supported by Arts Council England

Photo: © Ewen Spencer, from the series Kick over the statues, a Photoworks/Fabrica co-commission for Brighton Photo Biennial 2016

 1-30 October 2016

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