Day two of the RPS Contemporary Group’s ‘The Power of Photography’ weekend at Birmingham City University. The photographers speaking were:
Brijesh Patel is an editorial photographer who funds his projects through a mixture of grants and his corporate work. He produces exquisite hand-made books of his work to accompany his exhibitions. He is even looking into making his own paper. Although he touched on some of his UK projects, 1948 Olympians and military marching bands, most of his projects concern India and his attempts to understand the land of his birth. Three projects were shown:
- A Dreamed Place
Patel’s approach is to spend time with the people he wishes to photograph, build a relationship with them and then make images. He tests the technicalities and aesthetics of his images in the UK before travelling out to India to make them. Patel likes to explore ‘the idea of India’ and adopts an immersive working style. For the ‘salt’ project, he followed the route of Gandhi’s salt march and made photographs in synch with the places at which Gandi wrote during the work. A very engaging project. Patel has a separate website for his Indian art photography and the salt project can be seen here.
Newly elected president of the RPS, Roy Robertson showed a portfolio of excellent dance images. Black and white slow shutter speed images made by ambient light were a tour de force.
An Iranian-British photographer, Tabrizian explained that her work focuses on ‘the crisis of contemporary culture’. Tabrizian’s highly collaborative work consists of large clever orchestrated scenes. Her work from Tehran is layered with meaning and allegorically illustrates the incomplete results of the revolution. Censorship means that Iranians often cannot ‘talk’ directly and so small subjects are treated allegorically to comment upon bigger issues. I found one example of her London work particularly striking where Tabrizian photographed a large group of bankers at J.P. Morgan’s headquarters – each person instructed not to look at the camera or communicate with others. It’s a very striking image that can be read in different ways – in my case I could see isolation, dis-functionality and even fear. The image can be found here.
I know John Davies’s early work well and this presentation was a good chance to catch up on his more recent projects. Davies has begun to re-photograph some of the scenes of his well-known images from the 1980s and 90s. The changes this demonstrates are startling. Davies is now based in Liverpool and turning his lens once again on a UK city – looking at how it has reinvented itself. He has also become more of an activist and is engaged supporting campaigns against the increase in public access spaces being sold off for private development. More details about Davies’ ‘Our Ground’ project can be seen on http://www.johndavies.uk.com/