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Monday, 15 May 2017

Photography as Social Practice. In Bristol this Thursday


15-year-old Fabienne Cherisma lies dead after being shot in the head in Port-au-Prince. Photograph: Carlos Garcia Rawlins/Reuters. Read an in-depth analysis of this image here


If you are remotely interested in collaboration in photography, in the direct impact photography can have on real people with real difficulties living real lives, then you should come to the Arnolfini in Bristol this coming Thursday 18th May to hear Gemma-Rose Turnbull and Pete Broom in Photography as Social Practice

Above image from Gemma-Rose Turnbull

I get the feeling sometimes that photography can be hypercritical and unconstructive in its criticism. When it gets the wind in its sails, it feels like you're in the midst of  a mass Five-Minute Hate. It's like the scene in the remake of the Night of the Living Dead where Donald Sutherland points and screams - and then everybody else points and screams. It looks and feels terrible even when there are some justifications for it, especially when there are justificatons for it.  This kind of response is something that also needs to be addressed in photography and its social media responses - because it is an embarassment and one day it will end in something very tragic. It is a form of bullying. Again, it's nothing to do with photography, it's to do with basic human behaviour.

The work that Gemma-Rose Turnbull and Pete Brook do is a constructive counterpart to this kind of response. Their work is considered, analytical and creates a counter-voice that is productive rather than reactionary and destructive, and leads us into new ways of seeing how images are made and the different fields in which they operate.

Read my blog interview with Gemma-Rose Turnbull on collaboration here.

And start reading Pete Brook's 15-part analysis of the images of Fabienne Cherisma following the Haiti Earthquake.

Book Tickets here.

A discussion on socially engaged art production with contemporary photographers Gemma-Rose Turnbull and Pete Brook
IC Visual Lab and the Arnolfini will host an evening with two authors from the online platform Photography as a Social Practice (PaaSP). Socially engaged photographers deal with questions around justice and representation, thereby often discussing conventions of photography. Striving to stimulate political and social change, practitioners often observe and document recent societal issues. In their transdisciplinary practice, Turnbull and Brook focus on socially engaged projects. Working alongside a team of five others, the PaaSP collective seek to provide a space for discussions on contemporary photography, addressing topics such as ethics and power dynamics. The two photographers will discuss their work both individually and collectively, before opening up a dialogue on socially engaged art to the audience. 
Gemma-Rose Turnbull is an Australian artist, writer and lecturer in photography at Coventry University. In her research projects and photography, Gemma explores methods of co-production and revised structures of authorship. She believes that shared authorship can catalyse social change and policies. In previous projects she has collaborated with street-based sex workers, elderly people who have suffered from abuse, and children. Gemma has participated in Magnum Photos’ renowned ‘Postcards from America’ project — a collaborative photographic experiment with nearly twenty photographers. 
Pete Brook is an independent writer and curator. His projects focus on prisons, photography and power, whereby he is particularly interested in prisons in the USA. Reflecting upon the visibility, propaganda and politicisation of imprisonment, he tries to stimulate a debate about the common image of prisons, and the reasons for unjustifiably long sentences.  In 2008, he founded the website Prison Photography to combine his research and writing. Pete’s work has featured in The British Journal of Photography, The New York Times, Vice and other publications. He has curated various exhibitions, most recently Prison Obscura, a show analysing image production about mass incarceration.

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