Remote Access

During the festival our documentation team were busy filming and documenting all Diffusion talks and events for you. Find a wealth of media content including artists interviews, essays, photography and downloadable resources.

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Carolina Vasquez short film about the Diffusion Publishing Weekend

A short film about our Publishing Weekend by Carolina Vasquez. The film was commissioned by Diffusion: Cardiff International Festival of Photography.

This event was organised through a partnership between Diffusion Festival and Chapter, with a focus on publishing, from artists’ DIY activity through to larger, established publishing houses, magazines and galleries.

You can find more info about the weekend’s full programme here.

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Publishing Weekend: Q+A with Kate Nolan

Listen again to Kate Nolan’s Q+A with photographer and Miniclick contributor, Jack Latham. They discuss Kate’s experience approaching the self-publishing of her first photobook and working with designer SYB. After working through selection and design Kate is currently promoting the project and book dummies with production planned for later this year.

Kate Nolan is an Irish photographer based in Dublin, Ireland. She graduated with a BA (Hons) in Documentary Photography from the University of Wales, Newport, 2010. Her long term project Neither recently won the Alliance Francaise Photography Prize and has been exhibited in London, Cardiff, Dublin, Minneapolis and Kailiningrad, Russia.  Kate combines her art practice with commissions, workshops and is the director of Slideluck Potshow Dublin.

 

www.katenolan.co.uk

miniclickatthefringe.wordpress.com

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Publishing Weekend: Q+A with Chiara Tocci

Listen again to Chiara Tocci’s Q+A with photographer and Third Floor Gallery trustee, Bartosz Nowicki. They discuss the ins and outs of being published for the first time and what it has meant for her practice now. Chiara’s project, Life After Zog and other stories was published by Schilt in May 2013.

Chiara Tocci (b. 1982, Italy) graduated from the Università di Firenze in 2006 and earned a BA in Documentary Photography from the University of Wales, Newport in 2010. After graduating she won the Portrait Commission at the National Museum Wales and National Portrait Gallery, London in 2010. She’s now based in the UK. Chiara’s photographs have been published in  Context and Narrative in Photography, British Journal Of Photography, Ag Magazine, and the Guardian. She was included in the 2012 Magenta Foundation Emerging Photographers and in the Fresh Faced and Wild Eyed 2011, curated by The Photographers’ Gallery, London.

chiaratocci.com

www.thirdfloorgallery.com

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Festival Closing Event | 31 May

David Drake’s closing speech and announcement of the theme for 2015 Diffusion festival “Looking for America”.

Photo Copyright: Claire Kern

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Platform 4 | Daniel C Blight | 29 May

Documentation of the final Platform debate “There is nothing left to photograph” which took place at Fire Island on 29 May and was led by writer and curator Daniel Campbell Blight.

Visit Platform to vote and comment on the provocations.

 

Photo Copyright: Kirill Smolyakov

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Ffotohive exhibition launch | 29 May

Ffotohive is a participatory photography project developed by BREAD art collective in collaboration with Ffotogallery Education. Throughout May we asked Cardiff residents and visitors to contribute to a series of unique online collages. Photographs were taken at six designated sites known as ‘hives’ around the city, which were then tweeted and uploaded to become part of this ever-changing digital artwork capturing the city. The artwork was on show at the Tramshed for the last three days of the festival, and visitors had an opportunity to take part in the project using the Tramshed hive.

www.ffotohive.com

 

Photo Copyright: Kirill Smolyakov

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Guided Education Tours

Throughout the month education teams from Diffusion and festival partner venues led tours around all the exhibitions.

Camper-Obscura430

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Debbie Savage on Camper Obscura

Camper Obscura

Camper Obscura has an interesting relationship with the Diffusion Festival theme “Where are we now”. The project is inherently linked to the immediacy of its location, the image captured by the lens, and the experience of the participants, but at the same time, it is inherently linked to traditional photographic techniques and reconnecting participants to the photographic process – the science behind the camera.
The Camper Obscura project started in 2010 when FOTONOW (Jonathan Blyth and Matthew Pontin) installed a camera obscura onto the roof of a 1986 VW T25 camper van. The idea behind the project was to create a mobile, touring experience to engage young people and communities with photography, and the medium’s ability to explore concepts such as place, memory, history and society.
Like all camera obscuras, the device projects a moving, colour image of its surroundings on to a screen. In this version of the device, the camper van itself becomes a giant camera. Visitors are invited into the light-sealed space to sit on old cushions and wait for images of the outside world to become visible on a white board that has replaced the original dining table. The lens can rotate 360° to momentarily capture the outside world, the image only lasting for as long as the light is present. The experience is fleeting and unique, only shared by those present at that time. Rather than capturing these projected images (which the camera is currently unable to do), Blyth and Pontin photograph the Camper Obscura visitors to create a permanent reminder of a shared moment.
Living in a time where the potential to create digital images is practically omnipresent, the Camper Obscura looks to recapture the magic of photography, “the simple joy similar to the first time an image is developed before your eyes in a black and white darkroom”. Where as for some, the ability to constantly capture the world around you may have lost its magic, the Camper Obscura allows participants the time to view their location through a photographic gaze but without the ability to edit, delete or retouch the experience. Slightly removed from the ‘now’, the viewer becomes an observer, looking at the world outside mediated only by the direction of the lens, the speed it takes to rotate, and the immediate way in which the light is captured, reflected and projected to create an image.
This experience questions our relationship to the photograph, the temptation to view subjects as the ‘other’, separated and different from ourselves. To view the living streets, just a thin wall away, as the subject of the photograph somehow brings historical images of city streets or of far away countries closer; the people in those images perhaps sharing some of the same thoughts and concerns as the subjects in the living image outside of the camper van.
In this sense, the Camper Obscura not only reveals the magic of the photograph in a world awash with images, but also the magic of a place – the people, the location, the history, the present and the simple pleasure of observing the now.

Debbie Savage

Sources
http://www.lomography.com
http://www.popphoto.com
Camper Obscura Cardiff on Flickr

The essay is available as a downloadable PDF here.

 

Photo Copyright: Daniel Florea

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Angie Dutton on Photomarathon

12 hours, 12 topics, 12 photo: its a simple formula and a big ask, but 400 of us were up for it on a sunny May Saturday, gathering at the Wales Millennium Centre to see what challenges the day would throw at us.

And what it threw at us was a day of fun, frustration, inspiration and exploration driven by a brilliant selection of topics. From fairly abstract themes such as ‘Poetry’ and ‘Elegant’ to more descriptive ones such as ‘Out and About’ and ‘Behind the Scenes’, you are driven to dig deep into your imagination, test your creativity, and to open your eyes a little wider to the world around you.

This is the joy of the day. Most of us don’t often get the chance to indulge in a whole day of creative activity and Photomarathon gives you the opportunity both to revel in this, and in my case, realise how rusty you get at thinking in this way.

The diversity of the results is as wide as can be – some participants are professionals offering polished images that cleverly interpret the themes. Others offer wit and imagination rather than technical perfection – but this is just, if not more entertaining to see. Some who follow a theme – bikes, lego people, pets, food, and more food – are brilliant at weaving the images and topics together to tell a story. Others go for a totally random set of pictures, fuelled as much by chance or fatigue as they work against the clock, but all reflecting the joy of simply taking part in a truly fun challenge.

As I see it, Photomarathon isn’t so much a competition – although it’s great to see the winning pics – it is a celebration of joint endeavour, a day of diving into shops to buy odd props or around corners you’ve not been to before hoping to find something new. It’s 12 hours of talking to people you’ve never met – asking them to pose for a photo or find out how their Photomarathon is going as you identify them by their bright orange wrist bands. More than anything, Photomarathon is a love letter to Cardiff. Image upon image of the city appear in the photos, from its familiar sights to its hidden treasures. Beautiful photos of Roath Park and its bird life, the stalls at Central Market, ice cream eating in the Bay, a hardware shop’s display of brooms in Grangetown, the green calm of Cathays Cemetery or women up for a big night out as the evening begins in St Mary Street. Centre stage or glimpsed in the background, the city shapes the day and the images that are produced, showing it off as the exciting, complex, timeless and infinitely varied place where we live.

The Photomarathon exhibition of all 4800 images will run this year at The Cardiff Story in The Hayes, Cardiff, from Saturday 22 June until Sunday 7 July. www.photomarathon.co.uk

Angie Dutton

 

This essay is available as a downloadable PDF

Photo copyright: Fatme Abdallah & Laura Nott

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Brady Knight on Dawn Woolley’s Wild Oats

Wild Oats is a collection of works centering on the theme of food and the culture of eating in contemporary society. Held at the Milkwood Gallery, the exhibition of photography, sculpture, film and food is curated by Dawn Woolley and features work by Miina Hujala, Noemi McComber, Ellen Sampson and Dawn Woolley. The full text of this review can be downloaded below.

Noemi McComber’s work might be the first piece you see, a looming film projection over the top of the doorway to the next area of the gallery. ‘Prise d’assault (Under Assault)’ shows the artist repeatedly pelted with various food products whilst obediently sitting against a wall. McComber is commenting on over consumption and the handling of waste in modern society. The sense of force-feeding in the film from an entirely submissive person creates a feeling of greed but also guilt about it, representing an uncontrollable desire for consumption.

Dawn Woolley’s still life photographic work is very eye-catching. Three large photographs depict different shots of lavishly decadent and colourful confectionery foods. On closer inspection of ‘Celebrate’, a mousse-like pink cake is adorned with decorative white pieces with a spoonful already taken out and temptingly placed in front of it, you discover that the decorative white pieces are actually human teeth. It now resembles a human mouth, and your initial desires to consume the object are quickly replaced by repulsion or fear.

Miina Hujala’s film ‘Illallinen (The Dinner)’, displayed on a small portable television, faces into the centre of the room. It follows two characters, one male, and one female as they prepare for dinner. Dressing and composing themselves sophisticatedly they head to the dinner table, sit and wait. The film examines the rituals of dining, coldly acted out by two automatons, looking at each longingly, seemingly longing for release. Ominously scored and dramatically shot, its large panning shots over furniture and dining rooms, cutlery and attire establish the theme and setting powerfully. The characters act out their choreographed roles, keeping up appearances, not eating any food. The film strongly reflects Woolley’s themes of social status, form and emancipation and is highly thought provoking.

Set in Milkwood’s cosy exhibition space, the show has a level of intimacy to it, complementing several of the works’ group-dining themes. Viewing the work you inevitably encroach others viewing space, and quickly learn to share the space respectively, slotting in amongst each other as you might a table at a restaurant. The show plays with the rituals and experiences of eating and dining, and dissects your understanding of them expertly. Wild Oats is both a personal experience and cultural one.

 

Brady Knight

 

This is an abstract – to download or view the full length essay please click here.

Helen Sear - Lure

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Rory Duckhouse on Helen Sear’s “Lure”

The work of Helen Sear plays on the duality of revealing and concealing, the multiple layering of the images mimicking the conceptual layers that run throughout the work. The aesthetic qualities of the work are layered with historical and theoretical concerns about the act of looking, in relation to the natural and rural landscape.

The act of looking is highlighted in ‘Chameleon’, a video projection where Sear literally illuminates nature with a torch. The sunflower takes on the appearance of an eye as the light shifts and oscillates across its surface. The video references the representation of looking and being seen as the sunflower eye looks back on the viewer.

Many images within the exhibition are obscured; layers are added over the image creating a barrier between the viewer and classic pictorial representation that challenge our perceptions. ‘Blocked Field’ presents a stack of hay bales obscuring the view onto the pastoral scene. Printed onto aluminum, and displayed in grids over the whole wall, the work confounds our expectations, drawing on notions of Dutch Golden Age painting. We are denied the view we expect, and are instead presented with a structure of human intervention on the landscape.

The allusion to art history and classical painting is also present within ‘Pastoral Monuments’. Sear has collected wild flowers that grow near her studio, presenting them in vases that recall Dutch still life paintings. The work is given depth by texturing the image, creating the impression that they have been crumpled up, flattened and represented like flower pressings in a book.

The images hint at domesticity, with the flowers photographed in the artists kitchen, however this is countered by titling each image its Latin name, ‘Angelica Atropurpurea’, ‘Myosotis Arvensis’, and ‘Daucus Carota’, revealing the taxonomic nature of the work.

In ‘Sightlines’, female portrait sitters have their faces obscured by mass produced ceramic birds. The background has been painted with gesso, a wash made out of ground marble, positioning the female sitter in isolation. The sitter, obscured by the hand painted bird, is relieved of the viewers’ gaze, protected by the cheap ornament from the politics of looking.

The space in ‘Sightlines’ is extended into the gallery with ‘Plinths for Imaginary Birds’, large fiberglass sculptures where the bird has escaped its resting position. The bird protecting the sitter’s identity has gone, leaving only a bare white plinth, a plinth occupying space, waiting for the return of these imaginary birds.

‘Brisées’, French for broken branches, reveals a series of monochrome images sourced from an Internet search for “Tree Surgeon”. Each image features a circle, or orb placed at the intersection of a tree that is digitally manipulated. These selections represent the meeting of the human and the landscape, where an incision or cut has been made, altering the physical space and highlighting the tensions between vision and touch.

Lure is deeply rooted in its locality; the divides between nature, culture and history are laid out and examined through the ideology of looking and being seen. Sear sets out a series of strategies that engage and frustrate our stereotypical views in order for us to question our ocular centric environment. Sear’s intentions and artistic perspectives might alter our focus on our surroundings and the intimacy we hold within our immediate locality.

Rory Duckhouse

Image Copyright: Claire Kern 2013
This essay is available as a downloadable PDF here

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Alexander Norton on Sebastian Liste’s Urban Quilombo

A tireless relationship radiates throughout the series of images on display at the Third Floor Gallery. It is a show that presents gratitude in its rawest form, hiding no details for the viewer to observe. As a viewer you enter a strange room of voyeurism, experiencing events in the lives of others through honest eyes. Foregrounds and backgrounds make exchanges as people come and go throughout, making their way from the backyard to the intimate living quarters. Children swing their emotions at each other in the form of fists. They are moments of natural human actions when pushed to a certain point. Rest points acquire us as subjects lay into the evening night, with children manoeuvring around the scene aware of their safety when amongst their parents. Vulnerability rings throughout as children adopt adult positions, share the same wall space with adult activity, the notion they are growing up through a shortcut, cutting out the possibility of sheltered life. The spaces radiate this lifestyle, as children begin to fend for themselves, when they are usually tucked away safely behind the wall of security. They take on a lighter weight, but one that impacts their immediate future. An intense closeness reigns throughout the pictures, whether it’s the emotional release of a flying clenched palm, or the close bond between parent and child, each experiences the same things, on a variable scale.

We are barely given a moments breath when we are thrown into an intense scene of passion coming across violent and harmful. It is the nature of us, almost primitive instinct, after all the work begins to uncover our primitive purpose – survival.

It is a world away from the sheltered lifestyle of the western world, floundering in our own possessions, rebelling our parents because we are young adults. Obedience cries throughout as scenes show a remarkable beauty amongst human relationships. There is no one closer than our parent, our guardians, they watch over us, but first they must watch themselves as the demands of reality serve something harder to tame. Their experiences are intense, connecting to every bone available in our body, utilising them, every feeling, every instinct and every desire. Our rational behaviour disintegrates but our dignity held as high mirroring the spirit within the community. The very ambition of the photographer is to remember, to document a moment that does not exist in the sense of capture. Firstly on the basis of colour, as scenes are stripped of realistic qualities, the black and white tones present something stronger, not reliant on the make up of truth, but the action itself. We avoid potential distraction, and the aesthetic intensifies the actions within. A tone of passion, presented in the face of a young one; an expression implying only the strongest survive or remain unscathed. In a place full of beauty in landscape, the people wrestle with the areas of inhabitation, all down to our actions and retaliation toward the landscape we wake up to each morning. The subjects will grow strong, through their environment, and their portrayal, in a place that ceases to exist today, becomes a fragment of time, and for them a point in their lives where they prepared for life and fought for their right to live it.

Alexander Norton

 

Image Copyright: Sebastien Liste 2013
This essay is available for download here

 

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Anthony Shapland | g39 | Interview

Anthony Shapland talks about the g39 exhibition Barnraising and Bunkers which puts together artists that engage or interact with architectural or physical structures, as well as those that work collectively to accomplish things greater than the abilities of the group. It is also a wider examination of those spaces that are flagship structures for art and contrasts them with the often isolated and separate means of their production, the studio. Artists featured in the exhibition: Uriel Orlow, Abigail Reynolds, Angharad P Jones, Rich White, Dan Griffiths, Geraint Evans, Jonathan Powell, Richard Powell

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Anna Kurpaska Interview

Anna Kurpaska is a Polish born photographer currently based in Wales. Anna talks about her photographic interests which focus mostly on representations of interpersonal relationships, belonging to the place of one’s origin, and familial and community ties. Her work was showing as part of the European Chronicles and From Common Differences exhibitions.

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Platform 4 with Daniel C. Blight | Laura Sorvala Sketchnotes

We have commissioned artist Laura Sorvala to create visual documentation of our platform debates, which are a series of free evening events, each dedicated to one of the Platform themes and led by prominent artists and thinkers. Click here to view a full screen PDF of Laura’s sketchnotes.

The final debate “There is nothing left to photograph” took place at Fire Island on 29 May and was led by writer and curator Daniel Campbell Blight.

Visit Platform to vote and comment on the provocations.

 

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Shape Records’ Zinesters | Chapter | 26 May

JOEY FOURR, MOWBIRD, FURROW, MY NAME IS IAN DJ CASEY RAYMOND

Shape Records and Chapter presented a programme of performances from bands and artists who have self-published zines as part of their practice. There was a live zine created at the event that audience members could contribute to – with photos, thoughts, drawings – and were able to take home at the end of the evening.

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Photobook Symposium | 26 May

Chair: Christiane Monarchi (Photomonitor)

Speakers: Melinda Gibson (artist), Ken Grant (University of South Wales), Harry Hardie (HERE Press), Edgar Martins (artist), Rodrigo Orrantia (Lucid-ly), William Sadowski (Photobook Show), Emmanuelle Waeckerle (the bookRoom), Thijs groot Wassink (Wassink/Lundgren)

This event opened up creative dialogue and enquiry into documentary and art photography publishing, with a lively programme of presentations and panel discussions. Bringing together photographers, publishers and other industry specialists, debate centred around shifts in publishing as practice; the mechanisms of production and distribution; legacies, contexts and considering exhibitions of photobooks.

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Helen Sear’s Lure Exhibition Opening | BayArt | 25 May

Lure is a major exhibition of new work by Helen Sear. One of Wales’ most important and insightful artists, Sear’s practice can be characterised by her exploration of the crossover between photography and fine art, her focus on the natural world and the startling beauty of her work. From seemingly simple subjects – a frozen pond, straw bales in a field, wild flowers – Sear makes artworks of great power that explore ideas of seeing and perception.

 

Photo Copyright: Claire Kern

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Zine-a-thon with Mark Daman Thomas | 25 May

Artist and DIY record label founder Mark Daman Thomas showed participants how to make their own photocopied zine. Zines (short for “fanzines” or “magazines”) are self-published paper booklets of words and images. Tracing the history of zines from their roots in the underground music scene to the present day, the workshop explored how zines can be a fun and creative means of expression.

 

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Publishing Fair | 25 & 26 May

The publishing fair celebrated, explored and engaged in a wealth of international contemporary book arts and print practice.

Contributors

Another EscapeArnolfini Reading RoomArtCardiff, Asphalt Publishing, Blow Photo Magazine, bookRoom, Tessa BunneyLewis BushCardiff Print WorkshopChiara TocciChristopher MearCorridor8Crippling DoubtsDarwin MagazineDiesel Books,Drawing PapersDuplicate EditionsEAK PressEastside ProjectsFOAM Magazine, Forthcome, FfotogalleryFrancesca Kay,GOST booksHazard PressHERE PressHighchair EditionsIan WatsonIt’s Nice ThatJonathan Kelham & The Leaders of Men, La Lupa Press, LJ Rogers, Lodet VandretLoophole Supplements, Lost and Profound, The Lost PrairieLucid-lyMiniclick Magazine & other publications, MJRNancy MitchellNewport UniversityKate Nolan, NP20, Off The PageONEGIANTARMPortrait SalonThe Private PressSarah EdmondsSchilt PublishingSource,STSQSwansea Metropolitan UniversityUmbrella Book CooperativeVelvetyne Type FoundryVignetteWassink/Lundgren,Cathryn Weatherhead and more TBA

 

Photo Copyright: Claire Kern & Dimitra Kountiou

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Photomarathon | 25 May

Photomarathon is a photographic competition with a twist. Over 12 hours, participants have to take 12 pictures on 12 different topics. The competition is open to anyone with passion for taking pictures – all that is required is a digital camera and plenty of imagination. With 400 competitors set to take part, the event will be a great celebration of creativity and inspiration as well as a unique opportunity to explore the city of Cardiff.

This year’s event was the ninth annual Photomarathon held in the capital city and took place on Saturday 25th May. All images taken on the day will feature in the Photomarathon exhibition to be held in June.

www.photomarathon.co.uk

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Dawn Woolley interview

Dawn Woolley talks about Wild Oats which brings together a group of artists who use food and the rituals of eating to comment on contemporary life, gender and commodity culture.

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Alicia Bruce – Encore

Alicia Bruce is an award winning Scottish photographer. She studied Photography, Film and Imaging at Edinburgh’s Napier University, graduating in 2006. Since then her work has focused on the collaborative nature of portraiture by exploring the relationship between the artist and the sitter. Her practice also explores environmental politics of space, territories and how this impacts on our heritage. Her most recent projects have involved communities, such as Menie: A portrait of a North East community in conflict, a humane story of a Scottish community whose homes were under threat as Trump International started work on what was claimed would be ‘The Greatest Golf Course in the World’.

In summer 2011 Bruce was commissioned to take up the first residency in Ffotogallery’s re-launched Valleys project in partnership with Blaenavon World Heritage Centre. She produced a significant body of work in collaboration with residents of Blaenavon. Alongside her work as a practicing photographer, Bruce teaches photography at various Scottish institutions. Recent exhibitions include The Scottish Parliament & The Royal Scottish Academy.

g39 - Barnraising and Bunkers

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Janeen Hunt-Humphries on Barnraising and Bunkers

Barnraising and Bunkers looks at our impulse for shelter and how we choose to build it. The exhibition features the work of seven artists who engage with architectural or physical structures through their own construction and our navigation within, around and through them.

Starting with Dan Griffiths, a skateboarder who documents his visions through a cluster of televisions on the floor, each with a tune of moving images from the skateboarder himself. Griffiths illustrates the urban sprawl, paths and journeys as we wouldn’t normally see them ourselves. This is contrasted by a more ‘solid’ and planned approach from artist Jonathan Powell, who’s paintings ‘When We Build Again’, show den-like structures that could well become derelict architecture of the future as areas decline and suffer the effects of climatic change.

Geraint Evans mixes themes such as the sublime with catastrophe, concentrating on sub-groups that live in poorer communities on the edge of society in contrast to the clean, ordered and consumerist values of the more fortunate. ‘Trolley’ re-creates a portable, hand-built, street trader’s stall, with mobile phone cases, printed slogans and folded umbrellas to illustrate bad weather/difficult times and changes in technology.

In the centre of the gallery, we are taken aback by Rich White’s sculpture ‘GBU-28 Deep Throat’, referring to the nickname given to a bomb known as the “bunker buster”, a needle-shaped torpedo used to break through reinforced concrete. White is known to alter existing architecture by responding to historical happenings in the areas he chooses. I particularly liked the way he incorporates waste-materials into his work. To me, the sculpture could also have served as a map of India, giving the work relevance beyond its immediate location.

Moving along to the back wall we find ‘Holy Precursor’ by Uriel Orlow. This film is set in and around a Kurdish village built on the site of an Armenian monastery destroyed by the Turkish Military during the 1960s as part of a campaign to erase all Armenian cultural heritage in Turkey. The village was rebuilt using stones from the monastery and Orlow shows women harvesting new flowers, perhaps suggesting new hope.

Angharad Pearce Jones specialises in large-scale, multi-media installations, incorporating satirical enquiries into social trends and gender roles in the workplace. In this exhibition she has proven her exceptional skills with ‘This Way Please’, an interactive mix of metalwork and gates. Her constructed pathways are disturbed by a series of barriers and turnstiles, preventing a straightforward passage through the work. However, there is a protective element to the structures, which also resemble a children’s playground.

We then find a series of glass cabinets filled by artists Abigail Reynolds and Richard Powell. Reynolds merges found images of architecture and landmarks taken by different photographers at different points n time to create 3D montages, linking the past and the present. Richard Powell, on the other hand, concentrates on the photographic image in his series ‘Desire Lines’. He documents the paths that we create when we walk from a to b, illustrating where the paths go and their linkage with the destination. The urban themed pathways leading to areas of unused land seem to be recurring in his work.

Barnraising and Bunkers is on show at g39 until 29th June – it is well worth a look!

Janeen Hunt-Humphries

 

Barnraising and Bunkers
8 – 29 June 2013
g39

This essay is available as a downloadable PDF here.

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Angie Dutton on Kirsty Mackay’s The Pop Up Portrait Studio

In an age of the ephemeral digital image Kirsty Mackay is asking us to re-evaluate portrait photography, reinstating it as something to treasure. Kirsty aims to capture the images of 100 people, stopping them in Cardiff ‘s streets at her Pop Up Portrait Studio to create an archive of life in Cardiff in May 2013.

I met Kirsty as she looked out for suitable subjects in Roath. Kirsty asks her subjects not to smile for the camera but to look serious. The notion of smiling for the camera was introduced by Kodak when they launched the Box Brownie, which helped democratise the taking of pictures and meant that many more people could experience being photographed and seeing their own image. She explained that a more serious expression requires deeper consideration by the viewer, a longer look at the image to think about what sitter may be thinking – a more complex process than the simple recognition of a smile, of happiness, synthetic or otherwise.

Kirsty works with film and then develops the prints, which are then added to the exhibition at The Cardiff Story so prompting us to appreciate the technical skill and effort of creating a photograph. Today most photographs are taken on a phone or digital camera and are never printed out. They remain on a hard drive until that computer becomes obsolete and the images lost.

This approach encourages us to think more about the value of a portrait photograph. Their presence in an exhibition makes them special. Those who have had their portraits taken can come to the exhibition and claim them. This effort also adds to their status again giving them a value greater than that of a pal’s snap seen briefly on a phone.

Kirsty would love her subjects to keep their portraits, not necessarily to frame and display but to rediscover ten years on. The photo will then take on a new role – that of a reminder of a windy day in Cardiff, of being stopped in a street by a professional photographer. It will also be a reminder of who you were and how you looked a decade ago. This function of the photo as a tool for time travel struck me as poignant when I later visited the exhibition of pictures taken the previous weekend. Boys on the edge of manhood, a young woman sporting statement red lipstick, kids dressed in their tribal styles, a dapper professional type and many more. What will the future hold for them? What will they look back on when they find their photo again?

Having undertaken a similar project in Bristol last year Kirsty would also like to replicate the project in future years and in other towns and cities to build a record of different people in different places look across time. Kirsty and her Pop Up Studio therefore do make us think again about the function and value of the photograph while also nudging us to appreciate the role of the professional photographer.

 

Angie Dutton

Kirsty Mackay’s Pop Up Portrait Studio

Sat 4 & Sun 5 May
The Cardiff Story, The Hayes

Sat 11 & Sun 12 May
Milkwood Gallery, Roath

The essay is available as a downloadable PDF here.
Image copyright: Kirsty Mackay 2013

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Peter Fraser’s Desert Island Pics | Photoworks at Ffotogallery

Which eight photographs would Peter Fraser take to a desert island?

Fresh from a Tate St Ives’ retrospective of his thirty-year career, Peter Fraser discussed his choices with Stephen Bull (Photography Course Leader, University for the Creative Arts) in a format that loosely follows Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs.

Best known for photographs examining the strange beauty of everyday found materials, Peter Fraser lives and works in South East London. He was born in Cardiff in 1953 and graduated in photography from Manchester Polytechnic in 1976; emerging alongside other “new British colourists” Martin Parr, Paul Graham and Anna Fox et al. In 1984 Fraser spent some time working in Memphis with William Eggleston. His first book, Two Blue Buckets, published in 1988 won the Bill Brandt award and is now seen as a handbook for a photographic school that expanded the range of accepted serious photographic subjects. His latest book A City in the Mind was published by Steidl/Brancolini Grimaldi in 2012.
Peter’s students have included Wolfgang Tilmans and Jeremy Millar.

In 2002 The Photographers’ Gallery showed a survey of his work and in 2004 he was shortlisted for the Citibank Photography Prize (now Deutsche Börse) for work exhibited in 2003 at the first Brighton Photo Biennial. A major commission for Ffotogallery resulted in the 2010 exhibition Lost For Words.

This event is part of an ongoing series of Photoworks talks. Other Desert Island Pics participants include Anna Fox, Sean O’Hagan, Martin Parr and Brian Griffin.

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Platform 3 with Bridget Crone | Laura Sorvala Sketchnotes

We have commissioned artist Laura Sorvala to create visual documentation of our platform debates, which are a series of free evening events, each dedicated to one of the Platform themes and led by prominent artists and thinkers. Click here to view a full screen PDF of Laura’s sketchnotes.

The third debate “We will evolve to be photographed” took place at Fire Island on 22 May and was led by curator Bridget Crone.

Visit Platform to find out about our upcoming events and to vote and comment on the provocations.

 

Image Copyright: Laura Sorvala

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Platform 3 | Bridget Crone | 22 May

Speaker: Bridget Crone

A series of free evening events will be held in the city, each dedicated to one of the Platform themes and led by prominent artists and thinkers. There will be space for discussion and reflection in an informal setting.

PLENTY PROJECTS is the organisational structure of Bridget Crone – a curator with 15 years experience working in the UK, Australia and internationally, Bridget’s practice is typified by the commissioning of new work from artists working in an expanded way across performance, film and video, and sound. Bridget currently convenes the monthly experimental film and discussion programme, The Film Exercise, at the Arnolfini, Bristol. Committed to encouraging critical enquiry and debate, Bridget has continued to prioritise teaching as part of her curatorial practice. Currently she teaches a third year, BA Special Subject “The Curatorial” in the Department of Visual Cultures, Goldsmiths, University of London and on the MA, Curating Programme at the University of Essex.

www.plentyprojects.org

 

Photo Copyright: Kirill Smolyakov

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The Time Machine Activity Pack | Download

Aimed at families and young people, the Diffusion Workbooks have been designed to promote understanding of and participation with the artworks. These packs are a mix of questions and activities that invite the users to consider their response to the exhibitions through their own words and images.

Download the workbook

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Ariane Parry on Peter Bobby’s High-rise

Throughout Diffusion Festival there’s a sense of consciousness about time, with artists such as Elin Høyland and Alicia Bruce exploring traditions and customs as they fade and change. High-rise takes a different approach, exploring a relatively new trend in architecture and leading us to question how modernity can feel just as unexpected, distant and even uncomfortable as the outdated and old-fashioned.

The buildings depicted here are someone’s idea of cutting edge and represent a certain value of contemporaneity. But the necessity for comfort softens them, lessens the extent that they can really make themselves distinctive. There’s a sense of placelessness, made most explicit in an image which shows an explosion on a news channel within a high rise building, in sharp contrast to the serenity of the city outside. Questions are raised about how we use media to connect with, or shut ourselves off from our surroundings, especially when that media is so densely layered. Does High-rise direct our attention towards an unpicking of these ideas of location, encouraging us to extract different ideas of place from images filled with self-effacing signifiers; or do we read these buildings as a plane of their own, a new kind of space?

Bobby’s works are sympathetic to that desire for comfort and familiarity. The viewer is put in the position of traveller or tourist and surveying the exhibition feels not unlike browsing through a catalogue. One image in particular shows a toilet at the top of one of these developments, surrounded by glass. It’s one way of confronting the notions of fantasy and luxury that these buildings perhaps endorse, combining aspiration and profanity with an Alan-Partridge-esque sense of humour.

The cities surrounding each building have an enormous presence in each image and while the sense of isolation, distance and urban disaffection is immediate, longer examination of the photographs encourages a creeping sense of vertigo. Extending a city upwards is very different from extending it outwards and the two are contrasted here with a keen eye towards the connotations of class and wealth that accompany such ambitions.

The secular cleanliness of these buildings omits the spiritual baggage often associated with ideas of ascension and rising: angels, church spires that reach towards heaven, the tower of Babel. Some kind of spirituality is restored (or perhaps remembered) in the photographs of the same buildings taken at night from outdoors. They’re lit like constellations or halos imitating the shapes of buildings. When High-rise doesn’t invite us in, it locks us out and leaves us to try and comprehend our own constructions. The sky is no longer a place inhabited by far away spirits and gods, we’ve successfully colonised it but under conditions that still attract attention and awe.

At the centre of the exhibition is the video work Curtain, which shows a curtain drawing across a window in one of these buildings, closing it off from the city outside. It’s a motion representative of photography itself, slow enough and on a sufficiently large scale that we’re led to consider the mechanical process of taking a picture, the autonomous work of a camera. Curtain seems to respond to the challenges of scale in photography, and may leave us asking if our twenty-first century self-consciousness about the size of the world really benefits our ability to see it.

Ariane Parry

 

Peter Bobby: High-rise
1 – 27 May 2013
Tramshed

 

This essay is available as a downloadable PDF here.
Photo Copyright: Blind, installation Image I, 2010 © Peter Bobby
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Camper Obscura Participants by Fotonow

Camper Obscura is an interactive visual experience via a camera obscura in a VW camper van. This mobile photo experience travels around the country, appearing in schools, festivals and events offering photography workshops. An estimated 15,000 people have jumped on board the Camper Obscura since its very first appearance, making for a very busy and sociable experience of photography. Above is a slideshow of the Cardiff participants during the Diffusion Festival.

 

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Image Noise with Nation Radio | Porters | 17 May

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Elin Høyland Walk and Talk | 17 May

‘Walk and talk’ around The Brothers with artist Elin Høyland on Fri 17 May 2013 at the Norwegian Church. The exhibition continues until 25 May.

Photo Copyright: Paddy Faulkner

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Nic Finch on Platform 1 | Everyone is a photographer now

18 May 2013 Fire Island

‘Platform’ is a series of events taking place throughout the Diffusion festival with a view to explore issues facing photography today. Platform 1 looked at the idea ‘Everyone is a photographer now’, focusing on work by Associated Press photojournalist, Matt Dunham. Below is an extract of Nic Finch’s response to the discussion. The full article is available here.

It feels as though everyone is obsessed with taking pictures these days. We feverishly document all that is in front of us, often without a conceptual filter. Everyone with a mobile phone has a camera in their pocket, and are therefore potential photographers, but that does that make us more aware, discerning and capable of taking outstanding pictures?

Iconic images, such as Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima, by Joe Rosenthal or Phan Thi Kim Phuc that stick in our collective memory because they encapsulate a particular, defining moment in time. Such photographs are taken because somebody with the right equipment and know-how was in the right place at the right time; so by rights – the sheer number of extra eyes on the ground in the guise of the phone wielding public today means we should all be taking photographs that make the news.

So what makes ‘official’ photographers and their photographs of an event so special? Is it the access to areas that only a ‘photographers’ pass can get? Is it professional training, artistic ability, or just plain luck?

In the case of Matt Dunham’s photograph of Charles and Camilla fleeing student protests, Matt claims he was essentially lucky and had his wits about him. He had seen what looked like a royal car coming his way so prepared himself to be as close as possible. Indeed those around him were also brandishing cameras, but few of them were looking for a shot to encapsulate the tension of the scenario with the added bite of showing the protest from the perspective of the privileged.

Being in the right place at the right time with a particular intent and professional eye is what bagged the image. Of course working for AP may have helped get it published in the papers the next day.

What then of ‘citizen journalists’ that are touted as the great news media democtratiser?

There are incidents when mainstream press haven’t been the first to deliver breaking stories. In the case of the recent Boston marathon, most official photographers had left the main race area to download their pictures when they heard the blast. The rolling news and the next day’s front pages used images of the blast captured by opportune members of the public. However, it was photographs from determined photojournalists prepared to flaunt police lines in order to get pictures showing emergency services at work, intimate portraits of the injured and in shock that provided a more human view of the aftermath of the incident. Many of us live life through a screen and many of us incessantly record what happens in front of us with no goal or objective. In terms of archiving modern living as a documentation of events, it seems we are all potential photographers, but it’s the few key images taken that can tell a story beyond face value that become powerful signifiers of event and iconic images in their own right.

 

Nic Finch

 

Platform 1: “Everyone is a photographer now” with Matt Dunham
18 May 2013
Fire Island

This essay is available as a downloadable PDF here.

Image Copyright: Nic Finch, 2013

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Peter Bobby Interview

The turn of the century brought a renewed interest and confidence in constructing high-rise developments in a large majority of the world’s major cities. It has become the corporate building type for an increasingly global industry and architecture. High-rise examines the sociopolitical, architectural and visual discourse surrounding these constructions using a combination of both interior and exterior still and moving imagery. Through a number of differing strategies, the work critiques these environments, questions their relationship to the city below, addresses ideas of representation and spectatorship, and explores the discourse surrounding notions of power within the contemporary urban landscape.

A Ffotogallery project in partnership with the Architecture Centre, Bristol and the Royal National Theatre, London. Supported by Arts Council England, eCPR (The European Centre for Photographic Research) and the University of Wales, Newport.

The exhibition is showing 1 – 27 May 2013 at Tramshed.

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Peter Fraser | Desert Island Pics | 18 May

Which eight photographs would Peter Fraser take to a desert island?

Fresh from a Tate St Ives’ retrospective of his thirty-year career, Peter Fraser discussed his choices with Stephen Bull (Photography Course Leader, University for the Creative Arts) in a format that loosely follows Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs.

 

Photo Copyright: Briony Oates & Daniel Florea

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Tramshed Exhibition Activity Pack | Download

Aimed at families and young people, the Diffusion Workbooks have been designed to promote understanding of and participation with the artworks. These packs are a mix of questions and activities that invite the users to consider their response to the exhibitions through their own words and images.

Download the Workbook

Brødrene

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Alexander Norton on Elin Høyland’s The Brothers

Sat in each others pockets

The closeness of family can create bonds beyond a form of relationship, friendship and love; it can never break although it might bend. That connection can be tested, crumpled, but always goes back to its original shape. Elin Høyland’s The Brothers shows precisely this closeness between family, and between the most interwoven of them all, the relation of siblings. They never detract too far from each other, never leaving a complete eye line from each other – their faces bearing the same eyes, ears and hairline, wearing the same jumpers, doing similar things. They are remote from any other individuals, spending time in each other’s pockets. Their every action carries a trace of resemblance, a sense of mimicking actions, but with the same conscious thought. People in sync, thinking the same, but details change from each person. As people they may do the same things, they may look and act the same, but small details vary, the way one may stand, wear a coat or jumper, may look at things and may place things.

They are close beyond what close can comprehend, their relationship gentle, subtle, quiet. Their very existence seems to rely on the other; no breath is caught without the other. Their spaces intimate, duplicated with a mirroring that suggests a whole hearted caring. They swap positions from left to right, right to left, walking around the same backyard for what feels like decades, but they do not age, although their bodies are worn. We are left with the underlying fact that we all die, and will leave our close ones momentarily. As we are shown the stark reality of two individuals reliant on each other, comprehending how one will live without the other. There is one pair of binoculars on the right, accompanied by a man, not a brother anymore. Although their beautiful relation lives on, the physical manifestation of their contact appears at the end of its journey, leaving an ultimatum for the individual left. Left staring at the bed of another he shared his life with. The space they share becomes empty, as life catches up with them, leaving their room empty.

After the initial parting, the other falls with grace, feeling a gentle sensation of acceptance, they will sit in each other’s pockets once again.

By Alexander Norton

Elin Høyland The Brothers
1 – 25 May 2013
Norwegian Church Arts Centre

This essay is available as a downloadable PDF here.

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Platform 2 with Shaun Featherstone | Laura Sorvala Sketchnotes

We have commissioned artist Laura Sorvala to create visual documentation of our platform debates, which are a series of free evening events, each dedicated to one of the Platform themes and led by prominent artists and thinkers. Click here to view a full screen PDF of Laura’s sketchnotes.

The second debate “The artist is not responsible to anyone” took place at Fire Island on 15 May and was led by Shaun Featherstone.

Visit Platform to find out about our upcoming events and to vote and comment on the provocations.

 

Related links:
Shaun Featherstone
Laura Sorvala

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Platform 2 | Shaun Featherstone | 15 May

Our second Platform debate “The artist is not responsible to anyone” took place at Fire Island on 15 May and was led by Shaun Featherstone.

Visit Platform to find out about our upcoming events and to vote and comment on the provocations.

Photo Copyright: Laura Nott

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Kirsty Mackay’s Pop Up Studio Portraits

Sat 4 & Sun 5 May
The Cardiff Story, The Hayes

Sat 11 & Sun 12 May
Milkwood Gallery, Roath

The Pop Up Portrait Studio is a mobile, outdoor photography studio, offering everyone a free portrait session. The studio popped up alongside the Diffusion venues in Cardiff and you can see all 110 portraits that Kirsty has taken above. Participants can also pick up their free print at The Cardiff Story where the work is being displayed as a temporary exhibition.

“It is much more than a photo booth. I photograph everyone that comes along. I love being surprised when someone that I might not have thought of photographing, stands in front of my camera, and all of a sudden I see something in them. If I can then capture that – I can make a good portrait.”

kirstymackay.wordpress.com

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Florence Jillett on Peter Bobby’s High-rise

The first thing that sprung to mind when looking at the Index of Interiors in Peter Bobby’s High-rise was American Psycho (Bret Easton Ellis, 1991). Everything was so crisp and clean and über-chic. But underneath is a coldness, a desperation, an ominous feeling of doom. If rooms could kill, these ones would.

In the interior shots we visit a wide range of rooms, Health Clubs, Bars, Gentlemen’s Clubs, a TV studio, and a Hotel Pool, but these rooms aren’t the basic rooms we know and love are they? We are looking at the prime example of Interior Architecture. What people aspire to and dream about. The fact that one of the rooms is the 22nd Floor, Presidential Suite says it all. A room designed with the most powerful man in the world in mind is the height of our collective ambitions.

One image captivated me. 10th Floor, Hospital Pool made me feel that it was full of vanity and seemed to be reflecting the insecurity of its inhabitants. This was admittedly when I thought it was a spa pool. When I found out it was a hospital pool I suddenly felt the image was more sympathetic than ominous, but for Peter Bobby this was the opposite. The Interior shots have a ghostly, desolate feel to them. On the one hand they are works of art, on the other they are motionless, cold. Is a room a room when there’s no one in it?

As for the video pieces, there is a calming atmosphere in all of them. There’s something soothing about watching a blind/curtain open and shut. With the window video work there is the issue of whether the fact you can’t see through the window (either through the fact of there being curtains/blinds or rain) affects the essence of what a window is. A window is a portal to another world, and the video work links to the interior shots (all featuring windows), especially 53rd Floor, TV Studio which features not only the ubiquitous windows, but a TV screen, both of which are portals to worlds outside of us.

Can not seeing through a window change what it means to us? Does it still work? The work feels to me in this case to be solely about the windows and not the world outside.

The final work is a series of dark exterior shots of buildings. Windows and rooves lit up against a foreboding black background. The height of these buildings, though cropped, is very apparent, the affect intimidating.

 

Florence Jillett

 

Peter Bobby: High-rise
1 – 27 May 2013
Tramshed

 

This essay is available as a downloadable PDF here.

Photo Copyright: High-rise (23rd, Bar), 2007 © Peter Bobby

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Tea and Cake Tuesday | Milkwood Gallery | 14 May

Dawn Woolley, curator and exhibiting artist in Wild Oats welcomed visitors to the exhibition with tea and cake. Diffusion staff and volunteers were on hand throughout the day to guide visitors through the artists’ work.

 

Photo Copyright: Paddy Faulkner

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David Boultbee BREAD interview

David Boultbee talks about ffotohive, a participatory project commissioned for Diffusion.

You can join in with this participatory photography project and contribute to six online collages of Cardiff. Throughout May photographs can be taken at six designated sites known as ‘hives’ around the city – you can tweet your photo or upload it here. Your submitted photograph will become part of this ever-changing digital artwork. 

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Gideon Koppel Interview

B O R T H is a film installation by the artist Gideon Koppel. It was filmed in the wild west Wales town of Borth – a curious and extraordinary place where the infinite horizon of the sea collides with a bricolage of architectures; where epic landscape is playfully juxtaposed with the intimacy of human gesture.

Following on from Koppel’s feature-length film sleep furiously – one of the most critically acclaimed British films of 2009 – B O R T H travels along the blurred borders between documentary and fiction, to create a powerful dream-like and sensory world.

B O R T H is showing 1 – 31 May 2013 at Chapter Stiwdio.

 

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Alexander Norton on Gideon Koppel’s B O R T H

We’ll be charged, although our faces may appear tired

We are walking sideways, never deterring our sight from the buildings, as we hear the sea’s vocal performance, as subtle as background noise in a lift. Birds make their cry, metal clashes as boats rattle by the wind’s action. We move slowly, slightly, grandly as music sweeps us up like the sea may attempt. Each house the same as the next. Leisure patios, facing the sea, the kind of place you can close your eyes, and imagine the ripple of waves, our consciousness entirely sparse, with nothing entering the space. Wind becomes turmoil, as blue quivers from nature’s action. No sign of anyone, not anyone, no one, just the remnants of day-to-day life. We judder through, smoothly but haphazardly, repeating the same mistakes as we venture left. Objects continuously dancing in the wind, always, always. Nature’s inhabitants surround the desertion, scatting around like the jumble of clothes pegs waiting to carry out their purpose, but nothing appears to need their services here.

Dogs bark, continuously as the sea looks to drown out its call, where is everyone, where have we all gone?

Wind mimics the actions of humans on a chair on the porch, willing action along when nothing inhabits. Every house the same, every house the same, spiraling around in a continuous venture left, never stopping like the constant memories playing around in loop, like an area stuck in a continuous moment of calm panic. It’s lovely. Cars continue along the road, people do live here; they are entering if not directly inhabiting it. The quietest part of the day, where no one sleeps, but the day is resting.

As a house I sit here for hours, with no interruption as I close my eyes, listening to the sea. This is my rest, as I reflect on my worn lives. We are sleeping until we are needed, until our inhabitants come home to use us, and we’ll be charged, although our faces may appear tired. As the weather may tear us down, our spirit will live on in the preservation of memory, from our inhabitants and their actions within our walls. We have bared witness and protected, and our bodies can no longer shelter others.

Our song will play, as the sun rises making us look dashing, making us beautiful relics. Deconstructing as the clouds make their advancements. Our days are not glorious, but treacherous, our existence not always pleasant. Our bodies will eventually perish and collapse, to be replaced. As threatening sunshine makes us fear the worst, knowing our days are few, our years are minimal, our existence is not permanent.

The sprit will live on through the fresh paint and new builds; we will share with them our memories, to inform them of their role and duty as the town will continue its life with them, and not us.

They have returned, for our use, to repair us, to rebuild us, powerless we are, reliant on their actions to freshen our faces, for they made us, maintain us, and can destroy us.

 

Alexander Norton

 

Gideon Koppel: B O R T H
1 – 31 May 2013
Chapter Stiwdio

 

This essay is available as a downloadable PDF here.

Photo Copyright: B O R T H, 2012 © Gideon Koppel

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Rory Duckhouse on From common differences

What set of characteristics define a locality or place? Or can they be identified? The photographers in From common differences attempt to address these notions, asking questions about place, identity and the notion of locality.

The notion of “place” is a malleable concept, ingrained with history, identity and narrative. Our own shifting idea of the “local” can be defined in relation to the individual’s immediate location in time and place, with both a connection and relative disconnection to the space in which they exist.

Peter Finnemore and Timothy Nordhoff offer two differing versions of Wales, steeped in history and industry. Finnemore’s Photographs 1990 re-examines the artist’s own archive of images he took of post-industrial Welsh landscapes, whilst Nordhoff’s Combustible presents a document of a surviving industry, an open-cast mine in Tairgwaith. Both series present a view of industrial Wales but from different perspectives; Finnemore’s images are rooted in the past whereas Nordhoff’s industrial portrait shows the present, away from nostalgic viewpoints.

Ryan Moule’s series of images Latent Frequencies addresses the impermanence of space. Moule photographed empty spaces on the East Coast of England that are succumbing to the inevitability of the erosion of the cliffs on which their foundations lie. Occupants have moved out, only surfaces remain. The unfixed images begin to fade over the course of the exhibition, a poignant reminder of the buildings’ fate.

Humberto Gattica’s torn and ruptured images point towards a layering of time, exploring themes of family, loss, and memory. As a Chilean exile, Gattica’s locality is split between his locality in Swansea, and the lost Chilean landscape of his youth. His images speak of displacement, the layering of torn images fragment and distort memory.

Inger Brigitte Ritchenberg presents I wish you could be here to see me now, projecting her grandfather’s family photographs in their original location creating a layering of time. Exploring the narrative and memory of a place and it’s particular familiar nuances.

Both Richenberg and Gattica look to the past and its effect on their present and future. The spaces addressed are embedded with memory and personal memory. Both photographers’ sense of place, living in Swansea, away from their original nationalities becomes important when viewed through the context of their respective works, a sense of personal belonging embeds itself within the images.

The bird is a reoccurring theme in the exhibition, appearing in Hamish Gane’s Borias as a silhouette on a window, in Eva Bartussek’s The Minutes as a flock takes flights and also in Lasma Poisa’s Parliament as a large crow looms over the figure in the frame. The bird is a transitory animal, defying a locality and often shifting from place to place, surveying the scene from multiple vantage points. In this way, the bird acts as a metaphor for the photographer, on the periphery, always moving views, always looking.

“No matter how close a photograph comes to the space it records, the interaction between photographer and the space always resembles the act of scratching on a solid surface.”

The photographers do not attempt to define locality, but to scratch on the surface, and ask questions of what it might be. Each photographer explores these themes shaped through personal reflections and interactions in an attempt to reveal something about the problematic definitions of place, identity, and locality.

Rory Duckhouse

 

From common differences
1 – 31 May 2013
St David’s Hall

 

This essay is available as a downloadable PDF here.

Photo Copyright: Combustible, 2012 © Timothy-Nordhoff

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Mike Tooby’s At the Mad Shepherdess | Chapter | 12 May

The Art in the Bar programme at Chapter – and Diffusion Festival – prompted curator Mike Tooby to think again about Édouard Manet’s famous painting Un Bar aux Folies-Bergère (1882).  The picture shows the reflection of a mysterious man meeting – or not – the gaze of a woman serving drinks. This encounter – and Manet’s interest in photography and modern life – also inspired Jeff Wall’s iconic photographic work Picture for Women (1979) – at the time, an ambitious attempt to relate the artistic and spectatorial demands of the late 1970s to modernist pictorial art.

At this event audiences were invited to ask the question: “What do I ever know about a worker behind a bar?” and can participate by buying a drink at the opening; or by reconstructing the scene represented through the camera lens.

Mike Tooby is a curator with a career in major venues and museums. He developed Tate St Ives in the 1990s, and led the redisplay of art at National Museum Cardiff, which was completed in 2011. His recent work includes small-scale projects with collaborators, often in their own homes or work settings, low key and occasionally light hearted.

 

 

Photo Copyright: Nigel Pugh

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Embroidery & iphoneography Workshops | 11 May

Artist Spike Dennis taught participants to make an embroidered photographic artwork, inspired by Maurizio Anzeri’s embroidered ‘photo sculptures’ showing in Chapter Gallery.

At g39, photographer Warren Orchard showed participants how to get the best pictures using their mobile phone camera, how to get the most from apps such as Instagram and PS Express, and how to edit, share and tag their mobile phone photos. Here are participant Dai Howell’s thoughts from the day:

“I used to think Instagram was photography paint by numbers and I know a lot of people who think it’s killing the art of photography (…) but now I quite like Instagram and all these apps. It’s opening photography up to a wider audience that normally wouldn’t have the chance to and it could be a “gateway” device that gets more people interested in non phone photography which is brill. I don’t really believe in the digital revolution of photography. I think this is just what photography does (…) as technology develops so does photography, maybe we got caught up on 35mm for slightly too long but in many ways, all these apps, digital cameras, new tech etc is just what photography does.”


Photo Copyright: Laura Nott

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Camper Obscura | 11 May

Camper Obscura is an interactive visual experience via a camera obscura in a VW camper van. This mobile photo experience travels around the country, appearing in schools, festivals and events offering photography workshops. An estimated 15,000 people have jumped on board the Camper Obscura since its very first appearance, making for a very busy and sociable experience of photography.

 

Photo Copyright: Daniel Florea

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Food is Love | Dawn Woolley Talk | 10 May

Reflecting on the Wild Oats exhibition and current research, Dawn Woolley takes the audience on a journey through food, culture and everything…

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Recording of Platform 1 Debate with Matt Dunham | 8 May

A series of free evening discussions each dedicated to one of our Platform themes and led by prominent artists and thinkers. The first debate “Everyone is a Photographer Now” took place at Fire Island on 8 May and was led by Associated Press Photographer Matt Dunham.
Visit Platform to find out about our upcoming events and to vote and comment on the provocations.

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Platform 1 | Matt Dunham | 8 May

Our first debate “Everyone is a Photographer Now” took place at Fire Island on 8 May and was led by Associated Press Photographer Matt Dunham.
Visit Platform to find out about our upcoming events and to vote and comment on the provocations.

 

Photo Copyright: Kirill Smolyakov

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Platform 1 with Matt Dunham | Laura Sorvala Sketchnotes

We have commissioned artist Laura Sorvala to create visual documentation of our platform debates, which are a series of free evening events, each dedicated to one of the Platform themes and led by prominent artists and thinkers. Click here to view a full screen PDF of Laura’s sketchnotes.

The first debate “Everyone is a Photographer Now” took place at Fire Island on 8 May and was led by Associated Press Photographer Matt Dunham.

Visit Platform to find out about our upcoming events and to vote and comment on the provocations.

 

Related links:
Matt Dunham
Laura Sorvala

Photosymposium

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Jen Pearce on Diffusion’s Photobook Symposium

Chaired by Christiane Monarchi, Editor of Photomonitor, the symposium included contributions from artists and publishers / producers. Debate covered shifts in publishing as practice, the mechanisms of production and distribution, and photobook exhibition.

Melinda Gibson took the frequently set text The Photograph as Contemporary Art (Charlotte Cotton, 2009) and its contribution to the canonisation of certain photographs as the subject of her book project.

Text sections and images chosen from the book were faithfully reproduced on stickers. She then individually constructed the interior of the bound books.

This expensive and time-consuming solution came from collaboration with a designer. Edition numbers were not used; each book is signed and dated by the artist.

Edgar Martins suggested books give artistic projects a goal and through the process the goal acquires purpose.

With a history of successfully applying for funding, a time-consuming yet enabling task, he also approached publishers. To produce Black Holes and Other Inconsistencies he sent several mock-ups and project overviews. He then chose the publishing house that supported the project both monetarily and ideologically.

Another project examining an old industrial building, led to a book using details of the scientific instruments and cork walls in the design. The clock shaped dials conveying The Time Machine of the title. This was made as a limited edition that sold out leading to a run-on edition and eventually a collector’s edition.

Thijs groot Wassink, is one half of WassinkLundgren. Thijs described the book Empty Bottles, a series of photographs showing modern China juxtaposed with bottle collectors.

An attractive quality of producing a book of images is the control of the viewing context. To maintain this, he chose to have complete pages framed for the project’s exhibition.

Thijs suggested that choosing a designer is like choosing the best tool for the job. Designers that speak the language of the selected printing house are a real asset.

Thijs wryly stated that the only way to produce a pure artist book is to self-publish and to give the books away, but that this was not a way to sustain publishing.

Harry Hardie co-founder of HERE Press likened his organisation to a music industry research and development department of a record label.

HERE press covers are distinctive text based designs; due in part to image only covers not selling on the web. Belying the covers, their interior narratives unfold in pictorial form.

William Sadowski spoke about the exhibition series Photobookshow, these are a snapshot of what is available in the photobook publishing sector.

‘Photobookshow A,’ received 200 submissions for exhibition, now they deliver large international shows.

Their online presence offers video walkthroughs of the donated books via Vimeo.

Emmanuelle Waeckerle, spoke about the bookRoom press at UCA. It is equipped to make books using traditional and modern methods and is open to all.
bookRoom has a growing collection of ‘bookworks’ by recent graduates, cluster members, visiting artists and other contributors. UCA has made these accessible via the online catalogue using their “turn the page” technology.

Rodrigo Orrantia, works at Lucid-ly, producing photographic shows including ‘Contemporary Photobooks’ with works by Martin Parr, Sipke Visser and Melinda Gibson.

He discussed how with online vanity publishing open to all and advances in e-books that artist books are only part of a dynamic landscape.

Success of art books then comes from open collaboration with book designers, printers and photographers.

Jen Pearce

 

Image copyright: Dimitra Kountiou

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Alexander Norton on Maurizio Anzeri’s But it’s not late it’s only dark

Consumed within thread

Thread is integral to the work on show in Chapter. I remember a talk by Maurizio Anzeri four years ago when photographs and stitch were first combined, and there appears to have been advancements on this idea. Using found imagery, facial features are smothered by the craft of thread, physically marked in a gentle action provoking life back into the photograph. These become sculpted into physical objects, creating a form of life lifted from the frame, looking at peoples’ heads, their human qualities through the photographic process, but consumed with markings on a more physical level. Continuously trapped, with no invitation to escape. This experience does not feel negative; it feels like a creative progression on the already sleeping people that have become objects through their life living in a photograph. The static quality of the archived photograph becomes transformed into an empty sheet of paper to create history once again, starting from an elevated position.

It is not just people, but objects and spaces that form a detailed reflection on living. Spaces transformed into contraptions of a repetitive nature, relentless in their consistency. As a yearning for escape to nature through the imagery of the sea, blocked by the constructions we live under, the four walls we rely on to survive.

Everything is there to see, but we cannot see it. It is hovering between craft and the finding of images, as open-ended as the sea’s limits. As scale becomes taller, the thread consumes everything, creating an incomprehensible task to escape from the physicality of things.

Although, the subjects depicted are not trapped, but merely entwined within the complexities of living, dying and existing, always, within a frame.

 

Alexander Norton

 

Maurizio Anzeri: But it’s not late it’s only dark
1 May – 30 June 2013
Chapter

 

This essay is available as a downloadable PDF here

Photo Copyright: Portrait Purple, 2012, Embroidery on photo, Maurizio-Anzeri

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Helen Matthews on The Valleys Re-Presented

The Valleys Re-presented is a major exhibition of works that brings together contemporary, historical and vernacular photography of the South Wales’ Valleys. Photographer and Valleys resident, Helen Matthews, gives a personal response to the work and reflections of the area’s communities and histories.

I chose to write about The Valleys Re-presented because it evoked feelings of my youth; having grown up a child of the 70’s in the Valleys, I can identify with a lot of the photographic images.

The Valleys project covers such a great diverse and captivating range of subjects, from the demise of the mining communities, infrastructure and the industrialised landscapes to the wild flamboyant film by Jeremy Deller. I found this film So many ways to hurt you, the life and times of Adrian Street, enthralling, entertaining and completely bizarre.

I knew absolutely nothing about Adrian Street prior to this film and it brought both laughter and intrigue; I just could not stop watching it. A must see film piece!

The Valleys Re-presented photography exhibition is superbly displayed in the disused Victorian building built in 1902 called the Tramshed. The environment for the display couldn’t have been more perfect with the backdrop of disused industrial images, machinery and the mechanical atmosphere. The photographic images blend well with the abandoned feeling of the building. Pieces of time mixed with wonderful sentiments.

The photographic images evoke Valleys life as it was, communities living in a changing time, the social conditions of mining neighbourhoods and the impact of the pit closures depicted through the beautiful stark black & white images.

I particularly like Paul Reas’ photographic works depicting the new industries set up in the Valleys after the demise of mining. The witty signage in several of his images compels you to think about the changing situations these families faced at the time – new factories, new opportunities and new challenges.

But saving my favourite until last, David Bailey’s contrasting images of the Welsh urban landscape produce a dark and brooding sense of the area’s history. Living in the Rhondda Valley, I recognise the locations reflected in these images, which capture not only the immediate environments, but also an awareness and appreciation of the surroundings. The intensity of the images is almost a reminder of time stood still. The Rhondda area doesn’t look much different today, and unfortunately, the signs of poverty, deterioration and abandoned sites are still a big part of community life. I wonder if David Bailey would also think this is the case.

A fantastic historical exhibition from photographers David Bailey, Mike Berry, John Davies, Peter Fraser, Ron McCormick, Francesca Odell, Paul Reas, Roger Tiley, William Tsui.

 

Helen Matthews

The Valleys Re-Presented

1- 31 May 2013

The Tramshed

 

This essay is available as a downloadable PDF here.

Photograph: Sidings, Mountain Ash, from The Valleys Project, 1985 © Peter Fraser

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Ariane Parry on Alicia Bruce’s Encore

Encore is an ideal exhibition for the format of the Diffusion Festival, with themes of performance, community and inter-generational connections slotting neatly into the venue of the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama. A short walk down the corridor from the exhibition offers a glimpse of the creative world of the students in the form of stage costumes, paintings and posters for plays, refusing a clear boundary between the practice of Bruce, her subjects and the college.

The exhibition consists of two sets of portraits, both of musicians and both taken during Bruce’s residency in the town of Blanaevon. The teenage musicians have been photographed in a pose imitative of the James Ward painting A Young Man (1851). Is Bruce using a younger art form to look backwards, or bringing ideas from the past forward? Should we consider her borrowing of this image an act of inspiration or adaptation?

Encore resembles Bruce’s work on the residents of Menie Estate in its examination of a community’s way of life through a framework of referencing older works. The use of A Young Man as a mould raises questions about authorship and originality in her choice of form, although in the clear, bright faces of the Blaenavon musicians there’s a strong sense of who they are, and of Bruce’s ability and affection for the community.

There’s perhaps a sense of cynicism in Encore about the very idea of representing a community like Blanaevon through portraiture. By referring back to the same painting in each portrait the question is raised of whether identities, locations and cultures are compromised by photographic representations, and we’re led to consider the limits of the medium’s representative capabilities.

But the artificiality of this technique is mostly used to celebratory effect, allowing the subjects to display their love of performance in a manner that works in a visual medium, and picks this out as a cohesive theme crossing generations and responding to history.

As her subjects imitate A Young Man, Bruce accompanies them in imitation of James Ward. This sense of empathy between artists working in different mediums is one of many exciting themes throughout the festival that encourage audiences to reconsider the mutable boundaries of photography. It is an accessible approach to this question and as May goes on, it’ll be great to see these ideas debated on Twitter and Facebook.

For anyone especially interested by Bruce’s reference to Ward, the exhibition is only a short walk away from National Museum Cardiff, which is just across the road and provides alternative historical contexts for enjoying Encore. I’d particularly recommend the exhibition ‘People, Personalities and Power: Faces from Wales 1800 – 2000’

 

Ariane Parry

Alicia Bruce: Encore

1 May – 29 May 2013

Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama

 

This essay is available as a downloadable PDF here.

Photo Copyright: Blaenavon Male Voice Choir (3), 2011 © Alicia Bruce

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Brady Knight on Holly Davey’s Nothing Is What It Is Because Everything Is What It Isn’t

Nothing Is What It Is Because Everything Is What It Isn’t is Holly Davey’s reflection on the human perceptibility of everyday spaces. A large photographic collage of distorted imagery of the stairwell leading up to the landing space in the National Museum Cardiff, placed in the landing space itself, Davey’s work disorientates viewers and challenges them to think differently about the types of spaces they see or occupy regularly.

Ascending to the second half of the contemporary art exhibition, the solid stairwell reforms into elusive, intangible suggestions of stairs in the form of Davey’s large-scale warped photographs, flowing around the space in front of you. The piece immediately invokes thoughts of M.C. Escher’s work, with the impossible physics of refracted stairways flowing in multiple directions.

It is easy to find one’s eyes tracing the journey up the two-dimensional, imagined stairs, walking straight before automatically clinging to the real architecture and turning as you reach the top, to avoid walking into the wall. In a kind of demonstration of the power or perhaps fragility of perception it creates a discontenting divorce between perceived and physical environments, achieved by an obliquely sensual aesthetic.

The cryptic title is an obvious reference to Alice in Wonderland, and straightaway the connection is clear. Mountainous, imposing imagery of warped stairways suggest an idea of change or transition, and the luring yet implausible cognition to continue climbing them straight up the wall, in some new, inaccessible dimension (much like Escher’s stairs), reflects tumbling down the proverbial rabbit-hole.

Arriving in the landing space, the imagery continues over the adjacent wall surrounding you, framing the entrance to the next area of the museum, before flowing ominously back down the opposite wall and stairwell in a very fluid, pleasing symmetry. One’s eyes scramble over the cluttered, disjointed imagery, searching for definition and solidity. The subtle, pure white structures of the venue entwine with the jagged, 2-D shapes and repeating patterns of the work in a juxtaposition of real walls and architecture, with perceivable or potential, but imagined areas. Alice in Wonderland’s ambitious theme of dreams or imagination becoming reality meanders comfortably in Davey’s work.

Holly Davey is a leading Welsh contemporary artist and uses performance and photography predominantly to explore our relationship with space, architecture and memory. It is clear to see these themes present in this piece. Davey interrogates the conventional function and experience of the stairwell, and encourages a greater appreciation or comprehension of the common and uncommon spatial environments around us. It is perhaps important to reflect on Davey’s work through what you recollect of it whilst no longer in its presence, as one’s understanding of it will be uniquely different.

The piece resides neatly in between the first and second floors of the contemporary art exhibition of the museum and provides an appropriate and effective transition through the distinctly themed artworks. On the lower floor, the exhibition is comprised of various paintings of small, seemingly sentimental objects or views, such as Paul Cezanne’s apples. The works invoke a feeling of intimacy and personal value with these objects. Vibrant, warmly coloured or homely artworks, such as Ken Elias’ friendly, childlike painting of the front of a house and David Hockney’s surreal living room interior adorn the next room. These works focus on living spaces and social, urban environments. Pertinently following this we are presented with Davey’s stairway, a common structure of these settings, leading us up in an appropriate transition to the next area. More vibrant, expressionistic paintings are exhibited here, this time characterised by visually disorientating linear or geometric shapes, in a similar vein to Davey’s work. Moving on through more abstract paintings we arrive at the final piece of the exhibition, Tim Davies’ Drift. A film triptych inspired by the artist’s experiences in Venice. The show is beautifully choreographed encapsulating the notion of personal, subjective experience, and Davey’s wonderfully perplexing piece sits centrally in the flow of this diverse theme. It is a fascinating and compelling show, intriguing and enlightening.

Brady Knight

 

Holly Davey: Nothing Is What It Is Because Everything Is What It Isn’t

9 March – 1 September 2013

National Museum Cardiff

 

This essay is available as a downloadable PDF here.

Photo Copyright: Nothing is what it is (detail), 2013 © Holly Davey

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Tea and Cake | Ffotogallery | 7 May

To welcome visitors to the new exhibition Edgar Martins: The Time Machine at Ffotogallery, staff and volunteers were on hand throughout the day to guide visitors through the artists’ work over tea and cake.
Photo Copyright: Tessa Salt

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Maurizio Anzeri Interview

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Surrealism, Food and Photography | Milkwood Gallery | 5 May

Taking inspiration from the Wild Oats exhibition, participants were invited to bring along food that they felt represented them in some way –  a fond memory, a favourite dish or a secret craving etc. Participants used the food to build weird and wonderful sculptures to photograph.

 

Photo Copyright: Dawn Woolley

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The Pop Up Portrait Studio

Photographer Kirsty Mackay was in Cardiff photographing people on The Hayes on 4 & 5 May. She will return to Cardiff on 11 & 12 May as her studio will be popping up on Albany Road in Roath. Go along and take part!

All the participants’ prints will be available at The Cardiff Story to collect. You can also follow @PopUp_Studio on Twitter.

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Embroidered Photography Activity Pack | Download

Aimed at families and young people, the Diffusion Workbooks have been designed to promote understanding of and participation with the artworks. These packs are a mix of questions and activities that invite the users to consider their response to the exhibitions through their own words and images.

Download the Workbook

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Stuart Anderson on Structures of Feeling | The Photographs of Geoff Charles

Between the 1930s and 1980s, Geoff Charles was an established photojournalist who contributed extensively to a variety of Welsh newspapers and magazines. Throughout the North and the Borders he documented the fabric of daily life as well as the traditions and modernisation of Wales. Stuart Anderson reflects on a selection of images from the National Library of Wales’ collection, curated by Peter Finnemore and Russell Roberts.

The photograph, as a medium of representation, is intrinsically linked to time. Not only in the application of exposures, frames per second or the other physical elements of the medium, but as a chronology. It is the most effective tool in our society for providing cultural continuity and historical recording within a visual medium. But the rigid immovability of the photograph as a document of what has been remains a double edge sword. The image is stationary and unchanging, all the while we, as individuals and communities move ever further away from the time in which they were made. Other less important or prominent images are destroyed, lost, or fade away. Gradually the people and places represented in the images become less and less familiar to those viewing them. Eventually, when enough time has past, we see nothing in them. Only anonymous faces and locations, all of which lack the appropriate context in which they were originally viewed. They become artefacts, and like archaeologists, it is our job to rediscover their once treasured importance. A selection of the work of Geoff Charles, re-presented in this new exhibition, highlights the need for us to continually return to images of the past. Not only to preserve them for the history of our society, but also to remind us of the shared experience of what it was to be a person in these fabled places and at these elusive times.

The way in which these ideas have been applied in this exhibition, curated by Peter Finnemore and Russell Roberts, is to remove the photographs from their natural chronological order and to reassemble them into groups. The groupings are made on a typological basis or upon similar events within the image. Each group is then given their own coloured wall to which they can exist separately without influence or reference to each other. By doing this, Finnemore and Roberts have allowed the images to take on a sense of personal experience, allowing them to be examined on a far more emotive level than the clinical nature of the historical archive would normally allow. We are presented with scenes of amateur dramatics and charity functions, cross dressing and druidic rituals, models of future development and museum pieces.

While in their reassessment of the work of Charles, the two curators have managed to pull a particularly interesting trick upon the viewer. We do not necessarily have direct knowledge of the people and places in these photographs, but by presenting them in this evocative and almost nostalgic manner, it has shown a near repetition of history. We see the beginnings of a consumer culture in the 1950’s and 1960’s, a culture in which today we see another, almost inevitable expansion. We see images of people planning new developments in the quest for modernisation, but many of the developments pictured are now ironically in line to be redeveloped and modernised for this century, revealing a pleasing cyclical nature to our culture, or perhaps their initial shortcomings. We are also shown a film regarding the flooding of the Tryweryn valley to provide a reservoir for the city of Liverpool, a symbol for other massive changes inflicted upon Wales by others. Changes that, perhaps in a more subtle way are still occurring.

The one thing that the new exhibition of these images have taught us, is that the recognition of a situation or of an emotional attachment is usually a far more powerful than the simple representation of what was before the camera at that time. We then no longer see anonymous individuals or groups. We see ourselves.

 

Stuart Anderson

 

Structures of Feeling: The Photographs of Geoff Charles
1 – 31 May 2013
Tramshed

 

This essay is available as a downloadable PDF here.

Photo Copyright: Geoff Charles, Ellesmere Carnival, 4th September 1955. Courtesy of National Library of Wales

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Barnraising and Bunkers Opening | g39 | 4 May

g39

8 May – 29 June 2013

Uriel Orlow, Abigail Reynolds, Angharad P Jones, Rich White, Dan Griffiths, Geraint Evans, Jonathan Powell, Richard Powell

The built environment, despite the desires of architects and planners, grows organically from the people that inhabit it. It is an ongoing dialogue and not fixed. The urban and the rural are often set up as polar opposites, the former synonymous with presence and the latter with absence. Asking the question ‘Where are we now?’, the exhibition looks at the human drive for shelter, and how we choose to build. Whereas Barnraising epitomises collective action and co-operation, bunkers suggest the opposite. Bunkers are shelters built for survival, excavated as opposed to built; they isolate and separate the individual from the world.

Barnraising and Bunkers puts together artists that engage or interact with architectural or physical structures, as well as those that work collectively to accomplish things greater than the abilities of the group. It is also a wider examination of those spaces that are flagship structures for art and contrasts them with the often isolated and separate means of their production, the studio.

 

Photo Copyright: Dimitra Kountiou

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Sebastian Liste Exhibition Opening | Third Floor Gallery | 4 May

Sebastian Liste

Urban Quilombo is a testimony of a place that no longer exists. Between 2009 and 2011, Sebastian Liste documented the community of Barreto, an abandoned chocolate factory in Salvador de Bahia, Brazil. From 2003, dozens of families occupied the factory and transformed it into a home. Until then, these families lived in the dangerous streets of the city. Tired of the violence and despair, they came together to seize the deserted factory. They created a microcosm in which the problems of drugs, prostitution and violence could be tackled with the support of the community. In March 2011, the government evicted the families from the factory, in one of many attempts to clean up the visible poverty in the centre of Brazil’s cities.

Sebastian Liste: Urban Quilombo

5 may – 23 June 2013

Third Floor Gallery

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Wild Oats Exhibition Opening | Milkwood Gallery | 4 May

Miina Hujala, Noemi McComber, Ellen Sampson, Dawn Woolley

Wild Oats brings together a group of artists who use food and the rituals of eating to comment on contemporary life, gender and commodity culture. Miina Hujala’s film Illallinen (The Dinner) explores the complex identification and idealisation processes that take place during courtship. In Prise d’assault (Under Assault) Noemi McComber addresses issues of overconsumption, and the handling of waste while depicting unrestrained violence in a performance of “soft stoning by way of food.” Dawn Woolley’s still life photographs and sculptures contemplate the gender distinctions upheld through commodity culture and the rituals of food consumption. Ellen Sampson and Dawn Woolley will collaborate to create a variety of small, edible sculptures which will be served to the public during the exhibition opening. Based on ideas of romance and desire the objects will offer a surreal take on everyday entrees.

Exhibition supported by Arts Council of Wales.

Wild Oats

4 – 18 May 2013

Milkwood Gallery

 

Photo Copyright: Claire Kern

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Rory Duckhouse on f&d cartiers’ Wait and See

f&d cartier’s work explores the alchemic processes of photography using cameraless techniques. Wait and See investigates the chemical process of photography using two fundamental materials, light and photo-sensitive paper.

Black and white photographic papers are exposed to light to begin the chromatic transformation of the paper. Different papers react differently due to their composition and produce an array of differing colour casts and hues.

Throughout the length of the exhibition, the prints undergo a subtle transformation as the play of light, space and interaction has an effect on the chemical process, and the viewer is asked to be patient and observe the continual process. The result is a documentation of the passing moment, as the colour aberration leaves a trace of this simplistic event.

The work deals with photography’s history, and the fundamental process of distilling a moment. Photography was changed when the modern chemical process was invented, and the ability to permanently fix the image became a possibility. f&d cartier reference this historical event throughout the work. The camera-less technique uses this chemical invention as a gesture to return back to basics and draw attention to the fundamental processes of exposing the paper to light which begins the reaction. The results question everyday life, intimacy and the passing of time.

The experiments began with a collection of the artists’ own expired papers, after which they started collecting through colleagues, friends and the internet to gather over 300 different varieties of fibre based papers, ranging in age from 1890s to 1980s. With advances in technology and the complexity of chemistry, each paper reacts differently and the results in colour vary from paper to paper.

A degree of chance is embraced in Wait and See, whilst installing the exhibition, an overlap between two papers created a silhouetted outline on the piece underneath creating a chance relationship between the two pieces. This chance gesture creates a relationship between the chemical and the traditional photographic process, with this accident acting as a rudimentary photogram. The artists test the papers before each exhibition to gauge what the results may be, but there is an unpredictability to the final results as a degree of variables can ultimately effect the final outcome.

The role of the artist comes into question with Wait and See, with the work dependent on the latent process of the paper stock, one might argue, what role did the artists have in creating the finished work? However the final outcome is completely predicated on the choices of the artists. The artists dictate every step in the process and installation of the work, from the sourcing to rigorous testing of the paper stock, the conceptual layout on the walls which is elaborately installed creating relationships between the paper stocks and their evolving colour casts, to the choice of lighting which effects the speed and outcome of the event. Past the point of installation, the artist is removed and the paper is left to evolve, however that evolution has been entirely crafted by the hands of f&d cartier.

Rory Duckhouse

 

f&d cartier: Wait and See
1 – 31 May
Oriel Canfas

 

This essay is available as a downloadable PDF here.

Photo Copyright: Wait and See, 2012 © f&d cartier

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Edgar Martins Exhibition Opening | Ffotogallery | 4 May

Edgar Martins

In 2010 and 2011, Martins gained exclusive access to 20 power plants located across Portugal. Many were built between the 1950s and 1970s, a time of hopeful prospects for rapid economic growth and social change. The Time Machine records objects and spaces whose grand and progressive designs testify to the scope and ambition of the vision they were built to serve.

Martins’ photographs recall science-fiction and in an unavoidable field of nostalgia, characterise a suspended time; that of the modern. In recovering a past of exciting technological innovation and optimistic belief in the future, The Time Machine speaks not just about the generation of power but also of dreams and technological utopias.

This exhibition was funded by Fundação EDP and the international tour is supported by The Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation (UK branch) Instituto Camões (Portugal).

 

Edgar Martins: The Time Machine

1 May – 7 June 2013

Ffotogallery

 

Photo Copyright: Dimitra Kountiou

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Tramshed Openings | 4 May

The Valleys Re-Presented

David Bailey, David Barnes, Mike Berry, Maurice Broomfield, Alicia Bruce, Paul Cabuts, Huw Davies, John Davies, Jeremy Deller, Sean Edwards, Peter Fraser, Bruce Gilden, Philip Jones Griffiths, David Hurn, Francesca Odell, Ron McCormick, Paul Reas, Zhao Renhui, Roger Tiley, William Tsui

An exhibition bringing together contemporary, historical and vernacular photography which has the south Wales’ Valleys and its communities as its subject. The Valleys Re-Presented examines different visual narratives and typologies and how the currency of images creates and sustains particular mythologies about people and place.

The exhibition includes new work by Zhao Renhui, Alicia Bruce, Huw Davies and David Barnes, alongside classic 1980s images by David Bailey, John Davies, Peter Fraser, Francesca Odell, Ron McCormick and others.

A Ffotogallery project.
Peter Bobby: High-rise

The turn of the century brought a renewed interest and confidence in constructing high-rise developments in a large majority of the world’s major cities. It has become the corporate building type for an increasingly global industry and architecture. High-rise examines the sociopolitical, architectural and visual discourse surrounding these constructions using a combination of both interior and exterior still and moving imagery. Through a number of differing strategies, the work critiques these environments, questions their relationship to the city below, addresses ideas of representation and spectatorship, and explores the discourse surrounding notions of power within the contemporary urban landscape.

A Ffotogallery project in partnership with the Architecture Centre, Bristol and the Royal National Theatre, London. Supported by Arts Council England, eCPR (The European Centre for Photographic Research) and the University of Wales, Newport.

 

Structures of Feeling: The Photographs of Geoff Charles

Curated by Peter Finnemore and Russell Roberts

Between the 1930s and 1980s, Geoff Charles was an established photojournalist whose contribution to a variety of Welsh newspapers and magazines was extensive. Throughout the North and the Borders he documented the fabric of daily life as well as the traditions and modernisation of Wales. Accidents, fashion, farming, Eisteddfodau, civic openings, industry, cars, travel, protest and war figure in what constitutes a dense visual encounter with place and history.

The exhibition draws on the collection of the National Library of Wales to create new frames of reference for Charles’ press photographs. Removed from their original context as half-tone illustrations and from the collection that usually defines them, these images with their shift in scale and presentation can still be very direct statements about the world but also mysterious fragments of it. Drawing on the work of Raymond Williams whose concept of ‘a structure of feeling’ was first used in 1954, the exhibition reinforces the power of photography to convey a similar definition of lived experience and the quality of life at a particular time and place. Consisting of large-scale prints along with projections and film, the exhibition also explores the importance of intervention within collections to ensure that they remain fluid and open to revision.

The exhibition is presented by Ffotogallery in association with the National Library of Wales.

 

The Valleys Re-Presented

1 – 31 May 2013

Peter Bobby: High-rise

1 – 27 May 2013

Structures of Feeling: The Photographs of Geoff Charles

1 – 31 May 2013

Tramshed 

 

Photo Copyright: Dimitra Kountiou

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European Chronicles Opening | The Cardiff Story | 4 May

Mindaugas Ažušilis, David Barnes, Tina Carr & Annemarie Schöne, John Duncan, Anna Kurpaska, Catrine Val, Artūras Valiauga 

European Chronicles puts forward a vision of contemporary Europe as experienced through photographic work reflecting various personal, family and community stories. This small selection of individual projects is drawn from the vast pool of diverse photographic talent that exists across Europe, currently under-represented at the major exhibiting and publishing centres in London, Paris and Berlin. The exhibition launches European Prospects, a two-year project examining the role of photography and digital media in developing and presenting an alternative iconography of Europe and European experience from the mosaic of photographic imagery being produced in the region today.

Elin Høyland – The Brothers is also presented at Norwegian Church Arts Centre as part of European Chronicles.

A Ffotogallery project funded by the European Cultural Foundation and European Commission.

 

European Chronicles

1 – 31 May 2013

The Cardiff Story

 

Photo Copyright: Dimitra Kountiou

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Debbie Savage on Tim Davies’ Drift

You don’t have to have visited Venice to construct an image of the city. Its architecture, canals and history have been well documented by artists and tourists alike, giving its unique topography a presumed familiarity and romantic quality that reaches far beyond the city limits. With this in mind, it seems fair to ask, is there anything new or unseen for an artist to bring to a city that has inspired countless reproductions and an impressive canon of works?

It is, perhaps, in response to the ubiquity of these mediated images that Tim Davies produced the three films in this exhibition; Drift, Farari and Capricci. Two of the pieces, Drift and Frari, were developed in Venice over a six-month period for the 54th Biennale in 2011, with the third being filmed for this exhibition in 2012. Rather than trying to further ‘represent’ the city, Davies carefully abstracts moments and spaces to create an intimate portrait of his experience of place. Identifiable landmarks are replaced by atmospheric and closely focused images that could relate to any city, yet are unmistakably routed in this city.

Drift shows a gentle and slow journey along the Venetian canals. As the artist’s hand gently skims the water, buildings are subtly reflected in its rippling surface. Capricci creates movement by blending a series of still images to add an enduring quality to the lapping of waves against a man-made shore, accompanied by the distant mechanical sounds of a working city. Whilst creating quite different impressions and experiences, both films produce a sense of time passing beyond the immediate moment, of the artist as an ultimate flaneur, literally drifting across the city and temporarily intersecting with parts of its narrative.

Frari, is shown in opposition to these works and creates a darker, claustrophobic and frantic vision of the city. Using images taken whilst running up the steps of a gothic church (the Basilica di Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari), the work lurches from light to dark as the sounds of the city, tourists and church bells becomes almost unbearable until we are finally forced out into a blinding white light. Here the immediacy of experience and narrative is more distinct, yet something about the flashes of light and the snatched glimpses of the building’s interior convey something of Venice’s history.

Indeed, the three pieces in this exhibition seem to quietly reference the long history of artists who have taken Venice as their inspiration. The flashes of light in Frari in part mirror the golden light in Monet’s San Girgio Maggiore by Twilight, the abstracted buildings in the rippled water are reminiscent of other works in the National Museum’s collection like Sickert’s The Rialto Bridge, Venice. This gives a sense of consistency to Davies’ work, linking it to Venice’s rich history of artistic practices, but delivering a particular kind of immediacy that can only be delivered through video works.

Through these subtle references to Venice’s artistic traditions, Davies’ work is firmly routed in the city, but its closely focused attention provokes a sense that he is skimming the surface of Venice and presenting a distinctive, personal experience unencumbered by the dominance of past images. Rather than documenting the city, Davies uses his position as an artist to gently disrupt assumed ideas and reflect on our relationship to place; our unique but impermanent experience of a city against the relative permanence of its light, its architecture, and the waters flowing through its canals.

Debbie Savage

 

Tim Davies: Drift

9 March – 26 May 2013

National Museum Cardiff

 

This essay is available as a downloadable PDF here.

Photo Copyright: Drift, 2011 © Tim Davies

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Jennifer Olsen on Artūras Valiauga (from European Chronicles)

In the exhibition European Chronicles, currently showing in The Cardiff Story, for me, the most unique to the exhibition was Artūras Valiauga’s series I Dropped in on Stepas, We Talked About Life. The images depict a mother and son living in rural Lithuania, who over the years covered the walls of their home with newspaper clippings, “Bringing the world into their home,” as Valiauga explained in his accompanying text. The result is a striking series of environmental portraits and still lives that seem to act as anthropological documents of Lithuania’s history.

Valiauga makes us wonder – what do these clippings pasted throughout their home represent? What is their importance? Rows of empty seed packets hang next to stoic portraits and beer advertisements, each item seems carefully chosen and placed on the wall. Are they hung merely as a visual aesthetic or do they represent something more? Are they an attempt to preserve a time in Lithuania that no longer exists? Whether symbolic or utilitarian, Valiauga’s images leave room for the viewer to decide.

When included in the frame, Valiauga chooses to obscure the subjects’ faces with slow shutter speed or cigarette smoke, forcing the viewer to focus on objects in the frame more so than people. His utilisation of mixed color temperatures, ambient light and daylight, combine as if Valiauga is working with a canvas. His images are reminiscent of post-modernist paintings. Echoes of Robert Rauschenberg’s Retroactivo II or Canyon – 3D objects merge with the paper on the wall, changing the relationship of the space. Food merges with the tablecloth, discarded newspapers seem to have jumped off of the wall. The rooms take on lives of their own.

Through Valiauga’s interpretation, a vision of rural Lithuana emerges. An ageing mother, a middle-aged son, the suggested absence of a younger generation. Layers of history brought in, keeping the outside world out. Perhaps through his photographs Valiauga is hinting at the direction rural Lithuania is headed toward today.

 

Jennifer Olsen

 

Artūras Valiauga from European Chronicles
1 – 31 May 2013
The Cardiff Story

 

Blog: jenophotoblog.net

Twitter: @jenophoto

Website: www.jenniferolsen.net
This essay is available as a downloadable PDF here.

Photo Copyright: From I dropped in on Stepas, we talked about life, 2002 © Artūras Valiauga

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The Photograph Symposium | National Museum Cardiff | 3 May

This one-day symposium explores questions around ‘The Photograph’ and the status and meaning of the photographic object in visual culture. The keynote speech by internationally renowned artist Richard Wentworth will be followed by three panel sessions:

—Create
 The conundrum of photography’s ambiguous place in contemporary art

Moderator: Mark Durden, Professor of Photography, University of Wales Newport

Speakers: Gideon Koppel (artist), Trine Søndergaard (artist), Daniel Blaufuks (artist)

—Curate
 New contexts for curating the contemporary photographic image

Moderator: Clare Grafik (Head of Exhibitions, The Photographer’s Gallery)

Speakers: Sue Steward (curator/critic), Deirdre MacKenna (Director, Stills), Greg Hobson (Curator of Photographs, National Media Museum)

—Collect
 Which way for the future of photography collecting?

Moderator: Christiane Monarchi (Editor, Photomonitor)

Speakers: Michael Hoppen (collector/gallerist), Jeffrey Boloten (Director, ArtInsight), Louise Shannon (Digital Curator, V&A), Chris Littlewood (Director, Flowers Gallery), Sebastien Montabonel (auction expert, Phillips de Pury&co)

 

Photo Copyright: Claire Kern

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Alexander Norton on Edgar Martins’ The Time Machine

Machine Time / Machine Space

Lines follow lines; components follow components, as if duplicated on a grand physical scale. A scale matched by the size of print, a trickery of scale, transforming spaces into each other. Buttons follow buttons, lines always matching, creating a perfect existence, an existence created by the accuracy of the maker, as if crafted with a ruler and pencil. The spaces create a sensation of emptiness, a scale beyond recognition, yet functional in its purpose. The space is built for humans, but machines have consumed everything, leaving us feeling completely useless. They’ve got it covered and we are no longer needed. It is a moment of escape mirrored by the small-scale window providing an eking of light, onto the grand hall. This touch is what makes the space for humans, as machines do not need it to function, but their caretakers do. We are given a miniature area of light outside the artificial bulbs. There is nothing human about this place; it is merely made for machines and for humans to uncomfortably survive in.

Machines develop human personalities through their exteriors, designed by human intervention. They become friendly, approachable, guarded and beautiful, yet all achieve the purpose they were built for. Everything constructed around a beautiful logic, matched by the logically beautiful frames they have been composed within. The recorder here suggests an awe of wonder at the strangeness of human creations and the need to decorate for our own sanity. Humans need to inhabit the space, to maintain and operate the machines. The space is made purely for machine purposes, yet must be designed for a human to cope with the inhumane nature of it all.

Yet ultimately these spaces are dated, in decor and technology. As if, as the title suggests, we have stepped into a time machine to time that already happened. And these spaces are permanently held within the camera’s frame, the printed picture and the published book. They are frozen in time, spaces that never evolve or change, but merely remain.

 

Alexander Norton

 

Edgar Martins: The Time Machine

1 – 31 May 2013

Ffotogallery

 

This essay is available as a downloadable PDF here.

Photo Copyright: Lindoso power station control room (frontal view), 2012 © Edgar Martins

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f&d cartier | Wait and See Timelapse

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Maurizio Anzeri Exhibition Opening & CAAPO Performance | Chapter | 3 May

Maurizio Anzeri: But it’s not late it’s only dark

Maurizio Anzeri’s first solo exhibition in Wales features newly commissioned and previously unseen works, alongside a selection of his critically acclaimed “photo-sculptural” pieces.

Anzeri uses found photographs and embroidery to create subtly sculptural pieces in which strangers are given new identities; complex and mysterious. Anzeri sees photographic portraits as landscapes, exploring them in order to layer them with his own maps or orientation to invent what he describes as “other possible evolutionary dimensions for the people pictured”. Labyrinths of forms and colours create intriguing geographies of faces, histories and souls with eyes that stare enigmatically from the centre of their ‘masks’. Alongside this established practice, Anzeri will show new works that utilise embroidery and personal photography to create imagined or psychological space; private reality that becomes public fantasy.

Anzeri’s interest in the sculptural form, the body and identity, gender and psychological boundaries also extends to a body of morphologic sculptural pieces that are made from synthetic hair. Taking inspiration from multiple sources – from Virginia Wolfe’s Mrs Dalloway to totemic cultures, 17th century Versailles and haute couture fashion – the installations involve the creation of a series of sculptures – each representing a different personality – that hover somewhere between theatre and fetish.

 

CAAPO Opening Night Event:  Dis(place)ment

CAAPO are interested in diffusing the idea of ‘candid’ private-view photography – and in a wider sense, the social phenomenon that is event photography – into our own subjective history by inverting the time- and site-specificity of the photographic act of documentation. Organisers of weddings, birthdays, conferences, touring events and night-clubs often employ photographers to attend and capture (usually for monetary exchange) ‘staged’ moments from the event. Props, backdrops and lighting are regularly used as a means to displace the subject; creating a false or enhanced reality. CAAPO are keen to manipulate this captured staging of a moment in time and place, specifically, to alter its relationship with the attempt to record a public event.

Maurizio Anzeri: But it’s not late it’s only dark

1 May – 30 June 2013

Chapter

Photo copyright: Claire Kern

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Alicia Bruce Exhibition Opening | RWCMD | 1 May

Alicia Bruce: Encore

Encore stages two complementary series of portraits of musicians in Blaenavon, a former mining town in the south Wales Valleys. Inspired by historic portraits in the National Museum Cardiff collection, Alicia Bruce’s photographs highlight the individuality of the sitters while retaining their identity as a collective. Both series were shot on stage in Blaenavon Workman’s Hall during Bruce’s residency as part of Ffotogallery’s recent Valleys commission. They depict distinct groups of performers from different generations who are tied together geographically and share a love of performance. By restaging compositions from celebrated paintings in the National Museum Cardiff, Bruce eloquently reconnects the Blaenavon musicians with a greater Welsh musical heritage.

A Ffotogallery project.

 

Alicia Bruce: Encore

1 – 29 May 2013

Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama 

Photo Copyright: Claire Kern

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Diffusion Festival Launch & From common differences Exhibition Opening | St David’s Hall | 1 May

From common differences

Eva Bartussek, Holly Davey, Paul Duerinckx, John Paul Evans, Peter Finnemore, Muriel Gallan, Hamish Gane, Humberto Gatica, Anna Kurpaska, Ryan Moule, Timothy Nordhoff, Richard Page, Lāsma Poiša, Inger Birgitte Richenberg

Exploring themes of locality, community and Otherness, From common differences asks oblique questions of the place of ‘the local’ within a broad network of contemporary cultural relationships. Bringing together established artists and emerging talents in the field, this exhibition presents new photographic work produced within Wales and further afield, to create a multi-perspective dialogue that challenges the capacity of journalistic and art practices to photograph and represent crucial issues of the 21st century. The project uses as its departure point, a recognition of issues regarding Swansea and Cardiff as neighbouring cities. The exhibition will examine important cultural regional questions of identity, locality and distinctiveness.

A partnership project between Swansea Metropolitan University and St David’s Hall.

 

From common differences

1 – 31 May 2013

St David’s Hall 

Photo Copyright: Claire Kern

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f&d cartier Exhibition Opening | Oriel Canfas | 1 May

A selection of photographs from our very first Diffusion exhibition opening. Wait and See is showing at Oriel Canfas until 31 May.

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Edgar Martins Interview

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Tramshed Installation

View the amazing Tramshed transformation in the lead up to the festival launch. Thank you to Niyaz Saghari who is also making a film about this amazing venue. You’ll be able to view it here later on in the month.

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Diffusion Festival Trailer

You can spot the festival trailer on the BBC screen on the Hayes. If you are on Twitter send us your picture to @_Diffusion

Motion Graphics: Garry Bartlett

Sound: Chris Young

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ffotohive installation photographs

A look behind the scenes of installing our participatory photography project

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f&d cartier installation photos | Oriel Canfas

Some behind the scenes impressions of the Cartiers at work.