The biggest ever issue
Brighton Photo Biennial 2012 Special.
Photoworks Issue documents and expands upon aspects of Brighton Photo Biennial 2012 Agents of Change: Photography and The Politics of Space, examining how space is constructed, controlled and contested; how photography is implicated in these processes and the tensions and possibilities this dialogue involves.
This issue spotlights each of the projects exhibited in BPP12 alongside newly commissioned writing and interviews giving a wider critical context. Contrubutors include academics photo-theorists, artists and activists - and a number straddling more than one of these fields. The magazine is intended, just as the Biennial, to provide a discursive and sometimes antagonistic space to forge new and provocative connections between practices and interests.
Folios from Hoppy Hopkins and Trevor Paglen are accompanied by texts from the artists themselves; Jason Larkin and Corinne Silva with text by T. J. Demos; Thomson & Craighead with text by Lorena Muñoz-Alonso; Lulu Ash with text by Matt Chittock and Preston is my Paris with text by Adam Murray.
Commentaries are offered from Iain Boal, Ben Burbridge, Alice Compton, Katie Davison, ETC Dee, Bradley Garrett and Mia Jancowicz.
Julian Germain, Patricia Azevedo and Murilo Godoy from the collective No Olho da Rua are interviewed by Mark Sealy; Liam Devlin interviews Ronnie Close; Eyal Weizman interviews Omer Fast and Celia Davies interviews Edmund Clark.
In keeping with Photoworks’ underlying philosophy as both agency and publisher, BPB12 sets out to address a wide and varied landscape of photographic practices, based on a series of dialogues:between instrumental and creative uses of photography; professional practices and ‘citizen’ imagery; grassroots activism and media spectacle; established names and recent finds. At its core lies a concern with photography both as a tool and a process: a means of understanding the world, and an active force in shaping it.
Our strapline—‘Agents of Change’—is taken from an article by Sandra Marie Nurse published in the journal Tidal in December 2011, as an effort to theoretically frame the Occupy Wall Street movement by some of its participants. It referred to the need to put one’s body on the line—to physically contest space— in order to bring about social and political change, proposing that rhetoric, conversation, concern may not be enough to bring about meaningful results. We want these concerns to encircle this edition of the BPB, and this issue of Photoworks, as a set of challenges or questions: pointing to the political possibilities of our project and also its many limitations. In the context of BPB12, ‘Agents of Change’ takes on a number of meanings.
It refers,firstly, to the forces that shape and control space under capitalism: from the processes of urbanisation to military occupation and surveillance. Secondly, it can refer to those who aim to resist these forces and contest space, from occupiers in Wall Street to Egyptian citizens in Tahrir Square to the Brighton squatters who turn empty buildings into social centres and art galleries. These are groups who aim to transform private or so-called ‘public’ space into a commons. In an age when photography has come to pervade many and unexpected corners of our lives, ‘Agents of Change’ can also refer to the image, prompting questions as to whether the current ubiquity of networked digital photographs reinforces the spectacular character of late-capitalist culture or contains new possibilities to unsettle this. Finally, and importantly, our title can refer to a number of projects and practices exhibited in this edition of the BPB, and to the artists producing work that has become increasingly overt in its politics. Here, we hope to probe at the relationships between art and activism, and consider what they might draw from one another.