Words, Patrick Kirk-Smith
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, photography courses don’t, on the whole, produce interesting artists. That’s why I’m so happy to be part of a city with Open Eye. A gallery that can source the best graduate, postgraduate, studying, and practicing photographers that this globe has to offer. Their shows always seems to catch you off guard, because there’s never just a picture, never just a film, never just an installation.
What Open Eye continue to show their visitors, is that photography is much more than a photograph, it is the ability to capture something. What they prove, repeatedly, is that the best photography is made by those who seek to explore their own existence, and the reasoned existence of their careers.
These are bold words, but take the current installation (and I emphasise current as it will be gone by Monday 11th July – so hurry) at Car Park Space on Duke Street (just to the right of the covered car park), where there are eight photographs. In an installation by seven artists of seven works, where only three of them even contain a photograph.
Moving image and captured experience are the focus here, or as the artists put it “the personal becomes staged – in moments of reflection, online and through art. [We] present stories and re-enactments, artworks and fables.” So yes, this is basically just normal art that covers all of this captured emotion most of the time, depending on the artist of course, but the difference is the crucial part. The difference is, that these guys aren’t practiced in the story, they’re practiced in the presentation. And it shows, while wandering the relatively small space, every installation offers an incredibly well told narrative. The exhibition draws you in and spits you out like only a photograph can.
But the most effective parts have little or nothing to do with a photograph. The part that drew me in instantly was a work made up of muffled audio and snippets of abstract text in the centre of the room. The work, by Iris Brember, reminded me of a work by Will Rose, where he showed an audience, in a Leeds cinema, films relating to their seats, and general lumbar support. It was uncomfortable but self-aware. The same thing seemed to happen reading the text half way down the column talking about my pulse.
I read and read and read, listening to something not far from white noise, and felt everything that piece of text suggested. So this exhibition didn’t just capture a moment, it suggested one. In my Biennial-worn state I was suggestive enough to feel it work.
That’s why Open Eye does what it does, to remind us that a photograph is a moment; a captured narrative. And in collaboration with these postgraduate students from the Royal College of Art they have presented one of the most unique Fringe events you’re likely to see this Biennial – unfortunately it’s only four days long, and today is day two.