The Tapestry: Positions of Power, Disparity Collective
Words, Joanie Magill
Pictures, courtesy of the artists at Disparity Collective
Seven divergent perspectives explore and challenge the theme of power in a group exhibition by Disparity Collective.
The temporary gallery on the second floor of The Tapestry, provides an appropriate space for an exploration of the theme of power. Before you enter the building, you have to sign a disclaimer. The Tapestry is in the midst of renovation as it is converted from an industrial building into a new mixed use creative space; parts of it are a building site. Your notions of personal power are already being subverted – you have given some away before you reach the gallery space.
Immediately entering the space, you are met by a large format portrait by Claire Griffiths, one of two pieces of her series Passage. The photograph floats, suspended from the iron joists above. A shaven headed man, stands beside a pool table, one hand resting on the green baize. The image is posed, formal. Griffiths’ work re-examines traditional portraiture and its customary function of representing wealth, power, celebrity. Against the backdrop of Blackpool and its associations with social problems, Griffiths’ portraits celebrate non-traditional power.
The exhibition space is stripped right back to a basic shell – exposed walls, bare floorboards not yet treated. The high ceilings and large windows allowing light to flood in and create a sense of space and openness around the work allowing it to breathe. Mark Hobbs series Big Stick, dominates the width of the gallery space, suspended from the ceiling like a series of flags, separating one area of the gallery from the other. Each large format photograph presents a portrait of a child, holding a big stick, confronting the camera, playing with notions of power and hierarchy from a pre-teen perspective.
Football fan Abbie Jennings’ photographs of are of objects traditionally associated with football but pink and presented in Barbie-esque pink frames which line part of the back wall of the gallery. Her work is a direct response to Sussex FA’s attempt to increase female participation in football by leaning heavily on gender stereotypes and adopting pink merchandise. Do You Even Like Football challenges perceptions of women and football and highlights the use of gender stereotypes.
The theme of power runs through the photographic practice of each of the artists. Through seven individual and personal perspectives, Positions of Power questions the nature of power – personal, political, sexual, spiritual. It has the ability to engage at an emotional level challenging the idea of what power represents and to who.
The exhibition is a hit and run taster of the collective’s practice which has emerged from their involvement in Redeye’s Lighthouse project, an intensive year-long project aimed to launch the careers of professional photographers. In this five day exhibition, the photographers offer a preview of work they plan to show at the Independents Biennial in July. Watch this space.