Last week the degree show season kicked off, starting with London College of Communication. We have handpicked a selection of photographic works from the BA (Hons) Photography & Photojournalism’ final exhibitions in case you were not able to make it down yourself. These artists are the future image makers and we are excited to show you some extraordinary pieces in Revolv’s highlights.
The traces and imprints inhabiting paper, alongside the touch and physicality are some of the strands of Sarah Isabelle Tan’s work Distance Between Us. In this multi-media installation, the artist dives into the obsession of longing, nostalgia and above all possessing all that is beyond reach. A confrontation within the photograph emerges – the proximity and distance, the real and remote are blurred and collide within this work. Tan gazes into the space between herself and the image – uncovering and posing rhetoric questions. Although the camera allows one to slice a second of time and preserve it, the photograph alongside the photographer and viewer are all stuck in the same limbo of never reaching the space photographed again. Sarah describes that through this work she has “realised how vastness can only be viewed from as far as one’s field of vision allows, but never in its entirety.’’ The artist is dragged to the impossibility of comprehending the immeasurable largeness of the world, thus creating a certain drive to preserve and archive its landscape. Although the darkroom processes allow a direct interaction, a contact between flesh and print – this does not shorten the gap between the photographer and the photograph. Once again betrayed by the medium, the artist is left with a desire of ownership and a lack of closure within these spaces.
Time is not always seen as linear, chronological or rational – there are places where it collapses, spills into a hundred pieces and joining it back together becomes an impossible feat. Due to the complex and condensed political past of Bosnia and Herzegovia – time has seemingly stopped being precise and narrow. Monika Orpik attempts to understand how the contemporary community of a post-communist, post-war country navigates around its past and present. The citizens describe the time before, during and after the Balkan Wars in the 90s as “the time of organised sacrifice”, “time before the end”, and “time of hope”. Orpik commenced to work on this project two years ago on her first trip to Bosnia and Herzegovina. She visited locations where executions happened during the war, only to discover the inexistent traces of the past, but still search for the memory hidden within the landscape. She also began working with archives – going through documents, reports, individuals’ testimonials and interviews with survivors in order to further understand the propaganda and reality of the recent past. Manual of Participation – encapsulates the stories of the Yugoslav War, the community of witnesses and the inherited memory.
Annie Hibberd’s project Hard Skin stems from her interest in sustainable fashion garments and evolves into her own interventions within the landscape near her family home. Cloth draped on cliffs, rocks and hills appear with an unusual type of a presence – unclear whether it is real or fictional. It inhales life into the landscape, dressed up and covered with a new skin, breathing beneath it and spilling itself onto the long threads of textile. As an activist against fast fashion and with the need to support sustainability within the environment, Hibberd uses her food and garden waste to create dyes to dye all the fabrics that are part of the series. The work is also accompanied by a handmade book, where multiple layers unfold through the subtle black and white landscapes and has different materials coming out of the pages. The unconventional format of the book reminds a bit of fashion sketchbook – the tests, textures and nonconformity, as if the artist has not solely draped the landscape, but has found the material blending with it. A part of Hibberd’s installations are also the rocks from these landscapes placed carefully on shelves, complemented by fabric falling on the floor of the space. Through this work, the artist leaves the viewer to wander in the spaces where the silk meets the sky, and the rocks merge with the material.
Code of Conduct is a long-term project by Jose Martinez, and the first part of it is The labour of our body and the work of our hands. To create his photographic installation, the photographer visited the region of Huelva, Spain numerous times – in particularly one strawberry plantation. Before finding himself within photography, Jose Martinez graduated as an agronomist and worked as a cultivation technician in the very same municipality. Returning years later, he began to photograph and talk to the workers about their journeys, work and living conditions. Interested in the ways capitalism and consumerism inform and shape people’s lives, Martinez began to construct a personal and a collective narrative of diaspora and struggle. Through his discoveries Perea quickly noticed that most of the workers there had migrated from either North Africa or Eastern Europe – he learnt about their motivations to leave their homes behind and live in plastic or cardboard shacks, he grew to understand their everyday activities and manual skills that they developed. With this work Jose Martinez reflects not only on this particular community, but also formulates a universal account of labour. He feels obligated to break the circle of silence between producers and consumers in which the buyer visiting large supermarkets has no knowledge of the entire production process and the shortcomings of this unsustainable system.
Walking into a completely obscure space, and being illuminated by black and white bodies accompanied by bizarre sounds is how the work of Alannah Louet materialised at the LCC degree show. Gazing at spiritual photography from the 19th and 20th century, but moving further from the medium, Louet began to explore performance and ritual in her practice. Ectoplasm on the Kitchen Floor includes an installation made of a large moving image projection, three films displayed on analogue monitors and a collection of doilies hand printed with light emulsion, whilst the performance revolves around the dominant ability of physic forces materialising into a spirit through the human body. Interested in the way the female body is regarded in relation to various stigmas, the artist purposefully uses a domestic object – the crochet doilies to create the performers’ costumes. In this piece, the artist is observing the female body in all its glory, not solely as ‘‘a passive vessel allowing a spirit to embody it but a body capable of encapsulation and a body leaking fluid unapologetically.’’
Being raised in the ruins of a totalitarian political system, in a society forever rewriting its history, Bayraym Bayryamali has always been on the search of his identity. With his Turkish origin and life in Bulgaria, the artist has only found more questions than answers. He was brought up with memories and trauma of his family, but without fully understanding them has led to inheriting them. During the 1980s the Revival Process in Bulgaria commenced – citizens from different ethnicities and cultures were violently forced to change their names to Bulgarian ones, displaced to Turkey and distant parts of the country or sent to prison and camps. In the past year, Bayryamali revisited his hometown, alongside villages and cities across Bulgaria to meet with victims of this process. Collecting numerous stories of the suffering and trauma has permitted him to learn the silenced history and past of communist Bulgaria. Recalling a memory from his childhood, when the artist learns of his own family’s experience of the displacement, violence and death is another of the starting points for this body of work. Staging scenes in the Bulgarian landscape using himself or his family, creates a space for portraying the reality of this violent past, without the censorship of the communist party or society. In his installation Bayryamali covers the images with nylon physically, constructing a further space where the viewer is invited to uncover this history and see beyond the known.
Follow Bayryam on Instagram.
A private look onto the lives of domestic workers at Lebanon is what the work of Manu Ferneini appears to be at first sight. Growing up in Lebanon with her family and Priya – their domestic worker, is something experienced by many people of Lebanon. A bigger Room refers not only to the spaces occupied by the workers inside of family homes, but also to their psychological presence and importance within the family unit. In many cases, the domestic workers migrating from Sri Lanka, Philippines and Ethiopia face violence, racism and inequality; they remain invisible in society and are seen as less. The photographer returned to her home in Beirut, and commenced working with Priya, who works and lives there for over 20 years. Originally migrating from Sri Lanka, Priya has followed Ferneini growing up, becoming an adult and leaving home, it has been an important figure in her life. Although she has always been a part of the family, the whole apparatus of domestic employment within the Lebanese simply does not simply allow this acknowledgement. The photographer uses images she created during her trips to hers and her grandmother’s houses, alongside archival family material to portray the individualities and lives of these women; while she also recreates the size of a room of a domestic worker on the floor part of her installation.
Learn more about Manu’s practice here.