Posts Tagged donovan wylie

Architecture of Conflict

Today, ST84Photo Blog is in sunny Bradford, for the Architecture of Conflict seminar being held at the National Media Museum.

As you can see from the seminar programme I’ve added below, there are some great speakers lined up. I’ve also pre-blogged this entry, so it’s probably also grim and raining, and not sunny at all. Which makes the (presumably) scintillating debate a welcome distraction from my shivering. Or something like that.

Depending on how it is going, I might currently be taking some notes on what is being discussed to post up here when I return to Liverpool.

Maybe.

11.00 – 11.15
Introduction by Brigitte Lardinois, Deputy Director photography and the Archive Research Centre, University of the Arts London

11.15 – 12.15
Donovan Wylie, Photographer
Introduction to show + In Conversation with Greg Hobson, Curator of Photographs

12.15 – 13.15
Lunch and opportunity for delegates to see show

13.15 – 13.45
Hilary Roberts, Head Curator Photograph Archive Imperial War Museum
Cecil Beaton’s use of structure and form in his work as a Ministry of Information official photographer during the Second World War.

13.45 – 14.15
Melanie Friend, Photographer
Melanie will be talking about her new project, The Home Front, which focuses on the marketing of war and the relationship between militarism and leisure.

14.15 – 14.45
Paul Lowe, Course Director, MA Photojournalism and Documentary Photography, London College of Communication
Paul will discuss how his work as a photographer in Bosnia and Palestine has explored the spatial and geographic aspects of conflict zones that much news photography ignores.

14.45 – 15.00
Break

15.00 – 15.30
Richard Daniels, Senior Archivist/Assistant Manager, University of the Arts London Archives and Special Collections Centre
Using material from the Stanley Kubrick Archive Richard will explore how Kubrick created Vietnam in an abandoned industrial estate in East London.

15.30 – 16.00
Jennifer Pollard, Senior Lecturer, History & Theory of Photojournalism & Documentary Photography, London College of Communication
The fallen ‘twin towers’ as central symbols within the photojournalistic convention of substituting bodies with buildings (or ‘cityscapes of flesh’) in the reportage of urban catastrophe.

16.00 – 16.30
Stephen Graham, Professor of Cities and Society, Newcastle University
Cities Under Siege: The New Military Urbanism Cities have become the new battleground of our increasingly urban world. From the slums of the global South to the wealthy financial centers of the West, this talk will trace how political violence now operates through the sites, spaces, infrastructures and symbols of the world’s rapidly expanding metropolitan areas.

16.30 – 17.00
Plenary

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Photo Conference: Architecture of Conflict

Will drop in links later, but I just got sent info on this and it looks like a seriously interesting conference. I’m hoping to go, will I see you there?

In collaboration with the London College of Communication the Architecture of Conflict seminar day will explore how photography has engaged with the militarisation of urban spaces. By bringing together practitioners, academics, and critics, the conference will examine how visual artists have depicted the often violent interaction between warfare and cities.

The Architecture of Conflict Conference and the Media and Conflict Interchange are both part of our Conflict Season, which will focus on the wider debate surrounding the representation of conflict in the visual arts and film.

Conference Programme

11.00 – 11.15
Introduction by Brigitte Lardinois, Deputy Director photography and the Archive Research Centre, University of the Arts London

11.15 – 12.15
Donovan Wylie, Photographer
Introduction to show + In Conversation with Greg Hobson, Curator of Photographs

12.15 – 13.15
Lunch and opportunity for delegates to see show

13.15 – 13.45
Hilary Roberts, Head Curator Photograph Archive Imperial War Museum
Cecil Beaton’s use of structure and form in his work as a Ministry of Information official photographer during the Second World War.

13.45 – 14.15
Melanie Friend, Photographer
Melanie will be speaking about her work which focuses on air shows and the militarisation of beaches and daily life.

14.15 – 14.45
Paul Lowe, Course Director, MA Photojournalism and Documentary Photography, London College of Communication
Paul will discuss how his work as a photographer in Bosnia and Palestine has explored the spatial and geographic aspects of conflict zones that much news photography ignores.

14.45 – 15.00
Break

15.00 – 15.30
Richard Daniels, Senior Archivist/Assistant Manager, University of the Arts London Archives and Special Collections Centre
Using material from the Stanley Kubrick Archive Richard will explore how Kubrick created Vietnam in an abandoned industrial estate in East London.

15.30 – 16.00
Jennifer Pollard, Senior Lecturer, History & Theory of Photojournalism & Documentary Photography, London College of Communication
The fallen ‘twin towers’ as central symbols within the photojournalistic convention of substituting bodies with buildings (or ‘cityscapes of flesh’) in the reportage of urban catastrophe.

16.00 – 16.30
Stephen Graham, Professor of Cities and Society, Newcastle University
Cities Under Siege: The New Military Urbanism Cities have become the new battleground of our increasingly urban world. From the slums of the global South to the wealthy financial centers of the West, this talk will trace how political violence now operates through the sites, spaces, infrastructures and symbols of the world’s rapidly expanding metropolitan areas.

16.30 – 17.00
Plenary

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Landscapes of Conflict – Part I

A couple of weeks ago, I was fortunate to be invited by Paul Lowe to attend a one-day seminar for LCC students at Liverpool’s CUC.

Why Liverpool for a London University event? Well, Paul Lowe and Harry Hardie have curated the group show, Collateral Damage for Look11. The show features conflict photography and seeks to offer a refreshingly different perspective to the repetition of ‘stock’ compositions that are heavily featured in photojournalism new pieces.

The show runs Tues-Sun, until 26th June 2011. Check it out while you can – my personal opinion is that it is one of the strongest exhibitions in the Look11 festival, and the curatorial aspects of the show really enhance the selection of images by contrasting the approaches of different photographers and positioning them so the different perspectives play off each other very strongly.

The day began with a tour of the show, and some time spent visiting some of the other Look11 exhibitions; some of the Lightbox work and the John Davies/Donovan Wylie Signs of War exhibition at Milk and Sugar. This was followed after lunch by talks from Paul Lowe (LCC), photographer Mishka Henner, and Dr. Jennifer Pollard (LCC), and a roundtable discussion that also included John Davies.

Collateral Damage features work by Simon Norfolk, Tim Hetherington, Zijah Gafic, Paul Lowe, Edmund Clark, Lisa Barnard, Ashley Gilbertson, Adam Broomberg and Olivier Chanarin, Brett Van Ort, Mishka Henner.

The exhibition is largely laid out across three ‘corridors’ where images from two photographers face each other. Brett Van Ort and Edmund Clark are paired together, both works dealing with “what exists but can’t be seen” – Brett’s work shows beautiful looking landscapes in frames which open to reveal coldly photographed product photography of the mines hidden in the landscape, while Edmund Clark’s work comprises photographs of letters sent to inmates at Guantanamo Bay. The photographs are of scanned copies of the letters, with text blacked out, as prisoners never received the actual letters themselves but the scanned copies. The photographs are the more poignant for this fact – the sense of distance the viewer feels is akin in kind to the detachment the inmate has from the actual letter sent, and often sent by a family member. Both works allude to dislocation between beauty hinted at (or proclaimed, in Brett’s work) and the dangers that aren’t at first apparent to the viewer, but ever present for those living in these spaces.

The next ‘corridor’ features work by Tim Hetherington (whose tragic death this blog wrote about here ) and by Lisa Barnard. A perhaps unintended consequence of this pairing is that, in light of Tim’s recent death in Libya, and the attendant discussion in the media and photojournalism forums of the psychological effects of warfare on both those who participate in it and those who document it, Lisa’s images depicting the psychological training and treatment of American troops takes on a further potency than it otherwise might have had. Tim’s work featured in this exhibition is early work, examining the graffiti in post-conflict zones, pointing to the territorial nature of disputes. These ghostly echoes of the causes and basis of war are powerful, both for their similarity in appearance to the markings left in all urban spaces, and for the link with Lisa’s work, namely that marks of war live on after the war has ended, both physically and psychologically. It makes the viewer question where the end of a war actually is.

The final corridor pairs Paul Lowe’s images of the wall separating Israel and Palestine, and Mishka Henner’s aerial google views of American military bases around the world (his 51 states). Each offering unique perspectives on the divisions of architecture, symbolic of the divisions between nation-states, these images carry a hypnotic weight through repetition of content and framing. There is a pervading sense here, as in other work featured in Collateral Damage, that this could be anywhere, and the absence of stereotypical or easy markers for locating the spaces depicted adds to the force of interrogation the viewer faces – by refusing to show whose backyard this is, it becomes everyone’s backyard. Interesting, then, that Lowe and Hardie feature Ashley Gilbertson’s Bedrooms of the Fallen along the side wall, printed in large-scale panoramic format (a powerful counter-point to the comparatively tiny panoramics of Lowe’s Wall), depicting bedrooms of American soldiers. Instigated after Ashley was working on assignment and witnessed the death of a soldier who had taken him to the top of a mosque for picture opportunities, the work is laden with emotional cues and is reminiscent of the Rimbaud poem, The Sideboard and Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s phenomenology (see also Gibson, Affordances, 1971) – objects are never merely objects but always exist in relation to us. In this case, the artefacts of youth where life has ended, there is an unsettling feeling created by looking at a bedroom that will never be slept in again. The relationships of attachment, entertainment, and utility that these objects once had in relation to their owners are now broken, and instead the whole room becomes a shrine for the family remembering their loss.

Next to Ashley’s work, and on the opposite wall, creating a pair crossing the walls of Van Ort and Clark, are two images by Simon Norfolk, from Full Spectrum Dominance: Missiles, Rockets, Satellites in America. Like Van Ort and Clark, there is a notion here of what can’t be seen – the missiles are created and transported in top secrecy, and the satellites are fired into space, where they can’t be seen, only their effects are tangible. Here, Norfolk photographs the single brief moment when they are visible, and spectacularly so, during their launch. That these two images are the only clear signs of the “shock and awe” of warfare in the exhibition reminds us of the link between the quieter images presented by the other photographers and the newspaper images we are all saturated with, but Norfolk does it in a conceptually intriguing manner; the viewer is reminded of the childhood (or childish? maybe) interest in war games for their spectacle, for the fireworks we celebrate with every November, for the sheer sense of display.

In all, Lowe and Hardie ought to be commended for producing an exhibition that explores a wide range of different dimensions to the effects of war, on the military involved, the people stuck in war zones, and the families of those lost in the name of supposedly noble causes. Henner’s work also shows how the military machine is everywhere, and inescapable in terms of distancing oneself geographically (and, by extension emotionally), the from the debate. The work presented is quiet but insistent in it’s interrogation of the viewer, and manages to ask questions without polemicising strongly one way or another. A fantastic exhibition, and extremely well delivered.

You can read Part II of this review here, where I get into the talks and discussions in the afternoon session of this event.

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