Pieces of You considers photography as a process and vehicle to create ambiguous meaning, exploring how the images are presented rather than the visual. It is this that makes the exhibition so intriguing, as it explores photography’s construction through process and context, and how the viewer sees images making them conscious of the act of viewing. Pieces of You showcases six emerging artists: Peter Watkins, Stephen Iles, Nicola Dale, Phoebe Kiely, Sam Hutchinson and Thom Isom.
The exhibition begins with Peter Watkins’ The Unforgetting that considers shared family histories centralising on the artist’s loss of his mother. He investigates photography as evidence of a lived experience by mixing photographs with sentimental objects, exploring how these interact to form different narratives. He has constructed an internal space that the viewer has to navigate, and interact with the different works. The display oscillates between clear photographic representation and ambiguous objects allowing the construction of different meanings behind the pieces, drawing on the viewers own experience in addition to the presented information.
Isom explores this a stage further in his piece, which is a variable tactile publication that uses images of the different artists within the show, presented so the viewer can re-arrange and create new narratives themselves. He is interested in exploring visual experience and how the same imagery can have multiple layers and be reconfigured by the individual. Hutchinson also looks at how aesthetics can be re-contextualised and rearranged to create different ideas. He is interested in the screen and perspective as a constructed and unreal space that replicates something that is real, but like a photo has a disconnected vision, as it’s the depiction of a context not reality.
Kiely They were my Landscape is interested in experience rather than context, capturing the human presence in her work. She is working onsite throughout the exhibition in a dark room, in which she is constantly developing images and adding to her display within the gallery, questioning the gallery as a static existence. This also allows the hidden process of developing photographs to be revealed to viewers, so they have a shared experience of the work as it develops, which makes the exhibition so memorable.
Iles and Dale’s collaborative images consider the boundaries of photography, questioning the single perspective of a photo and its flat plane. They explore the internal space rather than content, making the camera more predominant as they reveal the dialogue within a space, rather than presenting a specific space. By making the viewer aware of internal space and the framing of imagery within photographs, it makes the viewer consider the process and construction of photography. This piece builds upon Sam’s construction of a reality but delivers a more informed dialogue between the constructed context and image, and the unreality of space within a photograph. It approaches photography as sculpture, encouraging viewers to consider the internal space rather than the presented space. It is this which makes the work so radical in its approach, and is the piece that pushes the boundaries of photography the furthest within the show.
Claire Walker is a writer based in Wigan
Open 2: Pieces of You, Open Eye Gallery, Liverpool,
15 April – 5 June 2016