—Introduction

A month long festival of exhibitions, discussions, screenings, performances, events and celebrations in both physical and virtual spaces and places.

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Peter Bobby Interview

The turn of the century brought a renewed interest and confidence in constructing high-rise developments in a large majority of the world’s major cities. It has become the corporate building type for an increasingly global industry and architecture. High-rise examines the sociopolitical, architectural and visual discourse surrounding these constructions using a combination of both interior and exterior still and moving imagery. Through a number of differing strategies, the work critiques these environments, questions their relationship to the city below, addresses ideas of representation and spectatorship, and explores the discourse surrounding notions of power within the contemporary urban landscape.

A Ffotogallery project in partnership with the Architecture Centre, Bristol and the Royal National Theatre, London. Supported by Arts Council England, eCPR (The European Centre for Photographic Research) and the University of Wales, Newport.

The exhibition is showing 1 – 27 May 2013 at Tramshed.

For more video content visit Remote Access.

g39 - Barnraising and Bunkers

+ - Various Artists:

Barnraising and Bunkers

g39

8 May – 29 June

Uriel Orlow, Abigail Reynolds, Angharad P Jones, Rich White, Dan Griffiths, Geraint Evans, Jonathan Powell, Richard Powell

The built environment, despite the desires of architects and planners, grows organically from the people that inhabit it. It is an ongoing dialogue and not fixed. The urban and the rural are often set up as polar opposites, the former synonymous with presence and the latter with absence. Asking the question ‘Where are we now?’, the exhibition looks at the human drive for shelter, and how we choose to build. Whereas Barnraising epitomises collective action and co-operation, bunkers suggest the opposite. Bunkers are shelters built for survival, excavated as opposed to built; they isolate and separate the individual from the world.

Barnraising and Bunkers puts together artists that engage or interact with architectural or physical structures, as well as those that work collectively to accomplish things greater than the abilities of the group. It is also a wider examination of those spaces that are flagship structures for art and contrasts them with the often isolated and separate means of their production, the studio.

 

Image: g39 – Barnraising and Bunkers

Wait-and-See,-2012-©-f&d-cartier2

+ - f&d cartier:

Wait and See

Oriel Canfas

1 May – 31 May

Wait and See places black and white photosensitive paper and light – two fundamentals of photography – at the centre of its process. Early photographic paper is exposed in the exhibition rooms and through a subtle interplay with space and light, the chromatic transformation of the paper begins. According to its composition and the nature of its contact with light, the paper develops random colour patterns over time. To perceive the progressive saturation of the paper, the spectator is asked to be patient and to remain still for a few moments in order to observe a latent process, the meaning of which derives from the very act of being seen.

A Ffotogallery project funded by Pro Helvetia (Swiss Arts Council), Swiss Cultural Fund in Britain and Swisslos Culture Canton de Berne.

 

Image: Wait and See, 2012 © f&d cartier

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Kirsty Mackay’s Pop Up Studio Portraits

Sat 4 & Sun 5 May
The Cardiff Story, The Hayes

Sat 11 & Sun 12 May
Milkwood Gallery, Roath

The Pop Up Portrait Studio is a mobile, outdoor photography studio, offering everyone a free portrait session. The studio popped up alongside the Diffusion venues in Cardiff and you can see all 110 portraits that Kirsty has taken above. Participants can also pick up their free print at Cardiff Story where the work is being displayed as a temporary exhibition.

“It is much more than a photo booth. I photograph everyone that comes along. I love being surprised when someone that I might not have thought of photographing, stands in front of my camera, and all of a sudden I see something in them. If I can then capture that – I can make a good portrait.”

kirstymackay.wordpress.com

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Edgar Martins Interview

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Platform 2 Visual Notes

We have commissioned artist Laura Sorvala to create visual documentation of our platform debates, which are a series of free evening events, each dedicated to one of the Platform themes and led by prominent artists and thinkers. Click Laura Sorvala Sketchnotes here to view a full screen PDF of Laura’s sketchnotes.

The second debate took place at Fire Island 15 May entitled “The artist is not responsible to anyone” and was led by Shaun Featherstone.

Visit Platform to find out about our upcoming events and to vote and comment on the provocations.

Holly Davey

+ - Holly Davey:

Nothing Is What It Is Because Everything Is What It Isn’t

National Museum Cardiff

9 March – 1 September

Nothing Is What It Is Because Everything Is What It Isn’t is a site-specific photographic installation exploring the stairwell and landing space in the Museum’s contemporary galleries. Holly Davey has photographed the space to create a digital collage in which the stairwell is reformed, repeated and replayed within the original architecture. This reimagining of the stairwell creates a feeling of disorientation, encouraging the viewer to question their experience and understanding of this functional, transitional space. Nothing Is What It Is… was commissioned by Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales following an open call for artist submissions in 2012.

The commission is supported by the Colwinston Charitable Trust.

 

Image: Nothing is what it is (detail), 2013 © Holly Davey

Peter Bobby - High Rise

+ - Peter Bobby:

High-rise

Tramshed

1 May – 27 May

The turn of the century brought a renewed interest and confidence in constructing high-rise developments in a large majority of the world’s major cities. It has become the corporate building type for an increasingly global industry and architecture. High-rise examines the sociopolitical, architectural and visual discourse surrounding these constructions using a combination of both interior and exterior still and moving imagery. Through a number of differing strategies, the work critiques these environments, questions their relationship to the city below, addresses ideas of representation and spectatorship, and explores the discourse surrounding notions of power within the contemporary urban landscape.

A Ffotogallery project in partnership with the Architecture Centre, Bristol and the Royal National Theatre, London. Supported by Arts Council England, eCPR (The European Centre for Photographic Research) and the University of Wales, Newport.

 

Image: High-rise (23rd, Bar), 2007 © Peter Bobby

650pxGeoff-Charles,-Ellesmere-Carnival,-4th-September,-1955.-Courtesy-of-National-Library-of-Wales

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Stuart Anderson on Structures of Feeling | The Photographs of Geoff Charles

Between the 1930s and 1980s, Geoff Charles was an established photojournalist who contributed extensively to a variety of Welsh newspapers and magazines. Throughout the North and the Borders he documented the fabric of daily life as well as the traditions and modernisation of Wales. Stuart Anderson reflects on a selection of images from the National Library of Wales’ collection, curated by Peter Finnemore and Russell Roberts.

The photograph, as a medium of representation, is intrinsically linked to time. Not only in the application of exposures, frames per second or the other physical elements of the medium, but as a chronology. It is the most effective tool in our society for providing cultural continuity and historical recording within a visual medium. But the rigid immovability of the photograph as a document of what has been remains a double edge sword. The image is stationary and unchanging, all the while we, as individuals and communities move ever further away from the time in which they were made. Other less important or prominent images are destroyed, lost, or fade away. Gradually the people and places represented in the images become less and less familiar to those viewing them. Eventually, when enough time has past, we see nothing in them. Only anonymous faces and locations, all of which lack the appropriate context in which they were originally viewed. They become artefacts, and like archaeologists, it is our job to rediscover their once treasured importance. A selection of the work of Geoff Charles, re-presented in this new exhibition, highlights the need for us to continually return to images of the past. Not only to preserve them for the history of our society, but also to remind us of the shared experience of what it was to be a person in these fabled places and at these elusive times.

The way in which these ideas have been applied in this exhibition, curated by Peter Finnemore and Russell Roberts, is to remove the photographs from their natural chronological order and to reassemble them into groups. The groupings are made on a typological basis or upon similar events within the image. Each group is then given their own coloured wall to which they can exist separately without influence or reference to each other. By doing this, Finnemore and Roberts have allowed the images to take on a sense of personal experience, allowing them to be examined on a far more emotive level than the clinical nature of the historical archive would normally allow. We are presented with scenes of amateur dramatics and charity functions, cross dressing and druidic rituals, models of future development and museum pieces.

While in their reassessment of the work of Charles, the two curators have managed to pull a particularly interesting trick upon the viewer. We do not necessarily have direct knowledge of the people and places in these photographs, but by presenting them in this evocative and almost nostalgic manner, it has shown a near repetition of history. We see the beginnings of a consumer culture in the 1950’s and 1960’s, a culture in which today we see another, almost inevitable expansion. We see images of people planning new developments in the quest for modernisation, but many of the developments pictured are now ironically in line to be redeveloped and modernised for this century, revealing a pleasing cyclical nature to our culture, or perhaps their initial shortcomings. We are also shown a film regarding the flooding of the Tryweryn valley to provide a reservoir for the city of Liverpool, a symbol for other massive changes inflicted upon Wales by others. Changes that, perhaps in a more subtle way are still occurring.

The one thing that the new exhibition of these images have taught us, is that the recognition of a situation or of an emotional attachment is usually a far more powerful than the simple representation of what was before the camera at that time. We then no longer see anonymous individuals or groups. We see ourselves.

 

Stuart Anderson

 

Structures of Feeling: The Photographs of Geoff Charles
1 – 31 May 2013
Tramshed

 

This essay is available as a downloadable PDF here.

Photo Copyright: Geoff Charles, Ellesmere Carnival, 4th September 1955. Courtesy of National Library of Wales

650px-Blaenavon-Male-Voice-Choir-(3),-2011-©-Alicia-Bruce-

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Ariane Parry on Alicia Bruce’s Encore

Encore is an ideal exhibition for the format of the Diffusion Festival, with themes of performance, community and inter-generational connections slotting neatly into the venue of the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama. A short walk down the corridor from the exhibition offers a glimpse of the creative world of the students in the form of stage costumes, paintings and posters for plays, refusing a clear boundary between the practice of Bruce, her subjects and the college.

The exhibition consists of two sets of portraits, both of musicians and both taken during Bruce’s residency in the town of Blanaevon. The teenage musicians have been photographed in a pose imitative of the James Ward painting A Young Man (1851). Is Bruce using a younger art form to look backwards, or bringing ideas from the past forward? Should we consider her borrowing of this image an act of inspiration or adaptation?

Encore resembles Bruce’s work on the residents of Menie Estate in its examination of a community’s way of life through a framework of referencing older works. The use of A Young Man as a mould raises questions about authorship and originality in her choice of form, although in the clear, bright faces of the Blaenavon musicians there’s a strong sense of who they are, and of Bruce’s ability and affection for the community.

There’s perhaps a sense of cynicism in Encore about the very idea of representing a community like Blanaevon through portraiture. By referring back to the same painting in each portrait the question is raised of whether identities, locations and cultures are compromised by photographic representations, and we’re led to consider the limits of the medium’s representative capabilities.

But the artificiality of this technique is mostly used to celebratory effect, allowing the subjects to display their love of performance in a manner that works in a visual medium, and picks this out as a cohesive theme crossing generations and responding to history.

As her subjects imitate A Young Man, Bruce accompanies them in imitation of James Ward. This sense of empathy between artists working in different mediums is one of many exciting themes throughout the festival that encourage audiences to reconsider the mutable boundaries of photography. It is an accessible approach to this question and as May goes on, it’ll be great to see these ideas debated on Twitter and Facebook.

For anyone especially interested by Bruce’s reference to Ward, the exhibition is only a short walk away from The National Museum and Art Gallery, which is just across the road and provides alternative historical contexts for enjoying Encore. I’d particularly recommend the exhibition ‘People, Personalities and Power: Faces from Wales 1800 – 2000’

 

Ariane Parry

 

Alicia Bruce: Encore

1 May – 29 May 2013

Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama

 

This essay is available as a downloadable PDF here.

Photo Copyright: Blaenavon Male Voice Choir (3), 2011, Alicia Bruce