Among the many projects and events now exploring the relations between art, space and politics, the following caught my eye:
The Brighton Photo Biennial starts next week under the title Agents of Change: Photography and the Politics of Space (link here). In addressing themes of space/power/politics, this year’s event builds upon some of the themes from the excellent 2008 BPB, Memory of Fire: The War of Images and Images of War. Lots of interesting exhibitions (featuring work by Trevor Paglen, Omer Fast and Thomson and Craighead among others) and panels, with a key theme being accessing and imaging contested and restricted spaces.
Second, Simon Norfolk will be talking at the Whitechapel Gallery in East London in November (link here) as part of photomonth on ‘land as battlefield and the inscription of memory and metaphor in the natural world’. Norfolk has done fascinating photographic and moving image work on contemporary conflicts and landscapes, reflecting critically on questions of imperialism and militarism. Though I’ve think I’ve read that he is not interested in theory, I would be interested to hear more about how he thinks through his own positionality in entering some of these spaces.
Finally, also in November, the Febrik group will take over the Mosaic Rooms in West London to conduct the project A Watchtower of Happiness and Other Landscapes of Occupation (link here).In this, ‘The main gallery room will be transformed into an interactive space to be activated by members of the public using altered mobile objects, a watchtower structure, and landscapes of domesticity’. While there’s a growing body of literature reflecting on the nature and implications of these kinds of highly constructed, participatory projects, I think there is scope for more investigation of the ways they seek to address situations marked by conflict, occupation, violence and marginality. I’ll be interested to see how Febrik translate these concerns to a gallery space in light of their work in Palestinian refugee camps and marginal London estates (as described on their website, here).