Friday, 22 February 2013

A Lecture Upon The Shadow - Liverpool Open Eye Gallery

The title of this exhibition is based around a poem (A Lecture Upon the Shadow by John Donne.) The poem is concerned with the phases of love and it is the theme of phases that I picked up on with some of the artists work. Six artists were featured - three from Britain, three from China. The exhibition has already been on show in China and has now travelled to the Open Eye Gallery in Liverpool.

The Eldon Road image by Tabitha Jussa was impressive in scale - the largest image on display in the exhibition. It shows the now derelict housing project that has been abandoned and the work exudes traces of past lives, dreams and the hopes of those now gone. This image reminded me of the phases or cycle of life in keeping with the exhibitions title. The conception and building of a Utopian housing project, the lives that were lived there, the abandonment over time and decay as time passes and peoples aspirations change.

I could see the same cyclical element in Man Yi's Memory of Water. The set of images were dark and grainy and they almost felt like they had a velvety texture to them. A puddle of water moving slowly across a pavement, storm clouds, the bottom half of a woman standing in a soaked dress, a sort of aquarium montage of dead fish, all the images seemed to be concerned with phases of water as it cycles through the planet, affecting all of us - not on a biological level but an emotional one. I found the images and concept fascinating.

Two of Us by Fan Shi San was concerned with China's "One Child" policy. The exhibition hand-out describes the work as, "Constructing images of young people together with their imaginary reflections, the works are suggestive of separation and loneliness, as the two characters in the images never seem to be able to communicate." I found the images very moving. On a personal level I could totally relate to the sense of loneliness and separation that was being communicated. My siblings fled the nest as soon as was physically possible leaving me as the youngest to hone my survival skills in a chaotic environment. It was interesting to note the reactions of the other students at the coffee discussion afterwards. Some of the them, based on their own childhoods like me, related to the work - others felt no connection whatsoever.

Some of the other photographers work were harder to read and left me intrigued and/or confused at times. I still feel that I need to develop my knowledge of contemporary art practice to broaden my understanding of photography today.

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