Recognising the true potential of photography and following on from the success of the inaugural festival last year, The Guernsey Photography Festival presents exhibitions by Martin Parr, Richard Billingham, Samuel Fosso, Carolyn Drake, Francesco Giusti, Adam Patterson, Dana Popa, Nelli Palomäki and a retrospective by influential 1960s British documentary photographer Tony Ray-Jones. Opening today (1 June) and running until 30 June, the year’s festival explores the theme of Identity and features a range of interpretations from personal to social to political. From Francesco Giusti’s Congolese dandies in colourful suites, to Carolyn Drake’s compelling documentation of the changing landscapes and communities of Central Asia’s Paradise Rivers, and Samuel Fosso and Nelli Palomäki’s striking takes on classic portraits, notions of self and place are presented in diverse contexts.
With a programme that includes more than 20 exhibitions and over 30 fringe events, we’ve included a selection of exhibition highlights that this year’s GPF has to offer:
Martin Parr will show work from his ongoing series Small World, which offers a biting satire on the homogenisation of worldwide tourism over the last three decades, through his larger than life observations of holidaymakers around the globe. This will be shown along with the work of one of his photographic inspirations, Tony Ray-Jones, whose black and white documentary photography surveyed the distinctive eccentricities of the British leisure classes of the 1960s with surreal humour, before his untimely death aged only 30.
Richard Billingham’s acclaimed and controversial portraits, Ray’s a Laugh, which depict an honest and searing account of his parents’ troubled home-life, will be presented together for the first time with new work portraying his own young family. Also shown will be a series of videos produced by the artist in the late 90s.
Samuel Fosso, one of Africa’s most eminent photographers, will exhibit his African Spirits and Tati series of self-portraits. African Spirits presents the artist inhabiting various icons of black identity, from cultural leaders to the civil rights movement, including Martin Luther King, Malcolm X and Muhammad Ali, while the Tati series shows Fosso dressed up as fictionalised characters. Both reflect his ongoing experimentation with the techniques of portraiture and the self-empowerment and sense of beauty which their theatricality projects.
The acclaimed American photographer presents Paradise Rivers, which follows the Amu and Syr Darya rivers of Central Asia from their source in the valleys of the Pamir and Tien Shan mountains, downstream across Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, and Kazakhstan to their dwindling ends, crossing into the lives of people and layers of history that they intersect along the way. Called the Rivers of Paradise in early Islamic writings, the rivers have sustained life for forty thousand years. When Moscow’s rule ended in 1991, five new Central Asian nations appeared, burdened with plunging economies, artificial borders, and a growing ecological crisis.
Italian photographer Francesco Giusti presents his award-winning series, SAPE, colourful portraits of Congolese gentlemen dressed in brightly coloured, bespoke tailored suits. Each belongs to SAPE – the Société des Ambianceurs et des Personnes Élégantes – a membership who consider themselves artists and who are respected and admired by their local communities. Offering a touch of glamour to their humble environments, every weekend the members gather in bars and dancing halls to parade in the streets, in an expression of urban culture looking for new reference parameters and codes, such as non-violence and elegance.
Finnish photographer Nelli Palomäki conveys the magic of portraits from the past through her exploration of classic black-and-white portraiture. She will show recent works, which present children revealing behaviors mirroring the ones of adults.
Adam Patterson and Dana Popa
An exhibition of two emerging photographic talents, who each return to their respective homelands of Northern Ireland and Romania, in an exploration of place and identity following an extended absence. Most recently spending six weeks covering the Chilean miners rescue, Adam Patterson was given a special mention at this year’s World Press Photo awards for smuggling a camera to trapped Chilean miner Edison Pena, who photographed conditions while trapped underground.
Tim Andrews Project: Over the Hill
Following his diagnosis with Parkinson’s disease, Tim Andrews answered a small advert in Time Out and was photographed in the nude for a portrait project. Filled with a sense of creativity and liberation, Andrews has spent the last three years sitting for portraits by 128 photographers including Rankin and Harry Borden.
Jocelyn Allen is just 23 and completed her degree in 2010, the year in which she won the Guernsey Photography Festival competition. She was also selected as one of thirteen artists to represent the UK in the 2011 International Biennale of Young Artists of Europe and the Mediterranean. For the festival, Jocelyn Allen presents One Is Not Like The Other, a project commissioned by Guernsey Photography Festival, as part of her competition prize. Here, Jocelyn explores the theme of identity by looking at her closest relatives, whose clothes, mannerisms and poses she imitates and presents as sets of double portraits, i.e., herself and grandfather.
Guernsey Photography Festival: 1 – 30 June 2011
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Copyright Martin Parr, courtesy Magmum Photos