National Responses

National Responses

Reflecting on feelings of uncertainty as the UK redefines its role in Europe, Brighton Photo Biennial 2018 demonstrates the power of lens-based media to construct ideas of national identity. The eighth edition – entitled A New Europe – showcases work by 18 artists across the city, each looking to the ongoing refugee crisis, geopolitical relations and ideas of community.

Shown above is work by Robin Maddick, from the series Nothing We Can’t Fix By Running Away. The collection responds to the Brexit referendum, drawing a portrait of national identity in England through landscapes, portraits and street photography. Sheffield 2017 captures a Mellor-designed bus stop at night. Illuminated by a nearby street light, it acts as a shelter for nocturnal party-goers – a liminal space between euphoria and the real world. The piece reflects on ideas of truth and fiction in an era of fake news, presenting an everyday structure in a surprising, otherworldly light.

Other examples include Heather Agyepong’s Habitus: Potential Realities, which celebrates diversity in the UK. Comprising constructed self-portraits informed by interviews with a range of individuals, it seeks to challenge and reimagine a variety of perspectives. Further giving voice to the underrepresented, Uta Kögelsberger’s Uncertain Subjects: Part II takes the shape of a billboard of images, foregrounding people who feel alienated within their home country.

Also examining the built environment is Hrair Sarkissian, whose video installation, Homesick, shows the artist constructing and destroying an architectural model of his parents’ apartment building in Damascus, Syria. The notion of home is confronted again in Tereza Červeňova’s June, and autobiographical response to the June 2016 referendum. It looks to the changing nature of domestic and communal spaces when faced with an uncertain future.

Comparably, a poignant series of 16 works by Harley Weir documents moments before and during the destruction of the migrant and refugee camp in Calais. The collection underlines a shared humanity, focusing on domestic and intimate details against a backdrop of displacement.

Other featured artists and collectives are: Bill Brandt, The Cross Channel Photographic Mission, Aikaterini Gegisian, Émeric Lhuisset, and Donovan Wylie.

From 28 September-28 October. Find out more here.

1. Sheffield. Robin Maddock. 2016. Showing for Brighton Photo Biennial 2018: A New Europe
2. © Tereza Červeňová,  from the series June 2016-18. Showing for Brighton Photo Biennial 2018: A New Europe
3. © Harley Weir, Homes, 2016. Showing for Brighton Photo Biennial 2018: A New Europe.