A visit to the Open Eye Gallery in Liverpool, which is inside one of the black glass clad modern buildings on Man Island, between the Albert Dock and the Pier Head, is always worthwhile. We’ve enjoyed all the exhibitions we’ve seen there since we discovered it a coupe of years ago.
The Gallery, which was launched in 1977, was one of the UK’s first galleries dedicated solely to photography, which is poorly represented in traditional art galleries. It moved to it’s current premises in 2011. The current exhibition, Open 1, is the first of a series of three annual exhibitions showing work selected from photographs submitted by the artists themselves. It features the work of six artists concentrating on social portraiture – photographs of people but emphasising social issues and concerns.
I particularly liked Desk Job, a series of photographs by Louis Quail of people working in offices. With deindustrialisation more and more people have to work in office environments and to me the photographs captured the boredom that this type of work often entails and also the close similarities between offices in different parts of the world.
“As we have moved into the technical and information age, there has been a shift towards more office-based work. Whatever our job title or geographical location, our tools and environment are becoming similar. It is quite perverse; to travel around the world to photograph inside an office that looks like its in Croydon [UK].” (from an interview with Louis Quail for Wired magazine quoted in the exhibition guide)
In G20 Double Takes, Billy Macrae took photographs of various locations during the G20 summit meeting in London 2009 and then revisited the same locations where he took a second photograph, including the original picture in the shot, positioned so that it fitted in to the landscape. Here’s an example
So the frantic action from the demonstrations slots in and is superimposed on the more sedate later scene.
The most shocking images, though, were from the Juvenile in Justice project by Richard Ross, comprising photographs taken of juvenile correctional facilities in 31 states in the USA. There are, quite frankly, some shocking images and accompanying stories. A sad testament to the tragedy of a divided society in the world’s richest country.