6th November 2012
A big weekend with a big group of friends and colleagues, that’s my short summation of the DWIB12, which according to Gareth was Development Weekend In Brighton 2012, but as he also said it could stand for what Brighton is more popularly well-known for!
Apart from the high winds we all experienced over the two days, the weather for this first 2-day study visit of the OCA wasn’t that bad, at least I didn’t get caught in any rain but I’m not sure about others, I don’t think anyone did.
Our first venue was at the University of Brighton Gallery, where Corinne Silva and Jason Larkin were exhibiting their work on ‘Uneven Development’. Twenty-six students and five tutors met in the foyer of the gallery where we received a brief from Gareth Dent and Jose Navarro on this exhibition and for the rest of the itinerary of the two days. New faces, old friends and some interesting chat before we all crocodiled through the door and into the gallery.
The first images to greet the visitor are four reasonably large pictures by Corinne Silva from her series ‘Imported Landscapes’. The description given to the work on the bpb12 site says, ‘In Imported Landscapes, Silva forces the global south into the global north by pasting Moroccan landscapes onto Spanish billboards to consider their ongoing trade, mobility and colonisation.’
For me these pictures have nothing to dislike, but on the other hand there’s not a lot to like either. Taking images from one country and then inserting them onto billboards in another where the geographical surroundings aren’t dissimilar doesn’t say anything to me at all and certainly don’t give me any sense of ‘ongoing trade and colonisation.’ Having looked at the images excluded from the show they at least have people in them to bring in a little humanity.
Of the four on show, I found the diptych of the following two images the most interesting.
It’s not immediately obvious that they’re a diptych as the photographs are taken at different angles so reference points aren’t as easy to pick-up, but if you look carefully, they are. The first image, of the billboard neat and tidy is typical of my reaction to this work, not a lot to say, but the second, with the torn picture says to me that this is not what we (the locals) want to see here, so we’ve vandalised it and we’re boycotting the car-park as well. May well not be the reason it was put up there, but that’s the only message I get and I can’t see any bpb12 explanation at all in picture 2.
Following on directly from ‘Imported Landscapes’, another series by Corinne Silva follows, ‘Badlands’. The bpb12 website tells us, ‘In Badlands she uses architecture and plastic in the southern Spanish landscape to explore connections between European leisure migrants and irregular African workers’. This is a series of very strong images that although, in my opinion, hung incorrectly, they provide the viewer with a powerful sense of the social inequalities between the migrant African labour force and the tourist/owners of the properties they’re constructing. In my opinion the images should have been hung as an interspersed series, showing the dire conditions the migrants endure alongside the comparative luxury they’re constructing for other peoples leisure, their implicit exclusion by the walls surrounding the gated community sites and the areas left for them to build their shacks.
From a series of 43 images that make up this work, only a much smaller number found their way to this exhibition, but they are possibly the best of the lot.