Free Range at The Old Truman Brewery is Europe’s largest graduate art and design show with free admission. Graduates of everything from interior design to fine art who studied outside of London finally get a chance to showcase their talents in the countries capital.
I’ve been to a few Free Range shows this summer already, but last Thursday’s exhibition of photography graduates was the one I was most excited about.
In this age art can really be anything, Kant has been moved to the back seat and nobody thinks art has to be beautiful anymore. That said it’s almost impossible for photographers not to take images that look good. Just by being photographed the most mundane subject is rendered interesting and the most ugly object or person becomes so lovely that you just want to lick their glossy surface.
The best of all the exhibitions on that week had to be Swansea, Farnham and Maidstone. With so many photographers on show it seems pointless to make a reductive comment on whether entire graduate years were good or bad so I’ve decided to create a contact sheet if you will, of the people whose photographs looked that bit extra special.
I spent my first ten minutes in Free Range looking at Jack Davis’ landscape photographs. In them great colour and composition immediately makes the viewer forget that the scenes are completely empty.
In Lauren Eldekvist’s evocative series Landscapes, unmade beds are photographed and shown huge on the Truman Brewery’s walls. For the artist the bed “connotes the human condition; birth, life, sex, sleep, illness and death”. The pieces remind me very much of one of my favourite artists Felix Gonzalez Torres and his billboard photographs of an empty, but obviously slept in, bed.
Also intriguing were James Rugg’s photographs, which aim to capture small instances, chance meetings and gestures. In them the simple act of a girl twirling string around her fingers becomes something we should give our undivided attention to.
Over at Maidstone University College of the Arts there were some strong conceptual works.
Lee Gavin presented an installation of Mapping a project that he undertook after the death of his Grandfather, he decided to cycle to Elvington in Kent, the birthplace of his Grandfather. Lee showed as his work the tent and bike he used for the trip and an interactive google map of the journey (available from his website and well worth a look.)
As a lover of old box televisions and a distruster of 40” LCD monstrosities I almost cheered when I saw Jack Quick’s work. The artist is stepping into Nam June Paik rather large shoes with his television manipulation photographs and sculptures in which he attempts to challenge uses for, sadly, now defunct technologies.
Cassandra Vervoort questions the role of the photographer and the weight of their influence and command over the photographed. In these “social experiments” she asks subjects to have a five-minute sleep in her bed while she is naked underneath the covers.
There were other photographers creating situations for their unwitting volunteers to perform in. Gemma Bringloe was one, “Can you turn around, sit down, stand up and sit down” … “Can you take off as many clothes as possible”.
And finally Laura Jenkins, who produced my favourite project of the entire show. The Tender Interval is brilliant in it’s simplicity. Actors were called forward in complete darkness and instructed to kiss. The photographs provide a record of the interval immediately before the kiss.
Free Range exhibitions continue until the middle of July. The Private view for the next group of photography shows is 6PM on Thursday. For a full list check out the Free Range website.
- Irving Penn: Portraits
- Kate Jenkins: Witness the Knitness!
- 123 Bethnal Green Road – the Sustainable Fashion Concept Store
- Elizabeth Johnson. An Interview with a Photographer
- Free Range Week 7: The enchanting and the daunting