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20/20 Visions: Re-valuing photography, people and place

20/20 Visions seeks to explore where, when and how the photographer and photography can construct and create value, with a particular focus on people and place.

The role of the photographer and the value of photography are in flux. Camera technology is now so cheap and pervasive that taking a photograph no longer holds an intrinsic value.  As part of our anniversary celebrations, we’ve invited twenty photographers who have known Knowle West Media Centre through the years to create new work reflecting on how photography has changed over the past two decades.

The works focus on people and place and mix technologies both new and old, from pin hole cameras and polaroids, to laser-cutters and CNC machines. Each work explores where, when and how the photographer can construct value and offers insights into how the future of photography might unfold in the next 20 years.

The exhibition features work by:

Amak Mahmoodian – Daniel Meadows – Maria Kapajeva – Nathan Hughes – Danya Defraytus – Nicholas White – Ibolya Feher – Mark Perham – Carole Sartain – Mark Simmons – Gina Lundy – Justin Quinnell – Roz Hall – Tommy Sussex – Elizabeth Orcutt & Matt Pontin – Joe Magee – Kirsty MacKay – Pete Ashton – Andrew Jackson – Chris Hoare – Carolyn Hassan

20/20 Visions opened on 22 November 2016 and ran until early 2017. Find out more about the photographers on the exhibition website below.

The Photographer: Artist, Activist, Innovator?

In April 2016 we hosted a discussion exploring the ‘photography in flux’ theme of 20/20 Visions. In partnership with Fotonow, KWMC held talks by acclaimed photographers Amak Mahmoodian, Maria Kapajeva, David Partner and Andrew Jackson.

The event kicked off with KWMC Director Carolyn Hassan delving into our origins from darkroom photography to multimedia. Maria Kapajeva was then invited to the stage where she examined how we share stories, probing the question: for whom do we pose and why? Maria identified the importance of diversity, openness and access within photography, stressing “the Mainstream is not the only story we have to tell.”

Next up was Iranian documentary photographer Amak Mahmoodian, whose work explores the subtleties of human behaviour in relation to identity. Amak illustrated how photography can explore concepts of self and similarity. Her quest for identity and truth evokes the notion of photography as evidence of reality: “the hallmark of photography is telling the truth.”

Documentary and Editorial Photographer Andrew Jackson began his discussion with an iconic Vanley Burke photograph, one of the photographs that inspired Andrew himself to explore self-expression through creativity. Andrew’s passionate talk highlighted the role of photography as a creative outlet, both for raising questions and providing answers. Photography is consistently changing – Andrew raised important questions for the photographer during these changes: whose identity is being constructed, by whom, for whom?

Our final speaker, British portrait photographer David Partner, considered the British institutions that have developed over generations. His diverse collection of people in parliament – from all of the UK government ministers to every staff member working at the House of Commons – demonstrated how photography could be used to reveal the lesser-known personalities in government institutions. David reflected on what it means to be a photographer today, recognising that “photographers are innovators by definition”, creating a new means of recording.

Our panel then took questions from the floor. The event sparked an important discussion over the changing role of the photographer in society – as artist, activist and innovator. This debate continued informally over drinks as the event drew to a close, and we hope it will continue beyond the walls of KWMC for all who attended.  

The Photographer: Artist, Activist, Innovator?

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Knowle West Media Centre
Leinster Avenue
Knowle West
+44 (0) 117 903 0444

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