Brighton Photo Biennial unveils its 2014 programme

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Photoworks, the organisation behind the Brighton Photo Biennial, has announced the lineup of exhibitions and events for the sixth edition, which takes place from 04 October to 02 November. The announcement was made last night at The Photographers’ Gallery in London, where a packed audience of industry professionals eagerly awaited  the news.

The last edition, BPB12, focused on the ‘politics of space’, and this time the focus is on collaboration and community. There is no single curator, but rather an emphasis on partnerships.

“We felt there was a current vibe around people working together – partly through necessity, and also through the generosity of shared expertise,” Photoworks director Celia Davies told BJP last night. “Choosing a single curator didn’t feel like quite the right thing for this Biennial.”

More than 45 photographers, artists, and collectives will showcase work, both commissioned and received through open call, across a range of venues in Brighton and nearby Hove and Eastbourne.


At the centre of the packed programme is Simon Faithfull’s Reef, a commissioned project that will see a boat towed out to sea and sunk off the coast of Portland in Dorset. Cameras on board will film and transmit images over the course of a year as the boat transforms into an artificial reef.

Archives and collections play a central role in the programming with collaborations from the likes of Magnum Photos, Archive of Modern Conflict (AMC), The Mass Observation Archive, Hove Museum, The Co-Optic Archives and the Reeves Studio Archives.

One Archive: Three Views sees Magnum Photos open its archive to photographer Hannah Starkey, artist Uriel Orlow and visual anthropologist Elizabeth Edwards, under the guidance of its former archivist Nick Galvin. The three experts will work with images from the archive to get beyond “the mythology of Magnum Photos”.

Elsewhere, AMC explores politics and the cult of celebrity through images of 1970s Italy, Italian photobooks, film sequences and sound recordings, while the likes of Martin Parr, Daniel Meadows and Gerry Badger feature in an exhibition from The Co-Optic Archives that seeks to uncover what Photoworks is calling “a lost episode in the development of British social documentary photography”.

Commenting on the role of the archive at this year’s biennial, Davies told BJP: “It’s always fascinating to look at archives – to learn about history and change over a particular period, and to think about how archives have come to be represented. In our work with the Magnum Archive, for example, we’ve quite deliberately invited people to participate who don’t normally go into archives, and who wouldn’t give us the usual view. It was a case of, let’s get beneath the mythology, and see what comes out of the discussions.”

Collectives also feature prominently in the programme; contributing parties include the Photocopy Club, which is inviting people to form collectives and submit work along the theme of ‘community’, and Brighton-based Photobookshow, which is accepting photobook submissions.

A separate exhibition, Five Photography Collectives, celebrates the work and photographic practices of collectives including London-based Uncertain States, and Sputnik Photos, while elsewhere, 10 specially commissioned photo essays on themes that relate to sustainability will be shown as site-specific installations; featured photographers as part of this exhibition include Nick Waplington, Sophie Gerrard, and Jason Larkin.

“We were interested in work that has a newness to it – a new approach or perspective, work that perhaps pushes the boundary of an idea,” says Davies. “There was no single overall criterion; some of the programme came about through open submission, by identifying and talking to people who we were interested in, and through conversations with our partners.”

In addition, a supporting programme of talks and events will take place during the opening weekend in October and then throughout the month.

There is also the Brighton Photo Fringe (BPF) to consider, which runs in parallel to the main Biennial, and will present a complementary series of exhibitions in association with Miniclick Talks and others, plus much more.

The second edition of multimedia festival Night Contact will take place in Brighton this year as part of the Biennial. On 18 October, large-scale projections will be shown in indoor and outdoor spaces across the city.

Night Contact is accepting proposals for its £2500 ‘new work’ grant until 28 July, and artists and photographers have until 08 September to submit work for its open submission call, along the theme of ‘collaboration, authorship and influence’. For more information visit

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