Photography by the sea

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A trip to the seaside is fun at the best of times, but it’s even more enjoyable when there is a photography festival taking place at the same time. Currently on show in venues across Brighton and Hove is the region’s sixth Brighton Photo Biennial (BPB14), a month-long celebration of photography.

Produced by arts organisation Photoworks, the Biennial features a core programme of more than twenty photography exhibitions on the theme of ‘communities, collectives and collaboration’, plus an extensive supporting programme of events (talks, screenings and workshops).

Among the standout exhibitions is the excellent Amore e Piombo, curated by Federica Chiocchetti and Roger Hargreaves of Archive of Modern Conflict. Featuring archival press photographs from the Rome-based agency Team Editorial Services, television news footage, and Italian photobooks of the period from the Martin Parr collection, the exhibition delves deep into the political turbulence, terrorism, conspiracy, kidnap and murder that took place in 1970s Italy. Artfully and intelligently curated to compliment the grand interior of the historic Brighton Museum & Art Gallery, (television screens and photographs are nestled into bookshelves, and presented on raised platforms in the space), Amore e Piombo looks afresh at a tangled and murky chapter of Italian history.

Another standout is the equally well-curated exhibitions at Circus Street Market, a former fruit and veg market, which is due to be redeveloped as part of an ambitious £100 million project. Spread out across the expansive, vaulting space, is work by photography collectives, who include: Uncertain States, Sputnik Photos, and The Photocopy Club. Vistors are invited to browse panels that feature a range of photographic subjects and approaches, from hard-hitting documentary shots to evocative portraits and gritty snapshot photography. Also in the space is A Return to Elsewhere, a collaboration between British photographer Kalpesh Lathigra and South African Thabiso Sekgala, who died on 15 October. Backlit photographs taken in Marabastad and Laudium in South Africa, and in Brighton, explore themes of belonging, memory and loss.

Other highlights include the atmospheric Reef, by Simon Faithfull, which sees the artist transmit live footage from a sunken boat onto television screens in the ship-like Fabrica building on Duke Street in central Brighton, and an exhibition of 1970s British documentary photography from the Co-Optic group, whose members included Martin Parr, Daniel Meadows, Nick Hedges and Paul Hill, among others. Other must-sees include Magnum: One Archive Three Views, which features selections from the agency’s archive made by three photography experts, and Jan von Holleben’s highly entertaining and innovative The Amazing Analogue: How We Play Photography, which saw the German photographer collaborate with a group of young people from Brighton and Hove to explore and reinterpret archival material from Hove Museum’s photography collection.

Also worth exploring is the extensive Photo Fringe programme, which runs alongside the main Biennial. Of the exhibitions on show in and around Brighton as part of BPF14, a visit to the Vantage Point Collectives Hub is a must. Here, twelve British photography collectives, selected through open submission, showcase an impressive range of work across the seventh floor office-cum-gallery space, while two more collectives show work at Phoenix Brighton. Also not to be missed is Peter Watkins’ The Unforgetting at The Regency Townhouse in Brunswick Square. In his first solo show, the Royal College of Art graduate presents a new installation of his final Photography Masters degree project, uniquely designed to fit the 19th century grade 1 listed building.

To find out more about the entire Brighton Photo Biennial programme, click here. Until 02 November 2014.

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