The May edition of The Crossing Lines Group began early this month in order to incorporate a brief review of the previous Friday’s seminar at Goldsmiths “Engaging in Urban-Image Making”. This seminar had been created by Gill Golding (Chair of LIP) & LIP member Anita Strasser (The Centre for Urban & Community Research). The discussion largely revolved around the organisation & presentation of the all-day seminar. The discussion was largely missed by your correspondent who was otherwise engaged in getting the IT department to unclog the IT system.
Earlier this year an on-going dialogue was opened regarding how we organise ourselves in Crossing Lines. One theme from all collaborators was to have fewer but more extended personal presentations. John Levett had allowed this decision to pass above him and a highly concentrated programme emerged in which each contribution could easily have occupied a whole session. Better allocation of time required next month.
Claire Reddleman opened the proceedings with HM Prison Reading; closed in 2013 & now flourishing as an exhibition site. Claire was more interested in the graffiti than the exhibition objects. Note was made of the ‘iconic’ status of Reading jail which led John Levett to ramble on other icons of incarceration and ways to spend ‘time’. Graffiti led to Cy Twombly, which leads to classical myth & goes towards cultural memory. What is the photographic equivalent of graffiti?
Jennifer Roberts followed on. Jennifer has been spending the last two or three years experimenting with different papers, textures, mountings, representations, modes of printing: generally, getting away from the mainstream. Getting into photographic graffiti? She has succeeded. This is good as Jennifer was getting onto the assembly line of ‘comfort photography’: “It’s worked for the last twenty years and it’s going to last the next twenty”. Jennifer is going on the Goldsmiths Photography Summer School this year. Will she hold firm & stick to radical improv. Coltrane or back to Victor Silvester? A nation holds its breath.
Mo Greig was next up with her work on border control. Mo writes: “Since the summer of 2015 Europe’s free passport borders have effectively been closed by the erection of “border control” razor wire fences, costing millions of euros. These new barriers are being erected in response to the flow of thousands of refugees fleeing war or persecution, mostly from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.”
“The razor wire fences, border patrols, and additional security have become a lucrative industry. Hungary was the first country to erect razor wire fences within the Schengen zone. Prisoners in Hungarian jails make the razor wire that is used along Hungary’s borders with its neighbours. It also exports razor wire to other European countries that are securing their borders in this same fashion, Hungary recently passed a law making any damage of the fences illegal and punishable by deportation.”
“At the core of this work is the symbolism of what does the border represent?”
Mo is outstanding in this area of photographic recording. It’s a mode of activism and it’s interrogatory; its archival and reportage; it’s critical and it throws the criticism back on the viewer.
Mo is also an incredibly fast worker but the content doesn’t suffer. This work is worth searching out.
Maria Oldland was the last of the evening’s presentations. The work presented was on Hungary and (to quote) “its steadfast rise in nationalism”. Maria also references “.. the visual clues one gets through various perambulations”. This is a fine collection of work and demands close attention. Maria concentrated on a detailed historical-narrative aspect of the subject. We now need to pay close attention to the fine collection of complementary images that Maria has assembled. The content & subject have widespread manifestations: both historical & contemporary. Matters of nationalism & its outlets are front & central in a Europe where the term ‘post-war’ might be evolving into another representation of itself. More from Maria soon.
A full programme; not enough time; enthusiasm intact. Onward!