The half an hour stroll from the university’s central campus to see Landmarks was truly worth it. Hidden in one of the courtyards of the marvellous Stockbridge, Landmarks was the inaugural exhibition of the collective Transient, connecting six photographers currently based in the UK.
The exhibition invited its visitors to engage in six different and often unexpected perspectives on the environments in which people live, work and play. Curiously, the idea behind the exhibition somewhat symbolically correlates with the history of the building it was displayed in. Patriothall – a former bakery and now refurbished space fully devoted to art- throughout its history has itself been an environment seen from different perspectives and used for different purposes.
The exhibition opened up to visitors the broad scope of possible ways to view the environment and engage with it. Visually, it began from the more familiar look at nature, and soon captured the visitor’s view with the unnatural combination of that nature with the concrete constructions of dams and power stations. It showed how the environment can become a reflection of people’s beliefs in the supernatural, and later involved the viewer in a little journey of interpretation through the symbolic landmarks in different spaces. The last parts of the exhibition depicted the mystery and elusiveness of the environment, with the landmarks being reflected and distorted, or captured in shaking motions.
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having set the theme of the exhibition, they all looked at it very personally, and this is what unites all the works. None of the photographs featured people, but they all truly conveyed the explorations of the person behind them, and for me this was the most fascinating aspect of the exhibition. The photographs, together with the texts accompanying them, allowed the viewers to get a close insight into the author’s explorations of the environment, their relationship with it, and even into very personal and painful topics, such as disease, violence and death. The viewer could imagine how photography can become a tool to document the attempts to expand the boundaries of the space, otherwise limited by disease, or how photography practice may be shaped by the experience of epilepsy. These and other personal experiences came at the centre of the exhibition, leaving thoughts and feelings to consider while walking back home, with a more attentive look at the landmarks on the way.
Finally, a very charming – and quite unusual – aspect of the exhibition was that one of the authors was always present in the gallery, open for a conversation. This made the exhibition a very welcoming, inspiring and intimate space. The exhibition is now over, but to at least partly experience it, it is truly worth visiting the collective’s Instagram page @transient_collective, where the authors share their works with the stories and experiences behind them.
Image: Kathryn Polley