Creative Review New Music
Open Eye Gallery, Liverpool, one of the UK’s leading photography spaces, sees the launch of two major new exhibitions this year, under the direction of new artistic Director Lorenzo Fusi.
Open Eye Gallery pays tribute to the work of Liverpool-born photojournalist Tim Hetherington (1970 – 2011) in an exhibition of photography and film work, which takes place from 6 September – 25 November 2013.
Drawing from the series of images published in his acclaimed book Infidel (Chris Boot Ltd, London 2010), which offers an intimate insight into the lives of American soldiers in conflict but beyond the action of war, almost 30 of Hetherington’s genre-defying photographs will be reproduced in varying scale, including a number of billboard formats.
The centrepiece of the show will be the three-channel video installation entitled Sleeping Soldiers. The video, alongside the photographs, lingers on the apparent stillness and quietness that anticipates and follows combat.
As a sense of waiting marks the passing of time, Hetherington asks what story is to be told, in journalistic terms, when there is no significant event to report on.
Set against the unexpectedly beautiful landscape of the Korengal Valley, Afghanistan, Hetherington’s still images follow the arrival, efforts and advancement of a US contingent in establishing an outpost in this North Eastern part of Afghanistan.
The work highlights the long-term nature of Hetherington’s photographic projects, his interest in narrative, human connection and the close relationships he developed with his subjects.
As days of intense conflict are broken up by long periods of waiting, the photo-reporter explores how these soldiers cope with this emotionally draining existence.
Looking at how they build up resilience, renegotiate their relations and manage their feelings, Hetherington ultimately documents the formation of a strong brotherhood consolidated over a period of one year, underpinned by themes including sexuality, alienation/isolation and the sense of loss and fear.
From 7 December 2013 – 9 February 2014, Open Eye Gallery is proud to bring together, for the first time in the UK, the work of photographer Alvin Baltrop (1948 – 2004) and that of the ‘anarchitect’ Gordon Matta-Clark (1943 – 1978).
The exhibition focuses on the area of the Piers in New York City during the mid 1970s, and speaks of the state of abandonment and dilapidation these underwent as a consequence of the oil crisis that reconfigured the geography of the city as well as the international market and trading system.
The New York piers act as a mirror or counterpart of the Liverpool’s docklands. Historically linked via the transatlantic route that since Colonial times, connected Europe to the Americas, the Piers in New York and the docks in Liverpool experienced a similar process of transformation.
Being unproductive and deserted, these were gradually reclaimed by an invisible population who used them for a variety of activities, spanning from gay cruising, drug-dealing and smuggling to prostitution, but also bringing together an underground community of visual artists, musicians, film-makers, performers and photographers.
Whilst Gordon Matta-Clark was pursuing the idea that art could act as a catalyst for urban regeneration and land re-appropriation, Baltrop investigated the life at the margins, mapping hedonistic displays of flesh, occasional sexual intercourse, corpses that could be mistaken for sleeping squatters (and vice versa) and other traces of humanity hidden amongst the interstices of society, notwithstanding the sense of freedom and liberation originating in the sexual revolution.
In 1975 Gordon Matta-Clark illegally entered and took over Pier 52, a huge corrugated iron structure, almost classic in its majesty and, to put it in Gordon’s words, “completely overrun by the gays”.
There he created one of his famous ‘cuts’ entitled Day’s End, a spectacular anti-monumental intervention brought to life by the rotation of the sun, that could enter the building thus reflecting in the water of Hudson River.
As Matta-Clark was creating this architectural installation made of light, shadows and water, Alvin Baltrop kept documenting the activity of the only other occupants at the Piers.
The encounter resulting from their different approaches is documented in this exhibition, that represents an occasion to look back at those years, reflecting on gentrification and regeneration across the ocean and at the simultaneous disappearance of the underground (sub)culture.