August 4, 2003, (near) Tikrit, Iraq
© Geert van Kesteren
Courtesy the artist

Brighton Photo Biennial 2008

Entitled Memory of Fire: the War of Images and Images of War, Brighton Photo Biennial 2008 will explore photographic images of war, their making, use and circulation, and their currency in contemporary society.

The provocative writer and critic Julian Stallabrass will curate ten exhibitions presenting photography, film and online material produced and circulated in time of war, and analyse how images have been shaped by the changing social and political conditions from the Vietnam era to the present. The exhibitions will include images produced by photojournalists, artists and non-professionals.

Through these images, Brighton Photo Biennial 2008 will look at the conditions of conflict, power and displacement and the radically different perspectives of the opposing sides of various conflicts. It will also explore the collective and individual memory of such images, their forgetting and revision, and their rebirth at times of crisis and war.

For its third edition, the Biennial stretches its geographical boundaries to include venues in Bexhill on Sea, Chichester, Portsmouth and Winchester, and increases its presence in Brighton with three exhibition venues, a series of participatory and publicly sited projects, the new Cultural and Information Hub shared with Brighton Photo Fringe, events, talks, workshops and portfolio reviews.

Finally, BPB 2008 reaches the vast online community through this new website that functions as a platform for ideas and discussion around the theme of photography and conflict. Julian Stallabrass and a series of scholars and artists will inform and provoke with original essays and online projects; users from around the globe are invited to participate actively to the Biennial by posting comments and uploading images.

 

Julian Stallabrass on Brighon Photo Biennial 2008

The title is borrowed from Eduardo Galeano’s extraordinary book, Memory of Fire, an epic literary account of 500 years of Latin American resistance to imperialism. The book consists of numerous self-contained episodes which can be read in isolation but also combine with their neighbours to produce a larger picture of the book’s subject. Similarly, BPB 2008, which covers a long stretch of the South East England coastline, comprises many exhibitions and events, each of which stands alone, but which may be enriched when other elements are seen.

Memory of Fire: The War of Images and Images of War takes on various issues as its main themes: first, it examines the production and dissemination of images in time of war, especially the changing conditions from the Vietnam era to the present. Images made by photojournalists, both as prints and as published in magazines and newspapers, are shown alongside presentations of online image displays, either on screen or made into wall-bound objects.

Memory of Fire will also illumine through an examination of the media the conditions of conflict, imperialism and expropriation, historically and into the present. By taking in views of the different sides of the various conflicts, radically different perspectives will emerge.

Memory of Fire seeks to frame and inform new imagery with old, and vice versa. In looking at historical imagery alongside the photography of current wars, the Biennial elicits intimations of the collective and individual memory of such images, their forgetting and revision, and their rebirth at times of crisis and war.

Finally, the Biennial looks at the place of the art world in the production of images of conflict, particularly the making of large-scale images of destruction on the scale of the history paintings of old (and like them sometimes commissioned by the state).


Brighton Photo Biennial is the UK’s leading festival of photography offering an ambitious celebration of international photographic practice. The Biennial is committed to stimulating debate on photography in all its forms: new and historic, digital and analogue, still and moving. The Biennial presents the work of international artists, from a range of cultural backgrounds, commissioning new work, premiering recent work and exhibiting historical work in new contexts. The Biennial includes exhibitions, participatory programmes, publications, conferences, talks, portfolio reviews and outdoor events. An extensive education programme develops local audiences through which the Biennial aims to reach the widest possible audiences and creates exciting opportunities for participation and engagement.
 

Julian Stallabrass

Julian Stallabrass lectures in modern and contemporary art, including political aspects of the globalised contemporary art world, postwar British art, the history of photography and new media art at the Courtauld Institute of Art. A prolific writer, his recent publications include, High Art Lite: British Art in the 1990s (1999), a critical analysis of ‘young British art’, Art Incorporated (2004), which examines changes in the global art world since 1989, and Internet Art: The Online Clash of Culture and Commerce (2003). He has also written art criticism for many publications including Tate, Photoworks, Art Monthly and New Statesman. In 2001 he curated an exhibition at Tate Britain entitled ‘Art and Money Online’. He is an editorial board member of New Left Review and Third Text and is on the advisory board of Visual Culture in Britain. His photography has been exhibited and published internationally.