On Saturday the 9th of June the London Festival of Photography held its symposium titled Inside Out: Reflections on the Pubic and Private. The symposium presented a broad range of practitioners and topics, all loosely relating to the title and theme of the festival. Held at King’s Place near Kings Cross the full day symposium was well attended and the range of work and ideas discussed was a great mix. The symposium also combined formats, presenting both practitioner talks and panel discussions, which broke up the day well.
The event started with a panel discussion about photographing Saudi women, lead by Sara Davidmann with two photographers; Olivia Arthur and Wasma Mansour. Both artists gave a brief introduction to their work (Jeddah Diary and Single Saudi Women respectively) before the discussion, a format which was replicated for the later panel discussion. For me the most interesting part of the discussion was the difference in approach required due to the photographers’ backgrounds. Mansour being a Saudi born artist, she noted that the common reaction she received from the Saudi women she was photographing was being questioned about how she could be ingoring the traditions of Saudi culture by photographing women. Arthur on the other had needed to slowly build confidence of her subjects, so they could be confident that the photos would be used respectfully.
Moving on from the panel discussion, Antonio Olmos presented his ongoing project The Landscape of Murder, in which Olmos visits and documents murder scenes well after they have been cleared by the police. Olmos shared the many interesting things he had learnt about murder in London, including that almost all murders occur in the eastern hemisphere of London, and predominantly outside central London. Olmos also revealed that despite the media coverage, women make up the majority of victims, and more often it is their partners who are guilty. Olmos’s work, while interesting, is one of those projects which really needs the explanations around the images for them to make their impact. Given all of the statistic and anecdotal information Olmos has digested over the project, I look forward to seeing what he chooses to accompany the photography with in his book when it is released next year.
The last presentation before lunch was from David Moore discussing three of his projects, The Commons, The Last Things and 28 Days. All three projects carry a common theme of exposing private or secret spaces to public view. In The Commons Moore takes intimate shots of details from the House of Commons, exposing the grain of the place, rather than the look or feel of the overall space. Suitably, the images have a plush feeling, the colours and textures providing a look of luxury in the images. Possibly less suitably, this sense of luxury, colour & texture continues through Moore’s The Last Thing, his project shooting a secret Ministry Of Defence bunker. In The Last Thing however, Moore shoots the space itself, taking the rare (possibly unique) opportunity to present the bunker to the public. The final project Moore presented, 28 Days, is almost a mix of the two previous, combining the detail shots and spatial shots with the lush colour palette to show the inside of Paddington Green Maximum Security Police Station. 28 Days, referring to the maximum length of time a terrorism subject could be held without charge at the time of shooting, again displays a usually private space to the public, showing the conditions in which a suspect can be held.
Given the extensive programme of the symposium and the ever growing length of this post, we’ve covered the afternoon of the symposium in a second post here. To see our full coverage of the festival, click here.