Free Range: Photography


Written by Brian Welk
21 Monday 21st June 2010

They say a photo says a thousand words, and the beauty of many of the pieces at the third week of the Free Range Art & Design Show was the powerful narratives and themes conveyed in the artists’ series. The Old Truman Brewery on Brick Lane was this week home to a variety of photos, video installations, interactive pieces and multimedia profiles of ordinary people both photographed and interviewed for the purpose of the event.

While many artists displayed inventive close-ups and profiles of their subjects, Marija Butkute gave her portraits true character. Her hauntingly sterile and bright images are instantly iconic and catching. Butkute feels that body language alone is so widely understood that it can be used to deliver a powerful message.

Joanna Burejza at the University of Westminster had one of the most complex works both technically and philosophically. Her bizarre portraits of herself flailing about is entitled Shouting in Silence and is an interpretation of Jean-Martin Charcot and Sigmund Freud’s studies of hysteria. Burzeja said, “It follows my own journey through repressed memories, exploring identity, madness, public exposure, vulnerability and the first trauma of loss I experienced during my childhood in rural Poland.”

Next is Helen Cuttill, a religious architecture photographer that captured some daunting images of cathedrals around the world. Although in normal locations, she seems to have created images the eye cannot see as she tinkers with depth of field in her impressive landscapes. “I hope that my images inspire people to look at cultural differences with an open mind and with a view to exploring those differences themselves,” Cuttill said.

One of the more obscure subjects photographed was found in the work of Richard Johnson of Nottingham Trent University. His piece Specimens looks at delicate and old scientific lab creations that have been permanently secluded from the world because of their fragile nature. He brings them to life here, and Johnson says his work shows, “the negative effect that humans have continued to have on the number, health and even existence of certain species.”

Angelika Zaczeniuk’s Man in the Corner did the best job of conveying a story in her photos. Sitting in front of her lead image of a boxer and his manager during a fight was an index card box full of even more carefully selected moments from the life of a boxer trainer. But the most insightful quality of all were the hand written thoughts and quotes collected by Zaczeniuk on the individual photos themselves. Her many thoughts on the trainers and their love of the boxers and the sport demonstrates an unprecedented amount of care for her subjects.

Lastly is one of the most harrowing images to be seen at the gallery. Roxana Brivent-Barnes captured some images as well as a documentary of a frail old war veteran in a depressing state as he suffers through his retirement and last few days of life. Brivent-Barnes said, “Do I want to provoke stress, or shock?  The answer is yes. I want to show the reality of living with constant pain because these ex-servicemen are forgotten, and they do not enjoy their retirement, as they should, like any other civilian.”

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  • Guest: agnus02
    Thu 24 - Jun - 2010, 23:38
    Great photos! especially Joanna Burejza's, very strong.