The White Cloth Gallery has only been open a short while, and we think it’s obvious Exposure Leeds is a little taken with the place. That’s why we invited Carl Phillps, a photography student, to cover their recent event…
Walking into the White Cloth Gallery, I had high expectations which were completely fulfilled. Walking in, past the ‘suits’ sipping vino after office hours, you arrive in the most welcoming atmosphere – personally my favorite gallery space in Leeds.
Having a dishearteningly small turn-out to such a brilliant event, the afternoon began with Robert Knoth, whose career as a journalist and photographer has culminated over 20 years to create ‘Poppy’. This is a masterful multimedia panoramic combining interviews, still and moving images from a broad range of sources. This holistic journalistic experience was powerfully insightful, clips were dissected in front of us with a combination of divulging information.
Focusing on the premise of the ‘Intersection of Transnational organized crime and instability’ the film critically examines the darker side of globalization, starting by following the heroin trade beginning in Afghanistan the film progresses with the ‘logical trial of globalization’.
The fresh dynamic of the film is what really still stands out in my head the cinematography is beautifully considered only contemplating the message. Robert himself was an intriguing character – listening to him gives the impression his field of work has made him naturally casual about visiting the Middle East over 80 times within his life or that he has documented some of the 20th Century’s most tragic circumstances. However the film reputes this his work demonstrates the need for global change to combat these crimes and how they effect such a majority of the 3rd world.
It wasn’t until half way through our second speaker, Brenda Ann Kenneally’s presentation that the link between the two bodies of work was laid bear to me. Having a massive interest in documentary photography myself, her work money-power-respect is a more traditional photographic series. However do not underestimate the impact it should have on your photographic mind. The series focuses on one group of individuals from Troy, New York (USA). A key industrial area, its inhabitants live far below the poverty line. For these people crime and moving in and out of prison is a regular occurrence. This is not a new subject in the photographic world, however the position of the artist is immersing herself over eight years she has followed the ebbs and flows of families through the progressive generations, all while removing herself from the downward gaze of the photographer. The use of close up portraiture with a variety of wide angle lenses lends itself to a post millennia end of the century aesthetic but its a welcome break from the mono-aesthetic of flat and often contrived shots that some of todays emerging photographers are using.
The genius of putting these two polar opposite subjects together has to be credited, what you walk away with was deterioration of every aspect of society we were all left with a large overview of the underlying problems that our world has to address. Enthralling and very memorable I enjoyed every moment of my visit, The only problem was that not enough people attended, for such esteemed guests.
The only way to combat this is to tell everyone I can possibly think of this fine establishment, and trust me I will. I hope there is a much bigger turn out for the opening of infamous Peter Dench’s exhibition ‘Best of British’ which is expected to be another astounding event.
Carl Phillips is currently studying on the BA Hons in Photography at Leeds City College. He recently took part in a group exhibition at Leeds Gallery with fellow students and you can find his work on his Tumblr blog.
Top image © Robert Knoth. Above right © Brenda Ann Keannelly. Both images all rights reserved and used gratefully with permission.