Photography exhibition in England


This video from Britain is called Red Saunders at Impressions Gallery.

By Len Phelan in Britain:

History in the frames

Friday 08 March 2013

Looking forward to a photography show with a radical difference

The People’s History Museum in Manchester rightly regards itself as a home of “ideas worth fighting for” and the exhibition Hidden by Red Saunders which opens there this weekend certainly matches that mission statement.

This touring show by the Bradford-based Impressions Gallery recreates great moments in the long struggle for rights and representation in Britain.

Captured on photographic film, these are highly charged restagings of historic scenes involving the dissenters, revolutionaries, radicals and non-conformists who have often been hidden from history and artistic representations of it.

It’s an ingenious concept, realised in a series of digitally retouched photographs ranging from the relatively small to the large format, with some over five metres wide.

Each scene is strikingly composed, lit and coloured and that’s unsurprising given Saunders’s track record.

He started his artistic career in agitational theatre and the Rock Against Racism events before moving on to work on the Sunday Times colour supplement, where he quit over the Wapping dispute.

Saunders uses real people as a “cast” who are dressed in the style of a particular period and these tableaux vivants – living pictures – are the photographic “evidence” of events that occurred before the advent of lens-based technology.

In painting and photography the subjects of those events are usually represented in the figures of the ruling order yet here the images are linked to the likes of feminist pioneer Mary Wollstonecraft, radical Tom Paine, the Chartists or black revolutionary William Cuffay.

These are images that merit repeated and close inspection once the initial shock of recognition fades and it’s a real pleasure to view history from such subversive and at times joyful perspectives.

According to Saunders, Hidden is a “limitless” project to which he’ll return next year. Then he hopes to explore other subjects misrepresented or ignored in Britain’s historical narrative.

They include the 1819 Peterloo Massacre, the black abolitionists who worked for the end of slavery and the “unbridled” spirits – the women who participated in the English revolution of the mid-17th century, along with those who were persecuted for “witchcraft.” That should be unmissable, as indeed this exhibition is.

Runs until September 29 at the People’s History Museum, Left Bank, Spinningfields, Manchester 3. Free, details: www.phm.org.uk.

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