A few weeks ago I went to the 2nd installment of the Carousel Slide Slam hosted by Jon Levy at the Host Gallery. I wasn’t sure what to expect as I’d heard mixed reviews about the first one, but I quite liked it. While the order could have been a little better (difficult to follow a comedy routine with a heavy slideshow on human rights), I really liked the experimental nature of many of the slideshows and the different formats. One of my faves of the evening was a hilarious talk on pinhole photography by Justin Quinnell–makes me want to go do one of his workshops.
Another fave was work shown by Pablo Hare on Peruvian monuments in small town public squares where they have created their own heroes.
Rather than have a Q&A with each of the presenters, there were several breaks during the evening presumably so people could chat about the work shown, or photography, or their amusement over the election results. It would have been nice to have some more room for formal dialogue especially around some projects that were more experimental; for example, I would have wanted to talk a little about the work shown by Kim Thue, or rather, for him to talk a little bit more about it. The black and white images he showed of people in Freetown were mixed with an experimental layered audio, which I also found quite an interesting approach (you can see it on the Zimmer/117 site). The images were extremely beautiful, however, the work showed anonymous and suffering (Freetown) Africans with violent marks of physical pain and apparent disenchantment with their lives. There was no context as to how they received these marks, who they were or the project’s relevance, and it felt too much like the traditional and insensitive (white/western) portrayal of Africa; I left feeling like I knew less than I did before. Perhaps it was not trying to make a statement, perhaps it was an art project combining dramatic image and sound? And, if so, why in Freetown, why these people? As much as I love the photography and the innovative use of sound, I really dont like seeing work like this that lacks context.
[Two interesting articles worth mentioning here: How to Write about Africa, by Binyavanga Wainaina published in Granta 92, Winter 2005; and How To Take Photos Of Africa Or Where Intent And Ideas Collide by Asim Rafiqui on the Spinning Head Blog, March 2010.]
But I digress. It was a nice, diverse event and I hope that there will be more room for dialogue on some of these interesting approaches to storytelling in future slideslams, speaking of which, next one is on June 14.
- london, uk, cool 11 degree evening, listening to “Water No Get Enemy” by Fela Kuti