Another photography project as part of the LOOK/15 International Photography Festival in Liverpool, continuing on from my blog post on the Kassel Fotobook Award, is the solo exhibition ‘Memorandum of Understanding’ by Tabitha Jussa, the winner of the seventh annual Liverpool Art Prize in 2014.
Tabitha‘s photographic works present an interest in the relationship between people and place, here between the twinned cities of Liverpool and Shanghai – in fact two of my favourite cities in the world where I have spent many years of my life. Tabitha focussed on each city’s social housing including its architecture and design and the impact of numerous regeneration initiatives on resident communities across the decades – what I have recently been researching and coined as China’s “architectures of change”…the impact of China’s urbanism and globalism on the development of its cultural ecology and museographic practice.
In ‘Memorandum of Understanding’, Tabitha focusses on social planning, contrasting Liverpool with Shanghai, presenting ‘atmospheric panoramic views reflecting on the different pace of change in each country and region.’ The changing scale and size of the photographs, from wall-width sized sweeping panoramic prints that engulf the space and your peripheral view, to small postcard size images housed within the pages of the soft-back, pamphlet-style booklets ‘Memorandum on Exchange Shanghai’ and ‘Memorandum on Exchange Liverpool’, allow you to engage in the urban landscapes through different degrees of intimacy with a clarifying realisation that these two cities aren’t worlds apart. They could be urban scenes from the same streets where their visual contexts are only singled out through close reading and captioned titling. Ultimately, this project is a “local to local” conversation – what can be defined as being in a “glocal” situation. You view the works with a sense of solace and isolation played against the brutal desolation of the “architectures of change” questioning what is next for these cities and whether they can and will be “sustained”.
I’ve just discovered my friend and art critic colleague Anneka French has written a fantastic review of the show here for Photomonitor…please read her words for further insight. An excerpt is stated here…
“A large freestanding wall, for example, supports the panoramic composite Twenty Thousand City, Shanghai, 2012. With its curious perspective of high-rise towers and super-high resolution, it too seems like a future-vision from the past. Yet the generic concrete blocks, overgrown waste-ground, tourist coaches, a digger and a graffiti-covered Victorian warehouse do not mark out this place as specifically Chinese. It could just as easily be a part of Liverpool not yet visited: an area left to rot, designated prime investment land, demolished and regenerated. Like the views of Liverpool, this site is in flux and when the physical marks of its history are erased, what might remain is as yet indeterminable. ” – Anneka French