1970s Britain is the Sussex focus for Brighton PhotoBiennial exhibition

'Enoch Powell electioneering', a photo by Paul Hill, is among the pictures on display for Professor David Mellor's Brighton PhotoBiennial exhibition, 'Co-Optic: Documentary Photographs of the 1970s'

'Afterlife' 2010. Broomberg and Chanarin

'Open Shutters Iraq,' 2009. Eugenie Dolberg

A new centre for visual culture launches at the University of Sussex in October with a series of talks and exhibitions organised as part of the Brighton Photo Biennial (BPB), one of Europe’s biggest photography festivals.

Co-directed by Sussex art historians Dr Ben Burbridge and Professor David Alan Mellor, together with Professor of English Lindsay Smith, the Sussex Centre for the Visual (SCV) will foster dialogues on the many and varied aspects of visual culture.

Professor Mellor is curator of one of the BPB’s main exhibitions, Co-Optic: Documentary Photography in the 1970s, which is being shown at the Dorset Place Gallery from Saturday (4 October) until November 2.

Uncovering a lost episode in the development of British social documentary photography, the exhibition looks at how a group of photographers attempted to establish an authentic representation of 1970s Britain. It includes work by Martin Parr, Daniel Meadows and Fay Godwin.

Professor Mellor was assisted in the project by Amy Bartholomew, a student on Sussex’s Art History and Museum Curating MA. 

The collaboration with BPB marks the first of a series of partnerships between SCV and high-profile institutions, including Tate Modern, The Science Museum and the British Film Institute.

Dr Burbridge played a key role in developing this year’s BPB programme, with its focus on ‘Collectives, Communities, Collaboration’, and advised on several of the main exhibitions and commissions. He also co-edited the exhibition catalogue, which features a panel discussion about the histories of community photography in Britain.

The Sussex Centre for the Visual’s programme of talks and events begin with contemporary artists Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin giving the inaugural SCV Annual Lecture on campus in Arts A2 on Wednesday 8 October. They will discuss their award-winning photography on politics and war, which has led them to exhibit at Tate Modern and the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

Further SCV events will see artist Eugenie Dolberg discuss her extraordinary photographic collaboration with a group of Iraqi women (15 October), and artist Erica Scourti talk about her innovative engagement with aspects of online culture (29 October). Both events take place at The Globe in Brighton. A film about Dolberg’s work will be  shown on campus in SB-309 on 9 October.

Professor Mellor says: "From its inception, this University was not only interdisciplinary in outlook, it also forged links between art, photography and the written word. Beyond conventional forms, SCV will embrace a wide spectrum of visual expression—photography, film , digital media, installations—as vital arenas of production and critical practice.

“We have powerful partnerships with artistic practitioners, galleries, curators, film makers, archives and writers. We look forward and know that we can make good on Sussex's commitment to interdisciplinarity."


Notes for editors


By: Jacqui Bealing
Last updated: Tuesday, 30 September 2014