Ways of Looking aims for Berlin and Bienniale feel in inaugural Bradford photography festival

By Culture24 Reporter | 30 September 2011
A photo of a group of people in suits of armour bearing weapon
Red Saunders, Wat Tyler and the Peasants Revolt. From Hidden at Impressions Gallery
Festival: Ways of Looking, various venues, Bradford, October 1-30 2011
“A bit like Berlin, Bradford is edgy, post industrial and home to some fantastic art spaces,” says Nicola Stephenson, the co-founder of this new festival of photography which boasts premieres from former Turner Prize winners Douglas Gordon and Jeremy Deller and an encapsulating theme of Evidence.

“Its cosmopolitan and diverse population make it a great destination for festival-goers.”

From epic photographic tableaux vivants at Impressions Gallery recreating the Civil War and the Swing Riots to Magnum snapper Donovan Wylie’s survey of military outposts at the National Media Museum, the line-up for this month-long West Yorkshire lensfest catches the eye.

A black and white photo of a family in their living room
Daniel Meadows, June Street, Salford (February - April 1973) at National Media Museum
Most are steeped in the heritage of the city, so along the way you can find out about the closure of Bradford’s Hungarian club last year (Diane Bielik’s Makeshift Monuments, held at the skeletal site where the club used to be), trace a crime scene from 1950s Wakefield reconstructed by poet Roger Cliffe-Thompson, photographer Leila Romaya and West Yorkshire Police, or take an interactive slalom through the streets and time in a phone and camera-led set of journeys.

Gordon has made Self portrait of you and me (Blue Skies), a blown-up version of Syd Barrett’s face complete with hangdog expression and upturned collar in a near-combusted portrait facing the former Gaumont Cinema.

And Deller’s intuitive capacity to sensitively re-interpret human stories has been galvanised by the vast photographic archives held by Bradford Museums, resulting in a new exhibition at Bradford 1 Gallery.

“It draws on Bradford’s amazing wealth of photographic activity,” observes Colin Philpott, the Director of the National Media Museum.

“It epitomises Bradford’s renaissance as a cultural centre, and perfectly complements its new status as the world’s first UNESCO City of Film.”

Anne McNeill, the Impressions Gallery Director who is also a co-founder, believes the organisational ethos has been a thoughtful one which has targetted compactness.

“Ways of Looking is a boutique festival – small but considered,” she concludes.

“We believe it has the potential to grow to become a key biennial on the international circuit of photography festivals.”

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