Art Liverpool’s first International Photography Festival, Look11, opens 13 May until 26 June. A press release:
This spring, Liverpool will host the city’s first International Photography Festival, the largest in the North West. Featuring work by photographers including Simon Barber, Paul Trevor, John Davies, Ian Berry, Lisa Bernard and Mohamed Bourouissa.

Look11 will see work featured at Liverpool’s arts venues, including National Museums Liverpool, FACT, C.U.C, the bluecoat, LJMU, Tate Liverpool, RIBA and others.

The city-wide festival will explore photography and it features two key strands.

The first is a ‘call to action’. Sitting alongside Liverpool’s theme for 2011 ‘City of Radicals’, explores photography’s role in social justice, its ability as a tool to capture and present the world us to affect personal, political and social understandings.

Through the Capture Liverpool competition and by engaging with blogs, forums and social networks, Look11 invites members of the public to pick up a camera and photograph the city for themselves.
Key themes and exhibitions posted below:

Marginalised communities and the disenfranchised.

At the International Slavery Museum, Lee Stow depicts the women of Sierra Leone as well as a touring show featuring photographs of apartheid by Ian Berry. At C.U.C, Tish Murtha’s work features unemployed youngsters, Marketa Luskacova reflects on poverty in the East End of London and Paul Graham documents the DHSS offices in the mid-1980’s. Zanele Muholi presents a visual activist exhibition in response to
hate crime towards the black lesbian and gay community in South Africa.

Conflict and war.

At the bluecoat, ‘Confinement’ features work by photographers Edmund Clarke, John Darwell, Dorrith Doherty, Maisel, David Moore, Ben Granville, Sharon Mutch and Juergen Chill. The exhibition explores life behind bars, at Guantanamo, and at dogs’ homes in the North West. Wider interpretations of ‘confinement’ will explore what it is like to be house-bound and environmental restrictions.

In a UK premiere at Liverpool’s Design Academy, artists Paul Seawright, Jill Jennings and Victor Sloan showcase various works examining life in Northern Ireland during the Troubles.

At RIBA, presented alongside John Davies’ evidence of war in landscape ‘Signs of War’, Donovan Wylie exhibits ‘British Watchtowers’, depictions of what were for many Northern Irish communities a permanent symbol of the ongoing presence of the British Army in Northern Ireland.

The 80s and the Big Society.

This summer will mark 30 years since the Toxteth riots in Liverpool. It is a generation marred by militancy, the miners’ strike a reputation of unemployment, poverty, social disorder and recession.

In response to this, work from the 1980s by eight artists has been selected to be exhibited at various locations across the city. Paul Trevor shows pictures from Everton and Toxteth at the Walker Art Gallery. Homer Sykes exhibits his pictures of the Toxteth riots at the International Slavery Museum. Paul Graham shows his works from his acclaimed 1980’s ‘Beyond Caring’ series at CUC. Don McPhee is at Liverpool Hope University with pictures of the miners’ strike. Meanwhile in a new commission at FACT, Simon Barber explores the idea of the Big Society in a political response while Stephen McLaren brings Moral Hazard, an ongoing project exploring how the City of London responded to the financial crisis which began in 2008.

Innovation and Participation.

In a new, cutting edge project around collaboration between photographers, Redeye Photography Network and Look11 present ‘Lightbox’ which brings together 40 selected photographers from across the UK to respond to the festival theme.

Outside exhibitions and mass participation events will bring photography into unusual places. The festival will engage with people all over Merseyside through projects at community centres looking at social justice, regeneration and its context in the city’s history.

The festival’s Artistic Director, Stephen Snoddy, says:

“Photography has the power to frame and represent debate, to capture events in a way the written word cannot. This summer we want people to think about how photography works as a medium. The message is ‘stop, think, examine and debate’.

As well as exhibiting works across Liverpool at the city’s largest arts venues and spaces by the UK’s leading photographers and artists we want people to pick up a camera themselves. Photography is increasingly democratic. We all have cameras in our pockets now, this summer we want to explore what they can do and what people have to say with their photos”.

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