While most exhibitions, particularly group shows, hinge on a singular concept found within the work, a new presentation at Bristol’s Royal Photographic Society frees itself of any such constraints.
Running as part of Bristol Photo Festival, In Progress comprises work by five contemporary imagemakers: Adama Jalloh, Laia Abril, Widline Cadet, Alba Zari and Hoda Afshar. Rather than searching for a theme underpinning their portfolios, the show’s backbone is instead the photographers themselves – each an important voice in the photography scene – and the variety among their practices.
The idea behind the exhibition, curated by Aaron Schuman, stems from John Szarkowski’s curatorial debut at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 1963 – a “group of one-man shows” titled Five Unrelated Photographers: Heyman, Krause, Liebling, White and Winogrand.
Like those at the MoMA show, the five photographers exhibiting as part of In Progress have individual aesthetics and areas of interest. However, what they do seem to share is a practice formed around examining complex issues, both personal and communal.
From Cadet’s exploration of identity and portrayals of the immigrant experience to Abril’s ongoing interrogation of issues such as gender-based violence and inequality, there is a strength and depth to each photographer’s work which allows them to stand firmly alone as solo shows.
The exhibition also displays materials pertaining to the process of concepting, researching and making the work, an all-important facet that might occur away from the lens, but on occasion makes itself visible in the final outcome.
In Progress is on at the Royal Photographic Society, Bristol until October 24; bristolphotofestival.org