The quality of the work on show at Peckham 24 was outstanding. This celebration of experimental photographers ensured that poignant and important explorations of subjects such as trans and non-binary representation, queer performance, black goodness, documentations of protest, and issues of sexual assault were given defined space.
A.Bliss framed two of Asa Johannsson’s portraits for their show, The Queering of Photography. Johannsson’s pieces interrogated ways of queering both identities and photography itself, without creating a topology of queer experience. Questions of pose are interrogated in these portraits: some poses are playful and extravagant, whereas others are subtle. Johannsson also pushed the boundaries of the traditional portrait by mixing images of Roman statues with those of real people. These images of the statues are done so expertly that you are not immediately sure if it is a statue or flesh: these images ask- is it a portrait if it is not of a person? The framing for their portraits is understated, with classic thin-black tulip box frames and museum glass, ensuring the viewer became entirely absorbed by the image, rather than being confronted by their own reflection. In this way the framing holds the work rather than taking away from it.
Round the corner from Peckham 24 was Thom Bridge’s show at the Staffordshire Art Studios, Only Similar or Equivalent at Best. This show explores the duality of Bridges’ experience of having both Swedish and British identities, along with his experience of being a twin. It also examines the ‘doubleness’ of photography itself. Bridge disrupts the binary photographic system with this show, presenting work that is non-binary: not analogue or digital, not positive or negative, not object nor photograph, not English or Swedish, not one twin or the other.
A.Bliss framed ‘Seconds First.’ This image is a copy of a photograph of Bridge and his twin brother Theo, which has been cut down the middle and swapped around. It was important that the physicality of the altered print remained intact, so it is tab-mounted and is given space by the frame. The simple white staining and gentle shallowness of the maple box frame ensures the viewer is drawn into the image, rather than being confronted by it. In this way, details like the doubled shoulders can be more easily noticed.
The Perspex boxes of ‘Elite (Positive Image / Positive Contact)' were chosen to foreground the materiality of the subject. Both are a photograph of a box of paper Kodak made in the 1980s called ‘Kodax Fine Art Elite,’ which Bridge turned upside down, photoshopped off the text, and transformed it into a digital negative. ‘Seconds First’ is a contact print of the negative, the repetition of black and white rectangles foregrounding pattern, whereas the enlargement ‘Elite’ reveals the physicality of the original object, as we can see the edge of the box, the creases on the paper. The Perspex boxes heightened this investigation of physicality and material, as well as ensuring the black-and-white pattern was not replicated with another black framing device.