Radical visions: Camerwork revisited
Radical Visions: Camerwork Revisited reactivates the archives of Camerawork magazine (1976 – 1985), situating its challenging approaches to photojournalism within the context of the current social/political moment.
Emerging from the 1970s community arts movement, Camerawork eschewed prevalent views of photography as a specialist practice, instead asserting the medium’s potential to effect social change. Inspired by the 1930s Worker-Photography Movement, its grassroots approach documented the political struggles of Thatcher-era Britain.
Racial tensions, community activism, feminism and industrial unrest; Camerawork’s photographers focused on issues unrepresented by the mainstream press. Work by local people was shown alongside established practitioners including Jo Spence, Daniel Meadows, Susan Meiselas and Peter Kennard.
The magazine was a forum for critical debates on representation and the use of photography in oppositional politics and now offers a unique insight into a turbulent era in British history that has significant parallels with today. This exhibition opens up original material from its archives relating to current issues such as women’s equality, housing, migration, the rise of far-right politics.
Contemporary photographers supported by Four Corners have been invited to submit images which speak to Camerawork’s ethos and selected images will be projected into the space, creating a dialogue between two eras.
In the era of Brexit and Trump there is a revitalised interest in photography as an agent for social engagement and political change. New photography collectives are seeking to increase participation and visibility of social issues, often through independent publishing. The history of Camerawork speaks directly to this emerging trend. As Camerawork took inspiration from the 1930s, this exhibition looks back 40 years to investigate how the magazine’s radical approaches can inform photography now.