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London College of Communication

Photography and the Archive Research Centre returns with two powerful new exhibitions

Written by Jake May
Published date 01 October 2019

The UAL Photography and the Archive Research Centre at London College of Communication is returning this month with not one but two powerful new exhibitions.

NO MORE FLOWERS’, the first solo exhibition by Syrian visual artist Abd Doumany, born in the Syrian capital of Damascus in 1990 and now based in London, and ‘Portrait of a London Road: 1904, 1975, 2019’, an exhibition documenting Elephant and Castle’s London Road at three points in its history, will go on show to the public from 30 October 2019 to 15 January 2020.

Both exhibitions will be celebrated with a launch event in the Photography and the Archive Research Centre, based in room W224 at London College of Communication, on 30 October, from 4-7pm – open to students, staff, guests and the public.

The two exhibitions are the first to be presented by the Photography and the Archive Research Centre since the re-launch of the Centre, following recent College investment and a thorough makeover of their exhibition space.

Brigitte Lardinois, Acting Director of the Photography and Archive Research Centre, said: 

“We are really proud to be presenting not one but two powerful and diverse new exhibitions of photography in our recently-renovated space.

“We are delighted that the College is committed to photographic research practice, as it demonstrated with the funding of the renovation of our space, and we look forward to presenting a number of new exhibitions of work as well as events exploring powerful local national, international narratives throughout the year.”

In addition to exploring the exhibition and attending the Launch Night, staff, students and visitors will have the opportunity to meet the curators of the exhibitions at special Curator Tours throughout the exhibition run.

NO MORE FLOWERS

Crowd gathered waving Syrian flag as a body is carried in a coffin.
A funeral of a protester killed by the Assad regime, Douma, 2012 © Abd Doumany

Curated by MA Photojournalism and Documentary Photography Course Leader Max Houghton, 'NO MORE FLOWERS' is the first solo exhibition by Syrian photographer Abd Doumany, which brings together images in different registers that bear witness to the origins of the war, and honours its many dead. The title reflects the harsh reality of life in war torn Syria: there are so many funerals that there are literally no more flowers left to adorn the coffins.

This is one of the very personal observations that only an insider can make and this exhibition does just that: it shows this conflict from within. Doumany, who has been the recipient of international photographic prizes including World Press Photo, found himself face to lifeless face with people he knew, including members of his family, through the process of editing his own images. This encounter necessitated an ethics of seeing beyond the documentary form. His confrontation with so many brutalised bodies has led to a questioning of the violence of the image itself. Using smashed fragments of mirrored glass, to anonymise the faces of the dead, at the same time reveals an image of the viewer, broken by sight.

Portrait of a London Road: 1904, 1975, 2019

Black and white photo of couple stood outside cash and carry in 1975.
Wright’s Traders’ Supplies, 43 London Road. © Brue Rae, London College of Communication, 1975. Collection: UAL Archives and Special Collections Centre

At the northern end of London Road is the historical landmark St George’s Circus. At the southern end lies the famous Elephant & Castle roundabout, as well as the original entrance to the Underground Station which previously housed the head offices of the South London Press. ‘Portrait of a London Road: 1904, 1975, 2019’ is a new exhibition of photography documenting Elephant and Castle’s London Road at three points in its history – revealing not just a road but a community facing change.

Curated by photographer, researcher and publisher, Robin Christian, the exhibition centres on a remarkable set of recently-discovered archival photographs from 1975, taken from a project by former London College of Printing lecturer Bruce Rae and London College of Printing student Mick Hales. The works celebrate the ‘urge to document’ as well as the importance to re-evaluate documentation of an area and community that is constantly changing.

Photography and the Archive Research Centre

Photography and the Archive Research Centre is a research centre of the University of the Arts London, based at London College of Communication. Its overall aim is to facilitate practise-based and scholarly research that develops an understanding of lens-based works, and endeavours to widen participation with archive collections.

The Centre consists of members, research fellows, associates, PhD students and alumni who together produce significant outcomes that span the history and culture of photography giving insight into the medium’s development and helping to preserve its heritage.

The outcomes include a wide range of events – exhibitions, publications, workshops, study days and conferences – with a special interest in archival collections, notably the documentation of war and conflict and the transfer of analogue archives to digital forms.

NO MORE FLOWERS’ and ‘Portrait of a London Road: 1904, 1975, 2019’ will exhibit in the Photography and the Archive Research Centre (in room W224 at London College of Communication) from 4 November 2019 to 15 January 2020, with a Launch Night on 30 October, 4-7pm.

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