Main Exhibition Future Exhibitions

The Time We Call Our Own

3 April - 31 May 2020

Events

Photography Course: Photography and Control

5 March - 5 March 2020

Events

PORTFOLIO CLUB

23 February - 23 February 2020

Events

OPEN SOURCE IN CONVERSATION: JONATHAN LYNCH

29 February - 29 February 2020

Exhibitions

DIGITAL WINDOW GALLERY: OPEN SOURCE #15 – JONATHAN LYNCH

1 February - 29 February 2020

Projects

PLATFORM Issue 01

21 January 2020

Events

LAUNCH: THE DARK FIGURE*

20 February - 20 February 2020

Past Exhibitions

DIGITAL WINDOW GALLERY: OPEN SOURCE #14 – SAHAN NUHOGLU

16 January 2020

Events

TALK: THE IMAGE OF WHITENESS WITH DANIEL C. BLIGHT

12 March - 12 March 2020

Exhibitions

VISUAL RIGHTS

16 January - 22 March 2020

Future Exhibitions

THE DARK FIGURE*

20 February - 22 March 2020

Past Exhibitions

EXPOSED

12 December - 5 February 2020

Exhibitions Past Exhibitions

DIGITAL WINDOW GALLERY: NOW, FOR THE FUTURE – OPEN SOURCE X SHUTTER HUB

1 November - 30 November 2019

Brilliant City 中文

30 October - 16 November 2019

Exhibitions

Tong Yan Gai — Chinatown—中文

7 October - 24 October 2019

Exhibitions

HE 中文

17 October - 21 December 2019

Exhibitions

JUMP! 中文

4 October - 26 October 2019

Exhibitions

A Room of Our Own: a Fast Forward Women in Photography Exhibition 中文

17 October - 21 December 2019

Exhibitions

DINU LI: ANATOMY OF PLACE — (中文)

17 October - 21 December 2019

Exhibitions

Peer to Peer 中文

17 October - 22 December 2019

Exhibitions Past Exhibitions

DIGITAL WINDOW GALLERY: OPEN SOURCE 12 – KATHY ANNE LIM

1 October - 31 October 2019

LOOK PHOTO BIENNIAL / SATELLITE

17 October - 21 December 2019

JUMP! — Curated by Sian Bonnell

4 October - 26 October 2019

UCLan: Brilliant City

30 October - 16 November 2019

Exhibitions

Derek Man & Tobias Brebner: Tong Yan Gai — Chinatown

7 October - 24 October 2019

Exhibitions

YAN WANG PRESTON: HE

17 October - 21 December 2019

Exhibitions

A Room of Our Own: a Fast Forward Women in Photography Exhibition

17 October - 21 December 2019

Exhibitions

Dinu Li: The Anatomy of Place

17 October - 21 December 2019

Past Exhibitions

NORTH: FASHIONING IDENTITY

14 September - 21 December 2019

Past Exhibitions

Peer to Peer

17 October - 22 December 2019

Past Exhibitions

SIXTEEN at Ellesmere Port Library

19 September - 27 September 2019

WE ARE KIRKBY

23 September - 16 November 2019

Past Exhibitions

DIGITAL WINDOW GALLERY: OPEN SOURCE 11 – NATHAN CUTLER

1 September - 30 September 2019

Exhibitions Past Exhibitions

DIGITAL WINDOW GALLERY: OPEN SOURCE 10 – JOCELYN ALLEN

1 August - 31 August 2019

Exhibitions

A Portrait Of…

2 August - 29 September 2019

Exhibitions Past Exhibitions

DIGITAL WINDOW GALLERY: OPEN SOURCE 09 – ARABELLE ZHUANG

1 July - 31 July 2019

Past Exhibitions

Close Attention

11 July - 21 July 2019

Exhibitions Past Exhibitions

New York Scene/Unseen: Keith Haring and Friends

14 June - 7 July 2019

Past Exhibitions

DIGITAL WINDOW GALLERY: OPEN SOURCE 08 – DENISA N. MOLNAR

1 June - 30 June 2019

Exhibitions

DIGITAL WINDOW GALLERY: TRANSFORMATIVE MOMENTS – STEPHANIE WYNNE

1 April - 7 July 2019

Past Exhibitions

DIGITAL WINDOW GALLERY: OPEN SOURCE 07 – MARIE SMITH

1 May - 31 May 2019

Projects

VR — Wake Up Together (Ren Hang & Where Love is Illegal)

23 April 2019

Exhibitions

Belonging: Students of Whitby High School

18 April - 28 April 2019

Exhibitions Past Exhibitions

DIGITAL WINDOW GALLERY: OPEN SOURCE 06 – MARIA ANSELL

1 April - 30 April 2019

Past Exhibitions

DIGITAL WINDOW GALLERY: OPEN SOURCE 05 – ELIZABETH GLEAVE

1 March - 31 March 2019

Past Exhibitions

DIGITAL WINDOW GALLERY: OPEN SOURCE 04 – LEIA MORRISON

1 February - 28 February 2019

Past Exhibitions

Here And Now

19 February - 23 February 2019

Exhibitions

PAULINE ROWE & DAVE LOCKWOOD – THE ALLOTMENTS

29 August - 28 September 2019

Exhibitions

TABITHA JUSSA & JOHN DAVIES – CAN’T SEE THE WOOD FOR THE TREES

6 June - 4 July 2019

Exhibitions

Stephanie Wynne and Stephen McCoy — Triangulation

18 July - 24 August 2019

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© Michelle Sank
© Michelle Sank
© Michelle Sank
© Michelle Sank

POSTERS, PLUSHIES AND POTS OF SUDOCREM: SPOTLIGHT ON MY.SELF BY SAM PHASEY

believe in God   culture – have lots’

My.Self, produced by photographer Michelle Sank and Sandwell-based community art company Multistory, is an examination of the Black Country’s varied youth. The series echoes work that Multistory has pursued with Martin Parr in the Black Country previously (Black Country Stories, 2010). An intimate series of bedroom vignettes, the portraits catalogue a diversity of cultures, experiences, hopes and aspirations. What does it mean to be a young person in today’s society? What does it mean to live in the Black Country?

‘The yam yam accent gets too much sometimes’

 Faces and poses range from insecure to assured. Some of the teenagers perch on bed corners, some crouch on bunk ladders. Others meet the camera’s gaze with confidence (feigned or sincere), or uncomfortably stare at some unknowable point on the carpet. Outfits, similarly, run the gamut from school-wear to sports-wear to sequins and sparkles.

‘Casual for college. Classy for eveningwear.’

The rooms, however, articulate as much about the youths as their attire, expressions and postures do: floral wallpapers and white bedspreads are both consonant and discordant with the subjects lying against and on top of them. These small clashes and co-ordinations evoke a nuanced, intimate knowledge of the subjects. From dollhouses to dermatology, each bedroom relays the individual’s interests through their clutter, whether spartan, or swarming with miscellany— shelves and surfaces decorated with autobiographical ornaments— posters, plushies and pots of Sudocrem. Between these and other details, we infer relatable narratives of teenage obsessions, angsts and anxieties: what pictures used to hang from those errant nails? What outpourings of emotion imprinted themselves on that paintwork?

‘I love my family. I barely know half of them but I still love them all regardless’

 Conversely, in one instance, the subject’s wall is so neutral, so unadorned, that elements from the photo overleaf begin to bleed through, creating a palimpsest that binds the two images together. This accidental enmeshing perhaps calls into question the otherwise isolating format of the portraiture— is it wholly apposite for a community orientated project?

 ‘I Pray sometimes’

Nonetheless, the portraits’ mise-en-scène is highly successful in providing us with access to the individual youths’ lives— their worlds— from comic books and cosplay to harps and helmets. The subjects are as diverse in their interests as in their identities, if the two can be meaningfully separated.

‘I would like to be a choreographer or dancer

The photographs were planned with the active engagement of the subjects: ‘[w]e asked them to consider the particularities and specifics of their clothes and make-up’. This collaborative, conscious process results in an almost performative quality emerging in the photos: what we are made privy to is not only intimacy, but intimacy which knows it is intimate. The subjects’ vulnerability is— to a certain extent— constructed, guarded. Consequently, as much as they are identity documents, the photographs also reflect the youths’ self-perception, and the way they choose to situate themselves in the world.

‘I believe we are all equal, Sexuality, Religion, Race’

 Each portrait is sparsely captioned with the first names of the teens, drawing out, rather than drowning out, each individual’s personhood, and allowing the photographs to elucidate the details. The images are, however, presented alongside a series of paper questionnaires that have been filled in by other Black Country youths: ‘What do you like about yourself?’ ‘Where do you see yourself in 10 years?’ ‘How do you feel about religion or culture?’ The A4 proportioned forms’ programmatic listing of likes, dislikes, dreams and descriptions contrasts with the organic processes of discovery and interpretation that we undertake when engaging with the photographs themselves. That said, each is handwritten— framed by scribbles and scratches— and from those lapses, that authorial exercise of intent and accident, we glimpse the same richness and diversity of personhood evinced by the photographs themselves.

 ‘I would like to have published novels’

When viewing this series it is, of course, difficult for any audience not to feel haunted by their own teenage experiences and aspirations. The poses, gazes and expressions of the youths inspire fleeting reminiscences— a sort of introspective saudade or sehnsucht— a fragmentary remembrance of one’s past selves. Passions and anxieties re-emerge— was I once that scared, that ashamed? Or was I that strong, that assured?

‘Edgy, Androgynous, Grunge, Dark, Plaid’

Michelle Sank has also contributed work to the SIXTEEN project, a thematically similar portraiture series, which is currently exhibiting throughout Liverpool at Open Eye Gallery, Tate Liverpool Exchange and Ropes and Twines.

My.Self is currently available in the Open Eye Gallery independent book shop for £15.

 

 

Words: Sam Phasey

Images: Michelle Sank

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