The Social: Encountering Photography, Sunderland Museum & Winter Gardens

Opening today, The Social: Encountering Photography is the first festival of international contemporary photography in the north-east of England. The event collates new commissions and UK premieres with iconic works from leading international practitioners in museums, galleries and found spaces across the region. Running until 23 February, the images are spread between Sunderland Museum & Winter Gardens, Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art and a selection of other venues.

Bringing together a variety of artists including, Natasha Caruana, Nick Crowe & Ian Rawlinson, Reynold Reynolds and Chris Harrison, The Social examines a variety of global interests. The range of individuals involved also reveals the rapid changes that have taken place in photography and lens based media in recent decades. Archive images, found photographs, studio photography, portraiture, documentary, game and internet imagery, video and time-lapse photography investigate subjects ranging from post-colonialism and military conflict, to industrialisation, consumerism and social ritual.

Some of the major commissions for the event feature John Kippin’s large-scale photographic work Ships That Pass (2013), an installation for the windows of the National Glass Centre in Sunderland and Stuart Whipps’ new video commission Recorded Amendments: The Carboniferous Epoch (2013) consdiers how the North East’s three new towns – built during the optimism of post-war Britain have become landscapes of either mass consumption or high unemployment in a single generation.

With an outstanding variety of works and photographers on display, The Social: Encountering Photography narrates the photographic interests of numerous practitioners and institutions while demonstrating the significant influence of the creative medium.

The Social: Encountering Photography, 18 October 23 February 2014, Sunderland Museum & Winter Gardens, Burdon Road, Sunderland, SR1 1PP. Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art, until 23 November, Fawcett Street, Sunderland SR1 1RE.

1. Tim Mitchell, ‘Fish Out of Water’, 2010-13. Courtesy of the artist.