Everyone stops what they are doing to smile and pose for the camera, breath-held as the camera’s shutter freezes space and time – the future postponed, pensive and pregnant with possibilities. Photography has always had a particular relationship with the ‘moment’ – a hiatus or decisive pause, the suspension of time between past and future, where one-thing becomes another. Presently, this is something our graduates can well understand.

Photography is changing. Throughout their time on the BA Photography course at Manchester School of Art, students have creatively explored critical questions of ‘what-photography-is’, what it can be today, and what it might become in the future. In this Digital Showcase, we can see young practitioners testing the definitions and potential of an expanded photography, from analogue cameraless photography to facial-recognition software, sculpture and other inter-disciplinary practices. The alchemical and ephemeral nature of photography is still present, but so too is a compelling reflection on how the medium’s technology is changing notions of the human, society and nature. This showcase presents a snapshot of a photographic practice which is fluid, expansive and future facing.

BA Photography students titled their graduating show ‘Inter-mission’, long before the world locked-down and took its own intermission. Originally it was the tile of their exhibition and publication that would tour to the Arles Festival in the South of France – the third year that Manchester School of Art students would have exhibited during les Rencontres de la Photographie. Such exhibitions are on hold of course, furloughed along with many things, and everyone is asking what will happen next. But these students have not been static, instead their creativity has thrived during this in-between time.

These graduates are to be congratulated for having completed their studies during the lockdown, most without access to significant equipment or facilities. Many projects had to radically change direction. Make-shift darkrooms and studios were constructed, and many embraced the virtual world. All showed a remarkable adaptability and creativity, that is testament to their resilience. This year’s graduates, above any other, will be known for their ability to work within a state of change and uncertainty. Thus, Inter-mission presents not so much the culmination of three years of study, but rather an interlude – a moment for reflection and celebration – within much longer career trajectories. This is not the end, but an intermission before the next act of a story that is yet to be written.

Richard Page

Programme Leader, BA (Hons) Photography

40 profiles