an interview with Ryan Blackwell 

The Beyond Photography visual exhibition took place on 24th February 2018, giving unknown talent in the North of England the chance to present their work to the public. The Beyond Photography visual exhibition will explore photography impossible to capture with a single press of the shutter, and delve into the new possibilities of Image Making. Prior to the event, we spoke with Ryan Blackwell, co-founder and co-curator of Beyond Photography. Move back in time, read all about the founders vision here.

“Talk me through the name "Beyond Photography"? Is it as self explanatory as it sounds?”

The title Beyond Photography is meant to be simple, but also intended to open up a can of worms as to what medium us ‘Photographers’ are actually working with. In recent years, the capabilities of what we can do with our cameras has changed drastically, and I am not just taking about going from analogue to digital, from the dark room to Photoshop; just look at what you can do on your phone with Snapchat and Instagram! All of the preconceived notions of Photography are constantly changing as technology improves. Therefore, I think that what we know as Photography in the present day, is actually breaking the parameters of what Photography originally was. Beyond Photography encapsulates this notion of Image Making, which isn’t entirely separate from Photography, but a rather is a tangent of Photography that is to be explored further.

“What is the purpose of the exhibition? What do you hope to achieve from it?”

Our exhibition has 3 aims. Firstly, me and my partner Nastassia Winge want to create an experience for those that visit; I think so many art exhibitions are plain, most of what you see is elitist and largely uninteresting unless you spend all day flicking through Art Forum - in my opinion curators should be trying to make art as interesting and accessible to the public as possible. Our second aim is to get young artists’ work into the exhibition space. We know how hard this is ourselves, so creating this community of young artists and challenging each other through this exhibition will be the best way to tackle this problem, even if it is on a small scale. Finally, to open this interesting conversation about Image Making and to make an argument about what this medium is and how we can utilise it artistically.

“'Explore the fine line between photography and more-than-simply-a-photograph’ what do you mean by this?'”

As I said earlier, our argument of Beyond Photography or Image Making is a progression of Photography, so whilst they are not completely the same, one has influenced the other. What a lot of the artists in the exhibition are doing, is using Photography as part of their process and then going further than just pressing the shutter to provoke new meanings. Some of our images could be left as portraits, but by distorting the model’s eyes, for example, provides a whole new dimension to the image so now the work goes beyond reality. I am fascinated by this capability. It is so interesting to be able to create something that can’t really exist which is why programs like Photoshop allow artists to produce a whole new world in their work.

“What type of art and artists can people expect to see?”

I don’t want to give too much away. I think the people who come to the exhibition should expect to be surprised and see a real diversity of work all presented in a variety of ways that is fitting with the exhibition space (which is still to be revealed). Myself and Nastassia have been obsessed with the fashion world for as long as we have known each other. Our images will always reflect those interests but other collaborators have a completely different set of references and we are pushing them to realise this in their own work.

“Will people be expected to pay/donate so you can further expand your work with RightNow studio?”

We will be putting our Kickstarter live on the 24th of January and the main aim for this is so that the show can have the resources it needs to make the show successful for our viewers and our artists. You will be able to donate to the exhibition and buy anything we sell on the night, but it is free to come and look around. For us, doing this exhibition isn’t about profit, it is about helping young creatives and getting people interested in art again. Any money we do make as profits will go onto our next artistic venture with RightNow Studio.

“Who are some of your artistic influences, specifically in the world of photography?”

We have been calling each other Nick and Pierre for years after our favourite Image Makers Nick Knight and Pierre Debusschere. Both artists create stunning and challenging art works for fashion magazines across the world. Nick is probably our most prominent figure as he denounced his status as a photographer over 10 years ago and began calling himself an Image Maker and Director, he has been at the centre of the discussions leading up to this exhibition. Other artists that are heavily influential to me are Damien Blottiere, Txema Yeste, Man Ray, Tim Walker, Meisel, and LaChapelle.

“Can you give us any more general information on what to expect from the exhibition?”

I want the exhibition to open up the discussion of what Image Making is and where it could be heading. We also want to challenge what an exhibition really is and should/could be. What I think you should expect from the exhibition is a unique experience that is removed from the norm when it comes to your average gallery. We are taking the Exhibition away from the hands of the rich art collectors and bringing it back down to earth, where it should be.

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