Allowed voices

We are Lydia and Louis, and we have been asked by Vision to inject a little visual culture into the York-blogosphere. As the leaders of The Norman Rea Gallery we hope that we can offer some authority on such things, perhaps introduce you to something new, possibly give you a new way of looking at something you already know. At the very least we’d like to get you thinking a bit more about art. So let us begin…

Today we visited the Ron Cooke Hub’s latest project, Allowed Voices, curated by the folk from the New School House Gallery, marking the annual Holocaust Memorial Day. The exhibition opens out the events of the Holocaust in a pan-European perspective, with Portraits for Posterity of ordinary people, each of whom experienced the devastation of genocide in individually harrowing circumstances. While undoubtedly sobering, the exhibition is markedly hopeful as its extensive captioning relates the story of each of the subjects’ personal recovery.

These are powerful photographs! This exhibition combines both emotional narratives and conscientious curating to create an emotional photographic journey for any individual who is interested in photography as a medium. The photographs appear to have been manipulated in order to focus on particular facial features giving piercing clarity alongside soft tones on a plain black background – a flourish of technical prowess from Matt Writtle, the photographer.

As of Monday (January 30th) this wall of wizened faces is to be complimented by the installation of a project entitled Speak Up. Speak Out, which encouraged local secondary school pupils to think about themes of genocide and cultural eradication. Again, at the risk of seeming glib, it’s soundly provocative stuff, but is buoyed up by little sparks of youthful ingenuity – for example, in managing to thoughtfully align the Holocaust and campaigns to protect endangered species of elephant, or in the form of the central installation, a pile of discarded shoes.

The combination of the two artistic projects in one space might feel a little chaotic, but the Ron Cooke Hub seems to handle it remarkably well.

Allowed Voices will be at The Ron Cooke Hub until Feb. 5 so go and check it out, we enjoyed it immensely.