Opening today (May 10), Kinship at Open Eye Gallery navigates the dynamics of modern relationships.
The exhibition presents projects from seven photographers, all women.
They address traditional ideas of how people relate to each other based on their gender, age, or position within a family.
Together, the artists seek to open up new ways of thinking about how we express our sense of kin. As friends, family and partners.
Capturing private family dynamics
In Experimental Relationship, Pixy Liao presents her everyday dynamic as a Chinese-born woman in a relationship with a younger Japanese man.
Her photos consist of ‘experiments’ with her partner that subvert the traditional gender roles of heterosexual relationships.
By playfully inverting the balance of sex and power, Liao opens up a space to re-approach relationships and move beyond unfair gender roles.
Johanna Heldebro takes a different approach to capturing private family dynamics.
She had no contact with her father following her parents’ divorce. However, she later discovered he was living a new life in Sweden.
She decided to cross the Atlantic to learn more about him by taking photos of his new life without his knowledge.
Using techniques from police surveillance photography, Heldebro’s To Come Within Reach of You (Gunnar Heldebro, Hässelby Strandväg 55, 165 65 Hässelby, Sweden) charts the artist’s attempts to learn about her father’s new life.
Great steps are taken towards this – including breaking into his home.
However, Heldebro finds the one-way process of ‘following’ an unfulfilling way of coming to know someone.
Experiencing loss and birth
Lydia Goldblatt also photographed her father, following him through his experience of dementia during the last years of his life.
Still Here also includes images of her mother going through the experience of losing someone, alongside close-up images of moments and objects that act as visual poetry.
One Day Young, by Jenny Lewis, captures intimate portraits of women with newborn children on the first day of their lives together.
Rather than photographing mothers in hospitals, she visits them in their homes, all a bike ride away from her Hackney flat.
The portraits share a powerful range of emotions women experience at the start of their motherhood.
Urban displacement and inequality
In an early project titled Family (1994), Margaret Mitchell photographed her nieces and nephews growing up on an estate in Stirling.
In this Place, a new series begun more than 20 years later, revisits the lives of her late sister’s children.
It documents their relationships against the backdrop of urban displacement and inequality that passes from generation to generation.
Momo Okabe’s photobook Dildo reached cult status due to being rare – limited to 55 copies worldwide – and, to some, hyper-sexual.
The project follows two of the artist’s partners with fluid gender identities, including a journey through gender reassignment surgery in Thailand.
Presented as a photographic family journal, running throughout the series is an immense sensitivity, compassion and acceptance.
For the past three years, Open Eye Gallery has collaborated with residents from the Northwood Golden Years group in Kirkby, alongside filmmaker Jemma O’Brien and photographer Tony Mallon.
For Kinship, O’Brien presents a new collaborative video work.
It reflects upon the trust and friendships formed between the group over the 50 years they have spent together and how they have witnessed their hometown change.
Kinship is part of RISE, a year-round programme by Liverpool City Council to champion the achievements of women and celebrate underrepresented histories.
As part of this, Open Eye Gallery is seeking to address a historic gender imbalance in photography by ensuring at least 80 per cent of the artists it works with this year are women or a gender minority.
Featuring the work of Pixy Liao, Lydia Goldblatt, Johanna Heldebro, Jenny Lewis, Momo Okabe, Margaret Mitchell and Jemma O’Brien.
Entrance to Open Eye Gallery is free. Open Tuesday-Sunday, 10am-5pm.
Supported by Arts Council England, Paul Hamlyn Foundation, Foyle Foundation and Liverpool City Council.