“… the power of the images is in their direct connection to the viewer. We remember our own schooldays and wonder what happened to our own classmates. By presenting different pupils, different schools, different year groups, Germain asks questions about contemporary educational practices and social divisions. Already we can imagine the life trajectories of some of these young people. Here are faces full of hope and promise. Here also, is the silent threat of failure. Aspiration competes with apathy …” Tom Shakespeare. Archive Magazine, October 2005
JULIAN GERMAIN THE FUTURE IS OURS: CLASSROOM PORTRAITS 2004-2015
Today I am posting some photos taken on my iPhone from the opening night of British photographer and artist Julian Germain‘s The Future is Ours: Classroom Portraits 2004-2015, a major exhibition at the Towner art gallery in Eastbourne, East Sussex running until 10 January 2016. This body of work began in schools in North East England in 2004 and was extended to schools throughout the UK the following year. Since 2005 the archive has grown to include schools throughout Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia, South East Asia, North and South America, and a special commission for this exhibition, four Eastbourne schools that Germain visited and photographed in July.
The Future is Ours: Classroom Portraits 2004-2015 is a long-term project exploring universal themes of school and childhood from 19 countries worldwide and is thus a global archive documenting 461 school classrooms. Using his own photography technique, he captured the students in the natural environment of their classrooms and also canvassed some of the pupils about their lives. His work resulted in the publication Classroom Portraits 2004-2012 (now out of print) and an exhibition at Nederlands Fotomuseum, Rotterdam.
This carefully curated show is the UK premiere has been put together so that wherever the viewer stands when walking through, there are a number of points of visual interest. It was no surprise to learn, during director Emma Morris’ speech, that Germain was heavily involved in the curation of the show and went to the gallery every day, spending a week on making decisions as to how to hang the photographs and place related objects. The exhibition displays 200 objects including framed photographs, films, prints, Polaroids, and customised books. The show also includes books, graphs indicating the students likes and dislikes and daily habits, and projected imagery.
All iPhone photos below ©Miranda Gavin