AffiliationUniversity of Derby
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AbstractUnheard Stories - Narrating Next Level To publish art – to literally make it public – was a political act, one that challenged the art world and the world at large. Gwen Allen1 This critical appraisal on the published journal Next Level reports the result of my research relating to the body of my work from 2005 to 2016. More specifically, I will survey the creative production of the contemporary photography journal Next Level, currently consisting of seven city editions from a volume of twenty-four editions. This acknowledgement is not intended to emphasise the subjectivity of the journal as a limitation, but rather to provide focus to the lens through which I have been looking at my data with important findings about the outcomes of measurable theoretical, critical and artistic approaches. The journal Next Level periodically publishes a number of editions that present the collection of original data about photography art communities through the exploration of various cities around the world. These editions are developed from data collected through on-the-ground research that is central to this evaluation, which is an examination of and response to a large range of data drawn from seven cities, providing new information. This provides a pivot for the work around which my ideas are put across in a meaningful, comparable and communicable way, creating a mapping of each city, always enabling and never limiting. This methodology of gathering data, consisting of governmental cultural reports, museum archives, catalogues, comment books and newsletters, visual artists’ curriculum vitaes (CVs), interviews and rich contextual material, in turn provides primary research for students, photography professionals, photography enthusiasts and future photography historians. By countering the standard framework of research and production, my work is theoretically, critically and artistically traced, not by making things new, but by comprehensively questioning the characteristics that have shaped things in new ways. This framework manifests itself in the preliminary research and creative practice that provided the foundation for the complete scope of the entire space in the journal, which I present alongside this critical appraisal. Through the dissemination of current photographic discourse, I discuss current traditions and new perceptions through various articles and features. These editorial pieces relating to local communities of contemporary art photography look in particular at their cultural outputs in response to the rise of globalisation. Through the roles of artist-as-editor and curator, the journal is an artefact that I have shaped, utilising print production as part of its aesthetic dimension. I have published and distributed between 8,000 and 20,000 copies per edition to 37 countries. The readership of the journal thus has access to viewpoints that are revealing and politically reflective of specific manifestations of power, representation and the unheard stories that are altering various aspects of the conventions of current photographic discourse.
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