Cities on the Edge

John Davies, Sandy Volz, Philippe Conti, Ali Taptik,
Wojtek Wilczyk & Gabriele Basilico
Contemporary Urban Centre, Greenland Street
13th November – 18th December 2008

Reviewed by Anthony Swords

Yet another addition to the ever-expanding cultural exchange experiment, Cities on the Edge comes to the CUC.

The exhibition is a mix of portraits and landscapes taken by the artists while invited to stay in Liverpool as well as some pieces of their home town. As with other installations and films that have been exhibited as part of Cities on the Edge, the photographs here are inherently interesting because of the many similarities these rugged and individualist cities share. Such an idea is probably best seen in Sandy Volz’s intelligent series that capture the details of pubs in both Liverpool and Bremen. Focusing entirely on the corners of pubs found in both cities, Sandy brilliantly reveals a shared cultural experience between seemingly distance societies.

It may seem obviously easy to reveal the superficial similarities between the northern European towns due to light or weather, like Wojek Wilczyk’s pictures of Bootle show an uncanny similarity to streets in Gdansk, but Philippe Conti’s intimate portraits around the Granby area of Toxteth and his pieces of a similar migrant community in Marseille convey deeper shared experience. Despite the vast difference in landscape and climate, Conti shows a shared history of migration, race and culture. He seems to have an innate empathy with the Toxteth community as his pieces have a vibrancy and intimacy other pieces lack.

What one will probably gain most from these pieces is a fresh perspective on our city. Each artist brings with them their own cultural baggage and artistic perspective that provides an interesting take on streets and buildings as well as people that we might take for granted or pay little attention to due to our familiarity with them.

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