Just off one of Nottingham’s busiest streets in its creative quarter, female collective G.A.L have curated a series of photographs from the “I’m Tired” project, founded by Paula Akpan and Harriet Evans. The modestly proportioned space isn’t at all reflective of the exhibitions visual and emotive impact. The work has an honesty which is rare and moving. Created in 2015, the project formed an online community that allowed people from various lifestyles, all across the world, to highlight and express their frustrations with prejudices within society. Now, there is over 36,000 people on Facebook who are a part of this online community.
What is both appealing and commendable about the exhibition is its reliability as well as its ability to educate its viewer. Not only does it comfort a new audience, but also invites all to partake in conveying their own experiences. The project is ongoing and to continues grow as it reaches new communities. As part of this exhibition, and others, Akpan and Evans invite the community to have their photograph taken in a 1:1 session which will then be displayed in their next exhibition and online.
Each portrait captures a statement of text written upon an individual’s bareback, alongside it hangs a quotation from the individual – their chance to add a narrative to their statement. The text is reflective of their personal experiences of prejudgments and stereotypes. The use of the body as a medium brings a sincerity and a softness to the work, whilst the additional text is using art as a political platform for discussion and social change.
There is an overwhelming impression of community and solidarity when considering the exhibition as a whole; this is highlighted through their visual qualities. The repeated composition and use of black and white tone unites the collection whilst also achieving a visual simplicity. The simplicity allows the viewer to focus on the narrative, rather than the technicality of the photographs. The exhibition, though labelled as a ‘photography show’ isn’t about the photographs; it’s about the people.