‘Edgy Cities, Take a Look on the Westside’ is an exhibition at World Museum Liverpool that follows on from the 2007 book of the same name by Steve Higginson and Tony Wailey. The authors have joined forces with photographer John Lafferty to create a series of 25 images that aim to represent Liverpool as a unique place and space, a “city on the edge.”
The accompanying text emphasises Liverpool’s distance psychologically from the UK and suggests that in the creation of these images, Lafferty was searching for the ‘ambiguous moment’ as a way to sum up the city.
The photographs are not technically brilliant, but their theme does hold some water. Liverpool is indeed full of ambiguities, and Lafferty well captures this in shots that show fleeting glances of figures in the city’s landscape; working, selling, travelling, waiting and playing, conveying a sense of constant movement without direction.
However, the feeling created by the best of these images is detracted from by other more random photos of architecture and portraiture which don’t have the same power. The poor exhibition space too, which appears to be some sort of meeting room complete with a coat-rail in the middle, doesn’t help matters either.
The last image in the sequence entitled ‘Future?’ is perhaps the most resonate. A man walks down Newington past a piece of graffiti stating: ‘CHANGE?’ Perhaps the only thing we can be sure of in these turbulent times of this ever shifting city. Because the trouble of course with being on the edge, is that it’s very easy to fall off.
By Kenn Taylor