0muxes-(10-of-17)-web.jpg
Trujillo/Paumier, Untitled (Muxes 10), 2009

I'm one day late (how lame!) for my wrap-up of the exhibitions i enjoyed in London in July.

Starting obviously with the favourite one. Men y Men by TrujilloPaumier at New Art Projects. Joaquin Trujillo and Brian Paumier went to Oxaca to portray two communities who communicate radically different ideas of masculinity. Paumier's Moros are cowboys standing next to their horses, while Trujillo's Muxes shows a community of mixed gender people living in the indigenous Zapotec culture of Oaxaca.

0muxes-(4-of-17)-web.jpg
Trujillo/Paumier, Untitled (Muxes 4), 2009

0MUXES 11) (2009)  fred.jpg
Trujillo/Paumier, Untitled (Muxes 11), 2009

0aoc_moro_2-web.jpg
Trujillo/Paumier, Untitled (Moro 2), 2012

0aoc_moro_27-web.jpg
Trujillo/Paumier, Untitled (Moro 27), 2012

Trujillo Paumier: Men y Men closed on 20 July.

British Folk Art at Tate Britain is bizarre, quirky but thankfully never condescending. Instead of wasting time speculating on is it art/is it not art?, the exhibition celebrates people's creativity and resourcefulness. Expect gigantic boots that served as tradesmen's signs, a cockerel made by prisoners from the Napoleonic Wars out of mutton bones, imposing ship figureheads, embroidered remakes of classic paintings, etc. I'd be more enthusiastic if folks didn't have to pay £13.10 to enter.

0anassortmentBritish-Folk-Art.-003.jpg
As assortment of oversized objects, including a boot used to advertise a cobbler's. Photograph: Anna Partington/Rex Features

0folkiart1.jpg
British Folk Art © Ana Escobar for Tate

0i1licorn98f_b.jpg
Image by HFA

0english-rural-life-1961-jesse-maycock-king-alfred-1961-museum-of-english-rural-life-photo-tate.jpg
Jesse Maycock, King Alfred 1961, Museum of English Rural Life. Photo: Tate

The show is up until 31 August 2014. Happy Famous Artists has a great flickr set.

Still at Tate Britain, there's a couple of rooms hosting Chris Killip's photos. Love the work, not so much the sponsor of the exhibition.

0-Huddersfield-1973.-Courtesy-Eric-Franck-Fine-Art-©-Chris-Killip-620x775.jpg
Chris Killip, Whippet Fancier. Serie Huddersfield, 1973. © Chris Killip

0cccrabs00.jpg
Chris Killip, Crabs and People, Skinningrove, North Yorkshire © Chris Killip, 1981

One of the most interesting galleries in London, Calvert22, is showing the work of photographers and video artists who explore identity and place in early 21st century Russia alongside the pre-revolutionary works of Sergei Prokudin-Gorsky.

I liked the work of Alexander Gronsky a lot. Especially the series Pastoral, which looks at the desolate spaces where the urban and the rural meet.

0a0pasto0031272.jpg
Alexander Gronsky, Yuzhnoe Tushino II, 2010. From the series "Pastoral: Moscow Suburbs"

0i3pastora418a-large.jpg
Alexander Gronsky, Dzerzhinskiy VI, 2011. From the series "Pastoral: Moscow Suburbs"

Close and Far: Russian Photography Now is at Calvert22 until 17 August.

I also went to the Horniman Museum in Forest Hill, London. The building and botanical gardens opened in 1901 to host the collection of a business man who traveled the world to gather objects related to world culture, natural history and music. Among the 350,000 objects, there are lots of stuffed animals, a Spanish Inquisition torture chair and a charming little Merman (the husband of the mermaid?)

mermandmai2.jpg
Specimen of Ningyo mermaid, Feejee mermaid or merman, Japan, with paper-mache body, and fish-tail originally from the Wellcome Collection

0creepy60_b.jpg
Flying Fox (Pteropus sp.) Skeletal - taxidermy double preparation of Flying Fox

0hedgehogggggg.jpg
European Hedgehog specimen from the Natural History Gallery

I never found the merman, alas! But i discovered doublepreps: half the animal is shown as taxidermy, the other half is stripped to its skeleton.

One of the Horniman galleries has a fascinating photo exhibition that documents the lives of indigenous peoples in the Russian Arctic. The photos were taken by British photographer Bryan Alexander who has been travelling to the Arctic since 1971.

0bgrisha4fb413.jpg
Grisha Rahtyn, a Chukchi reindeer herder, iced up at -30 C after working with his reindeer during the winter

0khanti613e99b23c84-620x404.jpg
Khanty women in traditional dress at a spring festival in the village of Pitlyar

0waterb68609a0-620x372.jpg
When thrown into air at -51C, boiling water transforms into vapour and ice. This is because boiling water is close to a gas and breaks into tiny droplets that can freeze at once

0reinderr97e0dd6-620x372.jpg
Reindeer graze in the Yamal peninsula

Whisper of the Stars: Traditional Life in Arctic Siberia is at the Horniman Museum until 07 September 2014. Interview with the photographer. More photos in The Guardian.

I'll end with An Idiosyncratic A to Z of the Human Condition at the Wellcome Collection. The exhibition offers a selection of some of Henry Wellcome's objects, medical artefacts, paintings, photographs and sculptures, along with a couple of contemporary artworks.

I wasn't as impressed as every single journalist who published glowing reviews of the show in their newspapers but i did enjoy some of the artefacts. Such as this photo of rubber beauty masks that removed wrinkles and blemishes.

0a3rubberab0a8_1_0.jpg
Rubber beauty masks, 1921. Image Wellcome Library

Or this fetching corrective ear-cap, patented by Adelaide Claxton in 1945 to wear at night in order to 'correct and prevent the disfigurement of outstanding ears'.

earcap.jpg
The Claxton improved patent ear-cap, 1925-1945.

The exhibition is up until 12 October 2014.

Sponsored by:





Biennial Open Eye -Paul Karalius (12 of 31).jpg
Facade of the Open Eye Gallery. Paul Morrison, Urformen © Photo Paul Karalius

Last month, i visited the Liverpool Biennial. It was boring (BO-RING) but it was still worth the trip. One: because I love Liverpool and i'm happy as long as people around me have that cute accent. Two: because of the show at the Open Eye Gallery. It is part of the official programme of the biennial but it was one of the few shows in town that made me think and reflect upon the art world and the way it is represented/represent itself.

Not All Documents Are Records: Photographing Exhibitions as an Art Form looks at photographic works that bring a critical and artistic gaze on some of the most important art events in the world and asks the question: "Can photography be the site where the history of an exhibition is produced and still retain its independent artistic autonomy, thus overcoming pure documentation?"

Four bodies of works are brought together to make us reflect on this question. Two are contemporary, they are by Cristina De Middel of the Afronauts fame and by Ira Lombardia. The other two, by Ugo Mulas and Hans Haacke respectively, are historical.

0o0Ugo Mulas.jpg
Venice, 1968. Workers protests, XXXIV Esposizione Biennale Internazionale d'Arte Photo Ugo Mulas © Ugo Mulas Heirs

Venezia, 1968. Proteste studentesche, XXXIV Esposizione Biennale Internazionale d'Arte
Venice, 1968. Student protests, XXXIV Esposizione Biennale Internazionale d'Arte Photo Ugo Mulas © Ugo Mulas Heirs

0i1paulkarlus50353465_n.jpg
Photo © Paul Karalius

_055655__paulkaralius6.jpg
Photo © Paul Karalius

Venezia, 1968. Sala di Rodolfo Aricò, XXXIV Esposizione Biennale Internazionale d'Arte
Venice, 1968. Room of Rodolfo Aricò, XXXIV Esposizione Biennale Internazionale d'Arte. Photo Ugo Mulas © Ugo Mulas Heirs

I'm going to start with Ugo Mulas' take on the Venice biennale of 1968. I knew the photographer's work for his portraits of the superstars of the art world in the 1960s. But the photos exhibited at the Open Eye Gallery are miles away from the glamour you might expect from the Venice event.

Mulas had been covering each edition of the Venice biennial since 1954. The images in the gallery date from 1968, a year marked by social uprisings around the world (Mai 68 in France, anti-Vietnam war demos, etc.) The art biennial, which naturally echoes changes in society, experienced similar turmoils. Students and intellectuals took to the street to protest against the establishment represented by the Venice Biennale, brandishing banners that denounced the "policed biennial of the bourgeoisie" (policemen were indeed guarding the entrance of the Giardini) and claiming that 'La Biennale è fascista.'

They also questioned the institution itself on matters such as freedom of speech and vilified it for its sales department, accusing the biennial of being a capitalist playground for the rich. The biennale's board subsequently dismantled the sales office.

In solidarity, some of the participating artists covered up their works, withdrew their work, turned them over or wrote over "in these conditions i'm not working."

Mulas photographed the most salient moments of the opening: the protests, the curators carelessly drinking spritz on Piazza San Marco, the police crackdown against demonstrators, etc.

59Documenta_GonzalezNun.jpg
Photographic Notes, documenta 2, Gonzales Nun, 1959 © Hans Haacke © DACS, London

59Documenta_KandinskyMickyMouse.jpg
Photographic Notes, documenta 2, Kandinsky, Micky Mouse, 1959 © Hans

59Documenta_Léger_Family.jpg
Photographic Notes, documenta 2, Léger Family, 1959 © Hans Haacke © DACS, London

59Documenta_CleaningWomen.jpg
Photographic Notes, documenta 2, Cleaning Women, 1959 © Hans Haacke © DACS, London

59Documenta_Magritte_2Profiles.jpg
Photographic Notes, documenta 2, Magritte 2 Profiles, 1959 © Hans Haacke © DACS, London

59Documenta_Pollocks_LargeGroup.jpg
Photographic Notes, documenta 2, Pollocks, Large Group, 1959 © Hans Haacke © DACS, London

The context of Hans Haacke's photos of the second edition of Documenta in Kassel is very different from the one of the 1968 biennial. Founded in 1895, the Venice biennial is the oldest exhibition of its kind. Documenta was created 60 years later as a means for bringing Germany up to speed with the most modern and contemporary art forms that had been banned under Nazi's politics of artistic obscurantism and censorship.

Haacke, still a student at the Art Academy in Kassel in 1959, worked as an exhibition guard for the second edition of Documenta. In his free time, he independently took on the task of visually 'documenting Documenta'. The 26 black and white images hanging on the walls of the Open Eye Gallery are witty and full of humour. Instead of being strictly about the art exhibited, the images display Haacke's interest into the rituals and peculiarities of an art event. They show how absurd the dialogue between artworks and viewers can be. A family attempts to find some relationship between a description in the catalogue and the work hanging on the wall. A young boy is far more interested in mickey magazine than in the Kandinski hanging behind his back. Other photos gives us a glimpse of what happens behind the curtains of the art world: cleaning ladies doing their job, a Moore sculpture waiting next to a pile of bricks to be carried to the exhibition room.

Nowadays, most of us have seen images of the kind. The museum photos of Thomas Struth or Martin Parr's sneaky portraits of collectors at Dubai Art Fair, for example. In 1959, photographers' sociological explorations of the art world were pretty unusual.

0i1paulkaraks273_n.jpg
Cristina De Middel. Photo © Paul Karalius

0i1demedel4_b.jpg
Cristina De Middel

0irist48e3_b.jpg
Cristina De Middel

Cristina De Middel was invited by the gallery to imagine what the future edition of the Liverpool Biennial would be like. The commission came as the preparations for the event were underway.

Instead of going into wild speculations, the photographers looked for evidence in the archives of photography and press cuttings that documented past editions of the event. She then used and remixed the images and headlines in prints that cover the walls of the first room of the gallery.

To create her collage, she contacted both the photographers who had made the original images and the artists whose work appear in the photo. The photographers gave her the permission to use and rework their images. Many of the artists, to my great surprise, refused. So while artists have been constantly borrowing and re-appropriating other artists works to create new ones, they negate photographers the possibility to do so. Does that mean that a photographer is not an artist? That they can only produce images that document? To meet their censorship, De Middel painted over the artworks appearing in the photos, blurring and often even distorting their contour. Her new body of work interrogates thus the authenticity of photography (something she had done previously with the Afronauts, a series that charted the 1964 Zambian space programme which never actually came to its full realization) and highlights the tension between creativity and documentation that the photographic medium encompasses.

Biennial Open Eye -Paul Karalius (30 of 31).jpg
Ira Lombardia, And I Think to my selffffffffff what a wonderful worlllllllllld, 2012. Photo by Paul Karalius

0Ira-Lombardia-436x328.jpg
And I Think to my selffffffffff what a wonderful worlllllllllld © Ira Lombardia, 2012

0ffffffff-whallllllllld-2012-Guide-book-1-©-Ira-Lombardía.jpg
And I Think to my selffffffffff what a wonderful worlllllllllld © Ira Lombardia, 2012

Upstairs, i almost missed the work of Ira Lombardía. During her visit of the last edition of Documenta, the artist saw a light phenomenon on the floor of one of the exhibition gallery. She mistook it for an authentic work of art (such confusions happen to the best of us when dealing with contemporary art.) Lombardía took a photo of it and went on to create a whole narrative around it. She invented an artist and a description for the artwork that never was. She then copied faithfully the catalogue of the Documenta exhibition and substituted one of the artworks by her photo of the light phenomenon and added the bio of her fictitious artist. She later wrote a letter of apology to the artist whose name and work she had removed from the catalogue.

Not All Documents Are Records: Photographing Exhibitions as an Art Form, curated by Lorenzo Fusi, remains open until 19 October 2014 at the Open Eye Gallery in Liverpool.

0PEER_FionaBanner.jpg
Photo: Paolo Pellegrin, commissioned by Fiona Banner in collaboration with the Archive of Modern Conflict

0boimage03geenral.jpg
Mistah Kurtz - He Not Dead, 2014, Mixed media pinstripe wall drawing and framed Silver Gelatin photographs. Image Fiona Banner

I entered the PEER gallery a bit by chance and quickly realized that the exhibition involves one artist whose work i admire, an interesting-sounding organization called Archive of Modern Conflict and a photographer who has won numerous awards for his work on AIDS in Uganda, the conflict in Kosovo, the war in Lebanon, anti-terrorism in Algeria, etc.

The artist is Fionna Banner and the photographer is Paolo Pellegrin. Banner asked the photo reporter to explore the City of London and to reflect its activities, behaviours, customs and costume through the lens of conflict photography.

The photos are every bit as good as you would expect from Pellegrin and the way Banner has orchestrated them in the exhibition only adds depth, humour and an extra layer of information. Hundreds of the images are sequenced in a short and gripping film, accompanied by a mixed soundtrack of open cry trading at the London Metal Exchange, melded with a persuasive and hypnotic drumbeat. The other photos are either displayed in museum-type vitrines or inside frames hanging on the walls of a second gallery. Floor to ceiling graphite drawings magnify traditional City pinstripe suits to the point that they become overbearing (or maybe it's just me who's uncomfortable with having a drawing of a banker's crotch at eye level.) The iconic pattern of the financial district even finds itself, absurdly, turned into nail art design. An amusing juxtaposition if you think that the financial sector in London has been relentlessly accused of being sexist.

0mage01nailz.jpg
Pinstripe nails, 2014. Image Fiona Banner

Speaking of sexy sex, i had to smile in front of the map that shows how strip bars are surrounding the Square Mile. The City of London Corporation has its own electoral system and its own laws. One of them forbids the presence of strip bars in the City. :

0i2stripclubs7_000.jpg
Image Fiona Banner

0talbblealshot014_06_05-16.jpg
Mistah Kurtz - He Not Dead, 2014, Vitrine detail, 2014. Image Fiona Banner

The title of the show is Mistah Kurtz--he not dead. Mistah Kurtz is a character from Joseph Conrad's book Heart of Darkness. Kurz is a shrewd and corrupt ivory trader in Africa who has managed to turn himself into a demigod of all the tribes surrounding his station. Towards the end of the book, the death of Kurts is announced by a 'manager boy' with the words 'Mistah Kurtz - he dead.' The City culture of excess, greed and aloofness from society offers indeed parallels to Conrad's narrative.

After the show, the photos will be filed at the Archive of Modern Conflict under the heading Heart of Darkness, 2014.

It is not the first time that Banner references Heart of Darkness. Two years ago, she organised a performance of Orson Welles' screenplay Heart of Darkness, based on Conrad's story. It would have been Welles' first film but it was rejected. He made Citizen Kane instead.

0city2londonview.jpg
Photo: Paolo Pellegrin, commissioned by Fiona Banner in collaboration with the Archive of Modern Conflict

0entimage06white.jpg
Mistah Kurtz - He Not Dead, 2014, Pinstripe drawings, vitrines, objects, high definition digital film projection and framed silver gelatin photographs, 2014. Image Fiona Banner

0verimage05black.jpg
Mistah Kurtz - He Not Dead, 2014, Pinstripe drawings, vitrines, objects, high definition digital film projection and framed silver gelatin photographs, 2014. Image Fiona Banner

0image01vitreindetail.jpg
Mistah Kurtz - He Not Dead, 2014, Vitrine detail, 2014. Image Fiona Banner

0bollardimage04oflondon.jpg
Mistah Kurtz - He Not Dead, 2014, City of London bollard (detail), 2014. Image Fiona Banner

Mistah Kurtz - He Not Dead, 2014, High definition digital film projection and mixed media wall drawing, 6.19 minutes, 2014. Image Fiona Banner

Mistah Kurtz--he not dead is at PEER in London until 26 July 2014:

0peeropen.jpg

Previously: Fiona Banner at Tate Britain.

It took me ages to go through all the photos and bits of info scribbled all over flyers and scraps of papers but here's finally a few notes about the Fotofestiwal which closed in Łódź a couple of weeks ago

When it was first launched in 2001, the Fotofestiwal was the first independent photography event of its kind in Poland. I had never visited the festival before but the program looked good: young talents, Eastern European artists whose work was new to me and a few blockbusters which, this year, included Roger Ballen's portraits of marginalized people in absurd settings and Volker Hinz's quirky portraits of fashion stars and celebrities of the 20th century. Predictable blogger that i am, i only had eyes for the new names and the socially-engaged exhibitions. So that's what this report from the festival is going to focus on. That and the city.

Agnieszka Rayss, No Mans Land, Grand Prix Fotofestiwal 2014, 2.jpg
Agnieszka Rayss, No Man's Land, Grand Prix Fotofestiwal 2014

0aiannalodzozoi2.jpg

I really really enjoyed Łódź. I discovered the city by following the parcours of exhibitions and by getting lost on my way from one abandoned courtyard to a world famous National School of Film, from a street art mural to all kind of ex-industrial buildings spectacularly converted into art centers or shopping malls.

0i1osgemeosa_b.jpg
Os Gemeos + Aryz (better images at Unurth)

0i1cafe89_b.jpg

0i4polskia43_b.jpg
At the Museum of Cinematography

0i1entreed058c_b.jpg
Fabryka Sztuki

0e1gallery5e40_b.jpg
Inside Fabryka Sztuki

But let's get back to the exhibitions.
First stop: the big warehouses of Fabryka Sztuki where i saw the work of the winners of the Leica Oskar Barnack Award 2013: Evgenia Arbugaeva who traveled back to the Siberia of her childhood, and Ciril Jazbec who documented the life of the 'first climate refugees.'

0bm0eugen80.jpg
Evgenia Arbugaeva, Tiksi, the Far North (Astronaut on Neptune, or Tanya wears snow mask), January 2011

0-evgenia-arbugaeva_12.jpg
Evgenia Arbugaeva, Tiksi, the Far North, 2011

Evgenia Arbugaeva grew up in Tiksi, the most northerly settlement with a population of (barely) over 5,000. She came back to her home town 20 years after having left to live abroad. She photographed the Tiksi of her childhood memories. Her other objective was to capture a town "in the middle of nowhere," before it disappears.

She explained in an interview with Leica camera blog: Under the USSR, Tiksi was to be an important seaport on the Northern Sea Route. In those times the government put a lot of energy into development of the Arctic regions building military bases, meteorological stations, towns, etc. After the fall of the USSR all these projects went into decline, people left and ships stayed, rusting in seawater. It's scary to see those monuments to what was once a big dream of the great North.

0harpooner_newcomer_2013.jpg
Ciril Jazbec, Waiting to Move (Harvey "Morshik" Tocktoo throwing an Inuit harpoon at the traditional wellness picnic held by the town council to help against suicides among the youth)

denissska_Ciril_wcomer_2013.jpg
Ciril Jazbec, Waiting to Move (Living room of Deniss Sinnok, widely considered the best hunter in the locale. He shot the polar bear a few years ago, on a walrus hunt. Sleeping on the couch in front of the TV is his daughter Hillary.)

Ciril Jazbec, Waiting to move documents life on an island no wider than 400 meters and 5 kilometers in length, in Alaska. The island is threatened by the effects of climate change: erosion, storms and inclement weather, as well as by the thawing of permafrost. Al Gore referred to its inhabitants, a modern Inupiaq Eskimo community called Shishmaref, as the first climate refugees.

The most exciting exhibition for me however was the Grand Prix Fotofestiwal, a competition for young artists with 'cohesive ideas' and 'brave visions.' I already blogged my two favourite: A guide to life forms altered by the human species and Norilsk, daily life inside an environmental disaster.

Adam Lach, Stigma, Grand Prix Fotofestiwal 2014, 1.jpg
Adam Lach, Stigma, Grand Prix Fotofestiwal 2014

0OstigmaAL_012.jpg
Adam Lach, Stigma, Grand Prix Fotofestiwal 2014

Adam Lach, Stigma, Grand Prix Fotofestiwal 2014, 2.jpg
Adam Lach, Stigma, Grand Prix Fotofestiwal 2014

Adam Lach, Stigma, Grand Prix Fotofestiwal 2014, 3.jpg
Adam Lach, Stigma, Grand Prix Fotofestiwal 2014

The Stigma Project shows the private life of a family of Roma, living in an encampment on the outskirts of Wroclaw in Poland.

David Favrod, Gaijin, Mishiko, Grand Prix Fotofestiwal 2014.jpg
David Favrod, Gaijin, Mishiko, Grand Prix Fotofestiwal 2014

David Favrod, Gaijin, Vent divin, Grand Prix Fotofestiwal 2014.jpg
David Favrod, Gaijin, Vent divin, Grand Prix Fotofestiwal 2014

David Takashi Favrod is the son of a Japanese mother and a Swiss father. When he was 6 months old, he moved from Japan to Switzerland where he was mainly brought up by his mother who taught him her culture. When he was 18, he asked for double nationality at the Japanese embassy, but they refused.

It is from this feeling of rejection and also from a desire to prove that I am as Japanese as I am Swiss that this work was created. "Gaijin" is a fictional recital, a tool for my quest for identity, where auto-portraits imply an intimate and solitary relationship that I have with myself.

The aim of this work is to create "my own Japan", in Switzerland, from memories of my journeys when I was small, my mother's stories, popular and traditional culture and my grandparents war recitals.

Antoine Bruy, Scrublands, Grand Prix Fotofestiwal 2014, 3.jpg
Antoine Bruy, Scrublands, Grand Prix Fotofestiwal 2014

From 2010 to 2013, Antoine Bruy hitchhiked throughout Europe to meet men and women who chose to abandon their urban lifestyle and adopt self-sufficient life styles.

Kirill Golovchenko, Bitter Honeydew, Grand Prix  Fotofestiwal 2014, 1.jpg
Kirill Golovchenko, Bitter Honeydew, Grand Prix Fotofestiwal 2014

Kirill Golovchenko, Bitter Honeydew, Grand Prix Fotofestiwal 2014, 2.jpg
Kirill Golovchenko, Bitter Honeydew, Grand Prix Fotofestiwal 2014

Kirill Golovchenko in photographed the people who spend their summers selling fruit and vegetables on the roadsides in Ukraine. When night comes, many of them retire in tents, trailers, or makeshift shacks erected 10 meters away from the road. Many come from Azerbaijan, Georgia, Armenia and mix with the locals in a microcosm made of people who want to make money to simply get along or save up and improve their living conditions in their respective homelands where most return for the winter months.

And now for an awful amount of photos:

Michel le Belhomme, The Blind Beast, Grand Prix Fotofestiwal 2014, 1.jpg
Michel le Belhomme, The Blind Beast, Grand Prix Fotofestiwal 2014

Michel le Belhomme, The Blind Beast, Grand Prix Fotofestiwal 2014, 2.jpg
Michel le Belhomme, The Blind Beast, Grand Prix Fotofestiwal 2014

Agnieszka Rayss, No Mans Land, Grand Prix Fotofestiwal 2014, 1.jpg
Agnieszka Rayss, No Man's Land, Grand Prix Fotofestiwal 2014

Marie Hudelot, The Legacy, camouflageauxbanderilles, Grand Prix Fotofestiwal 2014.jpg
Marie Hudelot, The Legacy, camouflage aux banderilles, Grand Prix Fotofestiwal 2014

Screened at the festival:


Roger Ballen's Asylum of the Birds

0aaaburrough839.jpg
Volker Hinz, Poet and writer William S. Burroughs, 1987

0i1galleryDos517_b.jpg
Inside Fabryka Sztuki

Lots and lots of big spaces that look abandoned:

0i1chateo7f080_b.jpg

0i1maisonboise_b.jpg

0i1apothec27143_b.jpg

0manufakturae_b.jpg
Manufaktura, the textile factory turned shopping wonderland

0i1sztuki7f993_b.jpg
Atlas Sztuki (Art Atlas) gallery

0irobes54532_b.jpg

0shoppingmall0c1_b.jpg

Also at the Fotofestiwal: A guide to life forms altered by the human species, Norilsk, daily life inside an environmental disaster.

I see far more exhibitions than i can blog (i could but i'm fairly lazy, you see.) So this morning, i went through all the photos i took in London galleries and museum in June and threw them hastily in this almost laconic post in case you're in town and bored. Being bored in London seems to be my latest obsession but that's another story.

Here we go...

0_detector_works_on_mars_800px.jpg
Home-made apparatus to test if a detector would work on Mars, c. 1960s. Object no. 2012-125 © Science Museum, James Lovelock

The ever fabulous Science Museum has a small show about the work of scientist and inventor James Lovelock. I spotted this apparatus to test if a detector would work on Mars. Lovelock built it in his home lab in the 1960s while working on NASA's Viking Mission to Mars. It is made with an ordinary kitchen jar and lid. The detector was sealed inside the jar and air was removed via the valve on the left to replicate Martian atmospheric pressure.

0s01exponent3645_b.jpg

Check out the Exponential Horn while you're in the building.

0s1bitingb835d8_b.jpg
Paul Granjon, Biting Machine

Speaking of wild inventions. I caught the very last day of the Paul Granjon exhibition at Watermans. It was called Is Technology Eating My Brain? and it was very very funny. It's not every day that i laugh my face off all alone in an art gallery. The show was the result of the artist's residency in the art center. He had a couple of works in the gallery (including a magnificently visitor-unfriendly Biting Machine), the rest were works made by participants of Granjon's Wrekshop. They included a slicing photo booth and a geranium survival kit.

I spent far too long watching the videos of Granjon's fancy inventions and performances:


The antigravitational vehicle for cats

I watched this one three times:


Kicked by Furman

And I now need this book: Hand-Made Machines [Includes DVD]

The show's already closed alas! but here's a few images. And a video.

The Victoria and Albert museum was showing the short listed artists and the winner of the Prix Pictet. The theme was Consumption in all its disastrous relationship to environmental sustainability.

0i5ogbob459.jpg
Abraham Oghobase, Untitled

Abraham Oghobase photographed hand scribbled texts advertising the various informal services offered by people living in Lagos, a city of over ten million inhabitants and the commercial capital of Nigeria.

0-Schmidt-Lebensmittel-1.jpg

0Pigs-from-Lebensmittel-by-003.jpg
Michael Schmidt, Lebensmittel

In Lebensmittel, Michael Schmidt portrayed the mechanized, industrialized food system of contemporary Western culture. From pigs standing skin to skin in a factory farm to piles of discarded food. Seeing the images one next to the other up on the wall was both shaming and mesmerizing. No wonder the series won the prize.

The exhibition closed a couple of weeks ago.

0s0WORLD-OPEN-DAY.jpg
Suzanne Treister, Post-Surveillance Art (POST-SURVEILLANCE ART POSTER/WORLD OPEN DAY), 2014

Suzanne Treister was investigating the rise of mass intelligence and data collection long before it became fashionable to do so.

Talking in the context of her Post-Surveillance Art series, she said that: "What has altered for me post Snowden, is not an awareness and negotiation of a changed condition, but the knowledge that now almost everybody else knows something which was clear as day if you did a bit of research, and it's great to no longer be called a conspiracy theorist."
 
The show closed a few days ago at Maggs Gallery. It was both dramatic and surprisingly humourous.

0secretary2c92_b.jpg

0a1flagsb85e6_b.jpg

0galleryb3c6a49_b.jpg

0vaccummcd96c_b.jpg

0nodial9b2eac3_b.jpg

0a1geenral23db_b.jpg

0a1disk910_b.jpg

I have no time for design products, except when they come with a Soviet aura. The GRAD: Gallery for Russian Arts and Design is showing all kinds of plastic toys, a dial-less Telephone, red velvet flags, retro futuristic vacuum cleaners, etc.

Work and Play Behind the Iron Curtain is at the GRAD: Gallery for Russian Arts and Design until 24 August.

I also visited The Human Factor: The Figure in Contemporary Sculpture during the press view. I can't say that was the show of my life. AT ALL! But there were a couple of works i was glad to see again....

0i1loin2f1532_b.jpg

0i1him0fca06a6_b.jpg
Maurizio Cattelan, Him, 2001

and discover:

0i1kathar2c38618c_b.jpg
Katharina Fritsch St Katharina and 2nd Photo, 2007

The Human Factor: The Figure in Contemporary Sculpture is at the Hayward until 7 September.

0irainforest010fa62_b.jpg
GUN Architects, Rainforest

Gun Architects's rainforest-inspired pavilion at Bedford Square for the 2014 London Festival of Architecture.

_0a7arirangopy_jpg.jpg
Ri Hyang Yon, 21, dancer in the Arirang Games, during a practice session in the car park, May Day Stadium, Pyongyang (Copyright: Nick Danziger)

Photojournalist Nick Danziger visited North Korea in 2013. He recorded the everyday life in the DPRK and was given rare access to cities outside Pyongyang. The story behind each photo is probably more interesting than the photos themselves. The subjects are doing very ordinary things (getting their hair done at the hairdresser, sunbathing by the sea with their kids, etc.) only it does look like the photos were taken in the past.

According to the British Council the exhibition is "the first cultural engagement of its kind" between the UK and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. The Guardian adds that it opened in London with no advance publicity, for fear that the dire relations between North Korea and the west might sink the first cultural project of its kind.

Above the Line: People and Places in the DPRK (North Korea) is open at the British Council HQ in London until 25 July.

0instreets5_b.jpg

I spotted this one in the street.

Now that i've finally got some quiet and lazy time home, i can not only catch up on crime tv series but also post a few stories that have been languishing in draft limbo for far too long. Let's start with Elena Chernyshova's Days of Night - Nights of Day, a photo series i discovered at the Fotofestiwal in Lodz. The series was among the finalists of the Grand Prix Fotofestiwal. It might not have won the award but it was the work that impressed me the most. Of course, part of my fascination is due to that typical look at the post-Soviet world but the images also made me realize the banality and almost romanticism of living right at the heart of an ecological disaster.

Elena Chernyshova, Days of Night - Nights of Day, Grand Prix Fotofestiwal 2014, 1.jpg
Elena Chernyshova, Days of Night - Nights of Day, Grand Prix Fotofestiwal 2014

0norilsk23.jpg
Elena Chernyshova, Days of Night - Nights of Day

Elena Chernyshova, Days of Night - Nights of Day, Grand Prix Fotofestiwal 2014, 2.jpg
Elena Chernyshova, Days of Night - Nights of Day, Grand Prix Fotofestiwal 2014

The young photographer traveled to Norilsk, one of the biggest cities above the Arctic Circle. In Norilsk, inhabitants live in darkness 45 days a year, temperatures can drop to minus 53 °C in the Winter and the air is one of the most polluted in the world. There is no green space in Norilsk and even leaving the city is a challenge. The easiest way to get away is by air (Moscow is a four hour flight away) and for most residents, plane tickets are barely affordable.

The reason why people would want to live there is that most of them work for the biggest metallurgical and mines complex in the world. Workers in Norilsk extract and process nickel and other metals making up approximately 2% of Russia's GDP.

Every year the metallurgical combine emits almost 2 millions of tons of gas into the atmosphere, leading to alarming rates of cancer, depression, respiratory, cardiovascular and digestive disorders, allergies, and other health dysfunctions are widespread. The amount of sulfur dioxide in the air is so high that almost 100,000 ha of the tundra around the city is dead or in danger. Residents are forbidden from gathering berries or mushrooms due to high toxicity.

Even the story of the city is dark, the city, mines and factories Norilsk were constructed by the prisoners of Gulag in the 1930s and 40s.

Days of Night - Nights of Day is as much about the city itself as it is about how people manage to cope with harsh climate conditions, environmental disaster and isolation:

I hope these photos awake some questions, Elena Chernyshova told National Geographic. Where are the limits of human ambition in the race for natural resources? How much are we willing to damage nature and the health of hundreds of thousands of people in the drive for riches? What are the limits of human adaptation to extreme living conditions?

0norilsk57.jpg
Almost 100,000 ha of the tundra around the city is dead or in danger. © Elena Chernyshova

0BstreetLJIm9.jpg
During a hard frost, the temperature can go under -55° C. Steam rises from collectors, transforming the space with a thick fog. © Elena Chernyshova

0DiceLS3-GL_0.jpg
Thawing of the upper layers of permafrost has caused instability in the pilings and has led to the destruction of buildings. This is aggravated by a negligent maintenance of the sewer system, the constant leakage of hot water, and the global elevation of temperature. © Elena Chernyshova

Elena Chernyshova, Days of Night - Nights of Day, Grand Prix Fotofestiwal 2014, 3.jpg
Elena Chernyshova, Days of Night - Nights of Day, Grand Prix Fotofestiwal 2014
The majority of the buildings in Norilsk, Russia, are constructed with pre-built panels. These "Gostinka" were considered temporary accommodations for newly arrived workers, but many of them became permanent dwellings and remain today. © Elena Chernyshova

0elena_chernyshova_64.jpg
Norilsk completely lacks green spaces. Inhabitants must go 30 km by bus to find even a bit of true nature. Lack of time causes people to try and enjoy the sun in the urban area. © Elena Chernyshova

0clubnorilsk-chernysho900.jpg
Norilsk's "walrus" club participates in ice swimming. Afterwards people warm up in small banyas (saunas) that are located on the edge of the lake and heated from the steam of the power plant. © Elena Chernyshova

fbus02bcc75-large.jpg
The "Big Norilsk" is an ensemble of three cities: Norilsk, Talnakh and Kayerkan. They are situated in a radius of 30km and linked by land roads. © Elena Chernyshova

0insideLS3-KL_0.jpg
In the winter, extreme outdoor conditions don't facilitate activities besides those which happen inside. Thus, a major part of life occurs in confined spaces. © Elena Chernyshova

7jour1a37-large.jpg
In the summer, there is a period when the sun doesn't go under the horizon. Around 3 am, while the city sleeps, it is still illuminated by the sun. The city seems like a ghost town, emptied of its inhabitants. © Elena Chernyshova

6sleeplarge.jpg
The continued presence of light disorders sleep. But Norilsk residents claim that they are tired enough after work that the light does not bother them. Still, the buildings are not equipped with shutters for protection so the bedrooms are filled with intrusive light. Only a few apartments are fitted with thick curtains. © Elena Chernyshova

More images and info in Lens Culture.

Also part of the Fotofestiwal in Lodz: A guide to life forms altered by the human species.

 1  |  2  |  3  |  4  |  5  |  6  |  7  |  8  |  9  |  10 
sponsored by: