More art adventures in Derry/Londonderry....

0Dremian19413_f4.jpg
Willie Doherty, Remains, 2013. Video still

0mainsD19413_c1.jpg
Willie Doherty, Remains, 2013. Video still

Willie Doherty is currently at the City Factory Gallery with some of the photos and videos he made from the mid-Eighties in and around Derry/Londonderry. The show is called Unseen. Because unseen is the way Doherty used to work when had to remain as inconspicuous as possible to the British military that kept a close watch on Northern Ireland.

Unseen are also the memories of violence, control and conflicts that are lurking in overcast landscapes and dark city corners. There's always something in his images (and their laconic title) that seem to conceit and conspire. At least that's what the viewer suspects because Doherty is a master of making them paranoid.

0kneecapping935339e2c.jpg
Remains (Kneecapping behind Creggan Shops), 2013

0_SILENCE-After-A-Kneecapping.jpg
Willie Doherty, Silence After A Kneecapping, 1985/2012

0fork ontheroadDoherty.jpg
TO THE BORDER. A Fork in the Road The place where Ciaran Doherty was executed in February 2010, accused of being a British informer, he was abducted two hours before his body was dumped at the side of the road, 1986 - 2012

0HEADLIGHTS_HIRES0.jpg
HEADLIGHTS, Border Road At Dusk, 1993 - 2012

Doherty, I keep reading, was born in the city, witnessed the Bloody Sunday killings from his bedroom window when he was 12, was later told by the media later that 'it didn't happen' and is still looking at the indelible marks that past violence has left on the local community.

Doherty, however, doesn't do documentary photography, he uses dark images to explore issues of surveillance and brutality but also the truth that a photo can both hide and reveal, the multiple meanings of an image and the blurring between fiction and non-fiction.

The voiceover of his new film, Remains, dispassionately describes three kneecappings. This form of punishment for serious offence was often carried out by paramilitary groups who imposed their own idea of "justice," especially at a time when police was regarded as the enemy.

The fictitious work is situated in Derry and it is based, said Doherty to The Guardian, on real events. Two of the kneecappings took place in the 1970s, the other is much more recent. "A father from a prominent republican family in Derry was told to bring his son and another boy, a cousin, to a certain place to be kneecapped." This was a punishment for drug use, an activity the IRA saw itself as policing.

"It had happened before that a father had been told to bring in a son to be kneecapped or expelled from the city or be murdered," Doherty said. "So I used these locations and the idea of the generational nature of the conflict, how it passes through families and how there is a vicious circle that people get caught up in."

0aWDbig-Remains.jpg
Willie Doherty, Remains, 2013. Video still

I very much enjoyed this retrospective of Doherty in his hometown but it could have been titled UNTOLD as well because the exhibition space contained so little information about the works. It was frustratingly intriguing.


A video profile of Willie Doherty. Directed by Vincent O Callaghan and produced by the Nerve Centre

0-ghoststory03.jpg
Willie Doherty, Ghost Story, 2007 (video still)

-0last-bastion-lg.jpg
Willie Doherty, Last Bastion, 1992

0-sghiftingground-lg.jpg
Willie Doherty, Shifting Ground (The Walls, Derry), 1991

Unseen is at the City Factory Gallery, Derry/Londonderry, until 4 January.

Related story: Donovan Wylie: Vision as Power.

Sponsored by:





0enclave700_b.jpg
Richard Mosse, The Enclave, 2013. Video still

There's a couple of cities where i keep going over and over again just because they have an art center worth a several hour long journey. Some of them may or may not be on your usual culture map. There's Eindhoven, Hasselt, Manchester and there's Florence where i traveled again a few weeks ago to see the exhibition Unstable Territory. Borders and identity in contemporary art at the Centre for Contemporary Culture Strozzina.

The show presents artwork that reconsiders the notion of territory in a time when the obsolescence of concepts such as the nation state and borders coincides with new forms of nationalism and a corollary desire to affirm the individuality of a community or to protect their privileges with the construction of new physical demarcations. The map of the walls being erected to separate people from each other that The Guardian has recently published illustrates the extent of the latter tendency.

The astonishing development of mobility for both people and goods, the digitisation of communication and knowledge, migration and an increasingly global economy have all radically changed people's perception of territories, borders and boundaries. In view of the instability of these concepts crucial to the definition of personal identity, two different -though not necessarily conflicting - trends appear to be taking shape: one based on seeking shelter in the safety and proximity of the micro-territory, the region or even the family; the other, as theorised by sociologist Ulrich Beck, involving a new conception of cosmopolitanism in its most democratic and egalitarian sense.

0i1moseeplatonf690_b.jpg
Platon (North Kivu, Eastern Congo), 2012

0richard-mosse-03.jpg

0richard-mosse-07.jpg
Richard Mosse, The Enclave, 2013. Photos Martino Margheri

0i1stalematee998_b.jpg
Richard Mosse, Stalemate, North Kivu, Eastern Congo, 2011

The Enclave, by Richard Mosse, shows territory in the grips of violence. The six-channel video-installation translates the ongoing civil war opposing the central government of the Democratic Republic of Congo and groups of rebels for the control of the provinces of North and South Kivu, into disturbing yet seducing hues of pink and magenta.

The pink colour is due to the special infrared film that Mosse is using. The Aerochrome film was developed for surveillance purposes in the 1940s (Kodak stopped the production of the film in 2007 but Lomography has since brought it back to life.) This infrared technology allowed the army to detect armaments that were concealed by vegetation. Since the DRC landscape and the camouflage outfit of the militia are dominated by shades of green, the resulting images come with an eerie balance of threat and beauty.

The Enclave does not allow us any firm ground, a perspective from which to contemplate reality according to conventional standards like good and evil. Mosse does not explain, or tell a story, or illustrate, nor does he seek symbols for a possible further meaning. The Enclave seems to hover between brutality and poetry, between the testimonies of dramatic stories and unusual experiences and the universality of images of Africa at war.

0i1chicago2chicago9_b.jpg
Adam Broomberg & Oliver Chanarin, Chicago #2, 2006. Chicago, Tze'elim Military Base, Negev Desert, Chicago

I've mentioned the work of Adam Broomberg & Oliver Chanarin several times in the past. I had actually discovered them a few years ago at Manipulating Reality, another exhibition at Strozzina.

This time the artists are presenting Chicago, a series of images of the mock-up of an Arab town built in the middle of the Negev desert by the Israeli Defense Force for urban combat training. "Everything that happened happened here first, in rehearsal". All wars led and to be led by Israel in the future get a test run in the streets of Chicago, where the only traces of human beings are photographs of Arab militia used for target practice. Chicago comprises different settings that reflect the terrains where the IDF might have to strike: a fake refugee camp, a fake downtown neighbourhood, a fake rural village, a dense market area, etc.

0atvbroomberg-chanarin-02.jpg
Adam Broomberg & Oliver Chanarin, Mini Israel, 2006, video. Photo Martino Margheri

0chicago5chicage66e_b.jpg
Adam Broomberg & Oliver Chanarin, Chicago #5, 2006. Chicago, Tze'elim Military Base, Negev Desert, Chicago

Two large wallpapers on the walls of the gallery room communicate "real" details of the "fake" Chicago. The star-shaped hole in the cement walls is a scar left by "worming", a tactic used by IDF soldiers to move through dense urban areas while avoiding streets and squares where they are more likely to be attacked. Using explosives or hammers, the soldiers carve their way horizontally through walls and vertically through ceilings and floors. The fact that some of the buildings they invade are inhabited by innocent civilians is an irrelevant detail for the IDF. This form of movement, described by the military as 'infestation', sought to redefine inside as outside, and domestic interiors as thoroughfares, explains Eyal Weizman. The IDF's strategy of 'walking through walls' involved a conception of the city as not just the site but also the very medium of warfare -- a flexible, almost liquid medium that is forever contingent and in flux.

The privacy of the home is thus violated. Meanwhile, the other wallpaper shows the opposite end of the spectrum or how the road, a public place of movement and exchange, is instead literally walled up. The wallpaper is indeed zooming on a detail of the walls that border the roads built for the transit of Israeli colonists through the Palestinian territory in which they live, to arrive safely in their workplaces in Israel.


Mini Israel

0mini2israel66_b.jpg
Adam Broomberg & Oliver Chanarin, Mini Israel #2. Mini Israel, Latrun, Chicago, 2006

0i1mini4isreael1_b.jpg
Adam Broomberg & Oliver Chanarin, Mini Israel #4. Mini Israel, Latrun, Chicago, 2006

Broomberg & Chanarin are also showing a video of Mini Israel and that one was new to me. Mini Isreal is an automated model of the country, built as a tourist attraction and it looks far more sophisticated than the Mini Europe my parents always tried (and failed) to convince me to visit when i was growing up in Belgium. Just like Chicago, the miniature park filters reality, reflecting on the theme of the real vs the symbolic construction of a territory. Emphasis is put on ancient history and the building program of new infrastructures and new settlements. The Arabs, however, are mere extras, they are dressed in traditional attires, they pray, attend to their livestock and generally seem to be far less refined and modern than the Israeli. Furthermore, the makers of Mini Israel have chosen to represent their country as one devoid of any Wall, checkpoints, nor observation tower.

0_tadashi-kawamata_01_no-flags_rgb_h1200px_JPG-max1.jpg

0li_tadashi-kawamata_03.jpg
Tadashi Kawamata, Tree Huts, 2013. Site-specific installation, façade of Palazzo Strozzi, Florence. Photo: Martino Margheri, Markus Bader

0i_tadashi-kawamata_09.jpg
Tadashi Kawamata, Tree Huts, 2013. Site-specific installation, courtyard of Palazzo Strozzi, Florence. Photo: Martino Margheri, Markus Bader

0u1backstagef011fa_b.jpg
Tadashi Kawamata, Tree Huts at Palazzo Strozzi / CCC Strozzina (more backstage images)

The exhibition leaves the field of political conflicts with the temporary constructions that Tadashi Kawamata has grafted on the facade and courtyard of the Palazzo Strozzi, creating an amusing contrast between the majestic Renaissance building and his parasitic precarious wooden constructions that evoke dwellings erected in emergency situations. The Three Huts redefine and redesign the territory of the palazzo: they are attached to it and as such extend its borders but they are also alien structures bound to be dismantled and rebuilt in some other part of the world by the artist.

0tadashi-kawamata-01.jpg

0tadashi-kawamata-04.jpg
Isola d'emergenza ("Emergency Island"), 2013. In cooperation with LAC - Laboratorio Arti Civiche

Kawamata has also created a new installation for the CCC Strozzina gallery space. Having discovered dozens of disused doors and windows that were left in storage at Palazzo Strozzi, the artist flipped them from their usual vertical position to an horizontal one and had them hang above the heads of the visitors. The result is stunning. I would normally never pay much attention to doors but seeing them floating from the ceiling give them a poetical dimension. The doors suggest a world on the other side and as such, they redefine the proportions of the space.

0certificate2707_b.jpg
Paolo Cirio, Incorporation Certificate, Loophole4all project

0paolo-cirio-06.jpg
Paolo Cirio, Loophole for All, 2012. Installation at CCC Strozzina. Photo Martino Margheri

0paolo-cirio-03.jpg
Paolo Cirio, Loophole for All, 2012. Installation at CCC Strozzina. Photo Martino Margheri

Loophole for All, by Paolo Cirio, looks at the notion of territory from an economic perspective. At the core of the project are the offshore jurisdictions, the tax havens where corporations place their headquarters in a bid to avoid tax controls. After a thorough research of the mechanisms that enable the 'de-territorialization' of data, money and information (see video below), the artist made accessible to every citizen a scheme to benefit from the tax evasion in the Cayman Islands that so far was the sole privilege of multinational companies.


Loophole4All.com investigates offshore centers through interviews with experts (excerpts)

More videos.

The artist set up a limited liability company with headquarters in London, Paolo Cirio Ltd. He then created an online platform where anyone can select a company from the over 200,000 companies fiscally registered in the Cayman Islands and obtain, for 99 cents, a certificate that enables them to generate invoices in that company's name. For $50, the user can also obtain their own post office box in the Caymans where they can receive invoices that, through the intermediary of another post office box in New York, are returned to the user's real address anonymously.

On his website, Cirio sells certificates bearing his signature as the proprietor of the company granting licenses. These documents become the physical and concrete result of his work, works that allow an ironic critique the notions of authorship and reproducibility of a work of art, but also of the system of attribution of its commercial value. The forced closure of the account associated with Cirio's website by PayPal further amplified this type of reflections, leading the artist to opt for free concession of the license certificates that a user can select on the Loophole4All.com website and that are in distribution during the exhibition.

0negriRessler_The_Right_of_Passage_14.jpg
Zanny Begg & Oliver Ressler, The Right of Passage (video still), 2013

0aThe_Right_of_Passage_01.jpg
Zanny Begg & Oliver Ressler, The Right of Passage (video still), 2013

0aoliver-ressler-04.jpg
Zanny Begg & Oliver Ressler, The Right of Passage, 2013. Installation at CCC Strozzina. Photo Martino Margheri

The Right of Passage investigates how the nation state dictates the conditions of political, social and economic inequality through the granting (or denial) of citizenship. The artists interviewed curator Ariella Azoulay, philospher Antonio Negri, political theorician Sandro Mezzadra as well as a number of people who live, under various degrees of legality, in Barcelona. It is striking to hear how a white guy who has no 'paper' encounters less hurdles in his everyday life than a black guy who lives in Barcelona legally.

Ressler and Begg question the relationship between the structure of the Nation-State--the legacy of an order that has been superseded, if not by laws, then by facts--and the individual who, if deprived of bureaucratic documentation, finds his or her freedom of movement, and very identity, denied.

0bootsdis007_3D_closed_A3.jpg
The Cool Couple, Stivali cosacchi, Arta Terme #001

0cosakprivate-archive.jpg
Cossacks studying a map in a wood, unknown date

0the-cool-couple-07.jpg
Series "Approximation to the West", 2013. Photo by Marino Margheri

The Cool Couple, aka Simone Santilli and Niccolò Benetton, investigated a little-known episode from the final months of the Second World War. Between October 1944 and April 1945, Carnia, a peripheral region of Friuli Venezia Giulia, was occupied by over 20,000 Cossacks. The soldiers and their families were assigned the area, re-baptized "Kazackaja Zemlja" (Cossack land in Northern Italy), as a thank you gift from the Nazis for their help during the war against the Soviet Union.

The episode offers another opportunity to examine the concept of the Nation-State and the enforced encounter between different ethnic groups and cultures.

Research revealed that traces of the Cossacks passage had been concealed, and often gleefully destroyed by local people after the victory of the Allies and the repatriation of the Cossacks. The memory of the events transforms into reconstruction, and above all narration, which takes account of the reality but also of the projections and the suppressions.

0he-Cool-Couple_1.jpg
Fiume Tagliamento, Trasaghis #001A/B, from the series "Approximation to the West", 2013

0e-Cool-Couple_2.jpg
Fiume Tagliamento, Trasaghis #001A/B, from the series "Approximation to the West", 2013

The Fiume Tagliamento, Trasaghis #001A/B diptych shows the Tagliamento River, taken from the same viewpoint with a 180° rotation: this was the border crossed by the Cossacks when they invaded the area, and then crossed again when they were sent back to the Soviet Union.

Unstable Territory. Borders and Identity in Contemporary Art was curated by Walter Guadagnini and Franziska Nori. It remains open at Centre for Contemporary Culture Strozzina, Palazzo Strozzi, Florence until 19 January 2014.

0salenttowerLON89234.jpg
Northern Ireland. South Armagh. Golf 40 (salent tower). 2006

I used to go to the Imperial War Museum in London just to watch the hanging planes, the V2, the tanks, etc. The place is under renovation right now and i stopped paying attention to their programme (the war machines are wrapped up somewhere.) Big mistake! A few weeks ago, they've opened Donovan Wylie: Vision as Power, a show that explores the impact of military architecture on the landscape.

Vision as Power brings together five projects from radically different parts of the world but that are interconnected through the surveillance apparatus. Donovan Wylie grew up in Belfast during the Troubles and living under military surveillance has had an undeniable impact on his work.

The Maze was one of Wylie's earliest investigations into the relationship between power, surveillance and control during the Troubles.

Built in 1976 to house terrorist prisoners, the Maze prison segregated men according to their political beliefs and membership of paramilitary organizations.

Wylie started working on the series in 2002, just as the prison had closed under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement and the last inmates had been transferred to other prisons.

0exerviseyardLON58420.jpg
Northern Ireland. The Maze Prison. H-Block 5. Excercise Yard B. 2003

0inertiastage2.jpg
Northern Ireland. The Maze Prison. Inertia Stage 2. 2003

0chapelLON58722.jpg
Northern Ireland. The Maze Prison. Chapel, Phase 3. 2003

0maingatemaze.jpg
Main Gate, North Wall, Maze Prison, Northern Ireland, 2003 © Donovan Wylie/Magnum

0deconstructionprison.jpg
Donovan Wylie, Fence. Deconstruction of Maze Prison. Maze Prison. Northern Ireland, 2009, from the series The Maze. Courtesy of the artist

Wylie then extended his research to the British Watchtowers, the surveillance architecture built at the height of the Troubles, when South Armagh was one of the most heavily militarised areas of Northern Ireland. The British army built a network of watchtowers and observation posts in order to control cross-border smuggling and paramilitary attacks but also to maintain an intimidating presence.

As part of the Northern Ireland Peace Process, the watchtowers were dismantled between 2005 and 2007. As Whyle documented their presence in the surrounding countryside, British troops were deploying to Afghanistan, taking with them elements of the Northern Ireland watchtowers.

The Maze informed the watchtowers, and the watchtowers informed the Afghanistan work. I wanted to show this evolution, the photographer explained in an interview for the British Journal of Photography. When I was making the pictures of the watchtowers, they were coming down [being dismantled] and many of the soldiers working on them were going to Afghanistan. Elements of the structures were being taken to Afghanistan. Modern warfare is very transient, it is built to move, but basically it's the same idea regardless of nationality or politics or whatever - take the high ground and use vision as a method of strength and protection. Ultimately what I think is fascinating is how we use landscape as a tool of war.

0golf20LON89230.jpg
Northern Ireland. South Armagh. Golf 20. 2005

0sangerLON89233.jpg
Northern Ireland. Observational sanger, Cookstown. County Tyrone. 2000

0romeo12Outposts5.jpg
Romeo 12, South Armagh, Northern Ireland, 2005

0crossmaglen townLON89188.jpg
Northern Ireland. South Armagh. Crossmaglen town. Golf 650. 2006

0golf40-northern_20ireland__202006_jpg.jpg
Northern Ireland, 2006. South east view of Golf 40, British Army surveillance post in South Armagh

0golf40abLON89197.jpg
Northern Ireland. South Armagh. Golf 40AB. North east view. 2006

From 2006 to 2011, Canada sent nearly 3,000 military personnel to Afghanistan where military engineers designed a system of outposts throughout Kandahar province. Built on natural promontories and commanding multiple lines of sight, these outposts offer a fascinating parallel with the British Watchtower, as both networks ensured oppression and control in the name of a "war" against terrorists.

_FOB_Masum_Ghar_3_copy_med.jpg
Donovan Wylie, FOB Masum Ghar, Kandahar Province, Afghanistan, 2010, © Donovan Wylie/Magnum Photos

0iPO1masumghar.jpg
OP1. Forward Operating Base, Masum Ghar. Kandahar Province, Afghanistan, 2010 © Donovan Wylie/Magnum

0aOP3masumghar.jpg
OP3. Forward Operating Base, Masum Ghar. Kandahar Province, Afghanistan, 2010 © Donovan Wylie/Magnum

0watchtowercomabtoperatingpostFOLAD3.jpg
Watchtower, Combat Operating Post, Folad, Kandahar Province, Afghanistan, 2011 © Donovan Wylie/Magnum

Another series shown at the IWM explores American defensive structures in Baghdad, Iraq. The Green Zone was the international administrative zone of central Baghdad, controlled by the Coalition forces during the Second Iraq War. Wylie saw similarities in the way people were contained in the Green Zone and how they were imprisoned in the Maze.

0iraqNYC86372.jpg
Iraq. Baghdad, 2008. The "Green Zone"

Wylie's series Arctic closes the exhibition. The white and extreme environment is home to cyber radar stations unmanned and operated electronically to detect any presence seeking out lucrative natural resources along Canada's Arctic frontier made more fragile by global warming and the new routes though the Northwest Passage it enabled. Once again, the only analogy is with dystopian sci-fi. To Wylie, they are a striking example of surveillance attempting to deter future conflict.

0shortrange-canadian_20arctic__202013_jpg.jpg
Canadian Arctic, 2013. LAB 1 Royal Canadian Air Force Short Range Radar installation

Ultimately, the exhibition reminds us that surveillance is not confined to the spaces of military conflict. Surveillance is the default characteristic of our society, as the revelations about the extent of mass online surveillance have recently demosntrated.

Donovan Wylie: Vision as Power is at the Imperial War Museum in London until 21 April 2014.

0._De_Biasi_-_Gli_italiani_si_voltano.jpg
Mario de Biasi, Gli italiani si voltano, 1954

A quick and hopefully efficient post to show some of the works i've discovered at Artissima, Turin's contemporary art fair which closed last weekend. As i mentioned a few days ago, Artissima is, in my view, far far more exciting than Frieze London. Maybe i'll explain why in a coming story (and get my Frieze 2014 request for a press pass refused in the process?!?) I didn't exactly rack my brain to figure out how to screen the many photos i had taken or received in the press package. This post will be mostly black and white. I won't insult you and say how the next one will look like.

Many of the works below were part of Back to the Future. The section presents solo exhibitions by artists active in the 60's, 70's and 80's and selected by a jury of museums directors and curators

Right, let's start with an image which isn't strictly b&w. The wall drawing below is a diagram showing internal correlations and their external consequences marked out by key figures of thought balancing between reflecting and representing symbols of power affected by the structures of human experience and the various forms of interpretation.

I'm not going to pretend that i fully understand Nikolaus Gansterer's constellations, diagrams and other representations of thought processes but i've been charmed and intrigued by his work ever since i discovered it. Keep your eyes peeled for that one.

0agreymatter35_b.jpg
Nikolaus Gansterer, The Gray Matter Hypothesis

I had never heard of Croatian artist Tomislav Gotovac before but he is a man who ran bearded and naked through the streets of Belgrade. A performance he reiterated 10 years later in Zagreb. Another one to keep your eyes peeled for, then.

0i1tomislave2fb_b.jpg
Tomislav Gotovac, Breathing the air, 1962 / printed 2012

0a1speakwuietlyeaeb_b.jpg
Tomislav Gotovac, Speak quietly

Linda Fregni Nagler collected a thousand anonymous images of babies and young children taken between the 1840s and the 1920s. Apparently the conventions of the time wanted that the mothers were hidden or erased from view. Some of the feminine figures are covered with a piece of fabric or a carpet, others have their face blacked out from the photo, others crouch behind a chair.

0a0hiddenmother965.jpg
Linda Fregni Nagler, The Hidden Mother, 2006-13 (Monica de Carderas)

0aahideedenmothere9.jpg
Linda Fregni Nagler, The Hidden Mother, 2006-13 (Monica de Carderas)

0linda_fregni_naglera_2013.jpg
Linda Fregni Nagler, The Hidden Mother, 2006-13 (Monica de Carderas)

It is only fair that after those painfully hidden mothers, i'd show how in the late 1960s, Valie Export brought to a crude day light the relationship between the sexes. She walked her partner, Peter Weibel, on a leash, taking to the extreme women's liberation from male oppression.

0cunderdogefa4b0313.jpg
Valie Export, Aus der Mappe der Hundigkeit (From the Underdog File), 1968

I wrote about the work of Sicilian photographer and photojournalist Letizia Battaglia in the post Portraying the Mafia. She spent decades covering the cronaca nera, the crime stories for the left-wing newspaper L'Ora in Palermo.

0i1rubavabfb870a_b.jpg
Letizia Battaglia, Palermo. 1976. Un uomo morto folgorato mentre rubava il rame nei tombini dell'enel (A man electrocuted as he was stealing the copper in the ENEL manholes). Cardi Black Box

0delboss9bea0c40_b.jpg
Letizia Battaglia, L'arresto del boss mafioso Leoluca Bagarella (The arrest of mafia boss Leoluca Bagarella.) Cardi Black Box

0a1battaglia546_b.jpg
Letizia Battaglia, Palermo, 1982, vicino alla chiesa di Santa Chiara un bambino gioca a fare il killer con una calzamaglia in testa (a kid plays the part of a killer with women's stockings on his head, next to the Santa Chiara church.) Cardi Black Box

And now for something completely different...

0a1kazuko05_b.jpg
Kazuko Miyamoto, Untitled. Exile, Berlin

I couldn't resist pairing it with...

0a1bownik28a7_b.jpg
Bownik, Doe. Starter Gallery

One of the things i like about Artissima is that you won't see Frieze's usual suspects there. They might, however, make an appearance in other artists' photos.

0a75cattelan_1000.jpg
Lina Bertucci, Maurizio Cattelan, 1994/2005 (Eleni Koroneou Gallery)

0i1koons157c9_b.jpg
Lina Bertucci, Jeff Koons

Daidō Moriyama gained fame for the way he portrayed the dark sides of post-war Japan.

0a1hodkkaidof5a670_b.jpg
Daido Moriyama, Hokkaido

Probably not strictly speaking b&w either but since we're in Turin and the Mole Antonelliana is by far its most puzzling monument...

0larmole03912.jpg
Armin Linke, Mole Antonelliana, 2005. Vistamare

0a1crisiforeverab5f_b.jpg

0i4beau48847be149.jpg
Tenkamaru. In a Tunner, Tochigi, 2005

On Thursday i went to Artissima. Turin's contemporary art fair lands in the agenda almost straight after Frieze and compared to the London's fair, it feels lighter, fresher, edgier. It also demonstrates a greater attention for the design -in all its forms- of the event. I'm a fan.

That evening I've discovered a dozen of artists whose works i'll mention in the coming days (or weeks given my propensity to write at the speed of a banana.)

Let's start with Tatsuki Masaru whose photos were exhibited by Gallery Side 2 (Tokyo). The artist spent a decade following the Decotora (an abbreviation for "Decoration Truck") subculture, photographing the trucks of course but also their drivers and in the long series of "Japanese do it better", these vehicles have a panache and extravagance that never reach bad taste.

In an interview to Photoeye, the artist explains that the phenomenon is subject to trends and economic woes: There was a peak in say 1980, that was the peak time in terms of the number of decorated trucks existing in Japan. This trend got started somewhere in the '60s when Japan's economy was growing and people were starting to spend money decorating their trucks. In the beginning it was like, "Who has the most number of lights on the truck," that kind of competition. But then in the '90s there started to be a little bit more specialization, and one area which became popular was Gundam, which are like Japanese transformer movies, and anime type of decoration, so there are some stages to its development. Recently, because of the economic difficulties like Japan's recession, and governmental regulations, traffic laws and all that, the [truckers] can no longer do the things they used to do. So in a way, they're sort of going back to the '70s style, which is a little bit less lighting, more heavy on the paintings, a little bit more subdued decorating style so they cannot get busted by the police.

0efchandelierbedf19b8f.jpg
A Member of Seirokai, Behind the Wheel, Ibrarki, 2005

0montagned0f9f019.jpg

0aa3blovea1e88ee0f.jpg
Denshokumaru, Shinjuku, Tokyo, 2005

0i9goldoraeb804d80.jpg

0d8pluiea5b.jpg
Misakimaru. At a Truck Stop, Saitama, 2005

0a0tatsuki_52.jpg
Kuroshiomaru, Chiba 2007

0daitatsuki_23.jpg
Daichimaru II, Shizuoka 2007

0insideb042e56819.jpg

0christmas9176240980.jpg
Midnight Emperor, Shiga, 2002


More truck drivers videos

Both Photoeye and Pingmag have interviewed Tatsuki Masaru about the truck series. More images at photoeye.

Top Secret: Images from the Stasi Archives, by Simon Menner.

Available on Amazon UK and soon on Amazon USA.

0aacover0003620.jpg

Publisher Hatje Cantz writes: First publication of pictures from the archives of the Stasi, the East German secret police

Almost 300,000 people worked for the East German secret police, per capita far more than were employed by agencies such as the CIA or the KGB. Not quite fifty years after the Berlin Wall was built, Simon Menner (*1978 in Emmendingen) discovered spectacular photographs in the Stasi archives that document the agency's surveillance work. Formerly secret, highly official photographs show officers and employees putting on professional uniforms, gluing on fake beards, or signaling to each other with their hands. Today, the sight of them is almost ridiculous, although the laughter sticks in the viewer's throat. This publication can be regarded as a visual processing of German history and an examination of current surveillance issues, yet it is extremely amusing at the same time. The fact that the doors of the opposite side--the British or German intelligence services, for example--remained closed to the artist lends the theme an explosive force as well as a tinge of absurdity.

0combatryV9-cqrr.jpg
Close combat. From a manual for different close combat techniques

0mailbox-otdj.jpg
Surveillance of Mailboxes

0shortphoca_thumb_l_menner_09.jpg
Surveillance of the United States Embassy

Simon Menner has one of the most peculiar portfolios i've ever encountered. Snipers hidden among the trees, soldiers posing with corpses, Boobytraps and "Unconventional Warfare Devices and Techniques" from the 1960s, weapons used to murder people, views of WWI from both sides of the conflict, etc. Even the photos of Happy People have been selected for some very dark reason.

For one of his latest photo series, Menner spent 2 years searching through the Stasi archives, the majority of which were opened to the public shortly after the fall of the Berlin Wall.

The Ministerium für Staatssicherheit (Department of State Security) of the former German Democratic Republic was one of the largest surveillance apparatuses in history and its record of citizens' intimate life was thorough and sinister. The story and practices of the Stasi have been fairly well documented. Until this book however, we still lacked a clear visual account of the methods, tactics and props used by the spying agents.

The publication presents a selection of images documenting many of the Stasi operations: the spying accoutrement of Stasi personnel, the techniques employed to shadow or arrest a suspect, the signs used to convey secret messages, the packages sent via mail and confiscated by the secret police, etc.

The most baffling photos were taken during seminars in which Stasi employees learnt the art of disguise.

The props are amateurish, the poses are awkward and the result is grotesque beyond words. Yet, the intentions were serious: repression, control, surveillance.

0imfurV9-idet.jpg
From a seminar on disguises

0cardieyV9-stlw.jpg
The same agent using a different disguise

0_handbuch_fuer_verkleidungsvarianten.jpg
From a handbook of Different Disguises

0moustacheyV9-eeeh.jpg
Documentation of a seminar teaching how to apply artificial facial hair

0touristryV9-dkcw.jpg
Disguising as Western tourist

The award for most disturbing photos go to Polaroids of unmade beds, (Western-made) coffee machines and rows of shoes. The photos were taken by Stasi agents when they secretly searched peoples' houses on the hunt for evidence they might be betraying the communist state. Photos of the rooms and furniture were taken upon arrival and used by the agents to be able afterwards to put everything back as if nothing had been touched.

0polamenner_11.jpg
Secret House Searches

0polaenner_10.jpg
Secret House Searches

The photos below were taken at the birthday party of a high-ranking Stasi official. The party guests were asked to come dressed as members of demographic groups under Stasi surveillance such as athletes, dancers, academics, peace activists, and religious figures.

0geburtstagsfeier_fuer_einen_leitenden_agenten.jpg
Costume party. Guests were dressed up as members of demographic groups -such as clergymen- that the Stasi deemed suspicious

0costumeo-0122-Bild-0015.jpg
Costume Party

Spies of the western Allied Forces photographed Stasi spies and Stasi spies photographed their Western counterparts. "Sometimes they met, both sides were absolutely aware that the other side was there, but nevertheless both sides took photos, showing that both East and West lived in pretty much the same state of mind," the artist explained. So far, however, Menner hasn't been granted access to the correspondent photos from the British or Federal German secret services.

0spies-0987-Bild-0006.jpg
Spies taking pictures of spies

0knight6-galleryV9-gtoj.jpg
Accolade of the Phone Surveillance Unit

I love the necklace, very Tatty Devine!

0phone6-Bild-0014.jpg
Accolade of the Phone Surveillance Unit

0selfieryV9-lnpb.jpg
Stasi spy photographs himself

More images on the photographer's website, in Der Spiegel and Morgen Contemporary.

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