As i blogged a few days ago, Art 13, London's new contemporary art fair, brought many (good) surprises and new names on the radar of collectors and plebeians.

In order NOT to illustrate my point, i'll start this quick overview of the photo works presented at the fair with a series by one of the most famous YBAs.

Mat Collishaw's Last Meals on Death Row is a splendid and sinister collection of still lifes recreating the final meals of death-sentence prisoners in American prisons.

Collishaw's compositions portray the request of inmates from Texas, the state with the highest number of executions since 1976. In 2011 however, Texas banned last meal requests for prisoners on death row after Lawrence Russell Brewer ordered two chicken fried steaks, a triple-meat bacon cheeseburger, fried okra, a pound of barbecue, three fajitas, a meat lover's pizza, a pint of ice cream and a slab of peanut butter fudge. But didn't eat any of it.

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Last Meal on Death Row - Gary Gilmore, 2012

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Last Meal on Death Row - Velma Barfield, 2012.

For more art takes on the same theme, check out the post The Last Meals of the Executed: A Selection of Projects in Photography and Painting.

I've been particularly impressed by Lamberto Teotino's minimal interventions on archive photographs.

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Lamberto Teotino, Sistema di riferimento monodimensionale, 2011

More gems along the way:

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Back Seung-Woo, Untitled, from the series: "Blow Up", 2001. At Gana Art Gallery

Back to celebrated photographers with Roger Ballen:

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Roger Ballen, Man holding Cat, 1995. At Kleinschmidt Fine Photographs

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Roger Ballen, Head Below Wires, 2000. At Kleinschmidt Fine Photographs

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Paul Almasy, Dockyard in Sakai, Osaka, 1973. At Kleinschmidt Fine Photographs

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Leonce Raphael Agbodjélou, Untitled (Vodou Series), 2011. At Jack Bell Gallery

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Leonce Raphael Agbodjélou, Untitled (Musclemen series), 2012

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Minoru HirataHi Red Center's Dropping Event at Ikenobo Hall ( (Performance at the rooftop of Ikenobo Flower School's Headquarters in Tokyo), Tokyo, October 10, 1964 1964, printed 2011

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Stephen Danzig, Regeneration God, 2012

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Chu Teppa Koy, Goddess of the Winter, the insight and the Hugs, 2012. At Diana Lowenstein Gallery

Previously: Art13, the art fair that took us by surprise.

Sponsored by:





The facade of the Little Black Gallery in Chelsea is indeed painted in black, the interior is not that small and right now they have a stunning show that bears a slightly unnerving title: The Silence of Dogs in Cars. Martin Usborne portrays dogs locked inside cars. Some look peaceful and lost in their own thoughts, others are barking. Or sleeping.

When he started the series, the photographer walked around car parks looking for dogs left inside cars but his quest wasn't too successful so he decided to entirely orchestrate each photo, stopping people who were having a stroll with their dogs, matching each animal with a car and location. As Usborne explained to Max Houghton: I did start it as a reportage project but after I found myself walking around supermarket carparks making barking noises to try and awaken sleeping dogs that were not actually there, I set up the shots. But I now realise that is the right thing. It's very important that it's lit and looks cinematic, dreamlike almost.

I never thought i'd write a post dedicated to dogs photos one day but these were irresistible:

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Dasher

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Flo

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Maus

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Behind the scenes. Image


Bones

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Bones

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Peggy

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Peggy 2

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Hector 2

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Milo

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Prospero

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Chara

The Silence of Dogs in Cars is at The Little Black Gallery until 27 April 2013.

The other day i received the code to download the photos of the photographers shortlisted for the 2013 Sony World Photography Awards Exhibition. Idle and bored, i opened the files and thought i should share the images. Because that's the kind of thing you do when you're an idle and bored blogger but also because the photos are as stunning as ever.

As usual in this kind of international photo competition, there's a couple of winning shots about Palestine, some portraits of magnificently coiffed people, plenty of violent deaths, prisoners living in dire conditions and almost half of these talented photographers are Italian. I'm very impressed by the Afrometals series, btw.

Most of these images will be exhibited next month at Somerset House in London in April and i'll take the opportunity to highlight the fact that for the first time in 5 years, i'm actually writing about an exhibition before it has closed.

Here's a quick selection with texts copied/pasted from the txt file accompanying each images.

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Agurtxane Concellon. From the series: Røros, a journey. Copyright: ©Agurtxane Concellon, Spain, Shortlist, Travel, Professional Competition, 2013

A group of 20-30 men and women with 12 horses and sleighs will travel during three days, crossing snowed roads and iced lakes, to reach to reach the opening day of Røros winter fair in Norway.

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Alecsandra Dragoi, New Year's eve traditions in Romania. Copyright: ©Alecsandra Dragoi, Romania, Winner, Culture, Youth Competition, 2013 Sony World Photography Awards

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Daniele Tamagni, Edith, Hellrider, Dadmonster. From the series Afrometals. Copyright: © Daniele Tamagni, Italy, Shortlist, Art & Culture, Professional Competition, 2013 Sony World Photography Awards

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Daniele Tamagni, A fan of metal music performing on at Kanye village. From the Series: Afrometals. Copyright: © Daniele Tamagni, Italy, Shortlist, Art & Culture, Professional Competition, 2013 Sony World Photography Awards

In Botswana metal music has landed in the nineties, but the rock came in the seventies by two Italian brothers, Ivo and Renato Sbrana, born and raised in the heart of Africa. The metal complexes are performing in nightclubs, concerts, festivals. The most famous African rock band is now Skinflint.The ranks of their fans has expanded dramatically. These fans wear jackets and black leather pants, studded belts, boots and cowboy hats. On their t-shirts stand out skulls, obscenities, historical covers of hard-rock groups popular in the seventies and eighties of the last century such as Iron Maiden, Metallica, AC / DC. Basically they created their own style look that is inspired by the classic symbolism metal, but also borrows heavily from the iconography of hands-Western film and the traditional rural world of Botswana (ever-present horns of animals concealed beneath the leather jacket ).

Tamagni is also the author of the equally amazing Gentlemen of Bacongo.

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Oliver Weiken, Palestinian morticians prepare the body of a man who died during an Israeli airstrike for his funeral in a morgue in a hospital in the Jabalya refugee camp, north of Gaza City, 21 November 2012. From the series: Israel - Gaza War. Copyright: © Oliver Weiken, Germany, Shortlist, Current Affairs, Professional Competition, 2013 Sony World Photography Awards

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Oliver Weiken, From the series: Israel - Gaza War. Copyright: ©Oliver Weiken, Germany, Shortlist, Current Affairs, Professional Competition, 2013

On 14 November 2012 Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) launched a seven day operation in the Hamas controlled Gaza Strip, dubbed 'Operation Pillar of Defense'. The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights said that 158 Palestinians were killed during the operation, of which: 102 were civilians.

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Paolo Pellegrin, From the series The Crescent, Rochester, USA, 2012. ©Paolo Pellegrin/Magnum Photos. For Postcards from America project and ZEIT Magazine, Italy, Finalist, Current Affairs, Professional Competiiton 2013 Sony World Photography Awards

The area of Rochester where these pictures have been taken is part of the so called 'Crescent', a moon shaped area that runs across several Rochester neighborhoods and where crime rates are significantly higher than the rest of the city. The Crescent is home to 27 percent of the city's residents and 80 percent of the city's homicides. The reasons behind the burst of violence include the lagging upstate economy, a steady migration of residents to the suburbs and a growing number of abandoned houses prone to become centers of drug sales and use. Rochester also has a school system that performs poorly. People inside the Crescent experience those problems in greater concentration. ''It's an area of great poverty and high consumption rate of drugs which fuels an incredibly high number of homicides,'' said the Rochester police chief. Rochester, NY. USA 2012

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Javier Arcenillas. From the Series: Red Note. Copyright: © Javier Arcenillas, Spain, Shortlist, Contemporary Issues, Professional Competition, 2013 Sony World Photography Awards

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Javier Arcenillas. From the Series: Red Note. Copyright: © Javier Arcenillas, Spain, Shortlist, Contemporary Issues, Professional Competition, 2013 Sony World Photography Awards

Honduras is considered one of the most violent countries in the world. Every day in the streets of cities like San Pedro Sula or Tegucigalpa capital murder, robbery and violence are increasingly present. Ineffective internal politics of a country as unstable where drug trafficking into the USA is uncontrollable and unsafe neighborhoods of Maras is the closest thing to a daily war.

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Daesung Lee. From the series: On the shore of a vanishing island. Copyright: ©Daesung Lee, Korea, Finalist, Contemporary Issues, Professional Competition 2013/SIPA Press

Ghoramara island is located on a delta region in West Bengal. Due to the dramatic increase in sea level, resulting from the effects global warming since the 1960s, the shores of this island are being perpetually washed away. Since the 1980s more than 50% of the territory has vanished due to erosion by the sea. Many of the people still living on the island are farmers and fishermen who depend on the islandís resources for their livelihoods. According to a civil servant I met, in 20-25 years the Indian government could abolish the island and has already formulated a plan to evacuate villagers to another island named Sagar. However, this evacuation plan does not ensure any financial support or compensation for those having to relocate their lives. I situated villagers on the shore and took portraits of them in juxtaposition with the beauty of the vanishing island. There will come a day when these people will have no choice but to move out of their homeland.

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Valerio Bispuri, Prison inmates Santiago, Chile. From the Series: Encerrados. Copyright: © Valerio Bispuri, Italy, finalist Contemporary Issues Professional Competition 2013 Sony

I spent 10 years travelling for South-America jails. A different and complex world in which violence and abuse are part of convicts life. I saw how the convicts try to find a space similar to that one they had outside jails. They try to preserve their dignity. The necessity to recreate their space is the only way to defend them. They hardly try to maintain their habits in a human boundary condition and overcrowding status. Violence and power management inside the jails are direct consequences of these conditions. I went around for 74 male and female jails in Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Brazil, Colombia e Venezuela. I got in contact with prisoners and guards, with fear and anger, with hope and diffidence. Some convicts considered me a distraction, others looked at me with envy, others again with contempt because they thought that I was there only for taking pictures to sell of their confined life.

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Maxim Donyuk, Natalie, 37 years old. Diagnosis: MDR TB + HIV. From the Series: Tuberculosis in the Faces. Copyright: © Maxim Dondyuk, Ukraine, Shortlist, Portraiture, Professional Competition, 2013

Tuberculosis department of Kherson, August 4, 2011. "I had a great loving family. I was my daddy's little girl. At 42 years old, my father went for a swim and died. My younger sister was going to college, and we needed money to pay for that. The economy was bad at the time, no one was getting paid. That's how I got into drugs." To provide for her family and pay for sister's education, Natalie gave up her music education and started selling drugs instead. Over time, she began to take drugs herself. That's how she contracted HIV, and later - tuberculosis. Natalie died in August 16, 2011. Her sister got married, gave birth to a daughter, and now lives in Moscow.

Series Description: In 1995, the World Health Organization declared the tuberculosis epidemic in Ukraine. Over the past 16 years, the situation has deteriorated even further. Each day TB takes lives of 30 people, annually of about 10,000 people.

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Colin Delfosse, Kamara Serbungo, 17, fled Rubabe (Rutshuru territory) when the M23 soldiers entered the house of his family to forcibly enlist him. Refugee in the Kanyaruchinya camp, he fled a second time when the M23 took over Goma. With other displaced persons he's now taking shelter at the Don Bosco parish. Colin Delfosse, Belgium/2013 Sony World Photography Awards, category Current Affairs

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Andrew Lubimov, Reportage about children military-patriotic camp, located in Crimea (Ukraine). From the series: From the cradle to combat. Copyright: © Andrew Lubimov, Ukraine, Shortlist, Current Affairs, Professional Competition, 2013 Sony World Photography Awards

The pupil of Cossack's children military-patriotic camp "Crimea-Sech" eats buckwheat cereal at a separate table, during a lunch break in camp, Thursday, August 02, 2012, the Crimea (Ukraine). The main rations of pupils are the cereals and flour's products, tinned stewed meat. Children make breakfast, dinner and supper for themselves.

"Crimea-Sech" accept the children and teenagers between the ages of 8-18 years coming from different regions of CIS countries (Ukraine, Russia, Belarus). These children are cadets and already valid Cossacks of the various Cossacks organizations. Every day pupils of the camp are involved in dissimilar occupations -weapon assembly and disassembly, tactic combat simulation, survival in extreme conditions, reconnaissance work, terrain orientation, hand-to-hand fight, firing from different types of firearms.

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Reinis Hofmanis. From the series: Territory. Copyright: ©Reinis Hofmanis, Latvia, Shortlist, Architecture, Professional Competition, 2013

Territory is focused on various aspects and boundaries in the urban landscape. There are boundaries in landscapes which exist between the public and the private space, there are specifics of vision and perception, and an urban landscape serves as evidence of the way in which people populate and move around in territories. Each image features a guard and his guardhouse. Guard booths are architecturally inexpressive and humble, although present in the urban landscape. Those are images that feature the moment at which the guard has spotted or is approaching the photographer.

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Zhang Kechun, Holding Mao's picture swim across Yellow River in Henan, 2012. From the series: The Yellow River. Copyright: © Zhang Kechun, China, Shortlist, Landscape, Professional Competition, 2013 Sony World Photography Awards

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Louise Porter, Kara Woman, Omo Valley, Ethiopia. Copyright: © Louise Porter, USA, Shortlist, People, Open Competition 2013 Sony World Photography Awards

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Fausto Podavini. From the series: Mirella. Copyright: ©Fausto Podavini, Italy, Finalist, Lifestyle, Professional Competition, 2013 Sony World Photography Awards

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Jens Juul. From the series Six degrees of Copenhagen. Copyright: ©Jens Juul, Denmark, Finalist, Portraiture, Professional, 2013 Sony World Photography Awards

Taking its point of departure in the idea that every person on Earth is connected in the sixth degree, this series of photos depicts human connections through the city of Copenhagen. The set up is that Jens Juul portray random people that he engage with in the streets, and that these chance meetings end up with him taking highly personal photos of these people, who then each send Jens Juul on to another person in their network, who he can portray, who then gives me the name of another person...

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Danny Cohen, Polar Bear. Copyright: ©Danny Cohen, Australia, Shortlist, Enhanced, Open Competition 2013 Sony World Photography Awards

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Arjen Schmitz. From the series Hong Kong. Copyright: © Arjen Schmitz, Netherlands Finalist, Landscape, Professional Competition 2013 Sony World Photography Awards

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Peter Mysticdidge Plorin, Of the Tiger and Turtle. Copyright: ©Peter Mysticdidge Plorin, Germany, Shortlist, Architecture, Open 2013 Sony World Photography Awards

"Of the Tiger and Turtle" is a work of art on an industrial landmark. In the background you can see a steel mill.

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Diko Risanto, Jaranan (Pentulan). Copyright: © Diko Risanto, Indonesia, Shortlist, Portraits, Youth 2013 Sony World Photography Awards

Image Description: Jaranan is one of traditional culture in Indonesia, this dance usually play with trance by ghost. It looks unusual because jaranan usually has played by adult . this boy playing as pentulan.

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Mehmet Karaca, Makro Dunyasi. Copyright: © Mehmet Karaca, Turkey, Shortlist, Nature & Wildlife, Professional Competition, 2013

The Sony World Photography Awards Exhibition will open at Somerset House, London, on Friday 26 April, the day after the winners of the 2013 Sony World Photography Awards.

Whenever i'm in Amsterdam i head to Foam, the city's museum of photography. Out of habit mostly. I actually think that Huis Marseille's programme is often bolder and more relevant to my own interests but this month Foam has a show titled Primrose - Russian Colour Photography and the word "Russia" always does it for me. The exhibition charts Russia's attempts to produce coloured photographic images from the 1860s to 1970s. Room after rooms, the visitor realizes that photography is a cogent filter to reveal the history of a country in the course of a century.

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Dmitry Baltermants, Men's talk, 1950s

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Photo of the exhibition opening © Multimedia Art Museum, Moscow

You can read a text written by curator Olga Sviblova over here. It presents with great clarity the changes in technology and the socio-political vicissitudes Russia went through during the early days of colour photography. Not only am i no expert in Russian history nor photography techniques but i'm also an ultra lazy blogger. I hope you will excuse me if i just sum up (but mostly cut/copy/paste) Sviblova's words below:

Colour became widespread in Russian photography in the 1860s. At the time, colour was added to photographic prints manually using watercolour and oil paints. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries Russia was undergoing two opposing trends: active europeanisation and search for a national identity that translated into tinted photographs that portrayed people wearing national costumes -- Russian, Tatar, Caucasian, Ukrainian, etc.

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V. Yankovsky "In memory of my military service". Saint Petersburg. Beginning of 1910s Collodion, painting Collection of Moscow House of Photography Museum © Moscow House of Photography Museum

The photographic documentation of life in the Russian Empire in the early 20th century acquired the status of a State objective. In May 1909 Tsar Nicholas II gave an audience to the photographer Sergei Prokudin-Gorsky who, in 1902, had announced a technique for creating colour photographs by combining shots taken successively through light filters coloured blue, green and red. Delighted with this invention, Emperor Nicholas II commissioned the photographer to take colour photographs of life in the various regions of the Empire.

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Sergey Prokudin-Gorsky, Portrait of Lev Tolstoy, 25 May 1908

Meanwhile autochrome pictures by the Lumière brothers, with whom Prokudin-Gorsky worked after emigrating to France, became very popular in early 20th-century Russia. Autochromes, colour transparencies on a glass backing, could be viewed against the light, or projected with the aid of special apparatus. They were used by Pyotr Vedenisov, a nobleman whose hobby was to photograph his own family life. The private image later provided an excellent description of the typical lifestyle enjoyed at the time by educated Russian noblemen.

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Piotr Vedenisov, Kolya Kozakov and the Dog Gipsy. Yalta. 1910-1911 Collection of Moscow House of Photography Museum © Multimedia Art Museum, Moscow / Moscow House of Photography Museum

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Piotr Vedenisov, Vera Kozakov in Folk Dress. 1914, Collection of Moscow House of Photography Museum © Multimedia Art Museum, Moscow / Moscow House of Photography Museum

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Piotr Vedenisov. Tania, Natasha, Kolia and Liza Kozakov, Vera Nikolayevna Vedenisov and Elena Frantsevna Bazilev. Yalta, 1910-1911

The onset of the First World War in 1914 and October Revolution in 1917 reduced to ruins the Russia whose memory is preserved in the tinted photographs and autochromes of the late 19th to early 20th centuries. Vladimir Lenin and the new Soviet government saw photography as an important propaganda weapon for a country where 70% of the population were unable to read or write. From the mid-1920s photomontage, used as an ideological 'visual weapon', was widespread in the Soviet Union, enthusiastically encouraged by the Bolsheviks.

From the mid-1920s Alexander Rodchenko regenerated the forgotten technique of hand colouring his own photographs. In 1937, at the height of Stalin's repression, Rodchenko began photographing classical ballet and opera, using the arsenal of his aesthetic opponents, the Russian pictorialists, who by that time were subject to harsh repression. For Alexander Rodchenko soft focus, classical subject matter and toning typical of pictorial photography were a mediated way of expressing his internal escapism and tragic disillusionment with the Soviet utopia.

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Alexander Rodchenko. Race. "Dynamo" Stadium. 1935. Artist's gelatine silver print, gouache. Collection of Moscow House of Photography Museum © A. Rodchenko - V. Stepanova Archive © Multimedia Art Museum, Moscow/ Moscow House of Photography Museum

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Varvara Stepanova, Red Army Men, photomontage for "Abroad" magazine, 1930 collection B Ignatovich

In 1932 general rules for socialist realism were published in the USSR, as the only creative method for all forms of art, including photographic. Soviet art had to reflect Soviet myths about the happiest people in the happiest country, not real life and real people.

In 1936 both Agfa and Kodak introduced colour film but Second World War delayed their broad distribution to the amateur photography market. In the USSR colour photography only appeared at the end of the war.

Until the mid-1970s, in the USSR negative film for printing colour photographs was a luxury only available to a few official photographers who worked for major Soviet publications. All of them were obliged to follow the canons of socialist realism and practise staged reportage.

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Yakov Khalip. Sea cadets. End of 1940s. © Moscow House of Photography Museum

From the late 1950s, in the Khrushchev Thaw after the debunking of Stalin's cult of personality, the canons of socialist realism softened and permitted a certain freedom in aesthetics, allowing photography to move closer to reality.

In the postwar period, during the 1950s to 1960s life gradually improved and coloured souvenir photo portraits again appeared on the mass market. They were usually produced by unknown and 'unofficial' photographers, since private photo studios that used to carry out such commissions were now forbidden, and the State exercised a total monopoly on photography by the 1930s.

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Dmitry Baltermants, Portrait of Olympic champion Yury Vlasov, 1960. Installation shot by Foam

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Dmitry Baltermants Show-window. Beginning of 1970s Colour print Collection of Moscow House of Photography Museum © Dmitry Baltermants Archive © Moscow House of Photography Museum

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Dmitry Baltermants Meeting in the tundra. From the "Meetings with Chukotka" series. 1972 Colour print Collection of Moscow House of Photography Museum © Dmitry Baltermants Archive © Moscow House of Photography Museum

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Dmitri Baltermants, Rain, 1960s

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Dmitry Baltermants. Moscow. 1960s. Museum 'Moscow House of Photography'

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Robert Diament. He has turned her head. Beginning of 1960s. Colour print. Collection of Moscow House of Photography Museum © Multimedia Art Museum, Moscow/ Moscow House of Photography Museum

Boris Mikhailov copied, enlarged and tinted these kitsch photo souvenirs to supplement his income at his photo lab in the early 1970s. Revealing and deconstructing the nature of Soviet myths in the process.

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Boris Mikhailov, From the series Luriki, end of 1970s - beginning of 1980s

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Boris Mikhailov, Untitled (from the series Luriki), 1971-1985

Colour transparency film, which could be developed even in domestic surroundings, appeared on the Soviet mass market in the 1960s and 1970s. It was widely used by amateurs, who created transparencies that could be viewed at home with a slide projector. An unofficial art form emerging in the USSR at this time developed the aesthetics and means for a new artistic conceptualisation of reality, quite different from the socialist realism that still prevailed, although somewhat modified.

More than half a century of Soviet power after the 1917 Revolution radically altered Russia. The photographer was certainly not required or even allowed to take nude studies as corporeality and sexuality were seen as inherent signs of an independent individual. In photographing Suzi Et Cetera Boris Mikhailov disrupts the norms and reveals characters, his own and that of his subjects. It was impossible to show these shots in public, but slides could be projected at home, in the workshops of his artist friends or the often semi-underground clubs of the scientific and technical intelligentsia, who began to revive during Khrushchev's Thaw after the Stalinist repression. Boris Mikhailov's slide projections are now analogous to the apartment exhibitions of unofficial art. By means of colour he displayed the dismal standardisation and squalor of surrounding life, and his slide performances helped to unite people whose consciousness and life in those years began to escape from the dogmatic network of Soviet ideology, which permitted only one colour -- red.

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Photo of the exhibition opening © Multimedia Art Museum, Moscow

More photos in Le Journal de la Photographie and Multimedia Art Museum Moscow.
Primrose - Russian Colour Photography is at Foam in Amsterdam until 3 April 2013.

Related posts: Soviet Photomontages 1917-1953 and
Russian Criminal Tattoo portraits.

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Franck Allais, Subverting The City

KK Outlet, a communication agency slash art gallery slash bookshop, is now showing Franck Allais' comical Subverting The City, street photos of city boys dressed in their usual grey suit attire from the waist up but in pencil skirts and heels from the waist down.

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Franck Allais, Subverting The City

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Franck Allais, Subverting The City

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Franck Allais, Subverting The City

And i was going to leave you with this when i realized i might as well add a quick sequences of of images illustrating exhibitions i've seen around town recently.

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Tarzan and Arab, Pillar of Cloud, 2012

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Tarzan and Arab. Photo P21

Starting with Refraction: Moving Images on Palestine  at P21, a new gallery focusing on contemporary art from and about Palestine. It's a lovely place with a bar selling cakes and Palestinian almonds.

There's Tarzan and Arab! Their posters pastiche the Hollywood war movie genre. The title of each film sounds very action movie: Summer Rain, Autumn Clouds, Defensive Shield, Sea Breeze, Cast Lead, etc. The cruel irony is that each of them is also the name of a Israeli military operation against Palestinians. Their latest creation is Operation Pillar of Cloud which refers to the eight-day Israel Defense Forces offensive on Gaza.

Pillar of Cloud, as the poster states, is a film by IDF Production, produced by U.S.A. government and directed by Benjamin Netanyahu (assisted by Arab Governments.)

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Laila Shawa, Stealth Cross-Metamorphoses

Laila Shawa's Stealth Cross-Metamorphoses, a cross equipped with four rockets, looms over your head as you go down the stairs of the gallery.

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Heidi Specker, Via Napione, Motiv XIII, 2010

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Heidi Specker, Via Napione, Motiv VI, 2010

Next! Heidi Specker is at Brancolini Grimaldi with, among other works, the Via Napione 2 series of photographs taken in the house of architect and designer Carlo Mollino.

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Adel Abdessemed, Le Vase abominable, 2012-2013

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Adel Abdessemed, Soldaten, 2013

Adel Abdessemed, an artist who has my eternal gratitude for turning my ham-addicted boyfriend into a vegan, is at the David Zwirner gallery. The show is about war, violence, and spectatorship. There's an aptly-titled Le Vase abominable positioned on top of explosive devices. No explanation about the meaning of the work but there is a guided tour of the exhibition on March 7 and i do intend to find out. Upstairs, among other works, are drawings featuring soldiers in full battle gear. The animation in the adjacent room is fascinating on its own but i just read what it is about and i'm even going to copy/paste the text accompanying it: State is projected onto all four walls in a separate room and features labyrinth-like drawings which recall Republican prisoner protests at HM Prison Maze in Northern Ireland during the late 1970s and early 1980s. Fighting for their right to wear their own clothes on the basis that they were not convicted criminals, they wrapped themselves in blankets rather than the provided uniforms and refused to leave their cells, which in turn were not sufficiently cleaned. They consequently smeared the walls with their own excrement, beginning the so-called "dirty protests."

Never a dull moment with Abdessemed.

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Massimo Bartolini, Afterheart, 2012

The central work in Massimo Bartolini's exhibition at Firth Street Gallery is a scaled-up barrel, like that of a giant musical-box, slowly revolves, opening and closing the valves of a wind organ whose pipes form part of the structure on which the mechanism sits. The music produced by the organ has been composed in collaboration with the artist by Italian composer Edoardo Marraffa. Surprisingly soothing and seductive.

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Anais Tondeur, Chernobyl's Herbarium, 2011

Anais Tondeur's Tchernobyl Herbarium documents the trauma endured by the plant specimens found in the Chernobyl exclusion zone. At the GV Art gallery.

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Zoe Leonard, Beauty Calibrator, 1993

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Zoe Leonard, Série Instruments Gynécologiques, 1993

Viral Research is the second exhibition dedicated to the Collection Sandretto Re Rebaudengo that i visit at the Whitechapel Gallery. The first i saw was all about Maurizio Cattelan. His dead squirrel, cheese carpet and hanged self-portrait. Viral Research is supremely different. I particularly liked the b&w photos of Zoe Leonard.

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Allison Schulnik, Hobo Clown with Bucket, 2011

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Jeneleen Floyd, War of the Worlds

Paradise Row has a few good works in Kiss Me Deadly, a group show of new art from Los Angeles framed by the sensibilities and concerns of film noir culture that flourished in L.A. in the 1940's and 50's.

I'll close with one of Michael Bauer's paintings at Alison Jacques gallery.

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Michael Bauer, Slow Future - Basement 1973, 2011

Über Grenzen. On Borders, photographs by Ostkreuz - Agentur der Fotografen. Texts by Andrea Böhm, Wolfgang Büscher, Fabian Dietrich, Anna-Christina Hartmann and Marcus Jauer. Graphic design by Jan Spading.

Available on amazon UK, i couldn't find it on amazon USA.)

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Publisher Hatje Cantz writes: They offer protection, lead to war, limit freedom, or make it possible; they have always been there and they will continue to exist: borders. Hardly anything else is as socially ambivalent, as timeless, and simultaneously as extremely relevant. The Ostkreuz agency was founded when what was probably the most important border in the history of Germany--the Berlin Wall--disappeared. Two decades later, the agency's photographers set out on a search for today's frontiers. Their pictures tell of discovering a state identity in South Sudan; they portray groups of indigenous peoples battling for their land in Canada and gay people in Palestine seeking exile in the enemy country of Israel. The focus is always on people: how do boundaries influence their everyday lives, and how do they shape their lives along those that surround them?

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Maurice Weiss, Libya, Misrata, war museum, handmade construction, autumn 2011. From the series "Arabian Autumn". © Maurice Weiss / OSTKREUZ

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Anne Schönharting, Gerry Reynolds, Catholic Priest, Bombay Street, West Belfast, 2011. © Anne Schönharting / OSTKREUZ

This book is about conflicts, misunderstandings, distrust, isolation, greed, fear, privileges and control. Über Grenzen. On Borders contains the kind of images you see in newspapers and press photo exhibitions. This time however they come with the personal story of the photographer: the doubts, the dangers encountered (one of them was kidnapped on the job), the challenges, the disappointments. I like the way photographers write. Whether they do it in the form of a diary or of a more traditional reportage article, whether they attempt to stay neutral or cannot hide their involvement in the issue they are covering, photographers are factual, informative, and efficient. As someone whose job consists mostly in writing, i can only feel envy. I should have undertaken a formation in photography instead of philology (what was i thinking the day i enrolled in philologie classique?)

As the description suggests, Über Grenzen. On Borders takes you all around the world. The stories which are closer from home are obviously the ones that hurt the most: the extreme lengths the European Union goes to in order to keep at bay anyone who doesn't have the right passport; the communities, such as the Roma, who are vilified and driven out of their houses.

Here are some of photo reports presented in the book:

In A State Emerges, Espen Eichhöfer documents the first steps of a new nation: South Sudan. Houses might be ramshackle, government buildings might be hosted by temporary structures but the government and citizens rest their hopes on oil. About eighty percent of the oil deposits in all of Sudan are in their territory.

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Espen Eichhöfer, National garde, Airport, Juba, South Sudan, 2012. © Espen Eichhöfer / OSTKREUZ

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Espen Eichhöfer, Ministry of Information, Juba, South Sudan, 2012. © Espen Eichhöfer / OSTKREUZ

The Green Line looks at the Republic of Cyprus which, officially, is still undivided. Since the invasion by Turkish troops in 1974, however, the government only controls two-thirds of the national territory. The United Nations has guarded a buffer zone for almost forty years along the old ceasefire line. It runs right through the capital city.

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Lefkosia Airport, Nicosia, Nicosia's former international airport lies in the middle of the buffer zone and has been abandoned. A Cyprus Airways Hawker Siddeley Trident (ID 5B-DAB) still stands on the run way; it could not escape the fighting, was riddled with bullets, and later stripped, 2012, Cypress © / Ostkreuz / LUZphoto

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Heinrich Völkel, UN #UN Buffer Zone, Lefkosia Airport, Nicosia, Waiting room at the deserted Lefkosia International Airport. During the Cypress conflict the airport lay between the two fronts and the UN declared it a protected zone. It has been closed ever since, 2012 © Heinrich Völkel / OSTKREUZ

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Cypress (South), Barricade in the Greek national colors at the entrance to the buffer zone in the old city of Nicosia, 2012, Cypress © / Ostkreuz / LUZphoto

Members of the Lubicon Cree (in today's Canada) have never surrendered and relinquished their territory. But oil and gas development on or near their land is threatening their way of life, their culture, and their health.

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Dawin Meckel, Vern Hunting Pigeons, Canada, 2012. © Dawin Meckel / OSTKREUZ

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Dawin Meckel, Waterpump on the Lubicon Cree territory, Little Buffalo, Alberta, 2011. © Dawin Meckel / OSTKREUZ

Twenty-two years after the fall of the Berlin Wall Ute and Werner Mahler drove along the old border that used to separate East German citizens from the West: a strip of land almost 1400 kilometers long running from the Baltic in the Harz to the foothills of the Thuringian Forest, in Saxony.

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Ute und Werner Mahler, Tettau Railway, Thuringian border, Bavaria, 2012. © Ute und Werner Mahler / OSTKREUZ

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Ute und Werner Mahler, Wall near Waddekath, Sachsen-Anhalt border, Lower Saxony, 2012

Most illegal immigrants enter the European Union via the route that goes from Turkey to Greece. And the instruments put forward to keep them out are getting increasingly sophisticated. Mostly through the Frontex Agency, a EU border patrol that upgrades technology along the edges of Europe. In the future, they plan to use robots and drones.

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Julian Roeder, Greek-Bulgarian Frontex patrol at the European border between Greece and Turkey in the Evros region, January 2012. © Julian Roeder / OSTKREUZ

A four-kilometer-wide strip has separated North and South Korea since 1953. Soldiers there are still on alert, and every once in a while a shot is fired. Nevertheless, the South Korean tourist office still lures tourists to the last existing border left over from the Cold War, which was a prohibited zone for a long time.

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Jörg Brüggemann, Families collecting shellfish. The peninsular is blocked to protect the main land from North Korean spies. Songjiho Beach, South Korea, June 2012. © Jörg Brüggemann / OSTKREUZ

In Prato (Tuscany), the "pronto moda" industry churns out cheap clothes that imitate current trends. They are made by Chinese residents (many of whom entered the country illegally) who produce clothing "made in Italy," under the worst working conditions.

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Jordis Antonia Schlösser, In a sweatshop: Chinese immigrants sleep, eat and work here, Prato, 2012. © Jordis Schlösser / OSTKREUZ

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Jordis Antonia Schlösser, Police raid, called a blitz, in a Chinese sweatshop, Prato, 2012. © Jordis Schlösser / OSTKREUZ

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Jordis Antonia Schlösser, Via Pistoiese, Mainstreet, Prato, Chinatown, 2012 © Jordis Schlösser / OSTKREUZ

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Jordis Schlösser, Food truck in Prato's industrial zone: open evenings to feed workers on the night shift, Prato, 2012 © Jordis Schlösser / OSTKREUZ

Views inside the book:

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