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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

Sponsored by:





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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Almost two months ago, i wrote a couple of measly posts (Arnold Odermatt, policeman photographer and Artissima - Valerio Carrubba) about the 19th edition of Artissima, the contemporary art fair that takes place in Turin each year in November. I've finally decided to catch up with my reports from the fair.

While reading articles in the local press, i learnt that Artisima broke all its records of affluence this year. That doesn't surprise me. A few years ago, Turin decided to squeeze all its major cultural events into the same November week. So the art fair was accompanied by various openings in the city and by an 'off' fair, nothing unusual here. But that same week also saw the commissions It's Not The End Of The World displayed in various museums for a few days, a digital art festival, a festival of electronic music, a photo fair, an exhibition dedicated to 'emerging art'', etc. A fantastic strategy to attract tourists. A lame idea for art-loving people who live in this city.

Artissima is nevertheless my favourite art fair in Europe. First of all because of the quality of the galleries selected and the works they show. Then there's the press team which -unlike Art Brussels and Frieze- doesn't require bloggers to go through a Stasi-style cross-examination process in order to be granted a press pass (sans catalogue, access to photo sets nor fabric bag obviously.) In Turin, i got the pass, the catalogues, the bright pink fabric bag (as worn by my little colleague over here.) The other reason why i'd hate to miss an edition of Artissima is that i've always found that people in Turin genuinely cared about contemporary art. They have the appetite and the taste for it. I'm convinced that even the security guys whom i see each year sneering and guffawing openly from one gallery booth to another find something that touches them at the end of their tour.

As a brief intro (which will actually be the third 'brief intro'), here's a quick copy/paste of the photographic works that i found most interesting at Artissima. Some of them are purely photographic works. But because i didn't see as many stunning photos as usual this year, i'm adding images that document performances and interventions. Starting with...

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Ragnar Kjartansson. Scandinavian Pain (twilight), 2006-12. i8 Gallery

The 11 metre long, pink neon sign was first erected on the roof of an abandoned barn in a region of Norway made famous by Edvard Munch. Kjartansson lived there for a week, looking dejected and playing the guitar for days, many of which not a single human visitor came.

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Andrea Galvani, A few invisible sculptures #1

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Eva Frapiccini, Untitled (from the series Under the Rough) (2012) Courtesy of Alberto Peola, Torino

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Tobias Zielony, Horseman, 2009. Gallery Lia Rumma

Naufus Ramírez Figueroa was one of the 3 winners of the Premio Illy for young artists.

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Naufus Ramírez Figueroa, Beber y leer el arcoiris

Karen Knorr's series of large-scale photos star wildlife animals inhabiting the elegant salons of famous cultural institutions and castles.

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Karen Knorr, Fables (Musée de la chasse), 2005 - 2007

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Libia Castro & Ólafur Ólafsson, Untitled, 2000-2006

Ondrej Pribyl's photos are made using the daguerreotype process, the photographic technique patented by Louis Daguerre in 1839.

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Ondrej Pribyl, Untitled

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Ballen Roger, Appearances

Edgar Leciejewski: a name to add to the already long list of artists working with blow-ups of "Google Street View".

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Edgar Leciejewski, 302 West 22nd Street

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Edgar Leciejewski, 146 East 77th Street

Per-Oskar Leu's "The English: Are they human?" site-specific installation showed two Italian Mille Miglia parka. Their integrated goggles and 'built for speed' appearance has made these jackets a sought-after garment among football fans with inclinations towards fighting and luxury apparel. Since the early 1980's groups of British 'risk supporters' have embraced a dress code of upmarket, mainly French and Italian sportswear brands, a look which has in turn been adapted by fans in Europe following an increase in 'The English Disease' of football hooliganism. Simultaneously, Leu conjures up imagery from other cross-cultural phenomena equally fixated upon the cult of youthful aggression; namely the Italian Futurist movement and its English offshoot the Vorticist group, founded in 1909 and 1913 respectively.

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Per-Oskar Leu, The English: Are They Human?

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Robin Rhode, Slalom Triptych. At Tucci Russo, 2012

In 1999, Nedko Solakov wrote fourteen short messages and narratives on the wings of six of Luxair's Boeing 737's. Each of them was visible only from the window seats.

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Nedko Solakov, On the Wing (texts on the wings of 6 Boeing 737...), 2001. At Galleria Continua

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Roni Horn, This is Me, This is You (GROUP II), 1998-2000. At i8 Gallery

In case you were wondering what the fair looked like:

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Photo: Enrico Frignani

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Photo: Enrico Frignani

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Photo: Enrico Frignani

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Photo: Enrico Frignani

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One last reason why i love Artissima:

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Previously: Arnold Odermatt, policeman photographer and Artissima - Valerio Carrubba.

I wasn't particularly dazzled by the press pictures of the exhibition Everything Was Moving: Photography from the 60s and 70s and i thought i'd visit it on a day i'd be really really bored. Which you're never supposed to be in London. Still, last Sunday i was at the Barbican, attempting to recover from the heart attack i had when i saw the endless queue to experience Random International's Rain Room and took the lift to see the photo show. I found that the press pictures didn't do it justice. Everything Was Moving is a magnificent, albeit slightly exhausting, show. The exhibition shows the work of photographers who lived and worked in countries as different from each other as Ukraine under Soviet control and Apartheid South Africa, Maoist China and Vietnam attacked by American soldiers. Plenty of politics, social issues and conflicts to cover!

I might not have (or rather 'take') the time to cover the whole exhibition but one of the rooms that impressed me the most was dedicated to the work of Japanese photographer Shomei Tomatsu. His most famous series is "Nagasaki 11:02". Fifteen years after the horrific atomic bombings of the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Shomei Tomatsu was commissioned by the Japan Council Against Atomic and Hydrogen Bombs to document the effects of the A-bomb on the city of Nagasaki and on its inhabitants.

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Shomei Tomatsu, A Bottle that Was Melted by Heat Wave and Fires (from the series Nagasaki 11:02) Nagasaki, 1961

The series is named after the photo of a watch that was dug up 0.7km from the epicenter of the explosion and which stopped at the exact moment the bomb fell: 11:02 a.m on the 9th of August 1945.

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A Wristwatch Dug up approximately 0.7 km from the Epicenter of the Explosion. Nagasaki, 1961

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Steel Helmet with Skull Bone Fused by Atomic Bomb, Nagasaki 1963

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Christian with Keloidal Scars (from the series Nagasaki 11:02) Nagasaki, 1961

Another of his most admired series is Chewing Gum and Chocolate which exposes the influences of the US occupying forces and of American military and popular culture on Japanese society.

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Shomei Tomatsu, Prostitute, Nagoya, 1958

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Untitled, from the series Chewing Gum and Chocolates, Yokosuka, 1959

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Untitled, from the series Chewing Gum & Chocolate, 1966.

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Untitled, from the series Chewing Gum and Chocolate, 1967 (Shomei Tomatsu)

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Shomei Tomatsu, Coca-cola, Tokyo, 1969

Everything Was Moving: Photography from the 60s and 70s remains open until 13 January 2013 at the Barbican Art Gallery in London.

Photo on the homepage: Hairstyle, Tokyo 1969.

The exhibition Shoot! Existential Photography opened a few weeks ago at The Photographers' Gallery and i never got to mention it so far. The selection of work is fantastic, the theme is seductive and it makes you want to locate the nearest playground.

Load, aim, Fire!

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Simone de Beauvoir, Jean-Paul Sartre, Paris 1929

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Simbeck's Foto-Schiessen, Freiburg 1979

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Simbeck's Fotoschießen, 1980

In the period following World War I, a curious attraction appeared at fairgrounds: the photographic shooting gallery. If the punter's bullet hit the centre of the target, this triggered a camera. Instead of winning a balloon or toy, the participant would win a snapshot of him or herself in the act of shooting.

The exhibition celebrates the use of the shooting gallery at fairgrounds by the famous (from Jean-Paul Sartre to Federico Fellini) and the non-famous but also the contemporary artists who have been intrigued by the idea of shooting oneself.

The most stunning work in the show is probably the video-sound installation Crossfire by Christian Marclay. I felt like that rabbit in the headlights of a car (or was it a hare? or a deer?) Crossfire is a super fast, loud and powerful sampling of shooting scenes from Hollywood movies. You stand in the middle of the room and wherever you turn your gaze there's Clint Eastwood, Antonio Banderas or some other action hero star aiming and shooting at you.

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Christian Marclay, still from 'Crossfire, 2007

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Christian Marclay, still from 'Crossfire, 2007

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Christian Marclay, still from 'Crossfire, 2007. Photo by Kate Elliott

Since the late 1970s, Jean-François Lecourt has been literally shooting his own image. In his early experiments, the bullet smashes the camera. The roll is pierced by the shoot. In the second series, the bullet perforates a wall of the lightproof box, a ray of light comes in and leaves a mark on the photosensitive paper.

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Jean-François Lecourt. Shot into the camera, 1987

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Jean-François Lecourt. Shot into the camera

Similarly, Rudolf Steiner uses the camera as a target. In the series Pictures of me, shooting myself into a picture, the bullet hole is the aperture for a pinhole camera, creating an image upon impact.

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Rudolf Steiner, Pictures of me, shooting myself into a picture

The story of Ria van Dijk is endearing. Every single year, the lady goes to a fairground shooting gallery in Tilburg, Netherlands to shoot a self portrait. She started her pilgrimage to the shooting booth in 1936, when she was 16. The artist Erik Kessels collected all the images she has taken at the fair. Going from one self-portrait to another is fascinating. You see her hair getting greyer, her glasses following the fashion of the passing decades, her friends or fans coming along with her, etc. The only pause in the sequence is from 1939 to 1945.

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Ria van Dijk, Photo-shot, 1936

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Ria van Dijk, Photo-shot, 1969

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Ria van Dijk, Photo-shot, Oosterhout, Netherlands, 1978

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Ria van Dijk, Photo-shot, Tilburg, 1998

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Ria van Dijk, Photo-shot, Tilburg, 2006

I've written about the work of Steven Pippin in the past. His Point Blank series of photos was made by cameras recording the precise moment of their own destruction by a gun.

The action takes place in total darkness with the flash being triggered just as the bullet breaks open the analogue camera and hits the negative inside it.

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Steven Pippin, Mamiya 330 twin lens reflex shot with.25 calibre (self portrait), 2010

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Steven Pippins, Point Blank (detail), 2010

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View of the mechanism used by Steven Pippin. Photo by Kate Elliott

Sylvia Ballhause bought a shooting rig from the booth of a family business in Germany. It was the last booth working with analogue, large-format cameras in the country.

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Sylvia Ballhause, Shooting rig [active / passive]

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Sylvia Ballhause, Shooting myself, 2008

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Photographers' Gallery installation photograph by Kate Elliott

The shooting gallery is not as popular as it used to be but you don't need to go far to try the amusement yourself, the Photographers' Gallery has turned on of its rooms into a photographic shooting gallery so that visitors can shoot (at) themselves.

Shoot! Existential Photography is up at the Photographers' Gallery in London until 6 January 2013.

Related story: The cameras that record the moment of their own destruction.

This afternoon i stopped by the Victoria & Albert Museum to see Light from the Middle East, an exhibition of contemporary photography from and about the Middle East. It wasn't overwhelmingly brilliant but the show has some very strong pieces. In particular, a photo series that appears to draw parallels between the water towers photographed by Bernd and Hilla Becher and the Israeli watchtowers in Occupied Palestine.

Bernd and Hilla Becher notoriously documented in black and white the disappearing industrial architecture of Europe. Taysir Batniji's series similarly attempts to index typologies of constructions. His subjects are the military watchtowers erected by Israel to control the movements of Palestinians inside and outside their own land and unlike the Berchers' fading industrial structures, they are still in use. The photo tableau does look like a Bechers: the use of black and white, the grid disposition, the front views of the buildings, etc. However, closer inspection reveals that the geopolitical context didn't allow the photographer to reproduce faithfully the Bechers' method and impeccable compositions.

The artist writes:

As a Palestinian born in Gaza I am not authorized to return to the West Bank, so I delegated a Palestinian photographer to carry out these photos. They are out of focus, clumsily framed, imperfectly lighted. In this territory, one cannot install the heavy equipment of the Bechers or take the time to frame the perfect position, let alone afford to wait days for the ideal light conditions. Aestheticization becomes a vivid political challenge, both in the creation of these photographs and in their reception, as these images challenge viewers to see these functional military constructions as sculptural, or as a part of a formal architectural heritage.

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Taysir Batniji, from the series: Watchtowers, West Bank/Palestine, 2008

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Taysir Batniji, from the series: Watchtowers, West Bank/Palestine, 2008

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Taysir Batniji, from the series: Watchtowers, West Bank/Palestine, 2008

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Taysir Batniji, from the series: Watchtowers, West Bank/Palestine, 2008

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Taysir Batniji, from the series: Watchtowers, West Bank/Palestine, 2008

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Bernd and Hilla Becher, Water Towers (Wassertürme), 1980

Light from the Middle East is at the Victoria & Albert Museum until 7 April 2012. Admission is free.

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