I’m drowning in really good books this year. Half of them are photography books. And because i’m short on time and these publications deserve a review, i’m going to take the lazy road: a sweeping and speedy overview of 5 of my favourite photo books of the moment. In one post.
Military simulations of rooms, houses, planes, streets and whole fake towns in different parts of the globe provoke a series of questions concerning the nature of truth as it manifests itself in current photographic practice
Photographs taken seven months after the fire bombing of Dresden are shown alongside those taken seven months after the end of the First Gulf War. Images made in Vietnam 25 years after the fall of Saigon are shown alongside those made in Nakasaki 25 years after the atomic bomb. The result is the chance to make never-before-made connections while viewing the legacy of war as artists and photographers have captured it in retrospect
Over the past 5 years, Nick Hannes has visited twenty countries located around the Mediterranean. He witnessed an unprecedented period of turmoil for the region: southern Europe buckling under the weight of the global economic crisis, Arab countries entangled in the aftermath of the Arab Spring and tourists and migrants encountering each other on the beaches of the Mediterranean Sea
The conference (ridiculously interesting and accompanied by an exhibition i wish i could see all over again but more about all that next week) looked at how practitioners redefine the documentary genre in the digital age. In his presentation, artist James George presented artistic projects that demonstrate how fast computational photography is evolving and how innovations are changing our relation to the image
Pothier is in the region to shoot videos and make sound recordings but because he a PhD researcher in Arts, Anthropology and Architecture, the artist is also investigating nomadic architecture, drawing lessons from the way nomadic cultures live in symbiosis with the environment and more generally exploring issues of global warming which are felt so acutely in circumpolar regions
The real world is full of cameras; the virtual world is full of images. Where does all this photographic activity leave the artist-photographer? Post-Photography tries to answer that question by investigating the exciting new language of photographic image-making that is emerging in the digital age of anything-is-possible and everything-has-been-done-before
Zsolt Asztalos’ country, Hungary, was bombed heavily during the final months of the war by US, British and Soviet forces, with Budapest carpet-bombed on 37 occasions.
Hungary’s Unexploded Bomb Disposal Department gave the artist access to some of the explosives that were dropped over towns and cities but didn’t explode
Simon Faithfull’s new commission, REEF, began in August 2014 off the Dorset coast, where a boat made a last voyage out to sea and was sunk to become an artificial reef – serving as an underwater sculpture and a lasting legacy for marine conservation and biodiversity
Enter a tumultuous era with this unparalleled collection of photographs made by a group of photographers working for the Rome-based agency Team Editorial Services.
The press photographers constantly shifted between battling film stars at play and the reality of near civil war unfolding on the streets. Politics and celebrity are brought together through the paparazzi style of alto contrasto, collusion and intrusion. Alluded to, although less visible, are the murkier dealings of clandestine groups linked to the Italian Secret Services, The P2 Masonic Lodge the CIA and NATO, operating against the backdrop of the extremes of the Red and Black Brigades
Concentrating on the work of 18 leading photographers from the last 80 years, the exhibition begins in 1935 with Berenice Abbott, who captured New York’s transformation into modern metropolis. From there, it journeys through affluent California in the 1940s, India’s independence in the 50s, the decline of industrial Europe in the 60s and 70s and culminates in an exploration of the contemporary urban experience
Pr. Peter Ameisenhaufen gained fame in the first half of the 20th century for his controversial research on rare animals. Many of his colleagues refused to believe these creatures were real but Ameisenhaufen spent decades collecting evidences of their existence. The archives uncovered in the late 1980s by Fontcuberta were surprisingly rich and well detailed: photos, field notes, dissections drawing, audio clips documenting the calls and other sounds of these truly exceptional animals. Several specimens were even remarkably preserved by taxidermy
Vincent Debanne sets the scene of contemporary naumachia in well-known playgrounds for luxury yachts: the bays of Antibes and of St-Tropez in France. Using image manipulation, the Battleship photo series provides a surprisingly realistic commentary on some of our world’s current economic, social and political issues
All that is documented here is true, but seems to be from a work of bad fiction. We find stories of contaminated ministers, bombs lost and never found, the invention of the bikini, the power struggles between colonial powers and local populations, vaporized chickens, etc.
I’m one day late (how lame!) for my wrap-up of the exhibitions i enjoyed in London in July. British folk art, Mexican cowboys, Russian suburbs, half stuffed animals and rubber beauty masks
The main theoretical question underpinning the project is: “Can photography be the site where the history of an exhibition is produced and still retain its independent artistic autonomy, thus overcoming pure documentation?”
Collaborating with the Archive of Modern Conflict, Fiona Banner asked photoreporter Paolo Pellegrin to explore the City of London and to reflect its activities, behaviours, customs and costume through the lens of conflict photography
I had never visited the festival before but the program looked good: young talents, Eastern European artists whose work was new to me and a few blockbusters which, this year, included Roger Ballen’s portraits of marginalized people in absurd settings and Volker Hinz’s quirky portraits of fashion stars and celebrities of the 20th century. Predictable blogger that i am, i only had eyes for the new names and the socially-engaged exhibitions. So that’s what this report from the festival is going to focus on. That and the city
The month that was in London: Biting machine, largest horn in the UK, post-surveillance art, dial-less telephone, etc.
The young photographer traveled to Norilsk, one of the biggest cities above the Arctic Circle. In Norilsk, inhabitants live in darkness 45 days a year, temperatures can drop to minus 53 °C in the Winter and the air is one of the most polluted in the world. There is no green space in Norilsk and even leaving the city is a challenge. The easiest way to get away is by air (Moscow is a four hour flight away) and for most residents, plane tickets are barely affordable.
The reason why people would want to live there is that most of them work for the biggest metallurgical and mines complex in the world
A Guide to the Flora and Fauna of the World is a catalogue of 55 curious creatures and life-forms that have evolved in often unexpected ways to cope with the stresses and pressures of a changed world. Other organisms documented iare the results of human intervention, mutations engineered to serve various interests and purposes ranging from scientific research to the desire for ornamentation
The engineer was pivotal in developing early aerial and oceanic reconnaissance. During WWII he pioneered the use of a strobe light powerful enough to take night time reconnaissance images. He also worked with the famous marine biologist Jacques-Yves Cousteau, inventing underwater photographic techniques and side-scan sonar devices to map the ocean floor
This year, BIP2014, the 9th International Biennial of Photography and Visual Arts in Liège, looks at the ambiguous relationship between images and belief. Image seduce, persuade, deceive and lie. And even if we are used to seeing images (and their meaning) being modified and manipulated, we still want to believe that what is under our eyes is The Truth, The Whole Truth, and Nothing But The Truth
Most people are fascinated by ruins. The appeal of the crumbling and the decaying is such that it has its own term in photography. It is called “ruin porn” and Detroit is one of its most celebrated subjects. Tate Britain currently has an exhibition about the mournful, thrilling, comic and perverse uses of ruins in art. It is called Ruin Lust. Not because Tate curators are prude and proper but because they are erudite, the title of the show, i read, comes from the 18th-century German architectural word ‘Ruinenlust’
In the age of the ‘selfie’ and social media, might the figure of the Photographer, as observer and recorder of social change, becoming passé, destined to be replaced by a new type of collective ‘portrait’ formed from the aggregation and analysis of big data?
If i had to compare it to Frieze i’d say that catering is far better at Art14 (which for me means “WOW! there’s a juice bar, here!”), the public is much younger and the art is more accessible and not just financially. Last but not least, there’s no Jeff Koons inflated glitter in sight. I did see too many Botero though. At least one.
Mary Warner Marien discusses photography from a truly global viewpoint and looks at a wide-ranging collection of images through the lenses of art, science, travel, war, fashion, the mass media and individual photographers
When Harmony Went to Hell. Congo Dialogues at Rivington Place in London brings side by side archive photos shot by Alice Seeley Harris while Leopold II was still the sole owner of the land and new work from Sammy Baloji, a Congolese artist who has spent the past few years investigating the legacies of colonialism in his country
The exhibition focuses on the area of the Piers in New York City during the mid 1970s, and speaks of the state of abandonment and dilapidation these underwent as a consequence of the oil crisis that reconfigured the geography of the city as well as the international market and trading system
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 that seem to conceit and conspire. At least that’s what the viewer suspects because Doherty is a master of making them paranoid
The show invited artists whose work 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
Vision as Power invites us to consider the impact of prisons, watchtowers, defensive structures and other surveillance structures on the environment, the observer and the observed
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. 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
Tatsuki Masaru 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
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
An attempt by photographers Ioana Cîrlig and Marin Raica to document the remains of communist industrialisation in central and eastern Romania. Decades ago, these areas were attracting workers from all around Europe but the collapse of Ceauşescu regime left these communities to their own devices and the mining towns are now fighting unemployment and poverty
In the late 1960s, Tony Ray-Jones traveled across his country in a VW camper to document the leisure and pleasures of the English. He was a man who lived by his own rules. One of them was to never take a boring photo. There are dozens of images in the exhibition and none of them is remotely insipid
VisualLeader 2013, The Best of Magazines And Internet displays the works of the nominees and winners of last year LeadAwards, Germany’s most prestigious print and online media award. Photo reports, fashion shoots, advertisement, blogs, etc. That made for a great afternoon so without further ado…
I haven’t seen that many exciting exhibitions in London over the past few weeks. I was however, bowled over by the photos of Philip-Lorca diCorcia at the David Zwirner Gallery. The East of Eden series brings side by side biblical references and the dark side of the American dream
Positioning automatically controlled cameras at strategic points around the launch pad–some as close as seven hundred feet–he recorded images of take-offs that capture the incredible power and transcendent beauty of the blast that sends the shuttle hurtling into space. Winters also takes us on a visual tour of the shuttle as a marvel of technology–from the crew spaces with their complex instrumentation, to the massive engines that propelled the shuttle, to the enormous vehicle assembly building where the shuttles were prepared for flight