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
Photography is widely associated with truthfulness yet it has also been employed throughout its history as a means of telling stories and evoking the imaginary
Alternative Guide to the Universe focuses on individuals who develop their ideas and practices outside of official institutions and established disciplines. Their work ingeniously departs from accepted ways of thinking in order to re-imagine the rules of culture and science. Some of their speculative visions rival the wildest inventions of science fiction – with the difference that these practitioners believe in the validity and veracity of all that they describe and propose
The Open Eye Gallery is now showing the sensational Charles Fréger, The Wild and the Wise. One of Fréger’s series documents some of the pagan rites that still celebrate the cyclical patterns of nature and life in general in Europe. Another portrays Hereros people dressed in a vernacular version of colonial uniforms…
During the show we will be talking about how she managed to get her hands on a fresh human brain but Helen will also discuss some of her broader projects such as The Body Is A Big Place, a large-scale installation that explores organ transplantation and the thresholds between life and death
One of the projects that you can see right now in Brighton is a body of work, by Mariele Neudecker, that makes visitors reflect upon (and reluctantly admire) the use of technologies in contemporary warfare. The artist documented with seducing photo portraits and patient rubbings a series of weapons of mass destruction that were developed at the height of the Cold War
A few words and many images about two exhibitions i saw in Madrid a few weeks ago. One is all about the American landscape. The other shows hairdressers and butchers living in Galicia decades ago
n this photo series, Robert Harding Pittman acutely documents the exportation of the Los Angeles-style model of urban development to other countries such as Spain, France, Germany, Greece, United Arab Emirates and South Korea.
From the construction boom up until the current building crisis.
Anonymization presents under an implacable light a landscape of anonymity made of shopping malls, vast parking lots, arrays of unfinished houses that look exactly the same, green golf courses in the middle of desert areas, etc
From Last Meals on Death Row in Texas to suitcase droppings in Tokyo
“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”
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
his 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
KK Outlet is now showing Franck Allais’ comical Subverting The City, a series of street photos featuring city boys dressed in their usual grey suit attire from the waist up but in skirts and heels from the waist down.
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
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?
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
Shomei Tomatsu’s 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
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
‘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.’