The London Festival of Photography is one of my favourite events in town. The theme this year was as broad as it can get: Inside Out: Reflections on the Public and the Private. I’ve seen a magic lantern performance, archive photos of Libya before and during Gaddafi’s regime, documents from Apartheid era South Africa, a photo film of the world’s biggest festival for dog lovers
For some reason, London’s festival of photography is probably not getting all the attention it deserves. Hence this first hasty story to try and convince you to flock in droves to some of its exhibitions before they close. If i had to recommend just one venue it would be the Fitzrovia Community Centre. All the artists exhibited in the show are new to me and their work is of the ‘documentary and heavy in urgent-social-issues’ genre, just my kind of photo show!
From discovering photographers to determining editions and displaying prints, Collect Contemporary Photography accompanies collectors through the whole process of acquiring photographic works, while providing guidance on practical matters including information about different photographic techniques
object to paying £7.50 to see and exhibition which title starts with the name of a brand. I feel cheated when the show closes with a shop selling goods manufactured by the above-mentioned brand and i don’t look kindly to being forbidden to take pictures (which i do purely for documenting reason) because that would mean that i won’t shell more ££ to buy the booklet of the exhibition. That said, the photos selected and exhibited are so remarkable that i still feel like recommending that you go and see the World Photography Awards if you’re in London
The museum of photography in Antwerp has a number of fascinating show right now. One of them is an installation by Zoe Beloff that takes as its point of departure America’s longest running comic strip to explore the influence of cinema on the movement of the body and the mind.
Beloff’s exhibition contains a number of historical documents. Some of them show intriguing photos of sportsmen and factory workers in movement. They are called chronocyclegraphs. I had never heard of the chronocyclegraph before…
In Prager’s part film noir, part fashion shoot work, heroines wear impeccable make-up, pose as if they were in a Hitchcock movie, breathe through an atmosphere worthy of David Lynch, and are submitted to ordeals inspired by the images of crime photographers Weegee and Enrique Metinides. The stories might take place in Hollywood-like settings but they promise to never end on a happy note
Two photo series that made me smile at the Biennale of Photography in Liege… Jean-Claude Delalande creates bitter family albums in which the protagonists never look at each other, perform the most mundane tasks, go on holiday with the same torpor that’d show on a supermarket trip, and lead a joyless family life. Meanwhile, Miyoko Ihara follows the relationship between her 85 year old grandmother and her cat, Fukumaru
You might never have heard of Abkhazia and that’s probably because only a handful of countries regard it as an independent state.
Abkhazia broke away from Georgia after a short, violent civil war in ’92-’93 and only Russia, Venezuela, Nicaragua and the atoll of Nauru recognised it as independent state in 2008.
The artists spent four years witnessing and documenting the country’s attempts to repopulate with new immigrants a country that is ravaged by the war, almost empty and in great economic distress
The collaboration between artist Ania Dabrowska and social scientist Dr Bronwyn Parry gives a visibility to the medical research on dementia. The photos demystifies what happens behind the doors of brain bank laboratories, and in so doing actively seeks to rehabilitate, even celebrate, the practice of bodily donation in the public imagination
Last week i found myself in Liverpool to see the exhibition Robots and Avatars, conceived by body>data>space at FACT. Proper report will appear next week. In the meantime i felt like singing the praise of Liverpool. I love that city. I love people’s accent, the architecture, the magnificent Aloha shirt i bought for peanuts in a vintage shop but most of all i love their art galleries
I’ve visited 5 photo exhibitions all over London yesterday. Here’s a few words about the ones i found most interesting. Starting with ‘Last Days of the Arctic’…
A few months ago, I read there was an exhibition of photos by McCullin at Tate Britain. I thought “That one can wait, it’s going to for ages and everybody knows the work of the award-winning war photographer anyway.” That was very presumptuous of me. I finally went to see the show and it is now clear that i had underestimated the impact his images would have on me. Especially his portrayal of the homeless living around London from the late 1960s to the ’80s
The work of 31 photographers are part of the show. You can never go wrong with the likes of Diane Arbus, Bernd and Hilla Becher, Lee Friedlander, Martin Parr, Thomas Struth Tobias Zielony, Thomas Demand, Andreas Gursky, Thomas Ruff, Wolfgang Tillmans and Jeff Wall. Most of the works exhibited are jaw-dropping. However, i now have the feeling that i have seen this kind of exhibition one time too many
The everyday lives of the British gangsters, pimps, prostitutes and players, as the world changes irrevocably around them
The Nigerian photographer is one of those rare photo-reporters whose work is shown in newspapers as well as in art galleries around the world (you can check his photos right now in the Oil Show at HMKV in Dortmund). He was in London to discuss the Oil Rich Niger Delta series and his new book Delta Nigeria – The Rape of Paradise on the oil exploitation in the Delta region of his country
The title says it all: a law firm is sponsoring a competition of contemporary portrait photography and 60 of the best entries are exhibited in London.
There are cute kids and celebs (sadly, there were no mature men in speedo this year) but because i’m drawn to documentary photos, that’s what my quick selection will be about
Pippin’s relentless investigation of the medium of photography is quite brilliant. There’s the camera that photographs its own death of course but the artist also spent years turning mundane objects (a refrigerator, bath tub, wardrobe, etc.) into pinhole cameras. He even spent a 55 minute train journey transforming the train lavatory into a photographic studio. Even more amusingly, he converted a row of 12 front-loading washing machines in a laundromat into as many cameras
As surprising as it may appear, Scarlett Hooft Graafland takes analogue photographs, prints them straight from the negative and never uses Photoshop. The artist is fascinated by remote, unusual and sometimes even inhospitable locations. She went to Salar de Uyunu in the Bolivian Andes, the largest salt desert, she travelled with the Inuit across the sea ice of Igloolik on the Arctic plains of northern Canada, moved around Southern China and the lava fields of Iceland
In his b&w series Demonstrations, Caleb Charland used everyday objects to explore the laws and wonders of physics. The wonderful images are the only traces left of the many exposures, the long trials and errors the artist had to go through before he managed to make the perfect portrait of a physical phenomenon. The admiration for his tenacity and curiosity increases tenfold when you remember that we live in the age of photoshop
It’s Photomonth in East London and i’ll be running around the area this week to catch up with as many shows as possible. My two favourite exhibitions so far are as different from each other as possible.
The first one was at Amnesty International UK’s Human Rights Action Centre. It’s a rather small event, only 5 to 6 photos from the three shortlisted entries in the Photojournalism category at the Amnesty International Media Awards
Keith Arnatt was English but moved to Wales in 1969 and wikipedia doesn’t do justice to his life and talent by reducing them to a scandalously short entry. Arnatt was photographing dog poo decades before Andres Serrano thought it would be worth a look, found photo material in trash, campy tourists and notes abandoned by his wife. Everything he shot was witty and never sarcastic
If you find yourself in Amsterdam too, don’t miss Battered at Melkweg’s photo gallery. For obvious reason, the exhibition has the support of the Finnish Institute of Culture rather than the Finnish board of tourism. The photo series by Harri Pälviranta shows men (and a few women too) in the middle of or after a physical fight in the streets of Turku. The powerful flash leaves nothing to imagination. It’s bloody, messy, a few teeth have probably been lost and the subjects will wake up the day after with ecchymosis all over their face
Before going through the series of winners of World Press Photo, i had never heard of narco cinema. But then again each time i’ve discovered a cinematographic (sub)genre recently it was thanks to photography. In late 2009, i found about Nollywood cinema through Pieter Hugo’s work. This year Fabio Cuttica brought me to Narco Cinema
Erupting volcanoes, drug wars, famine in Niger, aftermath of the Haiti earthquake, children suffering from Agent Orange disabilities, abortions performed by untrained practitioners in Kenya but also lucha libre for women, traveling cinema in India and couchsurfing in Brooklyn
Identity has always been a recurrent issue for human beings and it even becomes more important within a society where globalisation and standardisation gain the upper hand. Everyone tries to find his way among these blurred identities. Today more and more people decide to escape reality in order to make up a new identity
One of the photos that Catherine Hyland was exhibiting at the graduation show is part of the Wonderland series which documents what is left of an amusement park conceived in 1998 to become the largest of its kind in Asia but left to decay after funding was cut. The other two photos are equally fascinating: one evoke the manufactured landscape of Edward Burtynsky, the other brings you to a much quieter yet somehow uncanny universe
The exhibition presents the provocative idea that art and journalism are two sides of a unique activity; the production and distribution of images and information. The exhibition brings to the surface how images and information are communicated, and the aesthetic principles used in the act of transmission
Sorry for being so silent over the past few days. A combination of medicine-proof flu and weak wifi at the hotel have thrown me into the arms of Jo Nesbo again and i’ve only emerged from this lethargy now. So here’s a last and light post about the ongoing London Street Photography Festival where i discovered Anahita Avalos’s tableaux of everyday life in Villahermosa, Mexico
French nanny Vivian Maier relentlessly photographed New York and Chicago. She didn’t show her work to anyone, died in poverty, and left behind 100,000 negatives. Her work was discovered when a young estate agent bought the content of her storage locker. Now, with some 90% of the archive reconstructed, Maier’s work is part of a renaissance in interest in street photography
Watching rows of small portraits on a beige background might not be your idea of an exciting afternoon but Taryn Simon’s body of work provides strong narratives that immerse visitors into the story of feuding families in Brazil, a polygamous Kenyan healer living with his nine wives and 32 children, victims of genocide in Bosnia, South Koreans abducted by North Korean agents, the body double of Saddam Hussein’s son Uday, children living in an orphanage in Ukraine, and the reviled descents of 24 European rabbits in Australia
An exhibition at the German Historical Museum in Berlin marks the 50th anniversary of start of the construction of the Wall. Thomas Hoepker’s work is particularly striking. Hoepker was the first West German photographer to receive an official authorization to live and report from East Berlin when the city was still divided by a wall. He was followed by the constant gaze of East Germany’s secret police but his worked was uncensored
In October 2010, Simon Norfolk began a series of new photographs in Afghanistan, which takes its cue from the work of nineteenth-century British photographer John Burke. Norfolk’s photographs reimagine or respond to Burke’s Afghan war scenes in the context of the contemporary conflict
Photography from South Africa comes with a heavy luggage. Long before it played its documentary part in the fight against apartheid, the medium was used as an instrument to classify people according to racial type. A few years after the fall of the apartheid, a new generation of artists and photo reporters is attempting to rebuild the picture of a country where the old rules of codes and structures governed by race have (somehow) started to crumble. A number of these photographers, however, have chosen to turn their back on the culture of realism that defined South African photography in the years of the fight against the segregation and are exploring a more purely artistic aspect of photography
The exhibition explores the artistic reflection of the American Way of Life in the context of socio-political phenomena, such as the Vietnam War, the Civil Rights Movement and the Nixon era
Over the weekend i saw Martin Parr meeting followers of Islam in the Goutte d’Or neighbourhood in Paris, Stéphane Duroy’s documentation of the cityscape and society of England at the time of Thatcherism and Justine Kurland taking the road with train-hoppers, hitchhikers, wilderness squatters, wayfarers, and drifters in the USA
Lee Friedlander has captured the interior of American home as they were starting to be taken over by television. The black and white photographs, all taken in the early 1960s, casually record the turned-on tube in a variety of household settings. Yet, there is something eerie with the image
Currently on view at Tate Modern’s Level 2 Gallery, Out of Place features four artists who explore the relationship between dominant political forces and personal and collective histories by looking at urban space, architectural structures and the condition of displacement
Apologies for updating this blog only once in a blue moon. I’ve been spending the past few days on a quest for the perfect flat. Now that mission is accomplished, i can announce that normal service will resume on Friday (tomorrow i’ll be visiting a couple of shows in Florence.) In the meantime, here’s some of the most stunning images i saw this afternoon at The Museum of London which is running a London Street Photography show until September 4, 2011
Guantanamo: If the light goes out illustrates three experiences of home: at Guantanamo naval base, home to the American community; in the camp complex where the detainees have been held; and in the homes where former detainees, never charged with any crime, find themselves trying to rebuild lives. These notions of home are brought together in an unsettling narrative, which evokes the process of disorientation central to the Guantanamo interrogation and incarceration techniques. It also explores the legacy of disturbance such experiences have in the minds and memories of these men
One of the FotoPres grants went to Basque photographer Mikel Aristregi for his mesmerizing reportage entitled “-40ºC/96º” on alcoholic tramps in Ulan Bator, Mongolia.
Ulan Bator is the coldest national capital in the world. It has an average annual temperature of −2.4 °C (27.7 °F). The second coldest capital is Moscow which boast 4,1º C