Tuesday 23 December 2008

Mark Burden

All images ©Mark Burden

Thanks to Mark Burden for sending me some images from a series he has been working on called The Sitting. Here is what he has to say about it:

"The Sitting operates at the confluence of the oft-conflicting desires, and the gazes of the camera, the spectator and the subject, interrogating the portrait as being analogous of a screen. In most cases the screen is seen as protective, or it is used to obscure and conceal, at its most opaque the portrait separates by a process of exclusion, the camera’s scrutiny eliciting a self-conscious projection to deflect its gaze - what Lacan termed the ‘Mask’- the projection of a second skin employed to deflect the gaze of other(s) acting as a surface onto which the image and the power of the gaze are deflected or are reflected mirror like. But the screen can be translucent too allowing glimpses - if only for the briefest of times - that hint at what may be beneath and beyond, moments when that protective layer slips or is not consciously in play. The Sitting explores this psychological space within the portrait, and the notion of the photographer’s and the medium’s ability to pierce the causal representation of that which sits within it. If the screen is the mediation of its relational structure, can the screen be pierced, can a glimpse be elicited of what lays beyond?"

"The series takes as its subject those practised in the projection of the mask: fighters, specifically cage fighters for whom the mask is a shield of intimidation, invincibility and is devoid of emotion, the nature of their combat though, drains them both mentally and physically. The camera acts as a barrier visually and mentally, a screen divorcing contact and interaction between the photographer and the sitter, the images document moments that are temporally random and un-decisive, the absence of interaction leaving the exhausted sitter isolated. By eschewing the intimacy and mediation conventionally associated with the portrait the images explore the visual psychological states in unconscious compositions that dislodge and disarm the surface before the scrutiny of the camera. The resulting portraits reveal not the conscious projection of an identity but a space between that and their unconscious; the isolated figures are seen in liminal moments characterized by ambiguity, openness, and indeterminacy."

Wednesday 17 December 2008

Peculiar Processes: Natalia Skobeeva @Viewfinder Gallery, London

It is a truism that medium and message are merging together unlike ever before, a relevant concept well worth remembering when trying to grasp the art of Natalia Skobeeva.

As a photographer, she has incorporated a wide range of creative processes and produced some truly unique images. But swimming beneath their surface is the shadow of something more complex and vigorous; an investigation into the ways photography can become self-reflexive and explore its own possibilities as a medium. Using vintage cameras, pinhole and Lomo photography and by printing her work on hand-made paper, silk and metal, Skobeeva´s pictures emphasise immediacy and remind us of the fact that photographs are as much an object as they are an image. The artist has consciously set about exploring the chemical fundamentals of photography as a kind of “alchemy”, dealing with the exposure process and, by extension, the nature of light, colour and photosensitive materials-that what defines the work when looking retrospectively.

At present, photography is essentially centred on the camera rather than its raw materials: time, light and chemistry. With the digital revolution, the medium has also seen its popularity dramatically increase because cameras become cheaper and people no longer need an expert working knowledge of the equipment to get a good picture. By contrast, Skobeeva´s photographs, eschew such “picture perfect” attitudes of the digital age, and with this gesture, she opts for something more experimental and unpredictable.

On several occasions, Skobeeva has spoken about how she lets the “god of photography” guide her, wholeheartedly embracing the elements of risk and chance when documenting the world around her. Indeed, Skobeeva´s most recent body of work, Polaroid from a trip to Easter Island, is characterised by the use of out-of-date, often discontinued Polaroid film. The results may be wildly unpredictable but all the photographs bear a signature style. They often appear overexposed or deteriorated, and slightly out of focus, imperfect in their quality and unreal in their colour. The Polaroid is complicit in suffusing her visualization of the famous monolithic heads with a supernatural and magical quality that heightens the mystery of the objects and the psychologically charged nature of the encounter. What these particular photographs do is demonstrate the potential beauty of the Polaroid and its tremendous ability to add its own sheen to an image, appealing to the artist because it makes explicit the artifice of the photograph. Significantly, days after the project was completed, Polaroid officially announced that they would cease all production in favour of digital photography products.

Yet, for Skobeeva, photography has always been the product of a cumulative process rather than the photographic moment. For one of her other projects Cynotypes, the artist has produced a series of striking portraits; classy, artistic, beautiful and just as serious as conventional photography. While attention is duly drawn to her subjects ,who are pictured lost in deep thought (part of the artist´s intention to portray the psychological states, the inner worlds in which we chose to live or sometimes hide), it is the final composition that is most artistically conceived, leaving you wondering about the complexity of her creative process. This photographic series is one of Skobeeva´s most exuberant displays of technical wizardry in the darkroom to date. Her use of burnouts and great swathes of blue to transform the negatives into prints with glowing, hallucinatory washes of colour can again be seen as a rebuff to the surfeit of digitally manipulated photography.

Elsewhere in her oeuvre, the artist has also added “recycled” film to her repertoire of peculiar processes in the series Let Loose. In this work she shot sightseeing icons in London and then buried the negatives in coffee from different global coffee chains. This exhibition also shows other possibilities of discussing what photography is, when you remove the camera from the equation altogether and cast aside everything essential to its processes-film, viewfinders, enlargements, f-stops or tripods. Her pinhole series, shot inside the world renown art college Central St Martins on Charing Cross Road, documents a day in the life of the building and its students. She wanted to capture the psychological state of the building more than its physical appearance and embraced photography as a memory medium where different times coexist. Using a pinhole with its lengthy exposures enabled her to capture long periods of time. Within each frame, there are countless students (captured but not seen) with all their creative ideas, hopes and concerns. The images are apt metaphors for photography itself: a mute presence standing in for an absence.

Ultimately, her varied output reflects a great curiosity about photography and its reciprocal relationship to visual perception. At the same time, the individual photographs on display in Peculiar Processes attest to a collective desire espoused by many a photographer to re-evaluate the meaning and nature of the medium.

Of course, photography can never help but reflect on its own status and condition but it is not by accident that the work of Natalia Skobeeva willfully reject digital manipulation. Instead, her pictures directly engage with a view of photography that equates extending a tradition with its continual questioning.

All images ©Natalia Skobeeva

Peculiar Processes runs until January 4, 2009.

This essay was first published in November 2008 by Viewfinder Photography Gallery, London.

Wednesday 10 December 2008

William Eggleston

"It would be difficult to imagine the world according to David Lynch, Gus Van Sant, Juergen Teller or Sophia Coppola without the world according to William Eggleston."
The Observer

This is a clip from Reiner Holzemer's new film William Eggleston: Photographer. I bet it is absolutely amazing, I can´t wait to get my hands on a copy. Where is my credit card? I must order one now!

Tuesday 9 December 2008

Bare @Michael Mazzeo Gallery, New York opening tomorrow!

Lauren ©Rachael Dunville,2008

There is a fantastic group exhibition of photography coming up called Bare at Micheal Mazzeo Gallery in New York which has been curated by the one and only Joerg Colberg of the Conscientious blog. It will be on view from December 11 through January 24. A reception for the artists will be held at the gallery on Thursday,December 11, from 6 PM to 8PM.

Emerging from a long history of figurative representation, the images that make up Bare represent various perspectives on the human form, and the relationships that are defined by physical experience. Reflecting a contemporary liberation from deeply rooted and oppressive conventions, particularly the issues of the male gaze and the imposition of sexuality onto an objectified body, these photographs reveal emotional and psychological intimacies that allow the subjects to be represented as independent beings.

The photographers included in Bare actively counter the images of exclusively sexual and idealized bodies, exploited by the unwitting alliance of conservative groups and the advertising industry, which despite their divergent goals, function in the same way to impose an unattainable beauty standard, and the equation of nudity = sex.

This infiltration into one’s most intimate and vulnerable space, is gradually undone by the relief of photographic representations of genuine physical beauty that can only be the result of a genuine self-possession of the body.

Empowered in their sense of self, the subjects of Bare engage in revealing moments of vulnerability and uncertainty, and express the seducing subtleties of the photographer/subject relationship. Whether quiet and reflective, caught in moments of awkward consciousness, or boldly available to the viewer, the subjects participate in the photographers common practice of sincere and uncontrived representation.

Ron, New York, NY 2007 ©Amy Elkins courtesy of Yancey Richardson Gallery

Josef ©Richard Learoyd

Wednesday 3 December 2008

1000 Words #3

1000 Words Photography Magazine #3 is online now!

In this issue we feature photographic work from the following:

Sarah Small
Pieter Hugo
Trinidad Carrillo
Wang Qingsong
Mathieu Bernard-Reymond
Joan Fontcuberta

Thanks to all the artists, writers and Santiago Taccetti at CCCH design studio, Barcelona for helping to create this very special edition.

Wednesday 19 November 2008

Nobuyoshi Araki @Michael Hoppen Contemporary, London opening tomorrow!

Hana Kinbaku 2008 © Nobuyoshi Araki
courtesy Michael Hoppen Contemporary
C-type Print 130 x 170 cm
In an edition of 1, each sold with individual transparency

Hana Kinbaku 2008 © Nobuyoshi Araki
courtesy Michael Hoppen Contemporary
C-type Print 130 x 170 cm
In an edition of 1, each sold with individual transparency

As of tomorrow evening Michael Hoppen Contemporary will be exhibiting work by one of Japan’s greatest artists, Nobuyoshi Araki until January 10th 2009. The gallery will present a series of handmade, one-off diptychs, never before seen in the UK. Araki’s Hana Kinbaku works are photographic diptych studies of flowers (hana) and bondage (kinbaku- the ancient and highly skilled art of Japanese erotic restraint). In this body of work, Araki physically, and imperfectly, tapes the images into diptychs, accentuating the join between subject matter and adding an extra layer of texture to each individual piece.

The juxtaposition of bound female semi-nudes and intense close ups of orchids,tulips and chrysanthemums strengthen the beauty of Kinbaku whilst reinforcing the innate sexuality of flowers. The work links Araki’s two main photographic themes; Eros (life/sex) and Thanatos (death), conjoining them in a way that has a strong and direct visual impact. The decision by Araki to only print one of each coupled image enhances the intrinsic themes of life and death.

The pieces are exceptional and one-off works of art, and each will be sold with its own original transparency laminated between perspex, so no further copy will ever be created. For collectors this is a rare opportunity to own a matchless Araki work of art. Michael Hoppen Contemporary specialise in Japanese photography and are delighted tobe working be working with Nobuyoshi Araki and his studio in Tokyo for this exhibition. I´ll be there from 18:30 onwards so until then!

Friday 14 November 2008

De Facto: Joan Fontcuberta 1982-2008 @La Virreina Centre de la Imatge, Barcelona

Miracle of the Will-o’-the-Wisp, Type C-print, 2002 ©Joan Fontcuberta

Iconoclastic, humorous, prolific are just some of the adjectives that can be affixed to the work of Joan Fontcuberta, an enormous selection of which is currently on show for the first time in Barcelona at La Virreina Centre de la Imatge. Spanning eighteen major projects, this exhibition traces his creative output from the early nineteen-eighties to the present day. His is a kind of photography that oscillates between artistic experimentation and conceptual reflection yet consistent to his work is the exploration of the veracity of the medium, a continual doubting and distrusting of the role of the image as a faithful means of representation.

Like a kind of agent provocateur, he stages photographic hoaxes that often question the foundations of knowledge, infusing his photography with an ever evolving array of styles and subjects. The fifty or so works seen here include Herbarium (fake biological and botanical discoveries of obscure plant and animal species´), Googlerama (a series of photo-mosaics using Google´s image search engine to re-create images from popular culture) and Sputnik (a fictional story about a Russian astronaut who is still lost in space).

Ultimately, Fontcuberta is more interested in the philosophical possibilities than the pictorial qualities of photography. This is not necessarily a bad thing but viewers will have to read the supporting texts to fully grasp the real meaning of this imagery; a cautionary tale that pokes fun at the traditional stalwarts of photography-memory, identity and reason-and by extension, mass media in all its guises. A long, overdue retrospective of the great Catalan photographer.

De Facto: Joan Fontcuberta 1982-2008
6th November-8th February 2009
La Virreina Centre de la Imatge

World Press Photo 08 @CCCB, Barcelona

©Tim Hetherington

The only international event of its kind, the winners of the annual World Press Photo Contest, which celebrates the best in press photography from all around the world, are now on display at the CCCB. Open to all professional photographers, the competition awards first, second and third prizes in ten themed categories for pictures stories and single images, as well as the prestigious overall prize for the World Press Photo of the Year.

The top prize for 2008, which is given to the single photograph regarded as encapsulating an event, situation or issue of journalistic significance, went to British photographer, Tim Hetherington for his beautiful yet haunting image of a US soldier resting on the embankment of a bunker in the Korengal Valley, Afghanistan. The valley was the epicentre of the US fight against militant Islam in Afghanistan, and scene of some of the deadliest combat in the region. Hetherington´s photograph bears witness to the intense emotional and psychological pressure that this man was under; its slightly painterly look manages to seduce the eye while the distinctly humanitarian focus ensures that its message remains clear and relevant.

Photographs can always be read as signifying something more than what appears in the frame and as jury chairman Nick Knight asserts, “The image shows the exhaustion of a man-and the exhaustion of a nation.” He adds that, “We are all connected to this. It´s a picture of a man at the end of a line.” Judging and awarding photography as well as art for that matter will forever be a contentious issue though; How can 12 people possibly reach a consensus? And what criteria can they use to just nominate one image? Nevertheless, despite the meaningless idea of a winner, Tim Hetherington´s image challenges preconceptions of war photography and World Press Photo continues to not only reflect and analyze our world but also the world of images and the place where these two worlds come together.

World Press Photo 08
18th November-14th December

Tuesday 4 November 2008

Pawel Jaszczuk

All images ©Pawel Jaszczuk

Paul Jaszczuk from Anzenberger dropped me a line the other day to tell me about his series Salaryman, a choice selection of which are on view here. Here is an excerpt from what he had to say with regard to his subjects´ antics:

"In Japan heavy drinking is a naturally accepted and sometimes compulsory catharsis for the hard working salaryman. They don´t really care about having their suitcase or they mobile phone stolen. This is Japan, and as easy as it may seems to pick their wallet, drunk salaryman are part of the urban landscape, respected by everyone. A million ways different from the West, where young people get wasted and break the limits as an accepted crazy young attitude, but where for respectable family men it´s shameful to be caught totally drunk by a neighbour."

Jaszczuk was born in Warsaw, Poland (1978). He's a self taught photographer who began his photographic career after graduating School of Visual Arts in Sydney with a degree in graphic design(2004).From 2005 to present he has been based in Tokyo and worked for a range of international magazines including New York Times Magazine, Donna di La Republica, Fashion Lab to name a few. In 2007 he became a member of international photographers agency ANZENBERGER and that same year he was selected for FIELD-a curated project space for contemporary visual arts in Blickensdorff gallery, Berlin. Check out more of his work that bears witness to other aspects of the underbelly of Japanese society on his website here.


Useful Photography # 008 comes to KK Outlet

Pornographic films, websites and magazines all plough the same furrow. The repetition of the same act, in all its variations. Where they differ is their opening sequences, the patently fake and false scenarios, which are an afterthought to the main event.

The latest issue of Useful Photography celebrates these opening scenes, often clichéd, sometimes bizarrely inventive, but always supremely fake. Taken out of context, (without the pornographic scenes that follow) they tell a different story. A story of amateur acting,and showcasing the talents of actors not usually noted for their acting.

Innocence is truly relative as the images collected in Useful Photography #008 can testify. Humdrum scenes of chess playing, mucking out a horse's stable or a job interview takes on supposedly sexual(but ultimately comical) overtones when the viewer is supplied with the knowledge of what is to come.

The annual magazine Useful Photography is the result of the shared fascination of Hans Aarsman, Claudie de Cleen, Julian Germain, Erik Kessels and Hans van der Meer. Useful Photography is the generic name for the millions of ephemeral photos, which are used daily and with a purpose all of their own; practical photography, often made by amateurs that has a clear function where the makers remain anonymous.

The latest issue, number 8 in the series will be launched at East London Gallery KK Outlet, with a selection of images taken from the magazine, alongside other images and out-takes from previous Useful Photography series. Useful Photography and its editors will attend the opening night on Thursday the 6th of November at 7PM.

Exhibition runs from November 6 – November 29

Opening night: Thursday November 6th, 7-9PM

KK Outlet For press inquiries and/or
42 Hoxton Square high res images, please contact:
London N1 6PB Karin Aue or Jeffrey Koh
T: +44 20 70337680 E: fishandchips@kkoutlet.com

Monday 3 November 2008

Richard Chivers

All images ©Richard Chivers

Richard Chivers sent me some images from his latest project,Textures of Time: landscape architecture towards the tail end of last week which I have very much enjoyed perusing. Richard Chivers is a contemporary photographic artist and freelance photographer, located in Brighton and London. Born in Basingstoke in 1974, he completed a BA honours degree in photography at the University of Brighton in June 2006.

It is apt and illuminating that Richard has choosen to cite Robert Smithson´s seminal text A Sedimentation of the Mind: Earth Projects, 1968 when explaining his own work: "The Strata of the earth is a jumbled museum. Embedded in the sediment is a text that contains limits and boundaries which evade the rational order, and social structures which confine art. In order to read the rocks we must become conscious of geologic time, and the layers of prehistoric material that is entombed in the earths crust."

Consider this in relation to his Artist Statement. It reads:

"This project investigates the exposed surfaces where mineral extraction is or has taken place at a number of key localities around Sussex. In particular I am interested in the connection of these sites to geology, archaeology and history and how these spaces have been shaped and re-shaped.

The sedimentary rocks exposed in these quarries come from the geological time scale known as the ‘Cretaceous’ period. The ‘Cretaceous’ started around 135 million years ago when dinosaurs roamed the earth and ended 65 million years ago when the dinosaurs became extinct. Contemplating these epic geological timescales, we are encouraged to question our understanding of time and the transient existence of human life on this planet. It highlights the delicate nature of life on earth, with the rocks themselves providing insights into the life and destruction of the Dinosaurs and other creatures at that time.

Although these quarries represent relatively small scars on the Sussex landscape, they highlight the human need to constantly shape and re-shape our natural environment. The photographs themselves become a metaphor for larger concerns regarding the health of our planet and whether nature can recover from increasing human destruction."

Interesting stuff indeed!Richard has exhibited throughout the South East of England and in London. He has just received an award from the Arts Council England to produce a body of work in Sussex. He has also been commissioned by a property developer in London to produce work for their annual end of year reports. Richard is also working for the Photographers Gallery on the Colliers Green Focus project, teaching Key stage 3 children to explore the environment through photography.

Monday 27 October 2008

Naomi Harris-Women In Photography

Fargo Couple, Valentine's Day Hotel Takeover, Minneapolis, MN. February 2004 ©Naomi Harris

Polyamorous Trio, New Years Eve, Live Oaks Resort, Washington, TX. December 2005 ©Naomi Harris

White Party Couple, Cold Fusion, Aspen, CO. April 2005 ©Naomi Harris

Out of all the great work that has been showcased as part of the fantastic project that is Women In Photography, the latest solo exhibition of Naomi Harris´s series America Swings could well be my favourite thus far. With her camera as her scalpel, she dissects the phenomenon of swinging to reveal something quite unnerving about American cultural politics while, at the same time, drawing attention to certain taboos most people are too afraid to consider. In her Artist Statement that accompanies these bold, unflinching images, she says:

"Swingers. They are your schoolteacher, your doctor, your bank teller, your police officer, and your neighbour. There is no type. They are not deviants. They are not porn stars. If anything, these are the most ordinary people in your community. You pass them every day in the supermarket, on the expressway, in the airport, in line at the post office. There is a growing phenomenon of these soccer moms and super dads who drop their kids off with the baby sitter and shed their persona on the weekend and satiate their sexual appetite by engaging in sex for sport with multiple partners.

According to NASCA (the North American Swing Club Association), the popularity of “swinging” is increasing, especially in the suburbs. Currently they estimate there are over 3 million “swingers” in the US. And it is this suburban sense of normalcy that attracted me to photograph this group of individuals. The idea that you don’t really know someone just by their outward appearances; that what goes on behind closed doors can be beyond your wildest dreams.

Over the course of nearly five years I photographed nearly 40 parties, crisscrossing the country from Mahwah, New Jersey, to Pleasanton, California, from Big Lake Minnesota, to Washington, Texas. By photographing suburban and rural areas across the states I was able to show how different Americans approach this lifestyle and how their surroundings and community affect them.

While the Lifestyle became popular in the 60s due to the advent of the birth control pill and the Polaroid camera, it almost went extinct in the late 80s and 90s in the face of the AIDS epidemic. But it yet again had a major resurrection thanks mainly to the Internet. The ability to send messages, pictures and videos, even chat live gave this very private activity a new driving force.

I embarked on this project not to pass judgment but simply to document this rapidly growing phenomenon that exists in America today- the popularity for people to have open marriages and seek sexual satisfaction outside from their spouse.

It was important for me not to limit the photographs to only “action” shots but to combine it with portraiture reminiscent of turn of the century studio imagery. These make you question who these individuals are as they are traditional in nature but contemporary in setting and appearances."

It clearly seems that Women In Photography is set to become an amazing resource for discovering talented female photographers so all you photo editors, curators and gallery owners out there go take a peek, I´ll be damned if you don´t find something you like!

Tuesday 21 October 2008

Bradley Peters

All images ©Bradley Peters

I came across the work Family Plan by Bradley Peters today which immediately stopped me in my tracks. The tensions between spontaneity and theatricality are just one of its obvious strengths but I also really enjoyed reading his rationale behind the project. It is always fascinating to hear how photographers try to pull together their ideas and influences as they strive for a single, clear vision. It is those blind alleys, unforced errors and final steps before a new direction which led to key turning points and revelations about one´s own work that I find so intriguing. So here is Bradley trying to steer a path through different, and often conflicting, interpretations that have arisen around his personal photography:

"In an attempt to make things clearer for myself, I have been trying to figure out why exactly the work feels like it does. But my understanding is slowly evolving and shifting, which is making a clear definition difficult. Sometimes it feels like the fragments of the distorted stories that I grew up listening to my father tell — but then again, it also feels like an investigation into how neurosis translates itself into gesture and body language; how my mother's distress influences the particular manner in which she holds her dinner fork. Sometimes it seems like it's trying to deal with ideas of materiality — what things people love, and how they love them; how they think they need them because of what they represent. Sometimes it feels like it's about the idea of how everything is connected and pulling on everything else, or how destruction is just really transformation — where there is a change in form but not in energy. Sometimes it seems like it's dealing with some kind of pseudo-faith and the false relief that is gained through ritual; the strategies we've established to ease our souls through habitual distraction. And sometimes it's the feeling of pure desperation in trying to communicate something that is outside the senses; a hybrid moment of the indescribable personal, and the accessible everyday — the failures and miracles of human perception.

It is kind of like hearing a strange sound coming from another room that seems both at once recognizable and unfamiliar. It is the compulsion to discover its source. Although this pursuit may seem to be inevitably elusive and fruitless, I am hoping to gain whatever understanding I can through the process."

Bradley Peters was born in Columbus, Nebraska, in 1979. He received a BA from the University of Nebraska—Lincoln in 2004, with degrees in both Psychology and Art. In 2002 and 2003 he was awarded the UNL Creative Activities & Research Experiences Grant. He is also the recipient of the Jean R. Faulkner Memorial Award, the Gold Award from the Midwest Society for Photographic Education, and the Richard Benson Prize. He is a 2008 graduate of the MFA program in Photography at the Yale University School of Art.

Friday 10 October 2008

Paris Photo 2008

© Rinko Kawauchi
Untitled, from the series of UTATANE, 2001
Courtesy of the artist and FOIL GALLERY, Tokyo

Paris Photo 2008
Japan Guest of Honour

November 13 - 16, 2008
At the Carrousel du Louvre

Paris Photo 2008: an exceptional panorama of Japanese photography

From November 12th to 16th 2008, Paris Photo will bring together at the Carrousel du Louvre, 107 exhibitors from 19 countries. With 78% of participants from abroad and 37 newcomers, the selection for 2008 has favoured a greater focus on personal exhibitions and thematic projects, presenting the best photographic expressions from the earliest time to the present day. But one of the important aspects of this 12th edition is the invitation of Japan as country of honour: with the work by more than 130 artists on show, Paris Photo will offer an exceptional overview of a unique site of practice, from the Meiji era to the most contemporary production. To date, no exhibition in Europe has broadly brought together such a number of Japan's modern, contemporary and emerging photographers.

"Spotlight on Japan" is curated by Mariko Takeuchi, independent curator and photography critic.

The 5th edition of the BMW - Paris Photo Prize

Launched in 2004 in support of contemporary photography, the BMW -Paris Photo Prize celebrates its fifth anniversary. Awarded by a prestigious jury, the prize has become an international reference in recognition of the work of a contemporary artist on a theme related to the world of BMW. The work of 20 artists short listed for the prize is exhibited during Paris Photo. The winner will be awarded the 12,000 euro prize on Thursday, November 13.

Theme for 2008: Never Stand Still

Jury : Marta Gili, director, Jeu de Paume, Vicki Goldberg, art critic and photography author, Stephen Shore, photographer, Anne Wilkes Tucker, photography curator, Houston Museum of Fine Arts, Michael Wilson, collector, Nicolas Wertans, Chairman of BMW Group France and Eric de Riedmatten, director of communication, BMW France.

Short-listed artists : Jeff Brouws (Robert Klein Gallery), Andrew Bush (Rose Gallery), Clark & Pougnaud (Galerie Baudoin Lebon),Gerardo Custance(Polaris), J.H. Engström (VU' la Galerie), Martine Fougeron (Esther Woerdehoff Galerie), Nobuhiro Fukui (Tomio Koyama Gallery), Jim Goldberg (Magnum Gallery), Dionisio Gonzalez (Max Estrella), Miyako Ishiuchi (Zeit-Foto Salon, Tokyo), Syoin Kajii (Foil Gallery), Atta Kim (Keumsan Gallery), Ken Kitano (MEM Gallery), Janne Lehtinen (Taik Gallery), Yao Lu (798 Photo Gallery), Akira Mitamura (The Third Gallery Aya), Keisuke Shirota (Base Gallery), Yuki Tawada, (Taro Nasu), Nao Tsuda (Hiromi Yoshii), Ofer Wolberger (Michael Hoppen Gallery)

Paris, the international epicentre of art photography in November

The 12th Paris Photo edition coincides with the "Photo Month" whose theme is "European Photography: between tradition and change". VIPs and collectors invited at Paris Photo in the framework of "Close-Up" VIP programme will get privileged access to what's happening in photography in Paris, including among others the "Lee Miller" exhibition at Jeu de Paume, "The School of Dusseldorf" at the Mam Ville de Paris, "Henri Cartier Bresson and Walker Evans" at the Henri Cartier-Bresson Foundation, "Sabine Weiss" at the Maison Européenne de la photographie, or "Tokyo Stories" at Artcurial.

Here is a sneak preview of a few of my favourite images from this year´s Paris Photo:

© Asako Narahashi - Kawagushiko, 2003 - From the series Half awake and half asleep in the waterCourtesy Galerie Priska Pasquer

Roland Fischer, Liudan, 2007 © Courtesy Max Estrella, Madrid

Sarah Moon, L’avant dernière, 2007 © Courtesy Camera Obscura, Paris

Joon Kim, Bird Land ­Swarovski, 2008 © Courtesy Keumsan Gallery, Séoul

Scarlett Hooft Graafland, Orange Igloo, 2007 © Scarlett Hooft Graafland courtesy Michael Hoppen Contemporary

Thursday 9 October 2008

Jesse Alexander

All images © Jesse Alexander

Jesse Alexander Threshold Zone
Redcliffe Caves, Phoenix Wharf, Redcliffe, BRISTOL, U.K.

Open: Saturday/Sunday 1st/2nd November 2008, 12 – 4pm
Private View: (by invitation only) Friday 31st October 2008, 6 – 9pm

To request an invitation, please contact: mail@jessealexander.co.uk

For millennia, and throughout every culture, the subterranean has been a setting for mythologies and folklore, with a prince of the underworld keeping guard in almost every known religion. Although caves and the underground are culturally known for where beasts reside and where bad things can happen, they have also functioned as sites of initiation as well as provided shelter and sanctuary.

Threshold Zone explores this dichotic relationship by placing the viewer in the space between the entrances to underground spaces (the ‘light zone’), and where the space enters a state of perpetual darkness – the ‘dark zone’. The works create a tension between apprehension and curiosity, inspiring images of mythology, fantasy and science fiction. This experience is heightened by their presentation as lightboxes,and their site-specific installation at Redcliffe Caves in Bristol. As well as providing a potent atmosphere, the Caves are an appropriate location to show the work, given the rich history they have, and the mythology that surrounds them. Jesse Alexander has photographed caves and man-made subterranean structures including mines, bunkers and reservoirs, predominantly around the South West of England. Using a large-format camera with only available light to illuminate the images, he has had to rely on exposure times as long as one week to capture enough light. The resulting ‘hyperreal’ tableaux are decoys – photographic renditions that seem to depict a split-second, yet actually portray an extended period of time, made possible only by the static and isolated nature of these underground locations.

Jesse Alexander is a photographer and writer on photography. He was born and works in Bristol. Threshold Zone is the resolution to a postgraduate Masters degree course at the University of Wales, Newport.


Whilst the Redcliffe Caves are safe to enter, visitors should be aware that there are potential hazards involved with caving and underground exploration. Visitors do not require any special equipment to visit the installation but are advised to wear sensible footwear. Accessibility to the caves is very good.

For more information on Redcliffe Caves, please visit:

Wednesday 8 October 2008

MACBA Collection @MACBA, Barcelona

The selection of art from the MACBA’s permanent collection currently on display bills itself as a thorough overview of the fundamental aspects of Contemporary Art. However—back on planet Earth—what this exhibition actually showcases is a number of second-rate works from some of the most important and innovative figures in contemporary art from the 20th century, nestled among their lesser-known Spanish and Catalan counterparts.

The exhibition is, for the most part, terribly underwhelming but it does have its moments. For example, rarely have Andy Warhol’s colour polaroids Self-Portrait in Drag been seen outside of the US. The two photographs featured here reflect his repeated desire to assume an alternate self-image, to transcend his real self, which was tied to his decidedly feminine pursuit of glamour and a longstanding interest in artifice, role-playing and the construction of identity. A different type of performance comes courtesy of mad hatter artist Vito Acconci who has filmed himself burning the hair off his nipples with a candle in the work Conversions. Like many artists of his generation for whom art is more an activity than a product, Acconci’s work is restrained yet powerful and always affords the viewer an intense sensory experience. Elsewhere, Ad Reinhardt’s Buffalo ranks among the best of the rest. At first glance, the abstract Expressionist painting appears to be canvas simply painted in black but which, upon closer inspection, quickly reveals itself as being composed of symmetrically placed squares against a background of a similar colour.

The presentation in the Capella of a number of “classic” works of international minimalism by Donald Judd,Dan Flavin,Robert Mangold, Daniel Buren and Larry Bello comes across as a mere afterthought, and the works of art themselves are nothing but shallow emblems in a show that seems to be trying to be one of the least interesting cultural events of the moment.

Col·lecció MACBA
Until January 6th 2009

Tuesday 7 October 2008

Cynthia Greig

All images ©Cynthia Greig

Cynthia Greig was so kind as to email me these images some time ago so I thought I would post a few for anyone who is yet to see them. Below is a passage from her Artist´s Statement for the wonderful series Representations:

"My work explores the unique nature of the photograph—its power to persuade and negotiate what we perceive to be fact or fiction. As a kind of playful homage to Henry Fox Talbot’s “The Pencil of Nature” my series Representations, combines color photography and drawing to create what I like to call photographic documents of three-dimensional drawings. I draw directly onto ordinary objects that I have first “whitewashed” with paint, creating visually ambiguous hybrids that appear to vacillate between drawing and photography, black-and-white and color, signifier and signified. No digital manipulation is involved, but the camera’s angle of view is imperative. Exploring the concept of photographic truth and its correspondence to perceived reality, Representations draws attention to how we see and reconsiders to what degree human vision is learned or innate. The series challenges those assumptions we might have about photography and its relationship to what we believe to be true."

Cynthia Greig lives in metropolitan Detroit and received her MFA from the University of Michigan in 1995. Her work has been exhibited internationally and is included in the following public collections: Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, George Eastman House, Light Work, Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago, Samuel L. Dorsky Museum of Art, Seattle Arts Commission and Coleçao Foto Arte Brasilia. In 2001 she received a Light Work residency and most recently she was selected as one of four runners up for the Aperture Prize in 2007. Her photographs have been featured in ArtWeek, Fahrenheit, Photography Quarterly, Frankfurter Rundschau, CIRCA Art, Contact Sheet Annual, New Art Examiner and Art Preview. An avid collector of 19th-century photographs, she co-authored the book of vintage photographs, Women in Pants (Harry N. Abrams, 2003). Both Wall Space in Seattle and UNO Art Space in Stuttgart will feature solo exhibitions of her work in Fall 2008.

Monday 6 October 2008


I always keep my ear to the floor in terms of what Amsterdam´s Foam has to offer exhibition-wise, and having just looked through their diary it seems that they have some great shows lined up during the forthcoming months. Take note my art lovers.

19 September - 16 November 2008
Ishiuchi Miyako - Photographs 1976 – 2005

(The exhibition opened on September 18, 5.30 pm)

Foam presents the first European retrospective of works by the Japanese artist Miyako Ishiuchi (b.1947). She attracted attention at the 2005 Venice Biennale for her series Mother’s, but a cross-section of her work has never been shown before. The exhibition is a cross-section of the photographer’s works from the 1970s to the present. The exhibition is organized by Galerie Langhans in Prague, and includes photos from the series Yokosuka Story (1976–77), Apartment (1977–78), Endless Night (1978–80), (1988–89), 1906 to the Skin (1991–93), and Mother’s (2000–05).The curator of the exhibition is Machiel Botman. In conjunction, a book is being published by Manfred Heiting.

24 October 2008 – 18 January 2009
Helen Levitt – In the Street

(The exhibition opens on October 23, 5.30 pm)

This autumn Foam presents a retrospective of work by the famous American street photographer Helen Levitt (b. New York, 1913). Levitt portrays the dynamics of New York street life from 1930 onwards, paying special attention to the innocent and adventurous world of children at play.

In the 1940s, inspired by her friends and mentors Walker Evans and Henri Cartier-Bresson, Levitt took black-and-white photographs of the streets of New York that set the tone for a new documentary style of American photography. Her photos are visual poems in which form, colour and movement play an important part. The exhibition In the Street includes a short series of vintage photos on contact sheets that demonstrate how Levitt moved through the streets as she recorded the choreography of the people around her. Helen Levitt was a pioneer of colour photography. Alongside her familiar black-and-white shots, her famous dye-transfers (colour prints) occupy an important place in the exhibition.

24 October - 10 December 2008
Foam 3_h: Erik van der Weijde – Siedlung

(The exhibition opens on October 23, 5.30 pm)

As part of the Foam_3h exhibition series Foam presents Siedlung by photographer Erik van der Weijde. Siedlung, German for ‘settlement’, features 220 black-and-white photos of detached houses in southern Germany. In Nazi Germany in the 1930s, the National Socialist Party (NSDAP) set up a huge construction programme to provide Seidlung houses for workers who agreed to become party members.

7 November 2008 – 18 January 2009
Kees Scherer – Pictorial Stories by a Street Photographer

(The exhibition opens on November 6, 5.30 pm)

Kees Scherer (1920-93), born in Amsterdam, began taking photographs at an early age. When the Second World War ended he immediately started working for newspapers including Het Vrije Volk, Trouw, De Volkskrant and Het Algemeen Handelsblad, producing a hugely impressive body of work. Alongside photo reportages he created images for a large number of photo books. He was one of the founders of World Press Photo in 1955.

Scherer travelled to the United States, the Far East, Mexico and Israel as well as to practically every country in Europe. His fascination for the effects of light is an important aspect of his work.

The photos in the Foam exhibition are all vintage prints from the archives of the Kees Scherer Photo Archive Foundation.

21 November 2008 – 18 January 2009
Viviane Sassen – Flamboya

(The exhibition opens on November 20, 5.30 pm)

Foam presents an extensive survey of recent photos taken by Viviane Sassen while travelling through various parts of Africa. On one level these photos are an attempt by Sassen to recapture her childhood years in Africa, yet they also pose implicit fundamental questions about image, bias and the constraints of the photographic medium. Many of the portraits that Sassen made in countries like Zambia, Kenya and Tanzania were realised in intuitive collaboration with the subject. They are remarkable for their use of colour, for the idiosyncratic use of shade and their slightly surreal atmosphere. Sassen’s work contrasts sharply with Western stereotypes of Africa and its inhabitants. The exhibition features work for which Viviane Sassen won the 2007 Prix de Rome, together with new and previously unshown work.

13 February - 13 May 2009
Richard Avedon - Photographs 1946 – 2004

(The exhibition opens on February 12, 5.30 pm)

Foam is on the tour schedule of the major retrospective ‘Avedon Photographs 1946-2004’. Compiled in close cooperation with the Avedon Foundation by Denmark’s Louisiana Museum, this exhibition appears at just six venues worldwide and can be seen at Foam from 12 February to 13 May 2009. It features over 200 works by Richard Avedon presented in chronological order, from his first photos made in Italy in 1946 to his final portraits, made shortly before his death in 2004. This is the first retrospective of his work to appear in the Netherlands.

Richard Avedon (1923-2004) is recognised as one of the greatest American photographers of the twentieth century. For over fifty years he was a leading figure in photography, with a star status that never left him. He was the first to cross the boundaries of different photographic genres. Avedon made his name in the early 1950s as a fashion photographer, working for American magazines such as Harpers Bazaar and Vogue. Besides fashion photography, Avedon also took dark, emotionally charged portraits. Avedon was one of the great innovators of modern fashion portrait photography. His portraits were radical and intense, often contrasting sharply with the subject’s public image. Avedon created an endless series of portraits of statesmen, artists and actors, including Katherine Hepburn, Audrey Hepburn, Humphrey Bogart, Brigitte Bardot, Marilyn Monroe, Buster Keaton, Charles Chaplin, Truman Capote, Henry Kissinger, Edward Kennedy, The Beatles, Andy Warhol and Francis Bacon. He photographed each of them in his own inimitable way: against a neutral white background, detached from time and place. All that remains is the penetrating, psychologically charged image of the individual looking back at the viewer.