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:

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.