Monday 24 August 2009

Zed Nelson

All images © Zed Nelson

It was great to finally meet Zed Nelson the other week at The Ian Parry Awards and chat to him about his major five year project involving photography that he has undertaken in seventeen countries across five continents. Further to our conversation he kindly sent me over some images and related information. The new work, titled Love Me, reflects on the cultural and commercial forces that drive a global obsession with youth and beauty. The project explores how a new form of globalization is taking place, where an increasingly narrow Western beauty ideal is being exported around the world like a crude universal brand.

The work will be published as a book at the beginning of October by Contrasto. A number of images from the new series were exhibited in the Tate Britain show, How We Are – Photographing Britain, and also at Flowers East and the ICA gallery, London. A touring solo exhibition is now being planned. Here is the introductory text to the project:

"Love Me explores the insidious power of the global beauty industry and our collective insecurity, vanity and fear of ageing. In a series of compelling images, Love Me negotiates the boundaries of art and documentary, reflecting a world we have created in which there are enormous social, psychological and economic rewards and penalties attached to the way we look. Over a period of five years Nelson visited seventeen countries across five continents, meeting cosmetic surgeons, anorexics, beauty queens, bodybuilders, trainee models, housewives, porn stars, businessmen and soldiers. Whilst Nelson’s subjects appear willing participants in an omnipresent culture of bodily improvement, they are also hapless victims – at the mercy of larger social forces and locked into their insatiable craving for approval.

As the subjects´ frailties and pretensions are exposed, so too are we the viewer: our motives for looking, for inspecting, along with uncomfortable reminders of our own vanities and insecurities. In Love Me, Zed Nelson has produced a powerful body of work that forces every one of us to question our own place in a culture that compels us to constantly judge, and be judged, by our appearance."

Having gained international recognition and numerous awards during a decade spent as a documentary photographer working in some of the harshest and most lawless areas of the world, Nelson’s recent work embraces a more considered, conceptual approach to reflect on contemporary social issues.

Through acute social observation, Nelson’s work explores our weaknesses, fears, and desires, in images that manage to be at once both challenging and sympathetic. His seminal project Gun Nation - a disturbing reflection on America's deadly love affair with the gun – is one of Nelson’s best-known projects to date. Completed over three years, the work was awarded five major international photography prizes and published as a book.

Love Me is Zed Nelson’s second book. The work was recently short-listed for the Leica European Publishers Award for Photography. Nelson’s previous awards include the Visa d’Or at the International Festival of Photojournalism, France; First Prize in World Press Photo Competition; and the Alfred Eisenstaedt Award, USA. Nelson’s work has been exhibited at the National Portrait Gallery, the Tate Britain, and is in the permanent collection of the Victoria & Albert Museum. Nelson has had solo shows in London, Stockholm and New York.

Wednesday 19 August 2009

Rachel Barrett

All images © Rachel Barrett

God knows how Rachel Barrett´s amazing work passed under my radar but sometimes these things happen. I only recently came across her submission from way back (sorry Rachel!) when I was clearing out all my old emails and I´m so glad I did because this is top drawer material. Anyway, without further ado, here is her introduction to the project:

"There are certain things we will only become aware of when they are caught with a camera. Along the Way is a photographic exploration of the everyday, an effort to uncover and reveal something unusual and unexpected within that which is familiar to us. The everyday can take on many forms, and in this work I allow it to do just that. The strength of this body of work lies in its ambiguity, that what is being looked at cannot be pinned down or easily figured out. I set out investigating the ordinary world through the lens of my camera,searching for a visual discovery, relying on serendipity to get me there."

Rachel Barrett (b. 1981) was raised in Cambridge, MA. She received her BFA in Photography & Imaging from NYU's Tisch School of the Arts in 2003 and her MFA in Photography, Video & Related Media from the School of Visual Arts in New York City. She has worked in the studio for various fine art and commercial photographers and herself has been exhibited in numerous group shows. Her current work, The NYC Newsstand Project, was recently featured in the Sunday New York Times.

Tuesday 18 August 2009

Lisa Wiseman

All images © Lisa Wiseman

I am delighted to showcase this work from Lisa Wiseman called Something Like Home. Let me just hand you over to her:

"My work is about the reoccurring theme of liminality in my work - an elusive but rich threshold between two different places or states. I am exploring how pieces of homes, and what we perceive to be home-like, shape our individual and collective identities. I also call upon shared memories and items that represent "home" (windows, makeup on a counter) to bring us together in remembering parts of our own past but also to remind us of how isolated and isolating the home (and by extension suburbia) can be. I also use this body of work to examine how our personal story can intersect with a larger story about identity, perfection, and home."

She expands upon this and says:

"My photography is about transitions, in-between spaces, and liminal moments. I love exploring the image as the quiet pause between the before and after. I shoot fashion and portraiture with a fine art eye, often honing in on subtle details of the model or the garment instead of showing the whole person. Through a deliberate use of cropping, I create a narrative that focuses on elements that sometimes go unnoticed. My images often have a cinematic film-still quality, which makes the viewer feel connected yet voyeuristic. I want the viewer to create their own end to the story. I have always been fascinated by deconstructed and collective memories, cultural nostalgia, and identity formation. The intersection of these things informs and shapes my photography."

Wiseman works in digital mediums (both SLR and using her iPhone camera for her New Polaroid project) and in film using Polaroid 600. She received her BA in sociology from UC Berkeley in 2004 and completed a second BFA in photography at the Academy of Art University in 2007. She has been honoured with many awards, most recently being selected for 2009 PDN's 30.

Wednesday 12 August 2009

David Zimmerman

All images © David Zimmerman

These images from David Zimmerman recently came into the submissions inbox which serve as a case study for the underlying theme of today´s post, originality. As much as I like them, I have a bit of bee in my bonnet in that formally they are all-too-familiar and are distinctly reminiscent of both Andreas Gursky´s The Rhine II, 1999 and also Edgar Martins´ series Hidden to name just a few examples. This is why they didn´t really get my creative juices going. Nevertheless, they are still well composed shots and as a photographer David commands respect for he has he assisted many of New York's top editorial and advertising photographers and has done several commercial assignments for the likes of Pepsi, Mercedez-Benz, Seagram's, American Express, Unilever and others. Interestingly, David's studio & home in Taos were built to LEED certified standards for sustainability. Both his studio and home are entirely solar powered, use catchment water and are passive solar heated. Hats off to you sir. His current work includes photographic projects in the deserts of the southwest U.S., the Salton Sea in southern California and documentary work along the Ganges River in northern India. He is the current recipient of the Sony World Photography Awards L'Iris D'or Prize for his landscape photography in the American southwest. David's work is represented is Susan Spiritus Gallery in Newport Beach and Capital Culture, London.

Speaking about the work, David, eloquently explains the interest that lies behind photographing this subject:

"These images of walls are an exploration of my interest in physical, social, economic and class barriers. Walls are symbols of boundaries. They are symbols of limits and obstacles. Barriers provoke, they pique curiosity and limit a clear view of the horizon. Barriers guard secrets and filter information. What is the consequence of unchallenged barriers?"

Monday 10 August 2009

Lillian Wilkie

All images © Lillian Wilkie

Those of you who have been following 1000 Words on Twitter may recall that I ranked the work of Lillian Wilkie as the best in show during Free Range 2009, the graduate art and design summer exhibitions held at The Old Truman Brewery in East London. In any case, here is a selection of images from her highly accomplished series Dresden I – IX. I am thrilled to share this work with you all since Wilkie shows such great promise. I look forward to seeing how her photography evolves and where it takes her. Read on for her project synopsis:

"Dresden I – IX has evolved from a sustained investigation in to the mnemonic and narrative ability of walking. Through early experiments during London-based research projects I developed a practice of peripatetic mapping which considered historical events by self-consciously moving through the spaces in which they occurred. I was attracted to the performative aspect of walking and began to consider the consciously plotted walk as a role-play and type of intervention. Photographing along these walks developed from straight documentation, accompanied by sound recording, to a more subconscious and spontaneous method picking up on minor details and fleeting moments.

My major project focuses these ideas and methods on the German city of Dresden, exploring the multiple layers of history and experience that can be found. Dresden and its turbulent history appeared often in my research for earlier work, such as my dissertation on post-Holocaust memory, fiction and photography. In fact, much of my written work supports and informs my major project, sharing themes of trauma, loss, memory and the representation of history.

The form of Dresden I - IX, a series of nine books, is based on Heinrich Schliemann’s 19th century quest to discover the mythical city of Troy. A wealthy businessman, entrepreneur and amateur archaeologist, his belief that the works of Homer and Virgil reflected actual historic events compelled him to attempt to locate the site of Troy and unearth the lost city. His excavations at Hissarlik in Turkey in 1871 did indeed reveal nine layers of a mysterious city, each exposing traces of destruction by fire, flood and warfare. Whilst modern-day archaeologists now doubt the existence of Troy, at the time Schliemann’s discovery was considered extremely significant, especially considering the priceless treasures that were found. Each layer was named Troy I to Troy IX.

Fascinated by this concept of layering and excavation, I projected the discovery on to the equally mysterious and historical city of Dresden, a city itself comprised of multiple layers, not least since it’s rebuilding in the wake of the 1945 Allied bombing which resulted in some of the most severe firestorms recorded in the history of warfare. Continuing to use perambulation as an investigative and artistic tool, each of the nine books is based on a walk across Dresden. Through historical and local research, mainly undertaken by reading, visiting archives and institutions and talking to Dresdners, I began to locate specific sites of interest and weave a web of interrelationships and narratives between them. I connected these sites by walking from one to the other, each time considering their historical significance through the foil of a conceptual sedimentary layer. The layers (Light, Air, Snow, Water, Sand, Soil, Ruin, Ash and Fire) can correspond to the physical attributes or conditions of the area in which the walk was undertaken, or relate to the area’s history; for instance, ‘Soil’ explores the green open spaces of Dresden and how they figured in the 1945 bombings, and ‘Ash’ traces the cremated remains of victims of the firestorm as they were transported from the Altmarkt to the Heidefriedhof cemetery. To emphasize the layering of the city, my research goes beyond the bombings back to Dresden’s epoch in the seventeenth century, and in this way I see my walks as a kind of time travel, moving between locations and stories, events and disasters spanning four hundred years.

The series of books presented for my major project accompany sound recordings, prints, diaries, found objects and sketches in the cache of material gathered during this project. I hope the work will continue to be exhibited in different forms depending on, and as a response to, the gallery space in question."

Lillian Wilkie studied photographic arts at the University of Westminster from 2006-09 and is currently awaiting her grade. She has participated in several group exhibitions including at Shoreditch Town Hall, London and Paperbomb Mintlounge, Manchester and undertaken work experience at Proud Photographic Gallery and The White Cube Gallery, London.

Wednesday 5 August 2009

Jennifer Schlesinger

All images © Jennifer Schlesinger

Thanks to Jennifer Schlesinger for offering up her images for consideration. I´ll introduce the project via her artist statement which reads as follows:

"As I grow older - raise my daughter, create my own family - I have gained a new appreciation for objects gifted to me from my relatives whom are no longer living. These objects are the only memory I have of them now. For this series, I photographed objects of mine and other's that were gifted, to recreate the sacred object into a new mileu- the life influenced by the current keeper. We breathe our spirit into these objects, and we use them with the spirit of the person who gave them to us, they become an `Object diaspora´. These images are taken with a large format pinhole camera. They are gelatin silver prints on 8x10” Foma paper."

Jennifer Schlesinger is a Connecticut native, who graduated from the College of Santa Fe in 1998 with a B.A. in Photography and Journalism. Jennifer has taught photography for various organizations and schools and has been an adjunct faculty member in the Marion Center for Photographic Arts, College of Santa Fe. She has been investigating the world through photography for over twelve years and has exhibited at numerous colleges, art organizations and galleries including Southwest regional venues such as Center for Contemporary Arts (Santa Fe), Eastern New Mexico University, and Santa Fe Art Institute as well as nationally, such as the Portland Northwest College of Art, the Chelsea Art Museum and most recently at the Bridge Art Fair in Chicago. Her work has been published in numerous catalogues and magazines, and is represented in many private as well as public collections including the Huntington Botanical Art Collections in California and the The New Mexico Museum of Art, Santa Fe. In 2005 she received three honors of recognition; a grant from the New Mexico Arts Division; a Golden Light Award in Landscape Photography by the Maine Photographic Workshops and she was a finalist in the Willard Van Dyke Grant given by the New Mexico Center for Photography. In 2007 she was nominated for the Santa Fe Prize for Photography by The Center and the Eliot Porter Fellowship by the New Mexico Council on Photography. And in 2007 she was also awarded the Center for Contemporary Arts Photography Auction Award.

Saturday 1 August 2009

JH ENGSTRÖM Workshop and Talk in London!

© JH Engström


London, Sunday 8th - Thursday 12th November,2009.

Swedish photographer JH Engström will be giving the second STILL/MOVING workshop in November.

Celebrated internationally for his unique style of exploratory and expressive life-based photography, Engström is an experienced giver of workshops, developing the teaching methods of his friend and mentor Anders Petersen, who was himself taught by the great Christer Strömholm. Aged 40, Engström has already created some of the most highly sought after photography books, particularly Trying to Dance, and this summer he consolidated his reputation by winning the Rencontres d'Arles 2009 Book Award with From Back Home, his collaborative project with Anders Petersen.

The workshop will be open to 10 applicants who need not necessarily be professional photographers.

Applicants should be open and willing to challenge their own photographic practice during what promises to be a unique and intense week.

The workshop will take place in Hackney, London and will run from 10am - 6pm for 5 days.

Participants will be encouraged to shoot new work during the week.

Cost: approx £500 (depending on funding - will not go up, hopefully will go down)

To apply please send the following to
- a brief note about yourself
- a brief note about your work and why you think you would benefit from this workshop
- 10 to 15 low resolution images and a link to your website (if available)

Deadline for applications: Sunday, 27 September. We will confirm by email whether places have been successful or not by Sunday, 4th October.

In addition to the workshop, JH Engström will be “In Conversation” with a special invited guest on Monday 9th November at Campbell Works Gallery in Stoke Newington, Hackney. This event is open to the public.

Please RSVP

For more information, please see