Friday 24 June 2011

1000 Words Portfolio Review Consultations

The more eagle-eyed of our readers will be aware that we recently started providing in-depth portfolio review consultations for photographers. In the three years since launch, 1000 Words has grown in both scale of operations and size of audience meaning that the amount of portfolios submitted to the magazine for potential publication has also increased significantly. The sheer volume is staggering. (Upon opening my emails this morning, I realised that there are currently 491 submissions sitting in my inbox from the month of June alone.)

Whilst we do take the time to look at each and every one of these we regret that we can not always respond. However, if you would like to receive specific advice and feedback on your work we have introduced frank and informal review sessions with the view to providing photographers with the following:

-Critique of creative output
-The practical and conceptual vision needed to help attain your goals and develop further photographic projects
-Assistance with self-representation, portfolio presentation and approaches to potential outlets in the editorial, publishing and gallery markets
-Resources to help enhance your work.

Portfolio reviews cost £90 and last one hour. They take place at our offices in East London or at your studio if you have one/if it is more convenient and consist of two one-on-one sessions with 1000 Words’ editors, Tim Clark and Michael Grieve.

To book a portfolio review or for more information contact: portfolio(at)1000wordsmag(dot)com

Thursday 23 June 2011

Photomonth Krakow 2011 (ALIAS)

You see them here, you see them there, you see them everywhere. In their latest project, the artist team Oliver Chanarin and Adam Broomberg (featured in #11 of 1000 Words) have been blessed with the opportunity of curating an entire photography festival, and in so doing have left an indelible mark on the landscape of such events.

Photomonth Krakow 2011, now in its ninth year, was subject to ALIAS, an unconventional series of conceptual exhibitions, split into two halves that tested the limits of acceptability and has divided audiences and critics alike. The festival is counter-balanced by a series of exhibitions from invited curators called ShowOFF.

The first half of ALIAS features twenty-three writers who were commissioned to construct a fictional story with a main character. A visual artist then inhabited this character and the work exhibited is the result of this symbiosis. Writers included such notables as David Campany, Ekow Eshun, Brad Zellar and Siddhartha Mukherjee taken from the art, literary and medical worlds, and visual artists such as Rut Blees Luxenburg, Alec Soth and David Goldblatt occupied the fictional artists and produced their work. We are wonderfully unaware of who did what, which is the point. This flies in the face of the egotistical and heavily loaded notion of authorship, and so the artists and writers remain anonymous. It can be helpful in the creative process for the artist to create an alter ego, in the guise of a protagonist with a pseudonym or simply to remain unknown, giving license to make work outside the confines of expectation and reveal a greater sense of self. As Chanarin and Broomberg point out in the accompanying catalogue, this conception of artists taking on or dealing with the subject of alternative personalities is nothing new, and the second half of the festival, buried in the aptly named Bunkier Sztuki Gallery, displays the work of artists such as Marcel Duchamp, Gillian Wearing and Sophie Calle. As an example these artists have produced work as the fictional and real people of Rrose Selavy, Jean and Brian Wearing and Maria Turner. One such artist, Brian O'Doherty, as a protest against Bloody Sunday embodied the persona of outsider artist, Patrick Ireland, whose subsequent symbolic death was, as perceived by O'Doherty as the "chance to bury hatred".

Scattered in various galleries around Krakow were stories of humour, tragedy, strangeness and ordinariness - all quite believable though always with a hint of the uncanny. The various exhibitions are too numerous to mention, but one story struck a chord, and finds poignant roots in Poland's dark history. This is the sad tale of a photographer called Dora Fobert (born in 1925) during her time in the Warsaw ghetto. It is a piece of fiction that sounds as authentic as the almost unbelievable story of Oskar Schindler, whose infamous factory in Krakow is now the site of the impressive and newly constructed MOCAK (Museum of Contemporary Art). Fobert's last photographs were hastily printed and chemically unfixed, before being taken by the SS, and can only be shown in daylight behind red glass. The effect is imbued with multiple meanings; the fragility of life, the impossibility of fixing a moment, the frustration of not seeing and how photography is a process. The story also tells of how the Nazis vilified the Jewish woman as a bohemian, free thinking seductress, opposed to the idealisation of Aryan women - dressed in uniform, hair tied back, restrained and orderly. These photographs are the last act of defiance and reveal old and young Jewish women posing nude for Fobert's studio camera in an expression of freedom.

Dora Fobert, from the archive of Adela K. circa 1942

What is ALIAS then, and how should it be remembered? The curators boldly claimed that this concept was to be an experiment and an experiment is a method of testing with the goal of explaining the nature of reality. It is rare to find festivals that proclaim such an experimental and admirable model. Though definitions should matter little, this festival is really an art festival more than it is a photography festival and because of this it has opened up a real Pandora's box. One question it asks is that in a world confused with the ever-mounting proliferation of imagery are we really better informed and especially from photography that reports the ‘truth’? Given Chanarin and Broomberg's trajectory from documentary photographers to constructors of photography this process lends credibility to the concept of ALIAS, in other words it is not being different for the sake of being different, rather it is logical and emotional conclusion. We are perhaps more intellectually astute about the role of photography than ever before and therefore we are better able to deal with conceptual festivals such as ALIAS that suggests that the truth is better understood from the perspective of non- truth.

ALIAS is by no means a festival of easy gratification; it is the antithesis of a spectacular and populist festival since it demands contemplation from the audience, and this, surely, is no bad thing. Those who resist are probably looking for work that is easily digestible and grumble at having to exist outside their comfort zone. But the mischievousness of this festival is highly enjoyable and perhaps raises the thinking behind future happenings even if this is in danger of alienating the local population.

One of the reasons for ShowOFF, than other to simply showcase new Polish photography, was perhaps to address the issue of the difficulties of ALIAS by inviting curators to realise more 'conventional' exhibitions, but no less interesting for that. ShowOFF was curated by Polish photographers and theorists such as Kuba Swircz, Magda Wunsche and Rafat Milach to select and featured the work of Ula Klimek, Karol Kaczorowski and Yulka Wilam to name but a few. The work is young and fresh, with a tendency towards the conceptual, and perhaps points to the future of Polish art photography.

All of this takes place in the wonderful city that is Krakow. With its rich cultural and historical diversity it continues to fascinate and is right on time for a festival such as this. In a sense, Photomonth Krakow is the Arles of the East; everything is within easy walking distance and beyond the photography there is much more to be seen.

Michael Grieve

Tuesday 7 June 2011

Taryn Simon

Yet another fantastic multimedia production from Tate Shots, this piece on American photographer Taryn Simon (see Susan Bright's article in #10 of 1000 Words) focuses on her new exhibition at Tate Modern ‘A Living Man Declared Dead and Other Chapters’. Simon mixes photography and text in a series works that chart family bloodlines. At the heart of each group of photographic portraits, carefully arranged as 18 horizontal family trees, is a compelling story. One set documents the relatives of an Iraqi man who was a body double for Saddam Hussein’s son; another show members of a religious sect in Lebanon who believe in reincarnation; while the exhibition title comes from a work about a living Indian man who was declared dead in official records. From feuding families in Brazil to victims of genocide in Bosnia, Simon forms a collection that maps the relationships between chance, blood and other components of fate.

"Men make their own history, but they do not make it as they please; they do not make it under self-selected circumstances, but under circumstances existing already, given and transmitted from the past. The tradition of all dead generations weighs like a nightmare on the brains of the living." Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte (1852)

Sunday 5 June 2011

Simon Norfolk

Following on from Val William's exclusive feature on Simon Norfolk & John Burke: Photographs From The War In Afghanistan in #11 of 1000 Words, here is a very well put together short video from Tate Shots wherein he discusses the parallels between the two bodies of work, his outspoken political opinions and his manner of seducing his audience through beauty in order to draw their attention to the real issues he is trying to represent.