Wednesday 31 August 2011

Alejandro Chaskielberg @Michael Hoppen Gallery, London

Image ©Alejandro Chaskielberg

The exhibition season is clearly back in full swing here in London. Opening next week at Michael Hoppen Contemporary is High Tide, an exhibition of new work by the fantastic Argentinean photographer Alejandro Chaskielberg, who I tipped as my name to watch ahead of the Brighton Photo Biennial 2010 for a piece in the Telegraph last year. Chaskielberg was also the overall winner of this year’s Sony World Photo Awards.

High Tide is a series of colour photographs taken in the remote Paraná River Delta, Argentina, where Chaskielberg lived and worked from 2007-10. His subjects are local residents of this isolated community who rely on the river for food, work, travel and communication with the wider world. His portraits are ethereal, dreamlike images that convey the everyday life of those photographed - lumberjacks shifting heavy timber, an aged hunter sitting by an open fire in contemplation, lovers walking under the stars.

Working at night under a full moon, Chaskielberg documents the relationship between the inhabitants of the delta and their environment in startling technicolour using techniques that push the boundaries of the medium to transform our natural perception of light, colour and space, whilst still referencing the aesthetic of nineteenth century photographic portraiture.

Chaskielberg requires his subjects to pose still for up to ten minutes in order to distinguish the image from the thick darkness, relying on the natural light from the moon and supplementing this with a variety of artificial lighting tools - torches, flashes and lanterns, creating imaginary scenarios with real people and situations.

"My intention is to use photography to occupy a border between document and fiction and imbue the islanders with a strange timelessness. Photography can transform reality and produce a magical view of people and of life."

This will be the first solo exhibition by the artist in Europe and as such is a great opportunity to view and acquire a group of prints from an artist who is quickly crystalising his reputation as one of the bright new talents of his generation. Michael Hoppen Contemporary will be celebrating his success at the Sony World Photo Awards as well as the release of La Creciente, a monograph of Chaskielberg’s photographs newly published by Nazraeli Press.

The exhibition runs from Thursday 8 September to Saturday 1 October. Michael Hoppen Gallery, 3 Jubilee Place, London, SW3 3TD.

Tuesday 30 August 2011

Ej Major @Matt Roberts Arts, London

All images © Ej Major

A buzz surrounds Ej Major's one man show that opens on Thursday at Matt Roberts Arts, winner of the 2011 Salon Photo Prize (sponsored by 1000 Words). Of the work on display, most notable is her clever faux biography entitled Marie Claire RIP.

"These series of 12 images," Major explains, "is based on an article published in Marie Claire in 2002, which featured police mug-shots of a [heroin addict] taken over a fourteen year period. The article revealed that not long after the last picture was taken the woman was found dead."

She adds, "Marie Claire RIP is a re-staging of these images using myself as subject. I intended the piece to be non-specific in terms of the nature of the character’s demise. There is no direct reference to heroin addiction. The series may be read in terms of each person’s story or experience who views it. While the piece challenges the veracity of the photographic portrait it also finds an authenticity in a notion of self-portraiture that involves acting. It is me and it isn’t her and yet it is her and it isn’t me at the same time."

This exhibition runs from Friday 2 September to Saturday 24 September. Matt Roberts Arts, Unit 1, 25 Vyner Street, London, E2 9DG.

Wednesday 24 August 2011

David Maisel: History's Shadow

All images © David Maisel

As we gear up for the launch of our next issue, 1000 Words new Editorial assistant, Sean Stoker, takes some time out from prepping to peruse this recently released title from Nazraeli Press and is impressed with the spectral qualities of the photographs within.

While working at the Getty Research Institute in LA, David Maisel was confronted by a 12 foot high x-ray pinned to a window, rear-lit from outside. The subject of that x-ray, a small, drab painting, was left in the wake of its copy, overshadowed by the blown up x-ray. Inspired by this discovery, Maisel trawled through the archives of x-rays of old museum artefacts, uncovering these ghostly emanations of light, and then scanning, re-photographing and digitally manipulating the images earmarked for the project.

Those images now grace the pages of Maisel's latest book History's Shadow which, like many of his previous projects, illustrates a keen interest in the manner in which photography can combine art, science and a sense of humanity. While the work is also about the processes of memory, excavation and transformation it is really photography itself that is arguably the main focus of this project, and Maisel uses the x-ray to examine its inherent flaws with issues of space, depth and scale. Some images seem to emerge from the page itself, while others float in their black surroundings, yet they transcend mere images of objects, and become sculptural in their own right; a truly convincing illusion of three-dimensional space rendered on the two-dimensional page. In Maisel's words,"they becomes a vast nether world, and in others becomes the velvety ground of some kind of brain scan/portrait." Some are more successful at this than others, yet together, the images manage to reference the history of photographic practice – recalling the mysterious long exposures and amateur scientific studies of the medium's early years – and the history of art (x-rays have historically been used by art conservators for structural examination of art and artefacts), which is not just limited to icons of Western art.

The x-ray empowers us with an all-seeing, piercing gaze that distorts our perception while it transports us to a ghostly, ephemeral world in which everything appears too delicate to touch, that we may extinguish these glowing forms. Here, inside becomes out, and out becomes in. We are confronted with everything simultaneously, overwhelmed by fragile veils of light and plunging depths of darkness as space and time collapse and compound. It is within these objects that we see traces of the artist's hand, suggestions of a human presence and structural details that invoke a curiosity within us, not only to understand the vestiges and indicators of past societies, but to also comprehend ourselves and our future.

What I most enjoy about this book is also what I most enjoy in photography as a whole; despite its apparent complexity and tendency to over-theorise itself, it is often its simplest aspects that are the most interesting. History's Shadow, while intricate and well considered, represents the essense of photography: the presence and absence of light, the shape-shifting nature of time and the curiosity to see what cannot be seen with the naked eye.

Sean Stoker

Monday 22 August 2011

Haunting the Chapel: Photography and Dissolution @ Daniel Blau Gallery, London

We are getting very excited here in the studio about this upcoming exhibition of vintage, anonymous, vernacular and spirit photography,also including works by Fratelli Alinari,Cecil Beaton, René Barthélemy, Emil Cadoo,Arthur Conan Doyle, JH Engstrom, Walker Evans, Michael Grieve, Bill Jacobson, Fritz Lang, Rut Blees Luxemburg, Floris Neusüss, Arnold Newman, Diane Pernet, Leni Riefenstahl, Jeffrey Silverthorne, Edmund Teske, U.S. Army Picture Corps et al.

"They are moving because of their phantom condition; every act they execute may be their last; there is not a face that is not on the verge of dissolving like a face in a dream." Jorge Luis Borges

Daniel Blau Gallery, London will be presenting a unique set of images that embody a theme particularly relevant to current artistic and cultural practice: that of the haunted, the blurred and the dissolved. To exemplify these themes this exhibition will feature vintage prints as well as more recent explorations in photography and its often-dissolute processes. In homage to the alchemy and chemistry of photography, this show will illustrate fire, smoke, the spirit, the x-ray, blur and motion, decay and the photogram. Like a series of dark objects and entities trapped behind the framing of glass, the gallery space becomes a chapel to the haunted history of the photographic medium.

Haunting the Chapel: Photography and Dissolution
2 September – 8 October 2011
Opening: 1 Sept, 6-10pm
Daniel Blau Gallery, London

To coincide with this, the gallery will be hosting talks and lectures that relate to the concept of the exhibition. If you would like to attend one or all of the following events, please RSVP to: london(at)danielblau(dot)com Tickets are £5, payable on arrival at the gallery. All the events open at 7pm for a 7:30pm start. 51 Hoxton Square, London N16PB.

Tuesday 6 September: Talks

Jeffrey Silverthorne in conversation with Brad Feuerhelm / Michael Grieve in conversation with Aaron Schuman.

Tuesday 20 September: Lecture

David Bate presents some ideas related to the exhibition with a following discussion.

Not to be missed!

Wednesday 3 August 2011


Get ready for issue 12 of 1000 Words, 'Thereness', out 1 October.

"[...] More often than not, a direct, 'simple' record of the subject in hand - the way of the 'quiet' photographer - produces a result that is more profoundly fresh than any attempt at visual novelty made by utilising the many tricks of the trade. If photography deals directly and honesty with life, it has every chance to be fresh and 'new', for the surface of life itself is infinitely variable, renewable and renewing. [...] The concreteness of photography, its awkward specificity, *must* surely be its glory, for can we ever tire of looking at a tree, the sky, a human face?

[...]'Thereness' is a sense of the subject's reality, a heightened sense of its physicality, etched sharply into the image. It is a sense that we are looking at the world directly, without mediation. Or rather, that something other than a mere photographer is mediating. [...] Such a feeling, such alertness, when present in the photograph, can of course conceal the greatest photographic art. 'Thereness' is seen at the opposite ends of the photographic spectra, in the humblest holiday enprint as much as the most serious art photograph, in the snapshot-inspired, dynamic small camera candid as much as the calm, meditative, large camera view. Those photographs which conjure up a compelling desire to touch the subject, to walk into the picture, to know the photographed person, display 'thereness'. Those photographs which tend towards impressionism, expressionism or abstraction can be in danger of losing it, or never finding it [...]. 'Thereness', in short, is a quality that has everything to do with reality and little to do with art, yet is, I would reiterate, the essence of the art of photography"

From The Art That Hides Itself - Notes on Photography's Quiet Genius by Gerry Badger

Noorderlicht International Photography Festival 2011

© Michael Wolf

The press release for the 18th Noorderlicht International Photo Festival in Groningen (18 September-9 October 2011) has just landed on our desks here at 1000 Words and looks very promising.

Since the beginning of the 21st century, more than half of the world's population live in urban areas. In two successive exhibitions Noorderlicht is examining the consequences of this development for both the countryside and the city. After Land – Country Life in the Urban Age in 2010, from 11 September through 9 October 2011 the photo festival Metropolis – City Life in the Urban Age will be seen in Groningen. This multifaceted and innovative exhibition will provide insight into a process that touches everyone, directly or indirectly.

“The” city doesn't exist. Although cities are at the heart of modern society – certainly now that 3.3 billion people are packed onto 3 percent of the earth's surface – they are not all exactly the same in nature. The city is an feverish economic, cultural and social nerve centre; it is the place where the dreams of architects and urban planners come to life or collide with recalcitrant reality. Cities grow wildly, sometimes anarchically, and swallow up everything in the vicinity. They suck in people who – successfully, or in vain – are in search of a better life. In the midst of an oppressive massiveness, people are still able to carve out a small space for themselves and find their own fulfilment. The city is a place that offers opportunities and dashes hopes, where you can be seen everywhere and at all times but where you can equally well be completely alone.

From Michael Wolf's traumatised faces in the Tokyo subway to Michael Najjar's sterile futuristic urban landscapes, on the basis of work by more than eighty photographers from The Netherlands and other countries, in Metropolis Noorderlicht exposes the many sides of the city. To do this, Noorderlicht breaks new ground, both in terms of content and design. The six 'chapters' and the unusual arrangement in the main locations offer space to the city, and bring across Noorderlicht's view of the city in an insightful and perceptive manner.

Metropolis is a city of images, an exhibition about the soul of urban society.

Click on the links for more information on the participating photographers, the Metropolis - City Life in the Urban Age exhibition and to read an interview with the curator Wim Mellis.