Thursday 19 December 2013

Top photobooks of 2013

It’s that time of year to reflect, and with it comes a customary list of favourite photobooks selected by members of our Advisory Board here at 1000 Words Photography Magazine.

Lieko Shiga: SPIRAL COAST/album

There is a logic to Lieko Shiga’s photobook marvel SPIRAL COAST/album, but for now I want to remain as blissfully ignorant as possible. At this point in my relationship to this book I simply just want to look and become delirious for as long as possible. My favourite French surrealist writer, Georges Bataille, who I quote perhaps too often, once said something to the effect that it is the manner of expression that is more important than the content, that it the sensibility more than the intelligence in all its sensitive character that counts the most. Indeed. This book contains a bizarre yet respectable spirituality born from the disaster of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in an area of Japan that Shiga is from. But rather than pity, this book radiates an energy of reincarnation tainted with the sorrow of loss. It is a book that is at once beautiful by virtue of its wrongness.
Michael Grieve, photographer and Deputy Editor, 1000 Words

Zhao Renhui: A Guide to the Flora and Fauna of the World
The Institute of Critical Zoologists

What evolves when bees become dependent on caffeine, seeking drops of nectar from factory waste? The Institute of Critical Zoologists' recent publication, A Guide to the Flora and Fauna of the World, maps this subject and more with an impressive set of plates collated from considerable research, documents and field notes. Charting the curious flora and fauna that have changed as a result of human habitation or scientific manipulation, the pseudo-scientific study offers an encyclopedic visual lexicon, from fish tomatoes, venomous cabbage and bioluminescent squirrels to square apples. Beautiful images of specimens in the field or still lives at the lab, together with a narrative history, make every page a pleasure to explore.
Louise Clements, curator and Artistic Director, FORMAT International Photography Festival/QUAD

Emile Hyperion Dubuisson: FAR
ADAD books

FAR is a stunning first book from a new independent publisher, ADAD books, which debuts a deeply enigmatic series of photographs of life in the Yamal peninsula in Siberia. Dubuisson’s pictures were taken in the early 90s, but then damaged, lost and refound, so the published images offer an account not only of the incredibly bleak remoteness of the place depicted, but also the effects of the passage of time, evident in the scratches and scuffs on the surfaces of each image. The book is beautifully designed and sequenced, with a text (in both Russian and English) by Boris Mikhailov, reflecting on a series of photographs frozen in the eternal present.
Simon Baker, Curator of Photography, Tate 

Rinko Kawauchi: Ametsuchi

Ametsuchi - meaning heaven and hell in Japanese - arrived in 2013 courtesy of a near perfect photo trinity: Aperture, Rinko Kawauchi and Dutch designer Hans Gremmen, the result of which might be described as a work of photographic mysticism. It began fittingly with a dream. Seven years later Kawauchi was watching TV and, amazingly, spotted an identical image from that dream. This led her to southern Japan and, in turn, the annual and ancient practice of field burning. Ametsuchi is a remarkable meditation on transience, life cycles, and the human need for ritual. As I ploughed through 500 photo books at this year’s Les Rencontres d’Arles, the book stood out as a work of exceptional depth and ambition.

The term ‘mysticism’ comes from the Greek word ‘to conceal’. In a masterstroke of photobook design, each double page fittingly conceals hidden images, folded origami-style into the book’s spine.
Nicholas Barker, film maker and collector 

Todd Hido: Excerpts from Silver Meadows

Nazraeli Press

Fascinated by the idea that photography can be a vehicle for exploring the ‘architecture of his childhood’, Todd Hido once again sets out down the street that runs through his neighbourhood in Kent, Ohio where the artist grew up. Cinematic and highly-charged with a bitter-sweet intensity, Excerpts from Silver Meadows continues Hido’s trip from the innocence of childhood to the darker side of what prevails in his own adult universe.

Effortlessly blending portraits, interiors and brooding landscapes as well as appropriated images, it’s an intricate and complex tapestry that tells Hido’s own story while employing the power of suggestion to impressive effect. With lavish production values (the book is printed on matt Japanese paper with tipped-in images on the case binding), this oversized but elegant book marks Hido’s sixth monograph to date with the esteemed publisher, Nazraeli Press.
Tim Clark, Editor in Chief, 1000 Words

Special offer from Bitcasa!

Our friends at Bitcasa are offering 1000 Words readers a special discounted offer for those planning to keep on top of their digital storage needs going into 2014.

Apart from the die-hard masters of traditional SLR photography, many of us professionals now hold vast digital libraries of photographs on our desktops, laptops, external hard drives and basically any free space we can find. Not only is storage space an issue, but despite the best cataloguing and archiving efforts, keeping track of our work and having access to it when we need it is a major challenge.

That’s where Bitcasa comes in. Bitcasa is an easy to use, private and secure cloud storage platform that allows you to protect your digital belongings and make them more useful to you. You can access, share and stream any of your photography from any device, such as your laptop, tablet, Web or phone. You can also view your digital belongings offline by marking files as a “Favourite.”

It is even possible to view RAW images on the Bitcasa Web portal at – the format of choice for many professional photographers. Supported RAW image types include 3fr, arw, cr2, crw, dcr, dng, erf, kdc, mef, mrw, nef, orf, pef, raf, sr2 and x3f. Porfolios of any size can be shared with clients via a Web link. This makes it easy for downloading and streaming of content if you are a Bitcasa user or not.

Bitcasa knows that as photographers we are responsible for protecting our client’s digital assets. This is why it offers unmatched privacy and security with its client-side encryption. Even if someone did enter Bitcasa’s system, they could never reconstruct the files to see what was stored inside — thus ensuring your privacy at all times. This means only YOU can have access to YOUR data – the way it should be. It is the Fort Knox for your digital belongings and definitely a lot safer than the collection of external hard drives that is typical for photographers.

In terms of pricing, the service is free for users storing up to 20GB worth of content and is £10 per month for one terabyte, enough space to store 200,000 photos. For the really storage hungry, five terabytes is available for £49 per month, or you can get infinite storage for £99 per month.

However, the great news is that Bitcasa is offering all 1000 Words Photography Magazine readers a discount of 20% for its monthly or annual Premium plan if you use discount voucher PHOTO20. The code expires on the 31 January 2014.

Tuesday 26 November 2013

Alberto Feijoo

All images © Alberto Feijoo

1000 Words Associate editor Brad Feuerhelm is gripped by Alberto Feijoo's self-published photo book, Something we used to know, a mash up of lost moments from music concerts running parallel to an examination of the photographer's own roots in Spain.

Alberto Feijoo’s Something we used to know is a quiet gem of a book, bent on the precipice of solitude wherein the divide of screen-based memory and empire of collated events from late 90’s to the early noughties collide.

Comprising pixellated, stepped, and glitched images of youth culture in wild throes, music concerts are revisited via DVD rips and images made from grabbing reconciled YouTube clips of the crowds at these events. All are awash in a sombre palette of colour hinting at the coppery smell of blood or an air of violence when wires get crossed at uncomfortable intervals. There’s a palpable sense of nostalgia too, but one slightly askew, as if forced into a colander and the remnants from the sieve are mashed into one idea of a memory of the time and place where scores of people shared a perception of an experience. Orphaned images, orphaned lives are appropriated for our collective familiarisation, and within this disequilibrium we conjure meta-memories fecund with what photography had previously presented us in material form.

Thinking ‘Was I there? I remember being there, but this face here in the crowd…its distortion…its dragged features…Could this have been me? It looks like me…I had that Nailbomb shirt’ and yet with a shaky hand I fondle the same shirt and I can attach no transference to it and the monster on the screen. This is the meme of self-given birth to the next meme of self, desperate for a “real” genetic disposition for the flesh that fingers its image from the console of the computer. Concrete matters dissolve into utopian super memory which collapses upon itself when applied to the representation we desperately seek through the locus of photographic image.

That said, the Spanish photographer's book is not all fodder for woe in terms of its content. There are very soft interludes of images that we can only presume are taken by Feijoo himself. Delicate still lifes in abject surroundings, such as oranges left to rot on discarded and soiled mattresses found in alleyways are interspersed with portraits - more lyrical fragments of friends, people collected, impressions even. They stand as sentimental bastions of memory for the author, his culture, the good life and currently his life under the economic collapse of his country. They represent the boom, the bust, and the lust for looking back to the golden days of untroubled youth.

There is almost a passive sublime in the work although it is achieved through the depiction of people as opposed to landscape - not a Friedrich-type sublime, but rather oracles of the personal divine found in the slow burn of change through descent. As such, this is a book full of disquiet. Yet the disquiet that is found here is asking more questions of our recent past, its interpretations and the way in which we will navigate our troubled futures.

Brad Feuerhelm

Something we used to know is self-published. To order a copy for €30.00 click here.

Monday 18 November 2013

Osvaldo Sanviti

All images © Osvaldo Sanviti  

Italian photographer Osvaldo Sanvati, discusses the work presented here from Le Soleil moribund, a project that sets forth debate on a whole host of issues from the ethics of representing women who ply a certain trade to the consequences of online anonymity as well as matters pertaining to the frontiers of authorship and appropriating images from the Internet. The lo-fi images form part of a looking game, one of seeing without being seen, and are obviously very subjective and personal, driven by his aesthetic goals and approach.

"In 2009 I was trying to start again with my long-term project of female portraits began in 1996 and stopped for about 3 years. One day I came across on the internet on one of these live sex chats: they are public live videos where girls try to bring in private registered visitors (members) to earn money. The first thing that struck me was, from a formal and pictorial point of view, the soft palette of colors of the video (even at the expense of quality). I was also intrigued by the loneliness of the subjects, in their rooms among neon lights and closed windows, when they are in a state of intimacy with themselves, almost as if they had forgotten to be visible to an audience. (...) What I like is the live dimension, of the life flowing, the strength of unplanned and unscripted situations; I love this feeling of waiting to meet the right subject in the right situation with the right light."

After completing photography studies at Fondazione Studio Marangoni in Florence, Italy, Sanviti started focusing his research on personal projects, "trying to establish a partial and personal world, in a more lyrical than documentary way". He has contributed commissioned works for several magazines and has exhibited in Italy and abroad in shows such as Tempi in scena: mo­ments de la photographie contemporaine italien­ne (curated by Paul di Felice) in Galerie Nei Liicht, Dudelange, Luxembourg in 2001; Passaggio di testimone (curated by Filippo Maggia) in Venice, Italy in 2002; Backlight 02 in the 6th International Photographic Triennial, Tampere, Finland in 2002; and his 2007 solo exhibition at Galleria Nicola Ricci, Pietrasanta, Italy.

Monday 11 November 2013

Special book giveaway! Paul Salveson, Between The Shell

To celebrate a milestone in our social media following (1000 Words now has 20,000+ followers on Twitter and just shy of 5,000 people who have joined the Facebook page) we are delighted to offer you the exclusive opportunity to take part in a special book giveaway.

One copy of Paul Salveson's Between the Shell, recipient of the First Book Award 2013, is up for grabs as part of the competition - courtesy of MACK.

To enter the prize draw, simply hit 'Like' on our Facebook post or use the RT function on the 1000 Words Twitter account. The winner will be selected at random and notified on 25 November.

Its retail price is £40.00, and the publication has only just this November gone on sale. Below is the blurb for the book:

Paul Salveson’s photographs were born in New York and Virginia between 2006 and 2011. Constructing images in domestic environments from items found in arm’s reach, the results are absurdist constructions in which commonplace objects are jocosely rendered in polychromatic puzzles.

Salveson describes his photographic process as "unfolding like a private performance in an empty house, or after everyone falls asleep... my engagement emerges from a perspective that precedes familiarity, disregarding the functions and cultural associations that objects are assigned. I try to process my surroundings with an alien mind."

Paul Salveson was educated at Bard College, New York (BFA Photography) and the University of Southern California (MFA thesis on toothbrush design). His work has been exhibited at MoMA PS1, Swiss Institute, New York, and Actual Size, LA.

All images © Paul Salveson

Monday 4 November 2013

Daniel W. Coburn

All images © Daniel W. Coburn

"In Next of Kin I explore the concept of home by recording my perceptions of family members in parables of love, reverie, respect and quiet tragedy," writes photographer Daniel W. Coburn by way of introduction to the intriguing series of photographs, which were recently submitted to the magazine for our consideration.

"After a yearlong hiatus from my hometown, I returned to re-examine my relationship with loved ones. I use the camera to describe the powerful personalities of my parents, and the complexities of their relationship. I photograph the children in my family to revisit my own childhood, which exists only as a set of fleeting, enigmatic images in my aging memory. By studying the hierarchy of control and power within the clan, I have begun to comprehend the successes and failures of my own relationships outside the family unit. My artistic process has become cathartic as I use the camera to explore my own impressions and memories of these influential characters that continue to shape my existence. Instances of domestic violence, psychological abuse, alcoholism and suicide litter my family history. These images serve as a supplement to my own broken family photo album that was assembled by my parents."

Daniel W. Coburn lives and works in Lawrence, Kansas, US. Selections from his body of work have been featured in exhibitions at the Los Angeles Center for Digital Art, the Chelsea Museum of Art in New York and the International Festival of Photography in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. Coburn's prints are held in many public and private collections including the University of New Mexico Art Museum, The Mulvane Museum of Art, The Albrecht-Kemper Museum of Art, The Mariana Kistler-Beach Museum of Art and the Moraine Park Museum. Coburn received his BFA with an emphasis in photography from Washburn University where he was the recipient of numerous honours including the Charles and Margaret Pollak Award. He received his MFA with distinction from the University of New Mexico in 2013. He is currently an Assistant Professor of Photo Media at the University of Kansas.

Wednesday 23 October 2013

Dayanita Singh, Go Away Closer @ The Hayward Gallery, London

Rachel Ridge pays a visit to Dayanita Singh’s Go Away Closer exhibition at London’s Hayward Gallery and finds a highly original installation that breaks away from the print on the wall mode of display.

“Photographs on their own are just not enough. They come alive in a physical form and that form should be changeable,” reveals India’s most renowned photographic artist, Dayanita Singh in a new book Go Away Closer, which accompanies her first UK retrospective, currently on display at The Hayward Gallery. Singh is certainly no stranger to evolving the language of photography; in fact, her lengthy career reads as a habitual search for new ways of reading and presenting images, rendering the classic print on the wall practically archaic.

It all began with a love affair with the artist book. Singh was quick to reject the coffee table art book culture for more delicate, highly-collectible and, most importantly, accessible publications. Mass produced publications of hers such as House of Love (2011) and Sent a Letter (2008) - a box of mini photo diaries of her travels in India that open out to accordion folds, line the walls of two gallery spaces in the Hayward. In Singh’s world, book is as important as print - the copy has as much status as the original. Indeed, Sent a Letter sows the seed for self-contained, portable world for photographs, as if her entire career has been leading up to this point – her own photo museum.

Displayed in eight 7ft tall, dark wooden structures, called Museums, each cabinet refers to a theme including Chance, Embraces, Men, Furniture and Photography, inviting viewers to engage with the black and white prints contained within, that are each culled from different eras and focus on different subjects.

In these spaces, scenes of abandoned factories take on a life of their own, abstracted Bollywood film stills are bestowed with new meaning, crumbling Indian bureaucracies carry a more universal poignancy and surreal faces emerge from photographs only to be rephotographed. We see men at work, two prisoners passing the time, the Indian upper classes in their illustrious domestic spaces, all the while Singh is the transcendent entity that witnesses the before, the after and the in-between. She exists beyond the perpetual passing of time. She is there filing, organising and archiving memories birthed from her own inner fictions. Fleeting moments become archived, museum display merges with the secretive and Singh’s intuitive editing, sequencing and storytelling reveal an interconnected, unending narrative within these somewhat separatist and categorised structures. “This is what my work really is,” she says, “it’s the dream, it’s that time between waking and sleeping when things collide.”

The book, which is essentially a comprehensive documentation of each Museum, includes an essay from renowned writer Geoff Dyer. In one passage from the text, he ventures the following: “Singh treats her images like living entities in perpetual conversation and re-evaluation. The pictures are the time overlooking each other, glancing over each other’s shoulders.” In other words, hidden within each of the structures are images that lie dormant waiting to surface and it is wholly appropriate that as the exhibition runs, Singh will constantly rearrange their ordering.

Perhaps her interest lies in the museum’s ability to harbour these hidden worlds? Or perhaps she is trying to remind us that her photographs are in constant evolution, offering us messages if we so wish to find them? In one Museum, a young boy holds a book of the title ‘What is photography?’ and elsewhere the subtitle in a Bollywood film still reads, ‘Could you leave everything and start from zero again?’

As such, Singh states that her homes for her photographs offer her more creative freedom. “If no museum is interested in my work, I still have my own structures. I will always be able to find some museum that will be happy to have my structures or I can give them to a library.”

After their London sojourn, these travelling ‘memory banks’ will return to Vasant Vihar, New Delhi to be permanently installed, with a resident archivist to oversee them. They will be open to the public, somewhat ceremoniously, on the first and second full moon of each year.

Singh’s highly sophisticated preservation of the medium certainly speaks to the precarious identity of the photograph in our information age. Never a slave to categories, institutions, or the form of the image itself, Dayanita Singh seems to be forever edging towards a new world in which photography to reside.
Rachel Ridge

Dayanita Singh, Go Away Closer is published by Hayward Publishing. Special exhibition price £9.99 (RRP £12.99)

Monday 14 October 2013

Home Truths: Photography, Motherhood and Identity @ The Photographers' Gallery and The Foundling Museum, London

© Hanna Putz

Eti Wade reports back from the opening of the eagerly anticipated new show at London’s The Photographers’ Gallery curated by Susan Bright, Home Truths: Photography, Motherhood and Identity and explores the role and influence of maternal subjectivity in a selection of artists’ work.

Standing in the playground on Friday morning, after my visit to Home Truths: Photography, Motherhood and Identity exhibitions at The Photographers Gallery and The Foundling Museum in London; looking at all the mums sending their children off to another day at school, I was thinking about the intimate day-to-day experience of caring for children and how overlooked it mostly is. Looking after young children is one of the hardest activities which we undertake in life, an activity still nearly exclusively carried out by women. The demands and sacrifices of motherhood on the whole go unacknowledged and unrewarded. Becoming a mother often means an extreme transformation in personal lifestyle, sacrificing the person you used to be, giving up freedoms that will never be regained.

Motherhood has a long history of being represented from the outside with eminent male artists presenting an ideal figure, mostly within religious iconography. The Madonna is a ubiquitous figure, against which motherhood is experienced but the subjective mother’s voice is so often silenced and their subjectivity denied, especially within the arts. Making art as a mother or maybe even more specifically making art about being a mother is one of the hardest things to do and the prejudice against such an endeavour is widespread. In his 1938 novel Enemies of Promise Cyril Connolly asserted that "there is no more sombre enemy of good art than the pram in the hall". Attitudes have not shifted hugely since but Home Truths, being an exhibition about representations of motherhood, enfolds within it some bodies of work in which a female artist is representing herself as a mother, these are representations of maternal subjectivity. 

Taking into account the invisibility and silencing of the maternal voice within the arts, it is somehow no surprise that Sean O’Hagan’s review of the exhibition for The Guardian conveniently ignores that which is so often marginalised, and concentrates solely on the work of one of the two male artists in the exhibition, Leigh Ledare. Here is an artist, whose mother is so untypical as to verge on the monstrous, eternally damaging maternal figure, a mother conveniently fitting, albeit in an extreme and shocking form, the extenuated cliché of Madonna-whore complex.

The other pieces in the show include four artists whose work can be said to successfully articulate maternal subjectivity. Ana Casas Broda, whose extensive body of work, Kinderwunsch, is represented in a large overwhelming photographic grid comprising images in which Casas Broda figures, collaborating with her children to create scenes in which the maternal body is surrendered. Using lighting which clearly identify the images as constructed dramatic performances, Broda’s presence is put forward as passive and thus shaped, molded, decorated and in turn transformed through the children’s activity. It speaks volumes of the inevitable requirement of the mother to relinquish her self, in sacrifice for the children, as the only way in which a creative practice can be continued and maintained.

Elinor Carucci, known for her intimate and highly personal photographs, presents audiences with genuine family interactions staged for the camera to form a continuation of her practice of using family and private life as material for her art work from when she became pregnant and then a mother to twins in 2004. The works on show as part of Home Truth exhibition are a small selection of beautifully produced painterly prints that flirt with and challenge traditional maternal representations. Starting with a grotesque post-birth body, distorted, violated and bruised and following on with a photograph of Carucci in the bath with her struggling son trying to control and persuade him to bathe, the ideal of calm and serene motherhood is undermined. Using her signature spotlight aesthetic, which in the context of her ‘Mother’ series can also be thought to suggest the isolation experienced by mothers, through sleepless nights, with a crying child, in struggling with unreasonable behaviours (such as refusing to have a bath) Carucci’s maternal is made of extremes, tenderness, beauty and awe - coupled with a healthy and realistic helping of the abject.

Katy Murray’s performance video piece Gazelle hovers precisely between pleasure and pain. The pleasure of recognition of perceptive and humorous representation of the maternal condition and the pain in acknowledging the impossibility of the heroic attempts involved in maintaining an art practice while caring for young children. It is heroic and ridiculous, painful and impossible all at the same time, not the elegant and graceful ideal of ‘having it all’ but a sweaty, puffing and panting, trying to balance and struggling to keep up picture of contemporary motherhood.

Janine Antoni’s Inhabit, is presented as a large brightly coloured photograph, which also alludes to her performance taking place in her daughter’s bedroom. Evoking religious paintings, in which heavenly dwellers offer benevolent empathy to earthlings, and therefore suggesting links to the figure of the Madonna, Antoni’s mother does not float, but is instead harnessed and suspended by a web like structure in which her body is firmly held in balance, subjected to an identical pull from every direction. Surrounded by toys and children’s furniture, Antoni’s body is further encased in a fully furnished doll’s house within which a spider spins a web. In this condition, Antoni maintained the stillness required for the spider to successfully spin its web over a four-hour period. As such, the piece reflects on the emotional active passivity, an essential trait in mothering. Being a frame, a support, a scaffold, but without seeming too, enabling but pretending not to. Not so much ‘part of the furniture’ rather embedded in the very construction of the (doll’s) house. 

Bringing together these and other works under the umbrella of ‘motherhood and identity’ is in itself an important milestone, part of a post-feminist paradigmatic shift, and credit must be given to the show’s curator, Susan Bright, and by natural extension, The Photographers’ Gallery. Making explicit what it means to walk through the threshold and become a mother, Home Truths can be said to form part of a global process of change and, in the process, joins the confluence of the many small movements forming and developing, challenging and drawing attention to themselves and joining up to form a maternal voice.
Eti Wade

Portfolio reviews at The Photographers' Gallery, London

On Saturday 9 November our Editor-in-Chief, Tim Clark, will be taking part in a day of portfolio reviews at The Photographers' Gallery, London aimed at providing an opportunity for photographers and artists to receive advice from professionals who work in galleries and the magazine industry and are dedicated to contemporary photography. This is a rare opportunity to have your work looked at by editors and curators working in some of the top publications and spaces exhibiting photography in the UK.

Each photographer will receive two, twenty-minute back-to-back sessions, between 10.00 and 17.00, with one member of staff from The Photographers' Gallery and one external magazine editor.

A note from the organisers: The day is designed to support those wanting to develop their work for a magazine or exhibition context. We regret that we are unable to honour specific requests for reviewers or for specific times of day, and each individual may only book one place, which provides you with two reviews.

The reviewers are interested in seeing all types of photographic work, be it conventional or experimental.

The reviewers include:

Anne Bourgeois-Vignon, Creative Content Director, NOWNESS

Tim Clark, Director and Editor-in-Chief, 1000 Words Photography Magazine

Anna Dannemann, Exhibitions Assistant, The Photographers' Gallery

Eva Eicker, Exhibitions Assistant, The Photographers' Gallery

Clare Grafik, Head of Exhibitions, The Photographers' Gallery

Barry W. Hughes, Editor, SuperMassiveBlackHole

Karen McQuaid, Curator, The Photographers' Gallery

Poppy Shibamoto, Photography Director, MONOCLE

Reviewer Biographies:

Anne Bourgeois-Vignon commissions photography and film projects for print and web, both editorially and in the context of branded collaborations. Currently the Creative Content Director of NOWNESS, previously she has held roles as the Picture Director of Forward Publishing (London) and the Cultural Director of the photographers' agency INSTITUTE (New York). Her freelance photo editing work includes working for TIME Magazine and CondeNast Paris. She writes about photography and is developing a curatorial practice.

Tim Clark is the editor-in-chief and director of the contemporary photography online magazine 1000 Words. His writings have appeared in The Sunday Times, The Daily Telegraph, FOAM, Time Lightbox, The British Journal of Photography and Next Level amongst other publications as well as in exhibition catalogues. He also regularly organises workshops with high-profile photographers such as Antoine d’Agata, Anders Petersen, Erik Kessels, Roger Ballen and Jeffrey Silverthorne in various cities across the globe. He has judged a number of awards and competitions, and in 2011 joined the Academy of nominators for the Deutsche Börse Photography Prize. He has also been invited to review portfolios at The Saatchi Gallery, FORMAT International Photography Festival, Les Rencontres d’Arles, New York’s International Center of Photography Career Day and FotoFest Houston. Clark has previously held positions at galleries in both the public and private sector including Michael Hoppen Gallery, London.

Barry W. Hughes is a photographer, writer and publisher. His photography and video works have been published and exhibited internationally, including solo shows in Ireland, Germany and China. The founding editor/publisher of SuperMassiveBlackHole online photography magazine (SMBHmag), Hughes is a contributing writer to Hotshoe Magazine, and has curated exhibitions, reviewed portfolios and given talks for the likes of PhotoIreland Festival, Belfast Photo Festival, Belfast Exposed, Sirius Arts Centre and PhotoBook London.

Poppy Shibamoto is the Photography Director of Monocle magazine, the global publication founded in 2007 covering international affairs, business, culture, design, fashion and lifestyle.
Monocle believes in investing in quality journalism and generates original content, commissioning over 95% of its photography each month from photographers across the globe. Shibamoto commissions photography and produces shoots on a wide range of subjects: portraits, architecture, reportage, travel, still life and fashion. She is committed to working with photographers who are dedicated to story telling.

The Photographers' Gallery:

Anna Dannemann gained an MA in Art and Visual History at the Humboldt-University Berlin, and has worked on different exhibitions and publications including projects at The Museum of Everything;Green Cardamom, London; Martin-Gropius-Bau and KW, Berlin. Among other projects, she has organised the graduate showFreshFaced+WildEyed 2013 and is currently working on an exhibition of the photographic work of the acclaimed writer and cult figure William Burroughs.

Eva Eicker is a graduate of Ludwig-Maximilan University Munich, where she studied Cultural Anthropology and Goldsmiths College where she gained an MA in Photography and Urban Culture. She has worked on photography exhibitions and publications at C/O Berlin;Magnum Photos, London; Haus der Kunst, Munich; Hauser & Wirth, London and The Museum of Modern Art, New York City.

Clare Grafik has worked on solo exhibitions with artists and photographers including Keith Arnatt, Lise Sarfati, Antoine D'Agata, Katy Grannan, Zineb Sedira and Taryn Simon. Group shows include a vidéothèque with the Cinémathèque de Tanger, The Photographic Object and, most recently, Perspectives on Collage. She has written for various publications including IANN, Contemporary, Art on Paperand Art Monthly.

Karen McQuaid organised the talks and events programme from 2005 to 2008, and has worked on the exhibitions programme since 2008. Previous exhibitions include Vox Populi, London by Fiona Tan (2012); Open See by Jim Goldberg (2010) and an exhibition of studio work from the 50's and 60's by the Finnish photographer Claire Aho. Karen is currently working on an exhibition of the photographic work of the acclaimed writer and cult figure William Burroughs.

£75 for two reviews, booking essential. For more information click here.

Wednesday 2 October 2013

Stephen Shore - Behind the Mythology

"Sometimes an artist can have a greater sense of what they want in a more limited environment." So says Stephen Shore, a short documentary video by Heido Hartwig on whom we've decided to share here with you. In it he discusses how he came to photography, how he came to meet Andy Warhol and the importance of watching an artist make aesthetically based decisions at that stage in his life as well a glimpse at his new project shot in the Ukraine - highly charged photographers of Holocaust survivors and their surroundings.

Monday 30 September 2013

Happenstance Commission

Animate Projects and The Photographers’ Gallery, London have sent word of their call for proposals for an artist to make work for The Wall at the Photographers’ Gallery and online at Animate Projects.

Happenstance is a fantastic commissioning opportunity that brings together the UK’s leading organisations for two popular, related visual artforms – photography and animation. The historical relationship between photography and animation (Eadweard Muybridge) and the tensions between still and moving are now encoded into DSLR cameras (capable of higher frame rates than traditional DV cameras). In everyday life, screen technologies have already altered the ways in which the visual image is made present and play a significant role in mediating public life. These are some of the considerations that we hope to explore in contextualising the project and exploring ideas of digital production and spectatorship.

The Photographers’ Gallery was the first independent gallery in the UK devoted to photography and has been instrumental in establishing photography’s important role in culture and society. It is the UK’s primary venue for photography with a mission to support a varied and distinctive engagement with the artform.

Animate Projects champions experimental animation, supporting artists to experiment and take risks, and working across the contemporary visual arts, animation, film and design, and where those practices intersect. Animate Projects has pioneered the exhibition of artists’ moving image through online and digital platforms. is a unique resource, presenting experimental animation and a wealth of related material, in a curated context.

Happenstance builds on the synergies between the two artforms and both organisations’ curiosities about how people interact with public screens and digital images. The Wall is a 2.7 x 3m video wall in the foyer of The Photographers’ Gallery, visible to everyone visiting the building and passing by. For the Gallery, The Wall forms part of a collaborative research programme exploring issues concerning the digital image, its dissemination and display on-screen.

A particular aspect of The Wall is its specific context within a photography gallery and we want the project to further critical debate around medium specificity, digital culture, and the relationship of photography to 'animation' in ‘on-screen’ contemporary visual culture.


The commission is open to UK-based artists working in photography and moving image. Our priority is to commission work that responds to the public and online contexts in which the work will be situated, and which explore photographic and animated moving image practice in inventive and interesting ways.

Please see below for technical information about The Wall. Advice, support and assistance will be provided to the commissioned artist.

The organisers also state that they are open to discussion as to what the online presentation of the project will comprise, eg a single channel version of the work, or a series of tests or other material. Online, the project will be presented on its own page (for example, here).

For exhibition at The Photographers’ Gallery the work will be silent, but the online version can be silent or with sound.

£5,000 is being offered, to include all production, clearances and delivery costs and an artist’s fee. We will require commissioned artists to provide production materials (eg sketches, tests) and to undertake an interview for online, a digital image for a limited edition print, and to take part in a panel discussion.

They will contract the selected artist by the end of October 2013, and the completed work must be delivered by 17 December 2013. The work will be exhibited at The Photographers’ Gallery from 17 January 2014 for approximately 10 weeks.


To submit a proposal, please send the following (as Word docs or PDFs):

-a one page CV
-a short statement about your practice and a brief outline of your interest in, and approach to, the commission (not more than one side A4)
-a proposal (not more than one side A4)
-any additional visual material
-any links to previous work or information about your work

In your proposal, please tell us your idea, and give us a clear indication of work you’re proposing to make, including visual style and technique, and provide any key production information eg collaborators, other assistance, etc.

The deadline for submissions is 10.00 on Fri 11 October 2013.

Email your submission to

Please note that we may invite shortlisted artists to discuss their project on 21 October (in person or by Skype).

The selection will be made by Katrina Sluis (Curator, Digital Programme, The Photographers’ Gallery) and Gary Thomas (Director, Animate Projects).

People will be informed of the decision by 25 October 2013. Please note that the organisers are unable to offer feedback on unsuccessful proposals. If you have any questions please email


The Wall sits in the ground floor of the gallery above the stairwell, and operates 08.00 – 21.00 each day, and is visible to passersby on Ramillies Street.

It is a 2.7 x 3m video wall consisting of 2 x 4 rows of 60” Sharp PN-V602 LED, with the screens in portrait format mounted into an aperture so it is flush with the wall.

Each screen has a resolution of 1366 (h) x 768 (w) pixels.

The Wall in total is 2732 pixels (h) x 3072 pixels (w).

The screens have incredibly matte rich blacks and are high brightness so (with the correct settings) colour can become highly saturated and intense.

There is a possibility that subtle greyscale images will have more density and increased contrast, so please keep this in mind.

The backend is a single PC with a single video card with multiple outputs for the wall. The programming/control of exhibitions is via SCALA digital signage software.

Single channel/Multichannel

We can accept video either as a single 2732 x 3072 file, or can accept multiple files which can be arranged across the entire 2732 x 3072 px canvas using SCALA.

Please note that The Wall has lines or bezels visible between the screens which one should be aware of (particularly with text).

Wednesday 25 September 2013

1000 Words Photography Magazine #16

We are delighted to announce that issue 16 of our online magazine is now live. To view it, please go to:

To kick off this Autumn edition we meet young, German photographer Sara-Lena Maeirhofer. Speaking here to Natasha Christia, she discusses Dear Clark, a Portrait of a Con Man, a fascinating project that uses photography to explore the possibilities of fiction in its narration of real-life imposter Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter, who called himself Clark Rockefeller, having developed an identity as a scion of the wealthy family.

Photography critic Gerry Badger reviews Lieko Shiga’s gloomy yet poetic photobook, SPIRAL COAST/album, shot in the Kitakama region of Japan, the area badly hit by the earthquake and tsunami of 2011.

Michael Grieve brings us an a essay on the latest photobook by British photographer Vanessa Winship, she dances on Jackson, records of her road trip across the US produced during a time of grieving.

Brad Feuerhelm takes a look at the recently released title from Morel Books, Still Lifes, Portraits & Parts by Daniel Gordon, imperfect paper constructions that spring from the fractures between photography, sculpture and painting.

James McArdle deconstructs the Photoworks publication, Memory of Fire: Images of War and The War of Images, edited by Julian Stallabrass, a timely assessment of the urgent issues relating to imaging war, the changing role of documentary photography and the enforced agenda of media networking that invariably invokes amnesia.

Swedish photographer Martin Bogren is profiled in our sixth and final feature, with a particular focus on Tractor Boys, which documents a strange ritual-mating dance wherein youngsters meet up in rural areas of Sweden to race their ‘tractorcars’, burning tyre marks into the asphalt. An essay accompanies the portfolio here from the legendary Christian Caujolle, republished with the kind permission of Dewi Lewis.

Over in our dedicated Books section, Sean Stoker leafs through Pedro Costa’s Casa de Lava, a scrapbook filled with ephemera following the Portuguese filmmaker’s trip to Cape Verde in 1992; Brad Feuerhelm gets vertigo as he stares down at Eric Stephanian’s devastating but beautiful Lucas, a self-published zine comprising one single photograph of the photographer’s son, taken on the only opportunity he was given to meet him; while Oliver Whitehead considers the more clinical but nonetheless intriguing new book from Clare Strand entitled Skirts.

As always, we are very grateful to the many photographers and writers involved in this magazine project and would like to express a special word of thanks to Sean Stoker for his editorial assistance.

Wednesday 11 September 2013

Joachim Schmid: X Marks the Spot

All images © Joachim Schmid

Joachim Schmid introduces his latest project, X Marks the Spot - a thought-provking meditation on a key moment in the US's history and the role photography and surveillance plays in memorialising it through the prism of digital culture.

Dallas, Texas, Dealey Plaza. The site where John F. Kennedy was assassinated is a major tourist magnet. White X's on the pavement mark the spots where the president was fatally shot – in the middle of a freeway on-ramp. Visitors often wait for a gap in traffic, hurry to one of the X's, get their photos taken and leave the road before the next cars arrive. Some of those photos end up in online photo sharing sites such as Flickr, with captions along these lines: “I don’t know why I felt the need to stand by the X but judging from everyone else, it would appear to be the thing to do.”

A webcam is positioned in a window on the sixth floor of the former Texas School Book Depository, the site where, on November 22, 1963, an assassin allegedly fired the shots that killed Kennedy as the presidential motorcade passed through Dealey Plaza. The camera’s perspective exactly matches that of the assassin: it now shoots the tourists shooting their own memorial photos, and we can watch this in real time.

My new book X Marks the Spot combines snapshots taken by tourists at Dealey Plaza with footage from the webcam.
Joachim Schmid


Monday 19 August 2013

Archisle: The Jersey Contemporary Photography Programme

Archisle: The Jersey Contemporary Photography Programme, hosted by the Société Jersiaise (Jersey Society) in the British Channel Island of Jersey promotes contemporary photography through an ongoing programme of exhibitions, education and commissions. The Archisle project connects photographic archives, contemporary practice and experiences of island cultures and geographies through the development of a space for creative discourse between Jersey and international practitioners.

Archisle is currently inviting applications for the position of Photographer in Residence 2014. This is an exciting post in its second year commencing in March/April for a period of six calendar months through to August/September 2014. The residency provides the following key benefits and opportunities:

- £10,000 bursary for the commission/production of a body of work and solo exhibition
- Studio space with access to inkjet printing and office/internet resources
- Living accommodation and stipend
- Travel costs

A key focus of the Archisle project is to engage the residency programme with Jersey culture and community through audience and participatory involvement. In addition to the production and solo exhibition of new work responding to the cultural context of the island of Jersey, the resident will be contracted to teach photography one day per week (or equivalent) over the six month duration of the project. This teaching will be delivered in a workshop format to a range of educational and community groups. Applications are therefore encouraged from practitioners possessing the desire, enthusiasm and a proven ability to impart technical skills and develop critical understanding of contemporary photography across a diverse range of participants.

Applicants are requested to submit:

- Examples of recent work (min 10/max 20 images)
- Statement describing current practice
- Statement of objectives for the residency including an outline commission/exhibition proposal
- A current CV including details of past exhibitions/publications
- An estimate of travel costs to Jersey

Applications may be made by post or email to:

Archisle Photographer in Residence Programme 2014
Société Jersiaise
7 Pier Road
St Helier
Jersey, Channel Islands


For email applications total file size must be no larger than 5 MB.
Any enquiries/questions about the residency should be sent to the above email address.

CLOSING DATE: 10 September 2013.

Websites: and

Monday 5 August 2013

Joan Fontcuberta Live at Fotofestiwal 2013

For those who couldn't make it to Łódź, the team behind Fotofestiwal 2013 has released this video featuring legendary photographer, writer and curator Joan Fontcuberta, in which he discusses the programme's main exhibition, I ARTIST: Transcendent Amateur. Fontcuberta also muses on the central questions that are crucial to the festival as a whole: Where do all the images on the Internet come from? Who creates them? What is the role of an artist-photographer in the modern world, and what is the role of an amateur photographer? Is there any difference between these two?

Monday 29 July 2013

Wolfgang Tillmans @Les Rencontres d'Arles, 2013

All images © Wolfgang Tillmans

Following the yearly sojourn to Arles, 1000 Words Associate editor Brad Feuerhelm reports back from the 44th edition of the pioneering photography festival with his thoughts on the headline show: Neue Welt by Wolfgang Tillmans.

You could potentially misinterpret Wolfgang Tillmans’ Neue Welt exhibition at Les Rencontres d’Arles 2013 edition as a dispassionate foray into servile production values and commercialised aesthetics. With its general over-scaling, ready to impress a commodity driven art market, you could also be easily forgiven.

But that would be to overlook the qualities of this diaristic voyager of unnoticed contemporary sublimities - of photography, technology, and also of hyper-consumption.Tillmans work bristles with what Warhol Factory guru Gerard Malanga’s associated as explicit Scopophilia; the love of looking.

Clearly, the phenomenon of enforced sexuality and of the eroticised mundane is very much on display here in an exhibition that emits distinct flourishes of chromophilia. Sometimes, this is enmeshed in banal observations of car headlights, which Tillman’s enthusiastically photographs over and over. In other instances, one can replace the anxiety over the noirish branding (which exists in frame without any real reference to the make of car) to that of over-analytical paradoxes and modes of intellectual over-compensation. Thus, it becomes a tragic display of inept consumerism with a sexy commerciality, which culminates in an unnerving dead end to our insistence of rapidity and the sense of false desire photography so powerfully enables. The headlights themselves are also a crude metaphor for branded technological verisimilitude. Between the lens and the convex forms inherent in headlight design, we find a reflexive nod to the history of automobile and camera lens alike.

It is also worthy mentioning the fact that Tillmans’ exhibition is of epic size. This, combined with the grandiose scale of the prints, pitch congress with the eye near to the point of exhaustion, but somehow always manage to reel us back in. On this note, it should be observed that most of the exhibition is hung in a tighter line than is usually associated with Tillmans’ notoriously chaotic methods of display. The pleasure of the line is occasionally interrupted delicately throughout by varying print size, the first of which being the image of the fly resting on a lobster. With its mountains of pink, fleshy debris playing host to a breeding ground for further desires and maggots concurrently, it’s difficult not to read it as a nod to a hyper consuming society and the beautiful decay it produces.

The overall feeling is that of a nagging reminder of our communally myopic insight into the sublimity of our excessive existence. Neue Welt delivers a penchant for newly discovered dystopias and the revelations associated with decimated human endeavour, the white walls berating a tunnel vision of purity and respect for works which ultimately comment on the disease that our contemporary first world lifestyles need for product enforcement and so on. This is tantamount to the power of Tillmans, and his innate ability to observe, absorb and finally to reevaluate and redirect inward in an age of rampant consumption and derogatory practice of an ecological and metaphoric scale.

Typically, Tillman’s offers no answers, cares little for your reception, and is quite content to be self-involved with his internal vision and desires of display. That it is oblique or self-referential is immaterial when the work pays homage to the patterns of subjective understanding and human perception. A potential misunderstanding suggests a greater measure of the problems we are facing. We expect too much and reflect too little.
Brad Feuerhelm

Unseen Photo Fair 2013

In anticipation of its second year, Unseen Photo Fair (26-29 September 2013) has announced a programme of talks and films. Expanding on the fair’s emphasis on undiscovered talent and trends, Unseen 2013 addresses 'the abundance of images in today’s world and how photography and photographers are coming to terms with an environment that is both new and unsettled.'

The programme features the launch of Foam Magazine's Talent Issue (featuring a contribution from our Editor-in-chief Tim Clark) which, in addition to the exhibition, will include a day of debates and talks including critic, curator and Conscientious founder and editor, Jörg Colberg; 2013 Deutsche Börse Photography Prize nominee, Cristina de Middel; Foam Paul Huf Award winners, Onorato & Krebs and the 2013 Talents themselves.

Following that, experts such as The Sunday Times Magazine picture editor, Monica Allende; writer and researcher, David Campbell; professor and visual culture theorist, Nicholas Mirzoeff and entrepreneur and co-founder of, Nalden, will discuss these issues, raising questions such as, 'How can we edit the world?' In addition, Dutch photographers such as Rob Hornstra, Jaap Scheeren, Ruth van Beek and Jan Hoek will present their latest work at the Unseen Theatre.

Also featured in the programme is a series of talks that focus on the globalisation of the art world, looking at the evolution of work produced by artists from Asia, Africa and The Middle East. These talks complement Unseen Cinema 2013, a selection of special screenings of rare films and talks by a number of the filmmakers.

Unseen’s General Manager, Sasha Stone, summed up the ethos of the programme, saying:

"With photography at its core, Unseen encourages the exchange of ideas, dialogue and artistic expression. Visitors will immerse themselves in a word full of new experiences, adventures, and insights. Our programme highlights the integral role photography plays within all cultures and all areas of life. I am delighted that Unseen is presenting such a varied and forward-looking programme. We hope you will enjoy Unseen 2013.”

1000 Words certainly will. We hope to see you there!

Wednesday 10 July 2013

Special book giveaway! Thomas Sauvin: Beijing Silvermine

To celebrate an increase in readership (1000 Words attracted its highest levels of traffic during both May and June 2013) we are delighted to announce a very special giveaway, courtesy of the Archive of Modern Conflict.

Our cover artist from issue 15, Thomas Sauvin, has generously agreed to make one set of his five photo albums from the critically acclaimed Beijing Silvermine series available for the competition. Each album contains 20 prints, 11 x 7.7cm, and is published in a limited edition of 200 copies.

To enter, simply hit 'Like' on our Facebook post or use the RT function on the 1000 Words Twitter account. The winner will be selected at random and notified on 1 August.

It's retail price is currently set at £84.00 though this is sure to increase as the edition gradually approaches its last remaining few copies. Below is the blurb for the book:

The negatives were salvaged from a recycling plant on the edge of Beijing, where they had been sent to be filtered for their silver nitrate content. Between 2009 and 2013, Thomas Sauvin amassed, archived and edited more than half a million negatives destined for destruction. The Silvermine albums offer a unique photographic portrait of the Chinese capital and the lives of its inhabitants covering a period of 20 years – from 1985, when silver film came into widespread use in China, to 2005 when digital photography came to the fore. In these souvenir snapshots taken by anonymous and ordinary Chinese people, we are witnessing the birth of post-socialist China.

Each album focuses on a different theme:

-Blue album: TVs and Fridges
-Green album: One and Two
-Orange album: Marilyn and Ronald
-Pink album: Party and Transvestites
-Yellow album: Leisure and Work

We'll leave you with this video that has been doing rounds on the internet but nevertheless offers great insight into the mind of these ingenious collector and the circumstances surrounding the project. Good luck, dear readers!

Beijing Silvermine - Thomas Sauvin from Emiland Guillerme on Vimeo.

Monday 1 July 2013

David Moore: Pictures From The Real World

Ahead of his book signing at Les Rencontres d’Arles (13:00 5 July, Le Bal bookshop stand, The CLUB), 1000 Words Deputy Editor Michael Grieve speaks to David Moore about his most recent publication Pictures From The Real World - a collaborative project between Here Press and Dewi Lewis - that focuses on families on a housing estate in the photographer’s home town of Derby, UK, made between 1987 and 1988.

Michael Grieve: Pictures from the Real World are photographs that were taken between 1987 and 1988. After all these years how did the book come to be published now?

David Moore: The collector, James Hyman bought many of the archive prints from 1988 in 2011. That resurrected the Project. It was almost 25 years, and it felt right. I had no idea that the work would be so popular as they are part of my own history and therefore have been ever present, for long periods away in boxes, and dormant, but nevertheless always around in my head.

I scanned old negatives, worked on an edit on the Mac and put together a PDF that I then transferred to Kindle on my iPhone. I was in Manchester judging a competition with Dewi [Lewis] and showed him and Caroline the work on the phone initially, and we went from there. The work was a collaboration between Dewi Lewis and Here Press in London, where I am based, and it seems that that arrangement worked very well and the book has been very well-received at all levels.

MG: During this time you were a student at Farnham and your tutors included Martin Parr and Paul Graham, innovators of the new colour documentary photography attitude in the UK. How did they help shape and inform your practice? Who else influenced your approach?

DM: I like the description of it as an ‘attitude’. Paul and Martin were around as tutors and obviously influenced what I did as did other students from that time and place that is already well documented. Of the two, Paul Graham was more of an influence in that I had managed to see a copy of A1 as soon as it he self-published it in 1983. I found it in the Derby College of HE library. This was pre- Farnham….. I started working in colour transparency soon after, alongside more conventional black and white work. This was very exciting, and a personal ‘discovery’.

MG: You must have been very aware of ‘stereotypical’ representations of the working classes. Social documentary photography had previously tended to depict the working classes with pride, as somehow heroic and stoic. They knew their place with a fixed identity. Or representations showed abject misery. Your images reveal a sense of fragmentation and uncertainty. How conscious were you of these differences and what decisions did you make to convey a form of representation that did not objectify and victimise?

DM: The original edit of the work was a little harder than the current one. In revising the work I have also been able to see other photographs that I was mature enough to make, but not confident enough to bring forward to an edit. This could have been for several reasons. There was a momentum at the time, particularly at Farnham, around the new color. It was very competitive as well, and sometimes subtleties were lost. The other aspect here is that whilst our ‘practice tutors’ included Martin Parr and Paul Graham, our ‘theory’ tutors were both graduates of Victor Burgin’s at PCL! And they came with an entirely different ideological agendas on the representational questions you are addressing, ideas that opposed and challenged the inherent modernism of ‘new colour’, forced mine and others’ practice through a Marxist grinder and made us aware of the power relations inherent in this sort of practice. For me this provided grist for what came later. Much of this I can see retrospectively, at the time it wasn’t an intellectualised space at all

The work was very much about the medium also. David Chandler refers to this in the fantastic essay he wrote for the book, I was trying things out, as an artist, being a bit wayward. I was conscious of the stereotypes but my intentions were to see how the medium could observe other things in the family dynamics, social relations not just what it looked like. I have never been interested in just what things look like, but of course, particularly now, with the exotica of recent history is what partially accounts for the works’ popularity.

But with Pictures From The Real World I feel that the work I am showing now, from then, has a real equilibrium to it. It is a blend of youthful energy and psychological projections alongside an editor calming things down in a benevolent and almost fatherly way. I have advised and reassured my younger self of some small ability at least, and that, in spite of the Foucaultian shadows, there was no malicious intent. 

MG: To be a concerned photographer at this time was beginning to be perceived as condescending and naive. Ideological motivation was idealist, unrealistic and indulgent. Your photographs are certainly not sentimental. In a sense, they just show from a more subjective stance. But how do you reconcile this sense of being concerned, as obviously a prime motivation for this work is one of anger and injustice? Is it a frustration of not making a difference that is ingrained in Pictures From The Real World?

DM: Your agenda, not mine. You make assumptions because of the ‘subject matter’…. Why is that?

There are still many people working as ‘concerned photographers’ right up to the present day. You have to explain the context of this to a younger audience I feel. Tom Stoddart is a concerned photographer who, by his own admission, has to resort to negative stereotypes to raise money to emancipate those his practice visually objectifies as victims, because that’s how it Works. Your assumption here is that because these people were poor and they appeared in pictures they needed help. I find that condescending and naive!

Being ‘concerned’ wasn’t the main motivator at all, I found myself here because the estate was close to where I lived. I was walking around as one does (or one used to do) taking pictures and one day I thought to knock on doors and push it a bit. One of the other books I had just discovered was Larry Fink’s Social Graces and I loved his documentation of the blue collar Pennsylvanian family life in that.

I never saw the work as ‘concerned’ practice. Nor had any faith in photography to change anything societally, with a few exceptions of course. I hated The Tories and what they had done but there was no way I would intentionally use these people as metaphors for my political beliefs in this manner. Looking back its hard not to see anything else perhaps: the beginnings of the emergent underclass maybe but I didn’t think this at the time. It was all quite familiar to me, it became a normal. 

MG: The decade of Thatcher was an increasingly complex one politically, economically and culturally for issues relating to identity and class division. Your work reveals a historical moment of displacement from working class to a new under class denied access to the labour market just as the consumer society began. In hindsight do you think your condensed story adequately signifies this juncture?

DM: I don’t see this as a ‘story’, that fits, oh so neatly, into an editorial context. There is no ending…. I am not trying to control a narrative, or offer anything that is significantly linear; that belittles what I was trying to do. I see it as a record of a particular time and place, of me then, and, though it might sound grandiose, of British documentary practice at a particular time. BUT, conversely, later I did offer it to the Sunday newspapers as I recognised then that one of the medium’s great strengths was its elasticity. But, at this time, in the end, nobody wanted to use the photographs in an editorial context.

MG: Children feature in many of your photographs. Why is this?

DM: There were always lots of kids around.

MG: The formal elements in your work edges on the dissonant. Wholeness gives way to the confusion of human form colliding with the domestic interior of patterned carpets and non-generic furniture. The photographs are direct and blunt, and you work well within your limitations of space. In the actuality of photographing how difficult was it for you to make visual sense while adhering to a 'freed up' aesthetic?

DM: Good question. A very good friend of mine, an illustrator, asked me about my composition and I honestly couldn’t answer. I never think about it. I just know when it balances. It is intuitive, working like this ‘at speed’ as David Chandler says seeking recognition… I honestly think I can remember actually taking every picture, actually standing there and pressing the button. To go too far into this sort of stuff leads you towards cul-de-sacs of the uncanny! But also as a colourist, the same applies. I can see in retrospect, clear plots emerging that I cannot remember thinking about at the time.

MG: How did the families react to your interest in them? Did you find that there was a sense of complicity or did you always feel like an ‘outsider on the inside’?

DM: I was always an outsider in reality. In the interests of rigorous exploration practice, I did work with some families on a series of staged works that were introduced by me, but collaborative. It made one or two successful photographs, but the ‘momentum’ I touched on earlier won out in terms of which work became public. But it was foreign space to me initially and whilst we all got on, there was only a partial social reconciliation between myself and the people I worked with.

MG: In the mid 80's the new colour documentary photographers started to move towards different, more conceptual ways of representations. How did you feel about this and after Pictures From The Real World did you follow this trend? If so, with what projects?

DM: My work developed in obverse ways. In my next project, The Velvet Arena, which was my first solo show in London at The Photographers’ Gallery in 1994, I continued the ideas of working in defined spaces, attempting to observe undercurrents of communication and dynamics of societal relationships in another foreign space of the private view and society party in London. It was a way of me being able to engage with the city and work in different spaces, with very different sorts of people. The work changed from here and developed into a more directly politicised practice, engagement and observation of The State via, my books The Commons, 2004, and The Last Things, 2008, and the series 28days (unpublished, but exhibited at The Bluecoat, Liverpool in 2011). It is not difficult to follow the thread from Pictures From The Real World to the later work; turning around the camera 180 degrees, observing physical centres of institutional power, rather than what might be seen as spectacular symptoms of the underclass in the other, there is an obvious connection. 

MG: What do you think the legacy of Pictures from the Real World is? And as a counter point how do you understand and feel about contemporary documentary practice?

DM: On a personal level it’s made me want to photograph people again. Contemporary documentary practice is still an exciting place to be if photographers are willing to experiment with, rather than accept, realist paradigms, and work in challenging and appropriate ways that may borrow from fine art practice as equally as photographic histories.

In the last 15 years or so students have shied away from representing people, it has understood as a potentially problematic area and this has proliferated a conservatism, a sort of sedentary engagement, that challenges nothing and is easily commodifiable. This I find dull and lazy.

There is still more work to be done around representation, around issues being communicated, and in doing so space for the actual modernity of the medium to be challenged as well, i.e; the work can also progress what the medium can be, at the same time crucially maintaining links with history, culture and society, and that work might now be made with, rather than about people.