Monday 21 January 2013

FORMAT 13 Portfolio Reviews

We've just heard that places for the FORMAT 13 Portfolio Reviews are selling like hot cakes so act fast, photographers, if you are planning to sign up for them.

1000 Words Editor in chief, Tim Clark, is just one of 45 professionals from the world of photography who will be conducting reviews. This is the most ambitious Portfolio Review FORMAT will ever have hosted and currently the biggest International Portfolio Review in the country with reviewers hailing from a total of 15 countries across the globe. They include Laura Noble, Erik Kessels, Markus Schaden, Peggy Sue Amison, Dewi Lewis and Sheyi Bankale to name but a few. Do not miss out on having your work reviewed by some of the biggest names working in photography. Places are limited, so book your place now to avoid disappointment! Great discounts and prizes also available for those who book.

The Portfolio Reviews are aimed at professional photographers with a developed and serious approach to their work. Recent graduates and non-professionals are welcome. Please contact Sebah Chaudhry at for any queries.

This year, the FORMAT team has devised a new booking system so that reviews can be booked online. This system allows you to choose your own reviews and reviewers. It is a first come first served basis. You can view and select the slots you want. 

It is advise you look through the reviewers and make a list of at least 10 that you would like to see, in the order you would like to see them so that you are prepared when you book.

Cost : £195 (No concessionary rates and no refunds).

This includes:

-5 reviews, 20 minutes each between 9.30am – 3.45pm on Saturday 9 March 2013.
-A place in the ‘Portfolio Factory’ which will take place after the Reviews (approx 4.30pm – 6pm tbc). Photographers set up their work on a table and the Public, Reviewers and VIP Guests are invited to walk around, talk to you and view your work. The Portfolio Factory is not compulsory, but it is advised you do consider taking part.  

FORMAT have also teamed up with numerous photography specialists around the world to offer these exclusive discounts for photographers who have booked:

-20% off all printing/mounting/framing at Genesis Imaging.
-Discount at Johnsons Photopia Ltd – Billingham bags and other items available (this list will be sent to you after you register)
-25% discount on all rental equipment at The Flash Centre in Birmingham and London stores. Other deals on lighting available on an individual basis, depending on requirements.
-30% off subscriptions to Ojodepez magazine.

Monday 14 January 2013

Recollections of Gigi Giannuzzi, my publisher

© Cristina Vatielli

Robin Maddock remembers a dear friend and publisher who is no longer with us, Gigi Giannuzzi.

The feeling with Gigi is that you didn’t so much meet him at a precise moment, as hear his voice across a room, or in the summer air at a festival. He would have probably been shouting at someone with his own kind of overblown Italian mock-exasperation, right in their face. You might have seen him glide by on wheeled-heeled trainers, resplendent in a sarong. You might have known him as the only reveller to dip in the pool at the Forum spaghetti party at Les Rencontres d’Arles, when some punk photographer pulled his wet boxers down in front of the global photo community. But really you should know him principally through his incredible list of books, brought out against all the odds and whims of fashion over the last ten years.

But of course I can remember meeting him, working Metro lab’s front desk in July 2003. Just like his books, you didn’t forget him. I knew Open Wound by Stanley Greene, Zona by Carl de Keyzer, Agent Orange by Philip Jones Griffiths, books that are so strong, clearly born of a special collaborative alchemy. So I knew who he was, when he walked in brimming with champagne, happiness and pride. He had just spent the afternoon with Oscar Niemeyer at the Serpentine Pavilion, the catalogue of which he just published. I tried to show him my pictures on rockabillies, which turned his face sour - those right wing red necks just weren’t his thing. Once you understood that flashy design, beauty and especially marketability were secondary to the importance of the social issues, you had a chance of him listening. Those other characteristics could and would follow in his work when felt it right to give them free reign.

My own evening of full initiation into Trolley’s extended family began with a late night opening at the Reina Sofia Museum in Madrid during PHotoEspaña. After being very forcibly made to kiss Christian Cajoule in front of Guernica, we promptly got thrown out from the newly opened Frank Cappa’s ‘Mexican Suitcase’ room for prostrating ourselves on the floor in melodramatic fevered adulation. Before long he was behind the bar of the most classic cocktail bar in Madrid, demanding they make up a cocktail called a Gigi. He appeared grinning with a green thing which was held aloft for a cheer and promptly threw himself down a flight of stairs just to make us laugh. What an exit! I missed a very important meeting with a woman from the museum the next morning, but it was worth it.

Gigi took a characteristic punt on my first book Our Kids are Going To Hell as he always ignored the logical economics of putting books out. Whereas other publishers had scratched their heads, gone over it and said things like "I can’t see a European market for this" etc, whereas they were negative and basically lacking any guts or vision, he just said it "looks a lot better, why don’t we do something". In our line of work we only very rarely meet someone who feels similarly about a topic with whom agreement can become a method to address it. Working on ‘Our Kids’ with him was the beginning of my photography life proper.

In August 2009, after being sent away a few times for arriving before noon, we laid out the mini prints to consider on a table at Trolley's former office in Redchurch Street, east London. It seemed we edited and sequenced it in half an hour. It took much longer of course but that is testimony to the intuitive way we worked. It was the first time I had input from someone who could actively make my work better, pictures becoming a book. There were narrative moves that I couldn’t go with knowing the back-stories, but others that he made that were akin to killer chess moves. Those we kept. In the end we hugged, it felt to me as though we had fixed something of which we would proud.

The climate devised by him was often attritional and combative. The artist Paul Fryer who did an early Trolley book with Damien Hirst, recently described the group as a "satanic creche". Gigi often found a form of attack was the only way to deal with the egos of photographers. His idea was that if people couldn’t handle it then they weren’t worth it. He was undoubtedly a difficult, complex man at times. We nearly came to blows in a back street in Venice once, only because he thought I didn’t trust him. "No logo, no logo" he was shouting. There’s footage somewhere of him, after the storm, beating me up with a rose that was my peace offering.

His ‘no bullshit’ stance on things cut to the chase. My second book God Forgotten Face could have been a mess without him being brutal with me. When I came to London to show the work in early 2010 I thought I was finally done. He told me, "It looks like you’ve just started". I went back quite confused and upset to Plymouth, but after a few days I knew he was right. Hannah Watson, his business partner, had to say to me, "He said it because he thinks you can take it..." That changed the work. He pushed me to do a more original book. Sometimes we can’t see our own pictures for what they are. We get clouded with the knowledge of the event and importantly, our egos. We need editors we can trust, who bring something to the table. He used to say "everyone do their job", he knew what his was.

He was a bit calmer with the gallery artists he worked with. He loved them as people, possibly because he was a form of artist himself. Interestingly, he saw very little grey area between art for the gallery and the photography he worked with. There was no hinterland of photography trying too hard to be art at Trolley. He said to me once, “You’re about as arty as I go", but it was him who always reined me back from being overly self-indulgent.

The first time when we were on press in Italy in 2009, we had discussed paper stock during the morning and found a good match. Over a typically good prosecco-fuelled lunch I noticed him thumbing the stock sample he had brought to the restaurant. I realised this was a publisher still in love with making photo-books after all these years. That’s of course what we all want, what we will continue to need. Gigi was a highly principled man but rarely for the ‘politicised’ he had vision, tons of flair, integrity and great bravery. He used these qualities to work our piles of pictures into books that contained life in an honest way.

So naturally I will miss him enormously as an editor and publisher, but at present many people are feeling the loss of a simply irreplaceable friend. He affected a lot of careers, but it’s the great laughs we’ll miss the most. I think of him at one of Maya Hoffman’s incredible chateau parties in Arles. He had collected all the VIP tickets from the floor and was throwing them over the wall so all of us could get in. He always found a way and it seems like yesterday.
Robin Maddock

The show ‘Trolleyology’, a survey of the ten years of publishing at Trolley opens on 18 January. The private view will be held on the evening of the 17th at the London Newcastle space on 28 Redchurch Street, London. An accompanying book of the same name is due in the Spring. Trolley Publishing and TJ Boulting continue under his business partner Hannah Watson at 59 Riding House Street, London.

Monday 7 January 2013

Deutsche Börse Photography Prize 2013

Brad Feuerhelm takes a close look at the recently announced shortlist for this year’s Deutsche Börse Photography Prize and discovers a bold effort to conceive an ontology of photographic practice.

It’s the time of year when many voices whine in unison over the shortlisted artists for the Deutsche Börse Photography Prize. As an award worth £30,000 and a whole new set of paradigms for representations, further projects, and gallery deals (if not already achieved) up for grabs its contentious nature is plain to see.

Yet the four contenders on 2013’s shortlist should offer naysayers much less to moan about compared to previous years if one takes into consideration the fact that the award has shifted its parameters to really encompass the diversity of photographic output that exists today.

As a side note, I had portfolio reviews in Vienna this November and to my own ironic chagrin, found that while encountering reviewees, my first question was “photographer or artist?” as if it mattered. To the affirmative, most stumbled, but declared artist rather than photographer. Indeed the backsliding of photographers levelling themselves into the porous and vacuous suck and pull of the art chasm caused a chuckle every time. Let’s face it, we are ashamed to be photographers anymore, so is it any surprise we are moving forward to break rules, conceptualise, and regurgitate what came before us, all in haste of cogitating over its meaning?

Starting then with what I perceive to be the problematic nomination, Mishka Henner’s No Man’s Land would be a convincingly clever interpretation of lucid geography, technocracy (albeit with lightweight theoretical drive) if I had not seen very similar modes of dissemination before. Not only is it derivative but the project completes a vicious circle of unpleasant attitudes of human currency and a new attempt to denigrate women to that of commerce even further.

No Man’s Land, is an alleged pseudo-documentary project wherein the author has appropriated Google Earth images showing what can only be prostitutes selling their wares. The coordinates of the place of ‘shooting’ are often labelled on the page, so if you want go fornicate with women for money and add to their misery, Henner has given you the guide as to how to do so. Further, even if this was a fake project using Photoshop, for example, would the punch line be any different? No, it would be worse. And let’s not for a minute digress that the idea of prostitution in the work is the viewer’s implementation. Girls alongside the road in Spain or Italy dressed a certain way with a mattress next to them undoubtedly attest to this. It is not as interpretive as Henner may have us believe. Why have we chosen to champion a project and a career heavily nuanced by borrowed material and by material of aggregate and impolite societal discord?

What I propose in my malaise over the first entry discussed here is that perhaps we need to examine exactly what it is we are rewarding, over that of what photography is at present. There seems to be a wide chasm of indifference or intolerance when making accusations or distilling what can and can’t be photography. What we do not need to do is nominate something that rewards us with a surface glance, without the actual removal of photographic skin and tissue. Surely we should be focusing on meaning and less on outwardly dogmatic pursuits over what is and what is not photography? 

The next body of work, I would rather champion, is Cristina De Middel’s Afronauts book nomination. Just as we cannot complain that someone like Killip is too ‘old guard’ to receive the award, we cannot take away from De Middel’s superb self-published entry and first major body of work. It has incredible angles and depth throughout. From the biographic (Abuela Made The Costumes), to the outlandish movements of counter-fiction in post-colonial Africa, the book and work merits inclusion within this list. It is a refreshing and sincere project, and a novel one at that, not borrowed from somebody else’s idea bank. 

Elsewhere, artist duo Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin are my picks for their outstanding contributions to photographic literature with War Primer II. It is an intelligent meditation on media, war, conflict, modernist behaviour, and the re-examination of text in photography or vice versa. Though out of print and ridiculously expensive (i.e. elite to own one now), I nevertheless find the message undisturbed by their internal highbrow leanings. All bases are covered as per usual. Broomberg and Chanarin have really taken it up a notch with this dystopian commentary on the frailness of human emotion and the cyclical volumes of butchery and brutality that are often shelved when contemplated within the condition of being human. For my money, I feel this is the strongest and most deserving body of work. It is my hopes that between these two great artists and Cristina De Middel, that we will awake, re-evaluate and make the choice for integrity of photographic output over its incipit divisions. 

Finally, there is Chris Killip - an amazing photographer. To this sentiment, there is no doubt. We do not have to water him down with pretentious preening or art world credibility. He is a photographer and his works are exemplary. He is being nominated for his show at Le Bal in Paris entitled What Happened / Great Britain 1970-90, the work of which proposes to show Britain through the lens of the Thatcher years into the early 90’s. The notion of upheaval and difficult social and economic uncertainty make Killip’s work as a native a skillfully mastered set of documents chronicling the ailments of Britain’s post-industrial everything. If I were to challenge myself to stay semantically in line with the ‘photography award’, I would almost have to lean towards Killip or De Middel’s for their more traditional use of normative photography, within that of again also, photographic practice.

There is no profundity here to my own thoughts, simply a discourse that needs to be opened up when we award somebody something that is calculated to be derived that promotes a backsliding in what we nominate. We must also take it upon ourselves to really understand that the discourse of what we call photography now has its legions within ‘photographic practice’ and this understanding once reached will be a service to all. Sharpen the knife before digging into the plate.
Brad Feuerhelm