Thursday, February 26, 2015

Shelley Jacobson - landscape and more...


Shelley Jacobson - Geyser (on) #4, Wairakei, Surface Expressions, 2014

Shelley Jacobson is an Auckland based photographer whose practice deals with landscape and intervention. Her impressive body of work reveals a simplicity of approach and the presentation of the obvious, but there is always something else. Something unsettling.

Jacobson's latest body of work, Surface Expressions is a study of the Wairakei geothermal area in New Zealand's central North Island. It draws attention to the region’s unique natural features and to the human forces that have formed its current state.
Victorian-era Wairakei was a world renowned and exotic geothermal tourist destination. In the mid-twentieth century it was radically transformed by its conversion to a site for generating electricity. Through this intervention, the underlying geothermal system was irrevocably altered: the spectacular Geyser Valley was extinguished; the steaming craters of Karapiti were revealed. More recently, a man-made geyser has come to accompany the power station in this disrupted landscape.
The photographs in Surface Expressions offer a view of the land forms present at Wairakei today.

This series is supported by a publication which takes a wider view, incorporating found text dating from the late nineteenth century through to the present day. These newspaper clippings, advertising materials and Trip Advisor ratings speak in the vernacular of their respective times and frame social ideas and expectations of tourist attractions.

You can see more of Shelley Jacobson's work HERE.




Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Taryn Simon at Jeu De Paume, Paris


Taryn Simon - Financial Panics, The Picture Collection, 2013

Taryn Simon, Rear Views, A Star-forming Nebula, and the Office of Foreign Propaganda from 24 February 2015 until 17 May 2015 at Jeu De Paume.

Taryn Simon (b. 1975) has constructed an ambitious body of work that is the result of an invisible and rigorous process of research and investigation. Her works combine photography, text, and graphic design, in conceptual projects addressing the production and circulation of knowledge, and the politics of representation. Simon interrogates the power and structure of secrecy and the precarious nature of survival. 

The exhibition at the Jeu de Paume presents a collection of Simon’s works produced since 2000. Her earliest series, The Innocents, documents cases of wrongful conviction throughout the United States, calling into question photography’s function as a credible witness and arbiter of justice. She underscores photography’s ability to blur truth and fiction – an ambiguity that can have severe, even lethal, consquences. 

In An American Index of the Hidden and Unfamiliar, Simon compiles an inventory of what lies hidden and out-of-view within the borders of the United States. She examines a culture through documentation of subjects from domains including: science, government, medicine, entertainment, nature, security, and religion. In her own words, this work “confronts the divide between the privileged access of the few and the limited access of the public.” The objects, sites, and spaces assembled by the artist are integral to America’s foundation, mythology and daily functioning, but nonetheless inaccessible or unknown.

Contraband presents an inventory of items seized by American customs officials at John F. Kennedy International Airport, New York. Simon remained on site over a period of five days and four nights, continuously photographing and collecting data on 1,075 objects that were refused entry to the U.S. These images are classified in a manner reminiscent of an entomological collection: placed within Plexiglas cases, they represent an archive of global desires and perceived threats. 

A Living Man Declared Dead and Other Chapters was produced over a four-year period (2008-2011) during which Simon traveled around the world researching and recording bloodlines and their related stories. In each of the eighteen “chapters” comprising the work, legacies of territory, power, religion and circumstance collide with psychological and physical inheritance. The subjects documented by Simon include victims of genocide in Bosnia, test rabbits infected with a lethal disease in Australia, the first woman to hijack an aircraft, and the living dead in India. Her collection is at once cohesive and arbitrary, mapping relations of chance, blood, and other components of fate. 

The Picture Collection (2013) takes as its subject the New York Public Library’s picture archive, which contains 1.2 million prints, postcards, posters, and printed images. It is the largest circulating picture library in the world, organised according to a complex cataloguing system of over 12,000 subject headings. Since its inception in 1915, it has been an important resource for writers, historians, artists, filmmakers, fashion designers, and advertising agencies. Simon highlights the impulse to archive and organize visual information, and points to the invisible hands behind seemingly neutral systems of image gathering. Simon sees this extensive archive of images as a precursor to Internet search engines. 

Simon’s video works will also be on view. The first, Exploding Warhead (2007) shows a test of an MK-84 IM (Insensitive Munition) Warhead conducted at the Eglin Air Force Base Air Armament Center, in Florida. The Air Armament Center is responsible for the development, testing and deployment of all U.S. air-delivered weapons. This film was taken using a remote sequencer that detonated the warhead from a control bunker. The second, Cutaways (2012), is an absurdist video resulting from a Kafkaesque moment when Simon was being interviewed for Prime Time Russia, a show on the Moscow-based news channel Russia Today. The two presenters, sitting across from Simon, asked her to remain silent for several minutes and stare at them while the scene was filmed for cutaway editing material. The final video work presents Simon’s earliest film, The Innocents, in which she interviews the subjects of her photographs about the process of misidentification. 

Taryn Simon - Bird corpse, labeled as home décor, Indonesia to Miami, Florida (prohibited), 2010

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Grégoire Pujade-Lauraine A Perpetual Season

 

One of the stand-out books that I came across at the Melbourne Photobook Festival was Grégoire Pujade-Lauraine's elegant and beautifully realised work A Perpetual Season. The book presents an imagined city that we have all encountered, in fragments here and there.
It's seems a hostile place and its occupants appear to be in a dream. There is much to contemplate in this profound work.

A Perpetual Season lays a photographic trail through a dream-like city, offering glimpses into a network of spaces that loom as silent witnesses to some forgotten order. Recurring concrete shapes and perplexed human beings punctuate the journey with a faintly elegiac tone which conjures up an inverted Arcadia, illuminated by the hopes and visions of a bygone era. This is fertile ground for a series of unsettling encounters which act as cryptic symptoms of an ominous presence – a reversed staircase, an unreachable doorway, people frozen in precarious gestures, disturbed conversations.
This 'perpetual season' alludes to a self-contained pictorial space, and the naturalistic approach embedded in such photographic practice is a guise for the construction of a world that ultimately belies its own familiarity. The formal and thematic echoes running throughout the sequence can be viewed as transverse lines drawn within an apparent chaos, connecting discarded buildings with bewildered passers-by, decaying natural arrangements with enigmatic corridors. As each is seemingly doubled or reincarnated, they condense in this peculiar scope of light and space, like an ever-returning cross-section of a global cycle.





Sunday, February 22, 2015

Melbourne - a new photobook work...



As was threatened and I dare say not totally unexpected I have made a new photobook from the images I made while in Melbourne for the very recent photobook festival. The book replicates the format of my Paris bookwork series in that it is produced in an edition limited to 50 copies, each book signed and numbered. There are 28 photographs, over 28 pages, printed on 150gsm art paper, 226 x 160 mm. Below are some of the pages.

Copies can be obtained directly from me at: harvey.benge@xtra.co.nz
Prices are, €25 / £20 / US$30 / NZ$38 and AU$38, this includes packing and postage. For payment you can simply log on to my PayPal account using my email address above.
 












Saturday, February 21, 2015

Paul Strand at Fotomuseum Winterthur

 
Paul Strand - Wall Street, New York, 1915
Opening March 7 Fotomuseum Winterthur presents the first major retrospective in Europe of the work of Paul Strand (1890–1976), one of the great photographers of the twentieth century. The exhibition reveals the multiplicity of his practice, from his early efforts to secure photography’s position as a modernist art form, to his embrace of film-making, to his important post-war photo books. Strand is revealed as a complex and contradictory figure: a stubborn aesthete, a communist sympathiser and a pastoralist motivated by a strong sense of social purpose.

The exhibition begins with Strand’s rapid mastery of the prevailing avant-garde styles of the 1910s and his growing interest in urban subject matter, including a series of innovative close-up portraits of people taken on the streets of New York. Strand’s sense of modernity was informed by extensive travel and between 1932 and 1934 he photographed in Mexico, deepening his engagement with the politics of the left. Deeply affected by the world economic crisis of the 1930s, Strand took an increasing interest in film-making as a means of encouraging social change. Films such as Redes (1936) and Native Land (1942) reveal the extent of his political commitments. After 1945, Strand devoted his energies primarily to the production of photo books, offering him the opportunity to create complex portraits of people and place. The exhibition concentrates on three of his most important productions, including his portrait of the Italian village of Luzzara, published as Un Paese in 1955. Concentrating on the lives of ordinary people, Strand’s photography provides a moving testimony to the democratic qualities of everyday life.
The exhibition is organised by the Philadelphia Museum of Art in collaboration with the Fundación MAPFRE. It is accompanied by a fully-illustrated catalogue co-published by the Philadelphia Museum of Art and Yale University Press in collaboration with the Fundación MAPFRE. 

Paul Strand - White Fence, Port Kent, New York,1916

Friday, February 20, 2015

Photographers whose work I like - No26/ Anton Renborg

 

I came across Anton Renborg's beautiful bookwork, Notices de la Corse in Paris last November. Anton was kind enough to agree to a book swap and his book arrived this week. Anton is a Swedish photographer who is based in both Paris and Stockholm. He says this about himself: I grew up in Örebro, a small town in central Sweden. My parents were both very hard working people but different from each other. My mum was all about ballet and horses, always talking about movement and grace, while my dad reached for his guitar and a bit of fun, when ever the chance was there. I guess I became a mix of all that.

Notices de la Corse, is a quietly introspective sort of a book, beautifully designed and printed with photographs that transport the reader to another place. Memory is triggered for me as Renborg's pictures bring back to life the nostalgia of my own past. These simple enigmatic images slowly reveal their layers of meaning, understated and authentic. Not loud, not clever, it's this charm that demands that I keep looking. And I do.

I hope that Anton Renborg's book gets the attention it deserves, it is a wonderful book.

Notices de la Corse, published in 2014 by Filigranes Editions, in an edition of 800 copies.

Below are some spreads from Notices de la Corse. You can see more of Anton Renborg's work HERE.






Thursday, February 19, 2015

Melbourne Photobook Festival - totally wonderful

It was a great pleasure to be in Melbourne this last weekend and take part in their inaugural Photobook Festival. Here was a chance to catch-up with friends and meet new people. Not to mention get to look at a heap of new photobooks. On a zero to ten scale I'd give the festival a ten! It was remarkable what kingpins Heidi Romano and Daniel Boetker-Smith achieved with an immense amount of hard work and probably a limited budget.

I was blown away with Katrin Koenning's show, Indefinitely at the James Makin Gallery. Hauntingly mysterious and evocative, the work is in Katrin's words: about love and a seemingly infinite space that is, in fact, filled to the rim with all kinds of things.

Katrin Koenning from the series Indefinitely

Emma Phillips very kindly gave me a copy of her self-published bookwork SALT. This beautifully produced book is full of hard light and spare but loaded images, minimalist and alien.

Emma Phillips - SALT

Emma Phillips - SALT

It was good to catch up with Dan Rule from Perimeter Books, Angel Luis Gonzalez of Photo Ireland and a very jet lagged Ron Jude.
I also enjoyed meeting and talking with Hoda Afshar whose work I'm looking forward to have a good look at.

Under the banner of REMOTE Photobooks, New Yorker, now Aucklander Anita Totha was working her photobook table promoting New Zealand bookworks. But still time for a delicious Polish cake at St Kilda.

Anita Totha - REMOTE but accessible

Last but not least, in-between all the photobook action I was able to squeeze off nearly 400 frames and a 28 page bookwork is at the printer as I write.

Harvey Benge - Melbourne

Stacy Mehrfar - shoots HB shooting

An an image from Stacy Mehrfar's work below. You can see more on her website HERE.

Stacy Mehrfar - American Palimpsests