Monday, October 29, 2012

Travelling... Paris, London, Cologne, Siem Reap...

Paris, November 2011
I leave Auckland tomorrow for Paris. After Paris Photo I will go to London (Nov 19 - 23), then  Cologne for my workshop (Nov 24 - 26), back to Paris for a couple of days, and on to Siem Reap for the Angkor Photography Festival (Dec 1 - 7), then back...

If any of my friends and  photography colleagues feel like getting in touch while I'm in any of the above places please do so, I'm always up for a coffee or a beer.

My blog will go on the back-burner until I return, December 9. 

Photography is it Art? The Guardian asks the question...

Richard Learoyd - Man with Octopus Tattoo 11 (2011)
Guardian writer Michael Prodger addresses the thorny question, Is Photography Art, and talks about the National Gallery's first ever first major exhibition of photography, Seduced by Art: Photography Past and Present.

For 180-years, people have been asking the question: is photography art? At an early meeting of the Photographic Society of London, established in 1853, one of the members complained that the new technique was "too literal to compete with works of art" because it was unable to "elevate the imagination". This conception of photography as a mechanical recording medium never fully died away. Even by the 1960s and 70s, art photography – the idea that photographs could capture more than just surface appearances – was, in the words of the photographer Jeff Wall, a "photo ghetto" of niche galleries, aficionados and publications.

The piece is well worth a read, you can go to it HERE

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Photography Workshop in Cologne in November

Workshop with Rineke Dijkstra
Over the weekend of November 24 and 25, working with photographer Wolfgang Zurborn and curator / galerist Tina Schelhorn, I will be conducting a small in numbers, intensive and focused photography workshop. 
We will be dealing with the two main issues all photographers face. First, how to cut through the average and ordinary and develop a strong voice of ones own, and having done that how to objectively evaluate and edit the images that result. Second, how to get work out into the world, with a particular emphasis on the photobook, editing, sequencing, production and distribution.

Over the course of 20 years or more I have had published over 35 photobooks. A number with editors in Germany, Britain and France. Other books self published under my own imprint FAQEDITIONS.
I have also conducted successful workshops with Antoine d’Agata, Peter Bialobrzeski, Louis Baltz, Slavica Perkovic, Alec Soth, John Gossage, Rineke Dijkstra, Paul Graham, Todd Hido, Pieter Hugo and curator Quentin Bajac.

I'm looking forward to that last weekend in November in Cologne. It's going to be a full-on, action packed two days. Fun too! 

For more information you can go to the Lichtblick School site HERE or contact me or Wolfgang Zurborn direct. /

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

MoMA PS1 - New Pictures of Common Objects

Photograph: Lucas Blalock

Just opened at MoMAPS1, at Long Island City, New York, is a show, New Pictures of Common Objects. This is interesting territory for me, where the signification present in the common place and common objects has some weight and substance.

MoMA PS1 say this about the show. Artists today have a very different relationship to mass consumption and images then artists who first engaged with these topics in the 1960s. Recent technology has created a vast archive of images that is easily accessible by computer, smartphone, and other devices. Technology has also amplified the flexible nature of pictures—early pop culture envisioned throngs of passive consumers while individuals today engage with imagery as active participants. Twenty-first century images are not only distributed from central hubs, but are rapidly circulated and exchanged among peers. The decentralized model has flattened hierarchies, fostering a sense of equivalence and ambiguity in which making, consuming, and sharing are all regarded as creative acts. The five emerging artists in the exhibition engage with images as raw material to create sculptures, videos, photographs, and installations. They recognize the elastic and diffuse nature of images, utilizing pictures to challenge expectations of genre, form, and meaning.
The exhibition features artists Trisha Baga, Lucas Blalock, Josh Kline, Margaret Lee, and Helen Marten.

New Pictures of Common Objects - On view October 21—December 31, 2012

One of the artist's with work in this show is LA based photographer Lucas Blalock.  His pictures of common objects are strangely perverse and take the mundane and the ordinary to an all-together other place.  Blalock's photographic work has been exhibited widely at venues including Ramiken Crucible (New York), Foam Photography Museum (Amsterdam), and Art in General (New York). He has published two books, I Believe You, Liar (2009) and Towards a Warm Math (Hassla, 2011), he is also a regular contributor to Lay Flat.  
Here are some of his photographs, they are well worth a look.  

Sunday, October 21, 2012

John Gossage shows, The 32" Ruler / Map of Babylon, Mois de la Photo Paris

As part of Mois de la Photo, Galerie LWS at 6 rue Bonaparte, just across the Seine from the Louvre, will show John Gossage's memorable series The 32" Ruler and The Map of Babylon.

The vernissage is at 6pm, Tuesday November 13. See you there!  The show runs until December 29.

Todd Hido's new book, Excerpts From Silver Meadows to launch at Paris Photo

Named after the Ohio development where he grew up, Todd Hido's new book Excerpts From Silver Meadows will launch at Paris Photo this November. 

Todd reports, officially it’s going to be released at Paris Photo. I’m very excited about it. It’ll definitely be interesting. It’s got these four double gatefold sections so you literally have to sit down at a table, pause life and stop looking at other stuff to see these pictures. You won’t be able to look at the gatefolds without sitting down. They’re in four 16-inch sections.

Todd is best known for his photographs of suburban houses at night, his Hopper-esque portraits of women in murky hotel rooms, and more recently, cold, desolate landscapes framed by fogged windshields.
There is a conversation between Todd Hido and writer / photographer Jacob Pastrovich on BOMBLOG. It's well worth a read.

Todd Hido, #10791

Friday, October 19, 2012

WHITE PRESS make great books, support them on October 25th

WHITE PRESS make wonderful, custom made, limited edition photobooks. To aid the continued success of this important imprint an impressive White-Collection of special edition photobooks and prints is on sale by auction at the Antwerp auction house Bernaerts, October, 25th, 2:00 pm.

Your support of this contemporary-exposure auction will help WHITE PRESS  continue to make and publish
strictly non-commercial artist-projects on contemporary photography.
In order to participate online be sure to register at least 24h in advance.

You can even pick up in the sale a copy of my 2007 edition, A Short History of Photography, a slip cased limited edition of 25 with original print number 7 of 25, signed and numbered.
Print and book 7/25 signed and numbered in a box.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

John Gossage x 2, plus Michael Abrams

It was an unexpected pleasure and surprise to collect from the post office a massive over-sized box that contained John Gossage's two new books, She Called Me By Name and The Actor. And as a bonus treat Michael Abrams new book Welcome to Springfield.

Gossage's books consistently amaze. Book Guru he certainly is. Always fresh, always inventive and never failing to go beyond the obvious. And just when you think it's safe to venture into the bookstore he hits you with something outlandishly new!
She Called Me By Name, produced in an edition of just 500, is an over-sized 20" x 17" with 18 recent portraits of adolescents made in Rochester and Tuscon, Arizona. These are unlikely subjects for Gossage, but like his more recognizable work these pictures exhibit his forensic attention to selective focus and a masters control of the picture plane from edge to edge.
The Actor presents a series of 4 x 5 inch black and white contact prints, view camera photographs of banks made in 1975. A book that deals with the issue of thievery, highly relevant in these troubled times.

Michael Abrams book Welcome to Springfield continues his exploration of vernacular images and their ability to trigger memories of our own past experience and hometown memories. This is  a quirky journey through a fictional "Springfield" bouncing between the sacred and profane and the exquisite and the ordinary. John Gossage's stunning book design completes the magic.

You can see more of these three exceptional book works by going to the LOOSESTRIFE EDITIONS site HERE

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Wolfgang Tillmans at the Moderna Museet, Stockholm

Wolfgang Tillmans (b. 1968) first attracted attention at the beginning of the 1990s, with his apparently mundane pictures of subjects taken from his own surroundings. After studying in Britain, he published photographs in prominent publications such as i-D, Spex and Interview. Today, these pictures are considered trendsetting for the young generation of the 1990s, and raise questions about subcultures and sexual identities. By turning everyday situations into almost monumental images, Tillmans very strikingly captured the spirit of the times. It soon became evident that his pictures renegotiate photographic conventions and reflect contemporary currents related to culture and identity. Since then, Tillmans has continued his in-depth investigations, expanding the the realm of photography and redefining the very medium as an artform.

“Wolfgang Tillmans moves freely between images of the club scene in Berlin, political manifestations, and skyscrapers in Hong Kong; all with the same direct tonality. At the same time, all of his pictures explore photography itself – as a medium, but also as a material, convention and process,” says Curator Jo Widoff.

Recently Tillmans' art has taken a number of different directions, revolving around various issues, everything from still lifes and modern landscapes to his lifelong interest in astronomy and the night sky. He has also taken his in-depth exploration of abstract photography even further. Tillmans’ abstract images are more closley related to the painterly tradition and he researches photography as a self-reflexive medium. Abstract images, such as Freischwimmer and Silver, are made in the darkroom, striking a balance between the deliberate and chance. Since 1995, Tillmans has been working actively and strategically with the exhibition space, so as to reveal the possibilities and limitations of the space in interplay with the photographs. His installations display a bewildering variety of formats and sizes, ways of composing the hanging of the pictures, and contexts. The exhibition at Moderna Museet should thus be seen as a site-specific installation. In recent years, Tillmans has been travelling the world taking photographs with the general title Neue Welt. These pictures relate to the new world of markets and trade, to politics and economics, and to the hypermodern. The title also refers to the new digital camera that Wolfgang used to take these pictures, which captures and documents more detail than we can perceive with the naked eye.

“Wolfgang Tillmans is one of today’s most prominent artists. Despite its visual complexity, his pictorial language is immediately recognizable. He captures the explosive energy in social situations and crosses boundaries between different artforms. He is able to use photographic means to create a kind of abstract painting,” says Museum Director Daniel Birnbaum. 

The catalogue that supports the show is free to visitors at the museum and it can also be downloaded as a pdf from the Moderna Museet site HERE. The show runs October 6 to January 20, 2013.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

...exclusivity dwells in habitat, bookwork launch

Poet Sam Sampson and I have collaborated on a bookwork... exclusivity dwells in habitat. We will be launching the work here in Auckland at Whitespace Contemporary Art, next Tuesday, October 16th at 6pm. If you're in Auckland come and join us...

Friday, October 5, 2012

MoMA presents New Photography - 2012

Michele Abeles - Reverse Wallpaper, 2012

Museum of Modern Art presents the 27th annual New Photography exhibition, from October 3, 2012 through February 4, 2013, in The Robert and Joyce Menschel Gallery. This year, the exhibition features the work of New York based Michele Abeles, Shanghai based collaborative Birdhead, New York based Anne Collier, Los Angeles based Zoe Crosher, and Zurich based, Iranian born Shirana Shahbazi, who each examine and expand the conventional definitions of photography. They challenge photography as a representational medium, explore the process of picture making, exploit the proliferation of images in a media-saturated world, and blur the lines between photography and other artistic disciplines. 

The five artists in New Photography 2012 have different working methods and pictorial modes, ranging from abstract to representational, but natural relationships among their separate bodies of work are revealed in the work shown here. Anne Collier and Zoe Crosher make pictures from other images in order to examine the ways that meaning and cultural values are embedded in photographs. The studio pictures of Michele Abeles and Shirana Shahbazi are the result of processes involving collection, assembly, and in-camera manipulation. Birdhead’s obsessive photographic chronicling resonates with Crosher’s re-consideration of an existing archive. These connections, among many others, reveal the artists’ common strategies and their individual approaches to related ideas. 

Michele Abeles (American, b. 1977) Michele Abeles’s studio constructions combine common objects—wine bottles, terracotta pots, newspapers, and printed fabrics—with nude males, to create images that renegotiate the creative process of studio photography. Attempting to strip her objects from symbolic or narrative associations, Abeles’s uses props that are familiar, generic, and even bland. Her male models are positioned like mannequins, often posed so their bodies are truncated by the frame. Titles such as Red, Rock, Cigarettes, Newspaper, Body, Wood, Lycra, Bottle (2011), which inventories the items in the photograph, are used to further emphasize their generic quality. In Abeles’s pictures, space appears flattened, often with a confusing scale and spatial relationships. Much of this trickery occurs in the studio and in camera—the artist places colored gels over Plexiglas in front of her lens to produce geometric and fragmented layers that mimic digital post-production manipulation. In 2012, responding to the consumption of images in our media-saturated era, Abeles began making photographs employing digital tools. These works refer to how we view images today, often on a computer screen—a flattened space cluttered with layered windows. One example, #4 (2012) recalls the swipe mechanism on an iPad or iPhone, with a cropped image on the left suggesting a picture in mid-swipe or an image outside of the photographic frame. Symptomatic of the endless recirculation of images today, Abeles uses elements from her older photographs to make new work, as in Progressive Substitution Drills (2012), where a rock, printed fabric, and newspaper a scrap of newspaper from earlier photographs appear, binding the two works together.

Birdhead (Ji Weiyu, Chinese, b. 1980; and Song Tao, Chinese, b. 1979) Ji Weiyu and Song Tao work together under the collective name Birdhead, making photographs of their hometown of Shanghai. Like the metropolis itself, their photographs are teeming with energy—within the large grid of pictures, no image or narrative is given preference. Birdhead's snapshot-like photographs chronicle the social fabric of the city and capture seemingly unremarkable encounters in daily life, including the natural environment found among the urban landscape. Potted plants, a bonsai, overgrown bushes, and a knotted tree trunk are presented alongside images of newly constructed bridges, detritus lapping at the shore of the Huangpu River, traditional dwellings dwarfed by new apartment towers, and the distinctive landmark of the Oriental Pearl Radio & TV Tower. Included are images of friends and strangers they encounter in their wanderings around the city. At the center of the grid is a self-portrait of Birdhead, emphasizing how their view of Shanghai is rooted in personal and shared experiences of the city. In many of their installations, Birdhead include classic Chinese poems by photographing Chinese characters found on the streets and locations around Shanghai. Presented in traditional mahogany frames and reminiscent of scrolls in their vertical format, photographs of eight characters constitute a verse from a poem (translated as And so, with joy in my heart, I hum this song) written in 207 CE by Han Dynasty warlord and poet Cao Cao, linking China’s past to the present. Birdhead’s compulsive picture making mirrors contemporary culture’s saturation of images and fascination with self-documentation via social networking sites and mobile applications. However, Birdhead eschews digital technology in favor of analog cameras.

Anne Collier (American, b. 1970) Anne Collier juxtaposes an almost conventional approach to still-life photography with techniques of appropriation to create her meticulously arranged compositions. Photographed against flat, plain surfaces in her studio, Collier’s found objects record covers, magazine pages, appointment calendars, and postcards—reveal her interest mass media and pop culture materials from the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s. Informed as much by West Coast Conceptual art as by commercial product photography and advertising, her deadpan pictures (which are often humorous and subtly self-reflexive) present a set of formal and psychological associations that frame recurrent tensions of power and gender. The works in this display investigate the culture of photography, the conventions of the genre of nude photography, and the act of seeing. Woman with Cameras #1, featuring a two-page spread from a 1970s trade publication, illustrates the often-gendered nature of photographic culture during that era, when objectified female subjects were used to sell photography products to a predominately male audience. Collier’s still lifes highlight the materiality of photographic reproduction and the deployment of images within print culture, now increasingly rendered obsolete by digital technologies. Deeply invested in the history of photography as a medium of art and intellectual inquiry, Collier’s work questions and recontextualizes the often clichéd language of popular imagery, alternately suggesting biographical history and a more widespread nostalgic attraction to found material. 

Zoe Crosher (American, b. 1975) In The Michelle duBois project, Zoe Crosher assembles a variety of tourist and other posed images that inhabit the space between fantasy and documentary. Drawn from an obsessively assembled collection of self-portraits by Michelle duBois, one of many aliases of an all-American girl from Oklahoma and occasional escort, Crosher has re-photographed, scanned, enlarged, altered, and re-edited duBois' amateur pictures from the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s to create complicated and alternate narratives that serve to frame her relationship with her subject and with photography at large. A woman with a penchant for self-display, duBois photographed herself in a variety of guises and emulated classic tropes of femininity for the camera. In these images—some taken by friends and clients, some by strangers, others studio portraits—duBois presents herself alternately as the 1930s actress and sex symbol, Mae West; a sexy nurse in a starched white uniform; and a trench coat-clad femme fatale, mysteriously silhouetted in a doorway. Throughout the duBois project, Crosher has manipulated the original images to emphasize the archive's tenuous physicality through an awareness of materials. The Mae Wested pictures have been crumpled, rephotographed, and printed on metallic paper, resulting in shimmering surfaces that evoke the silver screen. The fading in the multipart The Other Disappeared Nurse suggests the vanishing of identity, but also of analog photography. With this body of work, Crosher questions the possibilities of self-portraiture and representation, and the impossibility of knowing oneself even through an endless accumulation of images. 

Shirana Shahbazi (German, b. Iran 1974) Shirana Shahbazi makes photographs in classical art historical genres like portraiture, still life, and landscape, often translating and repeating her images in different media to question and expand the boundaries of photography. In the past, for instance, her photographic works have been transposed to hand-knotted carpets or painted as photorealistic billboards by artisans hired in her native Iran. More recently, Shahbazi has produced work that is architectural in scale to create installations comprising of multiple images hung on wallpaper, as seen in the site-specific installation at MoMA. This display features a repeated geometric pattern derived from one of her abstract photographs, printed as a lithograph and wrapped around the center wall of the gallery like wallpaper. Alternating between abstraction and representation, Shahbazi’s vividly colored pictures are made in the crisp style of commercial studio photography and without the aid of digital tools. Her abstract compositions are achieved through photographing geometric volumes and pedestals, whose sides are painted various colors. Sometimes she makes multiple exposures of the same set of volumes, turning the blocks or volumes between exposures to create a dynamic interplay between surface and depth, resulting in a sumptuous field of geometric color and pattern. Shahbazi arranges her pictures in astonishing combinations to further probe the construction of photographic meaning. Shahbazi’s arrangements draw similarities between pictures from seemingly different genres, and point to the structural parallels between outside and inside, organic and manufactured, and the natural and constructed landscape. Her photographs, translated into different media and arranged in different groupings each time they are shown, play with the viewer’s perception with every new iteration.

New Photography Since its inception in 1985,  has introduced the work of 89 artists from 17 countries. The annual fall series continues to highlight the Museum’s commitment to the work of less familiar artists, and seeks to represent the diversity and vitality of contemporary photography today. 
Michele Abeles / BIRDHEAD / Zoe Crosher / MoMA

Zoe Crosher - Mae Wested No 4 (Crumpled) 2012

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Sotheby's - Photographs, Auction results

Sotheby's, New York, have just posted the results of their October 3, sale of photographs. Particularly impressive were the results achieved by works from Meyerowitz, Shore, Misrach and also Francesca Woodman which went way beyond their top end estimates.

You can see the full set of results by going HERE

Paris Photo - Aperture Foundation PhotoBook Awards


The thirty outstanding photobooks shortlisted for the Paris Photo–Aperture Foundation PhotoBook Awards were announced in The PhotoBook Review 003, Aperture’s biannual publication.
In July 2012, Paris Photo and Aperture Foundation joined forces for the Paris Photo–Aperture Foundation PhotoBook Awards, which celebrate the book’s contribution to the evolving narrative of photography. This year, the awards focused on two categories: First PhotoBook and PhotoBook of the Year.

The ten shortlisted titles for PhotoBook of the Year are:

History Repeating
Photographer: Ori Gersht
Publisher: MFA Publications, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Retinal Shift
Photographer: Mikhael Subotzky
Publisher: Steidl

Rachael, Monique
Photographer: Sophie Calle
Publisher: Xavier Barral

(based on a true story)
Photographer: David Alan Harvey
Publisher: BurnBooks

City Diary
Photographer: Anders Petersen
Publisher: Steidl

Book of Books
Photographer: Stephen Shore
Publisher: Phaidon

Two Thousand Light Years From Home
Photographer: Pietro Mattioli
Publisher: Kodoji Press

Table of Power 2
Photographer: Jacqueline Hassink
Publisher: Hatje Cantz

Photographer: Lise Sarfati
Publisher: Twin Palms

A Head with Wings
Photographer: Anouk Kruithof
Publisher: Little Brown Mushroom

You can see the twenty shortlisted titles for First Photobook HERE

The initial selection was made by Phillip Block, deputy director of programs and director of education at the International Center of Photography; Chris Boot, executive director of Aperture Foundation; Julien Frydman, director of Paris Photo; Lesley A. Martin, publisher at Aperture Foundation; and James Wellford, senior international photo editor at Newsweek magazine. The selected photobooks will be exhibited at Paris Photo at the Grand Palais and at Aperture Gallery in New York and will tour to other venues, to be determined.
A final jury in Paris, including Els Barents, director of the Huis Marseille Museum for Photography; Roxana Marcoci, curator of Photography at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, and curator of the Paris Photo 2012 Platform; Edward Robinson, associate curator of Photography at Los Angeles County Museum of Art; and Thomas Seelig, curator of the Fotomuseum Winterthur, will select the winners for both prizes, which will be revealed at the opening of Paris Photo on November 14, 2012. The winner of First PhotoBook of the year will be awarded $10,000.

Monday, October 1, 2012

William Eggleston's Los Alamos series at Gagosian LA

William Eggleston - Untitled 1971
Running until November 10, Gagosian Gallery LA, presents an exhibition of photographs - all pigment prints, 44 x 60 inches in editions of two - from William Eggleston’s Los Alamos series. This is Eggleston’s first solo exhibition in Los Angeles since 2004. A Memphis native, Eggleston carved his distinct oeuvre from the immediate world around him, incorporating all shades of life into his vivid photographs and thus pioneering an approach that derives its power from a refined form of spontaneous observation. A modern-day flâneur, he captures compelling fragments, events, and personalities of the ordinary world on the streets and in the parlors of small-town America. His subject matter, such as parked cars, billboards and abandoned storefronts, are seemingly banal, yet the idiosyncratic manner in which he orders his observations creates a world of enigma and unexpected beauty, unflinching in its veracity. 
This exhibition comprises twenty-eight large-scale pigment images from the Los Alamos series, printed from vintage negatives. Some images were first printed in the early 2000s as dye transfers. Others have never been seen before. Eggleston shot them on the road between 1966 and 1974 in the Mississippi Delta, New Orleans, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Los Alamos, and other locations across the United States, naming the Los Alamos series after the laboratory where atomic weapons were developed. In the intimate portraiture and stark landscapes, the profound influence of his aesthetic on contemporary image-making is plain. His self-professed “democratic camera” seeks out spontaneous moments of aesthetic exception - a neon light glowing piercingly in a darkened motel room; a collection of dolls; a gawky young man pumping gas. Tightly cropped and condensed, each object or subject assumes a narrative life of its own, charged with mystery and possibility. Geographically non-specific and seemingly timeless, the freedom and congeniality of these loosely framed portraits is a hallmark of Eggleston’s working style - emanations of a steadfastly egalitarian vision and a poetic eye. 
Eggleston is largely credited with legitimizing color photography as a fine art form. More than a century after the advent of color film and a decade after popular media fused with contemporary art, his first museum exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, New York in 1976, was also the first fine-art exhibition of color photography. Some thirty-five years after this historic moment, he continues to innovate in the photographic medium. The vibrant and exquisite dye-transfer process, that became a hallmark of his oeuvre, has limitations predicated on the size of available photographic paper. In recent years, advances in digital printing have allowed Eggleston to create his images on a much larger scale - 44 x 60 inches - while equaling and even surpassing the quality of color saturation previously available only to the dye-transfer process. 

I just wait until [my subject] appears, which is often where I happen to be. Might be something right across the street. Might be something on down the road. And I’m usually very pleased when I get the image back. It’s usually exactly what I saw. I don’t have any favorites. Every picture is equal but different.  William Eggleston 

William Eggleston - Untitled 1965