Monday, March 30, 2015

John Baldessari - what makes him one of the most important artists working today?

John Baldessari - Noses & Ears, Etc: Couple and Man with Gun, 2007

A piece on this mornings Artspace mailing opens up the subject of John Baldessari's practice and his unforgivingly humorous art.

Today, Baldessari is considered one of the fathers of Conceptual art—not only for the influence of his art, but also for his four decades as a leading instructor at CalArts and UCLA—and he remains one of the most well-respected artists alive. He was awarded the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement at the Venice Biennale in 2009. His 2010 retrospective organized by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art traveled to New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art. He was the first contemporary artist to have his own iPhone app. There’s even been a short documentary made about him that was narrated by Tom Waits. 

You can read the full article HERE.

John Baldessari - Man, Dog (Blue), Canoe/Shark Fins (One Yellow), Capsized Boat, 2002

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Kassel FotoBookFestival 2015, portfolio and book reviews


The 7th FotoBookFestival in Kassel, 4-7th June, again offers professional and emerging photographers the chance to meet with international photography experts for Portfolio+Book Review sessions on Thursday 4th June 2015 from 9.30 am. The reviews will take place at the documenta-Halle in Kassel, which is the Festival venue from Friday 5th to Sunday 7th June. Participants are asked you to get to know this year’s panel of 25 internationally acclaimed reviewers – museum and festival curators, book publishers, photography critics, photographers – and make your choice of 3 meetings as soon as possible. To attend more than 3 meetings, it's just a matter of registering 2, 3 or 4 times. Registration deadline is midnight on May 24th.

The panel of reviewers are:
Valentina ABENAVOLI, Alex BOCCHETTO - Publisher, Akina Books, London
Irène ATTINGER -  Library and bookshop, Maison Européenne de la Photographie, Paris
Gerry BADGER - Photographer, Writer, Critic, London
Harvey BENGE - Photographer, Writer, Auckland
Pierre BESSARD - Publisher, Editions Bessard, Paris
Krzysztof CANDROWICZ - Director, Triennial of Photography Hamburg + Lodz Festival
Chiara CAPODICI -  Curator, Treterzi, Rome
Nicolas Combarro -  Artist and Master’s Tutor, Madrid
Fannie Escoulen - independent curator and formerly deputy director of LE BAL, Paris
Verónica FIEIRAS -  Publisher, Riot Books, Spain
Angel Luis GONZALES FERNANDEZ -  Director, PhotoIreland Festival, Dublin
Curt HOLTZ -  Head of Photography, Prestel Publishing, Germany
Ikin HUSEYNOV - Publisher, Riot Books, Spain
Manik KATYAL -  Founder & Editor-in-Chief, Emaho Magazine, India
Klaus KEHRER - Director, KEHRER Publishing, Germany
Erik KESSELS - Artist, Curator and Director of KesselsKramer Publishing, Netherlands
Aron MOREL - Publisher, Mörel Books, London
Andreas MÜLLER POHLE - Photographer, Publisher, European Photography, Berlin
Moritz NEUMÜLLER - Independant curator, Madrid
Alison NORDSTROM - Artistic Director, Lodz Photofestival
Monte PACKHAM - Publisher, Steidl, Germany
Fiore PINNA - Curator, Treterzi, Rome
Andre PRINCIPE - Photographer, Publisher, Pierre von Kleist editions, Lisbon
Hannes WANDERER - Publisher, Bookseller, Peperoni Books / 25books, Berlin

You can find out more HERE.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Opportunity for Intern in my Auckland studio

Harvey's studio now

This post is aimed at photography students based in Auckland. I'm looking for an intern who would be keen to help me get some order in my archive. Basically working together to sort things out  - files, trannies, scans, prints and bookworks. You may be a student at Unitec, AUT, Whitecliffe or Elam and naturally with a passion for photography and art in general.
In return I will tell you everything I know.

If this opportunity sounds like fun drop me an email at: and we could make a time to talk more about it over a coffee. 

Harvey's studio how he'd like it

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Mark Power - a print to help in Vanuatu

Mark Power - The Nakamal. Ionannen, Tanna, Vanuatu. 06/1989

To help the emergency appeal for funds to deal with the recent devastation in Vanuatu photographer Mark Power is generously offering a series of six different prints. These are photographs Mark made in Vanuatu in 1989 / 89.

Mark says this: Six days ago Cyclone Pam ripped through the Pacific archipelago of Vanuatu. Contact has yet to be made with some of the more remote islands so the full extent of the damage remains unknown, but there have been deaths, and many survivors have been found drinking seawater. President Baldwin Lonsdale has said his country would have to 'rebuild everything'. In 1988 and 1989 I spent six months in Vanuatu, having many adventures and taking a few photographs along the way. It remains one of the happiest and most memorable periods of my life. With your help I'm trying to raise £10,000 for the emergency appeal by offering for sale six different prints, each in an edition of 30, made in Vanuatu all those years ago. Beautifully printed on 14” x 11” Ilford Gallerie fibre based paper by LabLab in Krakow, Poland, the prints are just £65 each, plus post and packing. This exclusive offer will be on a strictly first come, first served basis and 100% of the profit will be send directly to the appeal. Each print will be signed, numbered, stamped and captioned on the back. The offer remains open for 14 days, or until all the prints sell, whichever is sooner. They will be made and shipped at the end of the sale. Please help! 

You can find full details HERE. But be quick these prints will sell out fast.
100% of the profits will be sent to the Care International Vanuatu Emergency Appeal.

While you are at it take a moment to have a look at some of Mark Power's work on his website HERE. If you don't know his work, you should. Mark is an an amazing photographer. 

Thursday, March 19, 2015

NEW BOOKWORK - Any Lonely Person Write to Ponsonby

The photographs in this series - Any Lonely Person Write to Ponsonby - were made in the early years of the 1970’s. At that time I exposed over 200 rolls of black and white film around the inner Auckland suburbs of Parnell, Freemans Bay and Ponsonby. Also in Auckland’s central city. The period predated the rush of urban revitalization and gentrification that we see in Auckland today.

The image of the cactus was made in Warkworth, a small town north of Auckland. Its sad spikey message resonated for me then as it still does today. The other photographs in the series were chosen to capture the feeling of central Auckland as it was over 40 years ago and to speak to the bizarre thought of lonely people writing and perhaps coming to Ponsonby.

There are  20 photographs in this work. The photobook is 234mm x 180mm, 28 pages printed on 120gsm stock with a separate 350gsm gloss laminated cover. Black and white throughout. The edition is limited to 50 copies, each signed and numbered.

Copies can be obtained directly from me at:
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.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

e-flux conversations


The essential art and curatorial news digest e-flux presents a new platform: e-flux conversations.

They describe conversations - Think the perfect blend of blog and message board, to host the most urgent artistic conversations of the day. Using a hybrid editorial model, this open forum allows for participation from any user as well as specialized discussion moderated by a rotating cast of invited contributors. We want to be the place where a Beijing art student can chat with Charles Esche.Is your social media feed drunk on likes? Did Big Brother kick you off Facebook for posting medieval torture paintings? Do 140 characters leave you unfulfilled? Us, too. That's why we built e-flux conversations—a new platform dedicated to in-depth discussions of urgent artistic and social ideas.

Scrolling through the current offerings on conversations, there is material as diverse as - Capitalism is draining the earth, and occupy isn't going to fix it / On claims of Radicality in Contemporary Art / MoMA's "Björk problem" is a MoMA leadership problem and more...

I was struck by a particular piece, contributed by karenarchey - Why are we ascribing competitive models to art and exhibitions? 
The writer comments: Now that it's early January and the holiday season has dwindled into a plain old winter vortex, I'm back at my desk, hungover from the gigantic amount of "best of" and "predictions for 2015" listicles that have been written in the last few weeks. Did anyone actually read any of these? While writing year-in-review texts has been a perennial form for critics for decades, it seems in recent years--with the rise of online art news platforms--that hastily written "top 10" articles have started to dominate art writing. I can understand why a journalist would be drawn to using this form. Listicles and best-of lists are easy to understand and fast to read and garner a lot of page views (which in turn generates ad revenue). But, being an art writer myself, I know that these articles are oftentimes written to give shout-outs to colleagues and friends, and rarely represent exhaustive research, despite they're oftentimes confused as such.

How do these competitive models effect the way we think about art? I think that it's human to get caught up thinking about who is the "best" at something (the best young female ceramic artist from New Zealand or the best new cave painter etc.), but I also would hope it's our task as cultural producers to think outside of normal systems of valuation and judgment that these competitive lists perpetuate.

Of course my immediate thought was of the increasingly endless lists of best photobooks that appear before Christmas every year. Their importance or lack of and why so many average books get attention they don't deserve.

You can go to e-flux conversations HERE. And the e-flux site HERE.  And while you are at it why not subscribe to e-flux mailings, they are the best art fix around.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Duane Michals at DC Moore NYC

Duane photographs Anthony Red (image 5/5). 2015

Running until March 21st the DC Moore Gallery in New York presents the exhibition Duane Michals: The Portraitist, a selection of new work in which Michals' reinvigorates the possibilities of portraiture through the innovative use of sequencing, reflections, multiple exposures, overpainting, and handwritten annotations.

The black-and-white photographs on view were developed from never-before-printed negatives that Michals exposed in the course of his career. His subjects include artist Jasper Johns, photographer Art Kane, actress Hildegard Knef, and singer Barbra Streisand. A selection of earlier portraits, including those of Balthus, Bertha and Charles Burchfield, Joseph Cornell, and René Magritte, provides context for the recent work. As the variety of poses, settings, viewpoints, and formats in these images demonstrates, Michals adapts the style of each portrait to the individual, thereby eschewing any formula that speaks more to photographer than sitter.

Wary of the commonplaces of portraiture, Michals rejects the notion of “looking at people with the pretentions of looking into them.” He has developed an alternative approach, which he terms “prose portraiture.” Rather than recording a physical likeness, he works to “suggest the atmosphere of the sitter’s identity, which is the sum total of who they are … A prose portrait might require three or four photographs to reveal something about what the sitter does in life that defines him or her. A face does not necessarily need to be seen; most people’s significance won’t be found there.” Michals further disrupts expectations by intervening on the surface with annotations often conveying his impressions of a person via witty or poetic commentary scrawled onto the print.

Further, a major retrospective, Storyteller: The Photographs of Duane Michals, organized by the Carnegie Museum of Art and presented there in the fall of 2014, is traveling to the Peabody Essex Museum, Salem. It will be on view there from March 14 through June 21, 2015. A monograph, published by Prestel with essays by Linda Benedict-Jones, Allen Ellenzweig, Marah Gubar, Max Kozloff, and Aaron Schuman, accompanies the exhibition. The Monacelli Press released the publication ABCDuane: A Duane Michals Primer in 2014. Michals’ first solo museum exhibition was at the Museum of Modern Art, New York in 1970. His work belongs to numerous permanent collections in the U.S. and abroad, including the Israel Museum, Jerusalem; the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Moderna Museet, Stockholm; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto; and the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Duane Michals - Funny Girl, (detail) 1962/2015

Monday, March 9, 2015

J.D'OKhai Ojeikere, André Magnin and me

André Magnin on his terrace Blvd Voltaire, Paris

Yesterday I was photographing around the bush and beaches of Auckland's inner harbor reaches. Among other things I made a picture of some strange seaweed formations. The seaweed brought to mind the photographs of J.D'OKhai Ojeikere and the book of his work that friend and curator André Magnin gave me in 2001. I have to add here that André's inscription in the book read I was in New Zealand in 1987 but in Paris in 2001, thank god. Funny.

Harvey Benge - Seaweed March 2015

The sandstone bank above the beach was carved with graffiti. Bizarrely, the name André stood out. A reminder that everything is connected.

Harvey Benge - Graffiti March 2015

For comparison here are some of J.D'OKhai Ojeikere's remarkable photographs. And the book that André Magnin produced an edited, published by Scalo in association with Fondation Cartier pour l'art contemporain.

J.D'OKhai Ojeikere

And a few words about André Magnin. In 1986 André Magnin began his research into contemporary art in non-Western cultures, looking particularly at Africa specifically for the Magicians of the Earth exhibition at Paris's Pompidou Centre and the Grande Halle de la Villette, for which André was Deputy Commissioner. In 1989 he established the important Pigozzi Collection of contemporary African art which he directed for twenty years. André Magnin has been responsible for numerous solo and group exhibitions in museums, art centers and foundations worldwide: Out of Africa (Saatchi Gallery, London), African Art Now (Museum of Fine Arts, Houston) J'aime Cheri Samba (Cartier Foundation for Contemporary Art, Paris), Arts of Africa (Grimaldi Forum, Monaco), 100% Africa (Guggenheim Bilbao), Why Africa? (Pinacoteca Giovanni e Marella Agnelli), Africa? una nuova storia (Complesso del Vittoriano, Roma), African Stories (Marrakech) ... In 2009, he founded Magnin-A whose mission is to promote contemporary African art on the international art market.
You can go to the Magnin-A website HERE.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Wolfgang Tillmans - Wins 2015 Hasselblad Award

The Hasselblad Foundation has announced that German artist Wolfgang Tillmans is the recipient of the 2015 Hasselblad Foundation International Award in Photography for the sum of SEK 1,000,000 (approximately EUR 110,000). The award ceremony takes place in Gothenburg on November 30, 2015. On December 1 an exhibition of Tillmans's work will open at the Hasselblad Center, Sweden. On the same day, the Hasselblad Foundation will host a symposium with the award winner, and a new book by Tillmans will be released.

The Foundation's citation regarding the 2015 Award winner Wolfgang Tillmans: Wolfgang Tillmans has established himself among the most original and innovative artists of his generation, constantly pushing the photographic medium in new directions. His practice has covered subjects of pressing political and social importance since the 1990s, reflecting both directly and indirectly on the power of the photographic image to engage critically with the world around us. Furthermore, Tillmans has transformed the understanding of photographic exhibition making through his daring and original installations, playing with scale, formats, framing and presentation to produce immersive experiences that have inspired subsequent generations of artists.

This year's award committee, which submitted its proposal to the Foundation's board of directors, consisted of: Simon Baker, chair, Curator of Photography, Tate Modern, London; Irina Chmyreva, Senior Curator, Project in Support for Photography in Russia, IRIS Foundation, Moscow; Katerina Gregos, independent curator and Artistic Director, Art Brussels; Roberto Koch, Publisher, Contrasto Books, Rome and Milan Roxana Marcoci, Senior Curator of Photography, the Museum of Modern Art, New York.

The Hasselblad Award winners of the past five years are: 2014: Ishiuchi Miyako, Japan 2013: Joan Fontcuberta, Spain 2012: Paul Graham, Great Britain / USA 2011: Walid Raad, Lebanon / USA 2010: Sophie Calle, France.

The Hasselblad Foundation was established in 1979 under the terms of the last will and testament of Dr. Victor Hasselblad and his wife Erna. The purpose of the Foundation is to promote scientific education and research in photography and the natural sciences. The Foundation's annual international award for outstanding achievement in photography, awarded in 2015 to Wolfgang Tillmans, is considered the most important photography prize worldwide.

You can see more of Tillmans' work on his website HERE.

Affinity, Wako Works of Art, Tokyo, 18 Jan - 15 Mar 2014
8th Berlin Biennale, Ethnologisches Museum Dahlem, Berlin,
 29 May - 03 Aug 2014
Ausweitung der Kampfzone. 1968-2000. Die Sammlung Teil 3,
 Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin,  08 Nov 2013 - 31 Dec 2014

Friday, March 6, 2015

Lee Friedlander - "the book is more my medium than the wall"

As a photobook maker and fan of Lee Friedlander's work I was intrigued to come across a piece in VICE - Photographer Lee Freidlander's Monumental Legacy in Books.

VICE magazine writes: In May 2013, Pratt Institute photography chair Stephen Hilger had a daring idea: to collect every book made by the photographer Lee Friedlander. After speaking to Friedlander, Hilger approached the director of libraries, Russell Abell, and explained that he wanted students to have access to Friedlander's complete bibliography. Abell not only agreed but took the plan a step further, suggesting that Pratt host an exhibition of the books in the library space.
The result was Lee Friedlander: The Printed Picture, an exhibition in Pratt's Brooklyn campus library that ran from April to October 2014, co-curated by Hilger and Peter Kayafas. The exhibition featured a conversation between Friedlander and his book-production team at the opening and culminating in what academic types call a Festschrift—a short book designed to accompany and celebrate the exhibition. The reason Hilger's initial idea was daring, and indeed the reason the acquisition of the books was worthy of celebration, is that Friedlander has published an enormous amount of them—almost 50, depending on how you count—in his career, which spans from 1969 to the present day. ("The book is more my medium than the wall," he has said.) For the exhibition, the cover of every Friedlander book was reprinted to exact size and hung on the wall along the staircases, almost in the way family pictures might be in someone's home. The magnitude of Friedlander's output was overwhelming—the book covers lined three flights of stairs.

You can read the complete VICE article HERE.

HERE is a link to Lee Friedlander's photographs in the collection of MoMA NYC.

And below just a few of Friedlander's book-works.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

The New Color Photography - Sally Eauclair, 1981


Sally Eauclair's milestone book The New Color Photography, compiled and edited by Eauclair in 1981 was the first book of serious (for want of a better word) photography that I had ever come across. The book contained, to me, fresh new voices. Eggleston in particular was a revelation. The book and the work it contained resonated with me because many of the photographs seemed so similar to the pictures I was trying to make at the time.
Although now almost 35 years have passed, the best pictures in the book still hold up.

What I didn't know at the time was that there was also a show of the work, to support the book, at ICP New York. On November 8, 1981 The New York Times published a rather jaundiced review of that show. The exhibition includes the works of 45 younger photographers who have come to the attention of the art-loving public since 1970, some as well known as William Eggleston, Jan Groover, Joel Meyerowitz, Lucas Samaras, Stephen Shore and Eve Sonneman, others still relatively unknown. It also includes the works of two older photographers, Harry Callahan and Helen Levitt, who have made new starts in color photography in the 1970's. 

This is important because there is a wide range of styles, subjects and approaches in this exhibition. Landscapes predominate, but there are also still lifes, portraits and what used to be called genre subjects, pictures in which groups of people are shown engaged in everyday activities. Some of the pictures are obviously carefully posed, while others are caught on the wing. Some of the photographers work with large format view cameras, while others use small hand-held cameras.

The moods vary from romantic to jokey, with a touch of the sinister here and there. Indeed, there is enough variety in this show to make it difficult to characterize it as a whole. About the only thing some of the photographers in this show have in common is that they work with color film and eschew the kind of hand work that so many other young photographers practice today. That and the fact that all of them first came to public attention not through publication in the mass media but by exhibiting in museums and art galleries. 

And then there is Eggleston. It is sometimes said that he is compiling a pictorial guide to his native southland, and to be sure, some part of his native southland is often visible through his viewfinder when he presses the button. But why he chose that part rather than another is an impenetrable mystery - which could not be said of a magazine photographer. A magazine photographer has to please an editor and a public, and the point of his picture has to be reasonably clear. An art photographer, however, does not have to please anyone but himself - and the curators, dealers and collectors who make his career - and therefore he can be as obscure as he likes. Eggleston has said that he takes pictures because he has to do something to fill up the time, and that is what his photographs too often look like. 

You can read the complete New York Times review HERE. You can still get hold of copies of The New Color Photography, here is a link to amazon.

Also strangely included in New Color is David Hockney and the French photographer Bernard Faucon. And New Zealander Boyd Webb gets coverage. Others names have quietly faded into the background of the medium.







Eauclaire published two subsequent bookworks - new color / new work in 1984 and American Independents in 1987. Both books worth checking out.