Saturday, January 30, 2016

ASIA-PACIFIC PHOTOBOOK ARCHIVE at Photographers' Gallery, London Saturday February 6


If you happen to be in London on Saturday February 6, head over to The Photographers' Gallery where between 2 and 4pm you can see and discover a collection of photobooks fresh from south of the equator. Assembled under the banner of The ASIA-PACIFIC PHOTOBOOK ARCHIVE the collection was founded by the remarkable Melbourne based photographer and photo educator Daniel Boetker-Smith. Dan will be present to take you through the archive.

The ASIA-PACIFIC PHOTOBOOK ARCHIVE is a traveling library of self-published and trade photobooks that promotes and features work only from the Asia-Pacific region. The Archive is a not-for-profit organisation that exists to help spread the word about the wealth of important and original work coming out of the region.The collection travels internationally each year to festivals, fairs and exhibitions showcasing the vast array of books it has accumulated since starting in 2013. All of the books in its collection are featured on their website with direct links to the publishers and/or photographer/s. The Archive also has a permanent space, open to the public, in Melbourne, Australia.


Friday, January 29, 2016

Ida Pimenoff - Book of Hours

Ida Pimenoff's small but perfectly formed book-work Book of Hours arrived in my mailbox today, thank you Ida. The book engages the reader's head and heart, not only with the demands of its questions but through its honest authenticity. There is no cleverness here, no striving for effect for effects sake. The book pulls you back through its text and images with thoughts and ideas that resonate with ones own life experience. What's more, the book has an almost diaristic feel and a pleasant tactility with its mellow off-white paper stock and Swiss binding.

Kehrer the publisher say this: Book of Hours is the third photobook by Finnish photographer Ida Pimenoff. In her new work, Pimenoff combines images of everyday life with text: short pieces of fiction, random thoughts, memories. The main theme of the new book is time; the strange paradox that although days, in all their banality, often follow each other in a predictable manner, every single moment is unique. There is no going back. While the work deals with the passing of time, it also deals with memories (both light and dark), dreams, wishes, longing and loss. The title of the book, which refers to old, medieval, illustrated prayer books, wants to make the viewer pause for a moment, meditate on the mystery of life. Why are we here? What for? Who am I? And: where am I going? 

These simple words at then end of Ida's book struck a note with me:

This is me:
I made this book; these images and these words.
I wanted them to look as much like me as I could.
So that you could see me, and maybe, then,
I could see you too.

You can have a look at more of Ida Pimenoff's work on her web site HERE.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Classic Photographs at SWANN Auction Galleries NYC, February 25


When you think of auction houses one tends to employ tunnel vision and think only of Christie's and Sotheby's. But there are more contenders out there that are well worth a look.
SWANN Auction Galleries NYC for example. I'm on their snail mail mailing list and their auction - Art and Storytelling: Photographs and Photobooks scheduled for February 25 caught my eye and is well worth a look. You can flip through the e-catalogue HERE. Below are some of the treats on offer.

What strikes me is how inexpensive many of the works are. OK, Kertész and Cartier-Bresson and many of the photographers working in the early to mid 20th Century never editioned their prints. None-the-less US$5,000 - 7,500 for a signed copy of Kertész's Chez Mondrian photograph seems and incredible bargain.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

PARIS pictures and from EAST BOOTHBAY, Maine USA

This is mystery! What am I missing here? For some long time I've been receiving polaroid size / type prints in the mail from Tharpe, rue Dareau, Paris 14th and from Tharpe, with a post office box address in East Boothbay ME. I love getting these prints but have no idea who's sending them. I'm sure I'm not the only recipient, so if any reader of my blog is also on the receiving end of these pictures and knows more please get in touch and tell me more.
Here are four images from East Boothbay followed by four images from Paris.

Monday, January 25, 2016

CLARE STRAND - Girl Plays with Snake, new from MACK in September

Clare Strand's new bookwork, Girl Plays with Snake is due for publication by MACK in September. The book is a collection of images sourced from the darkest recesses of the artist’s extensive archive. The project is a continuation of Strand’s ongoing engagement with the scrapbooks, magazines and photographs that she has been drawing together since her mid-teens. In this iteration of Strand’s ongoing research and reflection, women and girls are pictured holding, playing with and gazing fondly at snakes. Key to understanding the intention and the perception of the imagery is the inclusion of original accompanying text attached to the reverse, revealing stories of the bizarre and the erotic, alongside Myth and Credo.
Siegfried Kracauer would recognize Strand as a dedicated “Rag Picker”. She describes her working method as being like "rolling in the grass and seeing what you pick up on your jumper.” Strand’s constantly evolving practice brings together intensive research, deadpan humour and insights into popular culture, shifting from the mysterious and the absurd to understanding public obsessions, often via trickery and manipulation. Recent exhibited work includes machines to encourage entropy, web programmes , looped films and intricate photographic constructions focusing on, subverting, reimagining and manipulating the medium’s origins.
Clare Strand would like to make it very clear that she is not a lover of snakes.

You can discover more of Clare Strand's work on her website HERE.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Paul Graham at Strand Books NYC


If you happen to be in NYC on Wednesday February 10 you can go along to Strand Books between 7 and 8pm, meet Paul Graham, buy a copy of The Whiteness of the Whale which Paul will sign.

Strand say this: The Whiteness of the Whale brings together Paul Graham’s three bodies of American photographs: American Night, a shimmer of possibility and The Present, made from 1998 to 2011. These three remarkable photographic series reflect upon the social fabric of contemporary America, whilst trying to find something closer to the experience of being and seeing in the world today. Paul will be joined in conversation by Nicholas Dawidoff. Rare indeed is the opportunity to meet Graham. He will sign previous collections and works as well.  

American Night (2003) examines the social fracture of America – the great divide between have and have-not rendered through the dichotomy of light and darkness, presence and absence. The images oscillate between high-key near invisible photographs in bright light, and the antithesis – deeply saturated colour images of freshly minted homes glowing under California’s blue skies.

a shimmer of possibility (2007), is an American epic of the small and incidental. Originally published as twelve photographic visions of everyday life, the stuttering sequences form a kind of 'filmic haiku', revealing the flow of life found in quotidian America, where we share moments with people waiting for a bus, cutting the grass, or smoking a cigarette.

 a shimmer of possibility was winner of the 2011 Paris Photo Book Prize for the most significant Photobook of the past 15 years.

The Present (2011) taken in the streets of New York, and unfolds two images of the same scene separated only by the briefest fraction of time. Here the present is revealed to be a fleeting and provisional alignment, glimpsed as part of an ever flowing continuum of life: before/after, coming/going, either/or.

The luxurious catalogue is printed in wide gamut inks on natural white paper, and coincides with the first solo exhibition at Pier 24, San Francisco. It includes newly commissioned texts by David Chandler and Stanley Wolukau-Wanambwa.
This is a rare chance to get a signed Paul Graham book. He's not big on book signing and I've seen him at book festivals turn requests down.

Stand stress that no memorabilia will be signed which I read as don't bother to pull out your collection of PG's book and take them along to be signed.


Thursday, January 21, 2016

William Eggleston at MoMA, 1976

William Eggleston - Memphis, 1970

Color Photographs by William Eggleston was the title of the first one-man show of color photographs ever presented at The Museum of Modern Art, New York, and the publication that supported the show, William Eggleston's Guide was the Museum's first publication of color photography.

Amazon's blurb to support the reprint of the Guide says this: The reception was divided and passionate. The book and show unabashedly forced the art world to deal with color photography, a medium scarcely taken seriously at the time, and with the vernacular content of a body of photographs that could have been but definitely weren't some average American's Instamatic pictures from the family album. These photographs heralded a new mastery of the use of color as an integral element of photographic composition. Bound in a textured cover inset with a photograph of a tricycle and stamped with yearbook-style gold lettering, the Guide contained 48 images edited down from 375 shot between 1969 and 1971 and displayed a deceptively casual, actually super-refined look at the surrounding world. Here are people, landscapes and odd little moments in and around Eggleston's hometown of Memphis--an anonymous woman in a loudly patterned dress and cat's eye glasses sitting, left leg slightly raised, on an equally loud outdoor sofa; a coal-fired barbecue shooting up flames, framed by a shiny silver tricycle, the curves of a gleaming black car fender, and someone's torso; a tiny, gray-haired lady in a faded, flowered housecoat, standing expectant, and dwarfed in the huge dark doorway of a mint-green room whose only visible furniture is a shaded lamp on an end table. For this edition of William Eggleston's Guide, The Museum of Modern Art has made new color separations from the original 35 mm slides, producing a facsimile edition in which the color will be freshly responsive to the photographer's intentions.

And below is the original press release from MoMA presumably penned by John Szarkowski the exhibitions curator.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Daido Moriyama at Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain, Paris

Daido Moriyama Dog and Mesh Tights, 2014-2015

Twelve years after his first exhibition at the Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain in 2003, Japanese photographer Daido Moriyama will return to the foundation for a new exhibition that focuses on his recent work. Running February 6 to June 5 the show features a large selection of color photographs, Daido Tokyo will shed light on this lesser-known yet ubiquitous aspect of his photographic practice over the last two decades. The Fondation Cartier has also commissioned a new work from Moriyama in conjunction with the exhibition. Entitled Dog and Mesh Tights, this immersive multiscreen projection of black and white photographs will plunge viewers into the commotion of the contemporary city, capturing fragments of daily life from its unrelenting urban hustle and bustle.

Like many other photographers of his generation, Moriyama witnessed the dramatic changes that took place in Japan in the decades following World War II. In response, he sought to invent a new visual language to express the conflicting realities of a society caught between tradition and modernity. Following his studies in graphic design in Osaka, Daido Moriyama decided to take up photography and moved to Tokyo in 1961. There, he gravitated toward the work of the avant-garde photographers of the Vivo Agency, in particular that of Shomei Tomatsu and Eikoh Hosoe, drawing from the former a fascination for the bizarre underworld of Japanese street life and from the latter a sense of the theatrical and the erotic. It was also during this time that he discovered the work of two American photographers, William Klein and Robert Frank, developing an interest in the action-oriented approach to street photography that characterizes their work. These photographers would notably influence Moriyama’s photographic style, inspiring him to capture his subjects while walking through the streets, using a small hand-held camera as if it were an extension of his body. These diverse influences can be seen in his early work – when he was starting out as a freelance photographer in 1964 – as well as later in his contributions to Provoke, an avant-garde photographic magazine he joined in 1968. Out of focus, vertiginously tilted or invasively cropped, Moriyama’s images reflect the disjunctive nature of contemporary urban experience.
This style of black-and-white photography would characterize the photographs of his first publications, Japan: A Photo Theater (1968) and Farewell, Photography (1972), and establish his reputation as a photographer of international importance.

Daido Moriyama, Tokyo Color, 2008-2015

Monday, January 18, 2016

Roger Ballen - workshop, Auckland, Saturday, Sunday March 5 and 6.

Roger Ballen

Following the successful workshops held here in Auckland over several years with artists such as Lewis Baltz, Paul Graham, Rineke Dijkstra, Alec Soth and Pieter Hugo I'm planning a 2 day intensive workshop with photographer Roger Ballen on Saturday and Sunday March 5 and 6. Roger will outline his practice which involves his strange narratives, video works and bookmaking. He will also review participants portfolios.

As the workshop will be restricted to just 10 participants interest is already high. 
If you'd like to know more you please contact me directly at -
One of the most influential and important photographic artists of the 21st century, Roger Ballen’s photographs span over forty years. His strange and extreme works confront the viewer and challenge them to come with him on a journey into their own minds as he explores the deeper recesses of his own.
Roger Ballen was born in New York in 1950 but for over 30 years he has lived and worked in South Africa. His work as a geologist took him out into the countryside and led him to take up his camera and explore the hidden world of small South African towns. At first he explored the empty streets in the glare of the midday sun but, once he had made the step of knocking on people’s doors, he discovered a world inside these houses which was to have a profound effect on his work. These interiors with their distinctive collections of objects and the occupants within these closed worlds took his unique vision on a path from social critique to the creation of metaphors for the inner mind. After 1994 he no longer looked to the countryside for his subject matter finding it closer to home in Johannesburg.
Over the past thirty years his distinctive style of photography has evolved using simple collaborations to create powerful psychodramas, with square format images in stark and beautiful black and white. In his earlier works connection to the tradition of documentary photography is clear but through the 1990s Ballen developed a style he describes as ‘documentary fiction’. After 2000 the people he first discovered and documented living on the margins of South African society increasingly became a cast of actors working with Ballen in series.
The line between fantasy and reality in his more recent series’ Boarding House and Asylum of the Birds has become increasingly blurred and in these works he has employed drawings, painting, collage and sculptural techniques to create elaborate sets. People are now often absent altogether; replaced by photographs of people used as props, by doll or dummy parts or where they do appear it’s as disembodied hands, feet and mouths poking disturbingly through walls and pieces of rag. The often improvised scenarios are completed by the unpredictability of the animals whose ambiguous behaviour is crucial to the overall meaning of the photographs. Ballen has invented a new hybrid aesthetic in these works but one still rooted firmly in black and white photography.
Roger Ballen has allowed himself to be won over by the possibilities of integrating photography and drawing. He has expanded his repertoire and extended his visual language. By integrating drawing into his photographic and video works, the artist has not only made a lasting contribution to the field of art, but equally has made a powerful commentary about the human condition and its creative potential.

More about Roger Ballen on his website HERE.

Roger Ballen - Dresie and Casie, Twins, Western Transvaal, 1993

Roger Ballen and Die Antwoord: I Fink U Freeky

2016 First Post

Harvey Benge - Auckland 7 Dec 2015

It's that time of year where the passage of time gets the better of you. Nothing much gets done and the to do lists get longer. Einstein said that time is an illusion, that may be so but the fact is it's no illusion that my last blog post was way before Christmas. So here goes, my first post for the not so New Year. And what better than one of the last photographs I made in 2015, at 11 minutes past 2pm on Monday December 7. The picture was made in the Auckland sound studio of Radio New Zealand as composer Eve de Castro-Robinson and I talked about the launch of our collaboration produced by RATTLE RECORDS.