Sunday, July 31, 2016

Lars Von Trier - Deconstructing...

If any of you are in process of working on a bookwork, be it at concept stage, shooting, editing and or sequencing I'd recommend you have a look at the YouTube video just posted by Channel Criswell: Lars Von Trier - Deconstructing Cinema. It's a short and sweet 14 minutes in length and many of the ideas presented apply equally to the making of a photobook.

I immediately liked the opening frame - a film should be like a pebble in your shoe. In workshops I often talk about this, the idea of provocation, where there is something that's not quite right, strange and difficult to grasp. Lewis Bond the guy behind Channel Criswell deftly sums up Von Trier's esthetic - the need to raise questions, use of a wide vocabulary, symbolism, stylistic distinction, enigma, challenge oneself and the audience, a refusal to conform to convention - and more. The video concludes with the truism that - art is never mean to be completely understood, art has no limitations... to break its boundaries is what it's meant to be a true artist.

We are working in a medium that has infinite possibilities. We all know that. Let's embrace the infinite.

You can watch Lars Von Trier - Deconstructing Cinema HERE. And the Channel Criswell website HERE.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

William Eggleston - at National Portrait Gallery London

 William Eggleston: c.1970 (Devoe Money in Jackson, Mississippi)

Running until October 31 at London's National Portrait Gallery, and getting rave reviews, is an overview of William Eggelston's portrait oeuvre.

The NPG say this: William Eggleston is a pioneering American photographer renowned for his vivid, poetic and mysterious images. This exhibition of 100 works surveys Eggleston’s full career from the 1960s to the present day and is the most comprehensive display of his portrait photography ever.
Eggleston is celebrated for his experimental use of colour and his solo show at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, in 1976 is considered a pivotal moment in the recognition of colour photography as a contemporary art form. Highlights of the exhibition will include monumental prints of two legendary photographs first seen forty years ago: the artist’s uncle Adyn Schuyler Senior with his assistant Jasper Staples in Cassidy Bayou, Mississippi, and Devoe Money in Jackson, Mississippi.
Also on display will be a selection of never-before seen vintage black and white prints from the 1960s. Featuring people in diners, petrol stations and markets in and around the artist’s home in Memphis, Tennessee, they help illustrate Eggleston’s unique view of the world. 
You can go to the National Portrait Gallery's site HERE.

And the guardian this: Even if it is just a tract of Tennessee land, or a ceiling, or some trash on the ground, everything is a portrait in William Eggleston’s work. A portrait less of a moment than of a place and an age. Eggleston never diminishes what he sees but somehow enlarges both the momentous and the trivial. Some unknown pensive guy swallowing a burger and staring at it with a kind of avarice, a curator in a phonebooth, a bloke on a bed, a woman alone at the side of a long and empty road, a girlfriend in tears – each photograph is freighted with untold stories. You feel their weight along with the heat of the day, the stale air-conditioned chill in the room, the smell of smoke and beer and sweat in the nightclub, the car-seat vinyl, the instant’s lassitude.
Eggleston’s photography has been derided for its ordinariness, for its compositional blankness, even for its use of colour. This now seems absurd. How could his critics not see what was there – the things unrevealed but somehow unaccountably present? Eggleston’s photography gets under your skin, just as he got under the skin of Memphis (where he was born in 1939), of Tallahatchie County, of the south and of social situations, capturing both the discomposure and awkward indifference of his subjects.
You can read the guardians full piece HERE.

William Eggleston: 1969-70, Cassidy Bayou, Sumner, Mississippi

Friday, July 22, 2016

Wolfgang Tillmans at Maureen Paley Gallery London

Wolfgang Tillmans - The State We’re In 2015

There is a still a chance to see to Wolfgang Tillmans' show at Maureen Paley London which finishes on July 31st. The gallery says this about the show:

Maureen Paley is pleased to present the eighth solo exhibition by Wolfgang Tillmans at the gallery. Featuring new and previously unseen work the show will focus on the visible and invisible borders that define and sometimes control us.
Central to the downstairs gallery will be a large unframed print of The State We’re In, A (2015) that documents the open water of the Atlantic Ocean where international time lines and borders intersect. This will be displayed alongside imagery made at the Northern and Southern European Observatories that look beyond our national boundaries. Also on show will be photographs that study the visual effects of the Sun’s light entering our planet’s atmosphere and an image of human blood flowing through plastic tubes, contained outside of the body during surgery.
A new grouping of tables that follow on from his truth study center series (2005 – ongoing) will be installed in the upstairs gallery. I refuse to be your enemy 2, (2016) enacts another use of this display format by presenting various sizes of blank office paper from Europe and North America. Inspired by a workshop he gave to students in Iran last year this work examines the similarities in our nationalized forms of printed communication and how these formats can unite rather than divide us.

Wolfgang Tillmans was born in Remscheid, Germany, 1968 and lives and works in Berlin and London. Since 2006 he has run the non-profit exhibition space Between Bridges that is currently operating in Berlin. In 2015 he received the Hasselblad Foundation International Award in Photography and the Royal Photographic Society Award.
In 2017 Tillmans will have a major survey exhibition at Tate Modern, London and at the Beyeler Foundation, Basel.
He has exhibited extensively across the world and has recently held solo exhibitions at Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art, Porto (2016); Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (2015); the Beyeler Foundation, Basel (2014); Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, K21 Ständehaus, Düsseldorf, Germany, Les Rencontres d'Arles, France and Museo de Arte de Lima (2013); Kunsthalle Zürich, Switzerland, Museu de Arte Moderna de São Paulo, Brazil and Moderna Museet, Stockholm, Sweden (2012); Zachęta National Gallery of Art, Warsaw, Poland (2011); Serpentine Gallery, London and the Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool, UK (2010).
His work has been included in significant survey exhibitions including Manifesta 10, The State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia (2014), Fundamentals, the 14th International Architecture Biennale directed by Rem Koolhaas, Book for Architects, La Biennale di Venezia, Venice, Italy (2014); the Berlin Biennale, Germany (2014, 1998), the British Art Show 5 and 7, UK (2000, 2010); the 3rd Moscow Biennale of Contemporary Art, Russia (2009); the 51st and 53rd Venice Biennale, Italy (2005, 2009); Turin Triennial, Italy (2008); 55th Carnegie International, Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, USA (2008) and the 2nd Ars Baltica Triennial of Photographic Art, Kiel, Germany (1999).
Recent solo publications by the artist include Conor Donlon: Wolfgang Tillmans (2016), Walter König; Wolfgang Tillmans: What’s Wrong with Redistribution (2015) and The Cars: Wolfgang Tillmans (2015), both Walter König; Wolfgang Tillmans (2014), Phaidon Press; Neue Welt: Wolfgang Tillmans (2012) Taschen; Wolfgang Tillmans: FESPA Digital / Fruit Logistica (2012) Walter König and Wolfgang Tillmans: Abstract Pictures (2011) Hatje Cantz.

MAUREEN PALEY / 21 Herald Street, London E2 6JT UK

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Mark Power - new bookwork: Destroying the Laboratory for the Sake of the Experiment


British photographer Mark Power has just released a new self published book Destroying the Laboratory for the Sake of the Experiment. Power is a member of Magnum Photos and Professor of Photography in The Faculty of Arts and Architecture at the University of Brighton, he works in a documentary fashion, using large format. His pictures always surprise and are loaded with meaning. His first book The Shipping Forecast, published in 1997 by Zelda Cheatle is one of my favorite photobooks.

Mark says this about Destroying the Laboratory for the Sake of the Experiment.
Beginning in 2006 and continuing (when time allowed) over the next four years, the poet Daniel Cockrill and I made several road trips across England, stopping at a range of towns and cities along the way. We were trying to better understand the rise of nationalism then (as now) evident in the UK, as well as notions of Englishness, concepts much discussed in the media at the time. In a true collaboration, in that we always travelled together and experienced much the same things, Dan would write poems and I would photograph. As time progressed we witnessed our country slide into recession and the government introduce austerity measures, although little seemed to alter in the fabric of the landscape. What we did notice was something more abstract, more of a state of mind among the population as many began to blame others - and immigration in particular - for perceived misfortunes. Dan attempted to catch something of this mood in his poetry while I continued to photograph the backdrop against which the story unfolded. Although we concluded the work in 2010 with an exhibition in London (when we collaborated with the sculptor Jim Wilson and, in particular, the designer Dominic Brookman, who created several ‘treatments’ of poems and pictures) it was not until now that we’ve chosen to self-publish the book. Looking at the work now, with the benefit of hindsight, it’s possible to sense the changing mood in the country, of which last month’s BREXIT vote was perhaps the sad but inevitable conclusion. 
Published by Globtik Books (2016) / Designed by Dominic Brookman / Kenosha Design
Edition: 1500, signed by Mark Power / 228 pages (Numerous colour photographs, 16 poems, illustrations, foldouts, die-cut pages, etc) / Hardback with foldout jacket, 250 x 160mm / ISBN: 978–0–9930830–1–3 / £26

Destroying the Laboratory for the Sake of the Experiment, is available now through Mark Power's website HERE.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Nine Analog Photography Techniques you should know but probably don't, at least not all of them

Nicéphore Niépce, Point de vue du Gras, 1825 or 1827

Artsy is my favorite go to online art resource. They say this: Artsy features the world’s leading galleries, museum collections, foundations, artist estates, art fairs, and benefit auctions, all in one place. Our growing database of 350,000 images of art, architecture, and design by 50,000 artists spans historical, modern, and contemporary works, and includes the largest online database of contemporary art. Artsy is used by art lovers, museum-goers, patrons, collectors, students, and educators to discover, learn about, and collect art. 

In today's Artsy email there is a piece written by Alexis Corral that takes the lid off nine analog photography techniques:  Heliography, Daguerreotype, Calotype, Wet Collodion Process, Color Separation Process, Photogravure, Silver Gelatin Process, Panchromaric Black and White Celluloid film and Autochrome Lumière.

For example they say this about the Daguerreotype: Niépce’s sudden death in 1833 prompted Louis Jacques-Mandé Daguerre to continue their collaborative experiments on his own and, by 1839, the French Académie des Sciences announced the daguerreotype as the first photographic technique freely available to the public. Within months, the method essentially went viral, introducing the one-of-a-kind positive image to the world as a new mode of communication.
Reducing exposure time from days to minutes, and then finally down to seconds, Daguerre’s analog technique was employed to produce millions of photographs in just one year alone. Used to capture everything from a boulevard scene to portraiture to studies of outer space, the daguerreotype granted photographers control over the exposure and developing processes. Daguerreotype images may appear perfectly silver in some parts, or naturally tarnished in others, resulting in a truly one-of-a-kind photograph. 

And they show this wonderful picture made in made in 1838 looking down into Boulevard du Temple in Paris. The photograph is the oldest surviving picture of a living person.

The full piece in Artsy is well worth a read. You can do so HERE and while you are at it you can go to their website HERE.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Dolorès Marat at Flair Gallerie, Arles

Harvey Benge - Dolorès Marat, Paris 1996 from Not Here. Not There

My first meeting with Dolores Marat followed my discovery in 1995 of her published work at Marval Editions in Paris. Marval had made a book of Dolorès work and I was keen to meet her, this took place via the translation skills of my now oldest Parisian friend, writer and director Simon Guibert. Dolorès spoke no English but her pictures said plenty.
I'd been talking to Marval about them doing my book Not Here. Not There. They were keen but subsequently went under and the book was then published in 1998 by UK publisher Dewi Lewis. In the book is a picture I made of Dolorès in a very strange American Western restaurant at Place d'Italie. Dolorès sits in front of a Western desert mural and bizarrely is wearing a sheriffs star brooch which in my view makes the photograph.

I haven't seen Dolorès for a number of years but was delighted to discover that she is still shooting and has a show currently at Flair Gallerie in Arles. They say this:

In Dolorès Marat’s work, a cat is not necessarily a cat, a woman may very well be a crocodile, a spider or a fly, and a burning can turn into a dog. As suggested by one of her books, entitled Illusion, Dolorès Marat has a penchant for side roads. She might be taking pictures of reality, but what we see in her images seems not quite real. An instinctive photographer, she knows no bounds, setting no rules for herself, she lets her impressions be her guide. And thus, the images that have marked out her path for three decades constitute by consequence, in a certain manner, the sum of her emotions, aroused at random during her journeys or in her daily life.
Because Dolores Marat is first and foremost a gleaner. She never sets out with the purpose of taking pictures but at the same time, her camera is always with her. Photographs present and impose themselves on her and encourage her to… release the shutter. “Something is beautiful, therefore I photograph,” is her simplest explanation.

An added bonus to Dolorès work is her use of the Fresson process to make her prints. Having discovered the Fresson printing process Dolores Marat knew that the Fresson look well suited her pictorial voice. The technique was invented in the 19th century for pictorialist photographers and adapted to color printing in the mid-20th century. From her first signed print in 1983, she has been faithful to a process which renders a velvety softness that loses the spectator somewhere between photography and painting.

Below is a Fresson print that Dolorès gave me, The Man and the Tele, Paris. I like the registration marks that are specific to this unique process.

Dolorès Marat - The Man and the Tele, Paris

And images from the show at Flair Gallerie

Sunday, July 3, 2016

New York - ARTFCITY tells it like it is

ARTFCITY is a NYC based site that, in their own words, creates and archives critical discourse, and commissions ambitious artist projects. Through a daily mix of blunt criticism, commentary and community-minded journalism, we add an unparalleled dosage of purposeful opinion to the contemporary art community. It's always a refreshing read where critical comment is the focus not just bland description.

Their endeavor brings to mind the late art critic Robert Hughes who was never afraid to knee-cap and eviscerate at will and routinely dispense tasty pearls of wisdom, such as - I have never been against new art as such; some of it is good, much is crap, most is somewhere in between. And - There is virtue in virtuosity, especially today, when it protects us from the tedious spectacle of ineptitude.

In ARTFCITY's latest mailing they rip into the opening show at ICP's new downtown location: 
ICP enters the 21st Century with a Bunch of Mirrors - For a prime example of ambitious curating standing in the way of excellent artwork, look no further than the convoluted mess of a show at the International Center for Photography’s brand new Bowery location. While I’m always up for seeing art that takes advantage of technology and addresses our weird wired world, this show is filled with wrong-headed assertions, painful hanging choices, and eyeball-straining design.

And the Berlin Biennale: An Act of Passive Compliance - I can... think of no better way, given the circumstances, to reinforce the popular perception that contemporary art has nothing to say about the world that surrounds it than by hiring the NYC-based fashion bloggers DIS to curate the ninth edition of the Berlin Biennale. I have rarely seen such a profound case of not giving the people what they want, of so many heads so far up so many assholes. Just walk away, Berlin. Go have a strong drink. Read a good mystery novel. Take too much MDMA and pee your slacks. Sit in an empty room and cry. Do anything but waste 26 Euros on the Berlin Biennale.

You can read the complete pieces HERE on the ARTFCITY website.