Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Michel Houellebecq - writes and photographs, beauty and brutality

 
Michel Houellebecq - France #014, 2016

In a June 16 piece in Artsy, my favorite online art resource, writer Michael Robbins talks about the photographs of controversial French novelist Michel Houellebecq.

There’s a description in the French writer Michel Houellebecq’s best novel, The Map and the Territory, that recurs to me often. Jed Martin, a painter and photographer who gets entangled with the famous novelist Michel Houellebecq, is walking down a Parisian boulevard:
"A Casino hypermarket and a Shell service station were the only perceptible centers of energy, the only social propositions likely to provoke desire, happiness, or joy. Jed already knew these lively places: he had been a regular customer of the Casino hypermarket for years, before switching to the Franprix in the boulevard de l’Hôpital. As for the Shell station, he also knew it well: on many a Sunday, he had appreciated being able to go there for Pringles and bottles of Hépar."
I have never been to Paris, but I too already know these lively places. So do you. Fungible temples of the commodity “as a force aspiring to the complete colonization of social life,” to quote Guy Debord. For most of us, such spaces are dead zones, not worth noticing, pit stops and way stations. (I never noticed the chintzy chandelier hanging from the ceiling of the deli I frequent almost daily until, thinking about Houellebecq’s work, I took a good look at the place.) Houellebecq’s protagonist sees these spaces as the only throbbing hearts in a diseased social body. Of course this means that contemporary society—French, but the idea extrapolates—is idiotic and brutal. Jed finds an oddly comforting beauty in it nevertheless.

Houellebecq’s camera discovers a depopulated—almost no people appear in any of the shots, even those of huge public housing blocks—and often depressing world. But like his novels, his photographs reveal the wit and allure of total disenchantment, the quirky loveliness of what Debord called “an insufficiently meaningful world.” Giant concrete letters spell out “EUROPE” in front of a desolate, monochromatic car park. A hotel corridor—darkened glass doors in the middle distance, blue lights spaced evenly along wood-paneled walls—is drenched in an eerie greenish-red glow. It can take the viewer a second to realize the corridor isn’t quite empty: Ghosts of guests flicker in the frame, leaving an impression of the universal tourist costume of jeans, sandals, book bag. It’s a simple but effective trick of exposure. In this pleasant field of corporate light and angles, people are an afterthought.

Occasionally I come across photographs I wish I had made. These stunning images made by Houellebecq most certainly are in that category...

You can read the full article HERE. And while you are at it, why not sign up for Artsy's regular mailings. You will not be disappointed.

Michel Houellebecq - France #002, 2017

Michel Houellebecq - Tourisme #014. 2016
 

Monday, June 19, 2017

Auckland - Back!!



Back in Auckland after five weeks in Europe - London, Paris, Rome. First outing a group show at Auckland City's public artspace - North Art. I'm showing my 2011 work, Auckland Apple. Shown here in conversation with Billy Apple in a photograph made by William Dart.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

London, Paris, Rome...


Harvey Benge - THE LAMENT, 2017

Today I leave for London, and from there Paris and Rome. I will be in London all this coming week for Photo London and if you are around will be signing my new photobook THE LAMENT at Dewi Lewis' stand at 2.30pm Saturday 20th.
If any of my European friends are up for a coffee, a beer or any other beverage please get in touch... my email is harvey.benge@xtra.co.nz

Harvey Benge - London, November 2016



Friday, May 12, 2017

PHOTOBOOKSTORE UK - Always a pleasure to get their mailing...



In my opinion the UK's PHOTOBOOKSTORE is probably the best on-line resource for photobook collectors! It's always a pleasure to get their regular mailings. Today's mailing includes a list of most popular books which includes among others Ravens by Masahisa Fukase and Nausea by Ron Jude. There is a piece on Laura El-Tantawy’s new book Beyond Here Is Nothing and a list of selected books. There are links to latest books, signed books, rare books and more... well worth a look and a certainly joining their mailing list.

You can go to the PHOTOBBOKSTORE site HERE.



Wednesday, May 3, 2017

THE MONTH BEFORE TRUMP - my new photobook

 
Harvey Benge - THE MONTH BEFORE TRUMP - with print

THE MONTH BEFORE TRUMP is a record of what I discovered in San Francisco and New York a month before the US presidential election last November. The bookwork is both an affectionate and sometimes critical look at a society that is at an existential watershed.

This 68 page book, 210 x 148 mm with 61 photographs is in a signed and numbered edition of 50 copies.

Each book comes with a signed and numbered limited edition print, which you can see at the top along with the cover of the book.

Copies can be obtained directly from me at: harvey.benge@xtra.co.nz
Prices are, €25 / £22 / US$28 / NZ$40, the price include packing and postage. For payment you can simply log on to my PayPal account using my email address above.

Below are some of the spreads from the book:















Monday, May 1, 2017

MACK follows the making of a photobook with Clare Strand

 

Richard West from Northern Ireland's SOURCE publication reports that they have just published a film from MACK following the making of Clare Strand's book Girl Plays with Snake. The film looks at the publisher's contribution to making a book and the role the artist has in the development process. The video follows the making of the book from the first production meeting between artist and publisher through the design and printing to the launch itself.

With a running time of about 40 minutes, the documentary is well worth a look, you can do so HERE.


Sunday, April 23, 2017

Irving Penn: Centennial at The Met, NYC

 
Irving Penn - Rockette NYC 1951

Opening Monday of next week and running until July 30, The Metropolitan Museum of Art presents a major retrospective of the photographs of Irving Penn. The show marks the centennial of the artist's birth. Over the course of his nearly 70-year career, Irving Penn (1917–2009) mastered a pared-down aesthetic of studio photography that is distinguished for its meticulous attention to composition, nuance, detail, and printmaking. Irving Penn: Centennial, opening April 24, 2017, will be the most comprehensive exhibition of the great American photographer's work to date and will include both masterpieces and hitherto unknown prints from all his major series.

Long celebrated for more than six decades of influential work at Vogue magazine, Penn was first and foremost a fashion photographer. His early photographs of couture are masterpieces that established a new standard for photographic renderings of style at mid-century, and he continued to record the cycles of fashions year after year in exquisite images characterized by striking shapes and formal brilliance. His rigorous modern compositions, minimal backgrounds, and diffused lighting were innovative and immensely influential. Yet Penn's photographs of fashion are merely the most salient of his specialties. He was a peerless portraitist, whose perceptions extended beyond the human face and figure to take in more complete codes of demeanor, adornment, and artifact. He was also blessed with an acute graphic intelligence and a sculptor's sensitivity to volumes in light, talents that served his superb nude studies and life-long explorations of still life.

There is more on The Met site HERE.

Irving Penn - Sword Swallower NY, 1951

There is a stunning 376 page catalogue to support the show: The definitive book on the work of a virtuosic and revered American photographer Irving Penn (1917-2009) was among the most esteemed and influential photographers of the 20th century. Over the course of a nearly seventy-year career, he mastered a pared-down aesthetic of studio photography that is distinguished for its meticulous attention to composition, nuance, and detail. This indispensable book features one of the largest selections of Penn's photographs ever compiled, including famous and beloved images as well as works that have never been published. Celebrating the centennial of Penn's birth, this lavish volume spans the entirety of his groundbreaking career.
Avaialble now on bookdepository at 29% off.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Julian Barnes - Keeping an Eye Open, Essays on Art





Man Booker Prize winner Julian Barnes in his 2015 work Keeping an Eye Open, Essays on Art offers some profound observations on the reading and understanding of art.

I particularly liked the essay - So Does It Become Art? - where Barnes observed: What counts is the surviving object and our living response to it. The tests are simple: does it interest the eye, excite the brain, spur the mind to reflection and move the heart; further, is an apparent level of skill involved? Much current fashionable art bothers only the eye and briefly the brain, but fails to engage the mind and heart. It may, to use the old dichotomy, be beautiful, but it is rarely true to any significant depth... One of the constant pleasures of art is its ability to come at us from an unexpected angle and stop us short in wonder.

Such simple truths, so easy to embrace yet so often left at the door to the studio.

In the New York Times review of Keeping an Eye Open they say: Gustave Flaubert — the subject of Julian Barnes’s magical novel-biography-meditation, “Flaubert’s Parrot” — argued that great paintings required no words of explanation. But as Mr. Barnes writes in “Keeping an Eye Open,” an illuminating new collection of essays on art, “we remain incorrigibly verbal creatures who love to explain things” — “put us in front of a picture and we chatter, each in our different way.”  You can read the full review HERE.


Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Kassel Dummy Award - the short list





The Fotobookfestival Kassel together with its cooperation partner Verlag Kettler again has invited all photographers to present their as-yet unpublished photobooks to an international public and eminent experts. In 2017 the best 49 books has been shortlisted by a shortlist-jury and will be exhibited at international photo events, amongst others, in Istanbul, Moscow, Rome, Madrid, Dublin, Aarhus, Sofia, Zagreb and Lodz. From these 49 titles, 3 winners will be chosen by an international jury at the ISTANBUL PHOTOBOOK FESTIVAL on 28 April. The winner of the First Prize will be produced and published by our cooperation partner Verlag Kettler, Germany. Second and Third Prize is a book production voucher given by our partner k-books, who specializes in high-quality book productions in small quantities.

Here is the 2017 shortlist!
      • Felix Adler (Germany) »Paule«
      • Hugo Alcol (Spain) »Archipiélago«
      • Monique Atherton (USA) »First Avenue«
      • Özgür Atlagan (Turkey) »shovel-eye«
      • Marina Berio (USA) »The space in the mind in the body in the space«
      • Stephan Bögel (Germany) »Scenic Utah«
      • Haishu Chen (China) »Zona Rossa«
      • Kenji Chiga (Japan) »bird,night,and then?«
      • Kenji Chiga (Japan) »happn?«
      • Ivan Clemente (Spain) »H«
      • Jose Luis Cuevas (Mexico) »Observaciones sobre la resistencia de los cuerpos«
      • Collettivo DAV (Italy) »Tara, il fiume dei miracoli«
      • Sigrid Ehemann (Germany) »Bruno Is a Celebrity«
      • Vika Eksta (Latvia) »Dievs Daba  Darbs«
      • Keiji Fujimoto (Japan) »Forget-me-not«
      • Andi Galdi Vinko (Hungary) »Paradisco«
      • Mario C. Girela (Spain) »The Roots and the Ruins«
      • Elodie Grethen (France) »Tokyo Stories«
      • Tom Griggs & Paul Kwiatkowski (USA) »Ghost Guessed«
      • Ilyas Hajji (Russia) »Anti/terror«
      • Miki Hasegawa (Japan) »Internal Notebook«
      • Maki Hayashida (Japan) »The Odyssey«
      • Tomota Ikawa (Japan) »Yureru«
      • Zeynep Kayan (Turkey) »untitled«
      • Alex Kemman (The Netherlands) »Whispers of War«
      • Ludmila Ketslakh (USA) »Uncertainty of Being«
      • Blair Kitchener (New Zealand) »Duplex City«
      • David Klammer (Germany) »Good Morning Auroville«
      • Eva Krampen Kosloski (Italy) »3 Agosto 1944«
      • Olga Kravets, Maria Morina, Oksana Yushko (Russia) »Grozny: Nine Cities«
      • Karsten Kronas (Germany) »Searching for Mr. X«
      • Ikuru Kuwajima (Japan/Russia) »I, Oblomov«
      • Rony Maltz (Brazil) »Riocities«
      • Giulia Mangione (Italy) »The Happy Show«
      • Alix Marie (France) »Bleu«
      • Kazuhiko Matsumura (Japan) »Guru Guru  ~My Transmigration~«
      • Mark McGuinness (Ireland) »Dreaming of Figure Eights«
      • Anne Müchler & Nico Schmitz (Germany) »Encounter — Truth Construction«
      • Antonio Perez Rio (Spain) »Louvre – Art Guide for Cyborgs«
      • Torsten Schumann (Germany) »Off Keel«
      • Francesca Romana Semerano (Italy) »Tessuti Toniù«
      • Luca Spano (Italy) »Looking for the North«
      • Malgorzata Stankiewicz (Poland) »cry of an echo«
      • Nicole Strasser (Germany) »Ans Meer!«
      • Mayumi Suzuki (Japan) »The Restoration Will«
      • Hiro Tanaka (Japan) »Chicharron«
      • Ishan Tankha (India) »A Peal of Spring Thunder«
      • Karan Vaid (India) »The Indian Dog Show«
      • Hannes Wiedemann (Germany) »Grinders«

    Friday, April 14, 2017

    Larry Sultan - Here and Home at SF MOMA

     
    Larry Sultan. Canal District, San Rafael, 2006

    Opening today and running until July 23 this major retrospective examines the work and career of Larry Sultan (American, 1946–2009) an internationally renowned photographer with deep ties to the SF Bay Area as both an artist and an educator. Sultan’s often intensely personal images — many drawn from his own family’s history — blend documentary and staged elements in their explorations of storytelling, family, and domesticity.
    Larry Sultan: Here and Home explores the artist’s 35-year career through more than 200 photographs, a billboard created with conceptual artist and frequent collaborator Mike Mandel, a film, and Study Hall — a room offering a unique glimpse into Sultan’s exploratory process. Works on view include Sultan’s early collaborative projects of the 1970s, made with Mandel, as well as his later work including Pictures from Home (1983–92), The Valley (1997–2003), and Homeland (2006–09).
    You can see more on the SF MOMA website HERE.

    Larry Sultan, from the series Pictures From Home, 1984

    Larry Sultan, from the series Pictures From Home, 1984

    Coinciding with the SF MOMA show MACK BOOKS have reissued and updated Larry Sultan's seminal 1992 bookwork Pictures From Home.

    MACK says this: What drives me to continue this work is difficult to name. It has more to do with love than with sociology. With being a subject in the drama rather than a witness. And in the odd and jumbled process of working, everything shifts: the boundaries blur, my distance slips, the arrogance and illusion of immunity falters. I wake up in the middle of the night, stunned and anguished. These are my parents. From that simple fact, everything follows.’ – Larry Sultan
    First published in 1992 to wide critical acclaim, Pictures From Home is Larry Sultan’s pendant to his parents. Sultan returned home to Southern California periodically in the 1980s and the decade-long sequence moves between registers, combining contemporary photographs with film stills from home movies, fragments of conversation, Sultan’s own writings and other memorabilia. The result is a narrative collage in which the boundary between the documentary and the staged becomes increasingly ambiguous. Simultaneously the distance usually maintained between the photographer and his subjects also slips in an exchange of dialogue and emotion that is unique to this work.
    Significantly increasing the page count of the original book, this MACK design of Pictures From Home clarifies the multiplicity of voices – both textual and pictorial – in order to afford a fresh perspective of this seminal body of work. Emphasizing the cinematic motion of the family’s home videos, the Super-8 film stills have been newly digitized and magnified, with select scenes running full-bleed across double-page spreads. Meanwhile, Sultan’s photographs of his parents as they go about their daily lives – against the quintessential backdrop of the Reagan-era American dream – are supplemented with previously unpublished images. Most significantly, the book honours Sultan as the oft-hailed ‘King of Colour Photography’.
    You can read more on the MACK BOOKS website HERE.

    Larry Sultan - Pictures From Home


    Friday, April 7, 2017

    Wolfgang Tillmans – 'What Art Does in Me is Beyond Words'

     
      
    London's Tate Modern, apart from being one of the most significant public galleries anywhere, produce a series of short YouTube videos that support and amplify their various activities. I was drawn to a recent production - Wolfgang Tillmans – 'What Art Does in Me is Beyond Words'.

    Tate says this: We spend the day with artist Wolfgang Tillmans in his Berlin studio as he prepares for his Tate Modern exhibition.
    German-born, international in outlook and exhibited around the world, Wolfgang Tillmans spent many years in the UK and is currently based in Berlin. In 2000, he was the first photographer and first non-British artist to receive the Turner Prize.
    Alongside portraiture, landscape and intimate still lifes, Tillmans pushes the boundaries of the photographic form in abstract artworks that range from the sculptural to the immersive.

    Running for just over 6 minutes the video is well worth a look. You can do so HERE. And can go to the Tate Modern site HERE.








    Monday, April 3, 2017

    Harvey Benge - showing at galerie Spree, Paris, until April 15



    If you're in Paris in the next week or so and want to head up to Montmartre, I have a show, as part of the Mois de la photo - off, at galerie Spree at 11 rue la vieuvile.
    Rétrospective de la dernière décennie du travail d'Harvey Benge. Artiste photographe néo zélandais. Il voyage et pose son appareil photo dans de nombreux pays. Benge s’intéresse aux paysages sociaux des villes et compose ainsi des natures mortes urbaines. Harvey Benge est un artiste internationalement reconnu. Ses pièces figurent dans de nombreuses collections privées et publiques.
    The galerie has this to say - Rétrospective de la dernière décennie du travail d'Harvey Benge. Artiste photographe néo zélandais. Il voyage et pose son appareil photo dans de nombreux pays. Benge s’intéresse aux paysages sociaux des villes et compose ainsi des natures mortes urbaines. Harvey Benge est un artiste internationalement reconnu.Ses pièces figurent dans de nombreuses collections privées et publiques.
    Rétrospective de la dernière décennie du travail d'Harvey Benge. Artiste photographe néo zélandais. Il voyage et pose son appareil photo dans de nombreux pays. Benge s’intéresse aux paysages sociaux des villes et compose ainsi des natures mortes urbaines. Harvey Benge est un artiste internationalement reconnu. Ses pièces figurent dans de nombreuses collections privées et publiques.


    étrospective de la dernière décennie du travail d'Harvey Benge. Artiste photographe néo zélandais. Il voyage et pose son appareil photo dans de nombreux pays. Benge s’intéresse aux paysages sociaux des villes et compose ainsi des natures mortes urbaines. Harvey Benge est un artiste internationalement reconnu. Ses pièces figurent dans de nombreuses collections privées et publiques.
    Rétrospective de la dernière décennie du travail d'Harvey Benge. Artiste photographe néo zélandais. Il voyage et pose son appareil photo dans de nombreux pays. Benge s’intéresse aux paysages sociaux des villes et compose ainsi des natures mortes urbaines. Harvey Benge est un artiste internationalement reconnu. Ses pièces figurent dans de nombreuses collections privées et publiques.
    Rétrospective de la dernière décennie du travail d'Harvey Benge. Artiste photographe néo zélandais. Il voyage et pose son appareil photo dans de nombreux pays. Benge s’intéresse aux paysages sociaux des villes et compose ainsi des natures mortes urbaines. Harvey Benge est un artiste internationalement reconnu. Ses pièces figurent dans de nombreuses collections privées et publiques.

    Saturday, April 1, 2017

    ARLES 2017, the BJP reports


     
    It’s the biggest, most prestigious photography festival in the world and it’s back – Les Rencontres de la Photographie in Arles opens on 03 July and closes on 24 September. It’s the 48th edition of the festival, which has seen seismic changes in the last few years – the departure of its long-standing director Francois Hebel after the 2014 edition, and the arrival of his replacement, Sam Stourdze, the backing of the influential LUMA Foundation, and the Cosmos-Arles book fair. This history and reputation mean Arles is able to pull in the big names, which this year means including solo shows by Joel Meyerowitz, Michael Wolf, Gideon Mendel, Masahisa Fukase, Alex Majoli and Roger Ballen; plus an exhibition on Surrealism organised by Le Centre Pompidou and including works by Hans Bellmer, Erwin Wurm and Rene Magritte. Arles also uses its might to showcase lesser-known names and regions, however, and one of the themes running through the 2017 edition is Latina!, a celebration of work from South America in four separate shows.

    You can read more from British Journal of Photography HERE. And you can go to ARLES 2017 - Les Rencontre de la Photographie site HERE.

    From the Asylum of the Birds series, 2013 © Roger Ballen