Wednesday, April 25, 2018

THE MONTH BEFORE TRUMP - From UK publisher Dewi Lewis





Dewi Lewis is publishing my latest bookwork - THE MONTH BEFORE TRUMP. The book will be released at Photo London where on Saturday May 19 at 3pm I will do a book signing.

Dewi Lewis talks about the book: In the month before the 2016 presidential election New Zealand photographer Harvey Benge spent time in San Francisco and New York making the images in this book. In many ways these 59 photographs represent a time capsule – places, people and scraps of visual information – that is an affectionate and sometimes critical look at this mash up of a society that in October 2016 was at an existential watershed. This work does not pretend to be an objective look at America, it is simply Benge’s subjective view. The images are filtered through Benge’s own sensibilities, formed by his country’s own brand of politics where socialism is embraced and not a dirty word. And, of course, the states of California and New York present just one aspect of what it means to be an American.

There is no judgment here, just Benge’s desire to understand and attempt to tap into something resembling truth. There is a sense of profound sadness here too, of futility and a feeling that not much lies behind the fake news, the hard sell, or the glossy surface of things. Despite all of this there is resilience and resistance. Stoicism is in the air and there is a feeling that things will come right.

Well known for his many photobooks, Harvey Benge has twice been a finalist in the prestigious Prix du Livre at Arles Photography Festival, France. He has exhibited his work extensively in both public and private galleries in Britain, throughout Europe, and in New Zealand. Benge is also involved in curatorial projects and runs a series of ongoing photography workshops with international photographers in Auckland.

THE MONTH BEFORE TRUMP is a 64 page book, 234 x 165mm with 59 colour photographs. Publication Date: May 18th 2018.  A special edition, limited to 100 copies is also available, with the book comes a 7"x 5" signed and numbered print.

You can pre-order the book by going HERE




Wednesday, April 11, 2018

The subversion of images and the war on truth


In a post on Reading The Pictures, a site dealing with visual politics and photojournalism writer Marta Zarzycka considers the media take on events following the recent shooting at Florida's Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

Zarzycka: In the weeks since the February shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, the media scrutiny of its teenage survivors has been relentless. It has been further fueled by their powerful speeches at the March for Our Lives earlier this month: TIME Magazine featured them on their cover, Teen Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar published their op-eds; their faces appeared on protesters’ placards, T-shirts, posters and on city murals. 

While for many they represent agents of change, moral referents, latter-day anti-Vietnam War activists, and future leaders, alt-righters, white supremacists, conservatives, and Donald Trump supporters (with the enthusiastic endorsement of the First Son, Donald Trump, Jr.) have declared war on them. In this war, an AR-15 semiautomatic rifle is replaced by such weapons as slander, conspiracy theories and misinformation. Parkland students are portrayed as “crisis actors” paid by George Soros or political puppets of Hillary Clinton; they are likened to Nazis, to terrorists, to “young fascists-in-training” who undermine the fundamental principles of American freedom.

This campaign relies on images of hate, as photographs, memes, and videos are circulated by right-wing media outlets, such as Breitbart, Infowars, and others on social media. Digitally doctored or taken out of context, they ridicule, troll, attack, and mock: in a recent image, David Hogg is made to appear as though he is making a Nazi salute after his speech at the March for Our Lives event in Washington, D.C.; in another, his speech is dubbed over by Adolf Hitler, his voice captured, silenced, and controlled through the misappropriation of technology.

In the visual fallout of the Parkland shooting, we can no longer assume the inherent truth of the image, as concepts like meaning, portrait, representation or mimesis, traditionally considered in the medium of photography, are rendered obsolete through the art of technological deception.

The piece is important and well worth a read in its entirety, you can do so HERE.



Monday, April 9, 2018

British photobook publisher Dewi Lewis - advice for photographers who want to make a book


Mimi Mollica'a Terra Nostra published by Dewi Lewis

Established in 1994, Dewi Lewis Publishing is one of the leading photographic publishers in the world. Its award-winning authors include Martin Parr, Paolo Pellegrin, Bruce Gilden, Jacob Aue Sobol and Laia Abril, among many others. 

Dewi Lewis, who runs Dewi Lewis Publishing alongside his partner Caroline Warhurst, is a sought after voice in the photography world and an honorary fellow of the Royal Photographic Society. In 2009, he was awarded the Society’s inaugural RPS Award for Outstanding Service to Photography. In addition to serving on the jury for numerous international awards, Lewis has been a “Master” three times for the World Press Photo Joop Swart Masterclasses. 

Dewi's advice, the nitty gritty: Firstly decide why, then what, then how. Why do you want a book? Is it the best way to take things forward for you? Do you really have something to say? Is there a way of bringing the work together coherently? When you look at the full body of work is there a way of giving it a coherent sequence? Is there an audience for it? What would be the best way of reaching that audience? What form should the book take? The questions should go on and on. The key to a successful book is in the answers and in being totally honest, self-aware, and self-critical. And, if at the end of the process you are still 100% convinced, then go for it.

You can read the full story HERE and go to Dewi Lewis Publishing website HERE


Harvey Benge's The Lament published by Dewi Lewis

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Wolfgang Tillmans - A Forum on European Culture








CALL FOR IDEAS:

Forum on European Culture invites you to contribute to:

Eurolab – New ideas to communicate the EU

In the run-up to the European elections in May 2019 artists, writers and creatives who feel passionate about the European project come together during the Forum on European Culture in Amsterdam from May 31- June 3. During the 4-day Eurolab, they examine what has gone wrong in the communication of, and about the EU and how to make a new and powerful beginning.

In an increasingly interconnected world voices that create division between people and peoples, have gathered momentum and try to unravel the achievements of cooperation and solidarity. Europeans in particular are challenged by nationalist and divisive language from outside and from within the EU.


Eurolab is a fact-finding mission of what went well and what went wrong in the last 25 years of communicating Europe. In workshops and interview sessions we aim to compile a comprehensive toolbox of arguments, strategies, and ideas that can be applied to campaigns across different demographics and used by different professional groups (e.g. ‘Teachers for Europe’ ‘Scientists for Europe’ ‘Farmers for Europe’). Eurolab wants to collect ideas about how cooperation and solidarity can be spoken for in a fresh and compelling way to large audiences. How can the European Union be valued by its citizens and be recognized as a force for good, rather than as a faceless bureaucracy?


We understand that the EU is not perfect and that some of its problems are of its own making. However we are convinced that today’s Europe is the best there ever was, and that the European Project should be protected in these unstable times.


The brief for this open-call is to send us proposals for communicating the advantages of cooperation and friendship amongst people and nations. Please send drafts, designs, photos, poems, words and short film scripts that can be developed and contribute to a clear yet multi-faceted campaign. Across all media. We need messages, how the Union works and how life would be without it; - how it was without it. And we need ideas how to challenge the organisation itself, how to make it better. Alert us of the failings of the EU. Alert us of the successes of the EU. Also welcome are ideas that are not focused on the EU itself, but on its values, and how they play out amongst people in everyday life in non-political ways.


Each entry will be considered by a panel chaired by Rem Koolhaas and Wolfgang Tillmans, and will contribute to the pool of ideas to re-brand Europe. Eurolab operates on an open source model and we are not looking for one ‘winning’ idea. We don’t want to ‘sell’ anything. We believe the idea of the EU is good, and want to present it clear and open. Eurolab aims at building a network across the EU member nations from South to North, from East to West. We will stay in touch with you should your ideas be taken further.


We look forward to inviting a selected number of contributors to Amsterdam in June to investigate Europe’s potential and to find new language and visuals for it. The ambition of the workshop in Amsterdam is to further develop the proposals together with communication and media experts, and turn them into a real and effective campaign.


We are looking forward to receiving your contributions in our mailbox info@cultureforum.eu as soon as possible and no later than April 18. Please send files as PDF, maximum 15mB, with files named as ‘Surname_Name_Eurolab2018’. For more information on the Forum on European Culture, click here

Monday, March 26, 2018

Zoe Leonard: SURVEY, at the Whitney


Zoe Leonard - TV Wheelbarrow, 2001

New York–based artist Zoe Leonard (b. 1961) is among the most critically acclaimed artists of her generation. Over the past three decades, she has produced work in photography and sculpture that has been celebrated for its lyrical observations of daily life coupled with a rigorous, questioning attention to the politics and conditions of image making and display. 

 Zoe Leonard: Survey is the first large-scale overview of the artist’s work in an American museum. The exhibition looks across Leonard’s career to highlight her engagement with a range of themes, including the history of photography, gender and sexuality, loss and mourning, migration, displacement, and the urban landscape. More than it focuses on any particular subject, however, Leonard’s work slowly and reflectively calibrates vision and form. Using repetition, subtle changes of perspective, and shifts of scale, Leonard draws viewers into an awareness of the meanings behind otherwise familiar images or objects. A counter-example to the speed and disposability of image culture today, Leonard’s photographs, sculptures and installations ask the viewer to reengage with how we see. 

The Whitney has a longstanding commitment to Leonard, who has been featured in three Biennials, was awarded the Bucksbaum Award for her contribution to the 2014 Biennial, and is significantly represented in the Museum’s collection.

Zoe Leonard: SURVEY, runs at the Whitney Museum of American Art, NYC, until June 10.

More about Zoe Leonard on Wikipedia HERE.

Zoe Leonard - American Flag Sweater, 2001



Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Philip Jones Griffiths - an exhibition to mark the 10th anniversary of his death




London's TJ Boulting gallery and Trolley Books present an exhibition by renowned photographer Philip Jones Griffiths. The show marks the tenth anniversary of Philip Jones Griffiths' death, on 19th March 2008. 

The exhibition is held in conjunction with the Philip Jones Griffiths Foundation and Magnum Photos. PJGX presents photographs from the two important bodies of work that represent Philip's archive - the Viet Nam war and Britain in the 1950s to 70s. It also covers several of the books that he published, from the original dummy of the seminal 'Vietnam Inc' of 1971 to prints from 'Recollections', which he worked on up until the day he died in 2008. As well as his images there will be a filmed interview that Philip gave in 2007 at the University of Wales, and a recent award-winning documentary featuring interviews with John Pilger, Don McCullin and Noam Chomksy among others. 

The exhibition runs 20th March to 21st April 2018. Gallery hours Tuesday to Saturday 11- 6.
You can go to the TJ Boulting site HERE. And to the Philip Jones Griffiths Foundation site HERE.

Sometime in 1998 Philip was in Auckland to shoot a picture of a local celebrity cook for the Heinz Corporation Annual Report. He got in touch with me and I helped him with lighting for the shot. I remember his battered cameras and thought that this was a long way from Vietnam. Later we sat in my kitchen and Philip told unrepeatable tales-out-of-school about his Magnum mates. I emailed Philip in 2003 when his wonderful Agent Orange book was published. He replied to me from New York, saying he was busy editing and that the Agent Orange book had been "soundly ignored by the media."

Philip Jones Griffith was both a remarkable man and remarkable photographer. The Guardian's obituary put it like this: Philip Jones Griffiths, who has died aged 72 of cancer, was the most impassioned and clear-headed of anti-war war photographers. From 1966 to 1968, and again in 1970, he lived the Vietnam war from the inside, sharing the conditions of soldiers and civilians, putting himself at immense personal risk. In 1971 he assembled his reportage into a book, with his own scathing captions, entitled Vietnam Inc, which played a key role in changing public perceptions of the conflict, especially in the United States.
The level of impact the book had is indicated by Noam Chomsky's recent comment: "If anybody in Washington had read that book, we wouldn't have had these wars in Iraq or Afghanistan." 

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

1000 Words Photography Magazine - 10 year anniversary print edition





1000 Words is a leading online contemporary photography magazine. It commissions and publishes exhibition and photo book reviews, essays and interviews in response to the visual culture of our present moment. Founded by Tim Clark in 2008, the editorial commitment has always been to explore the possibilities for the medium whilst stimulating debate around current modes of practice, discourses and theory internationally. Released quarterly, it attracts an average of 140,000 unique visitors from more than 120 countries every month. 1000 Words was also nominated as Photography Magazine of the Year at the Lucie Awards in 2014 and 2016.

To celebrate 10 years of commitment to quality photography 1000 Words is producing a print edition, due for launch October 2018. But they need our support to make it happen. You can check out the 1000 Words Kickstarter campaign HERE. This is a great project and is totally worth supporting! 

1000 Words founder and editor Tim Clark has this to say: 

Since 2008, we’ve commissioned and published more than 850 exhibition and photobook reviews, essays and interviews. Contributors include critics and writers such as David Campany, Susan Bright, Gerry Badger and Charlotte Cotton; as well as respected artists Wolfgang Tillmans, Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin, Vanessa Winship and Lieko Shiga. 

We’ve grown our audience to readers in over 120 countries and attracted an approximately 140,000 unique visitors to the site every month. We have made more than 55,000 Twitter, Instagram and Facebook friends, and we’ve seen nearly 20,000 followers sign up to our newsletter. 

We’ve organised exhibitions and workshops, offered awards, and conducted countless talks and portfolio reviews. In 2014 and 2016 we were nominated for a prestigious Lucie Award in the ‘Photography Magazine of the Year’ category. 

Now we need your help to launch our first print magazine. 2018 marks the 10th anniversary of 1000 Words, and what better way to celebrate than to publish a special print annual? Designed by Sarah Boris, and printed in Italy, the publication will take the form of a beautiful 200-page bookish magazine featuring newly-commissioned content. At its core will be the high-quality reproductions of 10 portfolios from artists who, we believe, have built significant bodies of work and emerged as increasingly influential practitioners in the past decade. Those individuals include Jose Pedro Cortes, Laia Abril, Edmund Clark and Esther Teichmann to name but a few.

While you're at it you can sign up HERE for 1000 Words newsletters. 



Monday, March 19, 2018

Being: New Photography 2018 at MoMA, NYC



Aïda Muluneh -The 99 Series Part One 

Every two years, MoMA’s New Photography exhibition series presents fresh ideas in recent photography and photo-based art. This year’s edition, asks how photography can capture what it means to be human. 

At a time when questions about the rights, responsibilities, and dangers inherent in being represented—and in representing others—are being debated around the world, the works featured in this exhibition call attention to assumptions about how individuals are depicted and perceived. Many works challenge the conventions of photographic portraiture, or use tactics such as masking, cropping, or fragmenting to disorient the viewer. In others, snapshots or found images are taken from their original context and placed in a new one to reveal hidden stories. 
While some of the works might be considered straightforward representations of individuals, others do not include images of the human body at all. Together, they explore how personhood is expressed today, and offer timely perspectives on issues of privacy and exposure; the formation of communities; and gender, heritage, and psychology. 

Exploring new ground and the many forms that the photographic image can take, New Photography is a key part of the Museum’s contemporary program. Since 1985, the series has introduced new work by over 100 artists from around the world. In 2018, Being brings together an international group of 17 artists at various stages in their careers, all presenting their work at the Museum for the first time. 

The artists included are: Sofia Borges (Brazilian, born 1984) Matthew Connors (American, born 1976) Sam Contis (American, born 1982) Shilpa Gupta (Indian, born 1976) Adelita Husni-Bey (Italian, born 1985) Yazan Khalili (Palestinian, born Syria, 1981) Harold Mendez (American, born 1977) Aïda Muluneh (Ethiopian, born 1974) Hương Ngô and Hồng-Ân Trương (American, born Hong Kong, 1979; American, born 1976) B. Ingrid Olson (American, born 1987) Joanna Piotrowska (Polish, born 1985) Em Rooney (American, born 1983) Paul Mpagi Sepuya (American, born 1982) Andrzej Steinbach (German, born Poland, 1983) Stephanie Syjuco (American, born Philippines, 1974) Carmen Winant (American, born 1983).

You can see more on MoMA's site HERE. The exhibition is on view until August 19.


Sam Contis

Friday, March 9, 2018

PHOTO LONDON 2018 - talks programme announced



Photo London has announced details of the Talks Programme for the fourth edition of the Fair, which will take place 17 – 20 May 2018 at London's Somerset House.

Curated by curator and writer William A. Ewing, this year's varied Programme will showcase the rich history of photography from its inception to the present day and will explore the future direction of the form. It will feature lively talks and discussions with some of the world’s most important and innovative photographers, artists, dealers, curators and writers including:

Invisible Images: Trevor Paglen
Articles of Glass: Fox Talbot to Parker
Theatre of the Real: Simon Roberts
Evolving Spaces: Photography and the Museum
Mary McCartney at the National Portrait Gallery
Staged Reality: Alex Prager
Defining the 60s: Kirkland and O’Neill
Turning Time: Vera Lutter
Vanishing Point: Thomas Struth
The Royal Photographic Society Annual Lecture: Susan Lipper
Leica presents Bruce Gilden
Allegory: Raphaël Dallaporta
Night Swimming: Esther Teichmann
Beyond Photography A panel discussion with Milo Keller and artists Lorenzo Vitturi and Alix Marie, chaired by Lucy Soutter
Why Colour: Joel Meyerowitz
Compressed Life: Michael Wolf
In conversation with An-My Lê
Double Take: Cortis & Sonderegger
On the Precipice: Philippe Chancel
Discovery: Alternative Matter

You can book your tickets HERE now.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Martin Amis - The Gamblers



Martin Amis is best know for his wonderful online photobook store Photobookstore.co.uk. Surprise, surprise it's great to discover that Martin is also a photographer and a very good one. Actually it comes as no surprise, after all for anybody as passionate about photobooks as Martin Amis, how could they not be a photographer.

Martin Amis’ photobook The Gamblers is the culmination of his long-term project photographing at racecourses across the South of England. The Gamblers is an affectionate portrait of the racing crowd, a well-informed tribe of racing enthusiasts, from a quirky mix of class and social backgrounds, who come together to find the next winner. 

Martin immersed himself in the racing crowds, camera at the ready, often betting himself as he sought his next subject. Despite covering so many races over more than a decade with a variety of cameras and shooting strategies, Martin has skillfully collected his images into a single story. Filled with moments of gentle humour, The Gamblers will take you from highs to lows, through moments of tension to the frenetic and jubilant energy of the holding the winning slip. 

“Some of my fondest childhood memories are my regular trips to the races with my father. I loved to watch the horses race, but I loved even more to watch the motley cast of characters betting on them. The stench of beer and tobacco would fill the air, bookmakers’ chants of the latest odds cut through the gamblers lively conversations as I helped my father place his bets. I loved every moment and continued to gamble and enjoy horseracing into my adult life. As a photographer, it was a very obvious subject to focus my camera lens upon.” Martin Amis

And from Eva Clifford in the BJP- online: Working on The Gamblers for more than a decade, he was drawn to people rather than the horses themselves, and the “repeating set of rituals” that the crowd revolves around. “They make their selection, place a bet, visit the parade ring, find their horse and colours, take position in the stands to cheer on their selection and then perhaps finally visit the bar to celebrate or commiserate, and so forth,” he says. “Amongst this constant flow is a great diversity of spectators, whether it be die-hard local punters who attend every meeting to upper class social gatherings, or boisterous stag parties. When photographing, I must admit that I’m always drawn to the dedicated gamblers who assemble around the bookmakers. Even on a quiet Monday at a small track in the countryside, a faithful tribe of followers will gather to bet and watch the races and it’s pretty difficult not to get caught up in the excitement.”

You can read the full BJP story HERE, go to Martin Amis' website HERE and go to the Photobookstore HERE to buy The Gamblers.

The Gamblers will be published in April by RRB, priced £40 (or £125 for the special edition which includes a signed 10×8 print)





Monday, March 5, 2018

Mark Power and the American Dream

Mark Power (born 1959) is an English photographer, born in Harpenden, England. He is a member of Magnum Photos and Professor of Photography in The Faculty of Arts and Architecture at the University of Brighton. Power's documentary practice is project driven. I particularly think of Power's series where between 1992 and 1996, he embarked on The Shipping Forecast — a project that involved travelling to and photographing all 31 areas covered by the Shipping Forecast broadcast on BBC Radio 4. This project was published as a book and was a touring exhibition across the UK and France. He used a Volkswagen camper-van as his mode of transport for the project, echoing the late Tony Ray-Jones, whose work has similarities in style and meaning to Power's. 

It's timely then that Mark Power is recording the sad and sorry state of the slow (maybe not so slow) deterioration of American values. David Chandler writes in the Financial Times on Power's travels to America and his search for the American Dream and his witness to its collapse. Chandler is an eloquent write and Power is equally eloquent with his camera. 

You read the FT story HERE and go to Mark Power's website HERE

Below are selected images from Power's travels through the Southern states of Louisianna, Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia, beginning in New Orleans and ending in Atlanta.
Mark Power's Good Morning America (Vol 1) will be published by GOST later this year. 









Tuesday, February 27, 2018

The Artist's Statement - the Dentistry of the Art World



All of us who work in this crazy art business have had to write an artist's statement from time to time. We all hate having to do it... but often there is no way out. I've just had to write two statements and it was a chore. Not because I dislike writing, I just don't like writing about my work. For a start I don't think anybody reads what I've written and why should they... after all the work is not so much about what I'm trying to say, but about what the reader of the work takes out of it. And that has nothing to do with any tortured statement I was forced to write. At least I managed to avoid talking about memory and desire, two conceptual hooks that seem to crop up in far too many artist's statements. 
The worst artist's statements are not written by artist's at all but by their gallerist. These literary triumphs often enter the realm of stream of consciousness art speak mumbo-jumbo that attempts to elevate some poor daubers decorative rubbish to high art. 
With my head swimming in artist's statement land I came across a piece written by Jennifer Liese on the site PAPER MONUMENT. Here the artist's statement is put under the microscope and it's a good read. You can go there HERE
By way of a sample:  Of course, artists’ words have long been met with skepticism, not least by artists themselves. Matisse, despite his own eloquence, famously declared that “a painter ought to have his tongue cut out.” Pollock played dumb. Warhol mastered obfuscation. 
There’s no denying the sorry state of the statement, and we all know it. The ubiquitous request “Please include an artist statement …” inspires cringes and groans among artists. An artist friend of mine called artist statements “the dentistry of the art world,” ... one of several statement satires on YouTube features a pair of animated pig-artists translating pretentious claims of artist statements into the banal truth. Likewise, art professionals are tired of reading these often hyperbolic, embarrassing, or at best monotonous texts. Artist Nina Katchadourian, former curator of the Drawing Center’s Viewing Program, once told me that of the hundreds of artist statements she had read that year, only one really stood out. A gallery owner interviewed in Art/Work emphatically states that he never reads artist statements. What could be more deflating? You slave all week over your nourishing stew and no one even bothers to taste it.
Now if you are really stuck for a compelling artist's statement you can go to artybollocks generator and whip up a statement on demand. Here is one they wrote for me: 
My work explores the relationship between postmodern discourse and counter-terrorism.With influences as diverse as Blake and Andy Warhol, new combinations are synthesised from both mundane and transcendant textures. Ever since I was a child I have been fascinated by the theoretical limits of relationships. What starts out as hope soon becomes debased into a manifesto of temptation, leaving only a sense of failing and the dawn of a new beginning. As wavering forms become reconfigured through boundaried and academic practice, the viewer is left with a clue to the inaccuracies of our existence. 

And finally for some real inspiration you can go to YouTube and watch a 4 minute vid by writer, critic and educator Joerg Colberg. He nails it!!! You can go there HERE

Now get writing! 

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Peter Hujar: Speed of Life at The Morgan Library and Museum NYC


Susan Sontag, 1975,

Peter Hujar: Speed of Life is showing at The Morgan Library and Museum from January 26 until May 20. The exhibition presents one hundred and forty photographs by this enormously important and influential artist. Drawn from the extensive holdings of his work at the Morgan and from nine other collections, the show and its catalog follow Hujar from his beginnings in the mid-1950s to his central role in the East Village art scene three decades later. 

The catalogue features full-page reproductions of all 160 works in the exhibition, essays by curator Joel Smith, Philip Gefter, and Steve Turtell, and the first fully researched chronology, exhibition history, and bibliography to be published on Hujar. 

The life and art of Peter Hujar (1934–1987) were rooted in downtown New York. Private by nature, combative in manner, well-read, and widely connected, Hujar inhabited a world of avant-garde dance, music, art, and drag performance. His mature career paralleled the public unfolding of gay life between the Stonewall uprising in 1969 and the AIDS crisis of the 1980s. In his loft studio in the East Village, Hujar focused on those who followed their creative instincts and shunned mainstream success. He made, in his words, “uncomplicated, direct photographs of complicated and difficult subjects,” immortalizing moments, individuals, and subcultures passing at the speed of life. 


Boy on Raft, 1978

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Susan Meiselas, Meditations, at Jeu de Paume, Paris


Portrait de Susan Meiselas, Monimbo, Nicaragua
Septembre 1978 (detail) © Alain Dejean Sygma

Running until May 20, Jeu de Paume presents a retrospective devoted to the American documentary photographer Susan Meiselas. The exhibition brings together a selection of works from the 1970s to the present day.

 A member of Magnum Photos since 1976, Susan Meiselas questions documentary practice. She became known through her work in conflict zones of Central America in the 1970s and 1980s in particular due to the strength of her colour photographs. Covering many subjects and countries, from war to human rights issues and from cultural identity to the sex industry, Meiselas uses photography, film, video and sometimes archive material, as she relentlessly explores and develops narratives integrating the participation of her subjects in her works. The exhibition highlights Susan Meiselas’ unique personal as well as geopolitical approach, showing how she moves through time and conflict and how she constantly questions the photographic process and her role as witness.

The Guardian's Sean O'Hagan presents a perceptive overview of the exhibition...
When Meiselas became a Magnum photographer in 1976, she was one of five women. Today there are 13. In all its attempts to reinvent itself of late, it remains a predominantly male institution. “I can’t deny that,” she says. “And I’ve seen the comings and goings of women who have been involved. It’s a complicated issue. Do I want to say, ‘I’m a woman photographer and that’s what validates my view on the world?’ Really? Is that it? But, on the other hand, I do speak from a different perspective. I do have a different approach. Part of my role is to be a mediator, someone who brings people together.” She pauses. “People often ask me, ‘Why do you do it?’ Perhaps the more important question is, ‘What are they getting from it?’” You can read O'Hagan's full piece HERE.

You can go to Susan Meiselas's website HERE and Jeu de Paume HERE


Muchachos attendant la riposte de la Garde nationale, Matagalpa, Nicaragua
1978 Susan Meiselas © Susan Meiselas/ Magnum Photos

Fouille de toutes les personnes voyageant en voiture, en camion, en bus ou à pied, Ciudad Sandino, Nicaragua
1978 Susan Meiselas © Susan Meiselas/Magnum Photos

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Roger Deakins - Beauty in Simplicity



British cinematographer Roger Deakins is best known for his work on the films of the Coen brothers, Sam Mendes, and Denis Villeneuve. He is without doubt acknowledged as the pre-eminent cinematographer of our time. 

Roger Deakins was born in Torquay in the English county of Devon. While growing up in Torquay, Deakins spent most of his time focused on painting, his primary interest. He later enrolled in the Bath School of Art and Design where he studied graphic design. While studying in Bath, he discovered his love of photography and this led to his being hired to create a photographic documentary of Torquay his home town. About a year later, Deakins enrolled in the National Film and Television School in Buckinghamshire. He has never looked back...

This short YouTube documentary by Blake Keys explores some of Deakins primary visual language and is will worth a look. Even if you never stray from still photography there is much to learn from Roger Deakins artistry. You can watch the video HERE.

Roger Deakins: All I’ve ever wanted to do is take stills of people, or take documentaries about people, and try to express to an audience how somebody lives next door. You know what I mean? Just how similar we all are as individuals. And...If reviewers don't mention your work, it's probably better than if they do.









Friday, February 2, 2018

Jeff Mermelstein - the extraordinary out of the banal





Barbara Tannenbaum, Curator of Photography, at the Cleveland Museum of Art writes her take on "rule breakers" on the Don't Take Pictures web magazine. Tannenbaum zeros in on her pet hate - street photography. She says - I never want to see another street photograph. Especially one of New York. Yes, street photography captures an ever-changing spectacle, with new fashion trends and hairdos. But human behaviour and emotion, which are at the core of street images, remain stubbornly consistent. After decades of looking at people traversing the streets of New York in person and in photographs, what is there left to surprise me? 

I share Barbara Tannenbaum's dislike of street photography. It's not so much the name but the images that so many street photographers come up with. I've seen the same images time and time again, often silly stupid juxtapositions that are supposed to be funny or ironic. Whatever... these are what I call "one trick pony pictures" they mostly present nothing, say nothing and are like cotton candy at the County Fair one suck and it's gone. Further, so many "street photographers" still think it's 1972 and their photographs look like it too. Boring as fuck! 

When it comes to street photography Tennenbaum sites New Yorker Jeff Mermelstein as her "rule breaker". She says this -  there is plenty to surprise me when New York’s streets and their denizens are seen through the lens of Jeff Mermelstein. His images caught my eye, my heart, and my funnybone when I came across them on Instagram

Tennenbaum is right, Mermelstein does it his way, strange, bizarre and somewhat crazy. These are images of today, they reflect the ease and superficiality of social media connection. The rush of the every day, time passing in an instant. Click and like. Many of his instagram pictures are tight shots of iphone screens...private messages are revealed and we wonder at it all. Jeff Mermelstein is one of my favourite photographers, his pictures are a litmus test of today... Jeff's pictures do for the street what Bill Cunninghams's pictures did for fashion. 

You can read Barbara Tannenbaum's complete piece on Don't Take Pictures HERE. And this YouTube clip is well worth a look - Jeff Mermelstein tells it like it is HERE