Tag Archives: Arles

The future of photography

It’s been at least six months since an institution posed the modest question, what is the future of photography? so here is the latest manifestation of that discourse. During Unseen 2012, the Friday afternoon panel discussion ‘Future of Photography’ examined ‘what’s next’ in the contemporary photography landscape. Panel discussions members included Marc Feustel (Eyecurious blog), Simon Baker (Curator of Photography and International Art, Tate), James Reid (Director of Photography at Wallpaper), Christine Ollier (Artistic Director of Galerie les Filles du Calvaire), Francois Hébel (Director of Les Rencontres d’Arles Festival). The discussion was moderated by Marcel Feil, Artistic Director of FOAM.

In all seriousness, it’s a highly engaging and enjoyable video, particularly the section that flags up work from the new generation of photographic artists who are making waves (think Dru Donovan, Asger Carlsen, Letha Wilson, Akiko Takizawa to name but a few) and serves to highlight the many and various directions in which the medium is headed. If you want to read a summary of the issues that came to the fore before watching click here.

Viktoria Sorochinski, Attachment

Viktoria Sorochinski, Attachment

Viktoria Sorochinski

Attachment,
Montreal, 2006
From the Anna & Eve series
Website – ViktoriArt.com

Viktoria Sorochinski is a Ukrainian-born artist who has lived and studied in Russia, Israel, and Canada prior to settling in New York City, where she acquired her Masters of Fine Arts in 2008. Since 2001 she has participated in various group and solo exhibitions and international photography festivals in Canada, USA, France, Italy, Russia, China, Georgia and Argentina. She is also a finalist and winner of several international photography competitions and awards including Lucie Award – IPA (Discovery of the Year), Magenta Foundation's Flash Forward, PDN Photo Annual, Voices Off Arles, ONWARD, Review Santa Fe, Descubrimientos PHE, BluePrint Fellowship, and Encuentros Abiertos. Her work is widely published in internationally acclaimed magazines, among which are British Journal of Photography, EYEMAZING, NY Times, PDN, GUP, Le Monde, BLINK Magazine, THE PHOTO/ARTVAS, Planeando Sobre BUE, AZART Photo, and many others, as well as in web portals worldwide.

Imagining the Future Animal

Vincent Fournier is a photographer of the future—both the one that’s actually happened, and the science-fiction future that we hoped would come to be. In his earlier work, the French artist plucked robots out of laboratories and staged portraits of artificial life forms like Sony’s Asimo going about their business in the human world, drinking from a water fountain or playing basketball. In his sprawling “Space Project,” Fournier—who used to visit the Paris museum of science as a child—traveled to world’s centers of space exploration, places like the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Russia and NASA’s venerable Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Fournier’s photographs make the Mars Desert Research Station in Utah look like the forbidding alien landscape it was meant to stand in for, while his shots of technicians in bubble-helmeted space suits are mined from the same visual vein as Stanley Kubricks’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. These are glimpses of Tomorrowland, the space age that never quite took off. Even his work on Brasilia—the custom-built capital of Brazil, that perpetual “country of the future”—show an obsession with classic visions of tomorrow, with humankind’s effort to bring the universe to heel. “I love machines, the ones that fly, speak, count or observe,” Fournier has written. “I’m fascinated by the magical aspect of science, which seems to reduce the complexity of the world to a few mathematical formulae.”

In his new work, Fournier is still looking to the future—to the hard lines of the man-made—but he’s moved to things that are living. Or at least, things that may live. In his “Engineered Species” project, part of his recently released book Past Forward, Fournier explores how life itself tinkers with its own design, changing DNA to make species better, faster and stronger. Fournier took pictures of taxidermy specimens—stuffed and pinned animals—and brought them to animal geneticists to find how these species were evolving in real time as the environment, thanks largely to human action, keeps changing.

The result are new engineered species like a global warming-tolerant pangolin, a rodent-like Asian mammal with a tougher keratin skin that enables it to maintain a constant body temperature, even in a hotter climate. An ibis—a long-legged wading bird—evolves longer, stronger claws that help make it more resistant to both drought and frost. A rabbit—one that stares at the viewer with expressive blue eyes—is engineered for higher intelligence thanks to neural stem cell treatment.

None of these species are real yet, and like Fournier’s earlier space-age work, they may turn out to be a vision of a future that does not come to pass. But I doubt it. We’re already on our way to engineering new life forms, to tinkering with the DNA of the species around us—and eventually ours as well. We may have no other choice—the environment is changing more rapidly than wildlife can adapt to, and the result is a wave of extinction happening faster than any this planet has witnessed for millions of years. For nature to survive, it may have to become artificial—though even Fournier, who says he loves machines, has his doubts about our ability to control these metamorphoses. “The universe is not as well ordered as our machines,” he writes. “It acts in an irrational, chaotic, violent and mysterious way, and even though there are computers that can design our forests, the control remains artificial.” Our engineering, after all, can exceed our wisdom.

Vincent Fournier’s limited edition monograph Past Forward was recently released by IDEA BOOKS.

Additionally, Fournier’s photographic work will be on display as part of the Les Rencontres d’Arles photography festival in France through September.

apertureWEEK: Online Photography Reading Shortlist

Aperture aggregates the best posts from this past week in the photography blogosphere.

›› Vice‘s Motherboard blog released the never-before-told story of the first photograph ever uploaded to the World Wide Web, which celebrates its 20th anniversary next Wednesday.  The image, which has been referred to as “a Photoshop disaster,” has been met with equal parts adoration and horror since its release. The story also appeared on Gallerist NY and ABC News’ Tech This Out, which digs a bit deeper into the naïve roots of the image.

›› PIX, a proposed “photography lifestyle magazine for women,” has drawn commentary from photo editors Stella Kramer and Jasmine DeFoore and Jezebel blogger Katie J.M. Baker for its fluffy content—stories like “Smudge-proof makeup tips for long days behind the camera”—directed towards young female photographers.

›› Two years ago, Scott Blake, the digital artist behind the “Chuck Close Filter” website, was confronted by Close himself for what the painter believed to be unfair use of his copyrighted artwork. Blake recently recounted his dormant dispute with Close in an online essay, raising questions about when art is derivative, when it is plagiaristic, and if it’s possible for it to ever be entirely original. Wired reported, bloggers weighed in.

›› Les Rencontres d’Arles was in full swing last week. As The Guardian reported, Christian Patterson’s Redheaded Peckerwood took home the festival’s author book award, the second year in a row that a Mack-published photobook has won the award—Taryn Simon’s A Living Man Declared Dead…was the 2011 winner. Jonathan Torgovnik won the €25,000 Discovery prize for Intended Consequences, and The Latin American Photobook was awarded the festival’s historical book prize. Additionally, Magnum celebrated its 65th anniversary at the festival, announced nominees Zoe Strauss, Jerome Sessini and Bieke Depoorter, and considered what the future holds for the organization.

›› Yoda reviewed photobooks a couple of weeks ago on Blake Andrews’ blog. We can’t believe we missed it. Work by Vivian Maier, Duane Michals, Rinko KawauchiAlec Soth and John Gossage, and The PhotoBook Review were amongst the titles critiqued by the Jedi Master. On the Gossage/Soth collaboration The Auckland Project: “Tack this poster to their dorm room I’m guessing few collectors shall. In protective cover will it remain. Hmm. Yeesss.”

›› The Rolling Stones celebrate their 50th anniversary this week and Magnum has reached into the archives, posting on their Facebook page a vintage Guy Le Querrec image of Mick Jagger and Keith Richards at a show in 1967. Over at The New Yorker, Photo Booth has launched an 11-image slideshow of photos from the band’s early years, including a birds-eye shot of fans mobbing the band’s vehicle after a press conference at the Hilton, NYC in 1965.

›› More in anniversary news…In celebration of  the 50th anniversary of Andy Warhol’s first solo exhibition, at the Ferus Gallery in Los Angeles, The Metropolitan Museum of Art is planning Regarding Warhol: Fifty Artists, Fifty Years, which opens in September and will also feature works by photographers Cindy Sherman and Robert Mapplethorpe. Over at NokiaConnects Joel Willians recounts the 5 Strangest Habits of Andy Warhol, asking the age-old question, “Eccentricity and genius go hand in hand, right?”

Photo Shows – Debby Besford’s series The Boudoir of the Burlesque Performer on show at The Queen of Hungary Norwich

There is no particular order to the photographs. It is intended that the viewer spend time looking at the details of each interior, finding clues that only scratch the surface of the performer’s true identity. Debby Besford, The Boudoir of the Burlesque Performer

All photos © Debby Besford

Before I get accused of being London-centric, I’m delighted to let you know that photographer Debby Besford, who I met three years ago in Arles where I first saw this project, is exhibiting work from her series The Boudoir of the Burlesque Performer at theThe Queen of Hungary (what a fitting name) in Norwich. The show is open from 12-5pm and runs until 8 July. The work is also available as a book on Blurb.

In Besford’s artist’s statement she notes that: “These documentary photographs show the private interiors of the performers’ bedrooms. They play on the idea of what is real and what is fictional. The home-based domestic interiors are in themselves a theatre where the lives of the performers take on a different persona.

“Collaboration with these women has been a journey of immense trust and respect. I did not seek to deconstruct the female performer stereotype or their bedrooms but to explore how these women have taken on total responsibility for the acceptance of their image as well as the fantasies linked to public representation of their ‘acted bodies’.

“My work investigates a complexity of issues about the representation of the contemporary female, with emphasis on the Burlesque Stage Performer. This naturally led onto questioning both the idea of play between photographer, private space, intimacy, fantasy and the real, as well as the mystique of the performer.” From Besford’s artist statement

To see and read more…


“This body of work has evolved from a deep-rooted curiosity about female sexuality and how this can be expressed in a positive way. The New Burlesque Revival in the 21st Century could be seen as a reaction to women wanting to have fun with their sexuality and celebrate their femininity through a staged persona.

“The attraction for many of these women is that there is no dominant male structure behind these shows and full social and economic autonomy for these women is completely unlike a striptease artist. Both physical and moral integrity are preserved. Burlesque does not involve total nudity.”


All photos © Debby Besford

Filed under: Documentary photography, Photographers, Photography Shows, Women Photographers Tagged: burlesque, Debby Besford, documentary, Norwich, photo show, portraits, The Boudoir of the Burlesque Performer, The Queen of Hungary

Falls, Peterson, Torgovnik at Rencontres d’Arles

Watch live streaming video from lesrencontresdarles at livestream.com.

This summer, catch exhibitions by Sam Falls, Regine Petersen, and Jonathan Torgovnik at Recontres d’ Arles (on view through September 23, 2012).  Now in it’s 43rd year, Arles, one of the world’s largest photography festivals, is hosting 60 exhibitions, favoring mostly unpublished work, presented by its founders, teachers and photographers as well as curators who have emerged from their influential school at 20 heritage sites in the South of France.

Sam Falls, who’s work was profiled in Aperture #205, is exhibiting a series of images “investigating the medium’s potential as an art form,” he writes, “but [that] also continue exploring photography’s capacity for representation and challenging its veracity.” The exhibition, which is curated by Philip S. Block, showcases photographs that Falls has manipulated with Photoshop, then hand-painted as well. “The question this raises,” Falls states, “beyond specific medium’s ability to represent an object or idea, is the question of perception itself and how we relate today to photography and painting.”

Regine Petersen, one of the photographers featured in Aperture’s Regenerations 2: Tomorrow’s Photographers Today, is exhibiting a series of photographs about meteorites, what she calls “thought images,”  that mark her so-called map from the location of the falls and finds, to the personal lives of eye witnesses and descendants. ”Rather than a reconstruction of the events,” she writes, Finding a Falling Star, presented by Olivier Richon, ”is a collection of traces, an investigation into the workings of time, memory and history and an attempt to create a link between the ordinary and the sublime.” Petersen’s limited edition print Ladybug, 2006, a work from an earlier series, is considered typical of her style of “thought image.”

Jonathan Torgovnik‘s Intended Consequences, which is a series of environmental portraits made in Rwanda of women that were brutally raped during the Rwandan genocide and the children they bore from those encounters, was published as a monograph by Aperture in 2009 alongside a DVD produced by MediaStorm of interviews with the subjects. The exhibition at Rencontres d’Arles, presented by Tadashi Ono, is intended to spread these stories to a wider public, in hopes, Torgovnik writes, that “people will be inspired to act and work toward ensuring that similar acts of violence never happen again, and that those families can have a brighter future.”

Rencontres d’ Arles
Festival runs:
July 2 – September 23, 2012

Contact
34 rue du docteur Fanton
13200 Arles
33 (0) 4 90 96 76 06

Alex Crétey Systermans, Untitled

Alex Crétey Systermans, Untitled

Alex Crétey-Systermans

Untitled,
France, 2010
From the Slowdown series
Website – Systermans.com

Alex Cretey Systermans is a Paris-based fine art and editorial photographer. He received his MFA from The Villa Arson in Nice, France. His work has been featured in La Pura Vida Magazine, Conscientious, National Geographic, Le Monde, and L'Express and he regularly contributes to A/R Magazine. Alex has had group and solo shows in France, the United Kingdom and in the U.S. He'll take part of a group show in Rencontres d'Arles in July and is preparing a solo exhibition in November 2012 for the Mois de la Photo in Paris.

Review: Will Steacy (ed.), Photographs Not Taken

Photographs Not Taken

We live in the age of photo proliferation. Digital technology in all its forms (cameras, phones, computers, the Internet) has made photography the most democratic of media, both in terms of making and disseminating images. And they are everywhere, all the time: on our TVs, our computer screens, our smartphones and in our streets. Of course, this state of affairs is not as new as we might think—it has been in place since Walter Benjamin and his age of mechanical reproduction—but digital technology has led this proliferation to take off exponentially.

The impact of this is clear, even in traditional, ‘purist’ photography circles. In 2007 the Musée de l’Elysée in Lausanne created a crowd-sourced exhibition entitled We Are All Photographers Now, allowing anyone to upload their photographs to be included in the show. More recently Europe’s biggest photo-festival, the Rencontres d’Arles, centred on an exhibition entitled From Here On, a kind of manifesto for the age of the online image (“Now we’re a species of editors. We all recycle, clip and cut, remix and upload. We can make images do anything.”) where much of the work was made by artists appropriating or collecting other people’s images. Even Elliot Erwitt has been saying that more pictures are better than one.  So what a relief to open a photobook (am I allowed to call it that?) and discover that it does not contain a single picture: the cover’s ‘empty’ frame is the closest thing to an actual photograph.

Photographs Not Taken is a collection of essays about photographs that, for one reason or another, did not end up being taken. The writer and photographer Will Steacy, who edited the volume, asked an eclectic group of photographers (Emmet Gowin, Tim Hetherington, Laurel Nakadate and Jamel Shabazz all feature to give you an idea of the mix) to “abandon the conventional tools needed to make a photograph–camera, lens, film—and instead make a photograph using words.” The book is both a collection of opportunities missed, of attempts to conjure up in words those images that got away, but also a look into the psychology of the photographer and their ethics, reflexes, and methods.

Naturally many of these non-photographs were not taken because of an ethical or moral decision by the photographer, a decision that photojournalists must face on a day-to-day basis. Interestingly, many of the writers contrasted the act of taking a photograph with the state of being present as a human being. In these cases the camera is described as a defense to hide behind, with which to shield the photographer from the impact of the moment happening in front of or to them. The book also has its more surreal moments: Matt Salacuse describes the scientologist jedi mind trickery of Tom Cruise forcing him to lower his camera and to pass up the opportunity of photographing Cruise and Kidman’s newborn adopted baby.

It must be said that the essays are uneven… after all this is a collection of texts by photographers and not by writers. I found that some of the texts failed to bring the images to life, or perhaps that too many of these images ended up ‘sounding’ the same. For me Roger Ballen‘s essay stood out: he avoids any explanation of why he didn’t photograph the scene he describes (did he even have a camera with him on that day?), but there is no question whose world this lost moment belonged to. Rather than in attempting to resurrect lost images through words, an exercise that surely would be better accomplished by a group of writers, I found Photographs Not Taken to be most successful when it makes the reader think about the decisions that go into making, or not making a photograph. And if it encourages us to put down our cameras from time to time, that can only be a good thing.

Note: The International Center of Photography in New York will be hosting a book signing with several of the contributors on Friday, March 23rd from 6:00-7:30 p.m.

Will Steacy (ed.), Photographs Not Taken, (Daylight, 2012).

Rating: Worth a look

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