For its latest issue (#71), Source magazine is asking the question, “What is conceptual photography?” To go along with the mag they have produced three short talking-head videos exploring this question with a handful of artists and critics. The importance of the “concept” in contemporary photography has always interested me. In the photo-world, the question regularly pops up about why “straight” photography isn’t taken seriously by the art world. Those in the straight photography corner often appear to see conceptual photography as impure in some way, as if it were not what photography is really about. Without wanting to spark off another one of these debates, it seems to me that concept is indeed considered paramount in Western art photography today (in my experience, this is not at all the case in Japan, where “serious” photography can still very much be about wandering around with a camera and taking pictures). For example, I’m often struck by young photographers struggling to hang an ill-fitting artist statement with some big ideas in it over the shoulders of work that is clearly not conceptual in the slightest… presumably because they have been taught to do so in art school. Wherever you stand on this question (or however delightfully far away you stand from it) these videos provide an interesting look at how photography became so excited about concepts and what the hell “conceptual photography” is even supposed to mean in the first place.
Tokyo is not an easy place to get to grips with, especially for those of us who are used to the structure and scale of most European cities. Its multi-layered sprawl and labyrinthine underground transport network can make it feel like a never-ending maze. Like the city itself, Tokyo’s art scene can feel impenetrable to an outsider. The fluctuations of the art world make it difficult to keep up with the art landscape in any big city, but Tokyo more than most as the contemporary art market is not as developed and established as in the US or Europe. This doesn’t mean fewer galleries, but rather more of them and a constant ebb and flow of relocations, openings, and closures too. As a regular visitor to the city over the last decade, I still feel as if I have only seen the tip of the art scene iceberg. Galleries are often small, tiny even, and difficult to find, rarely at street level but tucked away in a basement or on the 4th floor of an anonymous building in a non-descript neighbourhood. Part of the charm if you’re gallery hopping, but if you actually have to get to a meeting, it can be a little more stressful. I often rely on Tokyo Art Beat, a kind of online art events guide (in both Japanese and English) including exhibition reviews that tells you what is on in Tokyo. A very useful tool, in its attempt to be comprehensive it also ends up being a little overwhelming and is probably more useful when you know what you are looking for.
Thankfully there is now another online English-language resource to turn to. Art Space Tokyo has existed as a physical book since 2008, but it has now been launched on digital platforms and as a website including three major sections: spaces, interviews and essays, as well as a timeline of some of the major art events in Tokyo over the last 60+ years. Rather than going for a comprehensive picture of the Tokyo art scene, Art Space Tokyo limits itself to a couple of handfuls of spaces and art world ‘players’, providing the essential info but also going into some depth and analysing current trends. The essays included also tackle interesting questions such as the nature of Japanese street art or the state of art journalism and criticism in Japan, making this much more than a guidebook to the Tokyo art world. The authors, Ashley Rawlings and Craig Mod, have also clearly given a lot of thought to translating all the content from a paper book to digital platforms (iPad, Kindle) and to a website. They have been generous too, putting up the entire contents of the book online for free, even holding on to Nobumasa Takahashi‘s great illustrations, rather than treating the site as a sneak preview promotional tool. This one is bound to come in handy on my next visit to Tokyo.
BFA in Photography from The Maryland Institute, College of Art in
Baltimore, Maryland . Brady maintains a studio in Washington,
DC and Orlando, Florida. She is Associate Professor in the School of
Visual Arts and Design, University of Central Florida. Brady is also working to make Fotoweek D.C., running November 9-18th, a huge success.
Portraits: An Inside Look at the DC Art World
Desks as Portraits: An Inside Look at the DC Art World documents the desks of artists, curators, collectors, art critics, dealers, museum directors and taste makers in the District. This project has become a “six degrees of separation” in the DC Art World. One photo shoot leads to another in which Brady asks for recommendations and names of possible subjects. Further introductions are made and invitations accepted which allows her private access to people who are making significant contributions to contemporary art and photography in DC.
This series explores the concept of desk as portrait combined with the social experiment of navigating the DC art world. Robinson plans to continue this series in new markets at home and abroad. This work has been featured in The Washington Post, Channel One Russia TV and won Grand Prize in the “American Life” exhibition in the 2011 Lishui Photography Festival.
Spinello, New York Pulse 2010, Artist: Zachari Logan,
New York, 2010
From the Art Fare series
Website – AndyFreeberg.com
Andy Freeberg was born in New York City where he learned at an early age to be a critical observer of the world and the people in it. He studied at the University of Michigan, began his career as a photojournalist and now concentrates primarily on fine art projects. Freeberg has recently emerged on the contemporary art scene as a wry commentator on the art industry itself. Long fascinated with the gallery and museum worlds, he often turns his camera on the dealers, gallery patrons, artists, museum guards, and their interplay with the works of art on view. His project Guardians, about the women that guard the art in Russian museums, won Photolucida’s Critical Mass book award and was published in 2010. The Guardians will be on view at the Cantor Museum at Stanford University through January 2013. His series, Art Fare, documenting another side of the art world, will open at Kopeikin Gallery in Los Angeles in September 2012. Freeberg’s work is in many public and private collections including the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, The Portland Art Museum, the George Eastman House, and the Museum of Fine Arts Houston.
The very day after the 2011 LOOK3 Festival of the Photograph ended, this year’s guest curators—National Geographic photographer Vincent Musi and Washington Post visuals editor David Griffin—started to put together the slate of artists who will appear this coming weekend. The annual for-photographers-by-photographers event in Charlottesville, Va. runs June 7-9. But, says Musi, the weekend will include the work of more than one year: professional relationships and the curators’ senses of balance, both developed over many years, were key in the decision process.
The three artists chosen by Musi and Griffin to be this year’s INSight Artists—the featured photographers who, Griffin says, must be people who have made a significant body of work and can inspire other photographers—are Stanley Greene, Donna Ferrato and Alex Webb. Masters talks will be given by Ernesto Bazan, Hank Willis Thomas, Lynsey Addario, Bruce Gilden, Robin Schwartz and Camille Seaman; David Doubilet is this year’s TREES Artist, whose work will be hung in trees along Charlottesville’s downtown pedestrian mall.
Although the festival does not have an explicit theme, Musi says that a documentary slant is strong in all of the featured work. “We also have this crossover because advertising and the fine-art world are really stepping up and doing a lot of what journalism used to do,” he says. And it goes both ways: he cites Hank Willis Thomas as someone who is using journalistic forms outside of the world of journalism. “The common thread,” Musi says. “is that everyone is very excited to have a foot in each world, but the work is very documentary in nature.”
Griffin echoes that sentiment, citing the aesthetic vision evident in Alex Webb’s work as an example of great journalism that “hits that beautiful spot” that touches the art world. He says that this year’s LOOK3 will place a heavier emphasis on individual shows for the speakers’ work, so that guests who attend the talks will be able to see the pictures discussed. There will be more than a dozen hours of onstage programming and a dozen print shows hung, which is more than in previous years.
Both curators agree, though, that the artists who present are not necessarily the highlights of the festival. “This is building a community and sustaining it, so that people go from one side of the stage to the other and back again,” says Musi. That community is made up of artists who attend as viewers, give talks a later year and then maybe teach a workshop some other time.
And artists who just hang out: “There’s a coffee house and it’s right outside of one of the hotels, and I just remember walking out each morning and David Alan Harvey would always be sitting out there having a cup of coffee,” Griffin says of past festivals, “and there’d be Martin Parr sitting with him or Jim Nachtwey, and you’d just walk up and sit down and start talking with a person. That’s one of the really cool things about the festival.”
More information about this year’s LOOK3 Festival of the Photograph, which will take place in Charlottesville, Va., from June 7-9, is available here.
Already an award-winning photographer of contemporary Afghanistan, Simon Norfolk returned this time to follow the footsteps of a relatively unknown Irish war photographer, John Burke, who had documented the Second Anglo-Afghan War (1878-1880). An immensely engaging book presents the works of both photographers, as well as compelling essays that offer context to this subtle and complex work.
This work is also currently on exhibit at the Tate Modern in London, and it won a World Press Photo Award, too. carrera de fotografia . It is highly unusual for a single body of work to be lauded by both the fine art world and praised by the toughest critics in documentary photojournalism. squido lense .
See 20 photographs, and read more about the book, here in Lens Culture.
Over the course of twelve years the Affordable Art Fair has transformed the model of the traditional art fair, driving the notion that fine art is within everyone’s reach, showcasing new and emerging artists, galleries, and must-see installations in 11 locations around the world. To date, the roster includes editions in Amsterdam, Bristol, Brussels, London, Los Angeles, Melbourne, Milan, New York, North London, Singapore, and Sydney.
Will Ramsay founded the fair in 1999 as an extension of the ‘accessible’ marketing drive evolved from Will’s Art Warehouse, the UK gallery that he has maintained since 1996, and today specializes in selling a wide range of contemporary art priced between £40 and £4,000. In an interview with Table Talk, Ramsay notes, “My aim, when founding the Affordable Art Fair was to break down the barriers of the sometimes stuffy and intimidating art world — giving ‘the terrified’ the opportunity to enjoy and collect art in a fun and informal atmosphere.” He often relays an experience of entering galleries and being met with “frosty reception”, a fear factor that he sought to eliminate in launching the first Affordable Art Fair in London, 1999. This first fair, an instant hit, attracted 87 galleries, 10,000 visitors, and grossed £1 million in sales. Now, a bit more than a decade since its founding, the Affordable Art Fair is an internationally-recognized and leading showcase for contemporary art, having welcomed more than one million visitors as of 2011, and sold over $270 million worth of art.
NEXT WEEK, the UK-based fair makes a return to the art capital of the US for its third annual spring edition, hosting more than seventy unique exhibitors over five days at 7W in New York City. Browse the full list of exhibitors here.
Wednesday through Sunday, join Aperture at the Affordable Art Fair to browse and buy a selection of just-published books, bestsellers, and new limited-edition prints, plus take advantage of a special offer on Aperture-magazine subscriptions.
Thursday, April 19, Aperture will present a talk and walk-through with W. M. HUNT, curator, collector, consultant, teacher, fundraiser, and author of the new Aperture book The Unseen Eye: Photographs from the Unconscious ($52.50, available here). Join Bill, who is known for his wit and larger-than-life personality, for an entertaining presentation on the art of collecting.
Aperture Booth and The Insider’s Eye:
A Talk and Walk-through with W. M. Hunt
Wednesday, April 18, 2012–Sunday, April 22, 2012
The Affordable Art Fair
7 West 34th Street
New York, New York
Featuring fifteen artists from around the world, the Museum of Contemporary Photography’s newest exhibition, Survival Techniques: Narratives of Resistance examines social conflict, political corruption and the common ways humans learn to survive.
Prior to the opening reception – which takes place on April 12 from 5 to 7 pm – there will be two events held in conjunction with the exhibition:
Film Screening: Before Ai Weiwei and Enemies of the People
Wednesday, April 11, 6:30 pm
Join the MoCP for a film screening pairing two documentary films addressing the ways humans interpret and cope with government oppression.
Daria Menozzi’s Before Ai Weiwei is based on an interview with the artist Ai Weiwei in 1995 and exposes his early political beliefs at a time when he is both estranged from the country where he lives and also poised to position himself as a global force within the art world. The second film, Enemies of the People directed by Thet Sambath and Rob Lemkin, interviews the men and women who perpetrated government-sponsored massacres between 1975-79. The screening will take place at the Hokin Lecture Hall, located at 623 S. Michigan Ave.
Curator Talk and Opening Reception
Thursday, April 12, 4 pm
Welcome Survival Techniques guest curator, Davide Quadrio, and contributing artists, Julika Rudelius and Li Mu, as they walk visitors through the exhibition at 4 p.m. The opening reception, which will be held at the MoCP, will immediately follow.