Chris Dorley-Brown grew up on the south coast of England but has lived and worked in the east end of London for the last thirty years. His influences are shaped by personal memory and those of others. The east end and its ever-increasing diaspora — with its tradition of radicalism, experimentation and innovation — are crucial to his work. Immigration, integration, conflict and movement are all studied in his images. In addition to his photographic archive production, since 1993 he has been collaborating with artists, filmmakers, curators, performers and writers producing feature film, short film, radio, publications and exhibitions. He lives and works in London.
In 2003, a young American historian named David Shneer was conducting research in Moscow when he heard about an exhibition of photographs called Women at War. At the time, displaying photography on gallery walls was still a fairly novel concept for Russia, and the exhibit was not meant to be a blockbuster. To get inside, Shneer found that he had to ring a doorbell at a nondescript building, at which point a raspy voice came over the intercom and demanded: “Who are you? What do you want?” But the images inside astounded him.
Not only had they been taken with incredible skillarranging light and form in a way that would put to shame many of today’s war photographersbut they were from the Soviet battlefields of World War II, which made the surnames of their authors seem all the more strange. About four out of five of them, Shneer noticed, were Jewish surnames. “How is it possible,” he thought, “that a bunch of Jews, who are supposed to be oppressed by the Soviet Union, are the ones charged with photographing the war?”
As delicately as he could, Shneer put the question to one of the curators, who in typical Moscow style had a glass of wine in one hand and a cigarette in the other. “She looked at me like I’m an idiot and said, ‘Yes, the photographers were all Jewish.’” It turned out she was the granddaughter of one of them, Arkady Shaykhet, and their conversation that day is what led to the exhibit that opened on Nov. 16 at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York City. Links backlinks blog comments . It has the same title as the book Shneer wrote from his researchThrough Soviet Jewish Eyes: Photography, War and the Holocaust.
The show explores the way World War II was covered in the pages of Soviet newspapers such as Pravda, casting light on a side of the Holocaust that often gets short shrift in western history books. The genocide against the Jews, usually associated with images of Nazi death camps and gas chambers, was also perpetrated through mass shootings across Eastern Europe. Later termed the “Holocaust by Bullets,” it took more Jewish lives than the concentration camps, says Shneer, and it was documented most poignantly by the Jewish photographers of the Soviet press.
Although none of them are still alive to tell their story, Shneer spent the better part of a decade tracking down their relatives in Moscow and collecting nearly 200 works from their family archives. The prints were often no bigger than a pack of cigarettes, taken with beat-up cameras and two roles of film allotted for each battle. There are more faceless soldiers in these frames than intimate portraits of victims, and the most common theme is emptiness, at once bleak and monumental. But given their historical context, what seems most striking is the duality that runs through the lives and works of these photographers. On the one hand, these are works of Soviet propaganda, glorifying the Red Army in the tradition of socialist realism. “They needed photos of nurses doing good work on the home front, patriotic soldiers conquering territory,” says Shneer. “And their Jewishness rarely appears in that kind of material.”
But it does appear when they go off assignment to explore the Jewish ghettos in places like Ukraine and Hungary. There they found survivors living among the ruins of Europe, the yellow Stars of David on their overcoats still marking them for death. In the Budapest ghetto, the photographer Evgenii Khaldei found the corpses of his fellow Jews strewn about the floor of a gutted shop, a scrap of butcher paper covering the face of a man whose body lies in the doorway. Images like this did not appear in the mainstream Soviet press, but they were published in Eynikayt, or Unity, the Yiddish-language newspaper of the USSR. “We have this image in our heads that Jewishness was completely suppressed in the Soviet Union,” says Shneer. “But that’s really apost-war image of the country.”
Antisemitism only became part of Soviet dogma in 1948, the year that Israel was founded and Josef Stalin began his campaign against the”cosmopolitans” a Soviet byword for Jews. Many of the best Jewish photographers lost their staff positions at Pravda and other major publications that year, and phrases like “too many Jews on staff” began appearing in the official correspondence between the editors and their government censors. Some of the photographers continued working as freelancers for the propaganda press, but even after their experiences on the front, they rarely embraced their heritage. “None of these guys were buried in the Jewish cemetery,” says Shneer. “None ever tried to leave for Israel. None learned Hebrew.”
Soviet patriotism and its predilections came first, in their lives and in the work they produced. Even long after the fall of communism, when Shneer was conducting his research, the last surviving photographer from this group refused to meet with him. “He was still living in the Soviet world where meeting with a foreigner was scary.” In their style and execution, the images they captured are rooted in that world. They document the greatest triumph of the Soviet Union. But regardless of whether they are viewed on the pages of Pravda or a gallery wall, that world does not bind their relevance as monuments and works of art.
Simon Shuster is TIMEs Moscow reporter.
ThroughSoviet Jewish Eyes: Photography, War and the Holocaust will be on view at the Museum of Jewish Heritage from Nov. 16 2012 to April 7, 2013.
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, unveiled their survey of war photography, WAR/PHOTOGRAPHY: Images of Armed Conflict and Its Aftermath, on Armistice Day yesterday. The FT Weekend magazine featured some of the work from the exhibition in their latest issue. You can view the FT article and slideshow here. You can also read about the show over at Photo District News, which interviewed the exhibition’s curators.
Below war in Iraq photograph from 2003 by Yuri Kozyrev, which FT Weekend ran as a double truck.
Yuri Kozyrev (Russian, b. 1963) is a member of Noor Images and a contract photographer with Time magazine.
Dedicated to the emergence of the newest forms of contemporary art as it is, the Palais de Tokyo sees participating in the renewal of the ecosystem of art as part of its remit. This is why it undertakes to seek out and support new players, and new directions. Thus in the summer of 2013 the Palais de Tokyo is entrusting its entire programme schedule to “young curators”. Selected on the basis of the proposals they submit, the winners will bear witness to the perpetual reinvention of the issues involved in curating an exhibition, their scouting talent, and their ability to dream up new ways of relating to art. This event is likewise intended to demonstrate the dynamism of Paris and the surrounding area as part of a joint initiative involving a great many partners and institutions.
The proposed project must clearly demonstrate innovative thinking about exhibition formats. Whether it relates to a solo or a group exhibition, it must envisage occupying a surface area that can be as large as 250 sq. m. It must be capable of evolving in accordance with the technical constraints and the diversity of spaces that apply at the Palais de Tokyo. The selection will be made primarily on the basis of the inventiveness of the project, its curatorial boldness, and its relevance in the current field of creative work. Applicants can indicate a preference as regards the typology of space best suited to their proposal. Applicants can be curators and/or artists.
The application file will consist of:
1. a statement of intent
2. an illustrated list of proposed artists (and/or works)
3. an estimated budget in euros comprising the items: production of works, transport, materials and equipment required
4. a CV
5. an artistic documentation giving a short description of the previous curatorial projects carried out by the applicant
6. anything else likely to shed light on the proposed project
File to be forwarded before 30 September, 2012
– In digital format to: [email protected]
– As a hard copy to: Palais de Tokyo, Young Curators, 13 av du prsident Wilson, F-75116 Paris, France
Applicants must be under 40 years of age.
The Palais de Tokyo will bring together a jury consisting of seven curators from its team, its President, Jean de Loisy, and several suitably qualified notabilities. Following an initial selection, the applicants chosen will present their proposal to the jury in person. The traveling expenses of the applicants selected to present their proposals orally will be covered by the Palais de Tokyo. Between ten and fifteen winners will be named following this second phase.
FOLLOW-THROUGH OF THE PROJECT:
Each winner will be assigned a curator as their main contact at the Palais de Tokyo and will be supported by the production service throughout the implementation of the project. squido lense . The total estimate budget for the season is 500,000, excluding caretaking and security, mediation and communication. Each curator selected will receive a sum of 1500 euros as a fee, not to be included in the estimated budget.
Call for applications: beginning of June 2012
Applications to be submitted before 30 September, 2012
Oral interviews of those selected in the first round: 5 November, 2012
Winners announced during the week of 5 November, 2012
Exhibition: June 2013
For information, a plan of the Palais de Tokyo etc click here.
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.
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
July 2 – September 23, 2012
34 rue du docteur Fanton
33 (0) 4 90 96 76 06
The High Museum of Art commissioned Martin Parr to document Atlanta as part of its Picturing the South project—a series of artist commissions that engage with the American South. Channeling his unparalleled ability to collate humor, wit, and curiosity into his heavily socio-cultural photographs, Parr captured the oddities and eccentricities of contemporary Americana.
British-born Parr, whose photography career spans over 30 years, is known for his provocative documentary style by using cultural criticism through an exaggerated and humorous light. His analysis of how we live is not simply satire, as Parr offers his audience an approach to seeing which acts not to denounce, but to highlight (both aesthetically and thematically) patterns between people, the things we consume and the milieus in which we live.
The outcome of the museum’s commission offers a vivid, comedic and touching perspective on the diversity that lies in Atlanta. Parr covers a large body of subject matter in his findings, which ranges from the high and low—juxtaposing images from a gallery opening to an oddly lengthy corn dog on a stick. Parr’s images offer insight which would only be found through the lens of a meticulous and curious outsider.
Beyond the exhibition at the High Museum of Art, Italian publisher Contrasto released a book, Up and Down Peachtree: Photographs of Atlanta, and a documetary, Hot Spots: Martin Parr in the American South. The book, a meticulously edited and impeccably designed object in its own right, is printed without text beyond the book’s title and colophon—which, undeniably, is a testament to Parr’s talent for storytelling. The documentary is a 60-minute lens behind the lens where documentarian Neal Broffman followed Parr photographing around Atlanta. The documentary includes interviews with noted curators, writers, critics and photographers, and offers a look into at Parr’s real-life affable personality and interactions with his subjects. Below, Contrasto has given LightBox an exclusive clip on the documentary:
Martin Parr’s photographs are on view now through September 9, 2012, as part of Picturing the South: New Commissions from the High Museum of Art. Up and Down Peachtree and Hot Spots: Martin Parr in the American South are both available for purchase online.
I’m very lucky to be in Lima right now because kicking off this week is Lima’s first ever Photography Biennial. As part of the event there are over 30 official shows, about half a dozen of which opened last night. My first stop was at a show of painted photo portraits entitled “Memorias Visuales, el retrato iluminado y la historia cotidiana” (Visual Memory: the Illuminated Portrait and Daily Life). The exhibit, which is curated by Carlos Sánchez Giraldo and Sofía Velásquez Núñez contains painted photo portraits from the 1920s to the 1970s.
The wall text mentions that the curators were inspired to mount this show because they themselves had grown up with the constant gaze of these portraits (of grandparents, great grandparents) in their houses. Painted portraits were very common across Latin America. The involved painting directly on black and white photos. They have this weird way of bringing the subjects to life (in color) but also sucking the life out by removing the photo-ness of the image.
There seems to be a lot of interest in retratos pintados today. Photo historian Geoffrey Batchen has written about fotoesculturas in Mexico as part of his interest in vernacular photography. Yossi Milo Gallery in New York did a show of Brazilian retratos pintados in 2010. In Argentina, Florencia Blanco did a series of photos placing retratos in different contexts. While I was in Iquitos recently, nearly every house I went into had one of these portraits hanging on the walls.
The curators did a fantastic job of mounting the show, decorating the space with vintage wall paper and furniture, making the gallery into a cozy, domestic space. It allows the visitor to appreciate the domestic function of these portraits and makes visiting the show an experience that cannot be reproduced in a book or website (or blog post!).
In viewing some of the portraits I was reminded of the Fayum Portraits from ancient Roman Egypt, some of my favorite works of art. I was particularly fascinated by a few of the portraits where the paint was laid on very lightly in places.
There is an interesting play between the painted surface and monochromatic undersurface. Where the paint is light, it’s like the flesh is dissolving away. This is cheesy, I know, but I was reminded of the end of Terminator, when Arnold’s flesh is gradually stripped away in places, revealing the silvery robot underneath.
The front room of the exhibit has painted images from the last 20 years. The practice of directly painting on black and white photographs has died out and one of the many current vernacular practices of family photography involve making painted versions of pictures, often snapshots.
It’s weird to see these pictures all hung together. I haven’t paid much attention to these recent photo-paintings before. They lack the formal stiffness and nostalgic charm of the retratos pintados and sit in this sort of uncanny valley of being too recent to be revered. Still, I appreciated their inclusion for showing the ongoing customs of vernacular photography in Peru.
The show is up until April 28, 2012. If you are in Lima, do go see it.