Tag Archives: European Photography

Europe Week: Sofie Knijff

Guest editor, Jacqueline Roberts shares a week of European photographers, today with Sofie Knijff. A huge thank you to Jacqueline for her insight and efforts.

Sofie Knijff graduated from the Fotoacademie Amsterdam in 2007 after a career in the world of theatre. She has won numerous awards such as the Netherlands Photo Academy Award, the Harry Penning’s Award and the FOTO 8 “People’s Choice” Award (UK). In 2011, she received a grant from the Sem Presser Fund and in 2012 from the Mondriaan Foundation. Nominated Emerging Artist by the Fotomuseum Winthertur in Switzerland, her work has since been widely exhibited in Europe and in the US.

Her series Translations will be published by Kehrer Verlag.

Sofie comments on the European photography scene:  Photography is recognized and rising as an art form among collectors and galleries. In the Netherlands, we also have Art foundations that support the development of Dutch photography and some internationally known photobook designers (Kummer & Hermann, SYB, Teun van der Heijden, Hans Gremmen).

The work presented is a selection of images from my series “Translations”. Over the past 3 years I have traveled through Mali, India ,South- Africa, Brazil and Greenland. Portraying children and their fantasy world. My aim was to isolate these children from their surroundings, and daily life, and focus their attention in order to reveal their own “dream character”.

 By using the same backdrop, I created a stage on which the dreams could come to life. The challenge was to build a subtle level concentration to capture the moment of transformation. At the same time, I took images of the empty spaces in which these children live; allowing to create a set of portraits where the inside and outside mirror and influence one another.

Europe Week: Hélène Amouzou

Guest editor, Jacqueline Roberts shares a week of European photographers, today with Hélène Amouzou. A huge thank you to Jacqueline for her insight and efforts.

Hélène Amouzou was born in Togo in 1969, but currently lives in Brussels, Belgium, where she is completing her studies at the Academy of Drawing and Visual Arts of Molenbeek-St-Jean.
Hélène self portraits have been exhibited in Belgium and France. Last year, she presented her work at the photography festival Photoquai 2011, in Paris.

Her book, Entre le papier peint et le mur, is published by Husson Editeur, Belgium.

Jacqueline Roberts writes: Looking at Hélène’s self-portraits I cannot help but wonder whether her evanescent body emerges from the wall or fades into it… torn between two identities, rootless and in transit. “I always have the impression to be traveling” she says. “I am not Togolese, nor Belgian”. In her quest for identity, Hélène puts down her empty suitcase in an equally empty attic… her no man’s land…

When asked about the European photography scene, Hélène says she finds inspiration in and sees American photography as a reference for European photographers. Since the financial crisis, investment in art has dramatically dropped in Europe. Galleries and art collectors are overly cautious nowadays. There is nevertheless great work coming from Europe and if the work is good, there is a way to find some support, even if such support may no longer be financial.

Brad Temkin, 215 Spadina (looking South)

Brad Temkin, 215 Spadina (looking South)

Brad Temkin

215 Spadina (looking South),
Toronto, Ontario, 2012
From the Rooftop series
Website – BradTemkin.com

Chicago based photographer Brad Temkin (American, b.1956) has been documenting the human impact on the contemporary landscape for most of his career. Brad believes that in spite of ourselves, humanity continues to stumble into grace. He celebrates this by focusing on what we leave behind, be they objects in the landscape, or the integration of architecture & landscape / infrastructure & environment. Brad has exhibited his photographs throughout the United States and abroad, and is part of several permanent collections including the Art Institute of Chicago, Milwaukee Art Museum, Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Akron Art Museum and Museum of Contemporary Photography among others. Temkin's images have also appeared in such publications as Aperture, Black & White Magazine, China Photo, TIME Magazine and European Photography. A monograph of Temkin's work, Private Places: Photographs of Chicago Gardens, was published in 2005. He teaches at Columbia College Chicago.

‘Passengers’ Wins the Fifth International Fotobook Festival Dummy Awards

For the past five years, Kassel Germany has been home to the most important annual forum on the world of photography books, the International Fotobook Festival. This year, with the Documenta exhibition taking over the city of Kassel, the Le Bal photography museum in Paris hosted the Fifth International Fotobook Festival from April 20 – 22.

The festival is a weekend full of artist lectures, book exhibitions, booksellers and publishers showcasing their most recent offerings, portfolio reviews and awards for the “best” photobooks from the previous year. For photographers hoping to find interest in their yet-to-be-discovered book projects, the main attraction of the Kassel Festival is its “photobook dummy” competition for the best unpublished photobook mock-up. The first place winner receives a publishing contract with the German publisher Seltmann und Sohne. The second and third place winners receive several hundred euros worth of credit from the print-on-demand service Blurb.

This year, the dummy competition was between fifty-eight books culled from over five hundred entries, ranging from very roughly hand-made objects to the most finely polished in editing sequencing, design and printing. All books selected are tethered to tables and prominently displayed, encouraging visitors to leaf through them and discover new talents. On Saturday, a small panel of experts in the field convened in the closed galleries to passionately argue their opinion and decide on the three winners. This year’s panel included; Gerry Badger (Critic, Photographer, London), Todd Hido (Photographer, USA), Dieter Neubert (International Photobook Festival, Kassel), Laurence Vecten (Lozen Up, Paris), Oliver Seltmann (Publisher, Berlin), Diane Dufour (Director Le Bal, Paris), Andreas Müller-Pohle, European Photography, Berlin), Markus Schaden (Bookseller, Publisher, Cologne) and Sebastian Hau (Le Bal Books, Paris).

And the envelopes please…

Courtesy of Andrea Botto

From Andrea Botto’s book, 19.06_26.08.1945

Third place went to Andrea Botto and his book 19.06_26.08.1945. Created in the memory of his grandfather Primo Benedetti, the book traces his journey through Northern Germany to his home in Tuscany after being released from a Nazi prisoner of war camp on June 19, 1945. Botto’s approach was to compile images from the internet by searching dates in tandem with the names of cities through which her grandfather passed. Pages of historical images are combined with 1:1 scale personal documents and letters sent to his family during his imprisonment. The resulting book feels as if the reader has discovered an encyclopedia of war filled with tender personal documents slipped between its pages.

Courtesy of Carmen Catuti

From Carmen Catuti’s book MICHELLE (Best Wishes from 18,500m High. MICHELLE).

The second place winner is much harder to pin down in a few words. Liebe Grüße aus 18500m Höhe, MICHELLE (Best Wishes from 18,500m High. Michelle) from the Italian photographer Carmen Catuti is about a man who calls himself Michelle and says he’s a professional model. Catuti photographed her subject as he wished to be photographed according to his own conceptions “as a modern man” posing among arrangements of trees and shrubbery, cleanly drawn from darkness by flash. Mixed in are very brief texts, possibly letters from Michelle challenging the collaboration; “Plain backgrounds are often too boring. A picture must immediately be elegant, exciting and original.” This book is a U.F.O. (Unique Foto Object?) and the world of photobooks needs more sightings like this.

The top honors for the 2012 Photobook Dummy Award went to a remarkable body of work from Dagmar Keller and Martin Wittwer and their collaborative book Passengers. During a residency in Poland in the winter of 2011-2012, Keller and Wittwer were initially looking to start a project photographing Socialist architecture but discovered instead a tangential subject: a bus station in Kielce and its passengers awaiting departure within dozens of regional buses. Framing their subjects from outside, looking in through the frost and mist of the bus windows, the couple photographed individually but combined the results into a sequence of images that seem to have a completely unified voice. Calling upon the long traditions of portraiture and documentary style work, the images are stunningly intimate and beautiful but without the trap of sentimentality.

Congratulations to the winners! I find it refreshing that a majority of the winners from the past two years have been women. The history of the photobook, as written, is remarkably male-heavy. These contest results point toward a new horizon that may very well restore some balance.

Jeffrey Ladd is a photographer, writer, editor and founder of Errata Editions. Visit his photo book blog 5B4 here.

Vojtech V. Slama

Tonight, a not-to-be-missed exhibition opens at the Klompching Gallery in Brooklyn, showcasing two wonderful talents, the amazing Ken Rosenthal, and brilliant Vojtech V. Slama. I featured Ken’s work on Lenscratch recently, but was not familiar with the work of Vojtech. His Silver Bromide prints from his series Wolf’s Honey, are surreal, layered, evocative, and timeless. I am now a fan.

A Czech photographer, Vojtech received his degree from the Institute of Creative Photography at Silesian University, Opava, Czech Republic. His work has been exhibited widely at galleries such as Brno Gallery (Czech Republic), Prague House of Photography (Praha), Fotoforum West (Austria), Photeur Gallery (Germany), Blue Sky Gallery (USA), LEICA GALLERY PRAGUE (Czech Republic), Centro de la Imgen (Mexico), Kiyosato Museum of Photographic Arts (Japan) and FotoFest Houston (USA). His work is held in collections, public and private, all over the world.

In 2006, Sláma was one of ten photographers identified as a Fotofest Discoveries of the Meeting Place. His photographs have been reproduced in publications such as Host Magazine, Imago Magazine, Digi Foto and European Photography.

Images from Wolf’s Honey

Vojtech V. Slama

Tonight, a not-to-be-missed exhibition opens at the Klompching Gallery in Brooklyn, showcasing two wonderful talents, the amazing Ken Rosenthal, and brilliant Vojtech V. Slama. I featured Ken’s work on Lenscratch recently, but was not familiar with the work of Vojtech. His Silver Bromide prints from his series Wolf’s Honey, are surreal, layered, evocative, and timeless. I am now a fan.

A Czech photographer, Vojtech received his degree from the Institute of Creative Photography at Silesian University, Opava, Czech Republic. His work has been exhibited widely at galleries such as Brno Gallery (Czech Republic), Prague House of Photography (Praha), Fotoforum West (Austria), Photeur Gallery (Germany), Blue Sky Gallery (USA), LEICA GALLERY PRAGUE (Czech Republic), Centro de la Imgen (Mexico), Kiyosato Museum of Photographic Arts (Japan) and FotoFest Houston (USA). His work is held in collections, public and private, all over the world.

In 2006, Sláma was one of ten photographers identified as a Fotofest Discoveries of the Meeting Place. His photographs have been reproduced in publications such as Host Magazine, Imago Magazine, Digi Foto and European Photography.

Images from Wolf’s Honey

Satomi Shirai, Breakfast

Satomi Shirai, Breakfast

Satomi Shirai

Breakfast,
New York City, 2007
Website – SatomiShirai.com

Satomi Shirai is originally from Tokyo. She received her BA from Musashino Art University in Tokyo in 1996 and MFA from CUNY Hunter College in 2010. Her work investigates the concept of “home” from the perspective of an immigrant assimilating to life in urban America. She has exhibited internationally, including shows at the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography and National Portrait Gallery in London. Her work is featured in the recent issue of European Photography 89 and is on view in the group show Portraiture Now: Asian American Portraits of Encounter at the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery in Washington D.C. through October 2012. She lives and works in New York City.

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Just as Google launches, Google+, it’s latest attempt at a social network and an attempt to lure people away from Facebook, I thought I would share a piece that I have written for the latest issue of European Photography (which comes out today) that deals with the impact of blogs and social networks on the way we consume and understand photography. If you are interested in looking further into the online photography world I also recommend checking out the previous issue of European Photography (no. 88) on ‘Net Photography’ which investigates some of the trends in photography that is being produced specifically for and distributed through the web.

Blogs have always been fragile creatures: statistics show that around 70% of them die within their first month. And now, only a decade after they first appeared, some are concerned that they are becoming an endangered species. While I am relatively new to blogging (I started eyecurious in April 2009), even in my short virtual lifetime a lot has changed. Particularly in the last year, a significant part of the online activity relating to photography has moved to online social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr. So are we witnessing the demise of the blog? As with most of these dichotomous debates linked to technology (printed versus digital books, analog versus digital photography, etc.) I think the question is not so much whether (or when) the new will kill off the old, but rather how they are influencing each other. More specifically, what impact is the rise of social networks having on the online conversation on photography?

In a recent piece Andy Adams summarised the impact of blogs and social networks as follows, “web 2.0 is influencing contemporary photo culture around the world by connecting international audiences to art experiences, enabling the discovery of new work and presenting never-before-seen channels of expression and communication.” Blogs, webzines and now social networks have made photography far more accessible than before. We are no longer dependent on museums, galleries and books for photographic content. This not only makes it cheaper and easier to get our hands on photographs, but we can now see far more images than are available through these ‘traditional’ forms. The web makes it just as easy to access photographs being made outside our front door as on the other side of the globe, as well as work that has yet to be exhibited or published and often never will.

What truly characterises web 2.0 however is participation: the opportunity for everyone to share information and to get involved in a conversation. Although I think the internet is at its best when it creates discussion and debate, the vast majority of online activity still centres around the dissemination of information. Even within a tiny universe such as the ‘fine art photography’ (for want of a better term) community, the accessibility of the web quickly leads to an overwhelming amount of photographic content. Blogs, online magazines and increasingly social networks act as filters, allowing people to more easily find the content that most interests them. Social networks have further refined this process, not only making it easier to find the kind of photography we want, but also providing a platform on which to have a conversation around photographs. These networks create spaces for discussion around specific topics or fields of interest that just aren’t possible on the infinite plain of the broader world wide web.

So what is the downside? Most of us would agree that better access and more conversation sounds like a pretty good thing. However, while these online developments have been leading to more conversation, I would argue that they have also been making it more shallow. Take the example of Facebook. While the platform does allow for discussion, the structure of the Facebook platform is such that we are constantly being asked to like things, whether it be through ‘Fan Pages’ or simply by choosing to ‘Like’ something that someone else has posted. While I don’t think a ‘Dislike’ button would add anything to the quality of the online conversation, it would at least remind us that our reactions to photography don’t all have to be situated on scale running from good to awesome.

Twitter is a slightly different beast. With its 140-character limit, the network is intrinsically suited to point towards existing information rather than to create new content. Even in the case where a conversation develops between several users (‘tweet chats’ in the local jargon), the medium is entirely focused on immediacy and not on considered opinion. By the time you have finished reading a tweet there are already several others that have appeared in your Twitter feed demanding your attention.

The reason this matters to photography is that it can lead to a situation where we are constantly consuming and never digesting. The danger with the infinite accessibility of the web is that we can find ourselves only looking at photographs that are immediately seductive or simply popular in the networks around us. Work that might be deemed quiet, challenging or even just off-putting can get totally bypassed. Moreover, if our interaction with photography is limited to a ‘Like’ button or the 140-character equivalent, we run the risk of never getting beyond the surface of images and of not developing an understanding of why we like or dislike something. Given the demise of arts criticism in traditional media, this kind of critical thought is arguably more important than ever.

Fortunately there are many online examples that buck the trend. Blogs like Pete Brook’s Prison Photography and Beierle + Keijser’s Mrs Deane are endless sources of hidden gems and considered discussion of current photographic trends. Perhaps the two most encouraging examples are Charlotte Cotton’s 2008 Words Without Pictures and more recently, Foam’s What’s Next?, both vital spaces which use the participatory nature of the net for considered thought and conversation on what is happening in photography today and where this might be leading.

Some might argue that an overly analytical discussion of photographs can get in the way of images. But without a critical discussion, what is going to lead photography to evolve and move forward?

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