Tag Archives: Ina Jang

Icons of Tomorrow: Contemporary Fashion Photography

Susie Smoking 1998/2011, © Nick Knight

Exhibition on view through June 2, 2012.

Christophe Guye Galerie
Dufourstrassse 31
8008 Zurich, Switzerland
+41 44 252 01 11

Photographers such as Nick Knight, David LaChapelle, and Terry Richardson all straddle the fence between commercialism and fine art. The practice of fashion photography is highlighted with international stars at the Christophe Guye Galerie, where a group of artists known as the Icons of Tomorrow, embraces their subject matter using compelling conceptual ideas and provocative, colorful approaches.

The allure behind this type of photography is investigated by these nine renowned photographers that have shaped the genre, to see where it falls between art and commerce.

Featured artists: Miles Aldridge, Kate Bellm, Guy Bourdin, Ina Jang, Nick Knight, David LaChapelle, Walter Pfeiffer, Terry Richardson, and Albert Watson.

Nick Knight appeared in Aperture issue 197.

Works on Paper by Ina Jang

During her last year of college at the School of Visual Arts in New York City, photographer Ina Jang began weaving paper cutouts into her images as a way of problem solving. “I started it because I was struggling to make images at the time,” the Brooklyn-based photographer says. “I was forcing myself to like everything—from the people I was working with to locations where I was shooting, so I started getting rid of the elements I didn’t like in the picture.”

Among her inspirations is Martin Margiela, a notoriously private fashion designer who avoids being photographed. “I admire how he visually deconstructed the language of fashion,” says Jang, who wanted to create her own language through the series featured here. “I liked the idea of using optical illusion and the two-dimensional quality of photography. I always go back and forth in experimenting with the combination of analog and digital manipulation in photographs. While working on the series, I enjoyed making images that allowed me to explore both approaches to photography. Additionally, having an anonymous character in the images have given me more freedom to relate myself to them. I wanted the images to effortlessly create its own language.”

From portraits to still-lifes, Jang covered up faces, shapes and spaces that she didn’t like and used paper to make new images. “I started with white space and filled it with stuff I like, such as painting or illustration,” she says. Jang graduated in 2010 with a B.F.A in photography, and though she’s no longer working on this particular series, Jang says she’ll continue incorporating layers into her photographs. Some of her new work is included in the gallery above, and her more recent work with paper cut-outs will be exhibited at the Hyères Festival of Fashion & Photography beginning April 27 in Hyères, France. “I’m still really into shapes and cutouts and collages,” she says. “So I think you’ll always see part of that in my work.”

Ina Jang is a Brooklyn-based photographer. Read more about her here. Her work will be exhibited at Christophe Guye Galerie in Zurich March 29 through June 2 and at the Hyères Festival beginning April 27.

Hyères 2011

I’ve just recently returned from the 2011 edition of the Hyères fashion and photography festival which takes place at the Villa Noailles. For those who are not familiar with Hyères (I was not until a couple of years ago) it’s important to note the use of the word “and” between ‘fashion’ and ‘photography’. This is not a fashion photography festival but a festival with two distinct parts. Given that I know next-to-nothing about fashion photography and possibly even less about fashion itself, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I came back genuinely energised.

Hyères doesn’t have the same visibility as the Rencontres d’Arles and in fairness the festival takes place on a much more intimate scale than the vast sprawl of it’s cousin from up the road. Whereas a lot of the work being presented in Arles is well-known and critically recognised, Hyères functions more like a photographic incubator, both by focusing the competition on emerging young talent and also by exhibiting work that you are unlikely to see elsewhere. For instance the 2011 festival included a selection of Erwin Blumenfeld’s photographs all of which were used as Vogue covers, something you are unlikely to see in a photography museum. After seeing this show and stepping into a newsagents, I couldn’t help feeling that fashion photography as a genre seems to have regressed hugely from the inventiveness and experimentation of Blumenfeld’s era, particularly for established magazines like Vogue.

Anouk Kruithof, The Daily Exhaustion

Anouk Kruithof, The Daily Exhaustion

The core of the photography component of the festival is a group exhibition of a shortlist of 10 emerging photographers, one or several of whom are selected by a jury for a grand prize. A look back at the shortlisted photographers from previous festivals and you are guaranteed to find not only excellent and exciting work and a lot of genuine discoveries. This year was no different, with work by Andrey Bogush, Kim Boske, Emily Hyperion Dubuisson, Katarina Elvén, Anouk Kruithof, Ina Jang, Mårten Lange, Marie Queau, Awoiska van der Molen and Marc Philip van Kempen. Most of the short-listed photographers  have no experience of fashion photography at all and, in addition to the grand prize, a few of them may find themselves trying their hand at it for the first time following Hyères, an exercise which I think would be fascinating for any emerging photographer.

This year’s grand prize winner was the young Dutch photographer Anouk Kruithof. She was selected unanimously by the jury for her inventiveness and her versatility. The series she presented at Hyères, the Daily Exhaustion, is a wonderfully simple idea in an equally wonderfully simple book/zine form, but I also recommend a trip to her website which is full of interesting material. A special mention was also given to Katarina Elvén, a set designer from Sweden who is working on a an ambitious but very thoughtful project relating to surface and aesthetics… one to look out for in the future. I also made another discovery in Hyères, but this one was on the jury rather than the shortlist. Fellow jury member and a photographer, provocateur and penseur, Jason Evans: the man behind the Daily Nice, the New Scent, the terrific Words Without Pictures and much more.

Jury deliberations

Jury deliberations

One particularly refreshing aspect of the festival is the time that is allocated to see each photographer. Portfolio reviews, which appear to be becoming more and more popular, seldom offer more than 20 minutes per review whereas at Hyères jurors spend between anything between 30 minutes and 1h30 with each of the shortlisted photographers, almost enough time for a conversation. But the thing that really makes Hyères stand out from other photography festivals is that it creates a space to consider photography in a different context. Just by combining fashion and photography, the festival is forcing us to reconsider what we think of as photography and offering a reminder of how insular the ‘fine art photography’ world can be. Whether you like fashion photography (or any other applied photography for that matter) or not, it has to be recognised that it is too often dismissed as inferior or just plain ignored by the art photography world. During my four days in Hyères I found myself having more conversations about photography in its many different forms than I have at all the other photography festivals I have attended put together.

Aside from these issues of substance, combine the fact that this all takes place in an absolutely gorgeous 1930s modernist villa on the Mediterranean and and that being on photo-jury duty also involves a collective swim in the Mediterranean and you will understand why Hyères has immediately become a personal favourite.

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