Tag Archives: Multitude

Unseen in The Unseen Eye at SVA Theatre

Unseen in The Unseen Eye
Wednesday, October 12, 2011
7:00 pm

School of Visual Arts
SVA Theatre
333 West 23 Street
New York, NY
(212) 592-2980

FREE

Join author, curator, and SVA faculty member Susan Bright, as she interviews fellow faculty member, author, and collector Bill Hunt about his new book. Published by Aperture, Hunt’s The Unseen Eye: Photographs from the Unconscious features images from a multitude of photographers, all capturing subjects averting their eyes from the camera. Susan Bright also edited the Aperture anthologies Art Photography Now and Face of Fashion.

Bertil Nilsson

London photographer, by way of Sweden, Bertil Nilsson is a commercial and editorial photographer, but his personal focus is on dancers and contemporary circus performers. Bertil has worked for 5 years with circus artists throughout Europe and North America to explore and document contemporary circus from a novel perspective and the result is a book, Undisclosed, Images of the Contemporary Circus Artist. The book can be pre-ordered/ordered directly from The Undisclosed website. The book has an accompanying essay by writer and curator Laura Noble and a foreword by acclaimed circus creator Daniele Finzi Pasca.

Though the portraits are in the nude, the viewer is not distracted by it, in fact, the nudity presents the human body in it’s most amazing form–at it peak. In my opinion, something not easy to do well. “The project represents a unique snapshot of the circus community, exploring a multitude of acrobatic and aerial disciplines through a common visual thread.”

I was first exposed to contemporary circus in 2003 and I have been fascinated with this new art form since. Contemporary circus builds on the old traditions of the circus while fusing it with theatre and dance practice. In photography I find that circus as a subject matter has mostly been explored in a nostalgic fashion or portrayed as a novelty.



Through meeting circus artists I gained an insight into the sort of commitment required to train for circus. I started working on Undisclosed as a long-term project to create a document of contemporary circus practice. I collaborated with a mixture of performers but I removed all the attributes of performance – the stage, the lighting, the costume and the makeup – to focus on their physicality and the process of creating circus.

Over the course of the project, my understanding of circus, and how it could be explored visually, grew. Through collaboration with the artists I found ways to choreograph circus for the camera, experimenting with movement, exposure times and my own location within the space. In Undisclosed and in my work generally, I endeavour to capture the extraordinary potential of the human body to exhibit flexibility, strength and agility, a fraction of which most of us realise.


Desperate Cars by Sebastien Girard



The invention of automobiles and the invention of photography both promised a new engagement with the larger world. As gasoline powered engines and shutter driven cameras proliferated, the ‘far from home’ suddenly became visible. Photographers embraced autos and their presence has often become a breeding ground for meaning. From Lartigue’s early car pictures which feel futuristic and offer the promise of adventure to Robert Frank’s images of the car as rolling isolation booths. Cars have represented a multitude of themes from wealth and elegance to violence and rampant ecological destruction. One of my favorite titles from 2010, Sebastien Girard’s Desperate Cars takes a look at the autos around his suburban neighborhood in Toulouse, France.

There is little text at all in Desperate Cars, Girard opens with endpapers which plea ‘Save Their Souls’ – and follows with a concentration on the small damage and wear. Some have rolled in piss and shit; others have had their rear view mirrors smashed off; one has its bumper held on by bungee cords. It is all pretty minor – smashed windows and such – so one might ask ‘who cares?’

Other photographers have done major work on vehicles that have killed their passengers and have been twisted into shapes unrecognizable. My interest in Girard’s approach extends to what I see as one of photography’s flaws. There is a tendency to look to extremes and I find it a much more interesting problem to look at the subtle and make it hold your attention. I have in the past written about how I perceived Raphel Waldner’s work and I do find the descriptions seductive but this work seduces me in a much more nuanced way, for instance, Girard has chosen to describe his subject in the dark and from the same distance. Throughout Desperate Cars, the scale of the objects described are almost all similar. There is no medium shot or master shot etc – they are all close-ups. This unique strategy makes the book fell like you are revolving around the vehicles – navigating not so much a photograph, but navigating around an object. He sequenced these images with a flair for great pairings that complement the content and formal play as well.

As for the chips and bumps versus the great seven car pile-up fatality covered in crash-dust, this work is more about the wear of life rather than the moment of death. It is less common to die in a car crash than to have life simply chip away at you, like water does to stone overtime. These cars wear their damage like we wear our appendix scars.

Desperate Cars was self-published in an edition of 500. The quality is near perfect from the printing to the hand binding done by Van Waarden in the Netherlands. A signed and numbered limited edition with a print is also available. Sebastien Girard will be presenting his books and work at this year’s International Photobook Festival in Kassel Germany from June 1-5th at Documenta-Halle.

Desperate Cars by Sebastien Girard



The invention of automobiles and the invention of photography both promised a new engagement with the larger world. As gasoline powered engines and shutter driven cameras proliferated, the ‘far from home’ suddenly became visible. Photographers embraced autos and their presence has often become a breeding ground for meaning. From Lartigue’s early car pictures which feel futuristic and offer the promise of adventure to Robert Frank’s images of the car as rolling isolation booths. Cars have represented a multitude of themes from wealth and elegance to violence and rampant ecological destruction. One of my favorite titles from 2010, Sebastien Girard’s Desperate Cars takes a look at the autos around his suburban neighborhood in Toulouse, France.

There is little text at all in Desperate Cars, Girard opens with endpapers which plea ‘Save Their Souls’ – and follows with a concentration on the small damage and wear. Some have rolled in piss and shit; others have had their rear view mirrors smashed off; one has its bumper held on by bungee cords. It is all pretty minor – smashed windows and such – so one might ask ‘who cares?’

Other photographers have done major work on vehicles that have killed their passengers and have been twisted into shapes unrecognizable. My interest in Girard’s approach extends to what I see as one of photography’s flaws. There is a tendency to look to extremes and I find it a much more interesting problem to look at the subtle and make it hold your attention. I have in the past written about how I perceived Raphel Waldner’s work and I do find the descriptions seductive but this work seduces me in a much more nuanced way, for instance, Girard has chosen to describe his subject in the dark and from the same distance. Throughout Desperate Cars, the scale of the objects described are almost all similar. There is no medium shot or master shot etc – they are all close-ups. This unique strategy makes the book fell like you are revolving around the vehicles – navigating not so much a photograph, but navigating around an object. He sequenced these images with a flair for great pairings that complement the content and formal play as well.

As for the chips and bumps versus the great seven car pile-up fatality covered in crash-dust, this work is more about the wear of life rather than the moment of death. It is less common to die in a car crash than to have life simply chip away at you, like water does to stone overtime. These cars wear their damage like we wear our appendix scars.

Desperate Cars was self-published in an edition of 500. The quality is near perfect from the printing to the hand binding done by Van Waarden in the Netherlands. A signed and numbered limited edition with a print is also available. Sebastien Girard will be presenting his books and work at this year’s International Photobook Festival in Kassel Germany from June 1-5th at Documenta-Halle.

– Documentary Photography: Truth and Consequences

Photography, and especially documentary photography, has been used as a tool because it can tell the truth. Photographs present proof in a tangible form, which makes it easier for us to find what relevance and meaning the subject has to our own lives.

Being thrust into the digital era, however creates a host of ethical dilemmas for photographers, editors and the general public. A multitude of questions arise: who and what should be considered reliable sources? what should be digitally altered and how drastically? how responsible is the media to get and tell the truth? Consequently, I believe that both the documentary photography genre and the photojournalism industry should be held to stricter standards. These photos and stories are still supposed to represent reality, unlike advertising or fashion photos which are intended to sell a product.

It is only a guess, but when a photographer such as Ron Haviv is making a statement through one of his photos, it is a drastically different statement than someone such as David LaChapelle . The intent of the photograph may be the same (to be viewed by others) but in viewing, vastly different emotions are evoked. In fact, I think that the photographic process differs vastly for documentary photography and commercial photography. The environment in which the photographs themselves are taken is often posed for commercial photography. Documentary photography relies on something that is a bit more organic (in most cases). This does not mean that one is of more value, but that their purposes are varied. And as a result, for documentary photography, a moment of truth should be apparent from what emanates from inside the frame.

From a technical (and perhaps artistic) standpoint, getting the shot right without needing or utilizing digital tools shies away from taking the easy way out. Sometimes it is a matter of luck, but more often than not, it is a combination of elements such as precision and vision. Well renowned photojournalist Henri-Cartier Bresson told photo editors that he dictated which shots were not to be altered or even cropped. This attitude lends a certain authenticity, an honest reality.

Furthermore, one must take into account the varied perspectives involved in any type of photography: there is the photographer’s truth, the subject’s truth and the viewer’s truth. Each has the ability to derive varying truths and alternatively, the ability to manipulate the truth. Herein lie ethical standards that fall mostly on the shoulders of the photographer. How does she or he behave behind the lens? In front of the computer or editors? What professional responsibilities are expected of him or her?

Many of the questions and issues raised here are unanswerable, a gray area, or require on-going philosophical debates. But being inundated with images on a constant basis, it would be comforting to think that the photographs and projects that are produced of the ‘documentary photography’ order are presented in a way that is honest to what the photographer saw and what the subject was experiencing in that moment.

Perhaps it is naive or even unrealistic given technology’s advancements, but I believe that despite the celebrity obsessed, media-crazed world that we live in today, a sense of truth should remain intrinsic to documentary photography.

Do you agree?