Tag Archives: Photographic Practice

Light from the Middle East

The Middle East, a sprawling and nuanced geographic mass that is home to many cultures and traditions, is often seen through the lens of politics. The Victoria & Albert Museums latest photography exhibition, however, manages to transcend this overarching narrative, producing a show that focuses on the subject of contemporary photographic practice.

As the exhibition’s curator Marta Weiss acknowledges, until now, the V & A Museums collection of photographs from the region reflected the Eurocentric term itself: Most of the photographs that we have that relate to the region were made by westerners, she says. This exhibition marks a departure from that, recognizing instead the wealth and variety of photo-making from this diverse region. This is very much an exhibition that is not about outsiders, but rather a view of the Middle East from the Middle East.”

Spanning over three decades and encompassing the work of some 30 artists and photographers, the show is divided into three parts: recording, re-framing and resisting. The categories, explains Weiss, show how photography is being employed by photographers.

The ambitiousness of the show lies not in its geographic scope, but rather in the drawing together of a diverse group of practitioners who have engaged with the medium in multiple ways.At one end of the spectrum, there is the iconic work of Magnum-photographer Abbas, documenting the unfolding revolution in Iran from 1978-1979 in his series Iran Diary, a precursor to the events attested to recently in the Arab spring. Nermine Hamman focuses on this very subject, photographing young Egyptian soldiers in Tahrir Square. Displayed in the “resistance” section of the exhibition, Hammans digitally altered images remove the soldiers from their immediate surroundings and place them instead among candy-colored mountain scapes and cherry blossoms. Entitled Upekkha (2011), the images have a postcard-like quality, drawing a parallel between the spectacle of Tahrir Square to that of a tourist attraction.

Despite the intention of the curators to shift the emphasis away from the political, Weiss acknowledges there is a lot of politics in the works. Though some of the photographers openly challenge this. Shadi Ghadirians re-staged portraits of Iranian women in the Qajar period (1786-1925) play on the tensions between tradition, modernity and gender. linkwheel . The warm grey theatrical studio photographs feature playful reminders of modernity, including an explorer bicycle and Pepsi can.

The artists on show do not limit themselves to just the Middle East however. Taysir Batnijis series documenting Israeli watchtowers in occupied Palestinian is a clear homage to German artists Bernd and Hillary Bechers iconic typologies of industrial structures in Europe. Yousef Nabil, who once worked with David LaChapelle, also looks to Europe for inspiration, photographing elderly Yemeni men in England. By hand-coloring the portraits in the style of old Egyptian film stills however, Nabil celebrates the rich tradition of Middle Eastern image-making, which, as the exhibition is testament to, is as strong and vibrant as ever.


Light from the Middle East: New Photography is on show at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London from Nov. 13 through April 7, 2013.

Kharunya Paramaguru is based in TIME’s London office.


MacdonaldStrand

All images © MacdonaldStrand

Brad Feuerhelm considers the participatory aspects and iconic violence in Most Popular of All Time, a new book by MacdonaldStrand.

Having picked up the latest self-published title from husband and wife team MacdonaldStrand (Clare Strand and Gordon Macdonald), I have come away with a greater sense of what photographic practice can bring about when disseminated through the line of the pencil, darkly. As photography becomes more and more synonymous with that of conceptual art practice, the mantra of the iconic within the medium begins to permeate a greater need for understanding for our own associations with images that take on a totemic value. A photograph with ‘iconic status’ is an instantly recognised yet sometimes little understood visual cadence that explodes across the world in daily consummation of news and media alike. How do we recognise, process, receive, and finally retransmit its symbolic value over time? How do we train our minds to adhere to a group formula for understanding these visual markers of progress and detriment? And finally, how to we reinterpret this material and send it back out into the world to promote its niche capacity for several understandings within the visual language of the time – past, present, and future?
The works contained within the superb Most Popular of All Time invoke such questions. The project results from an online survey conducted by the artist/curator duo, whereby users were asked to name their most iconic images. These photographs have become so ubiquitous that it is hard to see their content and they have become detached from their context.From the information gathered, MacdonaldStrand took the resulting images and reduced them to line drawings with ‘connect-the-dot’ numbered points. Left half-finished, the image is then to be completed by the further drawing on the part of the viewer.
All colour is drained, all traces of photographic grey scale removed. It is a simple yet effective conceit to reduce photography to that of line, but also embedded within the work is the ability to promote the ‘punctum’ of its iconic status with a participatory function – it brings the viewer into a complicit rendering of line and photographic management of iconic status.
Within the works selected for re-purposing are Eddie Adams famous ‘execution’ image and Richard Drew’s Falling Man. These pictures in and of themselves capture very difficult conditions of humanity and the role of observer within. The majority of the images displayed are of a horrific base and coalesce our need to exult difficult imagery into that of lore and legend, that of description and representation which is often fraught with a tension not found in other mediums. In short, they are epic tales of pleasure and pain, ecstasy and absence.
Yet representation is not the exclusive aim within the book nor the works themselves, but rather they evoke a need to understand how we as a collective society enable these icons caught on film (or file) and how we redistribute their meaning and function as the photograph itself. The structures of violence, the poignantly horrific, and the sometimes misunderstood signifiers of our collective photographic imagination delineated by the direct act of hand on paper.
The works are also available for an incredibly economic rate, which is also clever given the material. I have purchased all images within the show for less than £100. But in doing so I understand what exactly it is I am enabling. MacdonaldStrand have chosen a crafty and intelligent way to examine and exclude some of the icons of photography through something as commonplace as a pencil. Time and the flow of chaos have been reduced to the materially manageable. 

Brad Feuerhelm

Remixed, a New Take on Aperture Classics

Throughout its 60-year history Aperture has never turned away from its hallmarks: an abiding respect for photography as an artistic medium and a tireless encouragement of the free exchange of ideas. From its founding in 1952 through the present, the foundation has always attracted the leading image-makers of the day, and it is only fitting this anniversary serve as a time to reflect on the past. In the celebratory exhibitionAperture Remix, this instinct towards nostalgia is focused on a reflection of photographic influence.

Curator Lesley Martin invited ten contemporary photographers to look back on past Aperture publications, choose a personally influential example and pay artistic homage through appropriation and modification. Martin went to great lengths to select artists explaining, I was looking at a range of people who could represent the directions that photography is moving in now, the way documentary is shifting, and the way digital is being incorporated into photographic practice.

The diversity is apparent, and artists selected span both space and time. Japanese artist Rinko Kawauchi drew inspiration from American photographer’s Sally MannsImmediate Family,created more than a continent away. Meanwhile,Alec Soth selected Robert AdamsSummer Nights, which he reinterpreted into a video, Summer Nights at the Dollar Tree, 2012. When explaining his reasoning for working with Robert Adams past publication he says, Over time, you begin to understand influences and the nuances of what makes your own work different.The other artists commissioned to create work include Vik Muniz, Taiyo Onorato & Nico Krebs, Martin Parr, Viviane Sassen, Penelope Umbrico, James Welling and Doug Rickard, who chose to remix Stephen Shore’s Uncommon Places.

While the initial assignment could be read as encouraging passive appropriation, Rickards approach to Stephen ShoresUncommon Placesis an example of how remixing encouraged unexpected results. Instead of physically intervening with the publication, Rickard decided to analyze the influences that affected it to create his expansive homage. After reading several interviews and text on Shores work, Rickard honed in on postcards as a source of inspiration forUncommon Placesthrough their unique and plain depictions of America. Reminiscent of the great American road trip, Rickard took a digital road trip on eBay to scavenge hundreds of thousands of postcards for his re-imagining. From this wide edit he narrowed down to a smaller set of candidates he felt had the appropriate ingredients that would yield imagery most reminiscent of the original 8 x 10 photographs in Shores publication.

I spent hundreds of hours doing it because his book is so iconic, and I felt homages or anything that is connected to something iconic is always tricky,” Rickard says. “It was important that I did something that was worthyand fitting of this era toowhich is the digital era.

Although the outcomes are decidedly mixed, the assignment uniformly challenged each artist to wrestle through the issue of influence. In an age of image abundance, it may seem easier to ignore icons for fear of looming too close to previous conceptsbut to process and pay tribute is equally demanding. The moral of the story could be dont try anything ever, but figuring out how strong each contributing artists voice is within all their layers of consideration is what makesAperture Remixsuch an engaging exhibition.

Aperture Remix is on view at Aperture Gallery in New York from Oct. 17Nov. blog comment . 17. See more informationhere.

Helen Sear

Helen Sear has two new series, never seen in the United States, currently on exhibition through October 26th at the Klompching Gallery in Brooklyn: Sightlines and Pastoral Monuments.  The work follows a thread of her earlier projects, Beyond the View and Inside the View, where the artist is considering concept, photographic process, historical reference, and visual seduction.  I am sharing two images from her earlier work to understand her visual progression.

 ©Helen Sear, Beyond the View, No. 6, 2007
©Helen Sear, Inside the View, No. 5, 2007

Helen’s photographic practice has developed from a fine art background of performance, film and installation work made in the 1980’s. Her photographs became widely known in the 1991 British Council exhibition, De-Composition: Constructed Photography in Britain, which toured Latin America and Eastern Europe. Her work is included in Face—The New Photographic Portrait (Thames & Hudson) and has been featured in several publications including Arts Review, Hotshoe, Guardian Review, Art Newspaper, Portfolio, Aperture and Arts Monthly amongst others. Her artworks are represented in several notable public and private collections including the Victoria & Albert Museum, Ernst & Young, British Council (Rome), Paul Wilson Collection and Virgin Communications Collection. In 2010 Helen Sear was awarded the prestigious Major Creative Wales Award and more recently, the National Eisteddford of Wales 2011 Gold Medal for Fine Art.


Sightlines is partially concerned withideas about the unique object and the copy. The images themselves depict a portrait of a woman whose face is obscured by a mass-produced, but hand-painted figurine of a bird. Sear alters the final photograph through the application of several layers of white primer—gesso. The images, then, are also about photographing paint and painting photographs. This convergence of the unique and/or the copy is further implicated by notions of her concern with identity. Through obscuring the face of the woman, Sear interrupts the gaze of both sitter and observer. The spectator of the photograph is unable to know the sitter’s identity, in a similar way that she/he can’t know the
identity of the person(s) who hand-painted the bird.

 
Sightlines, Untitled 16 ©2011 Helen Sear  Image: courtesy Klompching Gallery
 Sightlines, Untitled 2 ©2011 Helen Sear  Image: courtesy Klompching Gallery

 Sightlines, Untitled 20 ©2011 Helen Sear  Image: courtesy Klompching Gallery

 Sightlines, Untitled 21 ©2011 Helen Sear  Image: courtesy Klompching Gallery  
 Sightlines, Untitled 4 ©2011 Helen Sear  Image: courtesy Klompching Gallery
 Sightlines, Untitled 6 ©2011 Helen Sear  Image: courtesy Klompching Gallery
Images from Pastoral Monuments

Pastoral Monuments, expands an underlying theme of the real and the re-presentation of it. In this case, Sear references the historical photographs of the botanist and photographer, Mary Dillwyn, whose photographs from the early 1850’s depicted wild flowers arranged in domestic crockery. Sear has sourced more than 80 wild flowers from the same Welsh field and photographed them in jugs and vases from around the world. Through handling the resulting prints and rephotographing them—evidencing this handling—Sear believes that “the flowers and their containers become connected in a material sense, across the surface of the image.” Further, we see in the photographs familiar ideas associated with flowers—youth, beauty and mortality. In some ways, these photographs become monuments to flowers.

 Pastoral Monument 1, Myosotis Arvensis ©2012 Helen Sear  Image: courtesy Klompching Gallery

 

Pastoral Monument 5, Angelica Atropurpurea ©2012 Helen Sear  Image: courtesy Klompching Gallery 
 Pastoral Monument 6, Daucus Carota ©2012 Helen Sear  Image: courtesy Klompching Gallery

Pastoral Monument 9, Malva Sylvestris ©2012 Helen Sear  Image: courtesy Klompching Gallery

Elliott Wilcox, Volume 014

Elliott Wilcox, Volume 014

Elliott Wilcox

Volume 014,
, 2011
From the Walls series
Website – ElliottWilcox.co.uk

Elliott Wilcox is a London based, British photographer who recently graduated from the University of Westminster, MA Photographic Studies program. He has been the recipient of several awards including a Judges Award at the Nikon Discovery Awards, a New York Photo Award and a Lucie Award for the Discovery of the Year at the International Photography Awards. He has exhibited internationally and in the UK, his first major series Courts was part of the show PRUNE – Abstracting Reality at FOAM Gallery Amsterdam with guest curator Kathy Ryan, editor of the New York Times Magazine. Wilcox was also part of the BBC’s documentary series School of Saatchi. Wilcox's second major series Walls was shown at the Bau-Xi Photo Gallery Toronto, Canada earlier this year. Elliott hopes to continue developing his photographic practice and pushing the boundaries of his medium. He is currently working on his next major series.

Photo News – Art Fund supports a major collection of Middle Eastern photography and show for V&A and British Museum

“In the past few years contemporary photographic practice from and about the Middle East has been some of the most exciting, innovative and varied art anywhere in the world…” Marta Weiss, curator

From the series Upekkha, 2011, Nermine Hammam, 2011. Archival inkjet print, 60 x 90 cm, Copyright V&A. Art Fund Collection of Middle Eastern Photography at the V&A and the British Museum, Light from the Middle East: New Photograph

A major collection of contemporary photography, focusing on the Middle East, has been set up for the public by the British Museum and the V&A with funds from the Art Fund. The collection has been in development since 2009 and is funded by over £150,000 of support from the Art Fund.

Most of the collection will be showcased at the V&A (Porter Gallery) in an exhibition Light from the Middle East: New Photography opening on 13 November 2012 and running until 7 April 2013. The show will be the first major museum exhibition of contemporary photography from and about the Middle East and will tour nationally in 2013.

The show is divided into three sections around key themes: Recording, Reframing and Resisting. Expect works that “respond to the social challenges and political upheavals of the Middle East over the last 30 years” or “the last 20 years”, depending on which of the two press releases one reads.

Included are internationally established practitioners such as Abbas (Iran), Youssef Nabil (Egypt) and Walid Raad (Lebanon) as well as emerging photographers including Taysir Batniji (Palestine), Atiq Rahimi (Afghanistan), Shadi Ghadirian (Iran), Mehraneh Atashi (Iran), Nermine Hammam (Egypt), Manal al-Dowayan (Saudi Arabia) and Abdulnasser Gharem (Saudi Arabia), who also happens to be a lieutenant colonel in the Saudi army.

‘Bodiless I’ from the series ‘Zourkhaneh Project (House of Strength)’, Mehraneh Atashi, 2004. Digital c-print, 76.5 x 112.5 cm. Copyright British Museum. Art Fund Collection of Middle Eastern Photography at the V&A and the British Museum. Light from the Middle East: New Photography

There are over 80 works (90 in one press release) in the collection produced by 22 (28 in one press release) emerging and established artists “living in the region or in diaspora”. The works are diverse in terms of technique and subject matter and straddle genres including photojournalism, staged and manipulated imagery.

The collection of Middle Eastern photography has been “built in response to a surge of interest in the visual arts in the region, beginning to remedy the under-representation of Middle Eastern photography in the UK”.

From the series ‘Mothers of Martyrs’, Newsha Tavakolian, 2006. Digital c-print, 50 x 76 cm, Copyright V&A. Art Fund Collection of Middle Eastern Photography at the V&A and the British Museum

To see the collection go to Art Fund Middle Eastern.

From the series ‘Qajar’, Shadi Ghadirian, 1998. Gelatin silver bromide print, 30 x 24 cm. Copyright V&A. Art Fund Collection of Middle Eastern Photography at the V&A and the British Museum. Special terms: Light from the Middle East: New Photography

Filed under: Photographers, Photography News, Photography Shows, Visual Artists, Women Photographers Tagged: Art Fund, Atiq Rahimi, British Museum, contemporary photography, Light from the Middle East: New Photography, Marta Weiss, Mehraneh Atashi, Shadi Ghadirian, V&A

Penelope Umbrico Photography @ FoMu, Antwerp

Photo (c) Penelope Umbrico

The photography of Penelope Umbrico is often described as offering a sort of “radical reinterpretation” of photographic practice, or shedding “a radical new light” on the medium, conceptually, formally, and in several ways between. The artist produces by means of “aesthetic and conceptual chops,” famously appropriating images found using search engines and picture sharing websites, translating the digital realm’s relentless flow of images into conceptual works of photography.

FoMu’s upcoming exhibition of this particularly new course of photographic practice places Umbrico’s work in good company. From Here On, on view June 6 through September 30 2012, features an international roster of artists who create their work with the overload of digital images they find on the internet.

“They recycle, clip and cut pictures from Google Earth, Google Street View, Facebook, Flickr, etc. Does this mean that traditional photography is dead? With this exhibition, FoMu opens the debate on issues such as copyright, authorship, privacy and the future of photography.”

From Here On
June 22 through September 30, 2012
FoMu – Photo Museum
Antwerp, Belgium

From Here On shows the work of artists such as Hans Aarsman (NL, °1951), art collective Leo Gabin (BE), Constant Dullaart (NL, °1979), Mishka Henner (UK, °1976), Thomas Mailaender (FR, °1979), Willem Popelier (NL, °1982), Doug Rickard (US, °1968), Andreas Schmidt (DE, °1967), Pavel MariaSmejkal (CZ, °1957), Penelope Umbrico (US, °1957), Corinne Vionnet (SH, °1969) and HermanZschiegner (DE, °1971).

Curators: Clément Cheroux (FR, curator at the Centre Pompidou, Paris), Joan Fontcuberta (ES, explores the conflict between nature, technology, photography and truth), Erik Kessels (NL, Creative Director communications agency KesselsKramer, Amsterdam and London), Martin Parr (UK, Magnum photographer) and Joachim Schmid (DE, has been working with found photography since 1980).
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›› Refer to our previous Penelope Umbrico-centric stories for more information and media surrounding this artist’s body of digital work.
›› View From Here On curator and Magnum photojournalist Martin Parr in conversation with Rinko Kawauchi.
›› Buy Penelope Umbrico (Photographs) for 20% off.

Photo Prize Round-Up — 05.31.12


PhoozL (With Joel Meyerowitz) (deadline: June 4, 2012, 11:59 pm EST)

History> The inauguration of a recurring “super-judged” photo contest run by the photography education and entertainment site PhoozL, which features assignments, critiques, competitions and more, created by Harald Johnson.

Concept> Legendary photographer Joel Meyerowitz, author of the monograph Legacy, will judge images pertaining to the theme “Seeing the Light.” In this video, he explains that he’s looking for “something surprising, something unexpected, some ordinary event that becomes extraordinary because the light changes it in just such a way.”

Details> No processing/editing or capture date restrictions. Grand Prize Winner receives a priceless one-on-one review of their photography by Joel Meyerowitz himself. Second-Place Prize is a Course Technology PRT Free Book Certificate or voucher redeemable here. Third-Place Prize is a one-year gift subscription to Aperture magazine. 

How To Apply> Entry is FREE to members (18+) registered with the website. Submit up to five (5) photos relating to the theme online by June 4, 2012, 12:59 pm EST.


Brighton Photo Fringe OPEN 2012 (deadline: June 4, 2012, 5:00 pm BST)

History> Every two years, Brighton Photo Fringe co-ordinates a city-wide festival of exhibitions and events in partnership with Brighton Photo Biennial, supporting photographers and lens-based artists and showcasing the best of current photographic practice.

Concept> Emerging-to-midcareer artists, currently living or working in the UK are invited to submit any lens-based work that has not yet been exhibited anywhere in the UK for a solo exhibition opportunity at Brighton Photo Fringe.

Details> Clare Grafik, Adam Broomberg, Oliver Chanarin, and Susanna Brown are judging the work. In addition to a high profile solo exhibition, winners receive a £500 artist’s fee, a production budget and travel expenses within the UK. 

How To Apply> Entry fee is £15 per submission. Email a link to up to 20 images in JPEG format at 72 dpi, along with details of the production of submitted work, a statement of up to 500 words about the work, a statement of up to  250 words about how the work will be presented, and an artist’s CV by June 4, 2012, 5:00 pm BST.


Photo Levallois 2012 (deadline: June 9, 2012, 11:59 pm GMT +2)

History> As part of the Photo Levallois Festival, which will take place in October and November 2012, the city of Levallois will be awarding a photography prize to support young international contemporary creation, and discover and promote new talents.

Concept> Photographers under 35 years of age are invited to submit new work of any contemporary photographic process which has not been previously exhibited or published.

Details> The panel of judges consisting of five personalities from the art world including one representative of the city of Levallois, meet in June 2012 and announce the winner the same day. First prize winners are awarded a sum of €10,000 and the opportunity to exhibit their work during the Photo Levallois Festival at L’Escale Gallery.

How To Apply> To submit, download the full rules and regulations, and mail in at least 15 photographs consistent in content and form of presentation, along with a supporting letter up to 1000 words, a letter of recommendation, and a signed copy of the regulations by June 9, 2012, 12:59 pm GMT +2.


Center Forward: International Call For Entries (deadline: June 20, 2012, 11:59 pm MDT)

History> Founded in 2004, The Center for Fine Art Photography in Fort Collins, CO is a nonprofit organization supported by donations, grants, and memberships. With offices, classrooms, and two galleries, the Center provides ongoing juried exhibitions of fine art photography by artists from around the world.

Concept> Photography’s “ability to capture our cultural changes, the environments we inhabit, and the thoughts we keep play[s] a vital role in giving us greater insights into our world and ourselves. In the 2012 Center Forward exhibit we are interested in exploring this unique quality of photography, therefore the theme is open and all subject matter is welcome.”

Details> Fine art photography gallery Directors Ann M. Jastrab and Hamidah Glasgow select work to be exhibited in the Center’s Main Gallery exhibition, Online Gallery exhibition, and Print Catalog. Two artists selected by the jurors will also receive $425 each along with a LiveBooks Website award valued at $399.

How To Apply> Entry is $20 for the first three images for members, $35 for non-members. Each additional image (unlimited) may be submitted for $10 a piece.  Download the upload guidelines and submit online by June 20, 2012, 11:59 pm MDT.