Born and raised in Shanghai, Shen Wei is a fine art photographer currently based in New York City. His work have been exhibited nationally and internationally, with venues including the Museum of the City of New York, Southeast Museum of Photography, Lincoln Center Avery Fisher Hall, the Harn Museum of Art and the CAFA Art Museum in Beijing. His photographs have been featured in publications such as The New Yorker, Aperture, ARTnews, PDN, American Photo, and Chinese Photography. Shen Wei's work is included in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), Philadelphia Museum of Art, J. Paul Getty Museum, Museum of Contemporary Photography, Museum of Fine Arts St. Petersburg, Library of Congress, Florida Museum of Photographic Arts, Museum of Chinese in America, Rockefeller Brothers Fund and Kinsey Institute. He holds an MFA in photography, video, and related media from the School of Visual Arts, New York; a BFA in photography from Minneapolis College of Art and Design; and an AA in decorative arts from Shanghai Light Industry College.
At age 10, Japanese-born Chino Otsuka was sent away to a progressive private boarding school in Suffolk, England. For her first two years at the school, she was allowed to do nothing. Directory Submission . Then, following her own interests, she started to pursue education with an unrelenting intensity. A book she wrote, at age 15, about her culture-shock and quest for personal identity, made her an instant hero and celebrity back home in Japan. (Twenty years later, the book is still a “must read” for many young Japanese students.) She went on to pursue photography at the Royal Academy of Art, and began a life-long career exploring ideas of identity, memory, and mental time travel, through photography and video and writing.
A brilliant retrospective of her work fills the entire photography museum at Huis Marseille in Amsterdam. And an equally inspiring photobook has just been published: Photo Album by Chino Otsuka.
See and read more in Lens Culture.
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…
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.
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.
When I moved to New York many years ago, I was living alone in the city without family or connections. I spent endless hours at my window, watching the street activity in a city that was unfamiliar. Within weeks after arriving, I watched my first snowfall and experienced the sense of quiet brought on by a blanket of white, and by the summer, I watched drunken fights set to loud music and bottles being shattered. It was a cinematic experience on a daily basis.
Last week, I discovered the work of Hye-Ryoung Min on the aCurator blog, and immediately connected to her photographs. I wanted to share her series, Channel 247, on Lenscratch, but also a second body of work that is equally intriguing, In-between Double. Hye-Ryoung was born in South Korea and now lives and works in New York City. She is an editorial and fine art photographer and her work has been exhibited at Gallery LUX and Gallery Comma in Korea, and the School of Visual Arts Gallery and John Jay Gallery in New York. Most recently she received a Portfolio Award at the Seoul Photo Festival 2011 and exhibited in Seoul Museum of Art. Later in 2012, Hye-Ryoung will open a solo exhibition at Toyota Art Space supported by GoEun Photography Museum in Pusan, Korea.
Her commercial clients include Harper’s Bazaar, Vogue, W, ELLE, ELLE Girl, Arena, Cosmopolitan, GQ, J Look, S Flash, Sajinyesul among others (Korea edition magazines) and advertising clients include Kiehl’s, Coach, Sisley, Amore Pacific, Christian Dior, hexa by kuho, OnStyle and General Idea. In 2010 she named Photographer of the year by Harper’s Bazaar Korea.
Channel 247: I had five television sets at home. Three of them were in the living room and two were in the back, one in the bedroom and the other one in the kitchen. By “televisions” I actually mean windows. The three windows in the living room had the most interesting and varied shows and actors, since they give out on the main boulevard with its constant flow of people and situations. But I also enjoyed the daily shows in the backyard featuring a more regular cast of actors and private moments.
This kind of programming had a loose schedule and no guarantees that shows would play on time. For the most part, it was all silent film and the story lines were pretty much repetitive. However, I started noticing subtle nuances and differences from day to day. Repetition helped me understand actors’ basic characters; nuance and difference offered me clues into their hidden stories.
Before I knew it I was addicted and fell into the channel 247 day by day and for several months. Sometimes the channel had special seasonal broadcasts such as J’Ouvert, the West Indian American Day Parade at 4 o’clock in the morning; Mister Softy’s ice-cream truck during the summer, or middle-of-the-night backyard parties where illegal tattoo services were offered to ex-convicts who were full of confidence, laughter and loud cursing.
In my teens, I couldn’t help but think that somebody was watching me all the time so I had to act as a main actress in some kind of movie which made me feel self-conscious wherever I went. This might be typical of many other teenagers and it might even play a part in how one creates a sense of self. I remember when the movie, ‘The Truman Show’ came out in 1998. It opens with the question: “What if you were watched every moment of your life?” It completely matched my imagination. The movie went on to show how Truman would really feel after he realized the truth of his condition. ‘The Truman Show’ brought to an end my life on an imaginary movie set. Which leads me to ask: how different is our behavior when we are conscious of others around us? And what do involuntary actions tell or reveal about us?
There are moments when people are oblivious of others, or simply don’t want to be mindful of anybody other than themselves. These moments happen between things, such as when we are rushing out to work in the morning, taking out the garbage, coming back from the deli with ready-made food, or maybe just sitting on a stoop daydreaming. Since I started watching people that I don’t know anything about – name, relationship, occupation, age, personal history – I have noticed that those moments can be more revealing of their personalities than when they are trying to make a good impression on others.
Leaving home, I sometimes bumped into some of the actors on the street unexpectedly. It was the only time that I got to see them up close and I almost wanted to say hello and thank them for the shows, but I couldn’t. I hoped they would never realize they had been constantly watched for months and want to escape from my TV set as Truman did.
When I eventually left the neighborhood, I had to unsubscribe from Channel 247.
In-between Double: The human heart cannot make itself understood. And once the truth within that heart reaches out, through language, song or dance it inevitably becomes distorted and its shape is altered into
another. I believe that as photographers we can see into the lives of strangers. But our vision is only an approximation, an imperfect version of their reality. My series In-between Double is the image that results from the intersection of my path and their own; their shape colored by my feeling, translating into a third language.
What kinds of thoughts do we live with? What are the recurrent themes that dominate our days or perhaps keep us from sleeping at night? And how do we chart the fleeting sensory perceptions that trigger the remembrance of things past? Can this kind of experience be represented photographically?
My series, In-between Double followed passerby through the rhythms of their daily lives and portrayed them by guessing at their hidden emotions. The resulting images are multi-layered explorations of the transient and evanescent nature of our humanity; a delicate weaving of thought, feeling and emotion: the vanishing echo of our passage through the world.
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.
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.
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.
Here’s Part 1 of my recent photo stroll through the exhibitions at the San Diego Museum of Photographic Arts. Part One and Two show Streetwise: Masters of 60s Photography a touring exhibition organized by MoPA which has been guest curated by critic, writer and educator, Andy Grundberg. Part Three will show the Invisible World and a show taken from the museum’s permanent collections
“Streetwise highlights nine influential photographers of the era and illuminates their investment in recording the rapid social and political changes that took place in1960’s America.”
Streetwise is on until 15 May, so if you are anywhere near Balbao Park or San Diego, do head over to the show and catch it. Otherwise check the touring schedule on the MOPA website.
Filed under: Photographers, Photography Shows, street photography, Women Photographers Tagged: Garry Winogrand, Lee Friedlander, Masters of 60s Photography, Museum of Photographic Arts, Photo Stroll, Robert Frank, San Diego, Streetwise:
Coinciding with FOAM‘s tenth anniversary is a forward-looking micro-site: What’s Next. The site a selection of articles and reflections by some of the most interesting minds in photography today, covering everything from the future of the institution to the effects of digital media on photography.
The good people at FOAM say: “The question ‘What’s Next?’ is founded in our conviction that photography has fundamentally changed during the last twenty years. And this process of change and transition might not be finished yet. The digitalization of the medium has altered every aspect of photography, whether it is the photograph as an object, the position of the professional photographer, the function of the photo lab, the news agency or the photography museum.
In fact the question ‘What’s Next?’ is about far more than ‘just’ the future of photography. It is also about the future of a society dictated by visual media, of a society in which people primarily communicate with technological tools that have been developed and made into consumer products with incredible speed. It is about the future of a society in which every layman can and will be a photographer, sharing his experiences with newly made online communities, a society in which the experience of time and space have drastically changed.”
In conjunction with the website FOAM recently held a fascinating symposium, a few video clips of which you can see here:
To see more videos like this from FOAM click here
The 8th Vevey International Photo Award is a unique form of support for contemporary original works, with a free choice of subject matter and genre.
This contest is open to artists, and professional or student photographers. An amount of 40,000 Swiss Francs (over € 30,000) is awarded for the development, realisation and presentation of the winning project during the Festival Images 2012 in Vevey, Switzerland. Applying to this contest is also an opportunity to receive other prizes such as the Mention Leica, the Mention Boncolor and the Prix Nestlé.
This year Jury will be chaired by New York artist Andres Serrano and will include:
Clément Chéroux, curator, cabinet de la photographie, Centre Pompidou, Paris.
Marloes Krijnen, director of the photography museum Foam, Amsterdam.
Christian Lutz, photographer, co-winner of the Vevey International Photography Award in 2009-10, Geneva.
James Reid: photography director, Wallpaper*, London.
Subscribe now on the website www.images.ch and send your photo project before 15 April 2011!
More info can be found via:
CP 443 – 1800 Vevey – Switzerland
+41 (0)21 922 48 54