Tag Archives: Portrayal

Brighton Photo Fringe 2012 – Blind Field presents Origins of Encounter until 21 October

Blind Field are showing Origins of Encounter at the Phoenix Brighton until Sunday 21 October as part of the Brighton Fringe 2012. The artists involved are Joan Alexander, Luke AR Hamblin and Louise Maher, all of whom, according to the press release, “examine notions of the encounter in relation to place, narrative and the photograph”.

© Joan Alexander – Study V – Facing North Window – 60 Minutes

Joan Alexander
“Alexander’s work explores the margins of inscription and projection, the unacknowledged spectra between positive and negative. Alexander is interested in the ‘latent image’. A visual in waiting, from between times, like the line between shadow and light; the line, like a map, is always a metaphor. Alexander’s practice immerses the viewer within a passage of time through an encounter with the movement and interruption of light. Her projections create a space where the viewer must pass through lines of light drawing attention to their presence. The correlation between printed and projected material asks for a closer examination creating awareness to the tangible and intangible nature of her practice.”

© Luke AR Hamblin – A study of still life. Sunflowers

Luke AR Hamblin
“Hamblin is interested in the way in which photography enables us to dissect the world and pull it apart. For Hamblin making photographic pictures is about assembling a Cast of characters, analysing their poses, placing them in the picture frame. Hamblin has developed a complex process of picture-making, exploring the role of perception and portrayal in our engagement with ‘place’. His series Studies for a theory of the Epic Photograph encourages us to think about how simple aspects of pose and gesture can embody whole narrative worlds. Drawing on references from early twentieth century modes of portrayal: theatre, cinema and painting, Hamblin’s photographs offer the viewer undisclosed narratives to decipher and re-construct.”

© Louise Maher – Old Head, Kinsale 2006-2012

Louise Maher
“Maher’s practice concentrates upon the inextricable relationship we have to our environment. By focusing on everyday expressions of this connection, she explores perceptions of the encounter. Maher’s approach stems from an appreciation of the historical development of street photography, yet it is also influenced by a typological approach. She values the photograph’s capacity to simultaneously document and picture the world. Her photographic series’ unite aspects of spontaneity and formalization to create a visual language that presents the viewer with space to translate.” From the press release.

Filed under: Photographers, Photography Festivals, Photography Shows Tagged: Blind Field, brighton, Brighton Photo Fringe, Joan Alexander, Louise Maher, Luke AR Hamblin, Origins of Encounter, photo show

Maxine Helfman

The Flash Forward Festival in Boston this spring was a wonderful experience, and one of the best parts of it for me personally, was meeting photographer Maxine Helfman.  We had solo exhibits that flanked each others and found ourselves together at numerous times over the course of the event.  We discovered that we had a lot in common and visited a lot of the same themes and ideas in our work. We both loved taxidermy and children and conceptual approaches.  Plus I was blown away by her work. I’m showing work from 4 series, to give an idea of her approach to photography.

Several weeks after the event, Maxine asked me for my address and said she had a little box to send me.  A week later, a box the size of Texas, where she lives, appeared on my doorstep. I hadn’t ordered a new dishwasher, and certainly never expected what was sitting outside my door to be the little box she had mentioned.  Inside was a cornucopia of objects, things she had collected and knew that I too would be drawn to–masks, toys, scraps of wall paper. Her generosity was remarkable.

Maxine is a self-taught late bloomer. After years of working as a stylist and art director, photography brought her vision full circle.
She works as a commercial photographer for a range of advertising and editorial clients, but  devotes a portion of her time
to pursue her personal work. Her photographs has been recognized by Flash Forward Boston, Px3 – 2012, IPA – 2012, Critical mass,
Santa Barbara Museum of Fine Art & Museum of Fine Art Houston. Here work is currently on display in the Santa Barbara Art Museum’s exhibition, Portrayal Betrayal. One of her Boys in Dresses images is featured in the exhibition.

 My work begins with a thought or idea, and becomes an “invented reality” through a photograph. inspired by
flemish painting, i like to maintain a strong simplicity in tone and composition. i prefer to pose questions with my work, rather than provide answers.

The Santa Barbara Art Museum PORTRAYAL/BETRAYAL Exhibition

On June 2nd, a terrific exhibition opened at the Santa Barbara Art Museum, Portrayal/Betrayal, spotlighting portraits from the permanent collection.  I had the great pleasure to spend quality time at the exhibition and enjoyed wandering through the various rooms and stand before over 100 compelling portraits divided into five categories.  The exhibition runs through September 16th, and is definitely worth a visit.
Curator Karen Sinsheimer states that “over 250 billion photographs will be made in 2012, and the predominant subject will be ourselves”.  It is interesting to consider that we are becoming a population that may take an abundance of photograph portraits, but in reality we are becoming what I call a “looking-down” culture, engaged in our technology almost to the point where we no longer truly look at each other, which make these portraits even more irresistible.
The museum has created additional programing that surrounds the exhibition, one is the creation of a “Twitter” portrait. From July 2 to 13, submit a six-word, self-portrait message via twitter with the hashtag #SBMA6, and the SBMA Teaching Artists will create a sketched “portrait” based on your text. Written and sketched portraits will be featured on the Museum website.

Stumped on what to write? Take cues from authors and entertainers – singer Aimee Mann: “Couldn’t cope so I wrote songs,” comedian Stephen Colbert: “Well, I thought it was funny,” and most famously, Ernest Hemingway: “For Sale: baby shoes, never worn.”


The Photography of Family and Friends

Hendrik Kerstens, Paper Roll, 2008
Sally Mann, The Good Father, 1990

The Documentary Portrait

Terrance Reimer,  , 2000
Jeff Brouws, Bridget and Denise, Survivors of Hurricane Katrina, Lower Ninth Ward, New Orleans, LA 2006
The Untouched Image
Grant Mudford, Paul McCarthy, 1989
Richard Gordon, Untitled, for the series Meta Photographs, 1978

Negotiation Between Subject and Photographer

Larry Sultan, Woman in Curlers, 2002
Joyce Tenneson, Suzanne in Contortion, 1990

 In the Subject’s Space
Joseph Szabo, Priscilla, 1969
Mary Ellen Mark, Tiny, Seattle, 1983
Aline Smithson, Fur, 2005

Joni Sternbach,  William (Rincon), 2007
Morrie Camhi, Young Man with Union Brochure from the series Farmworkers, 1972
Photographic the Other
Keith Carter, Stars, 1996
Constructed Portraits

Shirin Neshat, Rebellious Silence, 1994
Lalla Essaydi, Converging Territories #30, 2004
Artist Views Artist
Dan Budnik, Portrait of Jasper Johns at Leo Casteli’s Gallery, 1958

Duane Michaels, Portrait of Magritte, 1965
Animal Portraits

Mary Frey, Barn Owl, 2008
Don Normak, Pampas Grass and Matching Dog, Phoenix, Arizona, 1974
Larry Ginettino, ScaredRabbit, 1994

This Must Be the Place: COFFER


Video by Lost & Found Films

"We look at working in documentaries almost like a passport that allows us to see how different people live, across cultural, class, socioeconomic and racial lines. And what better way to sum up that idea than explore people's spaces: their home, their place of work, their hangout spot — to really examine, both visually and emotionally, the places that people LIVE. So we decided to make that the focus of our series, This Must Be The Place." — Ben Wu

Filmmakers Ben Wu and David Usui's This Must Be the Place is a series of short films that explores the idea of home; what makes them, how they represent us, and why we need them. Their most recent installment, Coffer is a meditative portrayal of tintype photographer John Coffer's rural home and workspace in upstate New York. Living off the grid, in a cabin he built by hand more than two decades years ago, the artists explains the philosophy behind his way of life, and his thoughts on the nature of home, while the camera drifts through his space, capturing glimpses of him at work and at rest.

Bertien van Manen: Let’s Sit Down Before We Go

The thread that links much of the Dutch photographer Bertien van Manen’s work is her portrayal of the seemingly small, undramatic moments of everyday life.

It might be a photograph of friends sitting and sharing a drink or a deceptively simple photograph of a family snapshot sitting on a bureau, but the weight of much of her imagery lays in the perception of a connection her subjects. Van Manen’s professional beginnings were in fashion but after a photographer friend introduced her to the photographs of Robert Frank and other artists, she pursued a more personal direction with her work. “Both Robert Frank and Nan Goldin have inspired me, especially the directness and closeness to the subject they have. I have to like the people I photograph,” she has said. The seemingly casual language of her photographs stems from her use of automatic, non-professional cameras. “Traveling with expensive Leicas or Nikons in Russia at that time was asking for trouble,” she says. “They considered my cameras as toys… and they did not feel threatened by them, they considered me as a tourist or friend, who liked to take pictures.” What might be seen at first to be “flaws” to the images—a light leak bleeding in from an edge, imperfect focusing or flash burn from the on-camera flash—give way to the perception of Manen’s impulses to grab at what she sees before her, physically hold it, or more accurately as felt in the pictures, to embrace it.

For her first book, A Hundred Summers A Hundred Winters, published in 1994, van Manen traveled all over the former Soviet Union for more than three years photographing daily life. “I did not focus on poverty,” she says. “But the average living conditions are, of course, poorer than in the West. On the other hand I did not try to show happiness and lightheartedness where it does not exist.” Looking past the living conditions, one notices much of what is happening in van Manen’s images takes place in the sitting rooms, bedrooms or over kitchen tables where people gather to talk or get to know one another. The photos exude warmth, without judgment and with a keen eye for the unexpectedly beautiful. In one photograph from Kazakhstan, a perfectly stacked pyramid of silver metal bowls left to dry on a kitchen counter mimic the tiles on the wall behind. In another from Moldavia, golden brown loaves of bread line sets of white shelves while a man in uniform and Kalashnikov rifle slung over his shoulder seems to stand guard.

Van Manen’s 2006 book Give Me Your Image focused her attention on family photographs she discovered in homes she visited while traveling in Europe. She photographed them where they were found or at times would place them among other objects creating impromptu still-lifes. “It was exciting to walk through the homes with a portrait, looking for the perfect place to put it,” she said. “I tried not to think and just follow my intuition. This sometimes gave surprising results, like the lady in Rome, who started crying when I put the image of her dead son in a corner, in front of a little cabinet that he always had treasured and that was all she still had of him.”

Bertien van Manen’s latest book, Let’s Sit Down Before We Go, published by Mack Books, is a collaboration of sorts. Titled after the habit of having Russians sit for a moment before a long journey to think about where they will be going and why, van Manen’s book came into being after a lengthy pause of its own. After revisiting some of the contact sheets from her work from the former Soviet Union shot between 1991 and 2009, van Manen sent some scans of a new edit of images to the British photographer Stephen Gill for his opinion. Gill in turn asked to see all of the raw material represented on the 500+ contact sheets and proceeded to make not only a selection of pictures but sequence them as well. Van Manen trusted his instincts. “I decided to stay with his selection and sequence, happy with the dynamic yet subtle repetition and rhythm of images and the combination of colors,” he says. “They are in complete accordance with my idea about the content of the album.”

Gill’s edit favors many images that were left on the contact sheets due to unsharpness or overexposure and in preparing the images for the book they were not corrected, in fact much the opposite. “Stephen had encouraged us to push to extreme results,” van Bertien says. “I was there for some days in the Lake District, with Rob Sara in his darkroom, while he was printing these images. For instance, working on the second print in the book, we held back the face of the baby even more.” The results leave the baby almost without detail – a glowing mass upended and swinging from a man’s arms.

When van Manen speaks of her books, she uses the word “album” frequently. An album, a family album in particular, makes little claim for aspiring to great art. Its purpose seems to be our desire to access memory, history, personal feelings (both good and bad) and perhaps even serve as proof of our existences. There is a shorthand of language in the gestures, faces that can be universal even if we do not know who is in the picture. Her work seems familiar because it is art that slyly poses as photographs that could sit alongside our own memories in such an album. It is such that we can feel the gift of the company Bertien van Manen keeps.

Let’s Sit Down Before We Go was recently published by Mack Books.

Jeffrey Ladd is a photographer, writer, editor and founder of Errata Editions.