Tag Archives: Tilt Shift

Conceptual photography

For its latest issue (#71), Source magazine is asking the question, “What is conceptual photography?” To go along with the mag they have produced three short talking-head videos exploring this question with a handful of artists and critics. The importance of the “concept” in contemporary photography has always interested me. In the photo-world, the question regularly pops up about why “straight” photography isn’t taken seriously by the art world. Those in the straight photography corner often appear to see conceptual photography as impure in some way, as if it were not what photography is really about. Without wanting to spark off another one of these debates, it seems to me that concept is indeed considered paramount in Western art photography today (in my experience, this is not at all the case in Japan, where “serious” photography can still very much be about wandering around with a camera and taking pictures). For example, I’m often struck by young photographers struggling to hang an ill-fitting artist statement with some big ideas in it over the shoulders of work that is clearly not conceptual in the slightest… presumably because they have been taught to do so in art school. Wherever you stand on this question (or however delightfully far away you stand from it) these videos provide an interesting look at how photography became so excited about concepts and what the hell “conceptual photography” is even supposed to mean in the first place.

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Juan Manuel Castro Prieto at Galerie VU’ in Paris

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Sud-Est de l’thiopie, 2005 – Sheik Hussein, lieu de plerinage des musulmans
Juan Manuel Castro Prieto / Galerie VU’

Now we see Ethiopia through Spanish eyes and the virtuoso large-format tilt-shift compositions of Juan Manuel Castro Prieto. On show currently at Galerie VU’ in Paris, his photos are like metaphor-soaked visions from mysterious dreams. article writing submission . Almost surreal in their vividness of color, highly-selective focus, and unusually sharp details his mural-size images seem immediately like long-forgotten memories with which one yearns to linger and to imagine the story of what happened just before and just after these moments were captured as memories on film.

He started in the 1970s as a self-taught enthusiast. Blog Submission . Influenced by Gabriel Cuallad and Paco Gmez, whom he met at the Real Sociedad Fotogrfica of Madrid, Castro Prieto makes a distinction between photography as a window onto reality, and photography as a mirror in which the author with all his obsessions, memories and imagination fed by myths and literature is reflected in what he portrays. Thus, for Castro Prieto, photography is a tool for connecting to the world, on his terms, and an excuse for a philosophy of life (interview with Alejandro Castellote, 2003).

In Ethiopia, on several extended visits between 2001 and 2006, he found “an ancestral memory of humanity” that “converses with the objects, signs and behaviors of the modern world.”

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thiopie, 2002 – Etip Juan Manuel Castro Prieto / Galerie VU’

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Ethiopie, Arbaminch, 2005 Juan Manuel Castro Prieto / Galerie VU’

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thiopie, 2008 – Homme Afar Juan Manuel Castro Prieto / Galerie VU’

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thiopie, 2005 – Jeune fille Surma Juan Manuel Castro Prieto / Galerie VU’