Richard Rowland lives in Brighton, England where he received his BA in photography in 2005. He has a passion for the urban environment and this has led him to undertake projects in cities including Shanghai, Dubai, London and Mumbai. Richard’s work has been included in both national and international publications as well as solo and group exhibitions at the University of Westminster, London, The National Galley, Kosovo, FORMAT Festival (UK), and the Brighton Photo Biennial, England. I recent years he has been regularly funded by Arts Council England the National Lottery (UK). He earns his living as a freelance photographer for design, editorial and publishing clients. Richard’s work has appeared in publications including The Guardian, British Journal of Photography, Vogue and Wallpaper Magazine.
William Klein’s urgent, radical, gritty, blurred and out of focus photographs are as dynamic and visceral as any the medium has produced. His revolutionary magnus opus ‘Life is Good & Good For You in New York’ is an uncompromising, groundbreaking portrait of urban life, which at the time of its publication in 1956 not only shocked the established order, but reinvented the photographic document and is now widely regarded as one of photography’s greatest and most influential works.
Daido Moriyama is the most celebrated photographer to emerge from the Japanese ‘Provoke’ movement. His grainy high contrast black-and-white photographs, focused on the urban environment of post-war Tokyo’s Shinjuku district, echo those of Klein’s New York. Like Klein, Moriyama has consistently revisited, reinvented and reworked his photographs within a process of constant flux.
The Tate Modern’s latest exhibition ‘William Klein + Daido Moriyama‘ brings together the work of the two photographers as a double feature—side by side retrospectives of photographers whose work is inextricably linked but independently minded.
Following Matisse, Picasso; Albers, Maholy-Nagy; Rodchenko and Popova, the show is the latest in a program of double headers at the Tate Modern that explore two artists and how their work relates to one another.
Simon Baker, the Tate Modern’s Curator of Photography and International Art, spoke with TIME about the exhibition—the first full show he has curated since joining Tate Modern.
“It’s a matter of historical record that Klein’s book on New York and then his book on Tokyo were massively influential in Japan, and so the idea of the show exploring both influence and affinity, things that [Klein and Moriyama] have in common beyond the idea of influence, is very important. We are not saying that William was the beginning of all of Moriyama’s ideas, Moriyama was really influenced by Andy Warhol. He was massively influenced by Jack Kerouac and the Beat writers. So he had this series of really interesting dissident American influences of which one of them was William Klein—and we thought this was a good starting point.
Both photographers were really involved in the show’s installations. There are certain places in the show where they had free reign to do what they wanted. William’s response was to make huge blow-ups of his pictures—which realize his constant striving for impact and to make his images as confusing and overwhelming as the cities that they are of.
Moriyama’s response was to make a huge work called Memory, which is a grid of 1.5 meter wide photographs taken from different points in his career. There are images in there from Provoke, from Farewell Photography, from Japan: a Photo Theater, but there are also things from last year or maybe two years ago. He’s similarly free with his past.
We’ve also tried on the wall to show quite large grids of work so you have the sense of looking at images on the page. We have 70 framed prints from New York—There’s a whole group of children playing like you get in the book. There’s a whole group of shots at night in ballrooms like you get in the book—and also unpublished images from the same series. You get this sense of multiplicity.
We did the same thing with Moriyama. An incredible series of prints of Japan: A Photo Theater—which was his first really important book—are actually cut, mounted as exactly the same pairs that are on the pages of the book. So you’re standing in front of 75 small prints, many of which are like the small pages of the book.
We are not suggesting that the framed works are better than the book, but just that they give you a way into the material in the book, whilst remembering that the book is the really important thing. We’ve tried to keep that balance throughout the show. They think of their work in terms of layouts and sequences and series so we’ve tried to make that a feature of the installation.
The show also focuses on what it means to photograph a great city like New York or a great city like Tokyo. And it’s interesting that Klein and Moriyama both photographed each other’s cities. Klein was a New Yorker who photographed New York and then went to Tokyo. Daido initially photographed entirely in Tokyo and then went to New York and did great work there.
Restless is the way to describe Klein’s attitude to his own work. [With Life is Good & Good For You in New York] He knows that he made a great book. And when he talks about it, he talks about wanting to change everything and he talks about blowing things up too big, making everything too grainy. Making the contrast too high. And he talks about that as a very deliberate thing. That he was trying to make a different aesthetic for photography.
Many people regard Robert Frank’s The Americans as the pinnacle of photo book-making, but Frank’s Americans doesn’t have the kind of impact, especially globally as [Life is Good & Good For You in New York]. What Klein’s book did for the way people think about photography in Latin America, in Europe and in Japan is probably unparalleled. And in that sense its greatness is hard to argue with.
But what I also think is really important and what the exhibition really claims is we’re used to thinking of the post-war 60s and 70s in a particular way, often skewed toward America. And for a long time, black-and-white photography, but particularly Japanese black-and-white photography, just wasn’t known here and wasn’t that understood. Provoke was this amazing work being made by a genuine avant-garde with theorists and thinkers and poets and writers. It was a proper thinking, functioning, avant-garde that was happening in Japan. The importance of that is beginning to be understood.
I think in another 10 years or so Moriyama, Takanashi and Nakahira will be as well known and in that moment, as well understood, as Eggleston and Friedlander.
Klein explored photography. He did some of the best photo books ever and moved on [to make films]. He moves in a very restless way, which I think is very interesting. Moriyama has been more consistent. He’s stuck very closely with photography.
The great pleasure for us and the great opportunity for Tate was to work with both of them directly. They’re both really active. Daido is doing amazing work. William’s still making photographs. He’s still interested in working. And for us; in a photography way, it is like getting to work with Matisse and Picasso while they’re still around. They are these great figures and we’re very fortunate to be able to work with them both.”
Simon Baker is the Tate Modern’s Curator of Photography and International Art
The Exhibition William Klein + Daido Moriyama is showing at Tate Modern, London from Oct. 10, 2012 – Jan. 20, 2013
Klein and Moriyama films Directed by Martin Hampton/Produced by Tate Media © TATE 2012
Bryan Formhals is a New York based photographer and the publisher of LPV Magazine. After suffering writer's block while living in Los Angeles in 2005, he took up photography and has been obsessed ever since. Loosely following the tradition of street photography he explores the urban environment and the way humans shape and interact with it. His Genesee Ave. project is a series of photographs taken from 2006 to just shortly after the 2008 election when he decided to leave Los Angeles after four and half years. He is a founding member of the strange.rs collective.
Growing up in the big sky country of New Mexico, photographer Leigh Merrill probably didn’t give the urban environment much thought. After receiving a BFA from the University of New Mexico, she moved to the Bay Area to attend Mills College in Oakland, CA. It was from this experience of living without visual expanse, that she became interested in the way people live in cities. Now living in Texas, Leigh continues to exhibit across the US and most recently had a solo exhibition, Into the Sunset, at the Lawndale Art Center in Houston, TX. Two of her series, Into the Sunset and Street take similar approaches; I am featuring Street below.
Statement for Street: I am driven to photograph the places where I live, fueled by a curiosity about the architecture we surround ourselves with, and how it reflects larger cultural ideas. The images depict places that waver between fantasy and reality, calling into question ideas of beauty, class and cultural romanticism in our urban and rural landscapes.
Upon moving to the San Francisco Bay Area in 2007 I began looking at the complexity of its urban environment. The Bay Area presents a unique blend of residential living that sits between urban and suburban in a way that never quite reconciles one with the other. In investigating this landscape I photographed thousands of homes throughout the area and then digitally assembled these images together to create new and illogical structures and streets. At first these images look plausible, however, closer inspection reveals their fabrication.
The reconstructed homes and neighborhoods appear skewed, revealing their underlying and sometimes unconscious intentions. These constructs highlight the ways in which our built environments pull from a variety of different architectural and landscape styles and reflect cultural ideas of beauty and perfection. In working with the Bay Area as a site for investigation, I explore what our built environments tell us about our own individual desires as well as our collective culture and ideals.
Los Angeles photographer, Zoran Milosavljevic, really knows his hometown. Literally, block by block. He has completed a seven year series, The Wilshire Project, exploring a city and it’s inhabitants using a sixteen mile boulevard as it’s axis. Zoran is primarily a street photographer capturing the urban environment. After attending the San Francisco Art Institute for photography and the American Film Institute for cinematography, he has traveled the globe documenting street life in a variety of countries. For this project, he stayed close to home.
The Wilshire Project:
Wilshire Boulevard runs almost sixteen miles—roughly the length of Manhattan—from the skyscrapers in downtown Los Angeles to the ocean in Santa Monica. It cuts its way through communities that make up the cityʼs very heart. Some names every local knows, and others carry fame worldwide—MacArthur Park; Korea Town; Hancock Park; the Miracle Mile; Beverly Hills. Along its one hundred ninety-five blocks, the pedestrian encounters every kind of person, every nationality, every architectural style, every kind of business, every kind of landmark that has come to typify the City of Angels. In short, Wilshire Boulevard is Los Angeles.
I gave myself simple rules. Every corner would be represented, documented by a street sign. I only took photographs of people I encountered on the street. They determined the locations, not landmarks, remarkable architecture, or great views. I wanted to document the living city, not its buildings.
I had no preparatory questions and set no requirements, except that they were on Wilshire Boulevard and willing to pose for roughly six exposures. I asked people to look at the camera, but gave no other directions. Their poses remain their own, personal statements of those individuals in those particular times at those specific places.
I think when you take a picture of someone that way, itʼs a kind of test for them. They have an opportunity. It is a chance to answer the question: How do you want to be remembered? At this time, in this place? Itʼs up to you. Some took the opportunity to promote themselves. Others struggled to hide their emotions and themselves. I had no interest in taking flattering, or unflattering, shots. I wanted to show people as they wanted to present themselves.
I did not ask people for their stories, but many gave them anyway. There was the man just released from prison. A woman studying law; a man selling Bibles who made me promise to read the scriptures; aspiring actors and musicians; homeless people expressing quiet dignity; and tourists exploring the city in the most unorthodox way, by walking. And on Wilshire and Ocean, the final block, I photographed a friend who in a city of 3.8 million people, just happened to be passing by.
The result captures an essence unique to a city so often simplified, stereotyped, and misrepresented. Ultimately, the Wilshire Project makes tangible the diversity, complexity, and simple basic humanity inherent to Los Angeles.