Tag Archives: Victoria Amp

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.


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

David Maisel, Terminal Mirage 2

David Maisel, Terminal Mirage 2

David Maisel

Terminal Mirage 2,
vicinity of the Great Salt Lake, Utah, 2003
From the Terminal Mirage series
Website – DavidMaisel.com

David Maisel was born in New York City in 1961. He received his BA from Princeton University, and his MFA from California College of the Arts, in addition to study at Harvard University's Graduate School of Design. Maisel was a Scholar in Residence at the Getty Research Institute in 2007 and an Artist in Residence at the Headlands Center for the Arts in 2008. Maisel’s photographs, multi-media projects, and public installations have been exhibited internationally, and are included in many public collections, such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; the Victoria & Albert Museum; the Brooklyn Museum of Art; the Santa Barbara Museum of Art; the Yale University Art Gallery; and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, among others. His work has been the subject of four monographs: The Lake Project (Nazraeli Press, 2004), Oblivion (Nazraeli Press, 2006), Library of Dust (Chronicle Books, 2008), and History's Shadow (Nazraeli Press, 2011). His newest book, Black Maps: American Landscape and the Apocalyptic Sublime, will be available in Fall 2012. He lives and works in the San Francisco area.

Zed Nelson, Untitled

Zed Nelson, Untitled

Zed Nelson

Untitled,
, 2012
From the Hackney – A Tale of Two Cities series
Website – ZedNelson.com

Born in East Africa, Zed Nelson graduated from Westminster University, London, with a degree in photography and filmmaking. Having gained international recognition and numerous awards as a documentary photographer, Nelson’s recent work adopts an increasingly considered, in-depth approach to reflect on contemporary social issues through long-term personal projects. Nelson’s seminal book Gun Nation – a disturbing reflection on America's deadly love affair with the gun – was published in twelve countries and awarded five major international photography prizes. Love Me, Nelson’s second book, reflects on the cultural and commercial forces that drive a global obsession with youth and beauty. The project was recently nominated for the Deutsche Börse Photography Prize. Nelson’s latest project Hackney – A Tale of Two Cities explores the London borough that he has lived for most of his life. Nelson’s work has been exhibited at Tate Britain, the ICA and the National Portrait Gallery, and is in the permanent collection of the Victoria & Albert Museum.

Photo Editor of the Month: Emma Bowkett of FT Weekend Magazine

As part of Photojournalism Links’s relaunch, we’re introducing new and regular columns, with the goal of exploring further the inner-workings of the photojournalism community. One such column is dedicated to Photo Editors. Far from being a Hall of Fame-type of chronicle, it’s a way for us to introduce photo editors that are using photography in intelligent and creative ways. We’re also mindful that a lot of our readers are students and emerging photographers, who might not always know how photo editors work and how, and when, they can be approached. Hopefully, this column will help them, while informing others about the work of particular photo editors.

This month, we’re starting with Emma Bowkett, the photo editor for the Financial Times Weekend Magazine.

Photo © Kalpesh Lathigra.

Photojournalism Links: How did you get started in photography? How did you end up being a photo editor for Financial Times?

Emma Bowkett: Graduating from Goldsmiths College in 2005 with an MA in Image and Communication, I took an internship at the Victoria & Albert Museum, archiving prints for their Word and Image department. Then I worked for two years as first assistant to an advertising photographer, before teaching on the degree course at Goldsmiths. This was a term-time position, so I started freelance picture editing at the Financial Times. I developed a good working relationship with the art director on the FT Weekend Magazine. She kept asking me back.

Photojournalism Links: How do you use photography for the FT Weekend Magazine?

Emma Bowkett: We re-launched the magazine in 2010 with greater emphasis on photography. Most of the photography in the magazine is commissioned. We are a weekly publication with a short lead-time. Stories are often timed to events and news stories, so we are able to commission photographers to work on assignments, as well as publishing photo essays, previews of photo exhibitions and books. I work closely with the AD’s, photographers and agents to produce concepts. Ideas are pitched to my editor, and usually run over six or eight pages. We are encouraged to be ambitious with both images and design.

Photojournalism Links: What are you looking for in the photographers that you use? What attracts you to a certain photographer over another?

Emma Bowkett: I’m looking for photographers with a sense of authorship to their work. I see a lot of folios, sometimes there’s just a special something that attracts me.

Photojournalism Links: Do you mostly use to local photographers for international assignments? Are there cases, when you would send someone abroad?

Emma Bowkett: Much of the photography I commission is international. I usually work with photographers on the ground. That said, there are circumstances where we fly someone in, if we are looking for a specific style [we’ll] use a specific photographer.

Photojournalism Links: How do you discover new photographers?

Emma Bowkett: Galleries, social media sites, magazines, blogs, agents, recommendations. I try to see two photographers’ books a week because I like talking to photographers about their personal projects face to face when I can. Attending private views, talks, and events are a good way to meet new photographers and build relationships.

Photojournalism Links: Are there one or several photographers that have impressed you in the past year? And why?

Emma Bowkett: I am continually impressed by photography. There are several photographers I could mention; many are regular contributors to the magazine. I’d like to mention Stan Douglas, who I recently discovered, and is this year’s recipient of ICP’s Infinity Award for Art. He recently exhibited in London and in New York. We ran his series, Midcentury Studio, in the magazine.  I was lucky enough to see both shows. I’m interested in his concept of taking on the identity of a photojournalist, constructing scenes and narratives, challenging fact and fiction. I really love his work.

FT Weekend Magazine © Stan Douglas, Courtesy the artist, David Zwirner, New York and Victoria Miro, London.

FT Weekend Magazine © Stan Douglas, Courtesy the artist, David Zwirner, New York and Victoria Miro, London.

FT Weekend Magazine © Stan Douglas, Courtesy the artist, David Zwirner, New York and Victoria Miro, London.

Photojournalism Links: What is the last photo book that you’ve bought?

Emma Bowkett: I have just bought WassinkLundgren’s Empty Bottles and Carleton Watkins: The Complete Mammoth Photographs.

Photojournalism Links: If you could hire any photographer, who would it be?

Emma Bowkett: I was just in contact with Sølve Sundsbø’s agent about a possible cover shoot. It didn’t work out, but I’d still like to work with him. I have a wish list of photographers. The best thing about my job is working with photographers I admire.

Photojournalism Links: What are your hobbies outside of photography?

Emma Bowkett: I go to the movies as much as I can. I cycle and go the gym.

Photojournalism Links: How can photographers reach you?

Emma Bowkett: Email, Twitter or Facebook. The same way I find them.