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.
Albrecht Tübke is one of the most celebrated young photographers at work today in Europe. Several of Tübkes recent series of portraiture appear at once strikingly innovative and deceptively simple. Originally from Leipzig, Germany, Tübke trained at the Academy of Visual Arts, Leipzig before completing his MA at Guildhall University of London. His work has been included in numerous prestigious exhibitions in Europe, among others Animalism at the National Media Museum in Bradford, How We Are: Photographing Britain at the Tate Britain, Zeit, Raum, Bild at the Historisches Museum Frankfurt, and New Photographers 2006 at Antwerp’s Museum voor Fotografie. His work can be seen in the public collections of the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, La Maison Européenne de la Photographie, Paris, Museum Folkwang, Essen, Centre National de l’Audiovisuel, Luxembourg and the National Media Museum, Bradford.
It was big news in 2003 was when when a young man by the name of Alec Soth won the Santa Fe Prize in photography through Center for his series, Sleeping by the Mississippi. From that moment on, the name Alec Soth was everywhere.
The Center Awards have been a defining achievement for many a photographer’s resume and career, and in the past several years, Center has made more opportunities available through the Project Launch Award and the Choice Awards. And of course, Review Santa Fe, the only juried portfolio review, still sets the standard for excellent in portfolio reviews. All of this and more is waiting for your submissions until the end of January. The deadline it 1/30/12, so don’t let the opportunity slip by. Here are some new points of interest this year:
1. Entry fees are made affordable – for example, you can enter an entire project in Project Launch for $25/$35 depending on membership status 2. Project Competition award amounts have increased to $10,000 (was $5,000 last year) 3. The jurors are phenomenal – curator from the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Getty, TIME magazine, Newsweek, Rizzoli Publications…
*26.03.12 THERE ARE STILL TWO PLACES AVAILABLE-APPLY NOW!* 1000 Words is delighted to announce its fourth workshop. Following successes with Antoine d’Agata, Anders Petersen and Erik Kessels we are proud to present Roger Ballen as the workshop leader for the next retreat in Fez, Morocco (5-9 May 2012).
“Somebody said my pictures are diamonds but they are diamonds with charcoal and carbon inside. What’s going on in the interior of that world is breakdown and chaos, but there is affection on the formal side. You constantly have to deal with these contradictions. They cause ambiguity, which is an important part of my art.” Roger Ballen
Like most great artist-photographers Roger Ballen’s work is hard to define. Drawn from the documentary genre, Ballen has developed an approach all of his own. His photographs are complex tableaux of surreal and disturbing visions that attempt to reflect his own psyche, which he regards as revealing his existential journey in life. Focussing on the interactions between people, animals and objects that inhabit rooms – rooms that are typically squalid, their walls covered with scribbled drawings, stains and wire; their floors strewn with bizarre props and artefacts – Ballen stages unsettling scenarios that chafe on our subconscious.
Born in New York in 1950, Ballen has lived in Johannesburg, South Africa since the 1970’s. His work has been exhibited in many important institutions throughout the world and is housed in numerous museum collections including Victoria and Albert Museum in London, Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Centre George Pompidou in Paris. Ballen is represented by the Gagosian Gallery, Stills Gallery and Gallery Xavier Hufkens S.A. His books have received critical acclaim such as Platteland: Images from Rural South Africa (1994), Outland(2001), Shadow Chamber (2005) and his latest series Boarding House(2009).
The organisation’sflagship is 1000 Words, an online magazine dedicated to contemporary photography in the UK and beyond. It reviews exhibitions and photobooks and publishes interviews, essays and multimedia. We are committed to showing the work of lesser-known but significant photographers alongside that of established practitioners in the aim of bringing their work to a wider audience. Often incredibly diverse in terms of subjects, concepts, styles and techniques whilst always foregrounding the subjectivity of documentary art photography, 1000 Words intends to explore the limits and possibilities of the medium.
Released quarterly, the magazine attracts over 140,000 unique visitors from more than 75 countries every month. In May 2010 the 1000 Words Blog was ranked at number 3 in The Top 25 UK Arts & Culture Blogs as part of a survey carried out by Creative Tourist and was also named as the winner of Arts Media Contacts’ Photography Blog of the Year Award, 2010.
Yet 1000 Words is much more than just an online magazine. It is the first step in our concept. 1000 Words also operates a programme of exhibitions and events including four annual workshops in Fez, Morocco as well as talks, portfolio reviews, prizes and awards.
1000 Words is governed by its board of directors who play an active role in the direction of the organisation. They are: Camilla Gore, Nicholas Barker, Simon Baker, Aron Morel, Louise Clements, Tim Clark, Michael Grieve and Norman Clark. The 1000 Words Workshops are organised by Tim Clark, founder and editor-in-chief at 1000 Words and Michael Grieve, 1000 Words deputy editor, senior lecturer at Nottingham Trent University and a photographer represented by Agence Vu.
ABOUT THE WORKSHOP:
The 1000 Words Workshop takes place in an authentically restored riadsituated in the medieval medina, at the heart of the beautifully evocative city of Fez, Morocco. The workshop will be an intense experience lasting five days between 5-9 May 2012 and will consist of 12 participants. The medina is a vibrant labyrinth that will permeate all the senses. Surrounded by the Atlas Mountains, it offers a visually stunning backdrop for this truly unique workshop.
We are looking for a diverse range of participants who understand the work of Roger Ballen and feel that their own art will benefit from his guidance.
The cost of the workshop will be £1250 for 5 days. Once participants have been selected they will be expected to pay a non-refundable deposit of £500 within two weeks. Participants can then pay the rest of the fee according to deadlines (see below). Participants are encouraged to arrive the day before the workshop begins for a welcome dinner. The price includes:
-tuition from Roger Ballen (including defining each participant’s project; shooting; editing sessions; creating a coherent body of work; creation of a slide show; projection of the images of the participants.)
-a welcome and farewell dinner
-lunch everyday and snacks during the afternoon
-24 hour help from the 1000 Words team and an assistant/translator with local knowledge.
Participants will be expected to make their own travel arrangements and find accommodation, which in Fez can range from £150 upwards for the week. We can advise on finding the accommodation that best suits you. Remember that most of your time will be spent either at the riad or shooting. For photographers using colour film we will provide the means for processing and a scanner. Photographers shooting digital will be expected to bring all necessary equipment. Please note that for the purposes and practicalities of a workshop, digital really is advisable. All participants should also bring a laptop if they have one. Every effort will be made to accommodate individual technical needs.
“I have had the most profoundly moving, fascinating, difficult, wonderful week of my life. Thank you 1000 Words. Words can not describe. I have been continuing with my project. It feels different here, of course. And much slower progress. But still shooting with the same or similar mindset. All connected to what I did in Morocco. Really, really missing everyone. I feel privileged, truly, to have been part of it. Have been in the countryside with my parents since getting back and finally showed my mum the slideshow, with music that had been spinning around my head. She cried.” Laura
“The Erik Kessels workshop in Fez has been a fantastic and motivational experience that I will carry with me my whole life.” Andy
“The choice of city (Fez) to develop such an educational and inspirational workshop is amazing, since the immersion begins as soon as you arrive. You are induced to leave your comfort zone and search for new references and perspectives, and given that the culture and language are so unique they also become great ingredients in this creative quest. The whole infrastructure offered during the workshop and also the specific venue where the meetings and tutorial activities took place were all part of the environment, serving to create a peaceful and harmonic atmosphere that continuously inspired us all during the workshop.” Alan
“Antoine D’Agata workshop in Fez was a mind shaking experience, and for me that was just what I needed! Antoine’s repeated question to me was, “but what do you want?” What a simple question it may seem but to truly honestly answer this was one of the hardest things. Antoine struggled with me daily to be truthful to the process of shooting and to my work. Trying to do this as a white woman in a muslim foreign country seemed scary at first. But soon enough this fear pushed me to go farther than I had before. To take more risks and be more bold. In the end, I had allowed myself to befriend men and women who were at first just strangers on the street. My once beautiful but safely intimate portraiture became more real for me, evoking not only the fear of letting myself leap in a strange place but in the process of doing so, being able to see so much more in others.
The workshop venue was such a treat and incredible place to be able to go to every day. A sanctuary to rest and to edit and collect your thoughts. A place to run into your fellow work shoppers and bounce around ideas. The food was more than I had expected and in fact pretty much the best food I ate in Morocco in my three weeks travel. Tim and Michael were so on top of the workshop; they were there managing every detail from accommodations, food, coordinating the class meetings, running film to labs, scanning, and even just being sweet and kind pals to talk with about your day or have a beer with and brainstorm about your project.
All in all, this workshop could not have been better and I feel so lucky to have had such an opportunity. Antoine’s phenomenal out of the box thinking and honesty is one of a kind. 1000 Words’ workshops fall into the ‘do not miss this’ category!” Katie
HOW TO SUBMIT:
We require that you send 10 images as low res jpegs and/or a link to your website, as well as a short biography and statement about why you think it will be relevant for you to work with Roger (approx. 200 words total). Submissions are to be sent to [email protected] with the following subject header: SUBMISSION FOR 1000 WORDS WORKSHOP WITH ROGER BALLEN.
01 March 2012: Deadline for applications
05 March 2012: Successful candidates contacted
12 March 2012: Deposit due (£500)
09 April 2012: Second installment due (£750)
04 May 2012: Arrive in Morocco for welcoming dinner
Woman of the world, Bastienne Schmidt, has recently published her fourth monograph, Home Stills. Bastienne was born in Germany, raised in Greece and Italy, and has lived in New York for the last 20 years, currently near the ocean at the end of Long Island. Her art work is included in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art , the International Center of Photography,the Brooklyn Museum, the Victoria and Albert Museum and the Biblioteque Nationale and she has had work in 50 International exhibitions, in addition to publishing four monographs: ‘Vivir La Muerte’, ‘American Dreams’, ‘ShadowHome’ and ‘Home Stills’. ‘Shadowhome” won the best Photo Book Award in Germany in 2005.
In the book ‘Home Stills’, Bastienne wanders, metaphorically or on foot, in and out of a woman’s life and imagination . At home and not-home, amid order and disorder, roaming and staying put, hiding out in plain sight, she builds narratives where multiple meanings glimmer below the surface and ambiguities fill the frame.
Photographed mostly out in the Hamptons and on Long Island, Bastienne recalls the work of Cindy Sherman and draws on such diverse visual influences as the films of Wim Wenders and the paintings and prints of Hokusai, Sigmar Polke, Jan Vermeer and Edward Hopper, to portray the irony of the social contract in a world of suburban wonders.
This work deals with layers; It’s about looking through something and not being able to totally see it clearly…. Women have a lot of different angles and complexities to understand.
I moved with my family out to this incredibly beautiful landscape from Manhattan nine years ago, (and I begin thinking about) this notion of suburbia and following the utopian American Dream, where you have your house, you have your car and you have your family. It was really a shift in terms of how to see the world through artistic paradigm versus how it really shifts.
I like the idea of creating a narrative where you remove yourself a little bit from the scene so you see it from a half bird’s eye perspective. I’ve come full circle: I am now a mother and ‘housewife.’ The goal of Home Stills is to show that a life close to home can be as fascinating, strange, and alienating as anywhere else.