March 26, 2011

Aires de Jeux, Champs de Tensions Playgrounds, Fields of Tensions

photography exhibitions montpellier, south of france, wolfgang tillmans

Aires de Jeux, Champs de Tensions // Playgrounds, Fields of Tension.
Figures de la photographie urbaine en Europe depuis 1970.
Figures in European urban photography since 1970.

Currently showing at: Pavillon Populaire, Montpellier France.
25th February – 24th April 2011

Featuring the works of:

Bogdan Dziworski My View, Polish Impressions in Photography 1970
Seiichi Furuya Berlin-Est 1980
Jitka Hanslova Bewohner / Habitants 1994-1997
Helmut Kandi
Chris Killip In Fragrante 1988
Boris Mikailov At Dusk 1993
Muntean-Rosenblum To Die For 2001
David Rosenfeld Charades 1999
Christoph Rutimann Handlauf: Picadilly 2007
Micheal Schmidt Waffenruhe 1980
Wolfgang Tillmans Subways in London
Octavian Trauttmansdorff
Sergej Vutuc

 

Jitka Hanzlova Bewohner Habitants[Jitka Hanzlova Bewohner]

On Regarding the Exhibits

Having been previously unacquainted with her work, it was a pleasure to view Bewohner by Jitka Hanzlova. This corpus studies the inhabitants of a bleak industrialized estate where the modern buildings of the early 90s cast a disjointed and dismal shadow over their environment. The images are softly spoken, they appear to document the inhabitants but in the same instance it is unavoidable to leave the firm gaze of each subject. They are at once quiet and strong; humbling the viewer through their prevalent presence in the frame. Combined with the soft, sombre tonal palette of Bewohner, Jitka Hanzlova raises the question; how much does our environment truly reflect within us?

 

Octavian Trauttmannsdorff CCTV photography[Octavian Trauttmansdorff]

 

Octavian Trauttmansdorff 1994[Octavian Trauttmansdorff]


Aires de Jeux, Champs de Tension, as exhibited in the Pavillon Populaire in Montpellier, France, donates a large expanse of running wall to a continuous photographic installation by Octavian Trauttmansdorff. The way the space is laid out, it is unavoidable but to walk past the entire piece as it dominates one side of a narrow pathway down the upstairs exhibition space. When I had encountered the first specimen of this work in the downstairs gallery space I gave it a glance and walked on by – assuming on appearence that it was ‘not my cup of tea’. However, when funnelled through the upstairs gallery space I realised the impact the work was bearing on me. It was not that I simply wanted to avoid the piece because I was not interested, but I wanted to actively remove myself from it. The scale of the work – encompassing a good metre plus in height and traversing the entire side of a gallery wall (approx 10m) – created a virtual window to a busy urban space. On the most part, the subjects walked past (or was it me walking past them?) but occasionally one of them caught my glimpse and met my eyes in a penetrating stare – it was in these brief encounters that I realised the weight of Trauttmansdorff’s work; I had become a very active voyeur in his world and his subjects seemed to know it. In addition, Trauttmansdorff’s method of applying his images to the paper, through what appears to be having painted on the developer and fixative loosely before working back into the piece with knives and tension – creating fissures and breaks in the piece, lends me to question the similarity of this presentation to the advertising posters you might see on the underground. As if Trauttmansdorff is putting you, or us, back into the equation. Questioning whether we are looking; whether we should be looking.


The exhibition’s book, including work and essays on all the featured artists can be purchased here.

January 27, 2011

Bill Phelps is Moto

Amidst a foray of hipsters, sporting freshly dishevelled beards and cropped beige trousers in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, resides a photographer whose work itself is captivated by a sense of heritage. Phelps’ aesthetic encompasses the zeitgeist of an era inhabited by photography’s masters; August Sander, Horst P. Horst and Man Ray, placing Phelps as a well-deserved nominee in last years Lucie Awards for Fine Art.

Bill Phelps for Harley Davidson[Bill Phelps Harley Davidson]

Phelps’ photography presents a tangible sensuality in the raw, earthy portrayal of his subjects. It is this quality, perhaps, that earned Bill his chance to shoot for Harley Davidson – producing some of the most cinematic and captivating photography Harley have ever used in campaign. And if you didn’t already know – Bill is so infatuated with classic motorcycles that he owns a cafe-come-restaurant in Brooklyn called ‘Moto’ – I recommend trying the Date Cake!

However, when looking through the vast amount of new imagery on Phelp’s website, it is impossible not to notice the graphicism of his composition. Phelps work may allude to photography’s masters, but there is a subtle line of content on the website which is far more reminiscent of modernist graphic design. In his new portfolio collection entitled, ‘Advertising’, lies a campaign for Reebok where the creative scope of Phelps’ work has really come into play, incorporating Phelp’s stylistic quality with well architected design.

Bill Phelps for Reebok[Bill Phelps Reebok]

It seems odd that with all the on-trend qualities of Phelps’ work (name a brand store that hasn’t released a “Heritage” line in the past year!) that he is still so under the radar, though perhaps that is what makes his work so special. Looking at Phelps expanded online portfolio feels a little like discovering C.S. Lewis’ Narnia for the first time; it’s unique, worldly and I can’t wait to see more.

 

More of Bill Phelps work can be found on www.billphelps.com

January 11, 2011

The Social Photographer

Last December saw the end of the road for the Kodachrome film processor in Dwayne’s Photo Lab, Kansas, the only one of its kind that remained in commercial operation. The demise of Kodak’s signature film marks the grand shift to the digital medium, but it is not only our ability to develop film that is dying.

In conversation with British portrait photographer, Chris Floyd, he commented on the dissipation of the photographic community. At the height of film production, turning up to a photo lab was a sociable affair. You attended to drop off film, compile contact sheets and make prints; all the while you were surrounded by other photographers taking part in the ritual. It was a chance to have tea and a catch up as much as it was to get your work done, without which Floyd’s level of photographic social intercourse depleted. “It’s not the film I’m bothered about, but the people who I met and spent time with because of the film.” Floyd remarked, explaining that the photo lab had become more about the nuances of sitting around and meeting like minded people.

 

Alexa Brown[Chris Floyd, @alexabrown from the series: The Great Twitter Project ]

 

It was only two years ago that Floyd discovered his new portal to the community staring at him from the screen of his iPhone; Twitter. In 140-character gobbets of information, Twitter presents an apparently narcissistic platform for self-promotion, though behind this veil of social media marketing, it also gives its users access to talk to each other via tagging (placing an ‘@’ in front of a user-name) or a private message. “It’s like a classroom full of the people you wish you’d gone to school with” says Floyd, ‘tweeting’ regularly with the spectrum of people he follows, or who follow him.

A dating service of sorts, the relationships formed online through Twitter inevitably led Floyd to a comparison with his friends he had gained in the physical world – finding that he was communicating with the virtual presences more than anyone else in his orbit. When asked if he felt any nervousness toward conversing openly with these people, Floyd commented that when you watch the 5000 +/- tweets of someone, they cannot hide a sense of their personality and it is this which attracts us to keep following, to continue nurturing our connections.

 

Graffiti 6[Chris Floyd, @graffiti6 from the series: The Great Twitter Project]

 

This self-proclaimed ‘hollow addiction’ to Twitter led Chris to his ongoing personal corpus of work, The Great Twitter Project in which he aims to photograph every user he follows. Unlike a large proportion of Twitter users, Floyd does not hide himself behind a myriad of flagellant promotion tweets (though, no doubt, he has a large proportion of people following him for his photographic work), instead choosing to provide a more honest online voice. By embracing this sense of transparency and utilising the camera as a key, Floyd has unlocked a way to bring together and document his virtual-classmates.

So perhaps tea-time at the labs has got one step better? On Twitter, you choose who you want to listen to and they choose if they want to listen to you. The photographic presence on this social media platform is extensive and ranges dramatically in its use. Though a word of warning, as much as there are photographers, there are the people employing them!

 

Are you in the conversation?

@chrisfloyduk / Chris Floyd

@natalie_l_lloyd / Natalie Lloyd

January 8, 2011

The Photographer’s Adventure

Jake Baggaley - Aokigahara[Jake Baggaley, from the series: Aokigahara]

 

JAKE BAGGALEY VENTURES TO MONGOLIA TO RAISE MONEY FOR CHILDREN

 

An English playwright and novelist once said that “every production of an artist should be the expression of an adventure of his soul” (Somerset Maugham, W.). This sounds very apt for the work of recently aforementioned photographer Alec Soth, where his subject appears a way of commenting on speculations of a universal inner monologue, but for most artists it is in making the work , as much as in its review, in which they find their adventure. Photographers have been the architects of great adventures for years; from Richard Avedon’s American West (1985) to Lee Friedlander’s America By Car (1995-2010), utilising the power of the camera as a key to gain access – and often reason – to enter the places they wish to discover.

Jake Baggaley, who takes his stylistic inspiration from a more contemporary breed of photographers in the shape of Simon Norfolk, Simon Roberts and Leoni Purchas, is another one of photography’s explorers. Even whilst completing his degree at the Arts University College at Bournemouth (UK), it was infrequent to see Baggaley in the classroom – let alone the country. In his three years of study he chose projects that would ensure him a voyage across seas to photograph the stories and people that he found most fascinating – from the morbid beauty of the Aokigahara forest at the base of Mt. Fuji with the notorious highest concentrated suicide rating in Japan to the people living in the dangerously radiated ground zero in Chernobyl.

 

Jake Baggaley, Chernobyl[Jake Baggaley, from the series: Chernobyl]

 

Now as a graduate, Baggaley pursues his commitment to photographic exploration as a social documentary photographer and will be embarking on his next journey later this year as a part of 3JD Mongol Rally where Jake, along with his brother Joe and two friends, Jordan and Dwayne, will drive from his home in South of England to the capital of Mongolia, Ulaanbaatar, in order to raise money for two charities – Children’s Hospice UK and The Christina Noble Children’s Foundation. Journeying through eighteen countries and eleven thousand miles of terrain, Baggaley will be photographing some of the most infamous destinations along their route including ‘The Door to Hell’ in Darvaza, Turkmenistan (a gas hole in the Earth that burns 24/7) and the most polluted city on Earth, Baku.

There is no doubt that the imagery to follow will be that of intrigue, but with no corporate sponsorship, 3JD aim to raise money through direct donations to Children’s Hospice and The Christina Noble Foundation via their website www.3jd.co.uk. The team are also looking for people who can help them with the more practical sides of their journey – from what to do when their car breaks down, to language help as they cross borders.  – without which, the journey will not be possible.

 

To see more of Jake Baggaley’s photography, visit his website at: www.jakebaggaley.com and learn more about the Mongol Rally by visiting www.3jd.co.uk

Let’s just hope they take a leaf out of Aron Ralston’s (127 Hours) book and let people know where they’re going!

3JD Mongol Rally 2011

January 7, 2011

Alec Soth, Rhymes with ‘Both’

Alec Soth, Broken Manual[Alex Soth Broken Manual]

 

THE HYPOCRISY OF THE HERMIT


When considering how his work formulates, Alec Soth quoted the words of Robert Frank in his Guggenheim Fellowship proposal, “the project I have in mind is one that will shape itself as it proceeds, and is essentially elastic.” Similar to Frank, Soth has been accredited as a ‘documentary photographer’ and thus has earned himself a ticket to the elusive gentleman’s club of the photography world, Magnum Photos. However, Soth himself confesses that, more often than not, his work is too self indulgent to adhere to the connotations of traditional documentary photography; instead, perhaps, his work is that of fine art -and an intrinsic study into the nature of the human condition.

Broken Manual is nothing short of the epitome of this study, presenting an intimate visual glossary of our yearning for escapism. It takes the reader along on Soth’s quest to explore his own desire to run away and through this we are encouraged to consider our own. The desolate imagery encountered in viewing the book detaches us from the fantastical view of the runaway adventurer – who as a child didn’t wish they were Huck Finn? Or in 2007, wanted to cut up their credit cards and kayak through America  after watching Sean Penn’s Into the Wild. The Manual, with help from writer, Lester B. Morrison, is an underground guide to escaping civilisation and almost satirically named ‘Broken’ for it’s inability to truly deliver. Soth’s project comments on life in a context of elective seclusion and its juxtaposition to our necessity for interpersonal connectivity. The hermits he photographed are, through the longevity and distribution of Soth’s imagery, no longer hermits – their faces and fragmented stories  made public through the camera’s presence.

Alec Soth, Broken Manual, Portrait

 

Through previous work in corpus’ such as Niagara and From Here to There, Soth developed a craving for a level of distance between himself and his subjects that shooting with a large format alone could not give him. In the Broken Manual, Soth captures his portraits by finding the hermits, survivalists and monks in distant scenes and enlarging selections of the images – much akin to the work of artist Richard Prince who rephotographed selections of advertising imagery – and in doing so, enhances the sense of visual distance through the distorted blurs of each face. It appears as if you are viewing the subject through a sheath of gauze which, in itself, is a somewhat romantic visual depiction of their desire to be removed from society.

By the end of the project, Soth claimed (FIT lecture 8/12/2010) that despite it’s hypocritical nature, he wanted to inhabit a cave of his own, but jokily said that due to the recession he  would “feel weird going to a banker and asking for a loan for a cave.” Thankfully, he chose instead to set about the task of designing how the book should be presented. Each primary edition of the manual, of which there are only 300, is presented as the insert to a secret compartment of another unique book – a laborious but equally eloquent alliteration of the book’s theme.

Alec Soth’s work can be found at www.alecsoth.com

 

Recommended Watch: Into The Wild Sean Penn 2007
Recommended Read: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Mark Twain

January 6, 2011

Trends: A Hands On Workshop RESCHEDUALED


Karen D'Silva and APA NY Trending Workshop

 

Fantastic workshop for New York based photographers on how to apply trends to your work and business rescheduled for Wednesday 9th February 2011.

 

A follow-up event to Karen D’Silva’s hugely popular panel discussion at Shoot NYC in October! Durinda Underwood and Villislava Petrova join D’Silva once again to help you learn how to understand trends and create images that resonate. The session will begin with an hour long interactive discussion of branding and trends, after which you will broken up into groups to complete a series of brainstorming activities. The team with the most ideas wins a prize, so come with your thinking caps on!

Karen D’Silva is one of today’s most influential creatives within the commercial photography community. Karen D’Silva Creative Services is a trending, marketing & research company designed to help creatives understand the marketplace and create visual images with traction. Ms. D’Silva also co-founded Spark Visual Research, ran the creative department for Photonica NA, and built the first art direction departments for Image Bank and Getty Images. With a rich background in creative strategy, coaching and art direction, Karen has contributed to some of the world’s top commercial photographers by instinctively leading creatives towards tomorrow’s marketplace demands.

Durinda Underwood is a creative strategist and founder of Frank, a content strategy company specializing in content mapping, branded content and micro branding. Durinda was part of the creative research team at Getty Images for over ten years, where she researched, developed and managed content mapping and growth of relevant content. Durinda’s diverse experience in the fields of photography, film making, design, and trend analysis have helped shape her into a unique creative in the sprawling worlds of digital media. Collaboration and inspiration are the cornerstones of her philosophy and these qualities enlighten her life on a daily basis.

Villislava Petrova is a widely recognized trend and color forecast specialist. Based in New York, Villislava splits her time between teaching Fashion Forecasting at Parsons School of Design and continuously studying and analyzing consumer and fashion trends as the Trends Editor at WGSN. Villislava works closely with some of the industry’s top clients on future trend prediction and
implementation, seasonal strategy and creative direction.

 

Wednesday 9th February 2011, 9am – 1pm

Calumet Studio, 22 W 22nd St, NY NY

$60 APA Members / $100 Non-Members

Purchase Tickets Here (Advance purchase is essential as tickets will not be sold on the door!)

January 6, 2011

The World In 2011

edward lynn untitled staircase[Edward Lynn Untitled]

 

PHILANTHRO-CAPITALISM / TRANSPARENCY / OPEN SOURCE / COLLABORATION / DECENTRALISATION


Every year the pinnacle business resource magazine, The Economist, publishes an issue entitled ‘The World in…” where they invite CEO’s, forecasters and educated minds to share their opinions and predictions for the forthcoming year in every sector – from Science to MTV. Sounds a little like an exercise in stock market fortune-telling right? Well it’s not. Peering through the veil of things yet to come holds a lot more clout than the image of an old crone with a crystal ball would suggest. The ideas and conceptions generated through ‘The World In’ offer an insight to our changing global climate and provide a discussion as to how we could respond. By thinking forward and responding to your surrounding environment,  you can craft your product, brand and business to work in it’s most effective and efficient manner.

Here’s the breaking news, this applies to everyone! Whether you’re the head honcho of Goldman-Sachs or a freelance photographer’s assistant – knowing what is coming next can only help you. Now, of course there are some big things that get missed and predicting everything in the future is an impossible task (who predicted we’d all be suffering the repercussions of an illegal war?) but forecasting is as much about reviewing what’s gone before as it is estimation. Photographer and lecturer, Paul Allen, drummed into his students who lacked context in their work that ‘nothing can be created in a vacuum’. In order to create imagery that resonates- whether still or motion – you have to negotiate a spectrum of visual semiotics that have grown and developed since the first Camera Lucida.

Forecasting is renown in the fashion industry – with companies such as WGSN profiteering from their educated gambling into the designs and colours of the next six seasons – but little less openly considered in the fields of photography and film-making. Perhaps our societal transgression into transparency will encourage a more open exchange of ideas amongst the photography and film community because, inevitably, knowing what people are going to be influenced by will help you cater your work accordingly – whether it’s to an agent you’ve been after for years or your dream client. Think about all the photographers and directors now posting short video montages from behind-the-scenes of their shoots – transparent, non? Providing a transparent visage to your photography business shows clients what you are like to work with, it gives them that personable impression that can’t be achieved when you leave your portfolio in a heap with everyone else. Transparency is also an aesthetic option you could display in your work – a clinical honesty akin to William Eggleston or a styling option through sheer fabrics or visible stitching.

Another unavoidable Millenial buzzword for 2011 is collaboration, or rather mass collaboration. As much as we love to hate social networks, they are ever becoming an integrated part of our virtual existence and with them comes an array of possible platforms of communication that you can engage with from both social and business perspectives. That, combined with a sense of philantro-capitalism (a term coined by Matthew Bishop, The Economist‘s American Business Editor where we act in a socio/eco-conscious manner for our financial gain – yes, incentives for being green help) brings the photography community to websites such as PhotoCrew. Cutting the costs and environmental impacts of remote shoots by out-sourcing your team of assistants, stylists, make-up artists etc not only benefits the client paying for your flights, but provides a rich, global, photographic community at your fingertips.

So you’ve photographed your lighting setup, shared your knowledge and outsourced your crew but you’re not sure if you’re still ‘on trend’? Depending on your location, there are a range of different options to keep you in tune without having to read every business journal back-to-back. Social media is reigning supreme and infamous bloggers such as Swiss Miss hold open-registration Creative Mornings where you can come along to a creative ideas-exchange. Alternatively you could locate your local TEDx event – some are free, with the larger events only charging a maximum of $100 – or find similar creative conferences, talks or workshops such as Karen D’Silva’s Trending Workshop held in collaboration with APA New York in February.

Recommended Read: Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything Tapscott, D & D.Williams, Anthony.