Monday, March 19, 2018

Being: New Photography 2018 at MoMA, NYC

Aïda Muluneh -The 99 Series Part One 

Every two years, MoMA’s New Photography exhibition series presents fresh ideas in recent photography and photo-based art. This year’s edition, asks how photography can capture what it means to be human. 

At a time when questions about the rights, responsibilities, and dangers inherent in being represented—and in representing others—are being debated around the world, the works featured in this exhibition call attention to assumptions about how individuals are depicted and perceived. Many works challenge the conventions of photographic portraiture, or use tactics such as masking, cropping, or fragmenting to disorient the viewer. In others, snapshots or found images are taken from their original context and placed in a new one to reveal hidden stories. 
While some of the works might be considered straightforward representations of individuals, others do not include images of the human body at all. Together, they explore how personhood is expressed today, and offer timely perspectives on issues of privacy and exposure; the formation of communities; and gender, heritage, and psychology. 

Exploring new ground and the many forms that the photographic image can take, New Photography is a key part of the Museum’s contemporary program. Since 1985, the series has introduced new work by over 100 artists from around the world. In 2018, Being brings together an international group of 17 artists at various stages in their careers, all presenting their work at the Museum for the first time. 

The artists included are: Sofia Borges (Brazilian, born 1984) Matthew Connors (American, born 1976) Sam Contis (American, born 1982) Shilpa Gupta (Indian, born 1976) Adelita Husni-Bey (Italian, born 1985) Yazan Khalili (Palestinian, born Syria, 1981) Harold Mendez (American, born 1977) Aïda Muluneh (Ethiopian, born 1974) Hương Ngô and Hồng-Ân Trương (American, born Hong Kong, 1979; American, born 1976) B. Ingrid Olson (American, born 1987) Joanna Piotrowska (Polish, born 1985) Em Rooney (American, born 1983) Paul Mpagi Sepuya (American, born 1982) Andrzej Steinbach (German, born Poland, 1983) Stephanie Syjuco (American, born Philippines, 1974) Carmen Winant (American, born 1983).

You can see more on MoMA's site HERE. The exhibition is on view until August 19.

Sam Contis

Friday, March 9, 2018

PHOTO LONDON 2018 - talks programme announced

Photo London has announced details of the Talks Programme for the fourth edition of the Fair, which will take place 17 – 20 May 2018 at London's Somerset House.

Curated by curator and writer William A. Ewing, this year's varied Programme will showcase the rich history of photography from its inception to the present day and will explore the future direction of the form. It will feature lively talks and discussions with some of the world’s most important and innovative photographers, artists, dealers, curators and writers including:

Invisible Images: Trevor Paglen
Articles of Glass: Fox Talbot to Parker
Theatre of the Real: Simon Roberts
Evolving Spaces: Photography and the Museum
Mary McCartney at the National Portrait Gallery
Staged Reality: Alex Prager
Defining the 60s: Kirkland and O’Neill
Turning Time: Vera Lutter
Vanishing Point: Thomas Struth
The Royal Photographic Society Annual Lecture: Susan Lipper
Leica presents Bruce Gilden
Allegory: Raphaël Dallaporta
Night Swimming: Esther Teichmann
Beyond Photography A panel discussion with Milo Keller and artists Lorenzo Vitturi and Alix Marie, chaired by Lucy Soutter
Why Colour: Joel Meyerowitz
Compressed Life: Michael Wolf
In conversation with An-My Lê
Double Take: Cortis & Sonderegger
On the Precipice: Philippe Chancel
Discovery: Alternative Matter

You can book your tickets HERE now.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Martin Amis - The Gamblers

Martin Amis is best know for his wonderful online photobook store Surprise, surprise it's great to discover that Martin is also a photographer and a very good one. Actually it comes as no surprise, after all for anybody as passionate about photobooks as Martin Amis, how could they not be a photographer.

Martin Amis’ photobook The Gamblers is the culmination of his long-term project photographing at racecourses across the South of England. The Gamblers is an affectionate portrait of the racing crowd, a well-informed tribe of racing enthusiasts, from a quirky mix of class and social backgrounds, who come together to find the next winner. 

Martin immersed himself in the racing crowds, camera at the ready, often betting himself as he sought his next subject. Despite covering so many races over more than a decade with a variety of cameras and shooting strategies, Martin has skillfully collected his images into a single story. Filled with moments of gentle humour, The Gamblers will take you from highs to lows, through moments of tension to the frenetic and jubilant energy of the holding the winning slip. 

“Some of my fondest childhood memories are my regular trips to the races with my father. I loved to watch the horses race, but I loved even more to watch the motley cast of characters betting on them. The stench of beer and tobacco would fill the air, bookmakers’ chants of the latest odds cut through the gamblers lively conversations as I helped my father place his bets. I loved every moment and continued to gamble and enjoy horseracing into my adult life. As a photographer, it was a very obvious subject to focus my camera lens upon.” Martin Amis

And from Eva Clifford in the BJP- online: Working on The Gamblers for more than a decade, he was drawn to people rather than the horses themselves, and the “repeating set of rituals” that the crowd revolves around. “They make their selection, place a bet, visit the parade ring, find their horse and colours, take position in the stands to cheer on their selection and then perhaps finally visit the bar to celebrate or commiserate, and so forth,” he says. “Amongst this constant flow is a great diversity of spectators, whether it be die-hard local punters who attend every meeting to upper class social gatherings, or boisterous stag parties. When photographing, I must admit that I’m always drawn to the dedicated gamblers who assemble around the bookmakers. Even on a quiet Monday at a small track in the countryside, a faithful tribe of followers will gather to bet and watch the races and it’s pretty difficult not to get caught up in the excitement.”

You can read the full BJP story HERE, go to Martin Amis' website HERE and go to the Photobookstore HERE to buy The Gamblers.

The Gamblers will be published in April by RRB, priced £40 (or £125 for the special edition which includes a signed 10×8 print)

Monday, March 5, 2018

Mark Power and the American Dream

Mark Power (born 1959) is an English photographer, born in Harpenden, England. He is a member of Magnum Photos and Professor of Photography in The Faculty of Arts and Architecture at the University of Brighton. Power's documentary practice is project driven. I particularly think of Power's series where between 1992 and 1996, he embarked on The Shipping Forecast — a project that involved travelling to and photographing all 31 areas covered by the Shipping Forecast broadcast on BBC Radio 4. This project was published as a book and was a touring exhibition across the UK and France. He used a Volkswagen camper-van as his mode of transport for the project, echoing the late Tony Ray-Jones, whose work has similarities in style and meaning to Power's. 

It's timely then that Mark Power is recording the sad and sorry state of the slow (maybe not so slow) deterioration of American values. David Chandler writes in the Financial Times on Power's travels to America and his search for the American Dream and his witness to its collapse. Chandler is an eloquent write and Power is equally eloquent with his camera. 

You read the FT story HERE and go to Mark Power's website HERE

Below are selected images from Power's travels through the Southern states of Louisianna, Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia, beginning in New Orleans and ending in Atlanta.
Mark Power's Good Morning America (Vol 1) will be published by GOST later this year. 

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

The Artist's Statement - the Dentistry of the Art World

All of us who work in this crazy art business have had to write an artist's statement from time to time. We all hate having to do it... but often there is no way out. I've just had to write two statements and it was a chore. Not because I dislike writing, I just don't like writing about my work. For a start I don't think anybody reads what I've written and why should they... after all the work is not so much about what I'm trying to say, but about what the reader of the work takes out of it. And that has nothing to do with any tortured statement I was forced to write. At least I managed to avoid talking about memory and desire, two conceptual hooks that seem to crop up in far too many artist's statements. 
The worst artist's statements are not written by artist's at all but by their gallerist. These literary triumphs often enter the realm of stream of consciousness art speak mumbo-jumbo that attempts to elevate some poor daubers decorative rubbish to high art. 
With my head swimming in artist's statement land I came across a piece written by Jennifer Liese on the site PAPER MONUMENT. Here the artist's statement is put under the microscope and it's a good read. You can go there HERE
By way of a sample:  Of course, artists’ words have long been met with skepticism, not least by artists themselves. Matisse, despite his own eloquence, famously declared that “a painter ought to have his tongue cut out.” Pollock played dumb. Warhol mastered obfuscation. 
There’s no denying the sorry state of the statement, and we all know it. The ubiquitous request “Please include an artist statement …” inspires cringes and groans among artists. An artist friend of mine called artist statements “the dentistry of the art world,” ... one of several statement satires on YouTube features a pair of animated pig-artists translating pretentious claims of artist statements into the banal truth. Likewise, art professionals are tired of reading these often hyperbolic, embarrassing, or at best monotonous texts. Artist Nina Katchadourian, former curator of the Drawing Center’s Viewing Program, once told me that of the hundreds of artist statements she had read that year, only one really stood out. A gallery owner interviewed in Art/Work emphatically states that he never reads artist statements. What could be more deflating? You slave all week over your nourishing stew and no one even bothers to taste it.
Now if you are really stuck for a compelling artist's statement you can go to artybollocks generator and whip up a statement on demand. Here is one they wrote for me: 
My work explores the relationship between postmodern discourse and counter-terrorism.With influences as diverse as Blake and Andy Warhol, new combinations are synthesised from both mundane and transcendant textures. Ever since I was a child I have been fascinated by the theoretical limits of relationships. What starts out as hope soon becomes debased into a manifesto of temptation, leaving only a sense of failing and the dawn of a new beginning. As wavering forms become reconfigured through boundaried and academic practice, the viewer is left with a clue to the inaccuracies of our existence. 

And finally for some real inspiration you can go to YouTube and watch a 4 minute vid by writer, critic and educator Joerg Colberg. He nails it!!! You can go there HERE

Now get writing! 

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Peter Hujar: Speed of Life at The Morgan Library and Museum NYC

Susan Sontag, 1975,

Peter Hujar: Speed of Life is showing at The Morgan Library and Museum from January 26 until May 20. The exhibition presents one hundred and forty photographs by this enormously important and influential artist. Drawn from the extensive holdings of his work at the Morgan and from nine other collections, the show and its catalog follow Hujar from his beginnings in the mid-1950s to his central role in the East Village art scene three decades later. 

The catalogue features full-page reproductions of all 160 works in the exhibition, essays by curator Joel Smith, Philip Gefter, and Steve Turtell, and the first fully researched chronology, exhibition history, and bibliography to be published on Hujar. 

The life and art of Peter Hujar (1934–1987) were rooted in downtown New York. Private by nature, combative in manner, well-read, and widely connected, Hujar inhabited a world of avant-garde dance, music, art, and drag performance. His mature career paralleled the public unfolding of gay life between the Stonewall uprising in 1969 and the AIDS crisis of the 1980s. In his loft studio in the East Village, Hujar focused on those who followed their creative instincts and shunned mainstream success. He made, in his words, “uncomplicated, direct photographs of complicated and difficult subjects,” immortalizing moments, individuals, and subcultures passing at the speed of life. 

Boy on Raft, 1978

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Susan Meiselas, Meditations, at Jeu de Paume, Paris

Portrait de Susan Meiselas, Monimbo, Nicaragua
Septembre 1978 (detail) © Alain Dejean Sygma

Running until May 20, Jeu de Paume presents a retrospective devoted to the American documentary photographer Susan Meiselas. The exhibition brings together a selection of works from the 1970s to the present day.

 A member of Magnum Photos since 1976, Susan Meiselas questions documentary practice. She became known through her work in conflict zones of Central America in the 1970s and 1980s in particular due to the strength of her colour photographs. Covering many subjects and countries, from war to human rights issues and from cultural identity to the sex industry, Meiselas uses photography, film, video and sometimes archive material, as she relentlessly explores and develops narratives integrating the participation of her subjects in her works. The exhibition highlights Susan Meiselas’ unique personal as well as geopolitical approach, showing how she moves through time and conflict and how she constantly questions the photographic process and her role as witness.

The Guardian's Sean O'Hagan presents a perceptive overview of the exhibition...
When Meiselas became a Magnum photographer in 1976, she was one of five women. Today there are 13. In all its attempts to reinvent itself of late, it remains a predominantly male institution. “I can’t deny that,” she says. “And I’ve seen the comings and goings of women who have been involved. It’s a complicated issue. Do I want to say, ‘I’m a woman photographer and that’s what validates my view on the world?’ Really? Is that it? But, on the other hand, I do speak from a different perspective. I do have a different approach. Part of my role is to be a mediator, someone who brings people together.” She pauses. “People often ask me, ‘Why do you do it?’ Perhaps the more important question is, ‘What are they getting from it?’” You can read O'Hagan's full piece HERE.

You can go to Susan Meiselas's website HERE and Jeu de Paume HERE

Muchachos attendant la riposte de la Garde nationale, Matagalpa, Nicaragua
1978 Susan Meiselas © Susan Meiselas/ Magnum Photos

Fouille de toutes les personnes voyageant en voiture, en camion, en bus ou à pied, Ciudad Sandino, Nicaragua
1978 Susan Meiselas © Susan Meiselas/Magnum Photos