Sunday, April 19, 2015

Sally Mann - what the public sees

Sally Mann - cover image from Immediate Family

In this weekend edition of The New York Times magazine Sally Mann looks back at her career and talks candidly about the controversy that raged when in 1992 the photographs of her children were published in her bookwork Immediate Family.

In September 1992, I published my third book of photographs, “Immediate Family.” The book contained 60 photographs from a decade-­long series of more than 200 pictures of my children, Emmett, Jessie and Virginia, who were about 6, 4 and 1 when I started the project. The photographs show them going about their lives, sometimes without clothing, on our farm tucked into the Virginia hills. For miles in all directions, there was not a breathing soul. When we were on the farm, we were isolated, not just by geography but by the primitive living conditions: no electricity, no running water and, of course, no computer, no phone. Out of a conviction that my lens should remain open to the full scope of their childhood, and with the willing, creative participation of everyone involved, I photographed their triumphs, confusion, harmony and isolation, as well as the hardships that tend to befall children — bruises, vomit, bloody noses, wet beds — all of it.

I expected that the book would be received in much the same way as the one I published four years earlier, “At Twelve.” That book, which showed pictures of young girls on the cusp of adolescence, resulted in modest attention and took about a decade to sell out its small press run. That’s not what happened with “Immediate Family.” Within three months, it sold out its first printing of 10,000...

The overwhelming response was due, in part, to an article about my work by Richard B. Woodward that appeared as a cover story in this magazine around the time the book came out. During the three days of interviews at my home, I was a sitting duck, preening on her nest without the least bit of concealment.

You can read the complete article HERE. And the original piece, The Disturbing Photography of Sally Mann, by Richard B. Woodward HERE.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Roger Ballen - a psychological journey

Roger Ballen - Brian with pet pig,1998

In this weeks Art Weekly post the guardian's Sean O'Hagan talks with controversial photographer Roger Ballen, best known for is portraits of marginalised and mentally unstable South Africans.
“People constantly compare me to Diane Arbus,” says Roger Ballen, wearily. “But I think Samuel Beckett is the key influence on my work. My photographs evoke the absurdity of the human condition, but they are also records of a personal psychological journey. For me, photography is a way of looking in the mirror.”
Alongside Beckett, Ballen cites Carl Jung and the radical 1960s psychoanalyst RD Laing, author of The Divided Self, as touchstones for these journeys. “Jung’s idea of the shadow self is in there, for sure,” he says. “The darkness in all of us that we suppress. I often think that when people react to my pictures, the darkness they see is a reflection of their own repression.”

You can find the complete article HERE, it's a good read.

Roger Ballen - Man drawing chalk faces, 2000

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Auckland - The Easter Show revisited

More years ago than I care to think about I made pictures at Auckland's Easter Show. The event then and now is a strange urbanized derivative of the delightful small country town Agricultural and Pastoral show with prizes for best of this and that animal, art and craft contests, best of pumpkins, tomatoes, and rhubarb plus the fun of the side-shows. There is still all of that, prize bulls and sheep (although no vegetable contests). Most else is high energy escapism with a large helping of kitsch. It's the Easter Show of then on speed.



And some portraits I made this visit:

Monday, April 6, 2015

Philip-Lorca diCorcia talks about his latest body of work - East of Eden

Philip-Lorca diCorcia - Genesis,2015

On today's Artspace edition Philip-Lorca diCorcia talks about the inspiration behind his new series East of Eden.

This latest body of work, East of Eden (showing at David Zwirner in Chelsea, NYC until May 2), finds diCorcia leaning in the direction of more transparent staging. Its hallmarks are carefully posed subjects, cinematic lighting, and overt Biblical references. Cain and Abel, for instance, shows two men wrestling with each other as a nude pregnant woman—an latter-day Eve—looks on. "East of Eden” is also a particularly American narrative of loss and disappointment, one that nods to John Steinbeck’s novel of the same title and to the financial crisis that began in 2008 (the year diCorcia started the series).

And on the the American financial crisis diCorcia comments... is, in a way, a bitter memory for most people. But I think the scar that’s left is gross income inequality. To some degree it’s gotten even worse—people have shifted their attention from just wanting to be rich to wanting to be rich and famous. If they could afford it, I’m sure most people would get themselves a Kim Kardashian ass implant. The world has not moved on—they’re just as stupid, just as ready to get taken by the next huckster.

The Artspace piece touches on di Corcia learning to love digital manipulation, using fashion commissions as a springboard, and having "control over the surprise.”

You can find the whole interview HERE, it's a good read.

Philip-Lorca diCorcia - Cain and Abel, 2013

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Paul Graham talks about YELLOW and more in the British Journal of Photography

Paul Graham - Does Yellow Run Forever?

In an interview with Gerry Badger in the BJP Paul Graham talks about his last bookwork - Does Yellow Run Forever? Graham describes the book as a modest, intimate body of work, with personal, enigmatic photographs. The series comprises of three sets of photographs, each relating to the other; rainbows from Western Ireland, a sleeping dreamer, and gold stores in the United States. It touches the ephemeral question of what we seek and value in life – love, wealth, beauty, clear-eyed reality or an inner dream world? 

The piece touches on the issue of straight versus constructed photography. Graham comments... over the past few years I’ve been pushed forward as a spokesperson for straight photography, which I don’t wish to be. I just want to do my work! That is the best answer – if everyone out there working directly in the world made unarguably good work, then this discussion would be redundant. Anyway. Yes of course the pendulum swings back and forth – at the moment it’s a bit against pure photographs from the world, but it will come back. Steady hand on the tiller and all that. It’s true that some people in the contemporary art world simply do not understand the profound artistic territory that lays at the core of photography at its best, believing instead that it is merely ‘observational’, etc. Even some curators within the photographic community appear to have become tired of straight photography, it sometimes seems. That is partly their problem, but also our fault as photographers. We have to take a share of the blame here – there is just so much silly work out there – dumb ideas and clichéd ‘projects’. Of course, that is true of many media – film, books, painting and so on – so it’s not a unique problem, but we must call it out. I repeat: the answer is to make original intelligent work, from the heart and the brain, and a lot of these issues will just evaporate.

The full discussion is well worth a read, you can do so HERE.

Monday, March 30, 2015

John Baldessari - what makes him one of the most important artists working today?

John Baldessari - Noses & Ears, Etc: Couple and Man with Gun, 2007

A piece on this mornings Artspace mailing opens up the subject of John Baldessari's practice and his unforgivingly humorous art.

Today, Baldessari is considered one of the fathers of Conceptual art—not only for the influence of his art, but also for his four decades as a leading instructor at CalArts and UCLA—and he remains one of the most well-respected artists alive. He was awarded the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement at the Venice Biennale in 2009. His 2010 retrospective organized by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art traveled to New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art. He was the first contemporary artist to have his own iPhone app. There’s even been a short documentary made about him that was narrated by Tom Waits. 

You can read the full article HERE.

John Baldessari - Man, Dog (Blue), Canoe/Shark Fins (One Yellow), Capsized Boat, 2002

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Kassel FotoBookFestival 2015, portfolio and book reviews


The 7th FotoBookFestival in Kassel, 4-7th June, again offers professional and emerging photographers the chance to meet with international photography experts for Portfolio+Book Review sessions on Thursday 4th June 2015 from 9.30 am. The reviews will take place at the documenta-Halle in Kassel, which is the Festival venue from Friday 5th to Sunday 7th June. Participants are asked you to get to know this year’s panel of 25 internationally acclaimed reviewers – museum and festival curators, book publishers, photography critics, photographers – and make your choice of 3 meetings as soon as possible. To attend more than 3 meetings, it's just a matter of registering 2, 3 or 4 times. Registration deadline is midnight on May 24th.

The panel of reviewers are:
Valentina ABENAVOLI, Alex BOCCHETTO - Publisher, Akina Books, London
Irène ATTINGER -  Library and bookshop, Maison Européenne de la Photographie, Paris
Gerry BADGER - Photographer, Writer, Critic, London
Harvey BENGE - Photographer, Writer, Auckland
Pierre BESSARD - Publisher, Editions Bessard, Paris
Krzysztof CANDROWICZ - Director, Triennial of Photography Hamburg + Lodz Festival
Chiara CAPODICI -  Curator, Treterzi, Rome
Nicolas Combarro -  Artist and Master’s Tutor, Madrid
Fannie Escoulen - independent curator and formerly deputy director of LE BAL, Paris
Verónica FIEIRAS -  Publisher, Riot Books, Spain
Angel Luis GONZALES FERNANDEZ -  Director, PhotoIreland Festival, Dublin
Curt HOLTZ -  Head of Photography, Prestel Publishing, Germany
Ikin HUSEYNOV - Publisher, Riot Books, Spain
Manik KATYAL -  Founder & Editor-in-Chief, Emaho Magazine, India
Klaus KEHRER - Director, KEHRER Publishing, Germany
Erik KESSELS - Artist, Curator and Director of KesselsKramer Publishing, Netherlands
Aron MOREL - Publisher, Mörel Books, London
Andreas MÜLLER POHLE - Photographer, Publisher, European Photography, Berlin
Moritz NEUMÜLLER - Independant curator, Madrid
Alison NORDSTROM - Artistic Director, Lodz Photofestival
Monte PACKHAM - Publisher, Steidl, Germany
Fiore PINNA - Curator, Treterzi, Rome
Andre PRINCIPE - Photographer, Publisher, Pierre von Kleist editions, Lisbon
Hannes WANDERER - Publisher, Bookseller, Peperoni Books / 25books, Berlin

You can find out more HERE.