“I can’t stop smiling when I see these butts,” said Takeshi Takahashi, a spokesman at the publisher Basilico.
The latest craze to be sweeping Japan? Hamuketsu: pictures of hamster butts.
Two newspapers arrivals this week: first, Anthony Luvera's Not Going Shopping, a series of collaborative portraits done with the Queer in Brighton project. I also got my copies of the latest issue of the excellent Photobook Review. This one is edited by Monsieur SPBH, Bruno Ceschel, and is full of people lusting after photobooks. It also includes my review of Louis Porter’s book, Conflict Resolution. You can preview some of the content online but I recommend getting your hands on the newsprint version.
Erik van der Weijde, the man behind 4478zine, has just launched a magazine: Subway. Not only does it include work by Peter Sutherland, Nikola Tosic and Stefan Marx, but it also includes some essential facts about Alf. Because, let’s face it, you can never know too much about Alf.
This year’s Krakow Photomonth is curated by Aaron Schuman under the title Re:Search. He certainly has put together an impressive line-up including Jason Fulford, David Campany, Taryn Simon, Trevor Paglen, Clare Strand and others. Tonight is the opening night, but if you can’t make it to Warsaw in time you have until June 15 to take it all in.
I don’t often post about competitions and awards as there seems to be a new one every week, but the new Hariban Photography Award is worth looking into. The collotype printing house Benrido in Kyoto is launching a new photography award for black-and-white work. No cash prize but the winner will get the opportunity to print a portfolio of 8 collotype prints in Kyoto (2 week trip to Kyoto, all expenses paid) and to be exhibited at the Kyotographie 2015 festival. Having visited Benrido myself and seen the results of this unique process (they are one of the only remaining places to still work with collotype printing) this award is definitely one worth winning.
Submissions are open until 30 June 2014.
Yann Mingard, Deposit (Fotomuseum Winterthur/Museum Folkwang/FotoMuseum Antwerp/GwinZegal, 2014)
The first image that appears in Yann Mingard’s book Deposit is so dark that it is virtually illegible. A closer look reveals a structure of some kind at the foot of a slope. The caption of the image tells us that we are looking at the Svalbard Global Seed Vault in Norway. The darkness of this first image sets the tone for the rest of the book.
As its cover suggests, the book is sprawling in its ambition: broken up into four major sections—plants, animals, humans, data—it covers topics as diverse as the apocalypse, cryonics, the military-industrial complex and redundancy. It not only grapples with the photographic question of how to depict these technological advances but goes further, seemingly questioning just how much light these technological advances are bringing to our civilisation.
Deposit is part of what seems to be a growing body of photobooks dealing with the unseen or the invisible such as Taryn Simon’s American Index of the Hidden and Unfamiliar or Trevor Paglen’s Invisible. Whereas Simon sought to create the most highly aestheticized images possible from the secret locations that she visited, Mingard’s images are wilfully unspectacular, ordinary even. He appears to be more interested in the age-old symbolism of darkness and light and its fundamental associations with photography than in finding beauty in the secret or the invisible.
The book is a collaborative effort, both with Lars Willumeit, who wrote the extensive glossary on the themes explored in Mingard’s images, and the composer Ben Frost who produced a score for the book which can be accessed online. The result is confounding, obscuring as much as it reveals, confusing as much as it enlightens: the perfect reflection of our technological world.
An exhibition of the series is currently on show at the Fotomuseum Winterthur.
Tumblr of the week goes to sosiesdemerde which translates as “shitty lookalikes”: pictures of people who resemble a celebrity from a distance in a foggy blizzard. This one is pretty heavy on French cultural references, but there are some nice more international shouts in there too (including this Bill Murray and a rather good Samuel Jackson and Jamie Foxx). Still in its infancy, but already looking very promising.
Three recent arrivals: one book from Japan, Atsushi Fujiwara’s Butterfly Had a Dream; one which takes place in Japan, IPG Project (Yoshi and Tamara Kametani)’s Sumimasen booklet; and one inspired by the words of a Japanese photographer, Stefan Vanthuyne’s The Hill That Wasn’t.
I just got my hands on two books, Going Home and Ash, by the Chinese photographer Muge. I had written about his work a few years ago based on images I saw online, but this is the first time I have seen his books. Both books were made in 2013 and they work as a pair. For Going Home, Muge photographed the route back along the Yangtze river to his hometown of Chongqing in the aftermath of the construction of the Three Gorges Dam. The book is made up primarily of portraits within landscapes: muted images invested with a palpable sense of fear for the future that is woven into the nostalgia of Muge’s return home. Ash is the more poetic of the two books, a series of loose plates of still lives and interiors that share the same dusty tonality of the former book. For Ash, Muge turned inwards, away from the portrait and the landscape, combining images in order to explore a specific atmosphere and emotion. Muge’s use of the square format at times reminds me of the Japanese photographer Issei Suda and, although he is still young (b. 1979), he seems to have more affinities with this older generation of photographers than with much of contemporary photography. His two books are great examples of the fact that, even today, things can still happen by simply taking a camera and going out into the world.