Photography theory and criticism has less and less to do with the way photography is actually practiced by most people (…) most of the time. The corollary to this narrowing of the field is that traditional conversations and problems of photo theory have become largely exhausted.
Trevor Paglen on the Fotomuseum Winterthur blog Still Searching. Seems like an interesting premise: will be following his posts with interest over the next 6 weeks.
After his music video for Die Antwoord’s I Fink U Freeky, Roger Ballen has ventured into film again with this 6-minute short to accompany the release of his latest book, Asylum of the Birds. A charming little piece, with lots of fluffy birds, some nice drawings and some fingerlicking barbecue.
Rein Jelle Terpstra, Retracing (Post Editions, 2013)
For his book Retracing, Rein Terpstra collaborated with people who are slowly losing their sight, photographing their “most valuable visual scenes” in order to preserve them in some way. Mostly these are images of the banal: someone’s handwriting, the view from a window, a floral tablecloth, plastic toys in a sandpit. Before making the book Terpstra integrated these images into an installation combining three slide projections in which the images slowly fade into one another. Retracing translates this idea into book form, combining the original slides with photographs of the projections.
In an interview in the book, Terpstra speaks of “the vast stream of images passing by” and how this has led him to move away from taking photographs to “focus more on the possible meanings of photography.” It seems that this has become the central concern of photography at this moment in time: what role does photography have to play in our world, and indeed what is a photograph? Retracing questions the most fundamental aspects of photography, its relationship to memory, the value of a photograph as a document, its legibility, its impermanence. It is a book of questions and contradictions, but its approach is less cold and analytical than many other projects dealing with such issues. It may offer little in terms of concrete answers to these difficult questions, but it is a book that is full of warmth and heart.
The photographer Daniel Von sent me on the tumblr for a project he did in Beijing in December 2013: beijingremix.tumblr.com. I don’t know Beijing well at all, but this presentation has the whiff of authenticity to it and I’m not sure I would have taken as much notice of Von’s photographs if they had been presented in the usual screen-equivalent-of-a-book-or-a-white-cube way. Nicely done.
The 10 finalists for the 2014 Hyères Fashion and Photography Festival have been announced: Anna Grzelewska, Osma Harvilahti, Arnaud Lajeunie, Orianne Lopes, Birthe Piontek, Virginie Rebetez, Marie Rime, Marleen Sleeuwits, Charlotte Tanguy, and Lorenzo Vitturi. Glad to see a lot of unfamiliar names on the list.
So the costliest Winter Olympics in history kicks off in Sochi today. As anyone that has seen the news in the last couple of weeks will know, the event is shrouded in controversy, from Russia’s controversial anti-homosexuality laws to the topless pictures of Putin in Sochi hotel rooms. While Sochi is just now entering the spotlight, since 2007 the duo of Rob Hornstra and Arnold van Bruggen have been focusing on the region, with their Sochi Project: a complex, layered portrait of this subtropical seaside resort and the surrounding region. The Project culminated in the impressive tome An Atlas of War and Tourism in the Caucasus recently published by Aperture, but there is also a great little catalogue that gives an overview of the different Sochi Project projects, put together by the graphic designers who made all of them, Kummer and Herrman. Whatever you think of any of its individual parts, the extraordinary body of work that they have put out over the past five years (exhibitions, books, newspapers, websites) is an extraordinary example of DIY slow journalism at its best.But don’t take my word for it, the PDF of No Fixed Format is available as a free PDF: go and see for yourself.
I first discovered Michele Cera’s photographs of Albania a few years ago at Sifest in the little Italian town of Savignano sul Rubicone. The work that I saw there has just been published in this pleasingly modest little book Dust. The people that find themselves trapped in Cera’s all seem to be waiting—head in hands, hands on hips, sitting, leaning, standing—not for anything of consequence, but just for time to pass them by.
I’m heading to Dusseldorf this Friday to take part in the Dusseldorf Photo Weekend 2014. There’s going to be lots of good stuff going on including a Magazine Salon, some Duane Michals, some Peter Bialobrzeski, and Boehm Kobayashi’s Antifoto #5 with the world-renowned MacDonaldStrand photo pub quiz.
I just realised that I hadn’t yet posted about Tokyo 1970, Japanese Photographers 9, the exhibition catalogue for a show organized by IMA magazine and curated by Akio Nagasawa that took place in Tokyo last October. The show centered on the hugely influential avant-garde film-maker, theatre director and all-round genius Shuji Terayama with work by nine photographers including Eikoh Hosoe’s Simon, A Private Landscape, Moriyama’s Shashin yo Sayonara and Katsumi Watanabe’s Story of the Shinjuku Thieves. Although I wasn’t able to see the show, I contributed a text to the catalogue, ”The Twisted Movements of a Gigantic Creature”.