posted by Bridget on 29 October 2013
We do not often comment here on events, but the killing of Bijan Ebrahimi by the misguided and ignorant residents of a council estate in Bristol is the dreadful consequence of calling all men who use a camera in the street a paedophile.
We do not seek to explain the brutal actions of Lee James and Stephen Norley as they set about burning Mr Ebrahimi to death, but the question in this case that must be clearly understood is why the act of taking photographs of children in the street appears to have lead to an automatic assumption that such photographs could only have been taken for sexual purposes.
Much has been written about how photographers are regularly hounded by police and security guards for taking photographs. The authority's justification for such harassment is security and prevention of terrorism. But running side by side this vilification of photographers and street photography is the silent accusation that taking any photograph of a child must mean the photographer has paedophilic tendencies.
This is of course not true. But when the establishment, in which I include the government, police and media, fails to support the 99% of photographers taking images of children for a variety of non-sexual motives, it leads to a wider social condemnation and suspicion of such photographers.
Mr Ebrahimi as we understand it, was taking photographs of children [defined as under 16] vandalising his garden and flowers. He had tried to get the police to act on his behalf against this anti-social behaviour. But the police, it is alleged, seemed to believe the residents who claimed because he was taking photographs of children [defined as under 16] he must be a paedophile.
The very act of taking photographs was evidence enough of guilt to lead to the arrest of Mr Ebrahimi.
What finally tipped the two killers over the edge to take someone else's life in such a brutal fashion is not known by us. We do not know what their mental state was, nor how much the arrest of Mr Ebrahimi contributed to them taking matters into their own hands.
But what we do know is that any man, with a camera, photographing people in a street in which there are children, is viewed with deep suspicion by British society and that we must radically review this position and stop seeking paedophilia everywhere.
posted by Bridget on 28 October 2013
We are half way through this year's series of Reith Lectures and Grayson Perry has already shown himself to be bold and brash in his tackling of the thorny questions surrounding contemporary art.
In the first lecture he asked questions around quality and examined who defines what we see and value as art. Positing the suggestion that "Democracy has Bad Taste" he explained how art is validated; the processes; the cliques; the difficulties of entering the hallowed temples of the art establishment.
For his second lecture he offered some advice to the ordinary art lover about how they can decide what is and what isn't art. Perry acknowledged in a post modern art world, where a generation of artists have been raised on Joseph Beuys's conceit that everyone could be an artist, it can be difficult to sift through a fair amount of rubbish to find the gems.
Perry is clearly uncomfortable with the unexpurgated amount of work that is presented as art, and for the most part he has valid things to say about the sheer amount of work that is produced today in the name of art.
So it was a shame, ignorant and not to say a little snobbish of Perry to dismiss photography as being little more than a pretentious Instagram, a craftless medium compromised by its accessibility to the masses.
"We live in an age now where photography rains on us like sewage from above - you know endless Instasnaps on your phone everywhere.".
Unable to grasp the idea that photography could be used by artists to make art, he elicited the help of Martin Parr to validate the medium and shine a light on what defines art photography over any other sort of photo. In a reply, which almost had me choking on my cornflakes, Parr was quoted as having said: "Well if it's bigger than two metres and it's priced higher than five figures".
So there we have it, from the Godfather of the British photography scene, size does indeed matter.
To listen to the Reith Lectures click here.
posted by Bridget on 25 October 2013
Specialism can lead to an expertise in a subject or genre but it can also lead to a cul-de-sac or ghetto. Nascient ideas, artistic forms, political movements have often kept it local and separated, before broadening out into the mainstream. And so it has been for photography, championed by passionate specialists but stuck within its separatist milieu.
Is the fact that Frieze doesn't accept specialist photography galleries now a red herring; its determination to exclude something that seeks to be accepted finally redundant. When so much photography is shown every year, perhaps the question isn't any longer why doesn't Frieze accept applications from photography galleries, but what does it say about photography that so much is shown at the elite art fair.
Francis Hodgson put it very well when he said of Thomas Struth, [someone who wanted to be known as an artist and is now happy to be called a photographer]...He is a major artist of our times, and no one notices that he works in photographs. That's as it should be. It's an art form of its own, but is also a medium for artists."
To read more of Hodgson's review of Frieze click here.
posted by Bridget on 24 October 2013
The new exhibition of Paul Klee at the Tate Modern is garnering much praise from the critics. In his review for The Guardian, Adrian Searle expounds on his experience of visiting the exhibition and how the restless nature of the work demands a "lot of looking at".
In discussing the mesmeric quality of these paintings, Searle provides excellent advice on how to get the most out of Klee's work, advice which would be a good approach for viewing any exhibition.
"You need to sidle up to things, let your eyes snag on a details, get sucked in then turn away again, allowing yourself to look while your mind is elsewhere. Being inattentive is as important as close inspection."
To read more of Searle's review click here.
posted by Bridget on 23 October 2013
For his seventh exhibition at his London gallery, Maureen Paley, Tillmans has narrowed his field of vision to a friendship and unrequited love and has produced an intimate portrait of this nuanced relationship. Runs to 24th November.
posted by Bridget on 22 October 2013
Her imagery is challenging and flamboyant, formally inventive and occasionally surreal, says the Scottish National Portrait Gallery of Viviane Sassen and having first encountered it earlier this year at Rencontres D'Arles, I can only agree.
So if you are going to Edinburgh before the 9th February 2014 make sure you make time see this retrospective of a fashion photographer whose work is about so much more than just clothes.