posted by Bridget on 16 July 2013
But artists are turning more than contact sheets at Rencontres D'Arles.
Hiroshi Sugimoto's seascapes, on show at this year's Rencontres D'Arles in the Espace de Van Gogh under the title Revolution have been presented on their side, so rotated by 90 degrees when hung on the wall.
The effect is to render the image more as an abstract and less as a straight forward photograph of the sea. We can wallow in the tonal values, deep blacks to creamy whites and embrace the silence of Sugimoto's sublime photographs.
Elsewhere at Rencontres, Alexandre Slussarev's exhibition in the Parc des Ateliers also engages in the rotation of prints, this time using the same image, but presenting it in different rotations on the wall. This time the result is a create a study in form and rhythmn and we quickly lose sight of what the photograph is actually of.
During the portfolio reviews I met Philipp Wulfing who has photographed exercise classes in a swimming pool and presented the photograph upside down, creating something much more humorous than the conventional viewpoint.
posted by Bridget on 15 July 2013
Le Regard des Aveugles is more than just a set of portraits of blind people. Through the process of making the images, Georges has conjured complicated questions about why we take photographs of ourselves and of other people and if photographic portraits can reveal the personality of the sitter.
To make this project Georges invited his blind sitters to take their own portrait. Sitting them in a neutral environment he gave each person a remote trigger telling them to press it when they were ready for the camera to capture their image.
The results are a mix of images, some photographs have the sitter looking in the direction of the camera, in others the subject is looking down or away from the lens. Some people are smiling, while others don't. For a few there is a sense of enjoyment and engagement in the process, while others appear nervous and uncomfortable.
But these observations are made by my seeing eyes, I am reading the portraits as if they were of seeing people, people who could decide to look at the camera or not, know what they look like if they smile or not, understand how being nervous makes them look awkward.
Of course blind people cannot base their decision of when to press the trigger, by checking their facial expressions in a mirror, they cannot see their own image. So they must decide when to make the photograph by using their mental and/or emotional response. They must look inside themselves to create an external expression on their face that can only be seen by seeing viewers.
They must also have a generosity of spirit to make images of themselves which they will never be able to see. And as the viewer, we must respond by reading these sensitive portraits by understanding they are more than skin deep.
posted by Bridget on 12 July 2013
A lot of photographers have gone to China to make projects about the country's transition from Maoist communism to a new economic system of state capitalism.
Wolfgang Mueller has followed internal migrant workers, often living on the fringes - rubbish sorters; prostitutes; factory workers; coal washers, to tell a story of struggle mixed with dreams of finding a better life.
His photograph of a young cortisan has stayed with me since I met Wolfgang in Arles, perhaps because it puts me in mind of Willy Ronis's Nude in Provence, but also because Wolfgang did not stand back and by getting in close to his subjects he has created an intimate portrait of what it means to live in China for many of the internal migrant Chinese.
Click on the above image to see Wolfgang's slide show of Mingong - The Pursuit of Happiness,well worth a viewing...
...and here is Willy Ronis's beautiful photograph
posted by Michael on 11 July 2013
Described as very political, with claims that "Alfredo Jaar overturns our possible certainties about the image's truth, the press's good intentions and the West's point of view with regard to events..." I was intrigued.
But I am afraid I didn't like it.
This might be because I have worked as a journalist and don't find the idea that the media is selective or even partisan to be new [see Philip Kinghtley's book The First Casualty for example]. It may also be because I think art is a blunt tool for the subtlies of real politics.
Jaar's points about journalism were, in my opinion, a bit obvious. It is a cliché to say you can't believe what you read in the news. But my biggest criticism is that he stopped where he should have begun. It is too easy to say things are terrible or that there is injustice and then stop. That is what the news does every day; everyone agrees that there are lies and injustices. What is required is some idea of what can be done as an alternative to the strategies pursued today. Real criticism requires real rigour and analysis. Just highlighting issues is not enough.
People advised me to see the movie about Kevin Carter, which consisted of reversed out text telling his story. I couldn't understand the French very well but I got the gist of it. I am also familiar with the story of the vulture and child, which is of course central to this presentation.
Again I think it shows Jaar is interested not in being political, but rather exploring the emotive responses to the horrors of war and famine. His is an approach that raises the question of doing something but which ultimately leaves us impotent without a way forward. Without trying to understand why these things happen and how to change them makes the audience into simple bystanders, this mystifies politics. So while on the one hand he attempts to engage us emotionally, on the other he alienates us further.
All that said his use of lights and space bordered on genius. A wonderful understanding of theatre and how the eye works. Brilliant. Literally in some cases.
People have, generally, positive emotional responses to other peoples' distress and want to help. We have no shortage of information about what is happening in the world. We can figure out for ourselves that world can be terrible. What we lack are the means to do something about it... That is the challenge.
posted by Bridget on 10 July 2013
I met Philippe in Arles during a portfolio review and he showed me some beautiful black and white photojournalistic based projects. One series was particularly poetic and it is this simple series, Rolling Blackout, a depiction of the citizens of N'Djamena walking in the capital city streets during a power cut.
Click on the image to see more from the series.
posted by Bridget on 09 July 2013
If you sit in the Place de Forum for long enough you will meet many people you know as the international photography community comes together for the annual festival - Rencontres.
I was delighted to have the opportunity to renew my acquaintance with Paul Gaffney who I had first met at the portfolio reviews during this year's FORMAT International Photogrpahy Festival in Derby.
Paul has made a lovely book - We Make The Path by Walking - which will be on show at the forthcoming Photo Ireland. The book is a record of the 3,500 kilometres Paul has walked over the past 12 months. It is a meditative and poetic story which takes us through the landscape of the green woodland of northern europe to the sandy, sunbleached pathways of southern Spain.