The Photographers’ Gallery, London 11.04.2013 - 30.06.2013
Now in its seventeenth year, the Deutsche Börse Photography Prize 2013 rewards a living photographer, of any nationality, for a specific body of work in an exhibition or publication format, which has significantly contributed to photography in Europe between 1 October 2011 and 30 September 2012. This year’s finalists are Broomberg & Chanarin, Mishka Henner, Chris Killip, and Cristina De Middel. The 2013 Jury: Joan Fontcuberta, artist, Andrea Holzherr, Exhibition Manager, Magnum Photos, Karol Hordziej, Artistic Director, Krakow Photomonth, Anne-Marie Beckmann, Curator, Art Collection Deutsche Börse, Brett Rogers, Director of The Photographers’ Gallery, is the non-voting Chair.
Mishka Henner (b. 1976, UK) is nominated for his exhibition No Man’s Land at Fotografia Festival Internazionale di Roma, Museum of Contemporary Art, Rome (20 September – 28 October 2012).
No Man’s Land represents isolated women occupying the margins of southern European environments. Shot entirely with Google Street View, Henner’s method of online intelligence-gathering results in an unsettling reflection on surveillance, voyeurism and the contemporary landscape.
Chris Killip (b. 1946, UK) is nominated for his exhibition What Happened – Great Britain 1970 –1990 at LE BAL, Paris (12 May – 19 August 2012). British born Killip has been taking photographs for nearly five decades. What Happened – Great Britain comprises black and white images of working people in the north of England, taken by Killip in the 1970s and 1980s. After spending months immersed in several communities, Killip documented the disintegration of the industrial past with a poetic and highly personal point of view.
Born in Douglas, Isle of Man in 1946, Chris Killip left school at sixteen and joined the only four star hotel on the Isle of Man as a trainee hotel manager. In June 1964 he decided to pursue photography full time and became a beach photographer in order to earn enough money to leave the Isle of Man. In October 1964 he was hired as the third assistant to the leading London advertising photographer Adrian Flowers. He then worked as a freelance assistant for various photographers in London from 1966-1969.
In 1969, after seeing his very first exhibition of photography at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, he decided to return to photograph in the Isle of Man. He worked in his father’s pub at night returning to London on occasion to print his work. On a return visit to the USA in 1971, Lee Witkin, the New York gallery owner, commissioned a limited edition portfolio of the Isle of Man work, paying for it in advance so that Killip could continue to photograph. In 1972 he received a commission from the Arts Council of Great Britain to photograph Huddersfield and Bury St Edmunds for the exhibition Two Views - Two Cities. In 1975, he moved to live in Newcastle-upon-Tyne on a two-year fellowship as the Northern Arts Photography Fellow.
He was a founding member, exhibition curator, and advisor of Side Gallery, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, as well as its director from 1977-1979. He continued to live in Newcastle and photographed throughout the north east of England, and from 1980-1985 made occasional cover portraits for The London Review of Books. In 1989 he was commissioned by Pirelli UK to photograph the workforce at their tyre factory in Burton-on-Trent. In 1989 he received the Henri Cartier Bresson Award and in 1991 was invited to be a Visiting Lecturer at the Department of Visual and Environmental Studies, Harvard University. In 1994 he was made a tenured professor and was department chair from 1994-1998. He continues to live in the USA, teaching at Harvard University.
His work is featured in the permanent collections of major institutions such as the Museum of Modern Art, New York; George Eastman House; Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco; Museum Folkwang, Essen; the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; National Gallery of Australia, Canberra; and the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.
CRISTINA DE MIDDEL
Cristina De Middel (b.1975, Spain) is nominated for her publication The Afronauts (self-published, 2011). In her first book, The Afronauts, De Middel engages with myths and truths, reality and fiction. In 1964, after gaining independence, Zambia started a space programme in order to send the first African astronaut to the moon.
De Middel sequences her beautiful colour photography with manipulated documents, drawings and reproductions of letters, presenting them as almost folkloric inlays alongside fashion illustrations and technical sketches. Cristina De Middel holds an MA Photography from University of Oklahoma (2000), an MA Fine Arts from University of Valencia, Spain (2001), and a postgraduate degree in Photojournalism from Universitat Politecnica de Barcelona, Spain (2002). In addition to personal projects, De Middel has worked for publications such as Foam and Esquire, as well as various NGOs. Her work has been recognised by the National Photojournalism Prize Juan Cancelo (2009), Fnac Photographic Talent (2009) and the Humble Arts Women in Photography Project Grant (2011). She was a finalist at Open Call Guatephoto, Guatemala (2012), the winner of Photo Folio Review at Recontres de la Photographie, Arles, in 2012 and returned there as a participating artist this year. She was also a finalist at FotoPress, La Caixa, Spain this year. Cristina is a freelance photographer based in London and also lectures at the University of Salzburg, Austria.
BROOMBERG & CHANARIN
Adam Broomberg (b. 1970, South Africa) and Oliver Chanarin (b. 1971, UK) are nominated for their publication War Primer 2 (MACK, 2012).
War Primer 2 is a limited edition book that physically inhabits the pages of Bertold Brecht’s remarkable 1955 publication War Primer. Brecht’s photo-essay comprises 85 images, photographic fragments or collected newspaper clippings, that were placed next to a four-line poem, called ‘photo-epigrams’. Broomberg and Chanarin layered Google search results for the poems over Brecht’s originals.
Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin are based in London. Together they have published nine monographs and have had numerous international exhibitions including the Gwagnju Biennale, the Stedelijk Museum, the International Center of Photography, KW Institute for Contemporary Art, The Photographers’ Gallery and Mathaf Arab Museum of Modern Art. Broomberg and Chanarin teach at the Zurich University of the Arts and are Visiting Fellows at the University of the Arts London. Their work is represented in major public and private collections including Tate Modern, the Stedelijk Museum, Victoria and Albert Museum, Musee de l’Elysée and the International Center of Photography.
Blindspot Gallery is proud to present “New Framework: Chinese Avantgarde Photography 1980s-90s” in mid May, a group show featuring the photographic works of Ai Wei Wei, Gu Zheng, Han Lei, Hong Lei, Jiang Zhi, Liu Zheng, Mo Yi, Qiu Zhijie, Zhang Haier, Zhao Liang, Zheng Guogu and RongRong from the 1980s to 1990s. Curated by artist and curator RongRong, the exhibition will take place at both Blindspot Gallery in Central and Blindspot Annex in Wong Chuk Hang.
From the 1940s to the Cultural Revolution in the 1970s, photography in China was limited to official media and private family portraits. The revolution of Chinese photography only began in the 1980s with the birth of the New Wave art movement, China’s economic development, and the influx of Western ideology from the country’s opening. From the 1980s to 1990s, Chinese photography developed through the key stages of “New Documentary” photography, conceptual photography and experimental photography. This exhibition showcases the major styles and evolving facets of avantgarde photography from the period. The title “New Framework” denotes how these Chinese photographers used the medium to establish a new visual framework outside of the academia and institutions, and to create artworks that resonate with experimentalism.
“New Documentary” photography was one of the axises of Chinese photography in the 1980s. During this period, documentary photography was no longer limited to documenting reality, as artists transcended the social criticism in early documentary photography and set out to convey their subjectivities. The black and white photographic works of Gu Zheng, Han Lei, Mo Yi and Zhang Haier fall into this category. The artists captured the cityscapes or the individual experience in the city on snapshots, as the images embody both documentation and echoes of conceptual photography.
In the mid-1990s, experimental art and experimental photography came to prominence. The photographic works from this period fuse such elements as installation, staged photography, performance to highlight the conceptual and experimental nature of the creation. The black and white and color images of Ai Wei Wei, Hong Lei, Qiu Zhijie, Jiang Zhi and Zheng Guogu are representative works of this stream. The establishment of East Village in the 1990s was another key stimulus to experimental photography. The artists based in the East Village used the photographic medium to record and participate in performance art. East Village by RongRong is one of the major photographic works from this period.
Curator RongRong voyaged into experimental photography in the 1990s and was an active presence in the East Village, the cradle of Chinese experimental art. In the mid-1990s, RongRong co-founded the New Photo magazine, the first independent conceptual photography magazine in China, with Liu Zheng. New Photo published an eclectic selection of conceptual photographic works by artists who emerged in the 1980s nd 1990s, including most of the works featured in this exhibition. With his wife and artistic partner inri, RongRong founded the Three Shadows Photography Art Centre in 2007 for promoting the development of Chinese photography.
A Different Kind of Order: The ICP Triennial, a global survey of contemporary photography and video, will be on view at the International Center of Photography (1133 Avenue of the Americas at 43rd Street) from May 17 to September 8, 2013. Filling ICP’s entire gallery space as well as its exterior windows, the exhibition will feature 28 emerging and established artists from 14 countries whose works speak to and illuminate the new visual and social territory in which image making operates today. Artists include Nayland Blake, A.K. Burns, Thomas Hirschhorn, Elliott Hundley, Gideon Mendel, Wangechi Mutu, Sohei Nishino, Lisa Oppenheim, and Nica Ross among others.
Starting from the premise that most photography is now produced, processed, and distributed in digital form, ‘A Different Kind of Order’ explores the sometimes unanticipated consequences of this shift as revealed in the work of a wide range of international artists. For the younger artists in the Triennial, the digital revolution is something that happened during their childhood, and dealing with its ramifications has occupied most of their creative lives. For artists of this generation (such as Sam Falls, Andrea Longacre-White, and Oliver Laric), mixing the new idioms of digital imagemaking with the existing visual language of painting, sculpture, and collage is almost second nature. Other Triennial artists, wary of the advent of “screen culture,” emphasize the handmade qualities of their work, yet even they recognize that their efforts are situated within the space of a fully digitized, networked world.
“The ICP Triennial, the only recurring exhibition in the U.S. to focus on international contemporary photography and video, provides an unparalleled opportunity for visitors to encounter new works by established artists and to discover emerging artists,” said Mark Robbins, Executive Director of ICP. “A Different Kind of Order reflects our present moment of a new kind of order shaped by social, political, and technological changes.” Previous Triennial exhibitions include Strangers (2003), an exploration of personal estrangement and urban anxiety in the post-9/11 world; Ecotopia (2006), an examination of the consequences of environmental change; and Dress Codes (2009), a consideration of fashion as a form of social communication.
The exhibition sketches the contours of the new visual and social territory in which photography finds itself today. A number of key themes serve as guidelines that link the works in the exhibition:
Artist as aggregator identifies one of the main aesthetic offshoots of the digital image environment: the present-day descendants of the “image scavengers” of the 1980s who are now busy plundering and reorganizing found, online photographs into highly personal, web-based archives.
The resurgence of collage is evident in works that combine photographic fragments, digital images, paint, three-dimensional objects, and audio and video material to blast open and reconfigure the space of the photograph in unprecedented ways.
At a time when all manner of power structures are being called into question, mapping has become a renewed subject of artistic inquiry—part of a wider fascination with the power of ordering systems that has emerged in response to the dematerialized disorder of the Internet’s environment.
The Internet’s dissolution of geographic distance has spurred the development of new forms of community, allowing artists to explore new forms of connection, collaboration, and multiple authorship that do not depend on physical proximity.
In cooperation with ICP Associate Librarian Matthew Carson, the exhibition will also include an installation of approximately 100 recent photo books, which testifies to the extraordinary boom in selfpublished and small-press photo books now occurring around the world.
The International Center of Photography (ICP) is the world’s leading institution dedicated to the practice and understanding of photography and the reproduced image in all its forms. Through our exhibitions, educational programs, and community outreach, we offer an open forum for dialogue about the role images play in our culture. Since ICP’s founding, we have presented more than 500 exhibitions and offered thousands of classes providing instruction at every level. ICP is a center where photographers and artists, students and scholars can create and interpret the world of the image within our comprehensive educational facilities and archive.
Shpilman Institute for Photography, Tel Aviv 18.04.2013 - 04.11.2013
The exhibition “The Naked Eye” at the Shpilman Institute for Photography (The SIP) presents rare examples of Surrealist photography in the first half of the 20th century from the collection of the Sip and the collection of the Israel Museum, Jerusalem.
Surrealism rejected the old artistic-cultural order and strove to shatter the orders of bourgeois society by laying bare the depths of the human soul and liberating man’s innermost urges and aspirations. In an attempt to introduce a stratified platform for new aesthetic perceptions, Surrealist photography strove to present a different reality and undermine the perception of “direct vision” by creating imaginary, fantastical, dreamlike images.
The title of the exhibition, “The Naked Eye,” is analogous to André Breton’s notion of the “savage eye” (l’oeil sauvage), which contrasts the immediacy of pure, savage vision (its perceptual automatism) to the traditional bourgeois order. The dominance of the eye image in the Surrealist visual repertoire, which was associated with expressions of passion, desire and violence, was congruent with the attempt of the movement’s artists and members to change the modes of observation and vision to enable direct, subconscious perception, as opposed to thought and planning.
The first part of the exhibition focuses on Surrealist thought as manifested in photography: “the eye,” “the coveted woman,” “the doll,” “the mannequin,” “nightmarish/dream images,” etc. Another part of the exhibition engages in Surrealist cinema. It features Man Ray’s L’Étoile de Mer (The Starfish, 1928), and Luis Buñuel and Salvador Dalí’s Un Chien andalou (An Andalusian Dog, 1929), alongside still photographs from other films from the first half of the 20th century.
Special place is dedicated to the photographs by Man Ray, the father of Surrealist photography, presented alongside works by the movement’s artists, including Dora Maar, Paul Éluard, Claude Cahun, Hans Bellmer, and other photographers who were influenced by the ideas of the Surrealists in those years and operated elsewhere in Europe and the United States.
Curator of the exhibition: Aya Lurie, Chief Curator of The SIP
Stephen Wirtz Gallery, San Francisco 02.05.2013 - 13.07.2013
Stephen Wirtz Gallery is pleased to present The Jangs by Michael Jang, an exhibition of photographs taken of the artist’s immediate and extended family during the 1970s.Unseen in an exhibition context for 40 years, The Jangs has been newly mined for contemporary viewership.
The Jangs presents a look into the lifestyle of a Chinese-American family in the context of the American mainstream of the 70s, a cultural view largely unseen in the photography of the era. While other photographers were critically investigating American suburbia as a crucial subject, Jang responded with his own unique approach. By delving deeply into the daily lives of his own family and relatives, he captured sharp, spontaneous, and intimate images that reveal a singular view of America, one in which issues of suburban dystopia and clashing cultures are overwhelmed by his family’s joyful embrace of the American experience.
The series began in 1973 while Jang, then a student at Cal Arts, was on summer break and taking a workshop with Lisette Model in San Francisco.Living at the Pacifica home of his relatives, Jang had familial access to agreeable subjects in his Uncle Monroe, Aunt Lucy and his three cousins. Taking pictures in the spirit of casual family snapshots, Jang responded to ordinary moments in the daily lives of his extended relatives.We see them in the living room watching television, dancing at parties, watering the garden, and setting off fireworks on the Fourth of July. Collectively and retrospectively, his photographs operate within a larger social and historical context, offering a warm and often humorous portrait of one family’s ongoing assimilation into American culture, evinced with optimism, wonder, and wit. In them, Jang goes beyond documenting the Chinese-American experience to show us a family that is almost prototypically American.
According to Jang, “For most of us it’s really hard to photograph our own family. You’ll get the hand with a ‘don’t take my picture.’ Plus, things become invisible when you’ve lived with them your whole life. So I found that photographing relatives was a profoundly different experience. Every day was a new visual discovery. I saw things fresh for the first time and responded voraciously.”
Jang grew up in the Gold Rush town of Marysville and received his BFA at Cal Arts and MFA at the San Francisco Art Institute. At the time, Jang was largely influenced by the street photography of Lee Friedlander and Garry Winogrand. Works from The Jangs series were recently acquired by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.
Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco 29.03.2013 - 25.05.2013
Fraenkel Gallery is pleased to announce Things I’ve Heard, an exhibition of color photographs by artist and composer Christian Marclay. Comprised of approximately fifty works spanning the years 1994 to 2009, Things I’ve Heard will be accompanied by a fully illustrated book published by Fraenkel Gallery in association with Paula Cooper Gallery.
Photography has been an integral element of Marclay’s practice since his earliest years as an artist. With an eye keenly (and paradoxically) attuned to sound-related subject matter, his photographs function both as source material for his works in other media as well as sophisticated, subtle works of art on their own terms. With an appearance of casual snapshots, Marclay’s photographs evidence a keen awareness of the history of the medium, particularly of Atget, Evans, and Eggleston. His travels have provided the artist with a rich array of sound-related subject matter; a bin of second-hand record albums in Michigan, a marching band outside a window in London, a painted ear on a brick wall in Montreal, a “Honk If You Love Silence” bumper sticker in Chicago, for example. While Marclay has exhibited small groupings of his photographs in the past, this is the first exhibition dedicated solely to his camera-related photography.
Christian Marclay is widely recognized as one of the most adventurous artists of his generation. “The Clock,” his 24-hour film comprised of thousands of time-related clips from the history of cinema, has attracted viewers around the globe, and will be on view at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art from April 6th through June 2nd, 2013.
Christian Marclay is a London and New York based visual artist and composer whose innovative work explores the juxtaposition between sound recording, photography, video and film. Born in California in 1955 and raised in Geneva, Switzerland. His mother was American so he held a double nationality. He studied at the Ecole Supérieure d’Art Visuel from 1977–1980 in Geneva, Switzerland. From 1977–1980 he studied sculpture at the Massachusetts College of Art in Boston. He also studied as a visiting scholar at Cooper Union in New York in 1978. As a performer and sound artist Christian Marclay has been experimenting, composing and performing with phonograph records and turntables since 1979 to create his unique “theater of found sound,” influenced by Marcel Duchamp. Christian Marclay offers a unique, fresh and innovative voice that has inspired an entire generation of musicians, artists and theorists.
Marclay has collaborated with musicians such as John Zorn, Elliott Sharp, Fred Frith, Zeena Parkins, Shelley Hirsh, Christian Wolff, Butch Morris, Otomo Yoshihide, Arto Lindsay, and Sonic Youth among many others. A dadaist DJ and filmmaker, his installations and video/film collages display provocative musical and visual landscapes and have been included in exhibitions at the Whitney Museum of American Art New York, Venice Biennale, Centre Pompidou Paris, Kunsthaus Zurich, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.
Christian Marclay has been said to be the first non-rap DJ to make an art form out of the turntable, treating the instrument as a means to rip songs apart, not bridge them together. Marclay began his musical exploration that mixes sound and art with performance using turntables in 1979 as a student. Recycled Records (1980–1986), was one of his early peices. The work took fragmented and reassembled records which became objects that could be played, distorting tone and sound. Body Mix (1991–92), is a series he produced that wove together album covers, creating Postmodern critques of music and visual culture. One example is Deutsche Grammaphon conductors with the infamous legs of Tina Turner, bringing to light Surrealist ‘Exquisite Corpses.’ A key thread throughout Christian Marclay’s work is this transformation of musical objects into visual commentary on culture.
And Where are We Now? This was the question we asked artists, cultural producers, curators and programmers to address with their contributions to Diffusion 2013, and the one we will be exploring with audiences and participants.
Geoff Charles (1909 – 2002) occupies a unique position in a tradition of press photography and photojournalism within Wales. Born in Brymbo, Wrexham, Charles’ worked for newspapers and magazines such as Wrexham Star, Montgomeryshire Express, Y Cymro and Farmers Weekly. He studied at the University of London, obtaining a first-class diploma in journalism in 1928. Returning to Wales, he was involved in one of the Wrexham Star‘s scoops when he gained access to the lamp room of Gresford Colliery following the disaster there in 1934 to reveal the true number of casualties. During the war years he worked for the War Office to improve farming practices and after the war he again worked for the Welsh language newspaper Y Cymro. Among the notable events he covered include the flooding of the Tryweryn Valley and the village of Capel Celyn and the related protests in the early 60s. Above all, his archive combines some of the major social and political changes in Wales with a far greater account of quotidian life. It is in the celebration of the seemingly ordinary and overlooked moments that his photography becomes distinctive as social and historical document. The National Library of Wales houses the Geoff Charles Collection, which consists of over 120,000 negatives.
‘Nothing Is What It Is Because Everything Is What It Isn’t’ is a site-specific photographic installation exploring the stairwell and landing space in the Museum’s contemporary galleries. Holly Davey has photographed the space to create a digital collage in which the stairwell is reformed, repeated and replayed within the original architecture. This reimagining of the stairwell creates a feeling of disorientation, encouraging the viewer to question their experience and understanding of this functional, transitional space. Nothing Is What It Is… was commissioned by Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales following an open call for artist submissions in 2012.
People encounter photographic images daily not only in newspapers, magazines, on TV and in advertising, but also through online channels, mobile phone applications and social networking sites. We live in a time of image glut, and with the boundaries increasingly blurred between artist and audience, amateur and professional, we might ask and where is photography now? The world has never before been so visualised, yet the nature and meaning of photography and its status in art has never been so hotly debated.
In 2010 and 2011, Edgar Martins gained exclusive access to 20 power plants located across Portugal. Many were built between the 1950s and 1970s, a time of hopeful prospects for rapid economic growth and social change. ‘The Time Machine’ records objects and spaces whose grand and progressive designs testify to the scope and ambition of the vision they were built to serve. Martins’ photographs recall science-fiction and in an unavoidable field of nostalgia, characterise a suspended time; that of the modern. In recovering a past of exciting technological innovation and optimistic belief in the future, ‘The Time Machine’ speaks not just about the generation of power but also of dreams and technological utopias. This exhibition was funded by Fundação EDP and the international tour is supported by The Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation (UK branch) & Instituto Camões (Portugal).
Diffusion 2013 examines these cultural shifts and different approaches to artistic production, presentation and distribution. We look at the relationship in photographic art between traditional and new hybrid forms and their place within contemporary visual culture. Diffusion 2013 offers a space for artists, cultural agents and audiences to share experience and creative endeavour, to begin to make sense of a world where almost anyone can and will become a photographer and distribute their images within online communities – a society in which our experience of time and space has dramatically changed.
‘Lure’ is a major exhibition of new work by Helen Sear. One of Wales’ most important and insightful artists, Sear’s practice can be characterised by her exploration of the crossover between photography and fine art, her focus on the natural world and the startling beauty of her work. From seemingly simple subjects – a frozen pond, straw bales in a field, wild flowers – Sear makes artworks of great power that explore ideas of seeing and perception.
At a deeper level, the festival interrogates our position in Europe and its wider global ramifications. Diffusion 2013 highlights the role of photography, as arguably the world’s most democratic and visible medium, to record contemporary life as lived, to represent urban and rural experience, and to imagine a future orientated new European Identity. Above all, Diffusion 2013 is a celebration of photography and the photographic image, in all its forms. Whether created, published, exhibited, collected or distributed in a physical or virtual way, the photograph has the power to inspire and provoke reaction, to reflect our own experience and that of society evolving around us.
My work Critical Mass/Kritische Masse - Nuclear Power in Germany documents the architecture, everyday routine, and security systems of all 17 German nuclear power plants, as well as the radioactive waste repository Asse II and the Gorleben exploratory mine.
High hopes and deep skepticism have accompanied the use of nuclear power up to the present day. In the euphoric mood that prevailed in the 1950s, everything seemed possible; people took part in an unprecedented economic upswing and found in nuclear energy a fascinating technology for the future. But the optimism of the boom years gave way in the 1980s to a skepticism that was further fueled by the catastrophic nuclear accident in Chernobyl. Anti-nuclear activism has now shaped the political consciousness of a whole generation. And the disaster in Fukushima in 2011 heralded yet a new era in the debate – it seems that a nuclear phase-out in the medium-term is now inevitable. The issue of the final disposal of radioactive waste is still unresolved, however.
My work gives us a rare glimpse behind the scenes at the power plants, showing areas that are normally off-limits. My photographs are interlocked with historical photographs from police and state archives from the planning and construction phases of the plants. Essays by Susanne Holschbach and Kai F. Hünemörder reflect the projectand -SYB- has designed the book.
Born in Reutlingen (Germany) in 1967, I now live in Berlin. I studied photography at the Fachhochschule Bielefeld (D) and the University of Brighton (UK) and subsequently lived in London from 1997 to 2000. My artistic and photographic work focuses on the life-world. Here, I develop visual strategies that serve as a means of stepping back from the scene at hand, thus allowing for observation, interpretation and staging. The distance thus achieved creates space for various levels of meaning, such as social and historical references or medial reflections. My aim is to facilitate a dialogue between image and recipient that reaches beyond the subject itself and links with the observer’s life-world.
The William Gedney Photographs and Writings collection spans the 1940s to 1989 and includes negatives, contact sheets, proofs, prints, slides, indexes, handmade illustrated books, journals and diaries, and photographer’s notebooks. The collection primarily documents Gedney’s work as a photographer over several decades before his early death in 1989. The photographs document life in the United States, particularly in New York, rural Kentucky, and San Francisco; life in India, primarily in Benares and Calcutta; urban and rural landscapes across the United States; and American composers. Two themes in Gedney’s oeuvre are his “Night” series and nudes. The “Night” series was created throughout most of Gedney’s career and spanned all geographic locations. The nudes were primarily photographed at the Pratt Institute where Gedney taught. A body of handmade books in the collection were designed and made by Gedney and are illustrated with his photographic prints. More than half of the collection’s series house photographic materials, and include the Negatives, Contact Sheets, Proofs, Prints, Film Development Tests, and Slides (transparencies) Series. Since the collection follows Gedney’s arrangement by photograph formats, not subjects, images of most subjects are scattered throughout all of the series in the collection. Other formats are represented in the Indexes, Writings and Notebooks, Miscellaneous, Print Material, and Book Projects Series.
A predominant subject in the collection, one that appears in most of the series, is New York, especially Brooklyn. Subjects, both in Brooklyn and elsewhere in metropolitan New York, include religious festivals, such as the Italian-American feast of San Gennaro, Sunday School parades, first communion parades, and Good Friday processions; gospel revivals; the Washington Market; a bar named O’Rourks; the Brooklyn Bridge; Coney Island; the subway and “the El”; St. Joseph’s School for the Deaf; crowds; the Salvation Army; and Myrtle Ave. Gedney lived on Myrtle Ave., and many of his New York street scenes were made there. Gay rallies and marches in New York City were photographed, and the dates of these events usually coincide with the anniversary dates of the Stonewall riots. Other events Gedney photographed include car shows, flower shows, and body building exhibitions. There are photographs of Diane Arbus, a photographer, at the body building exhibitions. The “Farm,” which Gedney photographed, was located in Norton Hill, N.Y. Gedney also photographed in Rochester, Albany, and Greenville, N.Y. Photographs of friends and family, as well of Gedney, are scattered throughout the collection. His notebooks and writings also document life in New York; some of them are titled “Myrtle Avenue.”
Among Gedney’s other American subjects are 100 composers who were photographed between 1965 and 1969. The composer series forms a significant body of work, although the photographs are scattered throughout the collection. A partial list of the composers is in the collection’s Information Folder in the inventory drawer. The San Francisco photographic work, also a substantive series, focused on hippies and youth from 1966 to 1967. Another significant body of American work in the collection is Gedney’s extensive photographic studies of rural Eastern Kentucky in 1964 and 1972. The Couch family in Leatherwood, Ky., and the Cornett family in Big Rock, Ky., were the central characters in his photography: The Kentucky works were created in the Blue Diamond Mining Company camp, Grassy Branch Holler, Two Forks Holler, and in Hazard.
Gedney made one or two trips across the United States by car during the years 1965 to 1967. During the trip(s) he photographed “Night” scenes in various towns. He also photographed Indian reservations, a monastery, farm workers, and various cities, forming the “Cross Country” series. One of six photographers hired to document the work of the Social Security Administration in 1968, Gedney was assigned to the Hays, Kansas, bureau. Kansas subjects include the Norton County Hospital, Hadley Hospital, Social Security client interviews, and Fort Hays College.
Gedney produced a large corpus of photographs of India. Indian subjects include wall paintings; ritual wrestlers; temple scenes and activities; bathing in the Ganges; festivals such as Holi; a Krishna festival; a monkey temple festival; Yantra and Shiva pujas; a wedding; street scenes; actors, acrobats, and other entertainers; artisans, such as painters, sculptors, and photographers; merchants and markets; and religious men. The Slides Series primarily includes the Indian wall paintings, which were created by the Kumbhar caste. The slides are the only color photographs in the collection. Other subjects or locations photographed by Gedney include England, Ireland, and Paris.
For his “Simple Song” project, Luo Dan employed the traditional collodion wet plate photographic process invented in 1850, spending several months traveling with a portable darkroom in remote and mountainous regions of China’s southern Yunnan Province. Looking to capture the purity of this photographic process, Luo Dan was able to reflect the authenticity found in rural life for many of China’s yet undeveloped regions, where the way of life has remained largely intact for hundreds of years. More than 100 years ago many of the villages in this region were influenced by early Christian missionaries, resulting in many of the local villagers becoming people of faith and devout churchgoers, often seen dressing up in their ethnic garments, or Sunday’s best. By bringing a reverence to both this antiquated photographic process and subject matter, Luo Dan’s “Simple Song” series is an effort to capture a sense of timelessness. An incredibly popular process in the mid-nineteenth century, wet plate collodion could render exquisite detail for photographers, but the laborious process of exposure and development also led to its decline towards the end of the century.
An acclaimed portrait and documentary photographer, Luo Dan has won numerous awards and recognition for his works “On the Road - Highway 318” (2006) and “North, South” (2008). Luo Dan was born in Chongqing, China, in 1968 and graduated from the Sichuan Fine Art Academy in 1992. He was given the Gold Award for Outstanding Artist at the Lianzhou International Photography Festival in 2008 for his body of work “North, South” (2008). This year he was recently awarded the Hou Dengke documentary photography prize, as well as voted best new photographer at the Dali International Photography Festival (2011). He currently lives and works in Chengdu, China.