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Urbanautica

your daily source of images

SITES OF MEMORY

Gallery Luisotti, Santa Monica
19.07.2014 - 06.09.2014

Sites of memory are fundamentally remains, the ultimate embodiments of a memorial consciousness that has barely survived in a historical age that calls out for memory because it has abandoned it. They make their appearance by […] producing, manifesting, establishing, constructing, decreeing, and maintaining by artifice and by will a society deeply absorbed in its own transformation and renewal, one that inherently values the new over the ancient, the young over the old, the future over the past. Pierre Nora, 1989

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© John Divola, Subject Observation F, 1995

Gallery Luisotti is pleased to announce its upcoming exhibition Sites of Memory. The show finds its theoretical underpinnings in Pierre Nora’s seminal essay “Between Memory and History: Les Lieux de Mémoire.” The works in the show hover on the dialectic between the two poles of memory and history. They comment on the movement of society at large to rationalize and archive all memories into a totalizing and ever-expanding historical record. To trace the arc of Nora’s trajectory, one only need think of the caches of daily minutiae that fill larger and larger hard drives, and which are now increasingly omnipresent in ‘the cloud.’ The artists in this exhibition—Lewis Baltz, John Divola, Christina Fernandez, Mark Ruwedel, Ursula Schulz-Dornburg, and Catherine Wagner—point to various histories via their individual visual strategies. They offer the viewer partial views onto environments, objects, and the human body that suggest even larger structures that are present outside or invisible within the frame.

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© Ursula Schulz-Dornburg, Element from Ararat, Armenia, 2006

The show pulls on the historical reserves that are present in all six artists’ practices to demonstrate the myriad formulations and decompositions of sites and memory over time. The landscape is a key component of several works in the exhibition, but it is also crucially absent from others to reflect the variety of vessels in which memory can be stored.

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© Mark Ruwedel, Built / Not Built (The Smithson Panoramas), 2010

The title of the show relays the delicate balance of the historical record. On the one hand, the word site connotes a substantial physical place that one can find herself in or that is known to exist elsewhere. It suggests permanence (though not necessarily imperviousness) through the ages.

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© Christina Fernandez, Dianzu, 1999-2000/2014 from the series, Ruins

The other key word, memory, is a concept that is personal, biological, yet which can also be shared between people, among societies and across time. However, memory, which lodges itself with each of our delicate minds, is constantly under threat and always at risk of being compromised, even without our being aware. It is the sites of memory, then, that guard against catastrophic loss of personal and collective memories.

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© Lewis Baltz, Element from Fos Secteur 80, 1987

The photographs in this show reaffirm the stakes of remembering and the costs of forgetting. They, as Nora writes, “nourish recollections that may be out of focus or telescopic, global or detached, particular or symbolic—responsive to each avenue of conveyance or phenomenal screen, to every censorship or projection.”

© Gallery Luisotti

PHOTOTALK WITH GEOFFROY MATHIEU

BY STEVE BISSON

1. Tell us about your approach to photography. How it all started? What are your memories of your first shots? 

I began to be seriously interested by photography in college. With my old friend Ambroise Tezenas, when we were 16, we began to photograph Paris and our friends, developing pictures in the laboratory of the college. We walked in the streets of Paris at night, discovering the possibilities of the medium. Our first masters were the humanist photographers Izis, Brassai or Doisneau. Later, we were fan of Magnum photographers and their ability to tell the story of the world. But, too afraid to choose photography as a job, I studied accountancy first and photography was just a hobby at this time. Things became more and more clear for me, so I tried to enter the school of Arles, but didn’t succeed the first time. To be more credible, I worked in Magnum agency for almost one year, this time was my real birth in photography. When I succeeded in entering the National Photographic school in Arles, I discovered a world behind Magnum and reportage…

© Geoffroy Matheiu from the series Canopée, 2009 - 2012

2.How did your research evolve with respect to those early day?

From Magnum legendary photographers, I shifted to Walker Evans and the landscape photographers Stephen Shore, Robert Adams or Lewis Baltz. I felt closer to their ways of using photography not only as a testimony but also a description of a world changing as they exposed. My first studies were street photography in 4 different cities (NY, Mumbai, Marseille and Cairo). I gained experience there while walking in cities and building a  series that tries  to create a conversation about modern cities and how humans are living in them. Landscape photography arrived later in my progression when I chose a first project that dealt with the landscape around the building of the Millau viaduc. In this series I searched for landscapes of transition, fascinated by the changes that appear just as if they were installed by Land artists. I discovered there that land is a moving matter. It’s always my deep purpose, I think.

© Geoffroy Matheiu  from the series 'En ville, à la plage 1997-2000', New York, Le Caire/Alexandrie, Bombay, Marseille

3. Could you please tell us about your experience with the Observatoire Photographique du Paysage? Some of this research also deals with time. What are your personal impressions about photographing the same place/landscape over the years?

The Observatoire Photographic of Paysage involves the procedure of shooting the same place  with the same frame each year to observe the changes. I have always been fascinated by the power of light or the time passing on a scene. A landscape is never the same, each minute, each hour, each day, imagine each year or every 10 years ! It produced very interesting corpus of pictures, to study in a technical way, but in an artistic way it produced a poetic vision of time passing. As long as you come back on the same spot each year, you begin to develop an intimate relationship just as with a good friend. For some of them, I am happy to see them each year. They become good friends.

Hey landscape ! what happened to you this year ? what did you change ? how is the light on you today ? maybe it’s better if I come back tomorrow ?

© Geoffroy Mathieu  from the series ’Observatoire Photographique du Paysage - Communauté de communes de la Vallée de l’Hérault’, extrait 2010 - 2011 - 2012

4. Tell us about the project ‘Marseille, Wild City’.

The story of this project is born when I met Baptiste Lansapeze who is a writer and editor (wildproject editions). He was interested in theories on urban ecology research and deep ecology theories. I discovered those thoughts when walking in the peri-urban landscapes of Marseille and talking with him. During 4 years we began to understand why this city was a perfect place to study the relationship between nature (not only vegetation) and urbanity. He was writing an essay on urban ecology, and I was taking pictures of Marseille ,not to illustrate his point of view, but to show that within Marseille nature and urban grow together in a mix.

5. The project ‘Marseille, Wild City’ has been selected for the new edition of the exhibition “Naturae” which is centered on the experience of space, especially through nature. Tell us about how the photographic medium is involved in the perception of space, or rather in its awareness.

Photography is a good medium to understand and transmit the intelligence of a place. In a frame, you can arrange the world, make it intelligible. That is what happens when the photographer succeeds in transmitting in pictures the personal relationship he builds with the scene he saw. I consider those relationships as meetings. A meeting between an exposure, a light and a geography. This is successful when the photographer succeeds in finding the best point of view to transmit the poetry of this meeting. When you work in any project with a purpose, as with Marseille, Wild City, the challenge was to find the best point of view to express our idea of the wild and how we consider cities as part of nature. In fact, the place where a majority of homo sapiens are living.

© Geoffroy Matheiu  from the series ’Marseille, Wild City’

6. Today we are witnessing, at least in technological societies, a huge production of images (photographs, advertising, satellite, street view, social networking and so on). A sort of daily bombardment. How do you think this affects the perception of the world by individuals?

This bombardment is producing on our children a very different sense of perception, that is sure. They don’t use, look and read pictures as we do but they will develop a way of thinking about them. This is the evolution of the story of photography, we, photographers and artists, have to do our job, making intelligent pictures that give a point of view on the world. I am optimistic, I think that the more “poor” pictures will be taken and seen, the more we will need intelligent pictures. Now and more than ever, we need their glances to understand our world. 

© Geoffroy Matheiu  from the series ’Marseille, Wild City’

7. You have studied at Ecole Nationale de la Photographie d’Arles. Do you feel that is important to educate people to read images? Should we be more active in relation to what we are exposed to?

Of course, we have to do this job at school, to educate children to read pictures, but they see so many pictures that they develop an experience that we didn’t have. There will be experts ! In this stream of pictures, we need more places that show pictures with a real point of view : Museums, websites or books, whatever… 

8. Some images of the series  ‘Marseille, Wild City’ are included, among others taken in Edinburgh and Tangier, in your recent book “Geum Urbanum”? Could you please introduce us to this special edition. 

After my investigation of Marseille, I wanted to compare the relationships between vegetation and cities in other towns. I chose Tangiers and Edinburgh. In Tangiers I photographed the growing city in the countryside around and in Edinburgh I tried to show the peaceful and Anglo-Saxon way of including nature in the cities. At the end, I realized how much, through my exposures, we can find the same situations in different places. With triptychs I put together pictures of similar types of landscape found in those cities. 

© Geoffroy Matheiu, book “Geum Urbanum”

9. Projects that you are working on and plans for the future?

A part of my work is made by walking, I introduce more and more the walk in my creative process. I did it without really thinking of it in the project Dos a la mer, which was a series of promenades. I was walking in the cities with no protocol, as a perambulation. More recently, in the project of Paysages Usagés, that I made with Bertrand Stofleth on the GR2013. We walked on a trail made for discovering the peri-urban of the metropole of Marseille. 

In 2015 I worked with SAFI, a collective of two artists working on wild urban plants. We trace a new trail in the souvenir of the rurality of Marseille. I present those pictures in a diaporama, showing our research, and our walks.

© urbanautica | Geoffroy Mathieu

DOUGLAS LJUNGKVIST AND THE OCEAN BEACH

BY STEVE BISSON

The weight of things. A critical response to Douglas Ljungkvist’s book ‘Ocean Beach’

When looking at the images that complete the series ‘Ocean Beach’ by photographer Douglas Ljungkvist is easy to find myself in these thoughts: the fall of the American dream, the natural world has recovered its spaces, or the humanist utopia of control over the earths forces. All these considerations are inevitabile but not decisive.

© Douglas Ljungkvist, book ‘Ocean Beach’

Firstly, it is interesting to recall the differences with the ‘Pre-Hurricane’ series which is certainly more descriptive. A more empathic choice of colors reflects a deliberately darker mood. Even more significant is the decision to show, as a juxtaposition the housing wreckage, natural elements of the landscape: the beach, the sky and the sea. A contrast that is unseen, however, when the photographer is inside the remains of houses. It is here that the observer, with no way to escape, is forced to confront the inner dimension of destruction. Here, in these shots I feel all the uncertainty and the fear of post-modern man.

© Douglas Ljungkvist, book ‘Ocean Beach’

In truth, when I see these images I am projected far beyond a possible commentary on the medium and classification with respect to categories of discourse on photography. I see rather in this second part of the Douglas Ljungkvist’s work a centrifugal force that pushes the gaze out of the aesthetic dimension. In this sense, I do not think useful to recall ideas that surround “New Topographics”. Instead, I find it useful to turn my thoughts to the deconstruction axioms or to the “building cuts” by Gordon Matta-Clark. This series of images is a real détournement, a state that is antithetical to a thought of origin, as a recycling of pre-existing artistic elements into a new form. The photographer works, more or less consciously, on a re-contextualization. It is no longer important to point out which elements are in opposition and why. We need to understand what new meanings emerge from these realities because their future exists in their irreducible and irremediable coexistence.

© Douglas Ljungkvist, book ‘Ocean Beach’

I get the impression that this work effectively places in the face of a spectacle of the illusory and comfort fetishism of the modern age. In the words of Guy Debord “everything directly lived has receded into representation”. Ljungkvist inevitably prompts us to question our notions of the real and not so much on the role of the photographer. From this point of view I appreciate the photographer’s detachment from the implied compassion that often hovers around these situations. The decision to not include human beings gives this work the distance necessary to prevent the process of identification with this place and instead feed a sense of alienation.

© Douglas Ljungkvist, book ‘Ocean Beach’

We can not conclude this brief critical reading without expressing the need to present a dualistic semiotics reading of the images in order to grasp those signs that express cultural phenomena. In this sense, Douglas Ljungkvist is skilled in returning to the careful viewer, without prejudice, a useful anthropological summary on Western consumer society; throughout we see its fragile precariousness and all its apparent fun. From this perspective, can what we see also be a symbolic reaction to the continued expansion of the world based on the exploitation of resources? In other words, have these homes been destroyed by a natural disaster or by their own weight? Steve Bisson

© Douglas Ljungkvist, book ‘Ocean Beach’

info:

Designed by Kehrer Design
Hardcover
24 x 20 cm
108 pages
92 color ills.
English
available here
ISBN 978-3-86828-403-4 
2013

© Douglas Ljungkvist

PHOTOTALK WITH HELDER SOUSA

BY TIAGO DOS SANTOS

1. Tell us about your approach to photography. We know you only define yourself as a photographer since 2008, how did it all started?

My first contact with photography was ten years ago, during high school. I attended the Graphic Arts course at the Soares dos Reis high school, in Porto, and I had the chance to work with the dark room, and with all the steps that it involves. At that time I became truly interested in photography and even wanted to pursue further studies academically but, due to the lack of knowledge on opportunities available, I ended up enrolling in Painting, at the Fines Arts Faculty. After graduating, I started working on a photography studio where I picked up the camera again. I worked mainly on commercial work, weddings and things like that, on all the post production process, as well as video editing. I also worked on cruise ships, on the Douro River, where I sold pictures to the tourists. From that point on I recovered my taste in Photography, and the need to learn more on the subject, not so much in the commercial sense, but on an author’s perspective. I knew I wanted to keep on studying  on a masters degree, so I researched the offers available, and I found the masters at ESMAE. 

© Helder Sousa from ‘Unfinished Projects’

2. How did your research evolve with respect to those early days?

By 2008 I did all the work required at the studio. While trying to solve the problems presented to me, I was able to develop some post production skills that had become forgotten. At the masters degree everything changed. My worries went from strictly aesthetically matters to more theoretical ones. Everything was in question, I could no longer say I’d like a picture just because. I started to know all the classic photographers, as well as the mandatory essays for any photographer, with more theoretical concerns. Initially I even started doing portraits, but I went on to landscapes, my main object of interest now.

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© Helder Sousa from ‘Unfinished Projects’

3. Tell us about your educational path. Bachelor Degree in Painting, at the Faculty of Fine Arts of Porto University, and then a Master Degree in Audiovisual Communication, Specialisation in Documental Cinema and Photography at Porto’s Superior School of Music and Performing Arts. What are your best memories of your studies, and what was your relationship with photography at that time? Why the need to change from Painting to Photography?

Analysing at this distance now, I consider it was a very profitable detour. I studied Photography during the bachelor degree but, since I was very involved in the painting world, I wasn’t able to do anything interesting. At that time, the subjects I would approach would be more symbolical and metaphysical. I used mainly imagination and creativity, while little contact with reality. Now I can understand that that contact was what I missed. By a natural order of things, I went back to Photography and it’s where I feel good. I also consider that due to my pragmatic and humble personality, I’m able to develop a better work with the Photography medium, since it deals more with watching the reality around us than with the imaginative aspect that painting requires.

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© Helder Sousa from ‘Unfinished Projects’

4. What were the courses that you were passionate about and which have remained meaningful for you? Which skills acquired studying Painting do you apply in Photography?

At college, I think the best tool I acquired was learning to “watch”. In the Drawing class, it was very important do develop that skill, because then, the practical part, comes with training. We all know how to write, that being a way of drawing, we just need to practice it. At that time, I acquired that skill, as well as the sense of composition and colour sensitivity with the Painting class. To a painter, a blue isn’t just a blue. There are many shades that can match better or worse in the colour palette that compose a painting.  I also consider that I already possessed some sensitivity regarding composition. It was always a concern of mine, many times developed at an unconscious level, but that made me take the right choice.

5. Any professor or teacher that has allowed you to better understand your work?

All the teachers that crossed my academic path have had an influence on me, one way or the other. I think that in the MA there were two teachers that influenced me the most, Paulo Catrica and Cláudio Melo. The first, in a more theoretical way,  that made me think and see how photography is thought of nowadays. Being him a photographer himself, with daily practice and with studies in History, he had the skills I needed and he knew how to transmit them well.  Cláudio Melo was very important in a more practical way, with post production and image editing. In a project developed throughout the year, we made dozens of images that needed to be sorted out in editing, a very important part to a photographer. Knowing what stays and what is left out is as important as what you’re photographing.

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© Helder Sousa from ‘A Fábrica na Cidade’

6. What do you think about teaching methodology in the era of digital and social networking? 

To someone that wishes to be a photographer nowadays, it’s like everything has been made easy. All of us are a potential photographer! We all have a camera in our pockets. However, there’s the need to know what to do with it. We live currently on a sharing hysteria. We fell an urge to share everything. As if, if we don’t do it, we don’t actually exist. Nowadays, what’s not on a social network, doesn’t exist! I think we need to get some distance to current reality so we can understand it better. If you notice, in the way we share everything, it seems like we’ve never been so watchful to reality, but truthfully that’s simply illusory.  We’ll apply a filter on a photography that changes the original colour, makes it more saturated, with more contrast, and all seems good, better looking. But that’s about it. It’s nothing more than a better looking picture, that doesn’t say anything to you, doesn’t tell you any story. There’s no punktum. It might say something, but only to the one that took it, never becoming a plural discourse, always individualistic. 

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© Helder Sousa, book ‘Topografias a Norte’

Here is where school comes in, so we don’t fall on that hysteria and be simply one more. I can help us to create tools that allows us to know better what we’re really interest in exploring. It helps us build a critical thought that will allow us to choose the better solution. Photography is precisely that, selecting the best option. The camera does the rest, but the before and after is as important as the click.  It’s obvious that the web brought us a world that made sharing easy and, as a consequence, disclosure to new photographers. It made a lot of processes easy, but it also brought difficulty on distinguishing the best things being produced. We have to pay more attention!  

7. About your work now. How would you described your personal research in general? 

At this time, I’m developing many works related to the city territory. With my MA project, Unfinished Projects, I approached a particular question of the city, and I felt the need do open the spectrum and analyse the city in a more global way. My concerns are always about the question of the urban landscape, the urban expansion, of progress - as something that grows in a positive way - , to a sense of disorder. Behind all this, there’s always a connection to the Human component, as a being that inhabits a planet, that builds a territory, and that is always in constant expansion, as if it was an sociological or even anthropological look. Either because of economical or other matters, there’s this need of development, of “growth”, that based on the use of reason, makes us justify all of our actions. I think that photography can have a very important part in that aspect, because it ends up freezing a certain moment and allows a better analysis and perception of these matters.

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© Helder Sousa from ‘A Line Made By Man’

8. Do you have any preferences in terms of cameras and format?

I can say that, during my MA, I was converted to analog. I developed my project in large format and, if I could, I would only work that way. Since at this time that’s not possible, I’ve working with digital, using tilt-shift lenses that simulate the camera movements large format cameras allow. Regarding formats, I like to work in the square ones, may it be 4x5, 6x7 or 6x8. I I have the desire to produce a square format project that I never used.

9. Tell us about Unfinished Projects.

This project results from another one that I made during my MA. I had found out some buildings that were unfinished and decided to photograph them. Later, I started to realise there wasn’t just one or two in this situation, but a lot of them inside the county I live in. I started doing a survey of all the buildings I could find, with a digital camera, to try to understand if there were enough of them to do a project about. Indeed there were, and I started to develop the idea. A very important step in this was being persuaded by my teacher Cláudio Melo to shoot this project in large format. That changed everything. I realised a new potentiality of Photography that I didn’t know about. The way large format makes it possible to compose an image allows us a relation to the subject to be shot completely different that with a digital camera. It even relates a little bit to painting, and the camera obscura Vermeer used.

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© Helder Sousa from ‘Unfinished Projects’

I ended up developing the project in series, where each one resulted in an identifiable area. I restricted myself geographically to Valongo county, and to residential buildings that had been abandoned. The fact that they were in this condition was a big question mark for me. It was that that drew me on those buildings. I couldn’t understand it’s origin. In the research work, that resulted in the master thesis, I was able to conclude that a number of factors contributed to that. There was an over construction that, in a moment of inversion of economy - and money acquisition by banks - it ended up causing bankruptcy of many construction companies that had to abandon their buildings, and deliver them to banks. And here is where the problem resides. Is in the best interest of banks that nothing is resolved at this time. On one hand, to finish a building, they would have to spend money that they don’t have right now, on the other hand, if they want to demolish it, they also would have to entail expenses. While this remains like this, they can argue they have a rated asset, being that asset a concrete skeleton! It’s a very perverse situation.

10. Is there any contemporary artist or photographer, even if young and emerging, that influenced you in some way? 

Since I don’t many contemporary photographers, I can’t recall one that might have influenced me. I search mainly theoretical influences. But, to recall some examples, one of the big influences that allowed me to find a way was, without a doubt, the ones from the exhibit New Topographics, A Man Altered Landscape: Robert Adams, Lewis Baltz, Bernd and Hilla Becher and Sthephen Shore. This group of photographers influenced and still does many contemporary photographers. In a formal way, I think that my work relates a lot with the so called School of Düsseldorf: Andreas Gursky, Candida Hofer, Thomas Struth and Thomas Russ. Although it’s not so visible, I feel that I’m also very affected by two italian photographers, Gabriele Basilico and Luigi Ghirri.

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© Helder Sousa from ‘Unfinished Projects - Addendum’

11. Three books of photography that you recommend?

Quoting a classic, Susan Sontag’s On Photography, still very current. Joan Fontcuberta are always very interesting, as El Beso de Judas. Lastly, o Land Matters from Liz Wells, that presents the way how landscape has been represented and/or undeveloped.

12. Is there any show you’ve seen recently that you find inspiring?

The last one I saw was Porto Poetic and although it was directed to architects, I found it to be very interesting. Architecture is always very present in my projects, and I try to see and read everything related. 

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© Rita Burmester, Opening of the exhibition ‘Porto Poetic’ at Triennale di Milano, September 2013

13. Projects that you are working on now and plans for the future?

I’m currently developing two projects, simultaneously. The first has to do with housing in Porto, and a phenomenon that has been  developing and is more and more noticeable in the city, the walled buildings. The second project has a concept/title that is city-territory, where I approach different urban landscape. It’s still undeveloped so I don’t know what will be the outcome. I also decided to give continuity to my MA project, but in a broader sense. There are no geographical or typological restrictions. It will be called Unfinished Projects – Addendum, and it will be an open work, where new images will be added. For the future, I’ve been recently contacted by the architectural office ADOC and the architect Miguel Eufrásia, that will be representing Portugal in the Biennale Architettura 2014. They’ll be showing some images of Unfinished Projects and some new ones. I hope it will help me open some doors and that it’ll be an opportunity to do some new projects.

© Helder Sousa

BACK GROUNDS: IMPRESSIONS PHOTOGRAPHIQUES

Organized with Olivier Renaud-Clément
Andrea Rosen Gallery, New York
28.06.2014 - 15.08.2014

Andrea Rosen Gallery is thrilled to announce Back Grounds: Impressions Photographiques (2), a historically rooted exhibition organized with Olivier Renaud-Clément that traces a profound lineage of conceptual, process-based photography. Ranging from early experimentations of the early 19th century in France to our contemporary era, this exhibition juxtaposes pioneering historical legacies with divergent contemporary trajectories, as a means of building a contextual foundation for the experience and re-experience of such work. The resulting orchestration is an intimately curated dialogue between artists Liz Deschenes, Martin d’Orgeval, Gaylen Gerber, Chargesheimer, Sherrie Levine, Baron Adolphe Humbert de Molard, Alfred Stieglitz, and James Welling, which traverses between realms of methodology and intention, and channels attention to the processes of looking.

Built from the foundation of five early paper negatives by Baron Adolphe Humbert de Molard (b. 1800), first exhibited as part of a three-person show originally presented ten years ago at Andrew Kreps Gallery, New York and Galerie Nelson, Paris, this expanded exhibition further investigates a premise that expounds the ways in which our perception of such work, historically bound to context and experience, has shifted over time, and continues to generate a discursivity and evaluation of content. “One thing to remember,” states Renaud, “is that in the earliest stages of the medium, the practitioners were not necessarily artists per se or even photographers, but curious experimentalists and chemists who had yet to realize the potential of a new medium that had barely come to life. Today, somehow, in our digital age, it seems we have come full circle and are re-addressing this with the lessons and facts of history.”

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© Adolphe Humbert de Molard, Untitled, 1848

Beginning in the 1800s, at a time when photography was inherently experimental, such venture into abstraction, as present in de Molard’s fragile, golden images of William the Conqueror’s Normandy Castle, was an unusual attempt. Attracted to the chemical medium, de Molard experimented with alternative fixing baths and chemical processes, producing what may be perceived definably as both artifacts of a developing technique and the artworks of an amateur pioneer. 

Over a century later, Chargesheimer’s silver gelatin chemigrams introduce early techniques of painting with chemicals on light-sensitive papers, creating liquid, abstract scapes conditionally belonging to a medium understood as representing reality. Re-presenting such early methods, James Welling’s works move towards the reanimation of historical approaches; presenting both chemigram surfaces, as well as pristinely isolated autobiographical scenes documented with large format cameras.

© Chargesheimer, Harlekinade, 1961

Alfred Stieglitz’s significant body of work Equivalents (1925-1934), shifts our gaze to consume both expansive and claustrophobic images of the sky, of dissipating and cumulating clouds, provoking, as Stieglitz described, an awareness of the awesome infinity beyond our existence. In an act to re-place historical content before contemporary audiences, Sherrie Levine’s reprisal of iconic imagery, such as Stieglitz’s Equivalents, provokes questions of authorship, originality, and artistic lineage, and encourages work to be experienced anew.

© Alfred Stieglitz, Songs of the Sky, 1924

The natural abstractions of Martin d’Orgeval’s wall photographs, developing a specific idea of frame, space and relief through a concern for metaphysical interiority, address subtle and complex issues of perspective. By interacting with the photographed shadows in the image, the real cast shadows of the salient frame create a coalescence of figurative and real spaces, activating the symbolic tension between materiality and immateriality.

Renaud-Clément’s presentations of Gaylen Gerber’s work in this exhibition foreground its more relative qualities. Renaud-Clément presents Gerber’s “contextual” Backdrop, which normally is a ground to the whole exhibition, as an object itself sited on a constructed partition. He also presents a series of “discrete” photographic works in a way that underscores their contextual reading. This unusual reprise uses two bodies of work that take different forms but address similar concerns, drawing attention to the permeability of the distinction between the contextual and the discrete and suggests that everything in the exhibition may be considered both background and subject.

© Gaylen Gerber, Backdrop/Back grounds: Impressions Photographiques (2), 2014

Working to expand the dialogue surrounding photography, Liz Deschenes extends unique viewing experiences that explore the self-reflexive concepts of the medium. As one of the three artists who comprised Renaud’s first exhibition in 2002, Deschenes has presented significant and distinct bodies of new work with each incarnation: Blue Screen Process (2002), Black and White (2003), and for this exhibition, a new body of works that stem from the photographs recently exhibited in Bracket (London) at Campoli Presti.

Olivier Renaud-Clément dedicates this exhibition to Philip Nelson, with whom he organized the first exhibition in Paris in 2002.

© Andrea Rosen Gallery

PHOTOTALK WITH FRANCESCO TAURISANO

BY GAIA MUSACCHIO

1. Tell us about your approach to photography. How it all started? What are your memories of your first shots?

I guess that my first approach to photography was quite unusual, in the sense that it all started four years ago using a digital camera rather than on analog one. From that moment I started to move backward, which is very much an attempt to trace and reconnect myself with the fundamentals origin of photography, in other words going back to film photography to slow down, but also to think about what I am doing.

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© Francesco Taurisano

I remember quite clearly the first few projects shot with a 35mm camera and black and white film, developed and printed in the darkroom, which represented a tremendous breakthrough to me. I gradually got interested and fascinated with the entire process. Later I become interested in medium format photography. In a sense It feels like everything started almost a year ago, when started to work on a long term project entirely exclusively shot with a medium format camera. This became a defining period for me and represented a breakthrough in terms of my practice.

2. How did your research evolve with respect to those early days?

Personally I think this is one of the most important aspect of my practice nowadays, in the sense that my projects are highly influenced by my research, whether those investigation are heading me towards the exploration of the environment where I will be shooting, but also in regards of other photographers work and critical readings which I personally found essential for the developing of my projects. 

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© Francesco Taurisano

Lately I was constantly looking at the work of Walker Evans and August Sander but also contemporary artist such as Paul Graham, William Eggleston, Guido Guidi and Martin Parr which I have found extremely useful to structure the narrative of my latest project.

3. Tell us about your educational path. You are attending a Bachelor degree in Fine Art at the Dublin Institute of Technology. What are best memories of your studies.What was the relationship with photography when you started?

I attended two photographic courses before I decided to get more serious about it and consequentially applying for a BA in photography at D.I.T, which has been so far an essential step to develop my photographic skills from a technical and theoretical point of view.

Yet I am particularly thankful to some of the people I met in this institution and lectures, which are particularly important for any student attending third level education courses. Definitely some of my best memories about photography are attached to my previous lectures that have helped me a lot along the way such as Martin Cregg, but also to some my good friends with who I share my passion for photography, particularly with Luca Truffarelli and Brian Cregan.

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© Brian Cregan, The Glass Garden

These people have totally revolutionized my perspective on photography and helped me in the transition from digital to film, but most importantly to think critically about photography and encourage me to grow technically.

4. What were the courses that you are passionate about and which have remained meaningful for you?

I think this is very much related to your lecture and how passionate they are towards the subject they are teaching, addressing specific issues in contemporary practices that normally wouldn’t be considered. All the courses I have been in to were influential.

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© Anthony Haughey, Postcards from Mosney

Recently photographic practice with Anthony Haughey and Ellen Thornton were my favorite, due the photo-documentary classes undertaken with them, which happened to be what I am really interested in. But again all classes on history of photography and visual studies were essential to me, it is because of them that I reconsidered the potential of building a personal archive and work with collage and photomontage, which consequentially lead me to be very passionate about academic texts written by Allan Sekula , Walter Benjamin, Craig Owens, Abigail Solomon-Godeau and Roland Barthes. Recently I also got interested in the work of Barbara Kruger, Sherrie Levine and John Stezaker and the phenomena of appropriation in postmodern context.

5. Any professor or teacher that has allowed you to better understand you work?

There are two important figures in this process, at first Martin Cregg who definitely helped me to find my path when I returned to Education. Nowadays I am highly influenced by Anthony Haughey in the sense that through tutorials he has helped me to negotiate some issues related to portraiture and landscape. Anthony also helped me to talk about my work, to contextualize it.

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© Martin Cregg

6. You live in Dublin, tell us about your experience and how you got there.

I moved to Dublin few years ago and I honestly can’t recall the exact reason why I picked Ireland. My intention was to go traveling at the time and for some reason I decided to stop here in Dublin. Eventually that turned out to be a great idea because I went back to college. I don’t think my generation and the latest one have the same opportunity to move abroad that easily as the media are trying to convince us due the actual economic crisis that is actually impeding to the vast majority of people to do something different or just have the freedom to travel in search of new opportunity in other countries across Europe.

7. By looking at you bio I can see that you’ve been featured in many exhibitions. Did you also get the chance to publish something of your own work?

I haven’t managed to work on a self published photo book yet, even though I am intending to work on one in the near future. In fairness I prefer not to rush into anything, since this is a quite long process I prefer to take my time and work on the selection slowly. In the meantime I will try to participate in collective exhibitions and just keep working on my projects.

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© Francesco Taurisano

8. You’ve also attended Enrico Bossan Masterclass. Tell us about this experience in general and how it affect your personal research.

The collaboration with Enrico Bossan and his team was simply phenomenal, I really appreciated the opportunity he gave me to show case my work on his platform. The entire experience was particularly enjoyable and I guess it kept me motivated to keep working on my project and see how it can be developed further in regard to personal research on the subject we are photographing.

9. About your work now. How would you described your personal research in general?

My personal research is quite simple and is fundamentally based on readings, looking and studying other photographers work. I love reading photographic online magazines such as Urbanautica. I also have a notebook with me at all time, so if have an idea I can simply write that down and then go back to it, just like when I am shooting I always keep a notebook in my camera bag because I think it is quite essential. 

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© Francesco Taurisano

Once I have some ideas about what I am looking for and who I might want to photograph, I just go out walking endlessly, exploring new places. This process becomes quite useful also when I need to get in touch with local people living in a certain area.

10. Do you have any preferences in terms of cameras and format?

It took me a while before I managed to decide what format would have suit my work best, and eventually I went for a manual medium format camera.  Working with film in conjunction with this particular format helps to slow down the entire photographic process, which essentially is what I was looking for. Fundamentally I don’t like the idea of being in a rush all the time and working with this medium enabled me to reflect about what I am doing when I am photographing landscapes and establish some sort of relationship with my sitter if I am doing a portrait.

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© Francesco Taurisano

I also very much enjoy working with film because I have almost have the control on the entire process from start to finish, especially when I use black and white emulsion, after all working into darkroom these days can be quite relaxing in a way.

11. Tell us about ‘Urbana Lignum’

In a sense ‘Urbana Lignum’ was the beginning of everything, and even these days I am still thinking about that project, and eventually I will get back to it at some point, but I want change the approach I had in regards of that project. I need to do more research about it and plan everything more carefully next time, and I might consider to use a different format as well, yet I think there might be a potential project there with ‘Urbana Lignum’.

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© Francesco Taurisano

12. Is there any contemporary artist or photographer, even if young and emerging, that influenced you in some way?

There are plenty of photographers that have inspired my most recent project and my research is focused on them, on how a project could be approached and so on. My major influences at the moment in contemporary photography are Paul GrahamMartin Parr, Guido Guidi, Hin Chua, Bryan Schutmaat, Massimo Vitali, Ofer Wolberger but also modernist photographer such Edward Weston, Bernd and Hilla Becher, August Sander are definitely the ones that are influencing me the most at the moment.

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© Ofer Wolberger, Training, Atlanta, GA, 2001

13. Three Books of photography that you recommend?

I would definitely recommend ‘A Shimmer of Possibility’ by Paul Graham which is one of my favorite books of all time. I personally think it is absolutely magnificent, certainly one of the best photographic books ever made and an object that everyone should have. There are other two books which I absolutely adore, which are ‘Tokyo Compression’ by Michael Wolf, and then ‘A New Map of Italy’ by Guido Guidi which is one the best books you can possibly buy.

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© Michael Wolf

Those are the three books I always wanted to have in my collection/archive and I always suggest people to buy these books because they are beautiful objects to have, that you can always go back to, and flicking through images printed on a book is a total different feeling than watch them on a computer monitor.

14. Is there any show you’ve seen recently that you find inspiring?

I would say that Paul Graham show ‘A Shimmer of Possibility’ is definitely one of the best show you can see. I remember that all the prints were phenomenal and the lay out was simply incredible. It was that good that once he came to Dublin I went to his show at list twice a week, for the entire for the entire duration of the exhibition which lasted for three weeks if I remember well.

© Paul Graham Pittsburgh (Man cutting grass), 2004 from “a shimmer of possibility ” 

15. Projects that are working in now and plans for the future?

I am working on a new series of images that are meant to be the extension of a long term project I started last summer, which I never had the time to scan or edit because I never had the time to do it. In the mean time since I have been traveling back and forward to Dublin, I have had the chance to keep photographing this project and gather more material and informations about it.

The project it self is quite simple, in the sense that the images I am working on at the moment are meant to create physical and tangible memories about the people and the land where I used to live. It is an attempt to create a sort of family album that will finally include my family and friends back in Italy but also the one I have here in Dublin, which is my other family constituted by close friends I have encountered over the past few years, since I moved to Ireland.

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© Francesco Taurisano

The project examines how the life of the younger generation living abroad contrasts with the one that remaining in their native land. Also, it is a reflection of the economic crisis that has been affecting all countries across Europe with particular focus on Italy and Ireland. Despite these two factors, the project is a reflection of how the chances for younger generation to do something different are technically decreasing daily. In contrast to that movement there are a certain amount of people who have decided to remain on their native land, and it is quite incredible to see how these people are helping the entire community where they live into to preserve old cultural traditions that are at risk to fade away if people are continuing to move away to different places or countries. At the moment my plans for the future are to continue this project, my study and looking for something new to work on.

© urbanautica | Francesco Taurisano

(Source: photoschools)

STATIS BY TRINE SØNDERGAARD

REVIEWED BY ADAM BELL

Both as a solo artist, and in collaboration with Nicolai Howalt, Trine Søndergaard has demonstrated wide range. Whether she is documenting the lives of sex workers, exploring the primal and visually evocative nature of hunting with Howlat, or cataloging the varieties and beauty of women’s traditional garments in formally evocative portraits, Søndergaard’s work has always displayed clarity of focus that is striking. Stasis, a beautiful, but flawed new catalog accompanies a traveling exhibition, and gathers three related bodies of work — Strude (2007-10), Interiors (2010) and Guldnakke (2012) — that all explore themes of stillness and introspection.

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© ‘Stasis’ by Trine Søndergaard. Hatje Cantz, 2014

Although discrete, the three series are all woven together nicely invoking a quiet interiority. Drawing on classical Dutch painting, like Vermeer, as well as other lesser-known examples, and shot in square format, the work has a formal precision that is remarkable. Interiors, shows the vacant hallways and rooms of various abandoned Dutch estates; Guldnakke, shows women in modern dress wearing intricately embroidered traditional gold bonnets, and Strude, presents women from the island of Fano wearing traditional protective facial headdresses. Although Strude is the standout, the individual series that make up Stasis are all strong. It is also worth noting that Søndergaard’s use and sense of light in both the interiors and portraits is as beautiful as it is precise.

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© ‘Stasis’ by Trine Søndergaard. Hatje Cantz, 2014

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© ‘Stasis’ by Trine Søndergaard. Hatje Cantz, 2014

The book’s title, Stasis, suggests a state in which things do not change, move or progress. This is initially misleading, but makes sense. Søndergaard directs our attention, though the forceful and rigid construction of her images, to the lingering presence of tradition and the past in the present. In each stripped interior and formally composed portrait, she slows time, forcing us to hover between the past and present, asking us to look more closely. Søndergaard’s work creates a world where the past and present exist in equilibrium — perhaps not unchanging, but precariously balanced. 

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© ‘Stasis’ by Trine Søndergaard. Hatje Cantz, 2014

Unfortunately, despite its beauty, the book has simply too many images. Overloaded with photographs that either repeat or differ only slightly, the book’s tone is quickly belabored. As an overly inclusive exhibition catalog, the otherwise powerful images and series suffer, diminishing what should be a great book. Reduced by half, the book would be remarkable. The book’s essay by Mieke Bal also does not help. Although exceptionally erudite and far-reaching, the essay suffers from the same bloat as the book. It explains and digresses, then digresses and explains some more. 

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© ‘Stasis’ by Trine Søndergaard. Hatje Cantz, 2014

The near misses are always the hardest to endure. Between the exceptional printing and remarkable imagery, Stasis should be a wonderful book. At the same time, it is foolish to wish for a different book than the one that sits before you. Despite its flaws, Stasis is a beautiful book full of many striking images and beautiful large reproductions that will be enjoyed not only by fans of Søndergaard, but viewers new to her work. [Adam Bell]

© See more at PhotoEye

SERGIO CAMPLONE

THE REGISTER OF A DAMAGE
This project is a descriptive and interpretative investigation ​​of the earthquake that struck the city of Aquila and other parts of the Abruzzo region in Italy in 2009. Sergio Camplone cleverly explores the prodomi, the warning signs, by drawing a diagnostic picture of the whole story that leaves the reader really disappointed. The tragedy seems to be rooted distant in time and we feel the negligence of territorial policies or their total deficiency. However, the author is able to draw attention away from this unfortunate sense of premeditation. A man is sitting and watching the mountains. A child seems to pee without fear of the abyss. Everything passes and everything starts again (by Steve Bisson).

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“Mr Mayor and members of the council. In a moment when we are assailed by the anxious doubt of fear, the heart of our city was stirred by the quest for a haven that would defend it more surely from the terrible consequences of the earthquake, and in the mind of each the strangest and most illogical ideas alternated, of abandoning our land forever to create wooden houses, which only an excessive panic could justify (…). Our town, after the terrible earthquake of 1703, which hit it so hard, rose again thanks to the valour and tenacity of its people (…). Not wooden shacks or modest dwellings were to oppose the earthquakes that continued to attack, but sumptuous palaces and monuments, well-built homes, drawing teachings from past cataclysms, turning buildings to such a position that the impact of the seismic wave investment would cause the least damage (…). To think of decentralization is an offence to every principle of logic and progress.”

Earthquake Commission Report and Recommendations. 
L’Aquila, November 1915

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© Sergio Camplone

“Ideologies create substantiating archives of images, which encapsulate common ideas of significance and trigger predictable thoughts, feelings … The problem is not that people remember through photographs, but that they remember only the photographs. This remembering through photographs eclipses other forms of understanding, and remembering.”
Susan Sontag, Regarding the Pain of Others.

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Studies, videos, films, documents, books, themed blogs really are an ocean in which we can easily lose ourselves and this is why it is difficult to understand which information and how much of it has reached its destination correctly. What is defined as “collective memory” is not at all the result of a memory but rather a pact, agreeing which version of the facts should be deemed valid. 

The earthquake of 6 April 2009 was preceded by a series of facts and circumstances even quite different from one another. “Anagrafe del danno” moves transversally across facts, places and figures that somehow characterized the event.
My approach is based chiefly on the study of the harbingers of the earthquake, beginning metaphorically with the mammoth (Elephas Meridionalis), the photo that opened the project, showing an animal that lived over one million years ago, in the Aquila basin, which looked like a large closed lake. This large prehistoric animal, closed in its “armour” along with the scaffolding costing 240,000,000 euros, which envelops the entire historic centre of L’Aquila, and in excess of 1,200 decrees, ordinances and regulations produced by the State, by local authorities and the civil protection agency, are a clear sign of how things stand five years after earthquake. [Sergio Camplone]

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Above image caption: Mammuthus meridionalis: extinct species widespread in the Italian peninsula at the beginning of the Quaternary. The animal, which dates back about a million years ago, lived in Aquila basin, which at the time appeared as a large lake closed. Before the affirmation of the concept of evolution of modern geology, the people who lived in the areas affected by the discovery of fossils of ‘meridionalis’, tended to give fanciful explanations about their origin, as confirmed by John Murray in his ‘Guide for Central Italy in 1843’. «The inhabitants, who are ignorant of the natural history, argue that this way is passed Hannibal and therefore believe that the bones are the remains of the Carthaginian elephants.»

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Above image caption: Pettino, the new city born from the general plan of ‘75. One of the largest districts of L’Aquila, is situated on a fault line, 10 km deep, which has generated the most devastating earthquakes in the region. The geological report attached to the plan showed clearly the fault, says Anthony Perrotti the former general manager of the ‘Department of Environment and Territory of the region, but obviously the city had to expand there. (…) “Luckily, the fault that was set in motion in 2009, was not to Pettino, otherwise we would have seen far more destruction.”

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Above image caption: The area “Campo di fossa” for centuries it was never built. A district populated by ghosts, a place used for the executions of death sentences, then an esplanade used to the barracks of the earthquake of 1461, 1703 and the one of Marsica in 1915. To put it short, a damn neighborhood. “Campo di fossa” is the name of the whole area at the southern end of the fortified perimeter of the city of Aquila, which was established on the basis of a single draft urbanization, made ​​in the mid-thirteenth century. The curse will die out only when all the churches, all the monasteries and convents all of the “Campo di Fossa” will disappear due to earthquakes or as a result of restructuring and changes that will make them unrecognizable.

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Above image caption: The Decree Law 28 April 2009, n. 39, and more specifically Article 12 of the Decree, states that the Autonomous Administration of State Monopolies of the Ministry of Economy and Finance will devote a percentage of the profits from gambling games, including the ‘Gratta e Vinci’, 10eLotto, WinForLife, Poker Cash, Casino online, etc. … to the reconstruction of the city of L’Aquila and the towns of the crater to the extent of not less than EUR 500 million per year from 2009 until 2032. According to information provided by the concessionaire “Sisal”, between September 2009 and December 2012 only the WinForLife would have earned € 305 million for the reconstruction of Abruzzo, but the funds, as denounced by the local authorities concerned and the many committees and associations of citizens, there is no trace. As for the figures earned through to VLTs, the Court of Auditors, in its Report on the General Account of the State for the financial year 2012, stated that “the State has gained from the video lottery industry at least 3 billion EUR.

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Above image caption: The order of the President of the Council of Ministers no. 3797 of 2009, Article 5, allowed to repay the cost of removal of furniture (and any deposit) to those who had to vacate the houses damaged by the earthquake.

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Above image caption:: The epicenter of the earthquake L’Aquila - INGV data INGV 42 334 13,334 USGS Data: 06/04/2009 at 01:32:39 (03:32:39) N ° 42 334, 13 334 ° E

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© Sergio Camplone

PHOTOTALK WITH DANIEL COBURN

BY GAIA MUSACCHIO

1. Tell us about your background, where and when did you study photography, who were your teachers, who influenced you the most?

In 1998, I completed an Associate’s Degree in Graphic Arts and Technology from Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas. I was employed as a graphic designer and illustrator at a major publishing company for ten years before i discovered the full creative potential of photography. I completed my BFA with an emphasis in Photography in 2010 where I studied under MaryDorsey Wanless. Under her guidance, I initiated my critique of photography as an agent of truth and experimented with an interdisciplinary approach to photography, printmaking, drawing, and performance art.

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© Daniel Coburn

In 2013 I completed my MFA in Photography at the University of  New Mexico. Jim Stone (Professor of Photography) and Kirsten Buick (Associate Professor of Art History) were my primary mentors. My current work and research practice takes a critical look at vernacular photography. I am specifically interested in the family photo album and it’s role as the infrastructure for a false American domestic utopia.

2. What was your first teaching experience? What directed you towards a teaching career?

I began by teaching digital photography at a community art center. At the University of New Mexico I taught introductory photography courses as instructor of record. Teaching is a difficult and rewarding endeavor. It’s difficult because I give everything I have to my students in an effort to honor the history of photography and the great lineage of photographers that have come before. I feel its a privilege to teach and I enjoy seeing my students evolve and grow as artists and people. I view the student/instructor relationship as a reciprocal one. I hope to gain as much from my students as they gain from me. My goal is to surround myself with people that are passionate about the medium. Teaching is just one way of accomplishing that goal. I am currently an Assistant Professor at the University of Kansas where I teach a full range of courses from antiquated processes to the most current latest lens-based technologies.

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© Daniel Coburn

3. As this interview series focuses on artist/educators, could you describe the photography program at your institution? Can you discuss the challenges and your role as a teacher of photography?

The Photography program at the University of Kansas is dedicated to evaluating and redefining the medium of photography. The undergraduate curriculum is rigorous and designed to immerse students in an exploration of the vast, everchanging medium of photography. We have two full time faculty members dedicated to our facilities and students. Through in-depth instruction, students develop a diverse technical skillset, becoming proficient in both analog and digital practices. The program encourages a strong work ethic, and places emphasis on visual literacy. My pedagogy focuses on the persistent act of making work, and regular participation in critique, in an effort to foster critical thinking skills that enable young photographers to read and unpack visual texts.

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© Erin Dvorak, student work

The department houses two state of the art Digital Imaging Labs featuring forty digital workstations and the latest inkjet printing technology. These labs are furnished with cutting-edge flatbed and drum scanning capabilities. The dedicated and fully equipped lighting studio is spacious and accessible. The traditional darkroom on campus includes a finishing area, two print processing lines, and 20 enlarging stations. The Photo-Media department has an expansive and eclectic collection of digital and analog equipment available for student check out. An Experimental/Alternative Processes lab has recently been added to compliment the wet darkroom and high-end digital environment. My colleague and I are currently designing and implementing an MFA program at the University of Kansas. We will be actively recruiting graduate students in the 2014-2015 academic year.

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© Katherine Andrews, student work

The medium of photography has been subject to a technological revolution. As a dedicated educator, it is difficult to stay informed and current. Striking a balance between my own artistic practice and my role as an educator is a difficult one.

4. You divide your time between the Assistant Professor and your personal artistic research. How do you manage these different paths and related points of view? And how is it possible to share these aspects of artistic practice in teaching and with student careers? Does your own work influence how or what you teach?

I consider myself a portrait photographer and I also have a keen interest in making photogaphic objects. My expertise in these fields influences the way I teach, and of course, my personal biases and values make their way into my curriculum. I can’t pretend to be neutral. I hope that students decide to study with me because of my specialized areas of interest. However, I enjoy, respect, and value all types of photographic work and I encourage my students to take a genuine approach to art making. Great works of art are born when the maker is honest in his or her intentions. I encourage my students to find something they are passionate about.

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© Daniel Coburn

Balancing personal work and research with teaching is VERY challenging. I tend to embrace all modes of communication with my students (email, texting, social media) to stay in touch. This also means that I can work from my home or studio. I make good use of holidays, intersessions, and Summer breaks to concentrate on my own work and studies. I live and breathe photography.

5. What about your artistic paths and photographic research? Tell us about your main interests and what projects you have worked on in recent years. What are you working on now? Any ideas for the future?

My work is a critique of the family photo album as it exists to support the notion of an ideal American Dream and Family. Early Eastman-Kodak advertisements provided the archetype; a set of visual instructions on what the proper family photograph should look like. This is why most family photo albums are filled with the same photographic cliche’s. For example, we see images of children opening gifts during the holidays, blowing out birthday candles, the family at the beach, etc. Most family photo albums are interchangeable in this regard.

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© Daniel Coburn

I began by examining my own family photo album. Where were the images that describe the domestic violence, substance abuse, and suicide that haunt my family history? In my project, Next of Kin, I set out to create images that describe this history. This work serves as a supplement to my own broken family album. This work is ongoing. I am currently working with found vernacular imagery in my project “Domestic Reliquary.” Examples can be seen on my website.

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© Daniel Coburn

6. What are your inspirations in terms of books and photographers that you have loved the most? Do you have a book to recommend to our readers? Which emerging photographer has recently interested you?

Sally Mann’s, Immediate Family played an important role in my development as a young photographer. I frequently revisit the pages of Larry Sultan’s, Picture’s from Home. I am captivated and terrified by Richard Billingham’s monograph Ray’s a Laugh. There are a lot of emerging photographers making great work. Katie Koti and Cynthia Henebry are two of my favorites.

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© Max Mikulecky, student work

7. You took part in many exhibitions. Any particular advice for young photographers aspiring to display and exhibit their work without drowning in the ocean of images in which we daily swim?

My advice is to work hard. Opportunities abound. Be strategic in how you spend your money. There are a lot of organizations and individuals that are profiting from the desperation of young ambitious photographers. But don’t be synical. It is best to engage. Enter all of the juried exhibitions hosted at reputable institutions. Don’t forget to engage with your local arts community. They will help lift you up, and be there to catch you when you fall.

© urbanautica | Daniel Coburn

(Source: photoschools)

ANDY FREEBERG AND THE ART FARE

Andrea Meislin Gallery, New York
26:06.2014 - 08.08.2014

In Art Fare Freeberg continues his longstanding investigation of the junctions where art and people intersect. Roaming through international art fairs with his camera, Freeberg’s gaze pauses on the oddity of human behavior and frames the small moments in life as dramatic events.

© Andy Freeberg, ‘Sean Kelly, 2010. Kehinde Wiley, Art Basel Miami Beach’

Quick and skillful with his lens, Freeberg captures what is most often overlooked; gallery workers setting up booths, dealers on their phones ignoring their colleagues or interacting with artists and collectors, and the sheer exhaustion of working at contemporary art fairs. In a conversation with art historian W. M. Hunt Freeberg says that he “found the lighting, the costumes, and set design excellent for photographing these living dioramas where the art world plays itself.”

© Andy Freeberg, ‘Charlotte Lund, 2011. Denise Grunstein, Armory Show 2011’

Art Fare gracefully offers an ironic look at the way in which the art world practitioners perform their assigned roles. It is a witty and subversive body of work that contemplates on the performance aspect of the art market. Freeberg’s ability to recognize moments and construct them as thoughtful compositions presents both his aesthetic and psychological sensibilities.

© Andy Freeberg, ‘Contessa, 2010. Chuck Close, Hanneke Beaumont, Louise Nevelsen, Fernando Botero, Lynn Chadwick, David Drebin, Armory Show’

Andy Freeberg was born in 1958 in New York City. After studying photography at the University of Michigan, he returned to New York, where he began making a living shooting portraits for various publications including The Village Voice, Rolling Stone, and Time. His work has been exhibited internationally, with solo shows at the State Museum of History of St. Petersburg (Russia), Photographic Center Northwest (Seattle, WA) and Stanford University’s Cantor Arts Center (Stanford, CA). His work is in several collections including the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Museum of Fine Arts Houston, the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, the Portland Museum of Art, and the George Eastman House International Museum of Photography.

© Andrea Meislin

ISIDRO RAMÍREZ NEW BOOK ‘COMMON LOVE’

BY STEVE BISSON

1. Tell us about your current photographic research?

I started as a documentary photographer but my work took a more introspective turn around 2006 when I started being interested in exploring the limitations of photography and how to exploit them creatively. During this period I was using photography to discuss the media of photography itself. Some of the projects I did back then are ‘What We don’t See’, ‘Almost’ and ‘360’. Then later in 2011, when I moved to Singapore, I found a renewed interest in documentary photography perhaps because living in this part of the world has sparked a new sense of curiosity in me and a wish to tell new stories through photography. At the moment I am working in a new project in Jakarta. This city is big and difficult to live in - one of the biggest megacities in the world. Jakarta relies on so many people to keep it running. It is such a big never-ending job, that is carried out in such a small scale, usually by manual, not mechanised labour. The working title is ‘Mapping Jakarta’ and I am trying to make sense of the city and its vast scale by looking at the small details in it.

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2. Let’s talk about the project ‘Common Love’?

I often feel frustrated by the way some countries are perceived and understood by western culture and how this reflects in the strategies, methodologies and subject matter that some photographers choose when working in these countries. Much photography work has been done on Thailand but these projects are mainly related to issues concerning ancient traditions and architecture, Buddhism, tourism and also the sex industry. My personal interest, both when I am travelling and doing a photographic project, are closer to researching and visiting the areas of the city local people use and live in. This is not because I am interested in banality but because I am intrigued by the common settings that make cities what they are. Ultimately ‘Common Love’ is a project about a particular geography during a limited time frame, interpreted from a personal point of view.

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3. How did you get the idea for the book?

I always saw ‘Common Love’ as a book. I enjoy producing something that will remain in a physical form. Exhibitions are a great way to show work at its best but they obviously are time limited. A book also creates a closer relationship between a photographer’s work and his/her audience. In fact, I am also into collecting the work of other photographers in book form for the same reasons.

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4. It’s your second edition with the Velvet Cell. How did you choose the editor, how this new experience differentiate from the previous? How has your relationship with the publisher changed in time?

Éanna at the Velvet Cell approached me in 2013 with the idea of publishing ‘Close for Winter’ as a small book. Our working relationship was good during this first collaboration and when I finished producing ‘Common Love’, I proposed to him to publish it as a bigger book. I enjoy working with independent publishers because I feel I have more in common with them in the way they understand and relate to photography. In the case of The Velvet Cell, Éanna’s main concern is to produce a good quality finished product and so is mine.

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5. What did your learn from this experience, plus and minus?

I learnt how difficult it is to edit work when making a book. I think I did about 10 versions of the book before I settled for the final one. When you have a limited amount of pages, you need to make difficult decisions. For example, I had a collection of portraits of young couples in the streets of Bangkok. As the project developed and took on a different direction, these portraits seemed more and more irrelevant. It took some time for me to realise this and Éanna was instrumental in me realising that these portraits were not needed.

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6. Plans for the future?

To keep on living in Singapore and travel in the vicinity looking for more interesting ideas for projects.

7. Can you suggest us 3 photography books that you liked?

I like many books for different reasons both from established and independent publishers, too many to mention. What I find truly interesting is how small publishers are taking on a number of very interesting photographers and giving them a platform to publish. I am seeing truly interesting books published this way that would have been overlooked by big established publishing houses. It is very exciting times for photo books right now.

Common Love
Isidro Ramirez

112 pp / 200 x 236 mm
Softcover with Gatefold
Section-Sewn, Colour Offset
ISBN 978-1-908889-26-3
Limited Edition of 500
July 2014

© Isidro Ramirez |  The Velvet Cell

TOUCHING LIGHT AT PETER LAV

Group Show:
Julie Boserup
Adam Jeppesen
Camilla Rasborg
Carina Zunino

Peter Lav Gallery, Copenhagen

The experiment is an integral part of the visual arts. The urge to both conceptually and aesthetically challenge artistic media has always played an important role in developing the arts and to create new forms of expression and new experiences for the viewers. As an art form photography has always had to counter the specific challenge of trying to escape the burden of representation, and throughout the history of photography numerous artists have experimented with the medium in an attempt to break the shackles of documentation.

© Carina Zunino. ‘Curtain Falls V’. 2013. Pigment print, framed.  

The exhibition Touching Light combines four artists who by very different artistic strategies challenge the very materiality of photography. Each of them strive for a renewal of the medium of photography to fit their own personal and conceptual point of departure. Even though all four share a solid background in classic photographic virtues, the end results display dramatic differences.

© Camilla Rasborg. ‘Mørklægningsgardin 1 (Blackout Curtain 1)’. 2013, Textile, framed. 

© Julie Boserup. ‘Untitled’. 2013, Collage, framed. 

Whether we look at collages, cut-ups or at experiments with the very fabric of photography, the works of the four participating artists all build upon a photographic way of thinking. Adam Jeppesen abandons the perfection of the photographic print by replacing it with Xerox copies in the A4 format, meticulously mounted with needles or manipulated with oil pastels in his search for a form of expression that can convey personal memories from his travels. Carina Zunino’s point of departure is also the unfamiliar landscape, but she also draws on the metaphor of the stage curtain in her theatrical installations that suggest possible narratives in otherwise empty landscapes.

© Adam Jeppesen. ‘Unititled 1307 P1 + P2’. 2012, Diptych, framed in oak. Xerography, assembled from A4 sheets of paper.  

At first glance the label of photography does not seem to fit Camilla Rasborg’s Blackout Curtains, but a closer examination reveals them to be exactly that: lmprints of light born from the sun’s bleaching of blackout curtains the artist found in an apartment in Århus. On the surface Julie Boserup’s collage works are abstract explorations of texture, color, form and space, but they also carry deep reflections on the nature of the reality that surrounds us and perhaps a utopian vision of the potential of human creativity.

© Peter Lav GalleryCopenhagen Photo Festival 2014

NOT ALL DOCUMENTS ARE RECORDS: PHOTOGRAPHING EXHIBITIONS AS AN ART FORM

Open Eye Galllery, Liverpool
05.07.2014 - 19.10.2014

Not All Documents Are Records represents Open Eye Gallery’s contribution to the Liverpool Biennial 2014. The exhibition, curated by Lorenzo Fusi, looks at three key international visual art platforms through the lens of photography, moving between the past and future. The main theoretical question underpinning the project is: “Can photography be the site where the history of an exhibition is produced and still retain its independent artistic autonomy, thus overcoming pure documentation?”
Ugo Mulas, Venezia, 1968. Proteste studentesche, XXXIV Esposizione Biennale Internazionale d'Arte,   “Photo Ugo Mulas © Ugo Mulas Heirs. All rights reserved,” courtesy camera16 contemporary art

Ugo Mulas, Venezia, 1968. Proteste studentesche, XXXIV Esposizione Biennale Internazionale d’Arte, “Photo Ugo Mulas © Ugo Mulas Heirs. All rights reserved,” courtesy camera16 contemporary art

The exhibition starts its journey from two of the most important art events in the world. Documenta in Kassel is a survey of modern and contemporary art, established in 1955 by Arnold Bode as a means for reconnecting Germany with the most recent developments in the arts after Nazi obscurantism and censorship. The prestigious Venice Biennale is the oldest exhibition of its kind, founded in 1895. These forums greatly contributed to and informed the so-called ‘biennial model’. International in relevance and ambition a biennial unfolds and manifests periodically with the aim of ‘photographing’ the status of the arts at a specific moment in time and anticipating the trends of the future. It is in this model that the Liverpool Biennial originates.

The show introduces the viewer to this format by presenting two seminal photographic series – Hans Haacke’s 1959 photographs of Documenta 2 and Ugo Mulas’ images of the 1968 Venice Biennale.

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© Photographic Notes, documenta 2, Mondrian, Klee 1959 © Hans Haacke © DACS, London

Haacke was still an art student in Kassel at the time and worked on the installation of the exhibition. After the opening of the show he independently took on the task of visually ‘documenting Documenta’. The resulting 26 black and white images offer unique insight to the event.By looking at the dialogue between selected artworks, the space they inhabited, the way they are displayed and interact with the audiences, Haacke’s images speak not only about art per se, but comment on society as well as on the politics and power relations established by the actual exhibition.

These photographs are rarely seen in the UK and represent, in Haacke’s view, one of his earliest accomplished artworks.

Similarly, Mulas started his career as a photographer by taking pictures of another important art platform. His first professional assignment was a photo-reportage of the 1954 Venice Biennale, an event that he went on photographing until 1972. It is consequently not very surprising that today Ugo Mulas is mostly known for his intense portraits of artists. Open Eye Gallery hosts the UK premiere of the photos Mulas took during the 1968 Venice Biennale: the ‘biennale of the revolution’. The selection on show is held in a private collection and has been curated by Mariachiara Di Trapani. The images document artists demonstrating against the establishment represented by the Venice Biennale and poetically illustrate this intense period of political turmoil and social uprising. The banners held in protest read: The “policed” and “militarised Biennale of the bourgeoisie”.

As the preparations for the UK Biennial are underway, Cristina De Middel reinterprets the history of the Liverpool Biennial, imagining its possible future developments by means of a new commission. Spanish-born and London-based De Middel is well known for challenging photography as a medium by questioning the ‘truth’ and ‘veracity’ expressed by images. She came to prominence with the series The Afronauts, a fictional account of the 1964 Zambian space programme that, due to the lack of funding, never came to its full realisation (the artist herself has never been to Zambia).

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© And I Think to my selffffffffff what a wonderful worlllllllllld © Ira Lombardia, 2012

Likewise, another Spanish artist, Ira Lombardía, infiltrated the legacy of the most recent Documenta, held in Kassel under the artistic directorship of Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev and unfolded over the summer of 2012. After a visit to this exhibition, Lombardía included a fictional artist in their exhibition catalogue whose work was created by chance. During the time she spent in Kassel, the artist experienced an ‘epiphany’, the sudden manifestation of an artwork purely created by light inside the Fridericianum (the exhibition’s main venue). The piece on show at Open Eye Gallery follows the artist’s philological, yet entirely fictional, playful recreation of the history behind such a metaphysical and unexpected manifestation.

© Open Eye

FLORIAN MAIER-AICHEN

303 Gallery, New York
5.06.2014 - 25.07.2014

Navigating the fraught terrain where photography and painting intersect and collapse into one another, Maier-Aichen’s newest works incorporate strategies from both media while persistently crossing back and forth along their borders. In a series of untitled abstractions that at first glance appear to contain absolutely no tangible photographic information, Maier-Aichen employs a process akin to now obsolete traditional cel animation. The foregrounds of these images feature gestural strokes and splashes in alternating positive and negative iterations, originally created by spontaneously pouring acrylic paint directly onto paper rolls. Output onto transparent film, these foreground components are then physically sandwiched together with painted backgrounds and photographed on an enormous copystand. This hybridization, on one hand steeped in the process-based darkroom tinkering of photograms and another referencing technological interventions into painting, creates a type of image that would never be possible via traditional painting or photography alone. Though decidedly photographic in nature (what could be more direct than photographing something on a copystand?), the oscillation between image and object is replete with the painterly allure of chance and chaos, so often scrubbed free from current modes of clinical and forced photographic production.

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© Florian Maier-Aichen, Halbes Bild, 2014

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© Installation view at 303 Gallery, 2014

Also included in this exhibition are more traditional landscape photographs. Though the photographs are quite straight, they also toy with notions of the painterly, as in an aerial image of Los Angeles with its saturated infrared hues and seemingly impossible expanses of depth, drawing on the imaginative possibilities of maps and the abstraction of landscape. An image of Andermatt in the Swiss Alps is a type of 19th century recreation using tricolor photography to mimic a similar image by Eduard Spelterini, who photographed the Swiss landscape from a customized hot-air balloon. The landscape has hardly changed in 150 years, as Switzerland itself is highly reliant on its own clichés and pristine maintenance of the landscape for tourist purposes. Maier-Aichen, in an interview in 2013, has said, “Photography is everywhere at every moment and has gone from mysterious to fake to simulative. Photography as an opaque medium of process, thought and craftsmanship is obsolete.” Seeking to work around this bleak situation via strategies that hark back to photography’s relationship to Pictorialism and German Romanticism, Maier-Aichen has arrived at methods that are reverential of photography’s history, while also pointing to new possibilities for the photographic image. Turning the idea of photography as a tool to imitate painting on its head, Maier-Aichen works in reverse to re-establish the mysteries of photography itself.

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© Installation view at 303 Gallery, 2014

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© Florian Maier-Aichen, Untitled (Andermatt), 2014

Florian Maier-Aichen was born in Stuttgart, Germany in 1973 and studied photography in Germany and the U.S. Recent solo exhibitions include the Museo Thyssen Bornemisza, Madrid (2008) and the Museum of Contemporary Art at Pacific Design Center, Los Angeles (2007). Group exhibitions include “Night in Day” (2014), Los Angeles County Museum of Art; “The Artist’s Museum” (2010) MOCA, Los Angeles; “The Smithson Effect” (2011), Utah Museum of Fine Arts, Salt Lake City; “Natural History” (2012) Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh. Maier-Aichen lives and works in Cologne, Germany and Los Angeles, California.

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© Florian Maier-Aichen, 100-Mile photograph, 2014

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© Installation view at 303 Gallery, 2014

303 Gallery represents the work of Doug Aitken, Valentin Carron, Hans-Peter Feldmann, Ceal Floyer, Karel Funk, Maureen Gallace, Tim Gardner, Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster, Kim Gordon, Rodney Graham, Mary Heilmann, Jeppe Hein, Jens Hoffmann, Larry Johnson, Matt Johnson, Jacob Kassay, Karen Kilimnik, Alicja Kwade, Elad Lassry, Florian Maier-Aichen, Nick Mauss, Mike Nelson, Kristin Oppenheim, Eva Rothschild, Collier Schorr, Stephen Shore, Sue Williams, Jane and Louise Wilson. 

© 303 Gallery

PHOTOGRAPHY AND TIME. WHAT REMAINS

BY NATALYA REZNIK, KSENIA BELASH

A report about photographical course by Natalya Reznik in Fotodepartament (Saint-Petersburg, Russia)

The theme of the course

I decided to teach the course «Photography and Time» in Fotodepartament Foundation, because it is connected with the topic of my theoretical research. I work on the PhD thesis with a title «Aging in photography — forms of representation». I have also been exploring such themes as time, aging, disappearance of image, memory etc for a very long time in my own photo projects.
I asked my students to investigate why a question of time is so important for photography. It seems like photography could be measured in time units. How many second’s fractions could be «caught» by a photographer and saved from the disappearance and dissolution into the Nowhere? A photographer collects fragments of reality like Noah in his ark, saving them from disappearance in the Flood of Time. After all, time is always about dynamics and photography is always about statics, about «saving» something very vulnerable which is going to be changed in the next second and will never be the same.

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© Natalya Reznik, ‘Looking for my Father’

Nowadays the philosophy of «the decisive moment» gives way not only to «the indecisive moment», but to something that happened in-between of two shutter-releases. It won’t be surprising if the very important and valuable, something that can not be gazed at, hidden in a photo album and taken to the future does indeed happen there.
The topic «Photography and Time» was open for the interpretation by students in their own projects: it could be maturing and aging, time which is created by a sequence of photographs, time on photos and time in-between them, interaction of past and future in photography etc.

The teaching experience

My students and me met once a week online during an academic year (10.2013- 06.2014) and talked for three hours and more. We used Skype for talking and chatting and Ustream for the video translation of my talk. It was quite hard time, especially, at the beginning, because I had almost no experience of teaching online at that moment. The situation turned out to be very different in comparison with the usual offline teaching. Most of the time I do not see my students, sometimes I even don’t hear them properly because of problems with their microphones. When you teach online, sometimes you have a feeling that one of your sense organ is suddenly broken. You cannot feel the atmosphere of the talk nor can you follow the mood and reactions of your listeners — you need to smile to your computer and talk to him as if it is your friend. It is quite unusual and tricky experience and, moreover, you lose a lot of energy. Of course, I would prefer to teach a normal offline course, but if students are located in so many different places (London, Malta, Moscow, Saint-Petersburg, Perm, Minsk etc), it is the only way to bring them all together.  Also we had an opportunity to invite to our webinars photographical experts from other countries and to discuss with them students’ portfolios (among our guests was Steve Bisson, the editor of Urbanautica).

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© Natalya Reznik, from ‘A Stolen Archive of Otto Steiner’. Exhibition Hourra, L’Oural! National Centre of contemporary arts (Ural Branch), Yekaterinburg. Photo by Alexey Ponomarchuk

During the course we explored the topic «Time» from very different points of view, tried to define and visualize «qualities» of time and to find the same qualities in photography as a medium. Students made presentations, wrote texts, read number of related books and articles and made a lot of practical assignments which are connected in some way with the topic «Time». The most successful realization of the assignments by each student was extended to a final project by the end the class.
A former student of the course «Photography and Time», Ksenia Belash, who is not only a photographer, but a writer and researcher of photography as well, analyses her mates’ final projects:

Alexander Agafonov. «Don’t blink!»

Time and memory are two main themes that underpin Alexander Agafonov’s work. In his latest project the artist turns his attention to the notion of nostalgia and explores photography’s intrinsic capacity to trigger involuntary memories in the viewer. The resulting work takes a form of an installation which includes a number of mounted photographs, as well as several teddy bears - reminiscent of popular Soviet toys - whose glittering eyes are immediately noticeable in the purposely dim light of the exposition room. The toys become the focal point of the arrangement: their heads turn out to contain intricate stereoscope devices through which the hidden photographs can be viewed in 3D.

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© Alexander Agafonov

The images presented on the wall and the ones concealed within the bears are closely related: both are photographs (either found or taken from the artist’s personal archive) depicting children. However, while the mounted pictures are simple, straight-on and, more importantly, highly formal portraits, the stereoscope ones are just the opposite: they are candid, spontaneous, fragmentary, ambiguous, ephemeral, distant - and yet also uncannily familiar.

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© Alexander Agafanov

The notion of engaging with the ambivalent, “not for show” and easily forgotten or repressed past is at the heart of Agafonov’s project. However, by juxtaposing the everyday imagery with the “official”, ideologically shaped representations of childhood he goes further than simply exposing the constructedness of a typical Soviet child picture. The artist looks for the points of connection between different layers of memory - conscious and subconscious, constructed and immediate, individual and collective. The bear, being a personal, nostalgically charged object from the past and at the same time a very common, easily recognisable cultural attribute of a Soviet childhood, becomes an embodied metaphor of such a point.

Tatiana Galtseva. «Forest»

Tatiana Galtseva’s project also deals with childhood reminiscences, however, in a strikingly different way. Her work, while visually indebted to surrealism, taps into a recent trend of creating stories where fact and fiction become intermingled to the point that they become virtually indistinguishable. Here such an interconnectedness is particularly justified, as the underlying narrative is centered around the notion of false and constructed memories. The act of interweaving fantastical, sinister elements into what could be otherwise described as “normal”, possibly plain pictures, is quite literal — the use of collage reveals the made-up nature of the photographic composites. However, alongside the eerie collages, the project, still largely in progress, is also going to include a fair bit of archival materials and photographs!

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© Tatiana Galtseva

The story takes place in the allegorical “deep dark wood” - a primal, archetypal place which is a typical fairytale setting and also a well-known metaphor for subconscious. We cannot access any direct information about the events that may or may not have happened in that wood - all specific details have been carefully hidden, or rather replaced with symbols and signs that are left to the viewer’s interpretation. The central character (whose past and memories are being questioned) is also only to be guessed - his face remains obscure, most often concealed behind a collaged animal mask- which creates an uncanny and troubling effect. This is hardly surprising, because the project has been initially inspired by crime detection documentaries, a genre which has proved very popular in post-Soviet Russia. This brings an unexpected social, if not historical dimension to the narrative.

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© Tatiana Galtseva

The project is yet to be finalized, but it certainly has a potential not only to entertain the viewer, but also to reveal something quite interesting about the myths that permeate today’s collective unconscious.

Lita Poliakova. «Landscape»

Lita Poliakova’s work defies an easy definition - she is one of those artists who tend to favor fluidity and ambiguity over fixed meanings or precise labels. Her latest project is a series of quasi- abstract, bizarrely shaped compositions which the artist refers to as “landscapes”. In fact, the “landscapes” turn out to be collages assembled from the pieces of torn up fashion magazine pages. Although it is impossible to recognize the original images, one quickly realizes that the fragments have been taken from ads or fashion shots depicting idealized female bodies.

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© Lita Poliakova

Although the body/landscape connection has been quite a popular subject in visual arts, especially in photography, Poliakova is not looking for obvious parallels or graphic affinities. Instead, the point of connection between the two concepts lies in the fact that both of them are social constructs, shaped by the culture largely dominated by the idea of an unreachable perfection. In contemporary society the polished, photoshopped body has become a kind of an “idyll” - something to admire and to aspire to.

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© Lita Poliakova

Given the theme, one could be easily mistaken in interpreting the artist’s gesture of deconstructing and mutilating the “idealized” body images as an act of feminist protest. However, Poliakova’s main concern is not the objectification of the female body as such, but the conflict between the “artificial” and the “pure”, or rather the disappearance of the latter. By adopting a playful, intuitive approach she literally points out the constructed nature of the image and creates her own subjective version of “picturesque” - rough, enigmatic and intimate.

© Natalya Reznik | FotoDepartment