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PHOTO EXHIBITIONS the first group on Facebook dedicated to the photo exhibition world!

HIROSHI SUGIMOTO AND THE ACTS OF GOD

Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco
01.05.2014 - 03.07.2014

Fraenkel Gallery is pleased to announce the exhibition Hiroshi Sugimoto: Acts of God, to be presented May 1 – July 3, 2014. This exhibition is the first U.S. presentation of Sugimoto’s The Last Supper: Acts of God (1999/2012), a five-panel photograph, more than 24 feet in length. The artist first created this work in 1999, from a life-size wax reproduction of Leonardo’s The Last Supper, which he photographed at a museum in Izu, Japan. In 2012, while the work was stored in the artist’s basement, it was damaged by the storm surge and flooding that occurred when Hurricane Sandy hit New York City.

© Hiroshi Sugimoto, The Last Supper: Acts of God (detail), 1999/2012

Sugimoto chose to retain the dramatic marks, colorations and ripples that have changed the character of the photograph. He commented:

I chose to interpret this as the invisible hand of God coming down to bring my monumental, but unfinished Last Supper to completion. Leonardo completed his Last Supper over five hundred years ago, and it has deteriorated beautifully. I can only be grateful to the storm for putting my work through a half-millennium’s worth of stresses in so short a time.

© Hiroshi Sugimoto, The Last Supper: Acts of God, 1999/2012

Gallery II also will feature a single work, Sea of Galilee, Golan, 1992, a black-and-white seascape with a quietly undulating surface and a nebulous horizon. This is the sea on which Jesus is said to have walked—one of the miracles of Jesus in the Gospels. Gallery III will present five large-format prints from Sugimoto’s most recent series, In Praise of Shadows. Each photograph is an extreme close-up of a single candle flame, whose flickering white heat seems to sear the paper.

© Hiroshi Sugimoto, Sea of Galilee, Golan, 1992

Hiroshi Sugimoto (b. 1948, Tokyo, Japan) lives and works in New York and Japan. Among his series are Seascapes, Theaters, Dioramas, Portraits (of wax figures), Architecture, Lightning Fields, and Photogenic Drawings. His work is in the collections of the Tate Gallery, London; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo; and Foundation Cartier, Paris, among many others. In 2013 he received the decoration of Officier dans l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres from the French government. His work is currently the subject of a solo exhibition at the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, on view through June 8, 2014.

© Hiroshi Sugimoto | Fraenkel Gallery

STORIES #12: JESÚS MADRIÑÁN

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

Photography appeared quite late in my life. I studied Fine Arts, and I was convinced that I wanted to be a graphic designer, but gradually I moved away from design and I began to feel more interested in art, which I saw as a powerful tool of expression.

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

As part of my trajectory as a fine artist, photography has always been my preferred medium for engagement with my narrative lines and visual language. However, at the very beginning I wasn’t interested in the process, it was the outcome, in terms of narrative success what attracted me the most. That’s why I used to work always with digital, and it was not until I had time to think about my methodology, during my MA, when I bumped into analog processes and the beauty of traditional photography rather than digital imagery. Leaving the excesses of the digital explostion, I encountered in the very early stages, the very demanding methodology of analog. I was learning how to educate my creative process in order to ‘achieve a photograph’, rather than bump into it among a thousand JPEGs. I understood this process as a journey towards my maturity as an image-maker, some kind of ‘intensive training’ of my methodology and aesthetics.

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© Jesús Madriñán from the series ‘Boa Noites’

3. Tell us about your educational path. You have studied at Bellas Artes Universidad de Barcelona and later Central Saint Martins in London. How has your interest in photography evolved in relation to these experiences?

Studying Fine Arts was the best decision I could ever make, one of my best experiences, because that critical and reflective view of the world shaped the person I am now. On the other hand, studying at Central Saint Martins wasn´t so important for me, as it was a self-directed course -too much self-directed in my opinion- so for me it meant the chance to take time for myself and my projects, but with professional guidance. The facilities, the photo technicians, the classmates, the research… all these together provided a good environment in which to learn and to carry out a personal project. For me that course was like discovering the best recipe for achieving a good dish. That course at CSM gave me all those ingredients and the steps I had to follow in order to become a professional in my medium. What I loved about CSM was working and learning hand-in-hand with a lot of talented people, extraordinarily qualified, from all around the world with similar interests, ages and experiences.

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© Jesús Madriñán from the series ‘Boa Noites’

4. What are the courses that you are passionate about and which are meaningful for you? Any professor or teacher that has allowed you to better understand your work?

I did not have a good relationship with my tutor at CSM, he was a very narrow-minded person -which is something unusual in a photographer- and he wasn’t developing his tasks properly as a teacher, so me and all my classmates were quite frustrated. Curiously, I found an important support in the photo technicians, that were amazing, and were always happy to help. You could book the photo studio with them and they were 100% available for you and your questions. They guided you with anything you needed for your shooting or project. Also you had the option of just trying things out in order to learn; lighting, cameras, video, etc. So it was like a personalised private lesson. The facilities had all the materials and equipment you needed. I can say that the photo technicians, Jet and James, taught me everything I know about photography technique, and for me that was fundamental in my development as a photographer.

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© Jesús Madriñán from the series ‘Looking for something’

5. About your work now. How would you describe your personal research in general?

I draw inspiration from my own experience and from the context that surrounds me to create my works. I enjoy exploring documentary photography by subverting the principles of the genre itself. The paradox of capturing life’s spontaneity by techniques taken from the studio’s predictability constitutes the realm where I locate my reflections about the limits between reality and fiction. I love photography because it gives me the immediacy, the ability to narrow a reality and, somehow, the ability to capture that which depends solely on chance. This is something that interests me a lot, because photography allows me, in many cases, to be the first one surprised when I see the outcome. This is wonderful. I use a large format film camera, which is quite cumbersome and requires a lot of concentration because of its complexity, so, my work thrives on the contradiction of using meticulous techniques in inevitably spontaneous and chaotic situations.

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© Jesús Madriñán from the series ‘Looking for something’

6. Taking portraits it’s quite central theme of your works. From where did this come? And how is this attitude evolving through your works?

I have always been interested in portraiture, not only as a document, but also as a tool for capturing the identity of the portrayed, hidden under several layers of representation and trapped in the form of a picture forever . If I focus on young people is because, in my projects, I tend to be inspired by my own experiences. I belong to those environments where I work. You could say that I interrogate myself by taking those pictures, because, somehow, they are a projection of myself, since we belong to the same generation, and we live in the same time.

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© Jesús Madriñán from the series ‘Portraits

7. Tell us about ‘Good Night London’ series?

“Good Night London” is a series of documentary portraits taken in several London night clubs. Shot in such a hostile scenario, this series explores how artificial environments work as a key element in teenagers’ identity construction. Studio conventional photography is then taken out of context, invading this complex scenario. The calm and inspiration of a studio is here substituted for the hostile and noisy nightclub as a background in which the characters are cast.

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© Jesús Madriñán from the series ‘Good Night London

Just like the many other elements of their night, being exposed to the camera offers portraiture and the portrayed another twist of the game in which to invent a way to project themselves according to whatever narrative they may want to construct. “Good Night London” freezes real scenes, turning the noisy and the wild into an atmosphere of calm and serenity.

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

I tend to work with large format, 4x5 or 8x10.

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

Of course, I can say names like Gareth McConnel, Nikolay Bakharev, Richard Learoyd, Marguerite Kelsey, Emile Friant, Rineke Dijkstra, Marlene Dumas…

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© Rineke Dijkstra, Shany, Palmachim Israeli Air Force Base, Palmachim, Israel 

10. Three books of photography that you recommend?

I´m gonna say the ones that I am reading right now, “Wolfgang Tillmans. Lighter”, “Contexto Crítico. Fotografía Española del Siglo XXI”, and “El Bodegón Español en el Museo del Prado”.

© Wolfgang Tillmans, ‘Lighter’ from haveanicebook on Vimeo.

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

Biographical Forms. Construction and Individual Mythology, at Museo Reina Sofía, Madrid.

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

I am moving to Colombia, where I´ll be living for the next months, as I´ll be teaching in the University. Also I am working in three new projects, and at the end of the year the publishing house Fabulatorio will be publishing a book about the ‘Boas Noites’ series, which is very exciting. In the meantime I´ll be opening solo exhibitions in Mexico, Uruguay, Argentina, and Spain, and several group exhibitions in Spain.

© Jesús Madriñán

(Source: photoschools)

LETIZIA BATTAGLIA: BREAKING THE CODE OF SILENCE

Open Eye Gallery, Liverpool
22.02.2014 - 04.05.2014

Open Eye Gallery presents for the first time in the UK the intense work of Sicilian photographer and photojournalist Letizia Battaglia (born 1935 in Palermo, Italy). A large selection of her iconic black and white images will be presented at the gallery, guiding the viewer along a journey into one of the darkest periods in the post-war Italian history. Drawing from Battaglia’s personal archive, comprising of over 600,000 images, the exhibition showcases work spanning from the mid ’70s to the early ’90s and also includes some recent projects. The exhibition offers a unique opportunity to approach her genre-defining photographic practice (often linked to that of American ‘crime’ photographer Weegee) and reflect on the role of photography as an individual and collective means for taking action, bearing witness, providing evidence and documenting history.

© Letizia Battaglia

Battaglia took up photography in the early ’70s, when she realised that, as a journalist, it was easier to place her articles in newspapers and magazines if these were accompanied by images. After a short period spent in Milan where she met her partner and collaborator Franco Zecchin, Letizia Battaglia returned to Sicily in 1974. After relocating to Palermo and regularly contributing to the daily L’Ora, she became the pictures editor until the newspaper was shut down in 1990.

© Letizia Battaglia

Over the years, Battaglia has recorded her love/hate relationship to her home-country with (com)passion and dedication, often putting her life at risk. By alternating stark images of death, graphic violence and intimidation connected to the Mafia with poetic still-life photos and intense portraiture of children and women, Battaglia provides a textured and layered narrative of her country.

© Letizia Battaglia

Letizia Battaglia worked on the front-line as a photo-reporter during one of the most tragic periods in contemporary Italian history, the so-called anni di piombo - the years of (flying) lead, as they say in Italian. “[These were] eighteen years in which the ferocious Corleonesi mafia clan would claim the lives of governors, senior policemen, entire mafia families and, ultimately, two of Battaglia’s dearest friends: the anti-mafia judges Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino.” (Peter Jinks, The Observer, 4 March 2012)

The selected works on show at Open Eye illustrate this period and document Battaglia’s attempt to come to terms with that history and reconcile the love for her country with the memory of these dramatic events.

© ‘Letizia Battaglia: In Conversation’

Over the last two decades, Battaglia persevered in her struggle against the mafia. A fight that she pursued not only by means of her photographic work, but also as a politician and public figure, a publisher and as a woman.

© Open Eye Gallery

STEPHEN DUPONT’The White Sheet Series No. 1’
Edmund Pearce, Melbourne02.04.2014 - 03.05.2014
This body of work is a selection of portraits I made in 2010 at India’s most important Hindu festival called the Kumbh Mela. In one of four locations every four years Hindu pilgrims and visitors descend into the holy waters of the Ganges River to purify the soul in a spiritual ritual considered the largest peaceful gathering in the world. The photographs were taken in Haridwar of pilgrims and sadhus I chose randomly during that festival.
Inspired by an earlier series I made of anonymous portraits of Afghans in Kabul titled Axe Me Biggie, or Mr Take My Picture, but instead of an existing Afghan outdoor studio backdrop I chose the white sheet this time for its purity and simplicity. My subjects were asked to simply stand and pose before my camera. I use a white bed sheet to create an outdoor studio that not only captures my subject but also allows me to reveal the audience gathering and the environment around the sheet. This is meant to give the viewer a real sense of place and time, and a window onto the streets of Haridwar. Had I used the backdrop in a conventional way, to solely isolate a person, you’d have the impression that they were taken anywhere — New York, Sydney, or in a studio. This process is a creative choice and allows me with some control over my sitter but brings with it the spontaneity and surprise of what may take place around the zone I am working in: the gaze of someone holding the sheet that has no idea they are in the frame, or a hand holding the sheet or something else that crops up in front or behind. In the end my portraits are environmental or even landscapes.
Over many years of travel throughout India I have been collecting textile stamps and I decided to use them on my photographs. The research and experiments started in my field journal and then to the final hand printed images in this show. I wanted to create a relationship with Indian design and cloth, the Polaroid borders and the people in my pictures. Much like my photographic practice here the wood block printing was made with much spontaneity and feeling. The photographs have been handcrafted by Chris Reid at Blanco Negro using warmtone paper and processed in a specialised developer for unique tonality.© Edmund Pearce

STEPHEN DUPONT
The White Sheet Series No. 1’

Edmund Pearce, Melbourne
02.04.2014 - 03.05.2014

This body of work is a selection of portraits I made in 2010 at India’s most important Hindu festival called the Kumbh Mela. In one of four locations every four years Hindu pilgrims and visitors descend into the holy waters of the Ganges River to purify the soul in a spiritual ritual considered the largest peaceful gathering in the world. The photographs were taken in Haridwar of pilgrims and sadhus I chose randomly during that festival.

Inspired by an earlier series I made of anonymous portraits of Afghans in Kabul titled Axe Me Biggie, or Mr Take My Picture, but instead of an existing Afghan outdoor studio backdrop I chose the white sheet this time for its purity and simplicity. My subjects were asked to simply stand and pose before my camera. I use a white bed sheet to create an outdoor studio that not only captures my subject but also allows me to reveal the audience gathering and the environment around the sheet. This is meant to give the viewer a real sense of place and time, and a window onto the streets of Haridwar. Had I used the backdrop in a conventional way, to solely isolate a person, you’d have the impression that they were taken anywhere — New York, Sydney, or in a studio. This process is a creative choice and allows me with some control over my sitter but brings with it the spontaneity and surprise of what may take place around the zone I am working in: the gaze of someone holding the sheet that has no idea they are in the frame, or a hand holding the sheet or something else that crops up in front or behind. In the end my portraits are environmental or even landscapes.

Over many years of travel throughout India I have been collecting textile stamps and I decided to use them on my photographs. The research and experiments started in my field journal and then to the final hand printed images in this show. I wanted to create a relationship with Indian design and cloth, the Polaroid borders and the people in my pictures. Much like my photographic practice here the wood block printing was made with much spontaneity and feeling. The photographs have been handcrafted by Chris Reid at Blanco Negro using warmtone paper and processed in a specialised developer for unique tonality.

© Edmund Pearce

‘THE HISTORYʼS SHADOW’ BY DAVID MAISEL

Yancey Richardson, New York
03.04.2014 - 10.05.2014

Yancey Richardson is pleased to present Historyʼs Shadow, the first exhibition at the gallery by American artist David  Maisel. For over twenty-five years, Maiselʼs photographic  work has been wide-ranging in scope, and yet deeply focused  on what he describes as a “long-term investigation into the  aesthetics of entropy, and the dual processes of memory and  excavation.”

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© David Maisel, History’s Shadow GM25, Archival Pigment Print, 2010

Maiselʼs previous work includes several aerial landscape  portfolios exposing the surreal, almost incandescent imprint of  industrial mining and mineral extraction operations throughout  the American West. In a later project, Library of Dust, Maiselʼs inquiries shifted dramatically in scale, to the unique imprint of mineral corrosion on individual copper canisters from a hospital archive.

Historyʼs Shadow represents an elegant continuation of these well-established themes, utilizing x-rays as source material to explore the intersection of scientific research and visual art. The exhibitionʼs title comes from a project of the same name, inspired by the artistʼs residency at the Getty Research Institute, during which time he re-photographed x-rays of sculptural antiquities culled from the useumʼs conservation archives. According to Maisel, Historyʼs Shadow refers “both to the literal images that the x-rays create as they are re-photographed, and to the metaphorical content informed by the past from which these objects derive.” 

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© David Maisel, History’s Shadow GM12, Archival Pigment Print, 2010

In his essay, Trace Elements and Core Samples, Maisel describes the transformative nature of the material: “The ghostly images of these x-rays seemed to surpass the potency of the original objects of art. These spectral renderings were like transmissions from the distant past, conveying messages across time, and connecting the contemporary viewer to the art impulse at the core of these ancient works. Through the x-ray process, the artworks of origin become de-familiarized and de-contextualized, yet acutely alive and renewed, revivified. The shadow-worlds they occupy are informed by the black space surrounding the images, which in some instances becomes a vast nether world, and in others becomes the velvety ground of some kind of brain scan/portrait.”

In addition to Historyʼs Shadow, selections from Maiselʼs Library of Dust series will be on display in the galleryʼs project space. In Library of Dust, the artist photographed individual copper canisters containing
the cremated remains of patients from a state-run psychiatric hospital, documenting the beautiful yet disquieting effect of mineral corrosion on each unique object. As in Historyʼs Shadow, these
transformative still-life objects float in a void against a pure black background, sublime meditations on the passage of time, memory, loss, and the metaphorical illustration of matter versus spirit.

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© David Maisel, History’s Shadow GM16, Archival Pigment Print, 2010

David Maisel was born in New York City in 1961. He received his BA from Princeton University, and his MFA from California College of the Arts. His photographs, multi-media projects, and public installations
have been exhibited internationally, and are included in many public collections, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; the Victoria & Albert Museum; the National Gallery of Art; the J. Paul Getty Museum; the Brooklyn Museum; the Santa Barbara Museum of Art; the Yale University Art Gallery; the Nevada Museum of Art; and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston,
among others. Maiselʼs work has been the subject of five onographs: Black Maps (2013), Historyʼs Shadow (2011), Library of Dust (2008), Oblivion (2006), and The Lake Project (2004).

© Yancey Richardson | David Maisel

UNDERCOVER #15: GABRIEL JONES

Photo: Gabriel Jones “8 alternate covers issued for the CD version of the album”

Arcade Fire “The Suburbs” 2010 City Slang 

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The first album “Funeral” made them known and appreciated, “Neon Bible” exaggerated certain pomp and orchestral atmospheres and  the third “Suburbs” brings us to the center of the alt / mainstream / pop / rock world. The recent realization of “Her”, filmed by director Spike Jonze, recently in theaters, takes them back again to the center of media attention. Jonze is also the author of the first short-film video that accompanies the first song of the album that relates to the splendor, the disorientation, the epiphanies of the unique golden age of adolescence. The Canadians, always mindful of the school of Simon and Garfunkel, are able to assert their style in which the diversity of their sound is further influenced by echoes of African and Brazilian rhythms. Orfeo Negro in “Berlin sauce”? Mittle Europe meets Van Dyke Parks? Instruments in profusion, different rhythm sections and a refined use of the electronic recording studio, Win Butler and multi-instrumentalist (and wife) Regine Chassagne mark in a bubbling magma of sound their sumptuous arrangements and their bright melodies.

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Gabriel Jones (Montreal, 1973), lives and works in Brooklyn and Paris and is the author of the 8 covers of the album ‘The Suburbs’, in collaboration with Arcade Fire, art director Vincent Morisset and Caroline Robert designers. The artwork has received a Grammy Award in 2012 for Best Album Packaging. The photographs were taken during a ‘road trip’ in various neighborhoods in Texas and tell the experiences of the American suburbs. Stories of ordinary life, seen from the car, and anonymous residential areas where the pre-tension drama evaporates into the usual story of disillusionment. As if to emphasize the centrality of the suburbs for them, who are peripherally native (the French-speaking Quebec) in a peripheral country (Canada) and to recall how each of us actually lives one’s own personal cultural, social, and ideological geography. These are places from which to leave, but also the place of America where its dreams, and its more intimate aspirations are raised. The images were projected on a large format screen, in which a car and the band members were part of the scenery, while Jones was photographing the set. The moods that emerge are those colorful, nostalgic and vibrant  Xerox atmospheres. The portraits of Jones were commissioned by numerous magazines as The New York Times Magazine, Le Monde Magazine, and Surface Magazine.

© Video Arcade Fire “The Suburbs”

"The Suburbs"

In the suburbs I
I learned to drive
And you told me we’d never survive
Grab your mother’s keys we’re leavin’

You always seemed so sure
That one day we’d be fighting
In a suburban war
Your part of town against mine
I saw you standing on the opposite shore

But by the time the first bombs fell
We were already bored
We were already, already bored

© Video Arcade Fire “Ready to Start”

PAST ISSUES OF UNDERCOVER HERE!

Text by Gianpaolo Arena

© Gabriel Jones | All copyright remains with the photographer and property

PETER LINDBERGH AT FAHEY/KLEIN GALLERY

‘Photographs’

Fahey/Klein Gallery, Los Angeles
27.02.2014 - 19.04.2014

The Fahey/Klein Gallery is pleased to present a selection of photographs from photographer and filmmaker Peter Lindbergh’s expansive and influential career. Lindbergh’s work helped define the contemporary era of fashion and portrait photography. Having captured the most notable figures in the industry—Linda Evangelista, Christy Turlington, Tatjana Patitz, Naomi Campbell, Cindy Crawford, Kate Moss, Amber Valletta, Kristen McMenamy, Gisele Bundchen, and Cara Delevingne— Lindbergh’s indelible photographs go beyond the iconography of the “supermodel”. With a seductively intimate style and approach, Peter Lindbergh’s portraits reveal an inner truth to his subjects.

© Hollywood Sign, Hollywood, CA, USA 1995

Inspired by the austere beauty of his childhood in Germany, Lindbergh’s intense and dramatic photographs employ the cinematic language of Fellini and early German filmmakers. Consciously alluding to images from 20th Century photographers Andre Kertesz, Marc Riboud, and Paul Strand, Lindbergh creates multilayered and multifaceted images with nuances of meaning. His deeply saturated black and white photographs resonate a story-within-a-story, intentionally playing with traditional archetypes of women in photography—dancers, actresses, vamps, femme fatales, heroines—to define and redefine the narratives of the women who inhabit his world. Lindbergh’s photographs explore the intermediate spaces that exist between fashion and portrait, portrait and nude, nude and landscape.

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© Olya Ivanisevic, Romina Lanaro, Vogue Italy, Downtown, Los Angeles, USA, 2006

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© Hommage a Pina Bausch, Vogue Italy, Paris, France, 1997

Peter Lindbergh is often credited with creating the “birth certificate” of the supermodel with his landmark 1990 cover for British Vogue—establishing a touchstone for the decade. He had a major part in launching the careers of the most recognizable supermodels of the time. Reinventing traditional notions of glamour, femininity, and seduction, Lindbergh’s models are moody, raw, gritty, sulky, uninhibited, and joyful. His women appear undeniably beautiful, yet strong, striking, and handsome— typically with their intense gaze fixed firmly on the viewer. It is evident that collaborating with Peter Lindbergh is a two-way process, as he ultimately approaches them not as models, but as modern women.

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© Installation Photographs Fahey / Klein Gallery

“The perception of the modern fashion photographer as someone whose rapid-fire apparatus commits countless thousands of exposures onto film accords exactly with the pattern of a relentless pursuit of an unattainable dream. But Lindbergh’s photographs, in spite of the apparent contradiction, provide some of the most concrete and confident depictions of contemporary women. His models may not necessarily comply with the putative ‘typical’ or ‘average’ women of today, but they nevertheless operate as cyphers for a type of women who has attained a demonstrable degree of freedom and independence. It is an independence they retain in the images; however improbable the fictional setting Lindbergh creates, there is never the impression that his women are merely being manipulated.” (Martin Harrisson, Images of Women Introduction, “Images of Women”, Schirmer/Mosel, 1997)

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© Fred Ward, Guinevere Van Seenus, Vogue Italy, El Mirage, California, USA, 2000

© Sandra Bullock, Vogue US, El Mirage, California, USA, 2013

Peter Lindbergh moved to Paris in 1978, where he started working internationally for Italian, English, French, German,and American Vogue, and later for The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, Allureand Rolling Stone. In 1992, Lindbergh began working for American Harper’s Bazaar in New York and photographed the campaigns for Giorgio Armani, Jil Sander, Prada, Donna Karan, Calvin Klein and Comme des Garçons. Recognized for both photography and film, Peter Lindbergh is the recipient of numerous awards including the Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (France), Raymond Loewy Design Award (Germany), and the IFTC Best Documentary award at the International Festival of Cinema in Toronto. His work has been exhibited, collected, and published internationally. Most recently, in 2013, his classic Fashion monograph Images of Women was republished by Schirmer/Mosel. Peter Lindbergh lives in Paris, New York, and Arles.

© Fahey/Klein Galllery

ON LAURA BRAUN AND SMALL BUSINESSES IN LONDON

BY STEVE BISSON

Photography. How many definitions? And what about means? The creation of documentary materials can serve several purposes. Among these are the conservation and production of collective memories. Sometime photography ceases to be a result and becomes a means by which the presence of the photographer is sewn to a past with what is yet to come.

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Today people question the usefulness of the conservative dimension since everything passes, everything evolves at a tremendous pace. However what often proves to be essential in photography is a sort of inner growth, the possibility to cross human trajectories, and to become richer in “human capital”. For some people, for some artists or photographers this becomes almost a necessity in life. As if the comparison with other stories could mean a confirmation of their own.

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And this is the feeling I have found in the publication Métier. Small Businesses in London by Laura Braun. A special collection of stories that refers more to fairy tales. The protagonists are the small traders in London that have withstood the economies of scale and preserved an authentic dimension. And perhaps they have found an identity.

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There is someone who made it and claims to have worked well at 10 Downing Street. Others have closed, such as the New Piccadilly Cafe of Lorenzo Marioni that served breakfast to the West End since the 50s. Or the darkroom by Klaus Kalde in Hackney Road which resists despite the emergence of digital photography and photoshop.

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The author seems to be attracted to the spirit of survival of these businesses. «Places», as she writes «where space and service are personal, and wares and tools have a tangibile connection with individual histories». Laura Braun thus takes us through a map of feelings like pride, nostalgia or resignation. Like Harry who, after the advent of electronics, was left with less and less room to physically manipulate automatic transmissions. Or Theo Argiriadis who in the 1970s came from Greece to London to live a hippy life and ended up adjusting musical equipment, valves and tubes, and gaining experience that was slowly becoming obselete, a rarity.

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Each story is told through a few pictures, mostly portraits, and a brief summary on the history of the company. Reading these words allows one to plunge into many different worlds of craftsmanship that share a need for manual work, and a passion that shouldn’t be given up. Like the one of Kristin Baybars who has been selling and making toys for more than fifty years. How can a portrait can summarize the story of a lifetime? In 1987 Adam Whone took over Withers, the oldest existing violin shop in the UK. In 1997 he closed and moved the business to his home in Acton. How can we sum up a man’s dedication to his craft? Braun’s consideration leaves us with a series of suggestions that are not intended to exhaust our curiosity, but to encourages us to deal with what surrounds us and perhaps to discover the treasures that often hide inside. A fascinating journey that was to last a few months but instead continued for 6 years for this London based photographer.

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As I write this text, people talk of 3D home printers, self-produced design, downsized manufacturing and so on. I don’t know if that’s true but when I look at these faces portrayed by Braun, I can not think of how inexorable our fate is. Everything we produce is intended eventually to become obsolete. What remains is perhaps the intensity of the gaze of those who sold us something, their kindness or not, their behavior, their gestures, words, smells and perfumes. And if any of this is passed to us, even through an image, then perhaps something of a passion, no matter if damning or truthfull, can be metabolized within us.

© Laura Braun

BERENICE ABBOTT

HGG, New York
27.02.2014 - 12.04.2014

An exhibition of photographs by Berenice Abbott and Charles Marville will be on view at Howard Greenberg Gallery from February 27 – April 12, 2014. Documenting now vanished streets and landmarks, Abbott and Marville: The City in Transition contrasts two cities – New York in the 1930s and Paris in the 1860s. Many of the images are on public view for the first time.

© Berenice Abbott, American Shops, Lodi, NJ, July 30, 1954

One of the last century’s greatest photographers, Berenice Abbott (American, 1898-1991) took photographs of New York City for the Federal Art Project of the Works Progress Administration (WPA). With a clean modern eye, Abbott sought to preserve the new face of New York in the 1930s. After eight years in Paris where she worked as Man Ray’s assistant, she returned to New York in 1929 to find that during her absence, many 19th –century buildings had been demolished to make way for skyscrapers.

© Berenice Abbott, Fulton Market, 1953

Inspired by Eugène Atget, whom she had met in Paris shortly before he died, Abbott had been struck by what she described as the “unadorned realism” of his photographs. Every Wednesday she documented the social, commercial, and architectural aspects of New York City. From an Esso gas station to the Lyric Theater to the elevated Second and Third Avenue train lines, Abbott focused her lens on all aspects of the city including busy commercial streets, row houses, parks, docks, and bridges in all five boroughs – a project that would stand as the centerpiece of her career. When the Stock Market crashed and the Depression began, she struggled to pursue her project. In 1935, the Federal Art Project offered her a grant, which included a $145 monthly salary, assistants, and a car. Five years later, she had completed Changing New York, images that have come to define New York City in the 1930s. In 1939, the budget for the Federal Art Project was cut, and Abbot lost her job.

© Berenice Abbott, Norris Dam, Construction, Looking East, Tennessee, 1935

One of the most important photographers of the 19th century, Charles Marville (French, 1813-1879) is known for his images of Paris both before and after its medieval streets were razed to make way for the broad boulevards, parks, buildings, and streetlights that have come to represent the City of Light.

The massive transformation of Paris was launched by Emperor Napoleon III and his chief urban planner, George-Eugène Haussmann, beginning in 1853. Not only did Haussmann seek to beautify the city, but to also improve traffic circulation, the sewer system, and other public works. All in all, it is said that the project transformed 60 percent of Paris’s buildings, creating more parks, light, and space as well as new bridges, government buildings, and an opera house.

© Berenice Abbott, Untitled, 1954

As official photographer for the city of Paris, Marville recorded the disappearance of the Old Paris and also focused on the creation of the new city, an urban vision that dominates Paris even today. From 1865 to 1869, his subjects ranged from a spectacularly elaborate wrought iron gate at Parc Monceau to a gas lamp suspended from an arcade at the Louvre to a street lamp and view at Gare de l’Ouest in Montparnasse.

Abbott and Marville: The City in Transition at Howard Greenberg Gallery coincides with an exhibition at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York entitled Charles Marville: Photographer of Paris on view January 29 -May 4, 2014.

© Howard Greenberg

27.1.7 DIRK BRAECKMAN

twentyseven.one.seven

Zenon X Gallery, Antwerp
02.03.2014 - 12.04.2014

Zeno X Gallery has the pleasure to announce a new solo exhibition by the Belgian artist Dirk Braeckman (°1958, Eeklo). Twentyseven.one.seven brings a new ensemble of works in which his quest for abstraction, tactility and uniqueness is expressed in an even more pronounced manner than before. This is manifested not only in the finished work, but forms part of the creation process itself, for which his dark room is transformed into a field of experimentation in which the artist manipulates the paper, working with the materiality of the picture, revealing influences of chance and time. The artist avoids images that are over-reasoned and opts for the unpredictable. 

© 27.1/21.7/026/2014/b, 2014, 90 x 60 cm
solarised gelatin silver print mounted on Japanese paper
aluminium support & frame

Freedom and spontaneity therefore become essential notions in his creative process. He always carries a camera with him, not only during his travels but also when he wanders around in Ghent, where he lives and works. Braeckman is never searching for images, he simply notices things and finds images in what surrounds him. Even
if, sometimes, there are long periods of time – months, sometimes years – before he prints the images, his state of  mind remains the same as in the moment when he first took the picture. Both these stages in the creation of his work are equally important to the artist. Although he has made a number of digital images for this exhibition, his focus nevertheless remains on the analogue image. For twentyseven.one.seven, he manipulates the print and modifies
it to the extent where there can be only one final image: no other prints can be made from the same negative to resemble it. The artist questions one of the main characteristics of the medium, its reproducibility, by creating a unique image. It is no secret that Braeckman also painted during his studies. He is not a photographer in the full sense of the word; instead he seeks out the boundaries of other disciplines. Photography, for him, is a tool rather
than a goal in itself.

© 27.1/21.7/021/2014, 2014, 90 x 60 cm
gelatin silver print mounted on japanese paper aluminium support & frame

“In his most recent works, Braeckman bridges the gap to his artistic beginnings on various levels: In the middle of the 1980s he started with the creation of unique photographic images. He definitely had the intention to undermine the medium’s conventions, such as, for example, its reproducibility. But the connection to rather
expressive painterly techniques from that time is not so obvious anymore. Nowadays, Dirk Braeckman expands the photographic medium to the point where it becomes rather akin to the practice of a sculptor. In an often physically demanding way he works in the dark room with the chemicals and other items found in his studio, such
as dust and other rather unexpected materials. What is particularly remarkable is his use of one of the most basic elements in the photographic process, the light: it can certainly be said that Dirk Braeckman is manipulating and essentially sculpting the light. He transcends this technical framework by creating unique images: to do so he even appropriates parts of his own oeuvre, for example by repeatedly using the same negative. The result is a series of ‘original versions’ with which he expands his visual universe toward the inside.

© 27.1/21.7/029/2014, 2014, 60 x 90 cm
gelatin silver print mounted on japanese paper
aluminium support & frame

© 27.1/21.7/041/2014, 2014, 180 x 120 cm
ultrachrome ink jet print on matte paper mounted on aluminium

By establishing work of such paradoxical characteristics, Braeckman takes a further and highly contemporary step in his practice, which is unceasingly devoted to a highly personal deconstruction of the photographic medium.” (Martin Germann)
Braeckman’s work is highly subjective and evades the conventions of documentary photography, yet remains highly autobiographical. Even though his images are often deprived of human figures, his own personality and thoughts are very present. In his work we can distinguish several themes: female nudes, curtains, empty corners
in rooms, walls, abandoned hotel rooms, etc. His images are intriguing and suggestive. They raise more questions
than they answer.

© 27.1/21.7/011/2014, 2014, 90 x 60 cm
gelatin silver print mounted on japanese paper aluminium support & frame

Currently his installation Anonymous / Dirk Braeckman / /  Schwarzschild is on view at S.M.A.K., Ghent. Jan Hoet invited Braeckman a few months ago to create the campaign image of a new large-scale urban exhibition entitled ‘The Sea’ in Ostend, in collaboration with Philippe Van Den Bossche. Works of the artist will also be on view in this exhibition. Braeckman has also been commissioned to make works for A.F. Vandevorst, Louis Vuitton and
Queen Paola. Braeckman has had solo exhibitions at Museum M in Leuven (BE), De Appel in Amsterdam (NL), Kunsthalle Erfurt (DE) and Fotohof Salzburg (AT). His work was part of several group exhibitions such as Upside Down at the Cultural Centre in Strombeek (BE), BAZAAR Belgium in the Central for Contemporary Art in Brussels (BE), De Pont in Tilburg (NL), Antoine Watteau BOZAR Brussels (BE), Sint-Jan in Ghent (BE) and Robbrecht & Daem: Pacing through Architecture at the Whitechapel Gallery in London (GB). Works of Braeckman are permanently on view at the Concertgebouw in Bruges and the Ghent courthouse. Work of the artist can be found in the following public collections: Artothèque in Annecy (FR), Bibliothèque nationale de France in Paris (FR), Centro Fotografia de la Universidad Salamanca (ES), De Pont in Tilburg (NL), Fondation national d’art contemporain in Paris (FR), Fotomuseum in Antwerp (BE), FRAC Nord-Pas de Calais in Dunkirk (FR), FRAC Rhône -Alpes in Villerbanne (FR), Haags Gemeentemuseum (NL), MACs Hornu (BE), Maison Européenne de la Photographie in Paris (FR), Musée d’Art Contemporain et Moderne in Strasbourg (FR), Musée de la Photographie in Charleroi (BE), Musée de l’ Elysée in Lausanne (FR), Musee Niepce in Chalon-sur-Saône (FR), MUHKA in Antwerp (BE), Mu.ZEE in Ostend (BE), Royal Palace in Brussels (BE), Royal Museum of Fine Arts in Brussels (BE), and SMAK in Ghent (BE).

© Zeno X Gallery