Genesis Exhibition.

There is an opportunity to exhibit your work at a charity exhibition that will be held in April in London.  The venue is not confirmed yet, but I hear it will be quite a big place around Shoreditch or Spitafields.

Check it out at their website, where you will find out all you need to know about submissions.

William Eggleston at Victoria Miro Gallery

I can’t believe William Eggleston will be exhibiting his new work 21st Century at Victoria Miro Gallery. The exhibition will run from the 15th of January until the 27th of February.  And I think the best thing about this exhibition is that the gallery is only 100 meters from my house.  One of the most influential photographers in the 20th century and with no doubt, the master of colour as we all know.  I don’t want to comment on the work until I’ve seen the exhibition, but I already had a peep in the gallery website and found a genius picture (the one of the kitchen).

I can’t be bothered to put images on this post.  If you don’t know Eggleston’s photographs you are not welcome in this blog!  So don’t miss this exhibition!

Stephen Gill – The Hackney Rag

I have a soft spot for news print photo publications. Stephen Gill’s The Hackney Rag published by artbeat publishers (Japanese only) and Nobody Books is no exception. Gill has been making curiously interesting work in Hackney for the last decade. He has a peculiar knack for sequencing his lyrically unimposing photographs into quietly seductive books. Included in the newspaper is a signed and editioned print by Gill, which priced at a bit less then twenty pounds at The Photographers’ Gallery book shop is not bad.

Included is a variety of Gill’s projects: Hackney Wick, Buried, Hackney Flowers, Archaeology in Reverse, and previously unpublished work. Gill is a photographer that I’ve grown to appreciate with time; he works primarily with found objects and lo-fi cameras. He shot all of Hackney Wick on a 50p camera that he bought from a flea market. The entire publication has a very un-precious feeling to it, a concept which is probably at the base of Gill’s practice. Hackney itself has changed quite a bit since he started taking pictures there – the slightly lawless marketplace of Hackney Wick has been uprooted by the Olympic stadium site, other parts of Hackney are being re-developed through a gradual gentrification that has already begun to erase some of the idiosyncracies of the area.

I remember I had trouble understanding exactly what it was that Gill’s pictures were trying to tell me when I first saw them. I think I expected a little too much from them. As soon as  I started appreciating them for what they – a sort of softly focused vernacular poetry – the images began to tell me a bit more about themselves. They have a peculiar sense of nostalgia, almost like they are little verses about the relentless passing of time, of time suddenly condensing only to disperse with the next image.

Gill has been running his own publishing company Nobody Books since 2005 in order to supervise first hand the materials, sequencing and production of his books. This DIY attitude is a refreshing break from the often rigid and impersonal publications from larger publishing houses. As Gill writes, “he aims to make books that are conceptually consistent with their content”, something which often lost in precisely manfactured books. This is the aspect that has most attracted me to his work, this constant search for the right form for the content of his books. His de-skilled photographic approach seems to be mirrored by a re-skilling of the distribution of those very images.

Roger Ballen and the parabola of pain – Part II

This post is  a continuation of yesterday’s post.

What relationship does Ballen have towards the creation of his work? How much is allowed to go unexplained for the sake of art? In his talk he said that he was many things to his subjects, to some a friend, to others a preacher, that he felt he had done his best to help them when he could. It remains that he is aestheticising their condition of living which itself is both a direct and indirect result of the society they live in. Unfortunately, the aestheticisation of social phenomena has led to rather unpleasant results. We need only to think of Benjamin and his idea that it was the aestheticisation of politics lead to Fascism. It is this mystifying capacity of pure aesthetics that lends Ballen’s work an uncomfortable ambiguity. He has erased the traces of his intervention, his direct flash and rigorous composition repeat themselves so as to appear normal. Yet this vision is far from normal, its message much deeper than an appreciation of formal relations.

Blind Woman (1916)

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Weegee: It’s a crime to take photographs this good…

Photo by Weegee

I’ve always liked his photographs, Im not a sadist, although there is a derived pleasure when looking at images like this.  I guess that’s what makes Weegee such a great photographer.

There is an exhibition at the Michael Hoppen Gallery in London running until the 9th of January 2010.  I sure will have to make some time to go and see it this week.  I was a bit confused when I read at their web page that they are including photographs by Sergei Vasiliev and Stan Healy.  The first photographer that comes to my mind before these two is Enrique Mentinides.

photo by Enrique Mentinides

I ‘ve just erased a paragraph I wrote.  In it I spoke about how art is governed by the market, etc, etc… Anyway, my point was that it would be good to see an exhibition of Weegee and Mentinides side by side.

Tereza Zelenkova: Supreme Vice

Untitled © Tereza Zelenkova

Untitled © Tereza Zelenkova

Talking about haunting photographs.  Have a look at Tereza’s work in progress titled Supreme Vice.  I don’t have much to talk about here, they just get to my guts producing visceral emotions.

Roger Ballen and the parabola of pain

I want to start with a discussion of Roger Ballen that will take a few posts to flesh out.

“…the work of Roger Ballen is a form of radical, disquieting subjectivism, a psychology of the world itself that represents the inside of politics, the inside of ideology, the inside of ourselves. ” (Cook)

So opens Roger Ballen’s website.  I saw him speak at this year’s Paris Photo with great expectations, partly arising from the reputation he had garnered.  I have to say that I was rather underwhelmed, finding him grossly inarticulate, derivative and demeaning almost to the point of ridiculing his own work.  Perhaps I went into the talk with the wrong mindset,  I probably should have expected that the visceral quality of his images would be coming from an equally visceral man. I was not, however, prepared for the utter lack of responsibility that Ballen seemed to take over the creation of his imaes.

In a nutshell, Ballen takes fantastically composed images of the deprived and disenfranchised underbelly of rural South Africa.  This is something that needs to be seen, I believe.  I also believe that there is more to this world than the formal relations that Ballen ellicits.  Inevitably, any discussion of his work will concentrate on the conditions of its production. Questions of how these images are made, who these people are and how much Ballen interacts with them become fairly standard. We return more or less to the Diane Arbus paradox – Continue reading