Tuesday, 12 June 2018

'Form & Function' by Chloe Rosser : A Guest post from artist Lisa Holden

©Chloe Rosser 
Function 1, 8   2018

I was absolutely thrilled when artist & writer Lisa Holden was inspired to write this wonderful text about the current LANG exhibition Form & Function by Chloe Rosser on display at Photofusion in Brixton until 18 June 2018.  It is a pleasure to have this as a guest post. 

©Chloe Rosser
Function 2, 3  2018

Form & Function 

Chloe Rosser photographs the human body, naked, contorted, within the confines of plain domestic spaces. Her models strike sculptural poses – they lean, sit, slant, twist – but always avoiding references to classical statuary or art historical nudes. And Rosser’s models never show their faces. So, what’s going on?  By anonymising her sitters, and accentuating skin tone and gesture, Rosser’s images could almost be interpreted as a conversation about identity. After all, photography is a medium that lends itself to concocting identities through disguise, concealment or digital tweaking. But both of these series can also be read differently. The images shift constantly from the specific to the abstract, hinting at a totemic, symbolic meaning. The contours and shadowing suggest archetypal shapes and remind us of the clay figurines and artefacts from prehistoric cultures. Perhaps Rosser’s human ‘forms’ are also an invitation to imagine the body not simply as a thing of flesh and bone, but as a tool for tapping into the collective memory of mankind, the genetic code within ourselves.

John Coplans 
Self-Portrait (Back with Arms Above) 1984
©The Estate of John Coplans 

Seen in this light, Rosser’s models are anything but anonymous; they are universal. They are us, we are them. And if the body is capable of accessing this primordial coded language, then Rosser’s subjects, photographed singly or in groupings, can be read as a visual expression of something primordial and ancient. Something the late photographer John Coplans (with whom Rosser’s work shares some common ground) calls ‘a memory of our past ancestry’. Coplans – born in London and originally trained as a painter – photographed his own body in later life, depersonalising it, turning into a play of light and dark, mass and form.

©Chloe Rosser 
Function 6, 9  2018

Rosser’s approach to the body is not dissimilar –  her ‘forms’ are equally abstract, almost bordering on the surreal. Unlike Coplans’ grainy black and white imagery, however, Rosser’s visual language has an almost brittle clarity. The formal execution of the images contrasts with the models’ soft flesh, knobby spines and straining muscles. And draws us in, to look closer and pick up on other contrasts – skin against laminate wood, against plaster, against carpet. A thigh disappears into a wall. Shoulders are shoved into a floor. The sense of the surreal, even the uncanny, is unmistakable. What are we looking at? Why are these forms here, in these spaces? What are they doing here?

©Chloe Rosser
Function 4, 1  2018

The models in Rosser’s photographs may pose alone or together – some are total strangers, others close companions. Always calm, respectful.  There are no divides here. Framed by neutral spaces, Rosser’s ‘forms’ tell stories, and some are about us – snatches of collective memory that speak of what has been and dream of what may come.

Chloe Rosser & Laura Noble are running a full-day workshop, Exploring the Body in Photography - on Saturday 16th June at Photofusion. This will include live life models, strictly limited to 10 places. There are a couple of places left. You can find all the details here
Email: hello@lauraannnoble.com to book. 

Chloe Rosser’s first book, Form and Function, is in the making! There’s still time to get involved with the Kickstarter campaign. The Kickstarter ends at 5.30 pm, 18th June. Here's a link if you would like to support it. Thank you

Sunday, 3 January 2016

Post Paris Photo

Perhaps the best way to disseminate my Paris Photo experience is through the photos I took whilst at the fair and elsewhere. After the visits were cut short due to the tragic circumstances that unfolded that fateful Friday night I am looking back at the things that caught my eye. This is a very informal roundup, but worth a peek!

Photo from from the series 
Bird Bald Book Bubble Bucket Brick Potato by Marton Perlaki

Foam Talent: I loved this work by Marton Perlaki - the birds of course appeal to me. 

©Mariam Medeva from the series:
When you are dead the pose you take doesn't matter anymore

Although quite macabre Medeva's works were a reminder of Araki's bound women exhibiting beauty despite their objectification.

My fabulous assistant Sarah Reuter

This display reminded me of Yvonne De Rosa's installation
 at the V&A Museum of Childhood this year

It was a great way to start the week, before attending the preview the following day.

Catching up with friends too

©Sophie Calle from the series The Hotel Room 1981
Room 30
It was great to this work again, albeit somewhat tucked away upstairs at the fair. So much today is reminiscent of this series by Calle. 

Just to illustrate my amusement for the award for the worst technical information ever!

And the work ©Cy Twombly

A pattern began to emerge with prints on things other than traditional papers, in this case tapestries.

A new name here for me: Stephan Schenk
The concept of close up shots of the ground at WWI battle sites reminded me of some works I saw a couple of years ago - but the execution alters it dramatically. 

©Stephan Schenk

 With the emphasis of historical tapestries in mind - using a black and white image did give the work some gravitas. 

 ©Stephan Schenk
Detail of work above

Here are a selection of works I liked at the fair. 

©Masao Yamamoto

©Masao Yamamoto

©Albert Renger-Patzsch
Here are a few personal highlights from preview of the Shalom Shpilman Collection at Christies - see the details here & the results here. This is a very angular selection, but marvellous I must say.

©Wols (Alfred Otto Wolfgang Schulze)
Komposition, Vers 1935

This was stunning & the price it reached was not a surprise.

©Barbara Kasten
Construct VI-B, 1981

This Barbara Kasten is a beauty also for shallower pockets but well worth the price it reached.

As I was saying, more images made into 'things' at the fair.... 

 Fabulous anonymous works, selling fast not surprisingly...

 ©Mario Finazzi (Italian, 1905-2002)
Hot Line, 1945
Solarized Vintage Gelatin Silver Print

Another angular wonder this time from Finazzi, I can see another collection forming already...

©Kurt Schwitters
Normalb├╝hue Merz, c. 1925

A miniature wonder by Schwitters, shows us size isn't everything.

Frederick Kiesler
Interior of Marcel Duchamp's New York Studio, 1945
Vintage Gelatin Silver Prints

The befitting angled connection between these two photographs illustrate how Frederick Kiesler's worked, in this case when photographing Marcel Duchamp's studio -  especially when framed to show them at their best. 

Notably printed by Berenice Abbott this is a beautifully rendered depiction of the creative chaos often found in the artists studio  - the angles of the paper captured by the camera mirrored by the execution of the joined photographs. Tempered by the geometry of angles and multiplicity of of shapes within the composition - this trio of artistic connections satisfies on many levels. Seeds of his later work Endless House (1947-60) are evident here as reocuuring themes of architecture as a living organism made up of dead objects, somehow brought to life in this case by the camera. 

©Edward Steichen
Vogue Fashion: Evening Gowns and Wrap (30,000€)

In these works the carefully chosen frames fit the era - we forget how well this works in an age of white lines. Art Deco angles, geometry and hints of luxurious texture suggestive of elegant grandeur, subtly border these beauties. Placed next to each other the price difference may stand out yet the images compliment one another well. The closeness of the female subjects also have a hint of coy closeness that I find very charming.

©George Hoyningen-Huene (Russian, 1900 - 1968)
Fashion by Sada Sacks, 1939

 And now for something completely different!

In what have become some quickly snapped accidental selfies I couldn't resist recording David LaChapelle's carefully titled Aristocracy series. Floating model planes in dyed water had a high price tag, but I did love them. They are on the one hand quite vulgar with hints of spending many may deem offensive: the world of private jets & luxury travel etc...

©David LaChapelle

Then there is the epic illusion he has created here through a simple devise - but inarguably effective to depict an impossible scenario with planes far too close together in multicoloured smoke/clouds (take your pick)...

©David LaChapelle

Are they catastrophic or celebratory? 

©David LaChapelle

Or are they just romantic, pretty, cheesy, bubblegum, pop art, a gimmick to attract the rich? When I spoke to fellow collectors the response to the aesthetic, price, subject were evenly positive & negative. LaChappelle has never been known for his quiet reserve, so why should he change now? I think these have all his usual drama, playful sense of colour & unashamed humour. The devisive nature of these meant my interest remained albeit cautious & time will tell as it alway does...

Masao Yamamoto
Edition of 20

Seeing this image in two different locations at two prices meant for closer inspections as to their condition (one was much better than the other) & pricing (this differed too) - but ultimately a stunning example of Yamamoto's enduring appeal. 

©Ulla Jokisalo
From the series Collection of Headless Women

No surprise here - but just look at the use of a stunning bird collaged using pins - fashion collides with the hand of the artist. Popular of course & again a physicality to the work that I saw as one of 2015's Paris Photo themes.  

©Ulla Jokisalo
From the series Collection of Headless Women
(side view to capture pins)

©Ulla Jokisalo
From the series Collection of Headless Women

Just two pictures to end, including my favourite stand - great reference point to get your bearings & great works on display to boot.

So I bid Paris farewell for now...

©Laura Noble - My last night in Paris 2015