Sunday, 29 January 2012

Still Photography? Discuss...

Photogram Number 1 - the Mirror
 László  Moholy-Nagy  American, negative 1922 - 1923; print about 1928 
                                  © Estate of László Moholy-Nagy / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

As a result of my brief involvement on a panel discussing the 'Photo50' exhibition I was encouraged by the enthusiasm of the audience. One person spoke about her experience making cameraless images such as photogram's as a result of not owning a camera when she began her BA in Photography. This limitation  became a salvation not only for her experience of photography, but also artistically. Photogram's have been famously used by many great artists since the medium began. However, rather than an illustrated history of the photogram I thought I would share a few recent works & favourite photogram's. This is by no means an extensive selection, but a lovely start to lead into 'The Hand of the Artist' which will be the title of my next post.

Feather that went to the Top of Everest
h: 40 x w: 30.5 cm / h: 15.7 x w: 12 in
(for full details on Artnet see link)

This post was prompted by a visit to the Whitechapel Art Gallery today, where I saw a work I hadn't seen in the flesh before by an artist I have admired for many years, Cornelia Parker. (Her earlier sculpture Thirty Pieces of Silver  1988-9 is a firm favourite.) Of course with my proclivity for all things associated with flight I was thrilled to see this in the Government Art Collection room, selected by Simon Schama. Although I was not fully convinced by the curation as a whole I was delighted to see this series, titled (importantly as with all the works in the series) 'Up Down Charm Strange'. 

Feather from Freud's Pillow
Cornelia Parker

Each feather has a story to tell, but without the artist to tell it we would be blissfully unaware of it's significance, both metaphorically & literally to the people & places that it was connected to. Just as the feather has been in contact with someone &/or something that is part of history, we are invited to connect also in a more intimate way than usual. Museums do just this also of course, displaying objects for us to observe. Often it is the domestic items which attract my attention as the grandeur of some collections are indeed fascinating, they do not always tell a story in such an evocative way. By taking something as small & seemingly insignificant as a feather from Freud's pillow; Parker has beautifully illustrated the heights reached by these remarkable individuals. They are exquisitely rendered as they make 'contact' with the photo paper. 

From the series My Ghosts (1999) by Adam Fuss

The ephemeral nature of a photogram is what still fascinates me. The untouchable made tantalisingly real upon the photo-sensitive surface. The wisp of smoke registering as it fleetingly brushes the paper, give rise to meditative musings, a closer contact with the source of the image with the omission of the camera...

Getting closer to the original source of the image, brings us one step closer to the artist themselves, who's interaction with their subject is acutely 'present' when approaching the work. Photography's association with the technical & mechanical is often a hinderance when persuading the masses to see photography as a true art form. Perhaps in times of austerity, the growing interest in 'craft' reflects our need for human contact in the midst of cold hard unfeeling times. It is this connection which will be the subject of my next post.  

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Still Photography? London's first fair of the year opens with a must see exhibition curated by Sue Steward

Simon Baker, Esther Teichmann, Sue Steward & yours truly.

Well hello again readers, it has been a very busy week with the years first art fair in full swing & well worth the time to visit. To visit The London Art Fair is easy, just follow the link for more details. 

I had been asked to join a panel discussing 'Photo50 : THE NEW ALCHEMISTS: Contemporary Photographers Transcending The Print', expertly curated by Sue Steward & thought the least I could do was to tell you about it & encourage you to go & see the show & indeed the fair before it ends tomorrow at 5pm.

Sue Steward as the chair, myself, Esther Teichmann (artist & senior lecturer at the London College of Communications) & Simon Baker (Curator of Photography & International Art at Tate) were all given time to speak individually about the show & the traditions & developments within the field of photography with regards to its expanding definitions as explored by Photo50. I will be posting on the many & varied discussions which arose from this & of course explore the work of the artists that were in the show as well as my usual comparative & illustrative accompaniments.

I will speak at a bit more length later in the week. So don't stall, go & see it before it ends & see if you agree or disagree with the opinions in my next few posts!  

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Reasons To Be Cheerful

What a wonderful start to 2012! Happy New Year everyone!

The talent that is Christain Tagliavini has been recognised again, by being included amongst the winners of the 2012 Hasselblad Masters Award, for the Fine Art category. The British Journal of Photography: BJP online have also written a lovely article for those of you whom are interested in all the winners read here.

Whilst I was in the gallery on Saturday the model Lora who is in both of Christian's series 1503 & Dame Di Cartone came into the gallery with her friends. What a wonderful rarity, to meet the model who's face I see ever day. She is of course very beautiful in the flesh & as fresh-faced as in her portraits, (unlike myself, I need makeup & very good lighting sadly) & a delightful woman. She spoke to me about being a model & how much she admired Christian & his work.

The experience of being the subject is life-changing, as I experienced myself working with Neeta Madahar, see my previous blogs (Collaborating with an Angel Parts 1-7) on this here. Whilst looking for a link to the Flora series I came across this lovely blog too: Metro Nature, very interesting...

You are suddenly confronted with your own image through someone else's eyes. I was a collaborator which meant I had more say in the end result. But in Christian Tagliavini's safe hands, I'm sure anyone would jump at the chance to be a model for him, me included (ha ha hint, hint, hint, nudge, nudge...)

The permanence of the image goes far beyond the initial experience of modeling & is then on a journey of its own through the media, on the walls of galleries & art fairs, online & in print. The thought of someone buying a picture of you is a strange one I can tell you.

Lora's friends took some photo's of her with the works & I of course did the same. What a wonderful choice of outfit she was wearing with an updated, contemporary version of a ruff with her fabulous scarf, the colour even complimented the photo perfectly! 

Fancy making your own? Try a miniature one first, here on this Peppercorn Minis blog you can see how. I'm sorely tempted myself...

Also another lovely thing to happen was an article by IdeasTap where I am described as amongst other things a 'photography polymath' wow! Rachel who interviewed me is the Assistant Editor & has her own blog also.

I would also lastly like to thank Natalja Sadikova for taking these pictures in the gallery. 

(The ruff is from the Peppercorn Minis blog)