Sunday, June 28, 2015

Tokyo tomorrow...


Harvey Benge - Tokyo Girl No1, 2007
I'm in Tokyo from tomorrow. Back in my studio July 13. If any of my Tokyo based friends and colleagues are around please get in touch... would be nice to hang out.
No more blog postings until my return.

Martin Parr loves his food!

Martin Parr's food seems to be flavour of the month right now. It's cropping up everywhere.

First sighting was in Kassel where Martin had a major food moment with his SAY CHEESE dinner time extravaganza. The meal was complete with a Parr photobook picture menu with dishes that looked liked one thing and tasted like something else. It was bizarre, funny and not to mention strangely tasty. And it was served with a running monologue from a look-alike Cockney waitress. Martin signed the menus with a threat and a promise that they would more than likely end up on ebay the next day.




To top that Martin offered a Kassel Menu produced exclusively for the Fotobookfestival. The Parr Menu Book comes with 46 pictures which the buyer can mix and match as they wish. Kassel Menu is limited to 350 copies, all numbered and signed by Martin Parr.


Next was the banana incident. I posted a piece on my blog back in 2009 about a recipe book, Be bold with Bananas. Freud said that sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, to paraphrase these bananas were something else. I discovered the book here in NZ. it was printed in South Africa for NZ Fruit Distributors in Wellington. Either the good people at Fruit Distributors had a tremendous sense of humor or they were terribly naive. I suspect the later. Some of the pictures leave nothing to the imagination. I mean have you ever seen a banana that straight, or should I say bent. I passed the title on to Martin thinking it would look great as part of a recipe book section in his Photobook series. But it never made the cut.
Working with publisher Salon Verlag Martin has now made his own version of the book, it's a homage and Martin says this, I was immediately struck when I saw “Be bold with Bananas”
It had  some wonderful sexual undertones, and was just plain surreal. The title is also very ambivalent, so when invited to participate in this project, I had no hesitation in selecting this title.



Be Bold With Bananas - straight not bent

Last, and this is the clincher, Martin Parr now has his own food and other ephemera related clothing line. It's available from the House of Holland and it's called MARTIN FUCKING PARR. You can get yourself a T shirt or sweat shirt with sausages and chips, eggs, a cup of tea. Totally British, totally Parr. Get them while they are hot. Or not.

House of Holland - MARTIN FUCKING PARR

We are wondering what's next?

Friday, June 26, 2015

Dewi Lewis at Les Rencontres de la Photographie in Arles



Located at Cosmos in Magasin Électrique, British photobook publisher Dewi Lewis will be at Les Rencontres de la Photographie in Arles from Monday July 6 to Saturday July 11th.

Dewi has a full program of book signings and book launches.
On Wednesday 8th July at 2.00pm, Simon Norfolk will be signing copies of BURKE + NORFOLK. And at  5.00pm, there is the launch and signing of Hans Eijkelboom's book THE STREET and MODERN LIFE.
On Thursday 9th July at 2.00pm there are signings of three books, Susan Barnett -  A TYPOLOGY OF T-SHIRTS, Sylvie Huet - A STORY OF BEARS and Dougie Wallace - STAGS, HENS & BUNNIES. And at 5.00pm, I WAS HERE by Ambroise Tézenas and TOY SOLDIERS by Simon Brann Thorpe. Then at  6.00pm, THE HEAVENS: ANNUAL REPORT by Paolo Woods & Gabriele Galimberti.
Friday 10th July 5.00pm sees the book launch and signing of MAYBE by Phillip Toledano.

You can see full details of all the new Dewi Lewis titles plus his back catalogue on his website HERE.


Thursday, June 25, 2015

MoMA NYC - Ocean of Images: New Photography 2015


Lucas Blalock
New Photography, MoMA’s longstanding exhibition series of recent work in photography and a vital manifestation of the Museum’s contemporary program, will return this fall in an expanded, biannual format. On the occasion of its 30th anniversary, New Photography is expanding to 19 artists and artist collectives from 14 countries, and includes works made specifically for this exhibition. Ocean of Images: New Photography 2015 will be on view throughout the entirety of the Museum’s Edward Steichen Photography Galleries, as well as The Agnes Gund Garden Lobby and the Museum’s Bauhaus Staircase. Since its inception in 1985, the New Photography series has introduced the work of nearly 100 artists from around the globe early in their careers, including Philip-Lorca diCorcia, Rineke Dijkstra, Rachel Harrison, and Wolfgang Tillmans. This year’s edition explores contemporary photo-based culture, specifically focusing on connectivity, the circulation of images, information networks, and communication models. Ocean of Images is organized by Quentin Bajac, the Joel and Anne Ehrenkranz Chief Curator of Photography, Roxana Marcoci, Senior Curator, and Lucy Gallun, Assistant Curator, Department of Photography,
MoMA.

Probing the effects of an image-based post-Internet reality, Ocean of Images examines various ways of experiencing the world: through images that are born digitally, made with scanners or lenses in the studio or the real world, presented as still or moving pictures, distributed as zines, morphed into three-dimensional objects, or remixed online. The exhibition’s title refers to the Internet as a vortex of images, a site of piracy, and a system of networks, which is reflected in the work of the 19 included artists and collectives. Ocean of Images presents new and recent bodies of work that critically redefine photography as a field of experimentation and intellectual inquiry, where digital and analog, virtual and real dimensions cross over. Coinciding with the opening of the exhibition, MoMA will also launch an online platform housing the live archive of the New Photography series, featuring documents and images from its history.

The artists in Ocean of Images are: ILIT AZOULAY (Israeli, b. 1972), ZBYNĚK BALADRÁN (Czech, b. 1973), LUCAS BLALOCK (American, b. 1978), EDSON CHAGAS (Angolan, b. 1977), NATALIE CZECH (German, b. 1976), DIS (Collective, founded in New York in 2010), KATHARINA GAENSSLER (German, b. 1974), DAVID HARTT (Canadian, b. 1967), MISHKA HENNER (Belgian, b. 1976), DAVID HORVITZ (American, b. 1982), JOHN HOUCK (American, b. 1977), YUKI KIMURA (Japanese, b. 1971), ANOUK KRUITHOF (Dutch, b. 1981), BASIM MAGDY (Egyptian, b. 1977), KATJA NOVITSKOVA (Estonian, b. 1984), MARINA PINSKY (Russian, b. 1986), LELE SAVERI (Italian, b. 1980), INDRĖ ŠERPYTYTĖ (Lithuanian, b. 1983), and LIEKO SHIGA (Japanese, b. 1980).

Ocean of Images: New Photography 2015 - Opens November 7, 2015 and runs until March 20, 2016.

Yuki Kimura

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

London (or is it) in 28 photographs



When in London in May for Photo London I made some pictures and now a bookwork. The edition is produced in an edition of 50 copies, each signed and numbered, there are 28 photographs over 28 pages, 226 x 160 mm, printed on 120gsm art paper with a 200gsm cover.

Of course my practice involves photographing ideas and not necessarily places, certainly not places that can be identified. You won't find a picture of London Bridge here. Never-the- less these pictures were all made in London but for the most part they could have been made anywhere. If any of you can accurately name any of the London locations let me know and with your book order I will send you a signed print of the image you identified.

Copies can be obtained directly from me at: harvey.benge@xtra.co.nz
Prices are, €25 / £20 / US$30 / NZ$38, which include packing and postage. For payment you can simply log on to my PayPal account using my email address above.

Below are the pages:
















Monday, June 22, 2015

Kassel Fotobookfestival - photobook heaven



For the past seven years, Kassel in Germany has been home to the most important annual forum on the world of photography books, the Fotobookfestival Kassel. The festival is a long weekend full of artist lectures, book exhibitions, booksellers and publishers showcasing their most recent offerings, portfolio reviews and awards for the best photobooks from the previous year.
For photographers hoping to find people interested in their yet-to-be-discovered book projects, the main attraction of the Fotobookfestival Kassel is its photobook dummy competition for the best unpublished photobook mock-up. The winner of the first prize receives a publishing contract with the German publisher k-books and a critique in the art magazine European Photography. In 2015 the two festival awards, the Photobook Award Kassel (experts nominate their favorite photo book of the last year) and the Dummy Award Kassel were continued.

It was a pleasure to be back in Kassel to take part in the 7th edition of FotoBookFestival. This festival is very intimate and personal and clearly a labour of love for Dieter Neubert and his team. What is so special is the friendly atmosphere and a reminder that the photoworld is so incredibly small. It was wonderful to meet old friends and  be introduced to new people all in an atmosphere with no politics or egos. As curator Krzysztof Candrowicz said to me we are all just one big family.

The clear difference between a festival like the Kassel FotoBook and a Photography Fair is the absence of dealer galleries. This takes away the pressure and hype of gallerists having to sell and what's left is simply the common factor of the love of photography and the photobook.

With a group of colleagues I spent a day reviewing portfolios. This is always enjoyable for me because it's a chance to share the not surprising (but mostly forgotten) truth that all of us find the business of making pictures difficult. Difficult because it seems so easy. We all are capable of making bad pictures. This usually provides a sense of relief to many as often photographers think it's only them with the problem.

Later I joined Prestel publisher Curt Holtz to help judge the dummy awards. We were in accord virtually 100% of the time and went for work that was simple, well presented, fresh and surprising. First place went to Jan McCullough's Home Instruction Manual. For this project she searched the internet for tips on how to build your perfect home. After collecting all the tips, Jan rented a house and followed all the instructions given to her. She photographed the end result; a home with a forced personality.

We didn't share the other judges view of the winning book but agreed with everybody that Kumiko Motokis’s White Fang was stunning. This book took second place.
Curt said this about the book: Kumiko Motokis’s White Fang was for me perhaps the most exciting book dummy submitted to this year’s Kassel Fotobookfestival. Based on an actual dog fight that took place in Aomori in Northern Japan in early 2014, this slim soft-cover publication moves cleverly between colour and black-and-white imagery: colour for the build-up before the event; black and white for the fight scenes; colour for the brutal outcome. Varying between formal, straight-up portraiture, and Antoine D’Agataesque blurred imagery, along with well-placed inserts on the history of dog fighting in Japan — which is only banned in some areas across the country — this book perfectly manages to walk the fine line between the gruesomeness of this ancient and brutal practice and the well-crafted aesthetic of a modern-day photo book.




Martin Parr was at Kassel in force. Among other things his huge and impressive output of photobooks were on display. Food was a Parr focus, both with the Martin Parr Kassel Menu an artist’s book assembled using Martin's food photographs. This takes the form of an menu book designed to hold 20 A4 sized photographs. Kassel Menu was released exclusively at this years festival. The Menu Book comes with 46 pictures which the buyer can mix and match as desired. Kassel Menu is limited to 350 copies, all numbered and signed by Martin Parr. The revenues from Kassel Menu go to support the not-for-profit Kassel Fotobookfestival. You can order a copy of Kassel Menu HERE.


And not least was the Martin Parr Say Cheese dinner. More about that later.
Martin Parr on the Big Wall
If you love photobooks and had remotely thought about going to Kassel, put it in your diary for next year you will not be disappointed.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

OFFPRINT LONDON - more photobooks than you have ever seen...

 
  
Running parallel to Photo London, OFFPRINT LONDON took over Tate Modern's Turbine Hall for 4 days in May. From small beginnings in a Paris school hall in 2010 Yannick Bouillis' OFFPRINT book fair has become a runaway success. As book distribution becomes more and more difficult and technology changes make book production easier than ever OFFPRINT provides a very real platform to get bookworks seen and into peoples hands. What's more, the book-fair platform provides artists with a relatively democratic space where authenticity and independence can be maintained free from most marketplace demands.

Offprint Projects describe their approach... is a traveling art publishing fair featuring discerning projects across a wide range of media. The 2015 London fair includes books, zines, vinyls, posters, prints, websites, magazines, and blogs from over 140 participants in the fields of contemporary art, graphic design, literature, poetry, philosophy, and experimental music. In collaboration with Tate Modern and curator Simon Baker, Offprint London dedicates a special space for photobooks, inviting independent photobook publishers from all over the world. Acknowledging a dissolving effect of traditional sites and media (museums / books / schools) and their respective activities (curating / publishing / teaching), Offprint showcases an alliance between printed strategies and digital cultures within the art world, presenting concrete examples of the contemporary dissemination of artistic practices.


It was good to see Bruno Ceschel's Self Publish, Be Happy running a super-active project space at OFFPRINT. The space hosted numerous quirky, oddball events. Described as a call to action its aim was to inspire visitors to make books by playing with different photographic and printing processes. The project space hosted workshops, performances, a bookshop, and a screening room. There was also be a speaker's corner, where visitors had  the opportunity to talk about the books they love. Hand-in-hand with the SPBH ethos the space was made entirely of readymade materials, with 300 plastic containers forming the walls. A fun (yes it was) multifunctional environment.

With over 140 participants offering a mind boggling range of material - zines, books. posters, prints, magazines... all crammed onto tables in Tate's Turbine Hall, the head spun and it became difficult to get down to and find works that resonated. I found myself going to publishers I knew and looking at their fresh material. Perhaps a cop-out on my behalf but I discovered that I wasn't the only one feeling that the event needed some some of clarifying curatorial overview. I'm not knocking what Yannick has achieved, it's special and amazing. I just think he has got a tiger-by-the-tail and now has to think seriously about what's next.

Here are a few of the participants I particularly like:

Mörel Books, always interesting always demanding. Their JH Engstrom limited edition ALWAYS was worth the price of admission alone.


GOST, founded by Gordon MacDonald and Stuart Smith has great material. With Clare Strand and Mark Power on their list what more do you want.

NOBODY, Stephen Gill's own imprint is a mine of risk taking publications. Never any disappointment here.

Self Publish, Be Happy, Bruno Ceschel publishes Lucas Blalock one of my favorite photographers. He do can do wrong.

SUPER LABO, Yasunori Hoki's idiosyncratic list of superbly crafted books always amazes and Antoine d'Agata is a must. I admit a little bias here.

You can watch the above vimeo presentation, the BJP talks to Yannick Bouillis and Bruno Ceschel, HERE.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Photo London - random thoughts

 

It was a pleasure to be in London in late Spring and have Photo London to look forward to. This was the inaugural edition of the London fair and it was clear the organizers had gone to great lengths to make the event successful. It would be unfair to compare Photo London with Paris Photo, the later is now firmly established and it has a commanding presence. Located in London's historic Somerset House, with its Strand address and views of the river, the location is in walking distance of the London's busy center. Unlike Paris' Grande Palais Somerset House is divided into rooms and this enabled the galleries to set up more individualized spaces. This did tend to create a maze of rooms, difficult to negotiate, although the organizers did provide "helpers" to act as guides.
Many of the well known galleries were present, for example Hamburg's Robert Morat and Yossi Milo from New York. Other dealers were there too scoping out the event for next year.

Publishers Dewi Lewis, Mack, Hatje Cantz. Phaidon and Kehrer were in attendance but relegated to a low-traffic area downstairs. I suspect they were not happy.
Photo London presented an impressive series of talks including Don McCullin, Erik Kessels, Quentin Bajac, Todd Hido, Sean O'Hagan, Sebastião Salgado, Mitch Epstein, David Campany and Stephen Shore. And of course there were book signings, but not with the ferocity that I saw at Paris Photo last November.
VIP visitors were well looked after with a Saturday tour of Peckham Galleries, a private view of Sotheby's photography sale, a conversation with Hans Ulrich Obrist and Bertrand Lavier at the Serpentine gallery and much more...

Overall my impressions are positive, Candelstar, the organizers, worked hard to make the event a success and there seemed to be a London buzz about the fair. Something not seen in Paris. Somerset House does have its limitations but its location is superb and the courtyard at the front with tables and chairs added a pleasant "festival" element.

Spring into summer is a perfect time for Photo London, it kicks off the Northern photography season and it is the opening event leading to the Kassel FotoBookFestival and Photobook Bristol in June and Les Rencontres d'Arles in July. 

Photo London organizers are claiming a success, notching up 20,000 or more visitors, it remains to be seen how many of those were buyers and not just tire kickers. Dates for next year are 19 - 22 May.