Sunday, November 29, 2015

The Photobook, Top Ten lists, a comment from Joachim Schmid

David Kregenow - Joachim Schmid

Joachim Schmid is a Berlin based artist who has worked with found photography since the early 1980s, he is a consummate and prolific maker of bookworks which is at the core of his practice. Wikipedia says this: ...Yet the fundamental richness of Schmid’s photographic raw material – along with the sardonic wit he so often displays – derails any attempt to read his work as pure anthropology or social science. His artistic preoccupations reflect a close observation of photographic history and a fascination with photographic images themselves in all their alternately bizarre and conventionalized aspects.

Recently Schmidt was asked to prepare a photobook best-of-list, He had this to say:
Dear … Thank you very much for your enquiry. I know I should feel honoured to be regarded as one of the experts on photobooks, but let me be honest: I am rather confused.
First of all, I have to admit I don’t understand much about photobooks, or even worse, I don’t even know what a photobook is. I know, people tried to establish definitions but the ones I know seem to be rather useless. I do more or less regularly look at books, and some of the books I look at or I buy do include photographs; some of them do contain nothing but photographs, but I would not necessarily call them photobooks. Some of the books I look at or I buy are about photography and not all of them include any photographs. Are these also photobooks? To make things worse, some of these books are not explicitely about photography but I think I learn a lot about photography by reading them. Things are complicated. “Photobook” is not a very useful category.

You can read Joachim Schmid's response in full on his website HERE.

If you are interested in looking at an over-view of Schmid's practice there are still copies available of the wonderful hard-back Steidl book - Joachim Schmid: Photoworks 1982-2007. With essays by Frits Gierstberg, Joan Fontcubert, and Val Williams among others, for anybody interested in the dynamics of working with found photography, this book is a must have.

Joachim Schmid: Photoworks 1982-2007

Friday, November 27, 2015

The photobook resurgence, is it an out of control cluster-fuck?

Lewis Bush - European Central Bank sign, Frankfurt

British photographer Lewis Bush writes in his blog Disphotic about his views on today's photobook resurgence. Bush says this: The more I look at photobooks the more I feel that to employ them is often an unconscious attempt to reclaim some token sense of control over what Siegfried Krakeur called the blizzard of images, the raging storm of a visual culture, in his case an analogue one, in our case a digital one. In many ways Krakeur’s analogy is all the more apt for our present, a world of pixels, fragments and reductions, together making up an increasingly incomprehensible whole. To apparently reclaim some control back through reversion to such old fashion forms as book and analogue film is a satisfying and empowering experience for a photographer, but it is an illusory form of control, the equivalent of pulling down the shutters and trying to ignore the raging squall outside. The nature of photography has changed completely, and as much of a pleasant or reassuring distraction from this as books might be they are ultimately an unhelpful diversion from attempting to answer or even just identify some of the huge questions that this shift in the nature of the image presents us with. I am generalising somewhat, and a small and determined minority of book makers use the form in a way which runs exactly counter to the mode I have described above, turning it instead unexpectedly into a way to raise and contest these questions about the status of the photograph. These are few however, often viewed for their progressive tendencies as strange eccentrics or outsiders, by a majority and a ruling circle of photobook insiders lost in anachronistic notions of photography.

In response Nick Waplington replied: I couldn’t agree more, the photo book world now has a set modernist template with a revisionist Japanese wing and a group of ‘stars’ who pick the end of year best of within the confines of the genre. It is one boring out of control cluster fuck and the Cortes within which it exists is totally redundant.

Like Lewis Bush I'm heavily invested in the practice of making photobooks and will not be abandoning that anytime soon. I particularly agree with Nick Wapplington's comments. Yes, it is an out of control cluster-fuck. There are too many books, too many bad books and if you're one of "stars" you could make a book, pictures of your used toilet paper and it would fly out the door. I buy photobooks, lots of photobooks and scour the bookshops when I'm in Paris, London or New York. So often though I come away empty handed because nothing rocks my boat. I see so many books devoid of an idea, books with images that we have all seen before in some form or another and books that are clever and not intelligent.

My book-making proceeds on the basis that I am never happy with what I've done. It can always be done better and the latest book is a stepping stone to the next...

You can read Lewis Bush's full piece HERE and go to his website HERE.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Eve de Castro-Robinson and Harvey Benge, a collaboration


On Thursday December 10 at 5.30pm at Auckland's Gus Fisher Gallery, Rattle Records will launch an LP/book collaboration with music by Eve de Castro-Robinson and images by Harvey Benge. The work is called I stayed a minute. Any readers of my blog who happen to be in Auckland on the 10th are welcome to come along to Gus Fisher.

The production consists of a gate-fold LP with a bled to edge 32 page book-work produced in a limited collectors edition of 50 signed and numbered copies. 

Here are some spreads from the book-work.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

PARIS PHOTO 2015 - A Virtual Tour


Paris Photo 2015 was scheduled to run over last weekend but the event at the Grand Palais was closed due to the terrorist attacks in Paris on the night of Friday the 13th. As a rather remarkable substitute to being there the PARIS PHOTO organizers have produced a virtual tour which takes you up close to all the galleries and the work on the walls. But without the people. In this virtual tour you will find a 360° view of the main exhibitor sector in the nave, the PRISMES sector and the Private Collection exhibition in the Salon d'Honneur, as well as views of the associated exhibitions. It's well worth a look. You can do so HERE.

And here are a few screen shots:

Philippe Boutté Director MAGNIN-A Gallery talks...

Howard Greenberg Gallery front and center

Aron Mörel with Chris Shaw, Terri Weifenbach with John Gossage

Barbara Karpf talks with Jeffrey Ladd and Robert Morat walks...

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Jim Goldberg - Blade at the Beach, a 40 x 50 inch poster you can print at home

Presented by SFMoma, Jim Goldberg's Blade at the Beach is a 26-page PDF which with a home printer, regular letter-sized paper, scissors, and a little tape, anyone can transform into a single 40x50 inch poster. Detailed instructions are included in the file. Blade was one of the main characters in Goldberg’s Raised by Wolves, an innovative multi-media project that documented the lives of street children in Hollywood and San Francisco over a ten-year period. Combining hand-written notes, photographs, texts, videos, personal effects, and audio transcripts, the project retells the myth of Romulus and Remus with cinematic scope. Follow this link HERE to view a riveting 7 minute video all about Raised By Wolves. 

You can download the Blade at the Beach PDF HERE.


Jim Goldberg was born in New Haven, Connecticut, and has been working with experimental storytelling for over thirty-five years. Among his most well known projects are Rich and Poor (1977-1985), Raised by Wolves (1985-1995), Coming and Going (1996-present), Open See (2003-2009), and Candy (2013-2015). His practice documents the complex ways people struggle when social or political circumstances work against them. He has been awarded three NEA grants, a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Henri Cartier-Bresson Award (2007), and the Deutsche Börse Photography Prize (2011). He is represented by Pace/MacGill Gallery in New York and is a member of Magnum Photos.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Photography at MoMA: 1960 – Now, reviews from Mark Steinmetz and Charlotte Cotton

Launched at the end of October, Photography at MoMA: 1960 – Now, edited by Quentin Bajac and his team, sets out to give a comprehensive overview of the museums collection post-1960s.

MoMA says this:  Photography at MoMA brings a new critical perspective on the most prominent artists who have worked with the photographic medium over the last half-century. At a moment when photography is undergoing fast-paced changes and artists are seeking to redefine its boundaries in new and exciting ways, Photography at MoMA serves as an excellent resource for understanding this expanded field. The book begins with an in-depth introduction followed by eight chapters of full-color plates, each introduced by a short essay. Nearly 250 artists are featured, including Diane Arbus, John Baldessari, Jan Dibbets, Rineke Dijkstra, William Eggleston, Lee Friedlander, Louise Lawler, Zoe Leonard, Helen Levitt, Sigmar Polke, Cindy Sherman, Wolfgang Tillmans, Jeff Wall, Carrie Mae Weems, Hannah Wilke, and Garry Winogrand.

The TIME lightbox, in a two-part series, art photographer Mark Steinmetz and curator Charlotte Cotton review Photography at MoMA: 1960 – Now. They offer contrasting views about the Museum’s curatorial choices as the institution moves away from John Szarkowski’s legacy.

In the TIME piece Mark Steinmetz, who comes from the position of looking at the world and extracting from his surroundings images that question and intrigue, asks why... So many of the photographs in the newly released Photography at MoMA: 1960 – Now feel like illustrations of ideas. A large number of them interrogate, in one way or another, the medium of photography or the role of mass media representations in society. Fewer might be considered interrogations of the world that we actually live in as it actually looks and fewer still could be considered interrogations of the self. The selection is tilted towards photographs about thoughts, not feelings...
And... In this book, the real enthusiasm of the new curatorial staff seems to be for photo-based art: there are chapters on conceptual art, performance art, staged photography, work drawn from archives, and abstracted, experimental art. Most of the younger artists and the recently collected work are in this vein. The current curators give the impression that they are content to let straight photography rest pretty much with the same set of photographers that Szarkowski chose for his book, “Photography Until Now (1989),” that is to say, with the generation of photographers who are now in their sixties and seventies. They’ve included a few younger photographers who work in an un-manipulated manner, but the ones they’ve chosen come from other continents and work with some sort of easily graspable political agenda. For the most part the curators’ interest in recent straight photography appears to be slight.

You can read Mark Steinmetz' full review HERE and from Charlotte Cotton HERE.

Regina Silveira, Enigma 1, 1981

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Photo London presents Collecting Contemporary Photography


Photo London gets an early start to their second edition scheduled for 19 - 22 May 2016, with the first of a series of pre-Fair talks.

Collecting Contemporary Photography offers a unique opportunity to discover more about the role of the artist and dealer in the contemporary photography market. The discussion will be an essential guide to Collecting from the perspective of a dealer, artist and curator and will examine how these roles interact with each other. The panelists will also explore the importance of photography within an art collection, and to what extent work is made in view of the commercial art world.

The panel consists of: Chris Littlewood, Director of Photography at Flowers Gallery Simon Roberts, artist And will be chaired by Zelda Cheatle, curator, editor and former gallerist.

Photo London was created to give London an international photography event befitting the city’s status as global cultural capital. Founded in 2015, it has already established itself as a world-class photography fair and as a catalyst for London’s dynamic photography community. From the capital’s major museums, to its auction houses, galleries large and small, right into the burgeoning creative community in the East End and South London, Photo London harnesses the city’s outstanding creative talent and brings the world's leading photographers, curators, exhibitors, dealers and the public to celebrate photography, the medium of our time.

You can purchase tickets HERE for the event which takes place Thursday November 19 in The Screening Room at Somerset House, London.