maandag 28 september 2009

a review New York/Nature as Artifice Photography

by Journal/Brian Rose

Nature as Artifice, Aperture Gallery -- © Brian Rose

Not since they established the city of Nieuw Amsterdam in the 17th century have the Dutch been such a presence in the city as now. Everywhere one turns there is yet another event tied to the 400th anniversary of the arrival of Henry Hudson, an Englishman hired by the Dutch, to these shores. We have long known that many of our local names are derived from the Dutch—Brooklyn, Harlem, Tribeca—no that’s a joke, Tribeca is the Indian name for triangle below Canal.

But never have we been reminded so often and so well of our Dutch heritage. Had it not been for present day Dutch promotional savvy, we would probably have missed the whole 400th anniversary thing. Or we’d have been stuck with celebrating on our own terms, which certainly would not have involved major cultural events and exhibitions.

Were the United States to remind the English of our common heritage by unilaterally staging an official series of arts events in London, it would be regarded as an act of cultural imperialism, rightly so. But New Yorkers are pretty confident of their place in the grand scheme of things—center of the universe as we know it—so a little cultural hubris on the part of the Dutch is not necessarily unwelcome. The city has rolled out the red carpet, with the mayor pointing out, in this election year, that none of it has cost the city a red cent, much less $24 in beads and trinkets.

Nature as Artifice, Aperture Gallery -- © Brian Rose

Which brings me, belatedly, to the topic of this post—an exhibition at Aperture Gallery, Nature as Artifice: 
New Dutch Landscape in Photography and Video Art. This is the second major show this year featuring Dutch photographers. The first, at the Museum of the City of New York, focused on New York as seen by the Dutch. In this exhibit, the Dutch look at their own landscape, historically one of the most engineered patches of ground on earth.

Snelweg, Theo Baart and Cary Markerink -- © Brian Rose

Having lived in the Netherlands for about 15 years, I was familiar with some of the photographers in the show. One wall of the gallery was devoted to a tour de force project called Snelweg (freeway), the work of Cary Markerink & Theo Baart. Snelweg presents the highway as both the connective tissue of suburbanization and as a place in itself. The pictures, made in various formats and sizes collaged together, looks great on the wall, but made for an even better book. Here’s a description by the photographers from the George Eastman House blog:

Since the Dutch prefer to look at “high culture” rather then reflect upon the “low culture” – the suburban landscape – it was difficult to find funding for our project. It forced us to take the lead. We subsequently became the producers, photographers, publishers and designers of the project. For the publication we had in mind we invited the American-born Dutch writer Tracy Metz who contributed an elaborate essay on the phenomena of the Dutch Highway. When designing the photo-book we choose a linear form. We had photographed in a mix of styles – using a variety of cameras and film – reflecting on the changes that had occurred in landscape-photography since the seventies. Every spread of the book was different; we used gatefolds, grids, full-bleed pages and included a typographical landscape as a double-gatefold, using the names of underpasses which in the Netherlands are called after the historical locations present before the highway was constructed there.

Although Snelweg depicts the freeway in the intensely used Dutch context, it’s really a universal theme, and applies to the motorway landscape of western Europe and the urbanized parts of the United States. It could have been the starting point for a different exhibition looking at connectivity and mobility as inhabited space not simply as the bare bones of infrastructure.

Jannes Linders photographs -- © Brian Rose

The rest of Nature as Artifice presents less complete slices of the Dutch landscape with some photographers well represented, others harder to get a handle on. Jannes Linders, one of my favorite Dutch photographers—largely unknown in the U.S.—is shown in a grid of large format black and white prints. These quiet, mostly emptied out vistas, deserve more wall space. They show a basic fact of the Dutch landscape, that while virtually every parcel of land is designated for use, much of the country retains its 17th century horizontal aspect punctuated by spires, windmills, and newer urban fixtures. What sets Linders apart is that he invests this often banal landscape with a poetic, though somber, quality that—from my experience—lies at the heart of Dutch society.

Photo by Jannes Linders

Photo by Hans Aarsman

As an outsider in the Netherlands I found the Dutch frequently inscrutable, insular. That’s how I feel about Hans Aarsman’s photographs. When I first arrived in the Netherlands his book of photos taken from the roof of an RV while traveling the country was something of a popular sensation for what was basically art photography. I never connected with the pictures, but obviously the Dutch recognized something essential about themselves in the mirror of his camera. In any case, I don’t think he is well served by showing poorly printed 4x5 contact prints to Americans unfamiliar with his photographs.

Hans van der Meer photographs -- © Brian Rose

Two other photographers I’d like to spotlight here are Wout Berger and Hans van der Meer. The latter has for years been photographing small time soccer fields in the Netherlands and all over Europe. While his pictures capture moments of play, they are equally about the surrounding landscapes, and express how integral the game is to Dutch society—and much of the world. I have always loved these pictures. Three, shown in this exhibition is not enough.

Poisoned Landscape by Wout Berger -- © Brian Rose

Photograph by Wout Berger

Wout Berger is another brilliant Dutch photographer perhaps not adequately shown in Nature as Artifice. His photographs of polluted wasteland around the Netherlands are interesting—despite murky looking prints—but his more recent work, often made just looking down at the ground a few feet in front of him, find the infinite in the finite. His book, Like Birds, which is on sale at Aperture Gallery, is beautiful.

What’s missing from this exhibition, speaking from a not entirely disinterested perspective (see my own pictures of the periphery of Amsterdam), are images of the new neighborhoods, the utopian architecture, the supreme expressions of the planners and architects whose visions of the future have been implemented in the Netherlands to an extent unique in the world. There are glimpses of it in Nature as Artifice, but just as the cityscape of New York was missing from Dutch Seen at the Museum of the City of New York, significant aspects of the Dutch landscape are largely absent in this, nevertheless, worthwhile show at Aperture.

Have this group photograph New York? Now that would have been interesting.

zaterdag 26 september 2009

FOAM MAGAZINE #20 / TALENT Photography

This 'Talent' issue is devoted to young and talented photographers worldwide. The talents are scouted through our annual talent call and the KLM Paul Huf Award....But what defines talent?

"Fear of being too late and missing out, fear of being a trend-follower instead of a trendsetter, means that young artists sometimes very quickly are labelled as ‘the next great thing’" -Marcel Feil Curator Foam-

We asked Jörg Colberg, the founder of the brilliant photoblog Conscientious, to make the interviews for the Talent Issue. You can now read some of the extended versions of Q&A's on his blog ...

Please check out our winners portfolios
Aaron Schuman
Alexander Gronsky
Amira Fritz
Anouk Kruithof
Daniel Naudé
Davide Monteleone
Elliott Wilcox
João Castilho
Julian Faulhaber
Leonie Purchas
Michael Lundgren
Nadim Asfar
Peter van Agtmael
Ronald Leong
Sarah Gerats
Simone Bergantini
Taisuke Koyama
Timo Klos

Lees verder & see also Collecting Photography and PhotoBooks ...

donderdag 24 september 2009

Documentary What Remains: The Life and Work of Sally Mann Photography

What Remains: The Life and Work of Sally Mann

As one of the world's preeminent photographers, Sally Mann creates artwork that challenges viewers' values and moral attitudes. Described by Time magazine as "America's greatest photographer," she first came to international prominence in 1992 with Immediate Family, a series of complex and enigmatic pictures of her three children. What Remains--Mann's recent series on the myriad aspects of death and decay--is the subject of this eponymously titled documentary.

Filmed at her Virginia farm, Mann is surrounded by her husband and now-grown children, and her willingness to reveal her artistic process allows the viewer to gain exclusive entrance to her world. Never one to compromise, she reflects on her own personal feelings about mortality as she continues to examine the boundaries of contemporary art. Spanning five years, What Remains contains unbridled access to the many stages of Mann's work, and is a rare glimpse of an eloquent and brilliant artist.

See also Sally Mann Feminine Personal & Macabre Photography & a review by 5B4 Proud Flesh ...

See also Ata Kando Droom in het woud ...

dinsdag 22 september 2009

Bombay Beauties KESSELSKRAMER PUBLISHING NEW BOOKS Vernacular Photography


For the second time, Erik Kessels brings his own photos together in a new book Tree Paintings – Photography by Erik Kessels, which documents trees “marked for destruction by loggers”. Kessels has recorded these ‘tags’, or simple inscriptions made on the bark of the tree by different people, in a series of close up shots. The second book release, Bombay Beauties, is a collection of found photographs which have been acquired and edited by Kessels and is a follow-up to Bangkok Beauties. The featured images were collected in Mumbai and depict “a rich mix of ordinary subjects from hairdressers’ models to family shots, to wedding images”.

Kessels has brought vernacular photography to the forefront and his exhibition Loving Your Pictures was one of the highlights of Rencontres d’Arles 2007. As with much of Kessels curation of, mainly, ‘found’ photographs, the themes and concepts binding the work appear deceptively simple but are brilliantly polysemic and engaging. What’s more, photographers considering producing their own books would benefit from looking at the selection of books produced and published by KesselsKramer Publishing, especially as each work is conceived of and treated to different processes resulting in objects which help achieve the initiative’s stated interest “in testing boundaries in the field of publishing”.

The HQ, KesselsKramer, is located in Amsterdam and has a sister hub outlet KKOutlet – a quirky place which is a hybrid communications agency-cum-gallery-cum-bookshop – perched in east London’s hip Hoxton Square. Kessels’s magazine Useful Photography can be purchased here alongside a wonderful collection of books.

Black Smoke Journey to the End of Coal China Photography


Journey To The End Of Coal tells you the story of a sacrifice. A sacrifice millions of Chinese coal miners are making everyday, risking their lives and spoiling their land to satisfy their own country’s appetite for economic growth.

Your journey begins in Datong which is located just a couple hours away West from Beijing. You travel from there all around the region and visit its major coal mines, from the “best” state-owned complex to the worst private coal plants.

In and around the coal mines, you get the story first hand from the mingong, the rural migrants traveling their country looking for work.

At your own pace and will, you meet them and learn more about how they live in this valley of death and pollution, sometimes even literally bumping into them as they leave their home for their night shift, in the frozen winter of Northern China.

Ultimately, you might discover China forbidden mines in which happen most of the accidents.

Based on the interactive story telling format “FIRST PERSONS”, conceived by Abel Ségrétin, Grégoire Basdevant and Arnaud Dressen.
Producer : Arnaud DressenDirectors: Samuel Bollendorff and Abel SégrétinCo-Author: Grégoire BasdevantSound design: Frederic BlinDevelopment: 31Septembre / Guillaume Urjewicz / Remi ToffoliWith the support from CNC multimédia and SCAM.

maandag 21 september 2009

In the Name of God the Untouchables of India Olivia Arthur Photography

In the Name of God

Olivia Arthur photographed the ramnamis in India. These leather workers are on the lowest rung of the caste system. Because they process the skins of the holy cows they are 'untouchables' and are, for instance, forbidden to enter Hindu temples. As an expression of their own proud religious convictions the ramnamis tattoo the name of the god Ram all over their bodies. In this way they wish to show that everyone is equal in the eyes of God and that they have no need of temples to confess their faith. The tattoos of a divine name on the skin of an unclean person are at the same time a provocation addressed to the higher castes.

Olivia Arthur (b. 1980, Great Britain) is the winner of the Magnum Photos Inge Morath Award 2007.

See for Human Conditions Nooderlicht International Photofestival 2009 ... & Geloofsstrijd ...

donderdag 17 september 2009

Jacob Holdt: Shipwrecked souls in Nixon's alien America Documentary Photography Photojournalism

United States 1970-1975 Jacob Holdt
19 September 2009 to 10 January 2010

Kunsthal Rotterdam puts photographs by Danish photographer Jacob Holdt on display which present the visitors a vivid image of the United States in the Seventies. Over eighty pictures and a presentation of slides show a society where poverty, fear, loneliness and violence prevail. Between 1970 and 1975 Holdt traveled criss-cross through the country and documented the social injustice he came across with a simple camera. He shows touching portraits of people from the lowest classes of society. Behind each of these photographs is a story of personal drama. Holdt took photographs that can still be considered current, perhaps even more so because present high unemployment rates and lack of affordable health insurance and care may very well lead to a situation in which many American citizens will be forced to live their lives in abominable circumstances.

Oppressive Image of the Time
During a period of time of five years Jacob Holdt stayed with over four hundred American families, with hardly any cash at hand. He stayed with various migrant families and became acquainted with criminals in ghettos, drug addicts and prostitutes but also got to know tremendously rich families like the Rockefellers. His parents could not believe all the stories he told them in his letters and therefore decided to send him a simple camera in order to illustrate all his adventures with pictures. Holdt took photographs of thousands of meetings and managed to register these moments without passing any judgment whatsoever. The people portrayed do not gaze into the camera's lens and all show their urge to survive in a very personal and distinctive way. He shows racial hatred and political tension when he becomes friends with principal figures within the Ku Klux Klan and when he is temporarily working for members of staff at the Republican presidential election campaign. As a child of his time he takes part in great anti-Vietnam demonstrations. He also portrays the Black Power movement - and a great many of his friends that end up in prison because of violent actions. Read more ...

woensdag 16 september 2009

Rob Hornstra Updates Documentary Photography

Rob Hornstra
Postbus 1011 / NL - 3500 BA Utrecht
+31 6 1436 5936 /

For four months I have been working with Arnold van Bruggen on The Sochi Project. In this time, there has been a lot of interest in the way in which we are trying to finance this project. We are relying principally on donations to ensure that for five years we are able to intensively document the developments around Olympic Sochi. And that seems to be working. More than 100 donors have now come forward, donating a total of nearly €9,000. We’re not there yet, but we’re well on the way...

Sanatorium Publication (new)

Sochi and sanatoria are inextricably linked. During the Communist era Sochi was a health resort where workers were sent for a holiday or to recuperate. In the run-up to the Games almost all of the sanatoria will undergo a facelift in order to lose their Soviet image. Before that happens, The Sochi Project will devote extensive attention to these historic buildings. At the end of November we will bring out our annual publication; a homage to the Soviet sanatorium (only available to donors of The Sochi Project). In the summer of 2010 we intend to organise a trip for people interested in staying in one of these not-yet-renovated Soviet sanatoria.

• The nominations for the Kasseler Fotoforum Photo Book Award 2008+2009 (which includes 101 Billionaires) have been compiled in a beautiful catalogue, which can be viewed and ordered on the website
• The autumn issue (#196) of
Aperture Magazine contains an eight-page portfolio from 101 Billionaires.
• With the book, I have also been nominated for the
Deutsche Börse Photography Prize 2010. The shortlist will be announced at the end of October.

Willem & Kid Project

For several years I have been taking photos of my neighbours, Willem & Kid, in the Utrecht problem neighbourhood Ondiep. A selection of these can now be seen in the portfolio on my website. The demolition of our neighbourhood has now come to within 50 metres of our front doors. We expect to have to move out of our houses in around a year. Of course I will continue to follow Willem & Kid.

Agenda September 2009 - November 2009
01.09.2009 - 10.10.2009
Work from Russia (2003 - 2009) will be exhibited in the Fotofestival Noorderlicht satellite programme. Bookshop Godert Walter, Oude Ebbingestraat 53 in Groningen.
19.11.2009 - 22.11.2009
Flatland Gallery will present new work during Paris Photo. The Sanatorium book will also be launched on Friday at 4pm.