dinsdag 26 maart 2019

Q & A AFRICA IN THE PHOTOBOOK Oliver Barstow Ben Krewinkel Photography

Spread from Côte d’Ivoire (1967) by French photographer Roger Espinat 

See also

The Suitcase Collection Photobooks from Africa Asia-Pacific and Ireland Unseen Amsterdam 2018 Photography

Blog / By Oliver Barstow

For five years, Ben Krewinkel has been building an ever growing collection of 20th century African photobooks. The 500 to 550 titles in his possession reflect the changing visual representation of the continent. Krewinkel’s collection is visible online; he is also working on a book.

At what point did you realise you were starting a collection? 

I’ve been collecting photobooks for a long time now. The first two photobooks in my collection were Black Child by the South African photographer Peter Magubane and the beautiful book Sahel by Dutch photographer Willem Diepraam. In 2012, I visited the exhibition Don McCullin or the business of being human, where I bought one of his books. After this, the book collecting went faster. I started to study photography and my teacher, Joost van den Broek, often brought books to the classroom and stirred my enthusiasm. The Photobook: A History by Martin Parr and Gerry Badger did the rest. It was about five years ago that I decided to focus mainly on books about and from the African continent. It was from this moment that I realised I was building a cohesive collection.

Black Child by the South African photographer Peter Magubane.

Your collection seems to focus predominantly on Africa in the 20th century. Can you comment on this and what are your parameters for adding books to the collection?

There is a difference between the website and the book I am currently working on. For the website there are no restrictions, although I only showcase professional and commercial books. In the case of amateur, self-published print-on-demand books, I decide based on the content whether or not I showcase the book on the website. Since there is obviously a limit to my book-buying budget, I have to be selective when acquiring books for the collection. Occasionally, I buy books that I feel fit the collection, but fortunately photographers also send complimentary copies of their book to be showcased on the website and help build the collection.

To me the era from the 1890s until the 1990s is most interesting. From about the 1890s photobooks were made using new, commercial printing techniques and became more accessible to a mass audience. Older, one-off photographic albums such as Africa Occidental by Cunha de Moraes (on Angola published in the 1880s) is beautiful but is excluded from the collection. I must admit though that this is also due to the fact that I cannot afford to buy titles like this, which are rare and expensive. The 1990s mark both the end of Apartheid in South Africa and the end of colonialism in Namibia. Also, this period brought a (re)valuation of African photography because of exhibitions like In/sight:African photographers, 1940 to the present at the Guggenheim in the 1990s. In a relatively short time, many monographs of African portrait photographers were published during these years. These books are less important for my collection, since the photographs – taken as portraits in studio for paying customers – weren’t originally intended to be published in book form. This was done on the part of collectors and curators looking to add commercial and institutional value to these collections.

One last thing, there are no restrictions on content. Most of the photobooks published before the 1950s are problematic, but so are many of the books published after this date. The website is about the changing visual representation of Africa as expressed through the medium of the photobook. By buying and showcasing the books I don’t endorse the work, but hope to make it available to a wider audience for critique and assessment.

How many books are currently in the collection?

I think there are about 500 to 550 books in the collection, of which 430 can be viewed on the website.

There is significance to the name you have given the collection: Africa 'in' the Photobook. What is the ratio of books produced in Africa by Africans as opposed to books produced by Europeans about Africa and is this distinction easy to discern? Would you agree that this is predominantly a colonial history?  

I fully agree that when considering the books in the collection that predate the 1960s, we are looking at a colonial history. Obviously, a name such as The African Photobook would suggest the collection consists of books made and published in Africa by African artists. Fortunately, more and more African artist are making photobooks, but most books in my collection, especially predating the 1960s, were made by western photographers, designers and publishers. Even many of the first books commissioned by the national governments of the new independent nation states in Africa were made in Europe and contained photographs made by Europeans. The earliest examples that could be considered African were books that were made by nationalist organizations such as the FLN in Algeria and Frelimo in Mozambique. More often than not, the photographs in the books aren’t attributed to specific photographers making it very difficult to discern African books from European books. What is very interesting is that in very early books there is evidence of the inclusion of photographs made by African photographers. An interesting example is the book Voyage au Congo (1897) by Charles Lemaire that at least contains one photograph by H. A. Shanu, a photographer from Nigeria. That said even Shanu worked at the time for the Belgian authorities, so his work served this colonial perspective.

Voyage au Congo (1897) by Charles Lemaire

What, in your opinion, is the value of this collection?

The value of this collection is most definitely the fact that all books are brought together into one collection. In this sense they interact with each other. Many books are not obviously interesting on their own, but when looked at within in a wider context that the collection brings, one can discover certain patterns and connections between different titles.

Could you point to a lesser-known book in your collection and describe why it is exemplary? 

One of my favorite books, actually more of a booklet, is Nôs resistência cultural (1976) that was published in Cabo Verde. I think many people wouldn’t consider this a photobook. To me it is very interesting since it is a propaganda book in which the makers show a cultural self-awareness that is way more subtle than I am used to seeing in books from the same era. By showcasing local handicrafts in a sober, sometimes abstract manner the makers of the book are communicating a certain cultural pride and progress as propagated by the Cabo Verde revolutionary, Amilcar Cabral.

Nôs resistência cultural (1976)

Is there a prevailing genre that arises through the collection? In other words, do you find more of one kind of book than another and why do you think this is?

Certainly, there are some genres or trends to be discovered in the collection. Many of these are time-bound. Just after the Second World War one sees, for instance, an increase of illustrated children’s books. Although many of them were made from a humanistic point of view, they are often nostalgic and Eurocentric. Another prevailing genre is books published after the 1960s by the governments of the new independent nation states. Without exception they are about state formation and nation building. Many of these books were still made by European photographers and publishers. The books made by the liberation movements, in particularly Lusophone Africa, are more self-aware and do focus on the liberation struggle as well. These books are much more radical. Nôs resistência cultural is an exception since it doesn’t depict explicitly the struggle or the progress of the country, neither does it show a portrait of the president. It only shows the objects made by ordinary civilians who have always been, by sticking to their traditions, an important part of the resistance to the colonial administration. Although the content of these nation-building books is very much the same, their designs differ. There are some very beautifully designed books that stand out from this period. As is well-known Ahmed Sékou Touré the president of Guinea saw the potential of photography, which can be seen in some of the early publications from independent Guinea such as Guinea and its people (1965) that was published both in English and French. A photobook that was also beautifully designed is Côte d’Ivoire (1967) with photographs by the French photographer Roger Espinat. The strikingly abstract cover only showing an ‘A’ standing for ‘Amitie’, ‘Afrique’ and ‘Avenir’. Just like the sober cover the book also stands out because of the depiction of President Félix Houphouët-Boigny who is not placed at the beginning of the book, but only at the end in a very small portrait.

Guinea and its people (1965) (above) and Côte d’Ivoire (1967) (below)

You currently catalogue the books on a dedicated website and (generously) make a selection of spreads and bibliographical information available to anyone who is interested. I know that you are working on a book/s about the collection. What do you hope to achieve with the book that you don't with the website?

I’m currently working very hard on the book project. The most difficult thing is finding information on the selected books to be included in the publication. Most often there is very little information on the books, authors, photographers and the motives behind their publication. By writing the book I hope to be able to place the selected photobooks from the collection in a logical context and to delve deeper into a selection of books that are exemplary for the different genres or trends. I have no pretention to completeness and hope the study is just the beginning of a deeper level of research. There are so many interesting books and potential topics to write about. Recently, the book Photobook Belge was published. It includes is a chapter fully dedicated to photobooks on Congo. I think one could write a complete book on this region alone and the same would apply for other regions.

Spread from Côte d’Ivoire (1967)

Who do you see as the audience for the books?

 The idea behind the website is to open up the collection for a wide an audience as possible. The problem with physical archives is that they must be visited in person. With the website anybody with access to the Internet can get an idea of what the books look like inside. This way you don’t have to be a wealthy collector to get access to specific and often hard to find titles. Although I know the website is of interest to book collectors as well, I hope to reach a wider audience, for example, students from African countries who don’t have easy access to European archives. By opening up the online archive I also hope to connect with people and be able to gather more information on certain books.

At this point there is very little detailed information on content of the books. This information takes time to gather. The research for the book is partly funded, but my intention is to see how I can include more information about the books included on the website in future. The audience for the physical book I am working on is smaller, but making the book provides a unique opportunity to gather information. I would like for the book to be affordable, but oftent the price of reference books like these, due to their extent and the time that goes into compiling them, is high. My hope would be to be able to make the content of the books digitally available at a reduced price.

Check out the Africa in the Photobook website here.

Ben Krewinkel (1975) studied modern African history in Amsterdam and Pretoria and Photographic Studies in Leiden. He also finished the FotoAcademie (cum laude) in Amsterdam. He teaches photography at the School of Journalism in Utrecht and at the Royal Academy of Art in The Hague. He also works as a curator and writes on photography, mainly photobooks. In 2012, his first photobook A Possible Life. Conversations with Gualbert. was published. Currently, he is working on the follow-up of A Possible Life. The title of the forthcoming book is Il m'a sauvé (He saved me). Ben is the main editor of Africa in the Photobook, a website about the changing visual representation of Africa as expressed through the medium of the photobook.

zondag 24 maart 2019

Views & Reviews Tania Modèle Pour Photos De Charme Jacques Lennep Artists Book Photobook Belge Photography

Tania Modèle Pour Photos De Charme

door Jacques Lennep

Since the birth of photography, the photobook has always been an essential medium for photographers wanting to display and distribute their work. But the photobook is more than just a display case: it's a means of expression, an art object, a historical record, a propaganda tool, a multisensory experience. Photobook Belge is the first ever overview of photobooks created by Belgian photographers. Covering a period of more than 150 years, from the mid 19th century to the present, it features almost 250 photobooks, all carefully described and illustrated. It's the first time that research into the production and context of Belgian photobooks has been carried out on this scale. In so doing, it sheds light on a hitherto neglected part of Belgium's long and fascinating photo history. Over time, the Belgian photobook has become well established. With Photobook Belge, it finally gets the recognition it deserves. Featuring works by famous names such as Dirk Braeckman, Marcel Broodthaers, Bieke Depoorter, Gilbert Fastenaekens, Edmond Fierlants, Geert Goiris, Harry Gruyaert, Max Pinckers, Marie-Françoise Plissart, Marc Trivier and Stephan Vanfleteren, as well as many undiscovered gems from Belgium's rich photography history. Compiled by Tamara Berghmans (curator FOMU – Fotomuseum Antwerp), with contributions from Pool Andries, Jan Baetens, Sandrine Colard, Emmanuel d'Autreppe, Johan De Vos, Steven F. Joseph, Johan Pas and Stefan Vanthuyne. The book is published on the occasion of the exhibition Photobook Belge at FOMU – Fotomuseum Antwerp, Belgium, 01.03.2019 – 06.10.2019.

° 1941

Jacques van Lennep studeert af als kunsthistoricus aan de Université Libre de Bruxelles en gaat aan de slag bij de Koninklijke Musea voor Schone Kunsten. Lange tijd combineert hij zijn job als onderzoeker met zijn kunstenaarsbestaan onder de naam Jacques Lennep.

In 1972 sticht Lennep CAP (Cercle d’Art Prospectif).  Het kunstenaarscollectief organiseert verschillende tentoonstellingen waarbij fotografie steeds een belangrijke rol speelt.

Het werk van Lennep vertoont vaak een sterke band met gekende meesterwerken. Via het medium fotografie recreëert hij werken die deel uitmaken van de kunstgeschiedenis, een gebruik dat gelinkt kan worden aan de Brusselse Surrealisten.

Jacques Lennep verbindt kunst met het alledaagse leven en de relaties die het leven kenmerken: de relatie tussen objecten en media, de narratieve relatie en de relaties tussen mensen.

vrijdag 22 maart 2019

Views & Reviews Photographer Luigi Ghirri Loved ordinary Things The Map and the Territory Photography

This first retrospective of photographs taken outside his native Italy by Luigi Ghirri (1943- 1992) focuses on the 1970s. It covers a decade in which Luigi Ghirri produced a corpus of colour photographs unparalleled in Europe at that time.

Luigi Ghirri, who was a trained surveyor, began taking photographs at weekends in the early 1970s, devising projects and themes as he roamed up and down the streets, the piazzas and the suburbs of Modena. He cast an attentive and affectionate eye on the signs of the outside world, observing, without openly commenting on them, the changes wrought by humans to the landscape and the housing in the Reggio Emilia, his province of birth. It was a barometer for a local vernacular exposed to the advent of new forms of housing, leisure and advertising. “I am interested in ephemeral architecture, in the provincial world, in objects generally regarded as bad taste, as kitsch, but which have never been that for me, in objects charged with desires, dreams, collective memories [...], windows, mirrors, stars, palm trees, atlases, globes, books, museums and human beings seen through images.”

By the end of the decade, Luigi Ghirri had accumulated thousands of pictures and developed a unique style and complex conceptual framework for his work. That first decade concluded with two high points: the publication, in 1978, of Kodachrome, a truly exceptional book of photographs, and a major exhibition, "Vera Fotografia", which was held in 1979 at the exhibition centre of the University of Parma. It was organised by Arturo Carlo Quintavalle and Massimo Mussini, and presented fourteen projects and themes to illustrate Luigi Ghirri's distinctive philosophy and methods of action.

This exhibition is based on the poetic map of the 1979 exhibition, which featured both highly structured projects such as Atlante (1973) – photographs of pages from atlases –, and Colazione sull'erba (1972-1974), in which the artist had observed and examined the interface between artifice and nature in the tinygardens of Modena, as well as more diverse groups such as Diaframma 11, 1/125, luce naturale (1970-1979), which dealt with the ways in which people took photographs and were photographed, or the landscape of the signs of provincial Italy in Italia Ailati and Vedute (1970-1979).

Luigi Ghirri had an unshakeable fascination for representations of the world, for reproductions, pictures, posters, models and maps, and for the way in which these representations were incorporated into the world, as signs in the heart of the city or in the landscape. For Luigi Ghirri, the mediation of experience through images in an Italy torn between the old and the new was an inexhaustible source of study, “a great adventure in the world of thought and of the gaze, a great magic toy that miraculously reconciles our knowledge as adults with the fabulous world of childhood, a never-ending journey into the great and the small, in the variations that appear throughout the kingdom of illusions and appearances, labyrinths and mirrors, of multitudes and simulations.”

Curator : James Lingwood

Exhibition jointly organised by Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid, in collaboration with the Jeu de Paume, Paris, and the Museum Folkwang, Essen.

In partnership with the Italian Cultural Institut in Paris.

With the exceptional support of the Bibliothèque nationale de France and the Centro Studi e Archivio della Communicazione - Università degli Studi di Parma.

Thanks to the Hôtel Chavanel, Paris

Media partners: À NOUS PARIS, GRAZIA, Le Monde, Télérama, ARTE, Radio Nova

See also

Luigi Ghirri - Catalogues, monographs and periodicals Photography

Egmond am Zee Kodachrome Luigi Ghirri Photography

Fotograaf Luigi Ghirri hield van gewone dingen
Tentoonstelling Luigi Ghirri toont ons een ander Italië dan we kennen uit de reisgidsen. Zijn foto’s, die een voorliefde tonen voor de banaliteit van het alledaagse leven, zijn nu te zien op een schitterend overzicht in Parijs.

Sandra Smallenburg
19 maart 2019

Luigi Ghirri, Orbetello (1974)
Foto Estate Luigi Ghirri 

Luigi Ghirri: The Map and the Territory. T/m 2 juni in Jeu de Paume, Parijs. Inl: jeudepaume.org


Zou hij verlegen zijn geweest? Zou de Italiaanse fotograaf Luigi Ghirri daarom steeds een beetje stiekem, als een voyeur, mensen op hun rug hebben gefotografeerd? Het is de eerste gedachte die bij je opkomt wanneer je in het Parijse Jeu de Paume rondloopt over Ghirri’s fenomenale overzichtstentoonstelling The Map and the Territory. Zijn kleine kleurenfoto’s tonen keer op keer mensen die zich onbespied wanen. Een man in een rode jas die tegen het glas van een bushokje leunt. Een vrouw in een plooirok die voor hem de trap oploopt. Een ouder echtpaar dat op een bankje geniet van het uitzicht op een besneeuwde bergtop. Altijd is er die afstand, alsof Ghirri zijn onderwerpen niet durfde te benaderen.

Gaandeweg de tentoonstelling, die zo’n vierhonderd foto’s in veertien series omvat, begin je te begrijpen dat de Italiaan juist precies wist wat hij wilde. Al zijn foto’s gaan over kijken, over hoe wij de wereld om ons heen ervaren. „Ik heb veel mensen van achteren gefotografeerd terwijl ze kijken naar schilderijen, plattegronden of wandelkaarten”, zei Ghirri in een van de vele teksten die hij schreef over fotografie. „Daarmee wilde ik de personen een oneindig aantal van mogelijke identiteiten geven, van fotograaf tot onderwerp, van degene naar wie gekeken wordt tot degene die zelf kijkt. We zijn allemaal acteurs in gebeurtenissen die we niet helemaal begrijpen.”

Luigi Ghirri (1943-1992) maakte zijn beste werken in de jaren zeventig, in een tijd dat de kunstwereld nog neerkeek op kleurenfotografie. Echte fotografen werkten in zwart-wit, kleur was iets voor reclames en billboards. Maar Ghirri was stellig in zijn keuze: „Ik neem foto’s in kleur omdat de echte wereld in kleur is en omdat de kleurenfilm is uitgevonden.” Hij werkte altijd met een Canon-compactcamera en Kodachrome-film, wat zijn foto’s die heerlijke dromerige kleuren geeft. De rolletjes liet hij gewoon bij een fotowinkel ontwikkelen.

Luigi Ghirri, ‘∞’ Pescara (1972)
Foto Estate Luigi Ghirri

Vanwege het terloopse karakter doen Ghirri’s foto’s denken aan die van beroemde Amerikanen als William Eggleston, Joel Meyerowitz, Joel Sternfield of Stephen Shore. Net als zij interesseerde Ghirri zich voor de banaliteit van het alledaagse leven: fastfood in wegrestaurants, tankstations en snelwegen, of lullige plantjes in de vensterbank. Maar anders dan de Amerikanen, die hun beelden schoten tijdens kilometerslange roadtrips door ‘smalltown America’, fotografeerde Ghirri vooral dichtbij huis. Veel van zijn vroege foto’s zijn gemaakt binnen een straal van drie kilometer rond Modena, de stad waar hij woonde vanaf zijn twintigste tot zijn dood in 1992 – hij stierf op zijn 49ste aan een hartaanval.

Hoewel Ghirri tijdens zijn leven wel in Italië exposeerde, werd zijn werk pas lang na zijn dood in de rest van de wereld opgepikt. De eerste Engelstalige monografie verscheen pas in 2008. In 2011 waren zijn kleurenfoto’s voor veel niet-Italianen dé ontdekking op de Biënnale van Venetië. Twee jaar later, in 2013, volgde zijn eerste Amerikaanse solo bij Matthew Marks Gallery in New York. En nu is er dus dit schitterende overzicht, dat Jeu de Paume samen met Museum Folkwang en het Reina Sofia heeft samengesteld, en dat gebaseerd is op een expositie die Ghirri in 1979 zelf samenstelde voor de Universiteit van Parma.

Luigi Ghirri, Modena, (1973)
Foto Estate Luigi Ghirri

Dat Ghirri nooit ver van huis fotografeerde, had te maken met zijn vaste baan. Als fotograaf was hij autodidact, overdag verdiende hij zijn brood als landmeter. Aanvankelijk trok hij er alleen in het weekend met zijn camera op uit. ‘Viaggio minimo’, noemde hij die zondagse reisjes: minimale tripjes waarbij hij zijn omgeving „zigzaggend” in kaart bracht, steeds weer terugkerend naar bekende plekken. Soms ging hij zelfs de deur helemaal niet uit. Dan schuimde hij met zijn camera de pagina’s van zijn atlas af, op zoek naar mooie bergkammen, eilanden of oases. Pas in 1973, op zijn dertigste, nam Ghirri het besluit om zich volledig op de fotografie te richten.

Ghirri hield van de periferie, van huizen in kleinburgerlijke buitenwijken, met hun rolluiken en hun luxaflex. Hij liet zijn oog glijden over speeltoestellen op afgetrapte veldjes, of kitscherige plantenbakken naast een voordeur, omdat niemand anders dat deed. „Ik kijk naar de huizen in mijn straat, naar de deuren, de kleuren van het pleisterwerk, de vaasjes in de ramen, de mozaïektegeltjes op de gevels. Ik onderzoek die met liefde. Juist omdat ze zo anoniem en verloren waren, leken ze te wachten op iemand die ze een identiteit kon geven.”

Die liefde voor de dingen deelde Ghirri met zijn favoriete kunstenaar Giorgio Morandi, de Italiaan die zijn leven lang vaasjes had geschilderd in Bologna. Ghirri streefde naar eenzelfde gevoel van eenvoud, balans en verstilling in zijn composities. Zijn beelden ogen simpel, als snapshots haast, maar zijn extreem precies in hun lijnenspel en kleurgebruik. In Riva di Tures fotografeerde hij in 1977 twee bergtoppen die door een perfect horizontale witte vliegtuigstreep met elkaar verbonden lijken – alsof er een koorddanser overheen zou kunnen wandelen. In L’Ile-Rousse maakte hij in 1976 een foto van de zee, die precies in tweeën wordt gesplitst door een betonnen paal. Met de analytische blik van een landmeter keek hij ook als fotograaf naar het landschap: frontaal, vaak symmetrisch, zonder wijkende lijnen die het beeld vertekenen.

Luigi Ghirri, Padova (1973)
Foto Estate Luigi Ghirri

Zijn vele duizenden foto’s bracht Ghirri onder in een ordelijk archief. De afdrukken plakte hij op kartonnen kaarten, met de bijpassende negatieven erbij in kleine envelopjes. Daarmee kon hij eindeloos husselen tot er samenhangende series uit tevoorschijn kwamen. De conceptuele inslag waarmee Ghirri dat deed, verraadt de invloed van Amerikaanse kunstenaars als John Baldessari en Ed Ruscha, van wie hij meerdere fotoboeken bezat.

Soms maakte hij als toerist langere reizen, op vakantie naar Zwitserland, Frankrijk of Nederland. Maar ook dan maakte hij geen toeristenkiekjes. Hij beschouwde de toeristenindustrie met humor en milde ironie. In Egmond aan Zee fotografeerde hij de tientallen lege bankjes op een verlaten parkeerplaats. In Salzburg spotte hij een steenbok die bij nadere beschouwing een opgezet exemplaar in een diorama blijkt te zijn.

Luigi Ghirri, Salzburgo ( 1977)
Foto Estate Luigi Ghirri

Illusies, trompe-l’oeils, spiegelingen – Luigi Ghirri was er dol op. Hij was vaak te vinden in het pretpark Italia in Miniatura in de badplaats Rimini, een soort Madurodam waar de beroemdste Italiaanse gebouwen op schaal zijn nagebouwd. Het leidde tot de briljante serie In Scala (1977-1978), vol hilarische foto’s die eruitzien als collages, maar toch echt zo gezien zijn door Ghirri. Achter Siena’s Piazza del Palio rijst dan bijvoorbeeld de Mont Blanc op, terwijl even verderop Michelangelo’s David net iets te buitenproportioneel voor het Palazzo Vecchio in Florence staat.

Luigi Ghirri, Rimini (1977)
Foto Estate Luigi Ghirri

Zo toont Ghirri ons op deze tentoonstelling een totaal ander Italië dan we kennen uit de reisgidsen. Geen historische steden vol afgebladderde schoonheid en culturele schatten, maar aftandse badplaatsen met hun kermissen en souvenirshops. Geen grootstedelijke grandeur, maar provinciaalse alledaagsheid. „Als ik met de trein reis”, zo schreef Ghirri over die verscheurdheid tussen verleden en heden, „verbaas ik me altijd over het verschil tussen het landschap dat je ziet uit het treinraam en de foto’s van de bekende toeristenplekken die in de treinstellen zijn opgehangen – de scheve toren van Pisa, de Romaanse kathedralen, de renaissancesteden. De reis is dus tweeledig: er is één die je ziet door het raam en één die je ziet in de treinwagon.”

Ghirri slaagde erin die lelijkheid van neonreclames, plastic palmbomen en rotan parasols om te zetten in pareltjes van vorm, lijn en kleur – uiteraard op ansichtkaartformaat.

Luigi Ghirri, ‘∞’ Infinito (1974)
Foto Estate Luigi Ghirri