Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Wim Wenders - photographs, at Kunstpalast Dusseldorf

Wim Wenders, Joshua and John (behind), Odessa, Texas 1983
On the occasion of the artist’s 70th birthday in 2015, Museum Kunstpalast in collaboration with Wenders Images and the Wim Wenders Foundation is presenting a selection of 79 large-scale photographs, which invariably are analogue creations, made without artificial lighting or tripod. The exhibits range from artist’s early black-and-white photographs and monumental landscape panorama pictures through to his rarely shown photographs of “Ground Zero” and new works that were made only last year.

Wenders regards his photographic work, in the truest sense of the word, as an interaction of light (phos) and painting (graphein), offering the scope for capturing a unique moment in time.

Wenders started with black-and-white photographs, and later switched to colour photography. In doing so, his interest in photography blended with his passion for painting. Wenders, who initially applied to study at the Academy of Art Düsseldorf without success and in 1967 finally started to study at the then newly-founded College for Television and Film in Munich, discovered the significance of colours for his work: He began to initially “see” a picture for its colours and to define the image section according to the colours.

What I firmly wanted to be, was a painter.
And when pictures really impressed and influenced me,
they were by Vermeer and Rembrandt,
Dutch landscape painters,
later, Klee and Kandinsky and Beckmann,
later still, Edward Hopper and others.
As the filmmaker, which is what I became after some detours,
and also as photographer,
I owe infinitely more to the history of painting
than to the history of film or photography.
Perhaps this is why I want to achieve something with my pictures
that is actually rooted in painting.

You can go to the Museum Kunstpalast site HERE.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

50+ photobooks in 22 years... at Auckland Art Gallery

The Auckland Art Gallery have just acquired a complete set of the 50+ photobooks that I have made over the last 22 years. The first, Four Parts Religion Six Parts Sin, in 1993 and the most recent, Will Any Lonely Person Write to Ponsonby in 2015.

The bookworks are currently on display outside the gallery's research library and can be seen until July 2nd.

Auckland Art Gallery have this to say:
Harvey Benge (born 1944) is a New Zealand photographer who lives and works in Auckland and Paris. Benge's work most often takes the form of limited edition photobooks and he recently donated the 60 publications displayed in this exhibition to the E H McCormick Research Library. The photobooks are published by Benge's imprint FAQEDITIONS as well as specialist publishers Dewi Lewis in the UK, Kehrer Verlag in Germany and Super Labo in Japan, among others.
Benge has collaborated with well-known international photographers such as Daido Moriyama to produce multi-volume photobook sets and has worked with a number of writers to create book works that sympathetically combine texts and photographs.
Benge travels widely and creates tantalising titles for his photobooks. He explains his practice as 'setting out to look at the nature of truth, with photographs that meander amongst the often opposing aspects of truth ... in a world where, when one thing is happening here, something else is happening over there.'

I will be in discussion with Auckland Art Gallery curator Ron Brownson at the gallery auditorium, 11am on Sunday June 21, talking about my photobook practice,

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Sally Mann - what the public sees

Sally Mann - cover image from Immediate Family

In this weekend edition of The New York Times magazine Sally Mann looks back at her career and talks candidly about the controversy that raged when in 1992 the photographs of her children were published in her bookwork Immediate Family.

In September 1992, I published my third book of photographs, “Immediate Family.” The book contained 60 photographs from a decade-­long series of more than 200 pictures of my children, Emmett, Jessie and Virginia, who were about 6, 4 and 1 when I started the project. The photographs show them going about their lives, sometimes without clothing, on our farm tucked into the Virginia hills. For miles in all directions, there was not a breathing soul. When we were on the farm, we were isolated, not just by geography but by the primitive living conditions: no electricity, no running water and, of course, no computer, no phone. Out of a conviction that my lens should remain open to the full scope of their childhood, and with the willing, creative participation of everyone involved, I photographed their triumphs, confusion, harmony and isolation, as well as the hardships that tend to befall children — bruises, vomit, bloody noses, wet beds — all of it.

I expected that the book would be received in much the same way as the one I published four years earlier, “At Twelve.” That book, which showed pictures of young girls on the cusp of adolescence, resulted in modest attention and took about a decade to sell out its small press run. That’s not what happened with “Immediate Family.” Within three months, it sold out its first printing of 10,000...

The overwhelming response was due, in part, to an article about my work by Richard B. Woodward that appeared as a cover story in this magazine around the time the book came out. During the three days of interviews at my home, I was a sitting duck, preening on her nest without the least bit of concealment.

You can read the complete article HERE. And the original piece, The Disturbing Photography of Sally Mann, by Richard B. Woodward HERE.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Roger Ballen - a psychological journey

Roger Ballen - Brian with pet pig,1998

In this weeks Art Weekly post the guardian's Sean O'Hagan talks with controversial photographer Roger Ballen, best known for is portraits of marginalised and mentally unstable South Africans.
“People constantly compare me to Diane Arbus,” says Roger Ballen, wearily. “But I think Samuel Beckett is the key influence on my work. My photographs evoke the absurdity of the human condition, but they are also records of a personal psychological journey. For me, photography is a way of looking in the mirror.”
Alongside Beckett, Ballen cites Carl Jung and the radical 1960s psychoanalyst RD Laing, author of The Divided Self, as touchstones for these journeys. “Jung’s idea of the shadow self is in there, for sure,” he says. “The darkness in all of us that we suppress. I often think that when people react to my pictures, the darkness they see is a reflection of their own repression.”

You can find the complete article HERE, it's a good read.

Roger Ballen - Man drawing chalk faces, 2000

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Auckland - The Easter Show revisited

More years ago than I care to think about I made pictures at Auckland's Easter Show. The event then and now is a strange urbanized derivative of the delightful small country town Agricultural and Pastoral show with prizes for best of this and that animal, art and craft contests, best of pumpkins, tomatoes, and rhubarb plus the fun of the side-shows. There is still all of that, prize bulls and sheep (although no vegetable contests). Most else is high energy escapism with a large helping of kitsch. It's the Easter Show of then on speed.



And some portraits I made this visit:

Monday, April 6, 2015

Philip-Lorca diCorcia talks about his latest body of work - East of Eden

Philip-Lorca diCorcia - Genesis,2015

On today's Artspace edition Philip-Lorca diCorcia talks about the inspiration behind his new series East of Eden.

This latest body of work, East of Eden (showing at David Zwirner in Chelsea, NYC until May 2), finds diCorcia leaning in the direction of more transparent staging. Its hallmarks are carefully posed subjects, cinematic lighting, and overt Biblical references. Cain and Abel, for instance, shows two men wrestling with each other as a nude pregnant woman—an latter-day Eve—looks on. "East of Eden” is also a particularly American narrative of loss and disappointment, one that nods to John Steinbeck’s novel of the same title and to the financial crisis that began in 2008 (the year diCorcia started the series).

And on the the American financial crisis diCorcia comments... is, in a way, a bitter memory for most people. But I think the scar that’s left is gross income inequality. To some degree it’s gotten even worse—people have shifted their attention from just wanting to be rich to wanting to be rich and famous. If they could afford it, I’m sure most people would get themselves a Kim Kardashian ass implant. The world has not moved on—they’re just as stupid, just as ready to get taken by the next huckster.

The Artspace piece touches on di Corcia learning to love digital manipulation, using fashion commissions as a springboard, and having "control over the surprise.”

You can find the whole interview HERE, it's a good read.

Philip-Lorca diCorcia - Cain and Abel, 2013

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Paul Graham talks about YELLOW and more in the British Journal of Photography

Paul Graham - Does Yellow Run Forever?

In an interview with Gerry Badger in the BJP Paul Graham talks about his last bookwork - Does Yellow Run Forever? Graham describes the book as a modest, intimate body of work, with personal, enigmatic photographs. The series comprises of three sets of photographs, each relating to the other; rainbows from Western Ireland, a sleeping dreamer, and gold stores in the United States. It touches the ephemeral question of what we seek and value in life – love, wealth, beauty, clear-eyed reality or an inner dream world? 

The piece touches on the issue of straight versus constructed photography. Graham comments... over the past few years I’ve been pushed forward as a spokesperson for straight photography, which I don’t wish to be. I just want to do my work! That is the best answer – if everyone out there working directly in the world made unarguably good work, then this discussion would be redundant. Anyway. Yes of course the pendulum swings back and forth – at the moment it’s a bit against pure photographs from the world, but it will come back. Steady hand on the tiller and all that. It’s true that some people in the contemporary art world simply do not understand the profound artistic territory that lays at the core of photography at its best, believing instead that it is merely ‘observational’, etc. Even some curators within the photographic community appear to have become tired of straight photography, it sometimes seems. That is partly their problem, but also our fault as photographers. We have to take a share of the blame here – there is just so much silly work out there – dumb ideas and clichéd ‘projects’. Of course, that is true of many media – film, books, painting and so on – so it’s not a unique problem, but we must call it out. I repeat: the answer is to make original intelligent work, from the heart and the brain, and a lot of these issues will just evaporate.

The full discussion is well worth a read, you can do so HERE.