Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Philip Jones Griffiths - an exhibition to mark the 10th anniversary of his death

London's TJ Boulting gallery and Trolley Books present an exhibition by renowned photographer Philip Jones Griffiths. The show marks the tenth anniversary of Philip Jones Griffiths' death, on 19th March 2008. 

The exhibition is held in conjunction with the Philip Jones Griffiths Foundation and Magnum Photos. PJGX presents photographs from the two important bodies of work that represent Philip's archive - the Viet Nam war and Britain in the 1950s to 70s. It also covers several of the books that he published, from the original dummy of the seminal 'Vietnam Inc' of 1971 to prints from 'Recollections', which he worked on up until the day he died in 2008. As well as his images there will be a filmed interview that Philip gave in 2007 at the University of Wales, and a recent award-winning documentary featuring interviews with John Pilger, Don McCullin and Noam Chomksy among others. 

The exhibition runs 20th March to 21st April 2018. Gallery hours Tuesday to Saturday 11- 6.
You can go to the TJ Boulting site HERE. And to the Philip Jones Griffiths Foundation site HERE.

Sometime in 1998 Philip was in Auckland to shoot a picture of a local celebrity cook for the Heinz Corporation Annual Report. He got in touch with me and I helped him with lighting for the shot. I remember his battered cameras and thought that this was a long way from Vietnam. Later we sat in my kitchen and Philip told unrepeatable tales-out-of-school about his Magnum mates. I emailed Philip in 2003 when his wonderful Agent Orange book was published. He replied to me from New York, saying he was busy editing and that the Agent Orange book had been "soundly ignored by the media."

Philip Jones Griffith was both a remarkable man and remarkable photographer. The Guardian's obituary put it like this: Philip Jones Griffiths, who has died aged 72 of cancer, was the most impassioned and clear-headed of anti-war war photographers. From 1966 to 1968, and again in 1970, he lived the Vietnam war from the inside, sharing the conditions of soldiers and civilians, putting himself at immense personal risk. In 1971 he assembled his reportage into a book, with his own scathing captions, entitled Vietnam Inc, which played a key role in changing public perceptions of the conflict, especially in the United States.
The level of impact the book had is indicated by Noam Chomsky's recent comment: "If anybody in Washington had read that book, we wouldn't have had these wars in Iraq or Afghanistan." 

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

1000 Words Photography Magazine - 10 year anniversary print edition

1000 Words is a leading online contemporary photography magazine. It commissions and publishes exhibition and photo book reviews, essays and interviews in response to the visual culture of our present moment. Founded by Tim Clark in 2008, the editorial commitment has always been to explore the possibilities for the medium whilst stimulating debate around current modes of practice, discourses and theory internationally. Released quarterly, it attracts an average of 140,000 unique visitors from more than 120 countries every month. 1000 Words was also nominated as Photography Magazine of the Year at the Lucie Awards in 2014 and 2016.

To celebrate 10 years of commitment to quality photography 1000 Words is producing a print edition, due for launch October 2018. But they need our support to make it happen. You can check out the 1000 Words Kickstarter campaign HERE. This is a great project and is totally worth supporting! 

1000 Words founder and editor Tim Clark has this to say: 

Since 2008, we’ve commissioned and published more than 850 exhibition and photobook reviews, essays and interviews. Contributors include critics and writers such as David Campany, Susan Bright, Gerry Badger and Charlotte Cotton; as well as respected artists Wolfgang Tillmans, Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin, Vanessa Winship and Lieko Shiga. 

We’ve grown our audience to readers in over 120 countries and attracted an approximately 140,000 unique visitors to the site every month. We have made more than 55,000 Twitter, Instagram and Facebook friends, and we’ve seen nearly 20,000 followers sign up to our newsletter. 

We’ve organised exhibitions and workshops, offered awards, and conducted countless talks and portfolio reviews. In 2014 and 2016 we were nominated for a prestigious Lucie Award in the ‘Photography Magazine of the Year’ category. 

Now we need your help to launch our first print magazine. 2018 marks the 10th anniversary of 1000 Words, and what better way to celebrate than to publish a special print annual? Designed by Sarah Boris, and printed in Italy, the publication will take the form of a beautiful 200-page bookish magazine featuring newly-commissioned content. At its core will be the high-quality reproductions of 10 portfolios from artists who, we believe, have built significant bodies of work and emerged as increasingly influential practitioners in the past decade. Those individuals include Jose Pedro Cortes, Laia Abril, Edmund Clark and Esther Teichmann to name but a few.

While you're at it you can sign up HERE for 1000 Words newsletters. 

Monday, March 19, 2018

Being: New Photography 2018 at MoMA, NYC

Aïda Muluneh -The 99 Series Part One 

Every two years, MoMA’s New Photography exhibition series presents fresh ideas in recent photography and photo-based art. This year’s edition, asks how photography can capture what it means to be human. 

At a time when questions about the rights, responsibilities, and dangers inherent in being represented—and in representing others—are being debated around the world, the works featured in this exhibition call attention to assumptions about how individuals are depicted and perceived. Many works challenge the conventions of photographic portraiture, or use tactics such as masking, cropping, or fragmenting to disorient the viewer. In others, snapshots or found images are taken from their original context and placed in a new one to reveal hidden stories. 
While some of the works might be considered straightforward representations of individuals, others do not include images of the human body at all. Together, they explore how personhood is expressed today, and offer timely perspectives on issues of privacy and exposure; the formation of communities; and gender, heritage, and psychology. 

Exploring new ground and the many forms that the photographic image can take, New Photography is a key part of the Museum’s contemporary program. Since 1985, the series has introduced new work by over 100 artists from around the world. In 2018, Being brings together an international group of 17 artists at various stages in their careers, all presenting their work at the Museum for the first time. 

The artists included are: Sofia Borges (Brazilian, born 1984) Matthew Connors (American, born 1976) Sam Contis (American, born 1982) Shilpa Gupta (Indian, born 1976) Adelita Husni-Bey (Italian, born 1985) Yazan Khalili (Palestinian, born Syria, 1981) Harold Mendez (American, born 1977) Aïda Muluneh (Ethiopian, born 1974) Hương Ngô and Hồng-Ân Trương (American, born Hong Kong, 1979; American, born 1976) B. Ingrid Olson (American, born 1987) Joanna Piotrowska (Polish, born 1985) Em Rooney (American, born 1983) Paul Mpagi Sepuya (American, born 1982) Andrzej Steinbach (German, born Poland, 1983) Stephanie Syjuco (American, born Philippines, 1974) Carmen Winant (American, born 1983).

You can see more on MoMA's site HERE. The exhibition is on view until August 19.

Sam Contis

Friday, March 9, 2018

PHOTO LONDON 2018 - talks programme announced

Photo London has announced details of the Talks Programme for the fourth edition of the Fair, which will take place 17 – 20 May 2018 at London's Somerset House.

Curated by curator and writer William A. Ewing, this year's varied Programme will showcase the rich history of photography from its inception to the present day and will explore the future direction of the form. It will feature lively talks and discussions with some of the world’s most important and innovative photographers, artists, dealers, curators and writers including:

Invisible Images: Trevor Paglen
Articles of Glass: Fox Talbot to Parker
Theatre of the Real: Simon Roberts
Evolving Spaces: Photography and the Museum
Mary McCartney at the National Portrait Gallery
Staged Reality: Alex Prager
Defining the 60s: Kirkland and O’Neill
Turning Time: Vera Lutter
Vanishing Point: Thomas Struth
The Royal Photographic Society Annual Lecture: Susan Lipper
Leica presents Bruce Gilden
Allegory: Raphaël Dallaporta
Night Swimming: Esther Teichmann
Beyond Photography A panel discussion with Milo Keller and artists Lorenzo Vitturi and Alix Marie, chaired by Lucy Soutter
Why Colour: Joel Meyerowitz
Compressed Life: Michael Wolf
In conversation with An-My Lê
Double Take: Cortis & Sonderegger
On the Precipice: Philippe Chancel
Discovery: Alternative Matter

You can book your tickets HERE now.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Martin Amis - The Gamblers

Martin Amis is best know for his wonderful online photobook store Surprise, surprise it's great to discover that Martin is also a photographer and a very good one. Actually it comes as no surprise, after all for anybody as passionate about photobooks as Martin Amis, how could they not be a photographer.

Martin Amis’ photobook The Gamblers is the culmination of his long-term project photographing at racecourses across the South of England. The Gamblers is an affectionate portrait of the racing crowd, a well-informed tribe of racing enthusiasts, from a quirky mix of class and social backgrounds, who come together to find the next winner. 

Martin immersed himself in the racing crowds, camera at the ready, often betting himself as he sought his next subject. Despite covering so many races over more than a decade with a variety of cameras and shooting strategies, Martin has skillfully collected his images into a single story. Filled with moments of gentle humour, The Gamblers will take you from highs to lows, through moments of tension to the frenetic and jubilant energy of the holding the winning slip. 

“Some of my fondest childhood memories are my regular trips to the races with my father. I loved to watch the horses race, but I loved even more to watch the motley cast of characters betting on them. The stench of beer and tobacco would fill the air, bookmakers’ chants of the latest odds cut through the gamblers lively conversations as I helped my father place his bets. I loved every moment and continued to gamble and enjoy horseracing into my adult life. As a photographer, it was a very obvious subject to focus my camera lens upon.” Martin Amis

And from Eva Clifford in the BJP- online: Working on The Gamblers for more than a decade, he was drawn to people rather than the horses themselves, and the “repeating set of rituals” that the crowd revolves around. “They make their selection, place a bet, visit the parade ring, find their horse and colours, take position in the stands to cheer on their selection and then perhaps finally visit the bar to celebrate or commiserate, and so forth,” he says. “Amongst this constant flow is a great diversity of spectators, whether it be die-hard local punters who attend every meeting to upper class social gatherings, or boisterous stag parties. When photographing, I must admit that I’m always drawn to the dedicated gamblers who assemble around the bookmakers. Even on a quiet Monday at a small track in the countryside, a faithful tribe of followers will gather to bet and watch the races and it’s pretty difficult not to get caught up in the excitement.”

You can read the full BJP story HERE, go to Martin Amis' website HERE and go to the Photobookstore HERE to buy The Gamblers.

The Gamblers will be published in April by RRB, priced £40 (or £125 for the special edition which includes a signed 10×8 print)

Monday, March 5, 2018

Mark Power and the American Dream

Mark Power (born 1959) is an English photographer, born in Harpenden, England. He is a member of Magnum Photos and Professor of Photography in The Faculty of Arts and Architecture at the University of Brighton. Power's documentary practice is project driven. I particularly think of Power's series where between 1992 and 1996, he embarked on The Shipping Forecast — a project that involved travelling to and photographing all 31 areas covered by the Shipping Forecast broadcast on BBC Radio 4. This project was published as a book and was a touring exhibition across the UK and France. He used a Volkswagen camper-van as his mode of transport for the project, echoing the late Tony Ray-Jones, whose work has similarities in style and meaning to Power's. 

It's timely then that Mark Power is recording the sad and sorry state of the slow (maybe not so slow) deterioration of American values. David Chandler writes in the Financial Times on Power's travels to America and his search for the American Dream and his witness to its collapse. Chandler is an eloquent write and Power is equally eloquent with his camera. 

You read the FT story HERE and go to Mark Power's website HERE

Below are selected images from Power's travels through the Southern states of Louisianna, Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia, beginning in New Orleans and ending in Atlanta.
Mark Power's Good Morning America (Vol 1) will be published by GOST later this year. 

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

The Artist's Statement - the Dentistry of the Art World

All of us who work in this crazy art business have had to write an artist's statement from time to time. We all hate having to do it... but often there is no way out. I've just had to write two statements and it was a chore. Not because I dislike writing, I just don't like writing about my work. For a start I don't think anybody reads what I've written and why should they... after all the work is not so much about what I'm trying to say, but about what the reader of the work takes out of it. And that has nothing to do with any tortured statement I was forced to write. At least I managed to avoid talking about memory and desire, two conceptual hooks that seem to crop up in far too many artist's statements. 
The worst artist's statements are not written by artist's at all but by their gallerist. These literary triumphs often enter the realm of stream of consciousness art speak mumbo-jumbo that attempts to elevate some poor daubers decorative rubbish to high art. 
With my head swimming in artist's statement land I came across a piece written by Jennifer Liese on the site PAPER MONUMENT. Here the artist's statement is put under the microscope and it's a good read. You can go there HERE
By way of a sample:  Of course, artists’ words have long been met with skepticism, not least by artists themselves. Matisse, despite his own eloquence, famously declared that “a painter ought to have his tongue cut out.” Pollock played dumb. Warhol mastered obfuscation. 
There’s no denying the sorry state of the statement, and we all know it. The ubiquitous request “Please include an artist statement …” inspires cringes and groans among artists. An artist friend of mine called artist statements “the dentistry of the art world,” ... one of several statement satires on YouTube features a pair of animated pig-artists translating pretentious claims of artist statements into the banal truth. Likewise, art professionals are tired of reading these often hyperbolic, embarrassing, or at best monotonous texts. Artist Nina Katchadourian, former curator of the Drawing Center’s Viewing Program, once told me that of the hundreds of artist statements she had read that year, only one really stood out. A gallery owner interviewed in Art/Work emphatically states that he never reads artist statements. What could be more deflating? You slave all week over your nourishing stew and no one even bothers to taste it.
Now if you are really stuck for a compelling artist's statement you can go to artybollocks generator and whip up a statement on demand. Here is one they wrote for me: 
My work explores the relationship between postmodern discourse and counter-terrorism.With influences as diverse as Blake and Andy Warhol, new combinations are synthesised from both mundane and transcendant textures. Ever since I was a child I have been fascinated by the theoretical limits of relationships. What starts out as hope soon becomes debased into a manifesto of temptation, leaving only a sense of failing and the dawn of a new beginning. As wavering forms become reconfigured through boundaried and academic practice, the viewer is left with a clue to the inaccuracies of our existence. 

And finally for some real inspiration you can go to YouTube and watch a 4 minute vid by writer, critic and educator Joerg Colberg. He nails it!!! You can go there HERE

Now get writing! 

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Peter Hujar: Speed of Life at The Morgan Library and Museum NYC

Susan Sontag, 1975,

Peter Hujar: Speed of Life is showing at The Morgan Library and Museum from January 26 until May 20. The exhibition presents one hundred and forty photographs by this enormously important and influential artist. Drawn from the extensive holdings of his work at the Morgan and from nine other collections, the show and its catalog follow Hujar from his beginnings in the mid-1950s to his central role in the East Village art scene three decades later. 

The catalogue features full-page reproductions of all 160 works in the exhibition, essays by curator Joel Smith, Philip Gefter, and Steve Turtell, and the first fully researched chronology, exhibition history, and bibliography to be published on Hujar. 

The life and art of Peter Hujar (1934–1987) were rooted in downtown New York. Private by nature, combative in manner, well-read, and widely connected, Hujar inhabited a world of avant-garde dance, music, art, and drag performance. His mature career paralleled the public unfolding of gay life between the Stonewall uprising in 1969 and the AIDS crisis of the 1980s. In his loft studio in the East Village, Hujar focused on those who followed their creative instincts and shunned mainstream success. He made, in his words, “uncomplicated, direct photographs of complicated and difficult subjects,” immortalizing moments, individuals, and subcultures passing at the speed of life. 

Boy on Raft, 1978

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Susan Meiselas, Meditations, at Jeu de Paume, Paris

Portrait de Susan Meiselas, Monimbo, Nicaragua
Septembre 1978 (detail) © Alain Dejean Sygma

Running until May 20, Jeu de Paume presents a retrospective devoted to the American documentary photographer Susan Meiselas. The exhibition brings together a selection of works from the 1970s to the present day.

 A member of Magnum Photos since 1976, Susan Meiselas questions documentary practice. She became known through her work in conflict zones of Central America in the 1970s and 1980s in particular due to the strength of her colour photographs. Covering many subjects and countries, from war to human rights issues and from cultural identity to the sex industry, Meiselas uses photography, film, video and sometimes archive material, as she relentlessly explores and develops narratives integrating the participation of her subjects in her works. The exhibition highlights Susan Meiselas’ unique personal as well as geopolitical approach, showing how she moves through time and conflict and how she constantly questions the photographic process and her role as witness.

The Guardian's Sean O'Hagan presents a perceptive overview of the exhibition...
When Meiselas became a Magnum photographer in 1976, she was one of five women. Today there are 13. In all its attempts to reinvent itself of late, it remains a predominantly male institution. “I can’t deny that,” she says. “And I’ve seen the comings and goings of women who have been involved. It’s a complicated issue. Do I want to say, ‘I’m a woman photographer and that’s what validates my view on the world?’ Really? Is that it? But, on the other hand, I do speak from a different perspective. I do have a different approach. Part of my role is to be a mediator, someone who brings people together.” She pauses. “People often ask me, ‘Why do you do it?’ Perhaps the more important question is, ‘What are they getting from it?’” You can read O'Hagan's full piece HERE.

You can go to Susan Meiselas's website HERE and Jeu de Paume HERE

Muchachos attendant la riposte de la Garde nationale, Matagalpa, Nicaragua
1978 Susan Meiselas © Susan Meiselas/ Magnum Photos

Fouille de toutes les personnes voyageant en voiture, en camion, en bus ou à pied, Ciudad Sandino, Nicaragua
1978 Susan Meiselas © Susan Meiselas/Magnum Photos

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Roger Deakins - Beauty in Simplicity

British cinematographer Roger Deakins is best known for his work on the films of the Coen brothers, Sam Mendes, and Denis Villeneuve. He is without doubt acknowledged as the pre-eminent cinematographer of our time. 

Roger Deakins was born in Torquay in the English county of Devon. While growing up in Torquay, Deakins spent most of his time focused on painting, his primary interest. He later enrolled in the Bath School of Art and Design where he studied graphic design. While studying in Bath, he discovered his love of photography and this led to his being hired to create a photographic documentary of Torquay his home town. About a year later, Deakins enrolled in the National Film and Television School in Buckinghamshire. He has never looked back...

This short YouTube documentary by Blake Keys explores some of Deakins primary visual language and is will worth a look. Even if you never stray from still photography there is much to learn from Roger Deakins artistry. You can watch the video HERE.

Roger Deakins: All I’ve ever wanted to do is take stills of people, or take documentaries about people, and try to express to an audience how somebody lives next door. You know what I mean? Just how similar we all are as individuals. And...If reviewers don't mention your work, it's probably better than if they do.

Friday, February 2, 2018

Jeff Mermelstein - the extraordinary out of the banal

Barbara Tannenbaum, Curator of Photography, at the Cleveland Museum of Art writes her take on "rule breakers" on the Don't Take Pictures web magazine. Tannenbaum zeros in on her pet hate - street photography. She says - I never want to see another street photograph. Especially one of New York. Yes, street photography captures an ever-changing spectacle, with new fashion trends and hairdos. But human behaviour and emotion, which are at the core of street images, remain stubbornly consistent. After decades of looking at people traversing the streets of New York in person and in photographs, what is there left to surprise me? 

I share Barbara Tannenbaum's dislike of street photography. It's not so much the name but the images that so many street photographers come up with. I've seen the same images time and time again, often silly stupid juxtapositions that are supposed to be funny or ironic. Whatever... these are what I call "one trick pony pictures" they mostly present nothing, say nothing and are like cotton candy at the County Fair one suck and it's gone. Further, so many "street photographers" still think it's 1972 and their photographs look like it too. Boring as fuck! 

When it comes to street photography Tennenbaum sites New Yorker Jeff Mermelstein as her "rule breaker". She says this -  there is plenty to surprise me when New York’s streets and their denizens are seen through the lens of Jeff Mermelstein. His images caught my eye, my heart, and my funnybone when I came across them on Instagram

Tennenbaum is right, Mermelstein does it his way, strange, bizarre and somewhat crazy. These are images of today, they reflect the ease and superficiality of social media connection. The rush of the every day, time passing in an instant. Click and like. Many of his instagram pictures are tight shots of iphone screens...private messages are revealed and we wonder at it all. Jeff Mermelstein is one of my favourite photographers, his pictures are a litmus test of today... Jeff's pictures do for the street what Bill Cunninghams's pictures did for fashion. 

You can read Barbara Tannenbaum's complete piece on Don't Take Pictures HERE. And this YouTube clip is well worth a look - Jeff Mermelstein tells it like it is HERE

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Simon Baker to head the MEP, Paris

British curator Simon Baker, former director of photography at Tate Modern London, has been appointed director of the Maison Européenne de la Photographie in Paris. Baker succeeds Jean-Luc Monterosso, director and founder of the institution, whose mandate finishes on March 31, 2018. Monterosso has run the Maison Européenne de la Photographie since it opened in 1996 and was also the founder in 1978, with Henry Chapier, Francis Balagna and Marcel Landowski, from the Paris Audiovisual Association that foreshadowed the creation of the MEP.
Simon Baker has a Ph.D. in art history, and is a graduate of the University College of London (UCL). In 2009 Baker joined the Tate London Photography and Art Department as a curator. In 2015, he was appointed chief photography curator with the primary mission of developing a strategy of acquisition, conservation and exposure.
Baker has curated numerous Tate exhibitions, with photographers including Boris Mikhailov, Sirkka-Liisa Kontinen, Guy Bourdin, Yutaka Takanashi, Bernd and Hilla Becher, and recently exhibitions such as Salt and Silver (2015), Nick Waplington / Alexander McQueen: Working Progress (2015) or Performing for the camera and The radical Eye: Modernist Photography from the Sir Elton John Collection (2016). Simon Baker has also been Associate Professor of Art History at the University of Nottingham (2004-2009). He is the author of numerous publications on the history of art and photography.
You can read the complete story by Jonas Cuenin on The Eye of Photography HERE

The MEP Paris

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Nan Goldin - artist and activist

Nan Goldin - Self-Portrait 1st Time on Oxy, Berlin 2014

Nan Goldin takes a stand on the scourge of opioid addiction. 
The Guardian reports: Her most recent drug experience was very different to the old days, when she became one of the world’s most famous art photographers, capturing herself and those around her getting high, having sex and hanging out in downtrodden homes in the 70s and 80s.
This second experience began with a doctor in Berlin, where she has a second home. In 2014, Goldin was prescribed the potent narcotic OxyContin for painful tendonitis in her left wrist. She promptly became addicted, despite taking the pills exactly as prescribed.
“The first time I got a ‘scrip it was 40 milligrams and it was too strong for me; they made me nauseated and dulled. By the end, I was on 450mg a day,” she says. Eventually she was crushing and snorting them. When, back in New York, doctors refused to supply her any more, she turned to the black market, and to cheaper hard street drugs whenever she ran out of money.
Emerging from a rehab facility in Massachusetts last March, she began reading about OxyContin and realised the branded medicine was prime suspect in the opioid crisis that has ripped through the US over the past 20 years. The epidemic has killed more than 200,000 people so far. Now she is declaring war against members of the secretive US family behind the invention of OxyContin, and behind the ingenious marketing strategy that was used to convince doctors it was harmless and patients that they needed it.
With charitable foundations on both sides of the Atlantic, the Sacklers, who are based in New York, have donated millions to the arts and sponsored faculties at Yale and many other universities. In each case, the family’s name is displayed prominently as the benefactor. Forbes listed the collective estimated worth of the 20 core family members at $14bn (£10bn) in 2015, partly derived from $35bn in sales revenue from OxyContin between 1995 and 2015. 

But few know their wealth comes from Purdue Pharma, a private Connecticut company the family developed and wholly owns. In 1995, the company revolutionised the prescription painkiller market with the invention of OxyContin, a drug that is a legal, concentrated, chemical version of morphine or heroin. It was designed to be safe; when it first came to market, its slow-release formula was unique. After winning government approval it was hailed as a medical breakthrough, which Goldin now refers to as “magical thinking”.
Goldin is now hurrying through a modern activist learning curve. “First I wanted to go out with signs and picket a Sackler wing of something, because that’s what we did in the Vietnam war and that’s what we did with Act Up in the Aids crisis,” she says. But she recently discovered social media – “I went on Instagram for the first time three weeks ago,” she says – and realised that petitions are online these days, so has set about organising one, which will be presented in due course to those Sackler family members on Purdue Pharma’s board of directors. She is also now on Twitter, so there is a hashtag campaign, #ShameOnSackler, while her campaign overall is called Prescription Addiction Intervention Now (Pain).
You can read the full story in The Guardian HERE and the New York Times HERE.
Nan Goldin - Dope on my rug, New York, 2016. 

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Mitch Epstein - Rocks and Clouds

Mitch Epstein's wonderful new bookwork Rocks and Clouds has arrived from Steidl. Following his impressive photobook, New York Arbor published in 2013, Rocks and Clouds further heightens the rewarding experience of close observation. The book celebrates the mystery and wonder that surrounds us all, that is if we can be bothered to look. Potentially this is cliche territory however these quietly intelligent pictures turn the ordinary everyday (rocks, clouds) into the extraordinary and make for a sublime meditative experience.

The viewer is left wondering at our place in the scheme of things. Mankind's insignificance. Notions of impermanence come to mind where the city slips into nothingness against the limitless sky. We are reminded that all of mans feeble constructs will eventually fall to dust and that in our world it's the simple profundities of nature that endure. This work shatters ones sense of certainty. What we take to be familiar becomes the unfamiliar and we are asked to re-evaluate what we take for granted and where is truth.

Rocks and Clouds is published by Steidl and as usual it's a stunning production, an object in it's own right. 160 pages, 70 images,  four colour process,  clothbound in slipcase 29.5 x 36 cm.

Steidl writes: In his new series, Mitch Epstein investigates the meaning of time by photographing rocks that last millions of years and clouds that evaporate before our eyes. These large-format black-and-white pictures examine society’s complex relationship to nature, a theme Epstein has explored in previous work, including his acclaimed tree pictures (New York Arbor, 2013). The way the sky and ground can mirror one another intrigued ancient Chinese painters, as well as modern earthwork artists and the Surrealists, all of whom inspired this project. Epstein draws attention to the sculptural quality of New York City’s clouds, bedrock, and architecture—which, at its most elemental, is made from rock. Cloud wedges engulf a cargo ship, buildings recall constructivist paintings, and erratics are imposing elders in the middle of a park or sidewalk. Rocks and Clouds suggests society’s inability to control time and tame nature. While it seems impossible to make a fresh picture of New York, Epstein gives us a surprising portrait of it.

You can go to Mitch Epstein's website HERE and Steidl HERE.

Pelham Bay Park, Bronx 2014

Clouds #89, New York City 2015

Clouds #94, New York City 2015

Clouds #18, New York City 2014

Clouds #33, New York City 2014

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Brian Griffin - adventurous then, adventurous now

Brian Griffin

When in Paris last November for Paris Photo I had the pleasure on a couple of occasions to meet and talk with photographer Brian Griffin. Brian was in town to present his new bookwork POP, an amazing 392 page overview of his years photographing the music industry,

British publisher GOST say this: ‘POP’ is a comprehensive exploration of the music photography of Brian Griffin shot for album covers, single sleeves, posters and press. The 350 pages of this new book are illustrated over 160 record covers from more than 100 bands and musicians including many which are previously unpublished – including Ian Dury, The Clash, Depeche Mode, Echo And The Bunnymen, Iggy Pop, Kate Bush, The Specials, Elvis Costello and many more. 

Brian Griffin first began photographing the music world for STIFF records in the late 1970s and soon became the predominant visual chronicler of New Wave, Post-Punk and the New Romantics. Working from his studio in Rotherhithe, often on low budgets and before the age of photo-shop, Griffin’s technical naivety resulted in major visual invention. How these photographs were executed and the techniques which were employed or invented, is explained in a Q&A between Griffin and the author Terry Rawlings. Punctuating the photographs and album artwork, this conversation provides illuminating and highly-personal behind-the-scenes insights to this distinct creative period in music and visual history. 

Another section of the book contains portraits of important figures in the music industry such as the Beatles producer George Martin, Brian Eno, John Peel and Daniel Miller and portraits of the people that worked alongside Brian including stylists and builders of his light machines. Paul Gorman, author of Reasons To Be Cheerful: The Life and Work of Barney Bubbles, has written an additional essay on the close working and personal relationship between graphic artist Barney Bubbles and Griffin. There is also a description of what the area of Rotherhithe in South East London, where Brian had his studio, was like in the 1980s. 

Brian Griffin was born in Birmingham in 1948 and grew up in the Black Country. From the age of 16 he worked in a factory making conveyers, then as a nuclear pipework engineering estimator until the age of 21, when he went to study photography at Manchester Polytechnic. After graduation, Griffin moved to London with the intent of becoming a fashion photographer. It was here that he met Roland Schenk, the charismatic art director on Management Today, with whom Griffin continued working until the mid 1980s. 

Griffin is recognised as one of the most eminent British photographers of the seventies and eighties and as part of the “British Photographers of the Thatcher Years” with Martin Parr, Paul Graham, Graham Smith, Jo Spence and Victor Burgin, with whom he has exhibited in many exhibitions. In 1991, Griffin walked away from photography and began a career as a film-maker in advertising and the music industry. Throughout his career, over 20 monographs of Griffin’s work have been published, his work has been the subject of over 50 international solo exhibitions and is held in collections institutions including the Victoria & Albert Museum, London; the Arts Council of Great Britain, London; the British Council, London; the National Portrait Gallery, London; the Museum Folkwang, Essen; the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery; the Art Museum Reykjavik, Iceland; the Mast Foundation, Bologna; and the Museu da Imagem, Braga, Portugal. 

If you are still not convinced check our this 16 minute video, HERE. Produced by Portugesse art channel Canal 180. Brian tells it like is is.

You can go to the GOST books website HERE, where you can buy a copy of POP. And go to Brian Griffin's website HERE. Well worth checking out!

Iggy Pop - soldier 08

Brian May

Siouxsie and the Banshees - Dazzle

Han Solo  02

POP - the book