Author Archive

Alexo Wandael

Alexo Wandael has been harassing and cyber bullying us for the past year. It is in my opinion that he  displays sociopathic behaviour and cannot accept criticism on his artwork. Below are a few of the emails he has sent us:

 

poor sad lesbian…

U r CC others… and talking about growing up???
what a poor creature… I will pray for you as well…. so sad….
childish… stop writing back and this will stop…
LOL


u r pathetic…
shame on yourself…
LMAO


u r like a mushroom….

LOL
resilient and still hiding in my lists…
nice energy…congrats…
LOL

Elsewhere is a Negative Mirror

photos by Matteo Favero

 

The New York Photography Diary is pleased to host its inaugural exhibition, Elsewhere is a Negative Mirror, at Carmel by the Green in East London. This exhibition follows The Physical Fabric of Citiesorganized by London Photography Diary—and is the second in a year-long program of shows being organized by The Photography Diaries. Elsewhere is a Negative Mirror is curated by New York Photography Diary editors Daniel Pateman and Will Fenstermaker .  The head curator for this exhibition is Ivana D’Accico.

Inspired by the shock of Brexit in Britain and corresponding xenophobic, nativist tones in US and European politics, Elsewhere is a Negative Mirror features the work of eight international artists who responded to the set theme of Borders. Each photographer explores boundaries in the midst of a reconfiguration, provoking a reconciliation with the limits at which one defines identity, homeland, and ontological frameworks.

The exhibition title comes from a dialogue between the Venetian merchant Marco Polo and Mongol Emperor Kublai Khan in Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities (1972) and speaks to the way communities define themselves in opposition to other people. Polo, an exile—albeit a voluntary one—tells Kublai of a peculiar sensation: the recognition of oneself in the otherness of those who live beyond the border. Coming upon daily life within an unfamiliar city, Polo recounts that “the traveler finds again a past of his that he did not know he had: the foreignness of what you no longer are or no longer possess lies in wait for you in foreign, unpossessed places.”

To this, Kublai responds that travel brings one into contact with one’s past, one’s possible futures, and all the presents that could have been.  “Elsewhere is a negative mirror,” Polo says. “The traveler recognizes the little that is his, discovering much he has not had and will never have.”

These photographs, like negative mirrors, show what is familiar in unfamiliar places. In them, one finds home in a world that has been divided into parts—conquered, nationalized, and quantified—its distinctions marked by thresholds that have only the illusion of inviolability.

“Elsewhere Is a Negative Mirror” will run from October 6th to December 13th, 2016 at Carmel by the Green, next to Bethnal Green tube station in East London. Please join us for our opening on October 6th from 6–9pm, or as part of Whitechapel’s First Thursdays in November.

Carmel by the Green
287A Cambridge Heath Road
London, E2 0EL
020 8616 5750

ARTISTS

Clement Valla

Clement Valla’s “Postcards from Google Earth” depict moments where Google’s two-dimensional imaging software has misaligned with the three-dimensional mapping software, marking a boundary between actual and representational nature. “These images are not glitches,” Valla says. “They are an edge condition… They reveal a new model of representation: not through indexical photographs but through automated data collection from a myriad of different sources constantly updated and endlessly combined to create a seamless illusion.”

Clement Valla (based in Brooklyn, NY) works with computer-based picture-producing apparatuses, and how they transform representation and ways of seeing. His work has been exhibited at XPO Gallery, Paris; Transfer Gallery, Brooklyn; The Indianapolis Museum of Art, Indianapolis; Museum of the Moving Image, New York; Thommassen Galleri, Gothenburg; Bitforms Gallery, New York; Mulherin + Pollard Projects, New York; DAAP Galleries, University of Cincinnati; 319 Scholes, New York; and the Villa Terrace Decorative Arts Museum, Milwaukee. His work has been cited in The Guardian, Wall Street Journal, TIME Magazine, El Pais, Huffington Post, Rhizome, Domus, Wired, The Brooklyn Rail, Liberation, and on BBC television.

 

Postcard from Google Earth (43°5'22.07"N, 79° 4'5.97"W) Clement Valla

Postcard from Google Earth (43°5’22.07″N, 79° 4’5.97″W), by Clement Valla

 

COLIN EDGINGTON

Colin Edgington’s work explores ash as a symbol of state changes, particularly of the boundary between the visible and the invisible, the living and the non-living. In this way, he says, “it epitomizes transience.” Drawn from his upbringing in the American southwest, the ash structures are built to resemble demarcations of place, and are ultimately destroyed after photographing.

Colin Edgington (based in Greater New York) is a visual artist and writer. His work has been exhibited internationally and published nationally. He was named the winner of the Iowa Review Photography Prize, judged by Alec Soth, for his seemingly authorless body of work titled [umbrae] in 2012. He holds a BAFA in studio art from the University of New Mexico, an MFA in studio art from the Mason Gross School of Arts, Rutgers University, and an MFA in Art Criticism & Writing from the School of Visual Arts, NYC.

 

Border Monument 1, by Colin Edgington

 

GRISELDA SAN MARTIN

Griselda San Martin’s series “The Wall” documents families separated by their immigration status, who gather to meet at Friendship Park, located along the border between San Diego, California and Tijuana, Mexico. What started out as a simple barbed wire fence in the 1970’s has been expanded into an imposing metal wall, which extends some three hundred feet into the ocean. On the American side, patrols runs the border, while in Mexico, families roam freely and eat at restaurants nearby. At the wall, families meet, whispering to each other between the stakes, poking their fingers through the stakes and steel mesh to touch their loved ones.

Griselda San Martin (based in New York, NY; Tijuana, Mexico; and Barcelona, Spain) is a documentary photographer and visual journalist. Her documentary work explores transborder and transnational issues and focuses on concepts of identity and belonging in diasporic communities and ethnic minorities. She has been photographing and documenting the U.S.-Mexico border for the past four years. In June, 2015 she graduated from the the Photojournalism and Documentary photography program at the International Center of Photography in New York.

 

Through the Wall, 2015, from “The Wall” by Griselda San Martin

 

NETTA LAUFER

Netta Laufer’s series “25FT” appropriates military surveillance footage of the wall separating Israel and Palestinian territories. By focusing the camera on animals along the border, she says, the series “focuses on, and examines, a fragmented and awed human reality, versus nature that seems to operate as a parallel universe, working its way around… our self- perception as a superior race overseeing and independent of nature’s ecosystem.” In depicting wildlife, the artist shows how manmade borders come into conflict with the unboundedness of nature. Animals passing through their natural migratory routes are stopped by the border, irrespective of their own dependance on the land that we share.

Netta Laufer (based in New York, NY) was born in Israel (1986), and raised in both Jerusalem and New York. Laufer’s “Black Beauty” was exhibited in a solo show at the Bloomfield Science Museum in Jerusalem (2013), and at Fresh Paint 7 art fair in Tel-Aviv (2015). Recently Laufer exhibited the work “Cells” at Alfred Gallery, Tel-Aviv (2016). Her latest work “25FT” granted her the SVA Alumni Society Scholarship (2016)

 

Dog, كلب, כלב Netta Läufer

Dog, كلب, כלב, from “25FT” by Netta Laufer

 

JURAJ STAROVECKY

Juraj Starovecky presents a photographic recreation of Iron Curtain-era Czechoslovakia in his series “The Curtain”.  While skillfully placing the contemporary viewer in the shoes of those who risked their lives to cross the state border, he also encourages us to remember the human outrages of recent history.  “Over 866 people were killed while trying to cross the state border via the so called Iron Curtain between 1948 – 1989 in former Czechoslovakia. The purpose of this apparatus of absolute power was to kill and terrorize trespassers and to preserve fear inside an omnipotent political system, which had been denying basic human rights and freedom for 40 years. The contemporary status of social awareness about this significant problem of the past era is alarming. Instead of facing our own past and dealing with its traumas, collective amnesia is manifesting.”  Starovecky’s triptych Untitled (Alert) depicts the sort of warning signal deployed by guards to help apprehend trespassers, and places the viewer within a visceral dynamic of hunter vs. hunted.

Juraj Starovecky (based in Bratislava, Slovakia) works as freelance photographer. He finished his MFA at the Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Bratislava in 2015, where he studied Photography and New Media. Juraj took an internship at Fachhochschule Bielefeld in Germany in 2014 and has also participated at several international workshops in Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Germany.  He has hosted 4 solo shows and been involved in more than 30 group exhibitions (including MARTa Herford Museum in Germany, MUSA’s European Month of Photography in Vienna, Institut Francais’ Month of Photography in Bratislava, Fotosommer Erfurt and more).

 

the-curtain-02

Untitled (Alert), from “The Curtain” by Juraj Starovecky

                                                                                           

ERLEND LINKLATER

Erlend Linklater’s series “Borderline” follows the artist’s tracing of one of the world’s oldest extant borders: that between England and Scotland. Linklater, who followed the border with an Ordnance Survey map, says its “significance in shaping cultural identity, nationalist aspiration and bureaucratic wrangling was never more obvious than during the Independence Referendum of 2014 and continues following the UK’s vote to leave the European Union.”

Erlend Linklater (based in Kampala, Uganda) wonders what shapes us and why we are like we are—what is the tapestry of stories that moulds identity while influencing behaviour and belief. His photography seeks to explore these themes informed by his experience as a Scot living and working across Africa, South America and Europe for more than 20 years.

 

Erlend Linklater Borderline

-2.33526, 55.63205, from “Borderline” by Erlend Linklater

 

DAQI FANG

Daqi Fang’s “Plastic Utopia II” is the second phase of a three-part series, in which the artist recreates landscapes first seen in dreams from satellite images drawn from Google Earth. These photographs speak to the disconnect between an absolute, quantified nature and the surreal plasticity of such data—which, as in Borges’s Library of Babel, can be rearranged in infinite possibilities, but only once it begins to resemble something of natural beauty does it take on significance. By including figures of himself, he also suggests the possibility of inhabiting this immaterial realm.

Daqi Fang (based in New York, NY) was born in China. As a visual artist, his work involves many forms, mainly photography, video, and visual installations. His interests lie in the fantasy of human’s existence and interactivity with nature. He had his work shown in Holocenter Gallery, New York, and has been widely featured in numerous magazines and publications in China.

 

Plastic Utopia II Daqi Fang

Plastic Utopia II #2, from “Plastic Utopia II” by Daqi Fang

 

ABDULAZEZ DUKHAN

Abdulazez Dukhan will exhibit nine photos from his project “Through Refugee Eyes,” which documents his ongoing experience as a refugee of the Syrian civil war.  His intention is to help amplify the voice of refugees, to draw the world’s attention to their desperate situation.  “Your eyes are the way toward the truth, you can realize everything through them,” he states.  “Through photography and through art I am trying to connect with your eyes.  I am trying to tell you a thousand words, a thousand stories from the other world!”  Having fled their war-torn homes, they now find themselves trapped between borders, in the bewildering no-man’s-land of the camps.

Abdulazez Dukhan is an 18 year old Syrian refugee from Homs who, since his arrival in Idomini, Greece, has been detained in numerous camps within the country.  After being gifted a laptop and camera by a voluntary aid group, he has used his photography to provide a passionate voice and platform for displaced Syrians.  His project “Through Refugees Eyes” has attracted international attention, and his work has been exhibited in countries as diverse as Spain, Italy, Jakarta, China, Canada, and the US.

 

Abdulazez Dukhan

Sleep Deeply, from “Through Refugee Eyes” by Abdulazez Dukhan

 


SPONSORS

New York Photography Diary would like to thank our generous sponsors, without whom this exhibition would not be possible.

 

point101_logo_1200x200px

An East London Fine Art Trade Guild-accredited photographic and fine art printer, and champion of emerging artists.

gslogo

Elegantly simple professional picture hanging systems.

Terms and Conditions

Terms and Conditions

General

  • Terms and Conditions
    General
    • Deadline is 28th May
    • No entry fee
    • This exhibition on Gender Performance will take place at Carmel by The Green, located near Bethnal Green tube station, from July 6th until September 6th, with a Private View event on July 6th.
    • Entrants are not guaranteed inclusion in the exhibition by submitting an entry. Depending on
    the number and the quality of the entries received, the work of an entrant may or may not be
    curated into the final display.
    • Selected artists will be notified by 1st June and artwork must be delivered to Carmel by The
    Green by 1st July. Artists may either ship their work directly to the gallery or arrange to have it
    printed in London, and are responsible for costs incurred with either method. Works that arrive
    at Carmel by the Green after 1st July cannot be guaranteed to be exhibited in the show.
    • Selected artists are must have the works framed if they are small to medium sized and this is at the cost of the artist. London Photography Diary can supply resources for obtaining inexpensive, ready-made frames in London. Large works can be unframed and either pinned to the walls or mounted.
    • If selected artists desire to have their work printed in London, LPD can provide a list of trusted
    printers. However, London Photography Diary will not be responsible for ensuring the quality of
    the prints. Any works printed through such an arrangement will be subject to the terms and
    conditions set forth by the independent printer, and we encourage artists who choose this route
    to begin working with a printer as soon as possible.
    • All photographers must be 18 years or older worldwide and enter by submitting their own,
    original work. London Photography Diary (LPD) welcomes submissions from, and exhibits work
    of emerging as well as established photographers.
    • By entering, entrants automatically accept the conditions of the call; they grant London
    Photography Diary and Carmel by The Green non-exclusive right to use and reproduce
    submitted photographs (with the name of the photographer and the title of the work indicated)
    for promotional (e.g.: website and social media page of the London Diary and Carmel) and exhibition
    purposes. No royalties or compensation will be paid for these purposes. All copyrights and
    ownership of the works are retained by the photographer. Entrants assume and accept all legal
    and financial responsibility for any infringement on the privacy rights or copyright of others,
    caused by creating or presenting their work in public. London Photography Diary retains the
    right to exclude from the exhibition entries that violate the conditions of the call and ones that
    violate any human or privacy rights.
    • All works will be available for sale during the exhibition, unless the artist chooses to not sell their work, and a 20% commission will be taken on any sales, which will go to the editors and curators who have organized the show. Selected artists will set the price of their own works.
    • After the exhibition’s closure, the artists will be contacted by London Photography Diary to
    arrange for the collection or return of unsold works and the artist will be responsible for this cost.
    • London Photography Diary archives all photography exhibitions electronically, allowing us to
    promote our exhibiting photographers to curators, collectors as well as the viewing public.

    Requirements

    • PREPARE YOUR IMAGES
    • All layers must be flattened.
    • Images must follow the following format: 8 bit JPEG; Adobe RGB or sRGB; longest dimension
    maximum 1280 pixels (preferred width for landscape orientation: 1000 pixels; preferred height
    for portrait orientation: 775 pixels); 72 dpi; maximum 2 MB. Please include a maximum of three
     (3) works.
    • An image title is required upon upload, as well as an artist statement of up to 500 words.
    • Please submit your images by e-mail to: [email protected], indicating the
    theme of the exhibition in the subject line.
    • In the body of your submission e-mail please include
    • your full name;
    • your city and country (with state abbreviation if USA);
    • your portfolio link (if any);
    • the exhibition theme;
    • titles of all included photos with the corresponding file names (in case of a series, please
    number the photos of the series, and indicate the title of the series, if it has one);
    • the actual or desired print size (in centimeters or inches) of each photograph
    • FILE NAMING
    • lastname_firstnameinitial_LPD_worktitle_XX.jpg
    • For example lee_s_LPD_hate_2.jpg
    • No symbols or spaces in the file names
    • TITLES AND DESCRIPTIONS
    • Titles are required at the time of upload. The description area is for a brief statement,
    description of an alternative process, unusual size or installation etc.

    Contact information

    For any questions and to submit your work, please email us at: [email protected]

The Physical Fabric of Cities

 

Photos by Matteo Favero

 

The London Photography Diary is pleased to present our first exhibition, The Physical Fabric of Cities, at Carmel by the Green. This exhibition originated as an Open Call with the theme ‘Regeneration’. Organized by former London Photography Editor Maria Depaula-Vazquez.

Carmel by the Green
287a Cambridge Heath Road
London E2 0EL

Opening reception: 4 August, 6pm – 9pm
drinks provided by Peroni

Exhibition dates: 4 Aug – 4 Oct

Opening times: Monday to Friday 8am to 5pm
Thursday 8am to 6pm
Saturday 10:30am to 3:30pm

The Physical Fabric of Cities

For hundreds of years, capital and power have flowed through London, shaping its streets, structures, and societies. The fortune and character of different areas have ebbed and waned, depending on the politics and policies of the day, and the cultural life of the people who call the city home. Urban regeneration, for some, is about breathing new life into an area which has long been neglected or forgotten about by the wealthy and powerful. But for those already living in these areas, who face being swept out of their neighbourhood by these ‘winds of change’, regeneration means something entirely different. In biological terms, regeneration refers to the formation of new plant or animal tissue – the reparation and binding, rather than dispersion, of life.

Artists

metropole-14

Lewis Bush

Lewis Bush is a photographer, writer, lecturer, and curator based in London. His work explores the role that photography plays in the uneven distribution of power in our world, whether that be political, economic, or military, and explores the possibility of using photography as a means to challenge those who hold power.

The ‘metropole’ was a term once used to describe London in its relationship with the British Empire, a relationship hierarchical and unequal, with power radiating out from the metropolitan centre, and the resources of the dominions radiating back in return. A composite of numerous nighttime walks through the city, Metropole records the effect of this capital influx on London by documenting its numerous new corporate high rises and luxury residential blocks as they are constructed and occupied.

victoria
Victoria Jouvert, I wont come back, 2015

Victoria Jouvert

Victoria’s first project for her BA Photography course at London College of Communications documented a group of council buildings due to be demolished to make way for new high priced luxury flats.  “I found in my extensive searching of the buildings the sprawling of a child’s pencil upon the wall of a closet where there was written “I won’t come back and I mean it,” which became the title of the work that was presented in a series of nine images accompanied by a poem that explores my personal motives for leaving home at 18 and the forceful removal of the mystery tenants from their homes.”

“I documented the things the previous owners left behind. The objects of these homes completely captured me; I became obsessed with them and what they told me about their previous occupiers. The line between the people who once lived there and myself became blurred as I delved deeper and deeper into the fragments of the lives I gathered from forgotten items. I developed a deep feeling of understanding for the previous occupiers forced out of their homes leaving the remains of their past lives behind like the remnants of a tragic evacuation. Through this personal portrayal of the objects left behind I explored themes of melancholia, memory, and the political tensions behind the regeneration of London.”

Accompanying poem

tim-palman
Tim Palman, Wellard, 2016

Tim Palman

Tim is an emerging photographic artist born and based in Perth, Western Australia. He is currently completing an undergraduate degree in Photography. His work takes a documentary format, culminating in large-scale projects that explore and expose the human condition through the study of physical and social landscapes.

Tim’s method of photographing is one that is borrowed from the tradition of the great American documentary photographers such as Walker Evans or Robert Adams, in which he assumes the role of the flaneur – the photographs merely acting as evidence of one’s movement throughout the landscape. The use of an old, slow, large format camera brings limits to the compositional of his photographs, which as a result function as the “collection” of places, objects and people, void of any true decisive moment.

“These three images are a part of a larger body I am currently working on, entitled Wellard. The series is a documentary interrogation of the new development area suburb of Wellard amongst the urban sprawl of the City of Perth, Western Australia. The body of work in largely autobiographical, acting as a personal response to my process of moving into the area and my disenchantment with the concept of the ‘private estate’. One of the most prominent themes of the work is the relationship of myself to my mother, who I still live with and who’s dream it was to move to Wellard. As a result, there is a discourse in the work between the idea of the maternal, with regards to growth and comfort, and the idea of The Sublime which manifests itself in the wildness of the natural landscape. The topic of regeneration is one which is entwined is this work, as the process of developing an area is one which could be seen as the regeneration of the area as a societal space. This process, however, is one which requires the killing of nature which is replaced by suburban homogeny, a place of suppression.”

willie-robb
Willie Robb, SPIKES #24, 2013

Willie Robb

Willie Robb is a photographer, video producer and artist who was born and raised near Perth in Scotland and is now based in Lewes, East Sussex. He graduated from Brighton University in 2008 with a BA(Hons) in Photography and continues to create self-initiated projects using a blend of autobiographical and documentary practice.

“In 2014 #spikegate hit the headlines. The tag was initiated by an introduction of two inch, metal pavement spikes, a radical form of ‘defensive’ or ‘disciplinary’ architecture, at the entrance of flats in Southwark, London. The spikes were eventually removed. I found myself counting homeless individuals in Brighton one year earlier, a city that is also witnessing an unquestionable rise in street sleepers. Constantly looking down led me to notice plants creeping through cracks in the pavement. It felt like a symbolic resistance. Coltsfoot, Buddleia, Dandelion and Nettle interrupted the perfect surface, a reminder that the status quo is never rock solid. Things can change.”

Kaveh Golestan

Kaveh Golestan: Prostitute (1975-1977) at Photo London

by Coleen MacPherson

After a visit to Tehran in January, witnessing Kaveh Golestan’s work at Photo London this May was incredibly resonating. The prolific photojournalist’s exhibition, aptly named “Prostitute” (1975-1977), embodied an excruciating silence of the Tehran women. Hidden deep in the red light district, we learn that the forgotten women work tirelessly at Shahr-e No, deep in the basement of a dimly lit Somerset House. Their fragile yet strong faces confront our own illusions of late twentieth-century life.

Golestan’s “Prostitute” allows us to intrude into the real – the rooms these women live and work in, their environment, and consequently the myriad of contradictions that exist in modern life. Essential in providing context, the exhibit shares a timeline alongside the photographs and newspaper articles to help us delved deeper into these women’s pasts.

A wall was erected around the district in 1953 after the coup d’état, and as a result created the ghetto known as Citadel Shahr-e No.  Shortly before the cultural revolution of 1979, Golestan captured the everyday life of these women; powerful images show some lounging on their beds, others staring softly at the camera while another leans against the wall of a darkened room.  These natural, unassuming yet striking photos went on to form a photo essay of the Citadel by Golestan, exhibited at the University of Tehran briefly before it was shut down.

It was only a short while after these photos were taken that a mob set fire to the district and left several dead.  Many of these women were arrested and executed by the Islamic State in an act of cleansing.  After the fire destroyed the district, a lake was then erected, which features in a handful of the photographs. This lake evokes an emotional response from the viewer, who can see it as a living symbol of how, even now, religious theocracy exists. Therefore, Golestan’s work serves as a reminder of a sensitive issue and offers an earnest look at a forgotten world. Alongside the bravery of the Tehran women, Golestan’s own bravery rings through in his message to us – sharing the truth is invaluable.

Coleen MacPherson

coleen-macpherson-headhostColeen MacPherson is a Canadian writer and theatre director with a thirst to explore the world. She trained at École Internationale de Théâtre Jacques Lecoq in Paris, where she mentored with French playwright, Michel Azama. She has recently founded Open Heart Surgery Theatre:  a group of international theatre-makers, creating work in London at Camden People’s Theatre, Mimetic Festival; in Paris at Plateau 31 and will soon be presenting ‘This is Why We Live’in Toronto at The Theatre Centre.  She is constantly inspired by photography and the power of the image.

Victoria Jouvert

I ran away from the crooked frames on the wall,      

Broken and cracked,

With a vow to leave and never return,

But the old clock on the wall still ticked in my ear,

The constant reminder of a past that would not be left behind.

I abandoned the books of my youth in a big box and left 500 nations

In my damp cellar to decay.

I gave away my clothes,

Leaving a pile of empty hangers that poked and prodded

While jam jars full of discarded bottle caps

And other childish wonders watched in fear from their shelves.

 

I emptied my drawers of all their useful items,

But somehow the useful and the useless mixed

In fleeting nostalgic moments.

The clock still ticked and the frames still hung,

Crooked and cracked and I thought I could leave it all behind,

But the empty drawers were still full and the outdated curtain fell,

Exposing me: the silly victim, the tragic, and the traumatized

Embodiment of the child who runs away,

Leaving behind the reflective fragments

Of the person they once were.

BOOK REVIEW: No Circus, Randi Malkin Steinberger

 

Randi_Steinberger_No_Circus_Cover

One of my favorite things to do as a passenger in a car is to lean my head out of the window and gaze out at the houses as I pass them by, dreaming about the worlds and lives which must exist within each. Surely there are stargazers in that house with the porch; a lonely child inside the house with the chipped paint. Every house seems to possess its own cosmos; its own palette for a life which I, as a passing stranger, am free to imagine. Having lived my entire life in the relatively cool climate of the greater New York area, I can’t recall ever having ever passed by a house wrapped up in a brightly-striped tarp for fumigation, as happens more frequently in warm climates which allow termites to swarm. Luckily, Randi Malkin Steinberger’s forthcoming photobook, No Circus, turns its gaze on the tented curiosities she found while driving around Los Angeles, and provides not only an excellent roadside survey, but a chance for the viewer to step out of the car, wander around, and begin their own imaginings.

In many ways, No Circus, comprised of nearly 70 photographs houses undergoing fumigation, seems almost too easy of a photographic project. The circus comparison is obvious, and there’s an easy absurdity to the tents, which is as unmissable a spectacle as a showgirl riding an elephant down the middle of Main Street. The bright carnival pinstripes beg to be photographed, and the tents’ alluring contrast to the familiar suburban settings and L.A. landscaping which they have been pitched against is a quality I would argue most photographers would gravitate toward. The houses, cartoonized into bizarre geometric forms, seem almost too opportunistically bloated and out of proportion to the dull normalcy of the rest of the neighborhood to pass by. I imagine that for the residents of L.A., the appearance and disappearance of the tents on quiet suburban streets must especially carry with it the same exotic mystery of a travelling circus; the tents materializing overnight and then vanishing again without warning, as though called away by some invisible director, his sights already set on the next town. Of course, lingering in the background and adding in interest to the strange disjuncture of normalcy is also the knowledge that these tents belong to a league of structures which have been abandoned and temporarily pulled from their daily roles to be pumped full of poison and are – as Malkin Steinberger’s title reminds us – no circus.

But the true mark of a successful photographer is not the ability to see what everyone else can see, but to pursue that thought past the individual house in question and down to the end of the street, and to the next, until the streetlights come on and living-room windows glow purple from the glow of the TV. With every turn of the page, Malkin Steinberger’s obsessive tent studies feel like the repetition of the same word over and over again until it loses all of its context and seems to stew solely in its own nonsensical existence. Although not all of her images are remarkable individually, the power of No Circus lies in the obsessive pursuit of a single idea; in finding and multiplying the strange until it populates the entire world.

Montana-Ave-Randi Malkin Steinberger- No CirucsPerhaps because I am a writer myself, what I found to be the most communicative element of No Circus, however, was D.J. Waldie’s beautiful and poetic introductory essay, which snaps the images together thematically and then expands them into a thousand directions. Oscillating between tender personal narrative and an informative overview of fumigation and its many associated dangers, Waldie’s essay sets a dark and contemplative tone over the entire project, occasionally pulling on heartstrings and letting them resonate all the way back to childhood. After a discussion of sulfuryl floride and chloropicrin, the poison gases used to break down termite’s bodies, a short blank stretch of a paragraph break leads us to his own boyhood. He’s playing hide-and-go-seek with his brother, and finding himself standing alone in his bedroom. “Because I’m small, the room seems large. And I’m afraid. My knees actually begin to knock out of fear. I’m afraid of what isn’t in the room. I fear my own absence.”

A house is more than its structure, he explains, and has a life beyond those who live there – its essence is composed of the anxieties inside; all of its absurdities, and associations. “Houses haunt themselves,” he writes. “While we’re away, the chair improvises a sitter, the door frame a passing figure, and the bed a sleeper…. As the key is set in the door lock by new owners for the first time, as the door knob is turned, as the door sweeps inward, the house constructs a whole life.”

With Waldie’s words in mind, I returned to the photographs. There, hiding behind the easy punchline I first found in No Circus, I uncovered a subtler, more haunted infestation of an idea. Coupled with Waldie’s concerned sense of “home” and disturbed overview of the invasive danger of fumigation, I felt a real sense of anxiety began to permeate a few of Malkin Steinberger’s images, which come in a little too close to the ugly reality of the tubing and stitching of the tents to allow them to maintain any cheerful world. Although many of her photographs seem to delight in the bright and the absurd, others seem to examine the houses with the same scientific caution one might bring to examining brightly-colored poisonous dart frog. A few photographs are taken from behind shrubbery, or through the links of a fence. A photograph labelled Montana Ave. is dark and blurred, having been taken at night from the other side of the road. We focus on a white car parked in front, as though watching out for who might be nearby. Malkin Steinberger peeps through rips and flaps, and stops here and there to examine the red warning signs reading “Caution! Peligro!” and reminding us of all of the dangers which threaten these poisoned houses: suffocation, gas explosions, burglary. Such houses have not turned into our childhood dreams, but into our adult nightmares. Like weeping clowns, these images unsettle in their contradictions.

But standing alone, Malkin Steinberger offers a weak thesis. Her images display less of the direct statements or moments of introspection found in Waldie’s writing than a general magnetism to contrasts – the contrast of the shape of the tent to the shape of shrubbery in front of it; the bright colors of tarp to the natural colors of nearby flowers; the apparent excitement of the tent to the opposing monochrome of the rest of the street. Perhaps a tighter edit of images might have offered a less diluted narrative, but where Waldie leads, Malkin Steinberger only wanders.

Bienveneda-Ave-Randi Malkin Steinberger- No Cirucs

Still, there’s something delightful about No Circus which doesn’t suffer from the lack of heavy intent found in Waldie’s essay. Isn’t that the point of dreaming, anyway? Not to offer a plot or a moral, but to notice the elements which make up a world and wonder how else they might appear. Whereas Waldie worries, Malkin Steinberger imagines. Her images, which linger as long by flowers as they do by caution tape, seem to dream life into these abandoned structures, engaging with sights that catch her attention, rather than illustrate a point.  “To be something more a windbreak or a covering from rain or a frail barrier, a home must have dreams inside. A house undreamed in is already neglected,” Waldie writes, and Malkin Steinberger answers with a blue tarp cutting across with sky; with a ring of silver tent clips left in the dust like a performer’s forgotten crown, or a memento from a dream.

At once material and imagined, fantastic and ordinary, Malkin Steinberger’s No Circus opens the door to a world which is absurd in its anxiety, delightful in its dissolution, and, perhaps, already just next door.

No Circus will be published by Damiani Books on September 27, 2016.

– Sasha Patkin

Sasha Patkin is a writer, photographer, and contributing editor to The New York Diaries. More of her writing and work can be found at www.sashapatkin.com.

Dorothy Bohm Review

Two Exhibitions and a Conversation with Britain’s Renowned Photographer Dorothy Bohm

By Coleen MacPherson

Dorothy Bohm’s career in photography spans an incredible 75 years, having captured the ordinary lives of people in Europe, the Americas and the Far East.  Having helped find the Photographer’s Gallery in London in 1971 and acting as Associate Director for fifteen years, her ability to observe the world around her has made her one of Britain’s greatest photographers.  Born in Königsberg, East Prussia (now Kaliningrad) to a Jewish Lithuanian family, at the age of 15 she escaped the Nazi occupation and fled to England where she has lived ever since.  The story goes that when she boarded the train in June 1939, she leaned out of the window to say goodbye to her father; he took the Leica camera from around his neck and gave it to her hoping it would be something she might find useful.

I had the privilege of meeting the woman herself in her Hampstead home last week, where we spoke about her work, her life and the current exhibits of her photography in London.  At 92 years of age Dorothy is soft-spoken with a slight accent, a sweet sensibility, and an incredible desire to give back to the city and country that took her in so many years ago.

After arriving in England and attending a grammar school in Dichling, she learned English quickly and was later persuaded by her father’s cousin to take up photography at Manchester University. She began her career in portraiture in Manchester after graduating, but it was not until she fell in love with Paris in 1947 that she took her camera outside for the first time. This was the beginning of a long career in capturing the world around her while travelling with her husband, Louis Bohm.

Dorothy Bohm’s  “Sixties London” at the Jewish Museum and “Unseen London, Paris and New York 1930s-60s” at the Ben Uri Gallery and Museum help us reimagine the past and play against our visual expectations of the cities we think we know so well.

Forty of Dorothy’s black and white vintage photographs of London are on display at The Jewish Museum’s exhibit, “Sixties London.”  All the photographs were developed by Dorothy herself and capture a record of what she saw.  This work is a striking contrast to the clichéd images of the ‘swinging sixties,’ as it lures us to peer into pockets and corners of London, highlighting ordinary people in unlikely places. For Dorothy there is a desire to see beyond the surface of places and depict a living London where people pursued their daily occupations, walking, talking, eating, and wearing the fashion of the time.  By taking these photographs we have a historical record of London, capturing the city in the moment of cultural and social change emerging from the Second World War.   She tells me, “I’m not interested in what has been photographed a lot … I’m interested in people, not the rich.”  There are images in parks, streets and alleyways; market stalls at Chapel Market, Knightsbridge and Paddington, workers in Notting Hill and children playing on tombstones in Kensington.  There is a powerful image of a woman holding a doll in Islington’s Chapel Street Market, where a tragic feeling has been caught.  Dorothy speaks of taking this particular photograph: “[The woman was] completely absorbed and didn’t notice me as she stood their transfixed.”  There are images that are quintessentially London: two dogs on leads stop on a typical London street with Georgian homes, schoolboys at the Tower of London, a child reluctantly walking his two younger brothers through Primrose Hill.

Dorothy also points out, “a sense of humour is essential” as we speak about the witty image of a larger elderly woman walking to a vegetable stand and right above her is an advertisement for Persil of a child pulling on her pants – a double image is clearly visible.

For the last 20 years Dorothy has been working in London.  “I owe it to this wonderful town and this country” she tells me and begins to describe what London was like during the Blitz.  Buses continued running, maneuvering around the rubble  with Dorothy standing as witness. She tells me she preferred to be outdoors even though she was warned to go into the air-raid shelter and described, “how wonderful [people] were, how good they were, there was no panic.”  This desire to capture London for Dorothy is very strong as this lifelong project continues today.

The Ben Uri Gallery and Museum is also currently displaying her work, but this time it’s Paris.  There are three photographers on display here presenting their artistic responses to three great world cities across three crucial decades.  The photographers:  Wolfgang Suschitzky, Dorothy Bohm, and Neil Libbert all arrived at their respective destinations, finding cities that were strange and new to them and responding through photography without prejudice or expectation.  As modern viewers, London, Paris and New York are cities that have a ready-made expectation visually, for these three photographers these cities were exciting, new and unfamiliar – the photographs displayed at Ben Uri are strikingly fresh and revelatory. Dorothy speaks of Paris as a place where she was inspired to go outdoors though it was not a glamorous city at that time, but one that saw the effects of war.  An important photograph that she took was of a group of Parisians looking at a newsstand; it captures a moment in history so succinctly.

As a photographer and an outsider, one can see what others cannot, and it is this idea that the Ben Uri Gallery has captured beautifully through these three incredible photographers. Dorothy comments on this idea:  “It’s a great advantage having moved around a lot.  I still feel that there are things I can explore, which if you were absolutely a part of it from the very beginning, not having travelled you wouldn’t notice, you wouldn’t think it was anything special.”  This is exactly the ability Dorothy has, observing and seeing what is around her with fresh eyes.

Dorothy Bohm’s photography captures the vulnerability of everyday people and each image is imbued with feeling.  Having been forced to leave her home, her background and losing so much of her past and history, there is a deep desire to ‘stop things from disappearing’ and to ‘make transience less painful, to look for beauty in the most unlikely places’.  She shares her home with me and we peruse through images of London, Portugal, Egypt and Israel; of her and her husband in Switzerland, polaroids which possess a delicate dance of light and of objects in her house that she uses for still life images. For Dorothy, photography is a way of communicating what lies beneath the surface of things, to be able to see what is beautiful in everyone and everything.

In a moment in our interview Dorothy begins to speak about her husband.  Louis Bohm also escaped the Nazis and came to England from Poland.  They met when she was 16 and he was 20 in Manchester and were married soon after. “Everything that was good in my life is due to Louis,” he was a man that helped her become the great photographer she is today. She tells me, “In the 40s men expected their wives to be at home and cook and so on, do you know what he told me?  ‘It’s a waste of your time to be in the kitchen’ he said.” Even her daughter, Yvonne, would come home and wonder why her mother was not in the kitchen like other mothers but in the darkroom.  It is clear that Dorothy is a woman of great ambition and passion and her husband saw and nurtured this immense desire within her.   Years after they were married Louis told her that his mother and 16 year old sister were both killed in the Warsaw Ghetto. “I reminded him of his 16 year old sister,” she says.  Although Louis only lived to witness one major exhibition at the London Photography Gallery, Dorothy holds a deep desire to continue capturing images to leave a legacy for Louis whose support allowed her to develop her art.

As we finish our visit and walk down the spiral staircase to the landing I ask Dorothy if photography has changed her view of humanity, if the images have helped in any way.    “There is so much brutality and ugliness in the world, so to counteract it – Martin Parr shows the other side.  Because of my life, because of what happened, I try to find things which are somehow, good.”

coleen-macpherson-headhostColeen MacPherson is a Canadian writer and theatre director with a thirst to explore the world. She trained at École Internationale de Théâtre Jacques Lecoq in Paris, where she mentored with French playwright, Michel Azama. She has recently founded Open Heart Surgery Theatre:  a group of international theatre-makers, creating work in London at Camden People’s Theatre, Mimetic Festival; in Paris at Plateau 31 and will soon be presenting ‘This is Why We Live’ in Toronto at The Theatre Centre.  She is constantly inspired by photography and the power of the image.

 

BOOK REVIEW: The Ongoing Moment, by Geoff Dyer

ongoingmomentvintage1To quote the famous dictum: writing about music is like dancing about architecture. With that said, I would gladly watch someone dance about architecture, if the opportunity ever came along. While I have yet to read Geoff Dyer’s book But Beautiful: A Book About Jazz (1991), in which he writes about music (or dances about architecture – I honestly haven’t read it), his writings about photography in The Ongoing Moment (2005) are often as innovate and freshly conceived as I imagine a foxtrot about Brutalism might be.

No one ever argued that dancing and architecture are opposed, after all, and Dyer is quick to make clear that writing about photography is not an irrelevant or unproductive venture. Painting a backdrop connection between writing and photography, Dyer cites Walker Evan’s musing that writers like James Joyce and Henry James were “unconscious photographers,” ceaselessly describing and categorizing the infinite variety of the world in haphazard order. But while the concerns of photography are as encompassing as the human condition, Dyer – who is not a photographer, and claims not even to own a camera – does admit that there’s a distinction between the “idea of photography” (he borrows the term from Stieglitz), and photography in practice. Even his title, The Ongoing Moment, is a reinterpretation of photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson’s phrase, “the decisive moment.” While photography attempts to pin down the ephemeral to speak to the essence of a moment, Dyer’s writing loosens these same silent images from the wall and shuffles them into new conversations, reading over them histories and biographies which expand their meanings and sweep them into a current of ever-evolving contemplation. Dyer’s writing rambles, returns, and reconsiders; offering no thesis or history, but a winding narrative of associations.

At times, Dyer’s writing feels like an (albeit delightful) run-on sentence. He drifts between themes grand and specific such as blindness, hands, nudes, hats, benches, beds, and stairs with hardly more than a breath in between. The Ongoing Moment is truly ongoing in the most literal sense of the term, and with no strict divisions or natural breaking points occurring in the text, I was forced ever onward in my reading – tumbling unwittingly into the next section before I had even realized I’d arrived. In such a flurry of thought, the distinctions between images seem at once obvious and negligible. (For example, here is the quote which serves to bridge the transition between the themes of “blindness” and “hands,” paraphrased from a private eye: “The things you notice in broad daylight – colours, hair, clothes – can all be changed quickly and easily. But the things you are obliged to concentrate on at night… never change. They are as permanent and personal as the lines of your hand.”) I often found myself having to flip back several pages to discover how I had gotten to what I was reading, or flip forward in the text to see when I might be afforded a change to pause and reflect upon what was being presented. Needless to say, I rarely found either direction completely satisfying.

But Dyer’s stylistic choices and transgressions are justified by their accordance with the larger, philosophical musings he is attempting to make about the nature of understanding the world. Dyer often ruminates about taxonomies and attempts to order the world, an impulse which he feels is inherent to both photography and writing, but he is also fascinated by the arbitrary divisions of many lists, and particularly about photography’s intrinsic tendency to bleed through many traditional categorizations. Further freeing him from of owning responsibly for his informal arguments or owing the reader any sort of comprehensive account of the history of photography, Dyer is also quick to adopt the role of humble dilatant. “The person doing the learning is the person writing the book as much as the person reading it,” he writes in his introduction, adding that that his focus throughout is partial – both in the sense that it leaves out many important photographers, and that it is driven primarily by his own personal interests.

Instead of stiff academic writing, The Ongoing Moment presents dreamlike, capricious connections between seemingly unrelated works that would likely have remained overlooked by those with both feet stuck in the traditional mires of art history. The result is liberating, and reaches past individual photographs toward an enchanted philosophy of sight. In one memorable passage, Dyer takes us on a nearly fairytale-like journey as we walk first with Walker Evans and then Lee Friedlander as they photograph individual numbers and letters on signs and advertisements, attempting to isolate, itemize, and decontextualize the symbols into what Dyer describes as a “a vast anagram of the city,” emerging into a “bacteriological rather than the literary sense of the world.” The description is beautiful, narrative, and imaginative, and could just as easily be applied to Dyer’s own artistic pursuits. The richness of language one might expect from an accomplished writer combines in The Ongoing Moment with a meditative dissolution of the established of literature and art, and the result is a new, living order which sprouts from overlooked corners and lays out its own network of roots.

There is no definitive conclusion to Dyer’s book, just as there is no closure to any of his arguments, which instead reoccur and transform throughout like the theme of a fugue. Reaching the ending paragraphs, I was left with the impression that the book might be as successfully read backwards, or outwards from the middle, or even in an infinite loop without repeating the same experience. Dyer’s conversations continually build and collapse upon one another, and the end result therefore is at once exhilarating or exhausting, fine-turned or flawed – but always essentially, decisively ongoing.

– Sasha Patkin

Painting with Light: Art and Photography from the Pre-Raphaelites to the Modern Age

TATE BRITAIN CURATOR DR. CAROL JACOBI SPEAKS WITH ANN HAREZLAK ON ‘PAINTING WITH LIGHT’

 

What is the impetus or background for this major project, connecting painting and photography over 75 years? Examining this relationship is a large undertaking, even in Britain alone.

The exhibition was overdue and the interdisciplinary brief of my post at Tate Britain was a wonderful opportunity to explore the impact of a new way of making pictures on the other arts after 1839. Of course painters and photographers were curious about each other’s work. In the early years they shared training, models and the opportunities and demands of wide new audiences and markets. More importantly they shared the search for a modern art, and a modern beauty, that suited their changing times.

Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Proserpine, 1874, oil paint on canvas, 1251 x 610 mm

Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Proserpine, 1874, oil paint on canvas, 1251 x 610 mm

Zaida Ben-Yusuf, The Odor of Pomegranates, 1899, published 1901, photogravure on paper, 194 x 108 mm

Zaida Ben-Yusuf, The Odor of Pomegranates, 1899, published 1901, photogravure on paper, 194 x 108 mm

 

Does this exhibition utilise a dialogue on the technical innovations of photographic histories to ultimately highlight the great photographers who advanced and shaped the medium – often neglected as contemporaries?

Any show featuring historic photography is a special chance to see sensitive works of art which can only be exhibited occasionally. My co-curator Hope Kingsley and I determined to display some of the photographic studies Robert Adamson and David Octavius Hill made for his multi-figure Disruption Portrait for the first time outside Scotland. The studies became world famous as some of the most beautiful and earliest examples of photography but the picture that began the partnership, and contains small images of Hill, Adamson and their studio assistant Jesse Mann, is not normally on public view.

It was important to represent the swift technical transformations over the period. They produced such different effects, from the seconds slowly accumulated in the shadows of a salted paper print, in the opening room, to the shorter instants caught in later albumen prints and the etching-like beauty of platinum prints and photogravures. Photogravures were reproduced in books and journals and circulated all over the world. One such is Zaida Ben Yusuf’s The Odor of Pomegranates, internationally famous during its day, a kind of ‘before’ to the ‘after’ of Rossetti’s Proserpine. We decided to end with the jewel- like autochromes, the first colour photography invented in the first decade of the twentieth century which looked at painting as one inspiration.

John Singer Sargent, Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose, 1885-186, oil paint on canvas, 1740 x 1537 mm

John Singer Sargent, Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose, 1885-186, oil paint on canvas, 1740 x 1537 mm

John Simon Warburg, Peggy in the Garden, 1909 printed 2016, Photograph, facsimile on lightbox from autochrome, 108 x 82 mm

John Simon Warburg, Peggy in the Garden, 1909 printed 2016, Photograph, facsimile on lightbox from autochrome, 108 x 82 mm

 

Why is it important to show works by John Everett Millais, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, JAM Whistler, John Singer Sargent and others alongside photographs by pivotal early photographers now? Or why has this not been shown before?

Research has been dispersed in different fields but when the work which scholars have been doing is brought together the influences and networks are clear from Hill and Adamson’s 1840s Edinburgh to the fine de siècle circle of Oscar Wilde. It was especially important to make the most of the chance to hang the photographs and paintings together.
In the first part of the show we see the search for realism and relevance to modern life that transformed mid-nineteenth century arts and literature; John Ruskin and many Pre-Raphaelite artists engaged with photography. For example, Roger Fenton trained as a painter and associated with the circle and John Brett incorporated photography into his extreme Pre-Raphaelite way of looking. Writers, painters and photographers saw a new poetry in detail: the patterns of shadows, a story told by a shabby shoe, eons written in a seam of rock.
From the 1860s, the Arts and Crafts movement encouraged a convergence of the arts. In particular, ‘Aesthetic’ artists turned towards feeling and imagination and explored more enchanting and enigmatic styles. The room devoted to poets, painters and photographers of the Holland Park set brings together for the first time Rossetti’s Beata Beatrix and Julia Margaret Cameron’s Follow, I Follow. JAM Whistler was an inspiration to Pictorialist photographers and we have included views of the Thames and of Venice. At the moment when it became technically possible for photographers to make really natural images they went in a different direction, transforming nature with subjective effects such as selective focus, glare and silhouette.

James Abbott McNeill Whistler, Nocturne: Blue and Gold – Old Battersea Bridge, 1872-5, oil paint on canvas, 683 mm x 512 mm

James Abbott McNeill Whistler, Nocturne: Blue and Gold – Old Battersea Bridge, 1872-5, oil paint on canvas, 683 mm x 512 mm

Alvin Langdon Coburn, The Bridge Over Regent’s Canal at Camden Lock, 1900-1909, photogravure, 216 x 170 mm

Alvin Langdon Coburn, The Bridge Over Regent’s Canal at Camden Lock, 1900-1909, photogravure, 216 x 170 mm

As the exhibition has been open for a few months, what has been the response and public engagement?

Extraordinary, social media has been so enthusiastic. The exhibition has established the rewards of hanging paintings and photographs in conversation and seeing each through the eyes of the other, more than best frenemies.

Painting with Light: Art and Photography from the Pre-Raphaelites to the Modern Age is curated by Dr Carol Jacobi, Curator of British Art 1850-1915 at Tate Britain, and Dr Hope Kingsley, Curator, Education and Collections, Wilson Centre for Photography, with Tim Batchelor, Assistant Curator at Tate Britain. The exhibition is accompanied by a concise book, Painting with Light: Art and Photography from the Pre-Raphaelites to the Modern Age.