Sunday, 25 July 2010

The Unreasonable Apple

I came across this article by Paul Graham, through a question that was put to me. Graham made this presentation at the first MOMA Photography Forum in February 2010. He talks of the art world’s opinion to ‘straight’ photography as reminding him,

of the parable of an isolated community who grew up eating potatoes all their life, and when presented with an apple, thought it unreasonable and useless, because it didn’t taste like a potato.”

The presentation in article form is incredible and well worth a read, I can only imagine the presentation itself would have been wondrous.

Image copyright Paul Graham, from the series Paintings, 1997-1999.

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

90 days

Above is the start of my new project. At the moment the title is work in progress, 90 days is the number of days since I lost my dearest friend.

It is exactly three months now and I have had this piece of paper since then. What is inside is a speech, a piece of automatic writing that I wrote for and said at the funeral. As the days keep going by, the paper tires until one day there will be nothing left to read.

This piece is work in progress, so for now all I can show is the folded up piece of paper.

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

We are indebted to you

I saw this wonderful article in the Guardian today, posing the question, “Was John Szarkowski the most influential person in 20th-century photography?” The article, by Sean O’Hagan shows us the wondrous genius that was Szarkowski and explains how his brilliance, almost single handedly changed the perception of photography in our time.

Szarkowski suggested in his book, The Photographer's Eye (1964) that "Photography, and our understanding of it, has spread from a centre; it has, by infusion, penetrated our consciousness. Like an organism, photography was born whole. It is in our progressive discovery of it that its history lies."

This piece is an excellent read and I for one, would like to applaud Szarkowski for all that he has done for photography and photographers in our changing times.

John Szarkowski in 1975, copyright Richard Avedon/ Richard Avedon Foundation.

Sunday, 18 July 2010

The Photograph as Contemporary Art

I feel that it is very important to show where this project started and above are photographs of the original book, sliced apart. Every image has been removed and what you are left with is a very fragile collection of textual pages that really becomes one.

The book carries a certain level of nostalgia, an archived version of contemporary photography with a sketch book of words. When holding the book, turning the pages, you start to gain an appreciation into the placement of images, it is if you are editing the text yourself, understanding the process and truly taking part. The book is a worthy exhibit alongside the photomontages, it shows you another way to view our somewhat certain realities.

Friday, 9 July 2010

A New Perspective

Dealing with grief is hard to bear, especially when a death is very shocking and unexpected. Having lost my dearest friend not even three months ago, the pain is very much still apart of who I am. Having stated this, something does ease the sorrow and that is exhibitions like that of Sally Mann’s. It might seem to others a rather bold choice to see an exhibition, which overtly shows decaying bodies, but what this brought to me was a new perspective.

Sally Mann’s exhibition at The photographers’ Galley is a collection of projects including “What remains” which presents us with decaying bodies, decomposing into the land at the Tennessee research facility. Each image is titled with what seems to be a reference code and a date only. The images are beautiful, a stunning tonal range warms the cold tone of the work and the skin appears like stone or dirty, waxed leather. What becomes apparent is the sensitivity that has gone into these images. As I looked deep into each remains, I felt a sense of understanding, a comfort, that my loss was not separated from these, that his beauty was still tangible in the images I made before his death. It is difficult to explain, but having peered into Mann’s images, I gained a new perspective for my grief.

The image above, titled “Was Ever Love, 2009” from the series Proud Flesh, is a stunning image that comforts and although not related to the previous series, links directly. This photograph, produced through the Wet-Collide process, like all the new work sings memento mori. The tilted head, the unfocused shoulders, the closed eyes, it is as if you are looking into an open casket. I want to take this opportunity to thank Sally Mann wholeheartly for showing the world a new way of looking, and reminding me the beauty of death.

Image copyright Sally Mann 2009, courtersy Gagosian Gallery.

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Schnabel's vision

I watched one of the most amazing films I have truly ever seen today, directed by Julian Schnabel, which earnt him the Best Director at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival. The film I am talking about is The Diving Bell and the Butterfly.

This film is empowering, captivating, heart breaking and visually incredible, every photographer should see it. From the very first opening sequence right through to the very last minute, I felt in another world. The cinematography is astounding; each frame is a highly composed still, flowing beautifully into another. Each shot is perfectly placed, tender, as we witness a death through the living. The dappled light, the soft words of a man locked inside his body is incredibly portrayed through this sensitive, factual tale of the French memoir made by Jean-Dominique Bauby.

I strongly recommend this film to everyone, especially photographers as it shows you another way of seeing. This film has in turn inspired me to look at the world in a new light, one where you are not lost in pity but embrace what you have, an imagination, a never ending dictionary of imagery where you can write your own tales.

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