Friday, 26 November 2010

Sophie Calle at Palais de Tokyo

“Rachel Monique”, is the Sophie Calle installation at the Palais de Tokyo which I managed to see in Paris last week. The show sadly closes tomorrow, the 27th November, so if you haven’t seen it, I hope this can explain what you missed.

There are few shows in this world that really move you, or have the ability to deeply affect you, but Sophie Calle’s was one of them for me. I can honestly say it must be one of, if not the best show I have ever seen. Even as I write this now, recalling what I saw and experienced, something changes in me, physically and emotionally. I am still so touched by the tenderness, the honesty and poignant reminders of grief brought about by this exhibit.

The installation is about the death of Calle’s mother, and brings together a collection of video, old family photographs, new imagery and objects to the lower ground, unused part of the Palais de Tokyo. The broken concert floors, the unfinished walls only enhance your experience as you wonder through a memorial for a woman you never knew. What is immediately apparent is stillness, a silence that one rarely witnesses in a gallery anymore. This is certainly achieved through the strict entrance limit of 30 people, but its more than just that. There is a real sense of respect paid to the works, as if you are walking through a grave, or a witness to her funeral.

Behind tall, metal fences you see black and white photographs, shipping containers marked with Calle’s name and destinations of places the works, or some have been exhibited. Mixed with these are vases of flowers, notably white lily’s, the flower for death placed carefully in front of an image or in the middle of the concert floor. Each flower is fresh, reminding us of her grief and what has recently passed.

One video work in particular moved me so deeply, tears streamed down my cheeks. We see two different views, to the left Calle’s dying mother being tendered to and to the right a floating iceberg in the North Pole. As you watch the two films unfold, you witness the moment of death juxtaposed to the cold yet calming swirl of the iceberg in the sea. Having recently lost someone very dear to me and seen him in his casket, the coldness was very familiar. What was so beautiful about this piece was the honesty, the rawness of the action, but produced with such dignity. I could of watched that film for hours, over and over again.

I could go on and on about the installation, but I feel this helps to explain a little of what the exhibits achieved. It proved to me that you can produce a body of work, solely on death, a death close to you which not only creates something beautiful and inspiring, but something that brings light back into a dark place.

Sunday, 21 November 2010

A37 & D4

Here are some installation shots of my work in Paris Photo in booths A37 - Flowers Gallery and D4 - Foam Magazine. The works exhibited in Flowers were four Polaroid Portraits from the series Monochromes and Colourations and the response has been very positive. The fair itself was very good, a varied selection of vintage and contemporary with some excellent pieces. I will write more about this in another post later in the week, along with a post about the extraordinary exhibitions, "Sophie Calle - Rachel Monique" and "Fresh Hell" at the Palais de Tokyo.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Paris Photo

I am leaving for Paris tomorrow morning, so I am just putting the finishing touches together for my trip to Paris Photo! If you are heading over, you can see a selection of my work in both publication and exhibition form. The yellow dots represent the booths to look out for; D4 for Foam Magazine and A37 for Flowers Gallery, London. I will also be at Off Print for the launch evening, so hope to meet you there!

Monday, 8 November 2010

Ctrl + C Festival

I am one of the artists participating in the new catalogue from Studio Blanco running parallel to the festival Ctrl + C in Capri. My images are also used for all the PR/ Communication for the project, which I am very excited about. The book is based upon a "nonexistent Exhibition" with the theme "Everyday,” and has some great names taking part, from Richard Kern, Nadav Kander to Kim Gordon. Here is an introduction to the book,

"One by one, scroll through the days. Some long, seemingly endless. Others slip away, as if we had not even met them. Some remain in our memories forever. Others are repeated in a cycle of almost becoming bored. Show some love and serenity. More a blanket of darkness and torment. Some happen and it is as if they had not. Others are turning points. Some keep their promises. Others see them breaking. Some are eagerly awaited. Others do not have expectations.”

In the days that opposites coexist. The essence of our being contradictory.

The book will be available for preview during the festival and later online. To find out more about the festival and the artists participating look here, . and

Saturday, 6 November 2010

Getting ready for Finland

So, as it is now November, The Capital of Culture Exhibitions, taking place in Turku, Finland 2011 are fast approaching, and I am busy preparing the works. The exhibition that I am participating in is called "Alice in Wonderland" produced by The Finnish Museum of Photography and curated by art historians Anna-Kaisa Rastenberger, Elina Heikka and chief editor, curator Sheyi Bankale (UK.)

I have finalised the framing specification and above is an example of what they will look like, a wonderful warm walnut wooden frame. I am very excited as I have just booked my flights to Helsinki for January, I have been forewarned that it is going to get very cold, with averaging temperatures of -6 degrees! I will be updating you on all things Turku 2011 as and when I know more.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Miraculous Beginnings

I am just off to see one of my favourite photographers at The Whitechapel, Walid Raad. I'll post later today to talk about the exhibition, until then....

What an exhibition! The Whitechapel have exceeded and surpassed all that I had hoped for in this show, as they curated over a decade of Raad's work in a beautiful, informative manner. The show brings together works that I have previously seen, notably the Deutsche Borse prize winning "We decided to let them say, 'we are convinced' twice." donated to the Atlas Group to ones like "Let's be honest, the weather helped". This one I found particularly beautiful as the pieces show 1970's buildings in Beirut that have been repeatedly shot at with varying degrees of force and differing military. Each image has been put into what appears to be a notebook and all the bullet holes have been highlighted with different coloured stickers. The width of the stickers is the exact diameter of the bullets fired at the subject, they also show the different countries armies. The images are striking both educationally and visually.

Other series that I found very inspirational were, "Oh God,' he said, talking to a tree" and "Secrets in the open sea" which consists of twenty-nine photographic prints that were found buried under rubble in the commercial districts of Beirut in the 1993 demolition. What you are presented with are six large prints in varying shades of blue, with a tiny picture in black and white in the bottom right hand corner. It is said that these prints were found and sent to a laboratory that then discovered the portrait images underneath. Whether this is fact or fiction, the outcome is truly outstanding. This body of work has given me much to think about and is great research material for my new work.

In fact this exhibition has been a breath of fresh air, it has to be one of the best shows I have seen in a very long time, thank you Walid Raad!

Images copyright Walid Raad, (Exhibition shot taken from the Hamburger Bahnhof in Berlin.)

Dirk Stewen

Dirk Stewen's show is currently on at Maureen Paley and is a wonderful exhibition, his first in the UK, which puts together works on paper that present his artistic strategy. The works use different sources of imagery, all that have been collected in his studio in Hamburg. From photocopies, inkjets to Indian ink dyed photographic sheets all works, as the press release states "represent his basic principle: to keep his work in a constant state of becoming."

The works are delicate. Carefully sewn pieces of confetti, mixed with larger pieces and other objects are thread together over photographic sheets, some dyed repeatedly so that layers of black ink create new patterns on the surface of the paper. For me, like the black sea or a night sky with lights floating up into space. The watercolours are stunning, mixed with what appears to be torn paper, the inks merge into one creating what seems to reference developing organic matter. The pieces for me act as almost an escape, a brief glance into another time, a new place of calm.

This exhibition has been deeply inspiring and I will shortly be creating some new works, taking onboard what Stewen has achieved here. The show is on until 14th November see more here;

Images copyright Dirk Stewen 2010

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