≡ The Hyères School of Photography ≡

My love for the Hyères Festival is known. I’ve written about it and have featured a great deal of the authors shortlisted each year. The judging panel has been responsible for issuing a statement about what they want to see in contemporary photography and it has been bold and exciting, for Hyères always awards an experimental attitude towards the medium itself, as well as valuing innovation and creativity. Amidst the past festival judges “we can randomly mention Urs Stahel (Fotomuseum Winterthur), Marloes Krijnen (FOAM, Amsterdam), Dennis Freedman (W, New York), Charlotte Cotton, Glenn O’Brien, Marta Gili (Jeu de Paume, Paris), Jörg Koch (032C, Berlin), James Reid (Wallpaper*, London), Frits Gierstberg (Nederlands Fotomuseum, Rotterdam), Kathy Ryan (New York Times, New York), David Campany (London), Joerg Colberg (Conscientious), Charles Fréger (photographer, France), Erik Kessels (KesselsKramer, Amsterdam), Brett Rogers (The Photographer’s Gallery, London), Karen Langley (Dazed, London), Winfried Heininger (Kodoji Press, Switzerland), Damien Poulain (Oodee, London), Jason Evans (photographer, United Kingdom), Mutsuko Ota (IMA, Tokyo), etc.

What follows is my selection of work from the 10 authors shortlisted for Hyères 2015.

I – Oezden Yorulmaz

5© Oezden Yorulmaz, Untitled, from the series Ed Meets Jack, 2013.

6© Oezden Yorulmaz, Untitled, from the series Ed Meets Jack, 2013.

excerpt from Hyères’ press release:

Oezden Yorulmaz is interested in how photographical images play an important aspect of self-definition within the western society he cohabits. He plays in his work with the borders and the limitations of photography’s try to represent reality. He often uses himself as the main protagonist and creates male performs that is acting a narrative or mental state within the space of images or locations.
In Ed Meets Jack he created a fictional story, told through a series of photographs, which resemble a sequence of film stills. By using props or costumes he is trying to create a persona or situation that is aiming to reproduce an authentic atmosphere that only exists within in the space of the image. The photograph acts as a springboard between his performance and the observer and is limited to each one own presumption and experience.

II – Filippo Patrese

patrese_filippo-3© Filippo Patrese, Settembre 1977, from the series Corrections, 2014.

patrese_filippo-1© Filippo Patrese, Febbraio 1983, from the series Corrections, 2014.

III – Thomas Rousset

hyeres_01_news© Thomas Rousset, Untitled.

1074720© Thomas Rousset, Untitled.

1074713© Thomas Rousset, Untitled.

IV – Jeannie Abert

1jeannieabert-champ-de-bataille© Jeannie Abert, RÉVOLUTIONS, 2011. Collages sur papier.

c2_624© Jeannie Abert, COVER. Collages sur papier, incrustations diverses et brou de noix.

4-x_800© Jeannie Abert, COMPILE POUR UN AMNESIQUE, 2015 (en cours).

Jeannie’s statement:

I take photography as my starting point as a database of experimental research which I see as a raw material that I then manipulate. I search in pre-existing iconographic banks and appropriate the images. Thumbing my nose at the screen, a paradigm of the contemporary view, I question the images by bringing them back to a materialstate. There are so many axes and interpenetrations which define a genetically hybrid operation – contact photography, scanned, printed, photocopied images, reproduced so much so as to lose their definition – material – grain – frame photography which can meet up with drawing – painting – textiles. My intention is to stimulate the regard by changing the points of view. I play with the production and diffusion processes of the image. I question the medium of photography by trying to build a “play area” which could open new visual preoccupations.

V – Sjoerd Knibbeler

sjoerd-knibbeler-003© Sjoerd Knibbeler, Current Study # 3, 2013.

sjoerd-knibbeler-018© Sjoerd Knibbeler, Skyline, videostill, 2013.

sjoerd-knibbeler-010© Sjoerd Knibbeler, FW-42, from the series The Paper Planes, 2014.

excerpt from press release @ Unseen Photo Fair Amsterdam:

Knibbeler is working independently again, on a quest to capture wind. He tries to make the impossible possible by simulating tornados, folding model airplanes and trying – literally – to capture air. The model airplanes, all of which are based on designs that were never airborne, provide a context insinuating the impossibility of his quest. But parallel to these experiments he created video work showing an aerobatics pilot practicing his flight patterns on ground. In this work the complexity of the matter becomes tangible and the research of the contemporary experience of nature suddenly reappears. In November, LhGWR will present Knibbeler’s first solo show.

VI – Sushant Chhabria

ILMtext-637x800© Sushant Chhabria.

ilm_exhbit-1000x730© Sushant Chhabria, installation view, 2015.

chhabria_sushant-1© Sushant Chhabria, Untitled, 2015.

ilm_13-584x800© Sushant Chhabria, Untitled, 2015.

VII – Wawrzyniec Kolbusz

12-833x1024© Wawrzyniec Kolbusz, Untitled, from the series Sacred Defense.
wawrzyniec_kolbusz_sacred-defense_14-834x1024© Wawrzyniec Kolbusz, Untitled, from the series Sacred Defense.

wawrzyniec_kolbusz_sacred-defense_07-1024x834© Wawrzyniec Kolbusz, Untitled, from the series Sacred Defense.

Installation-View-of-Sacred-Defense-by-Wawrzyniec-Kolbusz-Wroclaw-SEP-2014-f1-1024x683© Wawrzyniec Kolbusz, installation view from the series Sacred Defense.

excerpt from Kolbusz’s statement @ Format Festival:

Sacred Defence, embedded in the Iranian post-war reality of the Iraq-Iran war (1980– 1988), is a story of producing artificial war images and reconstructing historical events to create a group memory. It is questioning whether reconstructed evidence is still evidence. It not only traces the existing modes of construction of fake war narrations. It also creates new war-related simulacra in digitally amended satellite images of nuclear installations. Hence, testing further the notion and limits of artificial evidence.

Sacred Defence is a game, in which images make us believe we see the war. We are looking at illusions, however. We follow how the war simulacra of social and political importance are being created within different spaces. A cinema city, constructed only for the purpose of shooting war movies, is a self-referencing space, created not to be experienced itself, but to become an image of war. Museums mimic the wartime reality in the smallest detail; wax figures of particular martyrs allow a meeting with fallen heroes again; and plastic replicas of antipersonnel mines sold as souvenirs.

From a play between the evident and the non-evident, author leads us to the point where he creates new simulation. He amends satellite images of Iranian nuclear installations with mutually exclusive versions of air strike destruction. Buildings destroyed in some images stand intact in others – parallel versions of the same event are presented on a single satellite map. Author is producing a ‘proof’ of an event that never happened despite being discussed in media.

VIII – Polly Tootal

picture_054print30x24c© Polly Tootal, #20406, 2014.

cf013534r44x59insq© Polly Tootal, #43534, 2014.

bcf013839_1r© Polly Tootal, #43839, 2014.

excerpt from an essay by Matthew Parker about Tootal’s work:

Polly Tootal is a photographer of British landscapes, yet the landscapes she registers are not likely to be found in any popular chronicle of the land, rejecting as they do the obvious beauty or grandeur of things and instead existing in the spaces in-between, the ones that are passed through every day, so nameless as to be embedded deeply into our consciousness and then forgotten. Perhaps this is why then, despite their surface anonymity, they all seem so uncannily familiar to me.

(…)

It’s no surprise to discover the Bechers are an influence, but compared to their typological surveys, her project is loose, deceptively objective, varying from image to image. Not concerned with the repetition of specific elements. Not so narrow in its vision. Instead, with each unique image, there’s a subtle vein of drama, an eye open to the strange and the exotic, the mundane and the obscure. Not limiting herself to specialised projects or adhering to restrictive formal rules, she instead takes an interest in atmosphere, humour, light and tone, looking to craft a delicate mood or declare a truth about a place. The ultimate goal is of a complex story, a vast and wide-ranging index of the British landscape and a store of unrelated yet connected images.

Common elements hold the project together. The images often lie upon thresholds and boundaries, liminal zones, between urban and rural, leisure and industry, lived in and discarded. Polly is interested in “places where abandoned industry mixes with functioning architecture and development, spaces left awaiting completion or areas of recent renewal.” Whether suburban, urban or rural, the subjects have, for the most part, been seen from the road; discovered and observed from the inside of a car. This might be another reason for the strange familiarity the images possess, their sometimes-disturbing déjà vu. I think to myself, how many times have I passed this place? Unknowingly drinking it in and storing it inside. Warehouses, business parks, shopping centers, waste-ground, motor- ways, car parks: the non-places that quietly fill up our lives, the sites of transience. Maybe I’ve seen none of them, but I am certain that I know the Little Chef, this stretch of motorway, that patch of industry, this housing estate.

(…)

And what has been left outside? Well, people, of course. There are no people in these landscapes. There are no moving objects either. There are no bustling, vibrant markets. And there are no stunning vistas that haven’t been touched by the modern world. If there is woodland there is a motorway bridge towering behind it in monumental silence, if there is a valley there happens to be a cement factory, if there is a quarry there is a housing estate it seems to be at war with. But for all these things it’s the absence of people that I find most interesting. Despite these being landscapes I feel as if they should be there. I find myself yearning for them. But I admire the fact that they will not come. Human portraits are not needed. If you know how to look, these rigorously poetic landscapes tell a story enough.

IX – Evangelia Kranioti

695ff4d5c22e8242ba64d8ee85bfd28b© Evangelia KraniotiFrom Lagos to Rio – end of sea passage, 2010, from the series Exotica, Erotica, etc.

502d1520ef9b8689e48a48d7deb1f9ff© Evangelia Kranioti, Buddha of the main engine, 2012, from the series Exotica, Erotica, etc.

7e2f10d380416ee7b341cec930747b2b© Evangelia Kranioti, Desert on board, 2011, from the series Exotica, Erotica, etc.

excerpt from press release @ Centre d’Art Contemporain Genève:

At the heart of Evangelia Kranioti’s research are the notions of desire, wandering, and return to one’s origins. Inspired by the work of the Greek writer Nikos Kavvadias, Kranioti questions the male-female relationship through the fleeting loves of sailors in ports, terrae incognitae where the magic of wandering still operates.
The documentary essay Exotica, Erotica, etc. is the culmination of a long-term project undertaken over four years, during which she followed the crews of the Greek navy worldwide and spent months in the company of the women they frequent.
Through the stories of Sandy, former Chilean prostitute and those of these souls in perpetual homelessness, Kranioti poetically depicts the romantic imaginary of the sea, its tragic heroes and its forgotten loves.

X – David Magnusson

Purity-DM-028-560x700© David MagnussonJamie & David Clampitt, Shreveport, Louisiana, from the series Purita.

Purity-DM-005-560x700© David Magnusson, Will & Nicole Roosma, Tucson, Arizona, from the series Purita.

Purity-DM-027-560x700© David MagnussonJenna & Jeff Clark, Chandler, Arizona, from the series Purita.

excerpt from Jessica Valenti’s article Purity balls, Plan B and bad sex policy: inside America’s virginity obsession:

«The men and girls in the photos hold hands and embrace – the young women are in long white dresses, the men in suits or military regalia. If some of the girls in the pictures weren’t so young – Laila and Maya Sa up there are seven and five years old, respectively – the portraits could be mistaken for wedding or prom pictures. What they actually capture, though, are images of those who participate in purity balls – father-daughter dances featuring girls who pledge to remain virgins until marriage and fathers who promise to protect their daughters’ chastity.

The images from Swedish photographer David Magnusson’s new book, Purity, are beautiful, disturbing and tell a distinctly American story – a story wherein a girl’s virginity is held up as a moral ideal above all else, a story in which the most important characteristic of a young woman is whether or not she is sexually active. This narrative of good girls and bad girls, pure girls and dirty girls, is one that follows young women throughout their lives. Purity balls simply lay that dichotomy bare.

(…)

Magnusson says he hopes his pictures elicit empathy,not judgment: “As I learnt more, I understood that the fathers, like all parents, simply wanted to protect the ones that they love – in the best way they know how.”

I have no doubt that families who participate in purity balls are doing what they think is best for their children – but that doesn’t make them any less wrong. When we teach girls that their virginity makes them special and valuable, we’re sending the simultaneous message that without their virginity they are tainted and damaged.»

≡ the Photographer & the Archive ≡

I

mystery-man-photobooth-collection3445 Portraits of a man. More about the work HERE.

photoboothcartejeune1993detailKatherine Griffiths, Photobooth Project, since 1973. More about the work HERE.

II

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Arianna Arcara & Luca Sanese, Found photos in Detroit 2009-2010.

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Thomas Sauvin, Beijing Silvermine.

For the past three years, collector Thomas Sauvin (French, b.1983) has visited a Beijing recycling center each month and purchased color negatives for the value of the silver they contain, effectively rescuing discarded filmstrips from being melted down for silver nitrate. To date Sauvin has accumulated over a half a million photographic color negatives and has obsessively digitized each one to create an archive. The images are mostly snapshots taken by unknown photographers that were made within a twenty-year period – from the early 1980s when 35 mm color film became popular in China to the early 2000s, as consumer digital camera became ubiquitous—and thus Beijing Silvermine can be read as a unique portrait of China’s capital city from the end of the Cultural Revolution to the country’s rise in the global economy.” excerpt from the Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago.

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Simon Menner, Images from the Secret Stasi Archives or: what does Big Brother see, while he is watching?

Berlin-based artist Simon Menner (German, b. 1978) also worked with highly sensitive and controversial materials when he researched the archives of the former German Democratic Republic’s State Security Service (STASI). This archive was made public, with certain limitations, after the Berlin Wall came down in 1989. Known to be one of the most effective Cold War surveillance apparatuses, the STASI had more agents, proportionally to its country’s population, than either the CIA or KGB. Menner has reproduced select pictures from the archive and in a similar fashion to Sauvin, catalogues the images into varied groupings..” excerpt from the Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago.

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NSW Police Forensic Archive. Mugshots, 1912 – 1930.

If the subjects felt resentment at having their photographs taken, they mostly withheld even that feeling: one senses in the photographs an unwillingness to “communicate” with the photographic apparatus at all, a non-complying passivity, a refusal by the subjects to “let anything show”. The strict partitioning of the negatives into two or three views — face on, side on, full length — replicated the physical and psychic containment of their subjects. Encountering these images in large numbers, the truisms about the repressiveness and cruelty of the surveilling gaze, the charge that photography is inherently authoritarian and thanatotic became pointedly apposite.” excerpt from Peter Doyle’s essay Public eye, private eye: Sydney police mug shots, 1912-1930.

III

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Gerhard Richter (b.Germany, 1932), Atlas, 1962 – 2013.

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Walid Raad (b.Lebanon 1967), Atlas Group.

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Hans Peter Feldman, (b.Germany, 1941), various works.

IV

Francis Alÿs, (b.Belgium, 1959), Sleepers II, 2001. 80 slide carousel projection.

km9Duarte Belo, (b.Lisbon, 1968).

V

Steve McQueen (b.UK, 1969), For Queen and Country, 2006-07. 98 framed sheets of facsimile stamps in a wooden cabinet.

VI

Akram Zaatari, (b.Lebanon, 1966), Dance to the End of Love, 2011.

David Oresick (b.EUA, 1984), Soldiers in their youth.

VII

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Tacita Dean (b.UK, 1965), The Russian Ending, 2001.

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Mathilde ter Heijnen (b.France, 1969), Woman to Go, 2005-ongoing. Installation with postcard display (postcards can be taken for free), 2001.

VIII

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Duane Michals (b.EUA, 1932), Deja Vu, 2012. Tintype with hand-applied oil paint.

IX

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Yaron Lapid, (b.Israel, 1974), Partial Moments.

X

٠ Christopher Marques: working-through the postmemory trauma ٠

01_chtistophermarques copy04_chtistophermarques copy06_chtistophermarques copy09_chtistophermarques copy27_chtistophermarques copy31_chtistophermarques copy40_chtistophermarques copy44_chtistophermarques copy48_chtistophermarques copy49_chtistophermarques copyall photographs © Christopher Marques, from the project O Álbum/The Album, 2013

Christopher’s work revolves around the quest for identity. It’s a postmodern symptom. The industrialization and the instant access to difference places, languages, faces and times, tends to confuse people. As we grow up, it’s inevitable to go through a phase where we find ourselves being defined by the look of others, by the way we relate to the collective identity. It’s a way to find a social recognition, but as we come to understand later on, nothing is more important that our individual identity and the quest for it can be a life-long journey, very demanding and often overwhelming and consuming.

Christopher is sort of a victim of this malady. He was born in France where he spent the first thirteen years of his life and has been living in Portugal since then. It might not be his case, but changing countries at that age can be a ticket to a more autonomous thinking about identity, given that there’s an immediate split between the notion of “individual identity” and “national identity”, which we all know is a complex and dangerous concept, as both “Portuguese” and “French” can testify for.

This split (or any other able to separate the I from the We) turns the focus of the quest to a more intimate level. Who am I? What features are my own? What will I be? , these are questions that cannot be answered without recognizing and working through the impact of the collective identity, the past, the family heritage and the historical events. But who authenticates all of these? How can we choose from these references, which belong and are of interest and which not?

In this project, Christopher sets out to look for his identity in the midst of long lost family photographs. Yes, we all know the family album, the archive and the digital manipulation of memory related documents is fashionable nowadays and very high rated in the art market, but I’d like to suggest there’s something more authentic (maybe therapeutic, definitely fragile) in the way Christopher engages with the digital brush as he repeatedly erases everyone faces.

I do think the excessive use of archival images says something about the inability of the artist to create something new. On the other hand, I don’t think that is a bad thing. As artists work through their memories, they make space for new things and they prepare for a world of imagination. Everyone needs to get rid of the weight of history, traditions and heritage, in order to be able to fully express their creativity. I see it as a generous gift the fact that Christopher “chooses” to show us the moment of his dwelling.

Marianne Hirsch defines “postmemory” as a connection to the past that “is mediated not by recall but by imaginative investment, projection, and creation.”[i] The fragmented, often fake memories, with which we all grew up, are intensified by a world cemented over an unforgiving visual culture. Instead of the daily-readings, the nightly reading, the weekend and the holiday readings which nurtured an affirmative imagination, we now watch series and movies almost on a daily basis. Without realizing, our individual memories are forced to identify with the collective memory. Instead of working through our personal narratives we build upon our stories, we write new roles for ourselves, roles that fit dramatic plots, where heroic and inhuman characters always succeed.

As Christopher, the narrator, projects his non-identification, we, as viewers, go through the opposite process, since because of all the disappearing faces we easily remember similar moments from our family albums. The non-personalized figures presented in the album manage to be representations of our own family members because their anonymity erases the distance created by the fact that their time and location differs from ours.

Hirsch says something about Christian Boltanski’s work that I’ll here appropriate to describe Christopher’s work: “Each of his works aims not toward particularity but toward anonymity, not toward an individual but toward a collective identity. He often speaks of the effort to erase himself, so as to be able to reach a communal memorial layer, an amalgam of unconscious reminiscences and archetypes through which viewers can supply their own stories as they look at his images.”[ii] However, even though both Christopher and Boltanski were born in France, exactly forty-four years separate them, so the focus on anonymity, putting the collective in front of the particular (the former through erosion, the latter through repetition), has very different references.

On this subject, I want to suggest that Christopher’s erased faces are akin to the use of the Guy Fawkes’ mask by the anonymous movement. They both accomplish the same effect: by erosion or repetition, we are left with a collective identity that gazes us, instead of us being the ones whose gazes undress the individual nature of an identity that is forced to be resumed in a single face.

The non association of A face with A identity (and thus the questioning of the theatricality behind traditional portraiture) is an anti-authoritarian and anti-propriety statement, even if this is a marginal symptom of how important are the roles played by visibility and invisibility in what is made visible. [iii] So I’m left with this question: is it possible that there aren’t a lot of differences between the use of the balaclava, as a way to protest against a superficial and coercive identification by the authoritarian force, and the use of the digital eraser, as a way to work through fictional memories, deny the postmemory and embrace the remembering of “real events”?


[ii] HIRSCH, M. (1996) “Past Lives: Postmemories in Exile”. Poetics Today, Vol. 17, No. 4, Creativity and Exile: European/American Perspectives II, pp.659-686

 

10_chtistophermarques copy© Christopher Marques, from the project O Álbum/The Album, 2013

To see the full “Album” click here. For more of Christopher’s work here.

٠ Duarte Amaral Netto: It’s all real, you just need to give up on your anguish (III of III) ٠

Part I of essay here and part II here

Duarte Amaral Netto4© Duarte Amaral Netto, Z (France, April 1940), 2012
65×50 cm Framed, Inkjet on Fine Art, Ed. 2 + 1 AP

Storytelling isn’t far from the discursive play, on the contrary. Martha Langford would call it an oral-photographic method of telling stories, in the sense that works using family photographs and historical documents trigger our day-to-day ways of interpreting the world and having conversations with one another. It’s my opinion that is why Z saw the light of day: to set up a rhizomatic dialogue that inevitably speaks to our collective memory by being on display as the personal story of the doctor, through whose eyes we are invited to (re)count, (re)member or (re)live multiple singular and universal narratives.

Rosalind Krauss defined Sculpture as an Expanded Field (1979), somehow located in between two negative polls: that of the non-architecture and that of non-landscape. George Backer then located Photography’s Expanded Field (2005) in a neutral zone in between non-narrative and non-static. In fact they don’t put forward this negative tension, but that’s what I understand from a definition that goes around the inclusion to locate by exclusion. Both Krauss and Baker want to relocate sculpture and photography, respectively, to the periphery of the polls they firstly entailed them in, arguing that’s the way to realize their full potential and interact with the culture field.

And then comes Kuhn, also referring to Marianne Hirsch, arguing about such cultural potential, saying that the power of the combination between memory work and photography stems “from the very everydayness of photography – from the ways photography and photographs figure in most people’s daily lives and in the apparently ordinary stories we tell about ourselves and those closest to us.“ (2007, p.285) And we’re back to the everyday.

Duarte Amaral Netto5© Duarte Amaral Netto, Z (Ballerina), 2012
65×50 cm Framed, Inkjet on Fine Art, Ed. 2 + 1 AP

Before talking about Duarte’s latest exhibition, I’d like to take a moment to draw a connection between this everydayness quality, which is now proved to be a sub-thread throughout all of his work, and the idea of the voyeur. Going about Wittgenstein’s thoughts, Michael Fried highlights a passage from a manuscript dating back to 1930. In it, Wittgestein tells “Nothing could be more remarkable than seeing someone who thinks himself unobserved engaged in some quite simple everyday activity”, (Fried, 2008, p.76) to sustain his idea that the way we go about the works – what we expect from them, how we looked at them – is what graduates them from their everydayness to art.

In a recent article, Boris Groys defines the contemporary subject as “primarily a keeper of a secret”. (2013, p.2) What both these claims put forward is the idea that value exists only where there is exclusiveness, so it’s not that the scenes depicted are mundane or that the archival photographs have been traveling the world for ages and have been seen by various people, but the fact that this or that is being shown to us. The image plane and the observer’s plane coincide, so the image is only completed when fully formed inside my eye. I am the sole testifier of Z’s portrait, as I am the sole testifier of Luda’s introspective moment.  At least I need to be sold on a narrative where this relation is possible.

Duarte Amaral Netto6© Duarte Amaral Netto, Selective Affinities, Installation view at Baginski, Lisbon, 2013

Duarte Amaral Netto7© Duarte Amaral Netto, Selective Affinities, Installation view at Baginski, Lisbon, 2013

Selective Affinities, Duarte’s last work I’ll be focusing on, has a bigger diaphragm than Z: it takes longer breaths and it breaths better, deeper. It also exacerbates something I thought I had seen in Z: the joy at play. It brings together a big collection of Polaroid transfers presented as diaries; another collection of Polaroids displayed in a continuum, and a triple projection of slides from different sources. It could be that our smile is ripped apart because of all the kids running around in the photographs or because we are reminded of the punctum arisen by similar family portraits, but in fact the major qualities of the work lie with the use of the medium specificities. Don’t forget Duarte is first, foremost or also, a photographer, and a really good one.

I will argue that this work is about blurriness and about what is left behind when the absence of material relevance gives way to time. Back to Baker’s location of photography between the narrative and the static, we could maybe agree that static in cinema is less organic than in photography, though they both struggle with it. The time given to an image, on the other hand, can trigger imagination, allowing us to project our desires. So what really differentiates the photographic from the cinematic moment is the time of the experience. Light, in photography, allows the capture of moments never seen before, it builds from nothing; in cinema, the same light giving us the images is the same that kills them in a split-second. Having said this, it doesn’t matter how many frames are killing each other in front of us, nor how much time we can stare at a single photograph, for their mechanical time in not our biological time. In between narrative and static there is an aesthetic attribute stronger than them – temporality, and that is what will influence the eco of the image’s spirit in us.

The tenderness and affection in Duarte’s polaroids shown in Selective Affinities is overwhelming. It’s raw. It implies a romantic notion of immediacy, only interrupted by his selection of which we are able to see and which not. Again, we are made believe we are witnesses to exclusiveness – unique moments of his private life. And because this everyday life draws innumerous parallels to our singular and collective memory, our imagination is triggered, for these images resonate with what we remember, or know about ourselves.

I too belong to a generation whose fado is to wander, who has no sense of community and no true willing to find freedom. Our generation has played a very special role as passive viewers, particularly regarding cinema and photography. We understood that as passive spectators we were actively participating in cultivating an impossible ideal of what the ideal life would be, how families should behave, how lovers should kiss, how you are supposed to feel at every moment of your life. This living in between our own non-linear narratives and the fictional ones – the ones Others were apparently living – has seriously compromised our identitary structure, our ability  to  avoid lying,  our capacity  to   remember  our  memories  instead   of building new ones that would suite us better. Not being able to distinguish between a documentary narrative and a fictional narrative impaired our judgment. Suddenly we had to choose between to be or not to be when we could have chosen to be and not to be.

Duarte Amaral Netto9© Duarte Amaral Netto, Selective Affinities, Transfers Reproductions, 2013

Duarte Amaral Netto10© Duarte Amaral Netto, Selective Affinities, Transfers Reproductions, 2013

So as I go through Duarte’s Selective Affinities with the eyes of an image-maker, I have the feeling that he mastered the fusion of the real and the fictional within his own personal life. These are not snapshots, these are not Polaroid transfers, these are not family moments, this is not a family album. This is an archive. I do doubt whether it was made conscious to Duarte that these images reveal the history of a generation, for all that is there, for all that it stands for – our day-dreams, our nightly-dreams, our fears, our world of possibilities, our sense of joy, our sense of structure, of identity, of family.

It is the blurriness of the photographs that convince us of the barthesian that-has-been. A green rabbit could be inserted next to one of the kids in the photographs and we would still believe the verity of the photograph. We believe because we want to, because we were made to believe, brought-up as individuals in a post-modernist world, where everything that matters has to be about achieving, conquering, becoming, when instead our sense of daily sharing should have been taken care of. Because we are loners, wanderers, drifters, we become the characters to whom we write scripts that we then play in our lives, both as narrators and having a lead role.

Lastly, I’ll finish by explaining the title of this article – It’s all real, you just need to give up on your anguish – by saying that the term “anguish” was chosen for its relation to the Heideggerian notion that anguish enables an inauthentic life and, consequently, prevents us to potentiate reality. So this is what I say (sort of as a wishful-thinking): let go on the idea that you can define things by exclusion. Instead, exclude the non-fact and the non-artifact; the non-static and the non-narrative; the non-real and the non-fiction. Anguish is the acceptance of frontiers; it stops the realm of the real, the symbolic and the imaginary, to fully realize its potential to become reality.

text by Sofia Silva

Baker, G. (2005) Photography’s Expanded Field. October, Vol. 114, pp.120-140

Fried, M. (2008) Why Photography Matters as Art as Never Before, London: Yale University Press

Groys, B. (2013) Art Workers: Between Utopia and the Archive. [online] E-flux journal, #45, Maio
Krauss, R. (1979) Sculpture in the Expanded Field. October, Vol. 8, pp.30-44

Kuhn, A. (2007) Photography and cultural memory: a methodological exploration. Visual Studies, Vol. 22, No. 3, pp.283-292

٠If you think you can ignore this, you should think twice ٠

FatherStarmanPose

FatherAndHisWomenSuit.2There’s really just one judgement that needs to be made right away: I really have no respect for hierarchical structures, whether they are manifested in the form of a relationship between a father and a son or between a leader and his/her disciples. I am aware that this lack of respect means nothing, but still, I feel more comfortable saying it. These vertical structures are based around the idea of power (control, power, charisma, you choose) and respect (submission or a false sense of collective sharing) and they stand in the way of liberty. Having said that, I don’t deny that given the way our culture has evolved we often need to lean back on these structures to evolve. I think that, IN PART, that is what Source Family is about. I have absolutely no other judgement about them. Each chooses one’s way to enlightenment and no one should stand in the way. If you think this is bullshit, crazy people, cult material, whatever you want to call it, you ought to think twice. The world is far greater than we can grasp, we know nothing. Assuming any different is presuming we accept the appearance of things to stand for the knowledge of things and that’s pure delusion.

img-the-source-family_172049309567Nietzsche, in “Human, All Too Human” claims: Formerly the spirit was not engaged in rigorous thinking, its serious occupation was the spinning out of forms and symbols. That has now changed; serious occupation with the symbolic has become a mark of a lower culture. As our arts themselves grow ever more intellectual, our senses more spiritual, and as for example we now adjudge what is pleasant sounding quite differently from the way we did a hundred years ago: so the forms of our life will grow ever more spiritual, perhaps to the eye of earlier ages uglier, but only because it is incapable of seeing how the realm of inner, spiritual beauty is continually growing deeper and wider, and to what extent we may all now accord the eye of insight greater value than the fairest structure or the sublimest edifice.*

309220_276752992341465_370505_nAll philosophers committed to questioning the source, came to realize there was something very relevant to be said about spirituality. I might take another decade to get there, since I am nowhere close to the philosophical practice, but I fucking will.

This post comprises photographs of the Source Family (another documentary has been released) and a bunch of quotes from Stanislav Grof,** a psychoanalyst turned researcher into non-ordinary states of consciousness and the spiritual dimensions of existence.

the_source_documentary2About the conventions of Western psychology and psychiatry about everything that is out of the ordinary, Grof says: Since modern psychiatry does not differentiate between mystical or spiritual states and mental diseases, people experiencing these states [holotropic states] are often labeled psychotic, hospitalized, and receive routine suppressive psychopharmacological treatment. He goes on saying that Western psychiatry is biased in two ways: It is ethnocentric, which means that it considers its own view of the human psyche and of reality to be the only correct one and superior to all others. It is also cognicentric (a more accurate word might be pragmacentric), meaning that it takes into consideration only experiences and observations in the ordinary state of consciousness.

spiritof76.posedGrof’s different approach on the benefits of the symptoms of the so called mental illness: Every person also carries a variety of more or less latent emotional and bioenergetic blockages, which interfere with full physiological and psychological functioning. The manifestation of emotional and psychosomatic symptoms is the beginning of a healing process through which the organism is trying to free itself from these traumatic imprints and simplify its functioning. The only way this can happen is by emergence of the traumatic material into consciousness and its full experience and emotional and motor expression.

source

Grof‘s conclusion:Traditional psychology and psychiatry are dominated by materialistic philosophy and have no recognition for spirituality of any form. From the point of view of Western science, the material world represents the only reality and any form of spiritual belief is seen as reflecting lack of education, primitive superstition, magical thinking, or regression to infantile patterns of functioning. Direct experiences of spiritual realities are then relegated to the world of gross psychopathology, serious mental disorders. Western psychiatry makes no distinction between a mystical experience and a psychotic experience and sees both as manifestations of mental disease. In its rejection of religion, it does not differentiate primitive folk beliefs or fundamentalists’ literal interpretations of scriptures from sophisticated mystical traditions and Eastern spiritual philosophies based on centuries of systematic introspective exploration of the psyche. It pathologizes spirituality of any kind and together with it the entire spiritual history of humanity.

* Nietzsche, F. (1996) Human, All Too Human: a Book for Free Spirits. Cambridge: University Press

** Grof, S. Psychology of the Future

٠ Anne Geene’s natural topography ٠

511_geene© Anne Geene, from the series Ornithology

1f© Anne Geene, from the series Ornithology

“Geene is not only a keen observer; she is also a patient scholar, arranging the world around her. For instance, in her book, Parcel no. 235. Encyclopedia of an Allotment, 2009 – 2010, she thoroughly observed the 245 square meters of her own parcel no. 235 in the allotment garden ‘Eigen Hof’ in Rotterdam. The microcosm of her allotment became a metaphor for society at large. But what exactly is it that she is categorizing? Is this an objective reality that is universally applicable, no matter where or when? Or is she, while rooting in the earth, simply doing what she likes? Geene thus explorers the boundaries of scientific objectivity and of photography as a neutral reflection of the world.” via BredaPhoto international photo festival

4a© Anne Geene, from the series Notes on Scaling

5e© Anne Geene, from the series New Facts

Boek - voorbeeld_Page_1© Anne Geene, from the book PARCEL NR. 235. Encyclopedia of an allotment garden.

Boek - voorbeeld_Page_3© Anne Geene, from the book PARCEL NR. 235. Encyclopedia of an allotment garden.

Boek - voorbeeld_Page_5© Anne Geene, from the book PARCEL NR. 235. Encyclopedia of an allotment garden.

More of Anne’s work here

٠ Susan Hiller & the transformative potential of investigation ٠

Susan_Hiller_sisters_of_menonSusan Hiller, Sisters of Menon, 1972 -79. 4 L-shaped panels of automatic writing, blue pencil on A4 paper with typed labels

dedicatedHiller-Press-12Susan Hiller, Dedicated to the Unknown Artists, 1972-76. Installation view, Tate Britain, London.

«In fact, Hiller herself has commented that what her archive includes are moments missed, fleeting encounters with a movement that never registered in consciousness (and that is, as such, homologous with trauma): “We love these pictures because they freeze a movement which otherwise we never realize we see.It is this element in Hiller’s archive that interests me most, a moment of missing out that is akin to the anaesthetizing experience Kant linked to the sublime. As an instance of transcendent greatness to which nothing can adequately be compared, the sublime points (as Kant remarked) to a problem of (or in) judgment. If the majestic, crashing waves and the harsh rock faces on the postcards Hiller collected hint at the natural sublime, the utter banality and clichéd depiction of the postcards together with their obvious manipulation—a trauma of the medium itself that is reminiscent of Warhol—neutralize any such reference. Although the sheer size of the archive with its mass of collected images could produce a sublime effect, that effect is emphatically a result of technical reproduction and serial repetition, and as such is distinctly out of joint with the singularity of the eighteenth-century sublime. […]

Voyage on a Rough Sea Homage to Marcel Broodthaers 2009Susan Hiller, Homage to Marcel Broodthaers: Voyage on a Rough Sea, 2009, 16 archival dry prints

[the writing] testifies to a private communicative practice far removed from the universalizing aspirations of nineteenth-century historicism. What the postcards show and what the written greetings and notes transcribe are less what the individuals who sent them actually saw than — as Hiller herself remarked — what they wanted to see. The moment captured by the postcards, for all its natural drama, is a moment missed. Hiller’s archive is thus a storehouse not of objective facts but rather of desire deferred and reproduced. […]

716d3dfc-9966-4bd8-b3d1-8fdaee915dcb--00000--Timothy_Gallery_Susan_Hiller,_Home_Nursing_Homage_to_Joseph_BeuysSusan Hiller, Homage to Joseph Beuys, series of felt-lined cabinets containing antique bottles of holy water collected by the artist around the world; ongoing from 1969-2011

Photography presents a spatial continuum; historicism seeks to provide the temporal continuum…. Historicism is concerned with the photography of time.” If historicism is concerned with “the photography of time,” then the PP-based archive with its formal, linear succession of moments is its natural institutional outlet, a spatiotemporal continuum that “simultaneously contains the meaning of all that occurred within that time.” As Kracauer and Roland Barthes after him made clear, photography does not show or represent the past or history; it merely marks indexically the moment of its own production

excerpt from Sven Spieker (2008), The Big Archive

susan-hiller-609x430From the Freud Museum 1991-6 by Susan Hiller born 1940Susan Hiller, From the Freud Museum, 1991-97, vitrine installation, size variable; 50 units, mixed media,texts, images.

┐ Vies possibles et imaginaires └

147149© Yasmine Eid-Sabbagh & Rozenn Quéré, from the project Vies possibles et imaginaires

This is the story of four strong and feisty women, exiled to the four corners of the globe; four Palestinian-Lebanese sisters who have travelled through the history of the twentieth century.
It is a story somewhere between documentary and fiction, biography and drama, based on family photographs, interviews – both actual and imagined events.
Several gatherings, sifting and listening made stories and words emerge, that were then recreated in the present in the most vivid way possible by combining the inner experiences of these women to the lived experience of the gatherings. Herein is a reinterpretation of reality tinged with tenderness and humour. The four women’s and the authors’ imagination is at the core of this work.
Jocelyn, the eldest sister, lived in Cairo. Frieda, the youngest, went into exile to Paris. Stella left Lebanon at the time of the civil war for New York, and her twin Graziella is the only one who has remained in Beirut.
This story called into play images of invented memories, and sometimes defective memories brought up a doubt of what was invented, the memories or the photographs?
Far from being a factual portrayal of Graziella and her sisters, ‘Vies possibles et imaginaires’ is an attempt to translate the eccentricities and the imagination of these women so as to give their imaginings the same status as reality. In other words, combining old family photographs and text did not aim at writing their story, but at writing their myth.” source: Chobi Mela

med_9_vpi-repros-072-jpgmed_14_vpi-repros-085-jpg© Yasmine Eid-Sabbagh & Rozenn Quéré, from the project Vies possibles et imaginaires

“In the opening pages of John Berger’s A Seventh Man: Migrant Workers in Europe, which he produced with the photographer Jean Mohr, Berger tell us this story:
A friend came to see me in a dream. From far away. And I asked in the dream: ‘Did you come by photography or by train?’ All photographs are a form of transport and an absence of expression?
While Yasmine Eid-Sabbagh and Rozenn Quéré’s Vies possibles et imaginaires discusses absence and separation, but even more so transportation, across land, sea and air, but also emotional and visual transportation. Indeed, the work is a family album disguised as a piece of theatre (or vice-versa) based on the stories, memories and fantasies of four sisters who were each in turn exiled from, took refuge in, and emigrated to the Middle East, Europe and the United States, starting in the 1940s until today.” written by Miriam Rosen

More of the work can be seen here

┐ Sunil Shah └

© Sunil Shah, from the project Uganda Stories

© Sunil Shah, from the project Uganda Stories

© Sunil Shah, from the project Uganda Stories

© Sunil Shah, from the project Uganda Stories

“This project is both a subjective journey to recollect the past and an interrogation of documentary photography in its use to reassemble fragments of history. In 1972 the Ugandan military dictator, Idi Amin expelled 80,000 Asians from the country. I was 3 years old when my family was forced to leave their lives and possessions behind and move to the UK. This research of my family’s origins included analysis of photographs, objects and interview transcripts based on separate dialogues with my father, Ramnik Shah, and two of his brothers; Pran and Mukund. What emerged and can be seen in this fragmented photo-text sequence are objects from dusty storage and extracts from long forgotten anecdotes: there were slowly fading stories and isolated images of diminishing memories. As time advances these stories and images move out of the personal and collective consciousness and move into the public realm of ethnographic colonial histories.”

Sunil’s statement

More of his work here

┐ Burkhard von Harder └

@ Burkhard von Harder, untitled, from the project Cold war in a trash bag

@ Burkhard von Harder, untitled, from the project Cold war in a trash bag

@ Burkhard von Harder, untitled, from the project Cold war in a trash bag

Cold War in a Trash Bag is based on recently found anonymous Cold War photographic footage from the Ukraine. In the summer of 2010 thousands of abandoned black and white negatives were discovered in Vinnitsa, a place only 250 km away from Chernobyl. In miserable condition, the ripped, scratched and torn filmstrips obviously had been completely forgotten and left decaying through the first 20 years of the country’s independence. They could be saved from disposal and taken abroad where 5000 of them were put through a painstaking scanning process so far. The results show solarisation processes and other signs of deterioration leading to new imagery – more publications on the subject to follow.

More of Burkhard’s work here and a preview of the book “Cold War in a Trash Bag” here

┐ Vincent Cordebard └

© Vincent Cordebard, Untitled, from Etudes pour Les attentats à la pudeur

© Vincent Cordebard, Untitled, from Etudes pour Les attentats à la pudeur

© Vincent Cordebard, Untitled, from Etudes pour Les attentats à la pudeur

It’s one of those rare, and thus special occasions, when I find a body of work I completely connect to in a rational, emotional, intellectual and intuitive level. Here’s a first post about his work and I foresee making more about it once I have the time to take the plunge.

What follows is an excerpt of a text written by Béatrice Han:

“Vincent Cordebard steals other peoples photographs and reworks them with ink, fountain pen, and water. He makes dark blotches; his faces-blind and mute, corroded and obstructed-reveal the pain of bruised interiority, the place where humanity’s nocturnal attributes make their brutal appearance-the dark side where, according to Georges Bataille, transgression, eroticism, and death occur. Outside of accepted morality, these mutilated photos present themselves to the viewer as if they were meditations on inhumanity, on the theoretical and ethical scandal of beauty that emerges from horror. This is what the profanation of the face and the human values it symbolizes reveals to us. This expressivities, which cannot be apprehended except as a paradoxical form of thwarted integrity, and the human features through which it is revealed, are the subject of the intense questioning which Cordebard’s strange and difficult faces bring to light, a questioning undertaken with such intensity that the spectator’s vision is challenged by the violence of which he is the willing witness. Is this a kind of voyeurism, a fascination with an obscure, inhuman, yet twin dimension, which human relationships hide under the familiarity of the everyday, like the obverse of the reverse side of the medal? If, as Levinas wrote, the face “rends apart what is sensitive1”, what do we see when the wound becomes the face and, inversely, the face becomes the wound?

(…)

The child is thus twice deprived of life: as agisant which death has emptied of its individuality, he is also, in the symbolic order, divested of his face, which no longer exists except as a fragile skin carefully sewn onto meat. Yet, although it is no longer capable of representing its humanity, this abused face does not become a thing among other things. Annihilated subject and impossible object, the face of this dead child’s still, by its very structure, the paradoxical and fleeting place of a desperate cry of protest, the cry of an abolished individuality whose features dehumanize it, of a person who has become his, her own negation. Thus, in a final reversal, the face’s refusal to become an object continues to bear witness, within the very process that seeks to destroy it, to the tenuous but incomes-table presence of a humanity which can only express itself as resistance. A negative medium, surely, but all the more forceful, like the naked and desperate violence in Auschwitz which Hannah Arendt describes7 as an affirmation of an ultimate revolt, a testimony given by a person in extremis when all other means of expression have been taken away. “I reveal faces, ” affirms Cordebard, even as he mutilates them. The epiphanic structure of a face is reversed one last time. The positive revelation of the humanas person, then of the inhuman as destruction, finally brings these two aspects to a paroxysm which is all the more tragic for its lack of catharsis. We are given a vision that is nearly unbearable to contemplate, but which is never-the less “unpardonably beautiful”… This is why, finally, the picture’s context is ethical and its request, imperious: whether beauty can redeem the scandal which gave it life, and whether, measured by the compassion and respect a human face deserves, the act of cruelty which attempts to destroy it merits any justification besides the aesthetic. An acutely painful question, doomed to remain unanswered, and which it is to Cordebard’s credit to have dared to ask.”

Vincent Cordebard’s work here

┐ Gunnel Wåhlstrand └

© Gunnel Wåhlstrand,

© Gunnel Wåhlstrand, White Peacocks, 2007/2009

109 x 160 cm, ink-wash on paper

“For eight years, Wåhlstrand has worked exclusively with a kind of re-development of private photographs, using black ink and water, a precise and time-consuming technique that she masters to perfection. The earlier body of motives consisted of her father’s family photo album, but has now been expanded to a wider family group. One of the larger works, Mother Profile, is a rendering of a studio photograph of the artist’s mother. In the exhibition, it is placed so that she gazes at the landscape where her father dramatically crashed and fell to his death. Further on in the room, a portrait of him can be seen. It is the smallest work in the exhibition and the only one in colour. The artist decided that the fact that no colour photographs ever existed of her grandfather, was a strong enough reason to return to colour, for her sake as well as for his.

Wåhlstrand’s depiction is a both deeply personal and universal process. The precise and demanding task of depicting these documents is a way for the artist to physically and psychologically approach a personal history of which she, without any own experience of it, lives the consequences.”

source: Andréhn-Schiptjenko gallery

More of Gunnel’s work here

┐ Family Archive └

© Family Archive, Portugal, May Day, 1975

© Family Archive, Portugal, May 1979

If there’s still some kind of universal language (and it’s not like I believe art is it) maybe we can recover it in the years to come. I speak as an european but I believe others would agree that the situation in our hands will push us to take direct action in order to preserve what may be left of the Social State and intervene, so to secure the place of human rights.


Amidst the crises of the way our western capitalist-profitable countries are structured, there’s a bigger crises: the lost of consciousness of the self. My generation is a good proof for that. Educated in a recently liberated country, after more than forty years under Salazar’s dictatorial regime, we were brought up in a festive and materialist world, where suddenly everything seemed possible: comfort, education, fun, lust…our parents struggled but saw their battles reach some of the goals and their work places and futures got better and secured.

We were brought up as if we had nothing to fight for. Somehow, the drunkard-like state of this new way of life undressed them (our parents) of the need to urge us into a political consciousness or instigate us to the importance of having a mind of our own.


What I see now and am expecting of 2012 is that a new consciousness will arise and although it make take time to pull us back together and bring back a sense of community, it may be that fair-trade makes its way into our homes. I dream of a world where direct exchange replaces the monetary system. I know I won’t live to see it happen in Portugal but believe it will be experimented more often

.
Without further raving, wish you all the best in 2012. May you let some change into your life and give back to the one’s close to you.

Sofia Silva

┐ Duncan Caratacus └

© Duncan Caratacus, Construction I, 2009

… material collection, a very dense and very important archive that seems to be the result of an in-depth research, mainly UK focused. To see the archive and download either follow the curator ship’s link or view under research in Duncan’s website. via The Curator Ship