≡ 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.»

┐ Peter Puklus, Handbook to the Stars └

00600500421© Peter Puklus, Handbook to the Stars

“There is a reason why Peter Puklus’ first publication is called Handbook to the Stars, a subtle manifesto of his Ars Poetica. With this handbook he attempts to portray his own universe and provide insight into how his photographic works relate to each other: like galaxies in relative proximity to one another that are bound together by their own gravitational force. The images function alongside one another and through one another, have no sequence or chronology, but exist individually even as they form interconnections and follow their own patterns. Hence they do not necessarily fit on a page in this book; the imaginary distances keep the images in place. This implies that they may appear fragmented, sometimes small, sometimes large, precisely as they coexist in Puklus’ universe of images.

His work is not documentary, nor does it fall within other traditional photographic genres such as staged, portrait or still life photography. Freed from conventions, he works according to his own logic and interests, shifting naturally between genres, themes and media. Coincidence plays a minor role in his work. The famous decisive moment is irrelevant, because it has already taken place at a conceptual level. His photographs are visualisations of preconceived concepts which he initially records in sketches and notes, before painstakingly recreating them and capturing them with an analogue camera.

Puklus’ work is in keeping with contemporary trends in photography. While the focus of many photographers in the ‘90s was on pure documentary, this has now shifted to a personal interpretation of the world, or perhaps more accurately, an interpretation of the inner world. Although photography is Puklus’ primary medium, his method is not purely photographic. He frequently approaches his work as a kind of sculptor or installation artist. The compositions created in a studio-like setting are often spatial constructions, models or collages. In his studies of shapes we encounter fragile constructions, as well as objects to which he has made sometimes simple, sometimes radical alterations with an eye for the interplay of lines and geometric shapes. Like in the studio, his search for formal and three-dimensional aspects is also evident when he take photographs in natural and urban environments. Just as he experiments with objects and shapes, so he also experiments with technology. Where necessary, he exchanges the static for the moving image, combines positive and negative images, and alternates black and white with colour.

Time is an interesting aspect, which is defined by a certain slowness and silence. It is not only the process preceding the actual image that is time-consuming; photographing itself is generally slow and meticulous. His subjects often denote a certain transience or even timelessness. Particularly striking are the photos in which Puklus, using basic materials and self-made objects, recalls the figurative language of avantgarde and constructivist art; or photographs of classical sculptures whose representations recur in various compositions. The lamp is perhaps one of the most frequently recurring motifs. Several of these are often placed in a certain relationship to one another or hung up, immediately calling to mind the trajectories described by celestial bodies.

It is often said that this is a time when photography is undergoing dramatic changes. The question is, however, whether that was ever any different. Since the advent of digital photography, the assumption has been that it would supplant the slower analogue technology. The same goes for the photo book. This was also consigned to the history with the arrival of the internet and advanced digital presentation possibilities. The enormous and growing popularity of the photo book seems, for the time being at least, to prove the contrary. Puklus’ universe argues for the survival of both.”

text by Claudia Küssel

Peter’s website here

┐ Emile Barret – photography as an experience └

72_magnet3-3© Emile Barret, from the series Magnet3

72_magnet3-6© Emile Barret, from the series Magnet3

73_4x5foie-1© Emile Barret, from the series La Vanité est un Plaisir des Reins

73_barretemile11© Emile Barret, from the series La Vanité est un Plaisir des Reins

50_semainebloc4© Emile Barret, from the series La Disparition

50_semainebloc2© Emile Barret, from the series La Disparition

This MAN’s work is such a breath of fresh air I don’t even know which of his works not to post. Emile’s website here

┐ Caitlin Rueter └

How To Be is a series of exercises that revisit and reimagine early 19th century primers for “young ladies.”

I stumbled upon these manuals while researching 19th century etiquette books. Most include etiquette but only as part of a more comprehensive course of education. They were intended for upper-class girls and women who had few opportunities for formal schooling. Instead, girls took their lessons from these books, serials and pamphlets and from their mothers or older sisters at home. The manuals include subjects ranging from etiquette and fashion to archery and riding, from botany, entomology and mineralogy to painting, dancing and embroidery. Each was meant to help a young woman navigate society and to keep her occupied, to battle the boredom that could lead to rebellion or other transgressions.

How To Be uses these young ladies’ manuals to address themes of gender, class, and the dialogue between personal and political histories, identity and space. I methodically select and execute lessons from the primers, consider them in their historical context, then reconsider and reconceive them in the context of my own history. The first three exercises in the series are currently on exhibition at O’Born Contemporary. Lesson I: Ablutions, Lesson II: Moral Deportment, and Lesson III: The Cabinet Council, introduce central themes of the project.

Lesson I: Ablutions (9 works)
Ablutions takes as its starting point early 19th century instructions for developing a sense of “style.” I have paired self-portrait photographs with illustrations of period hair arrangements and headdresses taken from one of the young ladies’ manuals.

94_ablutions12web© Caitlin Rueter, Ephemeral Fashion and Personal Peculiarities, 2012

94_ablutions181920web© Caitlin Rueter, A Moderate Share of Popularity, 2012

Lesson III: The Cabinet Council (9 works)
The cabinet is “a secret receptacle, a repository… a small private chamber or room… a room devoted to the display of works of art; a gallery” or “the council-chamber in which the inner circle of government meet.” A bedroom can be all of these things, a microcosm of the home and a safe, autonomous space.
In this exercise I have captured images of girls’ bedrooms from television shows that I watched as an adolescent; shows that purported to guide their audience toward specific ways of being. I have removed the figures from each of the stills and inserted images of objects that form my own private spaces.

93_caitlin-004web© Caitlin Rueter, Exquisite Specimens of the Different Styles to Which They Belong, 2012

93_caitlin-006web© Caitlin Rueter, Let Us Resist All Euphonious Temptations, 2012

more of Caitlin’s work here

┐ Jacinda Russell └

© Jacinda Russell, Strange Artifacts: A Photographic and Found Object @ J. Crist Gallery, installation view + details, Idaho, 2007
The wunderkammer or “room of wonder” draws heavily upon 16th century European cabinets of curiosity. I combined digital photography with found object sculpture by printing on canvas and encasing the images in weathered boxes, suitcases, drawers, and crates. Objects like false teeth, steering wheels, anonymous sculptures of naked bandits, jars of paint chips, sculpted cotton, and skull necklaces form the installation. All 50 of the objects are influential in defining my childhood and adult years, the various places I have called home, and the things that I carry with me, not yet willing to let go.

© Jacinda Russell, Residue (left) + Hoard (right), from Dark Mass, 2000

© Jacinda Russell, Detritus, 2000

Thus began the conscious decision to gather large quantities of objects, often undesirable items, placed in dilapidated environments and old containers. In Dark Mass, I want to visually portray the fine line between serious collecting and obsessing over a collection to the point where it controls one’s life. I search for the atypical, whether it is the accumulation of the article itself (hairnets, fingernails, and shredded books are not what one would hoard as precious objects), its placement (bicycles resting on their sides, photographs standing at attention, upside down doll feet), or its environment (globes and birdcages piled at the foot of a ladder leading nowhere). Most of the objects are fragile, poised to disintegrate into their surroundings.

© Jacinda Russell, Amass, 2000

Growing up in a house with 225 balloon-tire bicycles, thousands of bottles, telephone pole insulators, soda paraphernalia, rooms filled with cardboard boxes, golden age comic books, trunks of advertising material and endless amounts of artwork, I was convinced to live a life with minimal possessions. Suddenly the realization that I was collecting (never mind the fact that the object in question was trash) was unsettling.

For my 1999 installation, Fear of Schizophrenia, I collected nearly two thousand cigarette packs to understand my great-aunt’s obsessive behavior and paranoid schizophrenia. She collected paper, wrapping her possessions in Kleenex and storing them in sacks. She smoked incessantly, saving the foil of the cigarette pack to use as stationery and the cellophane as wallets. These filthy packages were an important feature of the installation. One year after reinstalling the exhibition and unable to depart from the packs, I kept them boxed in the backyard storage shed, elevated to keep the rain from seeping through the cardboard.

more of Jacinda‘s work here

┐ Jean-Noël Pazzi └

© Jean-Noël Pazzi, figure 5 – les cadavres exquis, from the project In(ter)vention

© Jean-Noël Pazzi, forêt 6 – paysage, from the project In(ter)vention

© Jean-Noël Pazzi, figure 3 – les cadavres exquis, from the project In(ter)vention

“Ménager les site frappés de croyance comme indispensable territoire d’errement de l’esprit. Gilles Clément Manifeste du tiers paysage

Cela aurait pu être une belle histoire, un doux romantisme entre l’homme et la nature. Mais il n’en est rien. Je trafique, reconstruis et extrais. Je recherche des formes à construire ou à mettre en lumière. La nature a toujours été mon terrain de jeu; je la transforme.
Michel Foucault disait à propos des hétérotopies qu’ils sont des lieux précis, que l’on peut définir sur une carte, mais investis par des mondes utopiques. Un théâtre ou un musée, par exemple, sont des hétérotopies, définissables géographiquement mais investis par des mondes imaginaires; des mondes dans un monde. La nature a, pour moi, aussi cette faculté. C’est un lieu magique, un lieu imaginaire.
Mon travail est fortement lié à cet imaginaire, qui est vu au travers d’un prisme intermédiaire, celui d’un appareil photographique. Composée de deux séries (Les cadavres exquis et Paysages), In(ter)vention est une recherche de formes et de textures, où la nature est détournée au profit d’une interprétation personnelle de ses éléments constitutifs.
D’un côté, c’est une nature décontextualisée et arrangée par mes soins; des compositions traitées en studio. De l’autre, c’est le studio qui s’invite dans la nature et dévoile par la lumière des formes et des ambiances. Dans les deux cas, il y a de cette inquiétante étrangeté. La présence de la mort dans Les cadavres exquis ou l’ambiance nocturne des Paysages confère à cette série une dimension surréaliste.
Mon univers est la nuit, le monde des rêves, celui des chimères qui sortent de leur caverne. Des bruits nous guettent, ils nous survolent, nous effleurent. Un craquement à droite, puis des ailes se déploient, elles ululent, tourbillon: silence. Le vent soulève les feuilles. Il caresse nos cheveux et chante entre les pieds de géants feuillus. Un éclair! L’appareil à tout vu. Pour moi, encore une fois, c’est une figure étrange qui s’est dessinée dans l’ombre des branches. Une interprétation innocente, mue par la curiosité: une aventure.
C’est à cette étrangeté nocturne et sylvestre que je veux convier le spectateur.”

Jean-Noël Pazzi

More of Jean-Noël’s work here

┐ Farhad Ahrarnia └

© Farhad Ahrarnia, ballet pars no.3

© Farhad Ahrarnia, beautiful is the silence of ruins II
photography on canvas and embroidery, 2011

More of Farhad’s work here

┐ El Plus En └

© Luke Norman & Nik Adam, Untitled, from the project Ellerker Gardens, 2011

© Luke Norman & Nik Adam, Untitled, from the project Ellerker Gardens, 2011

© Luke Norman & Nik Adam, Untitled, from the project Ellerker Gardens, 2011

“We wanted to focus on the ‘in-between’, the volatile state of mind in which instability manifests itself, where an uncertain state of mind can produce dark and bizarre outcomes,” says Norman. “The idea is all about letting go; you have to fall out of reality to engage with the pictures – the pictures are there to trigger thoughts inside your head,” adds Adam. “I think the best way to view this work would be to spend an evening with it. It’s a very tricky project to explain because, essentially, we were looking into our own thoughts and what occurs in our own minds. But hopefully the essence of the picture is captured, and therefore a viewer can translate that to their own thoughts and interpretations.”

source: British Journal of Photography, article by Diane Smyth

More of their work here

┐ Victoria Jenkins └

© Victoria Jenkins, Capnomancy, from Images from the Institute of Esoteric Research

© Victoria Jenkins, Aeromancy, from Images from the Institute of Esoteric Research

“A characteristic claimed to be unique of photography has been its ability to record the visible, material world, its perceived objectivity and accuracy has lead to a utilitarian application of the camera as a tool for documentation, and this can be traced back to photography’s early history. Parallel to this is a history that echoes with illusion and trickery; photography carries a false empiricism, for which we may allow our guard to be dropped.

The photographs presented here are rooted in the language of rational investigation, employing quasi-scientific laboratory style conditions in to which a series of still lives, fictional archival images, are constructed. A commingling of varied sources occurs: vernacular imagery of magic tricks, home science experiments, divination practice, superstitious belief and forensic investigation. The intent is to play on the conflicts in the languages that are being appropriated: logic and absurdity, revelation and trickery, illustration and illusion, but also that which seems concurrent despite the apparent polarities: the image whose authority is asserted through a shrouding in secret language and gesture.

This collision and coinciding intends to produce a series riddled with ambiguities, the oblique amongst clarity providing a slippery surface on which to form the photographs narratives.”

More of Victoria’s world here

┐ Li Yun └

© Li Yun, For Individual Use, from the series Impermanent Instant, 2008

© Li Yun, Connecting Wire, from the series Impermanent Instant, 2008

“We Chinese people are struggling in the whirlpool of cynicism with no exception.

This is my understanding of the current times. With frenzied emotions and twisted bodies, we are marching forward with vigorous strides. While people are gaining tremendous amount of self-satisfaction in all respects, what emerges behind is a deeper sense of dissatisfaction and helplessness. All this is because that we always have some in-born things left to be fulfilled while the reality cannot be altered. Therefore we choose to forget. It is just like a person who has stopped the psychological growth in his childhood. The body is mature but he has given up the self-improvement of the mind. He just indulges himself in the pleasure of enjoying life whenever possible.
´Recent reading and realistic experiences make me believe that our history is not only lonely but also destined with no possibility to escape. Looking at these objects, I can’t image what else functions they can bring to us. How useless they are, except for being used to exchange money.

Often I feel that we are always waiting for a convulsion, a convulsion that is not coming from the reality but from verbal words of others. In reality there is only daily life left and we are reminded by other ‘mouths’ that the current reality is so full of surprises that we find no way to fit in.

However all these present in front of you today can’t provide a heart felt convulsion. Because the appearances are so insignificant and the huge reality behind is always so obscure. I am only expecting for a slight disturbances on your heart, just like the dust floating under the light, so that my intentions won’t be realized with nothing.”

excerpt from text by Li Yun. continue reading

His work here

┐ Jiang Zhi └

© Jiang Zhi, On the white #4, 2007

© Jiang Zhi, Love Letters No.6, 2011

“Oneness and unity only rests in ‘word’, never in the ‘matter’.

I recall a conversation with a neurologist about whether ‘insanity’ exists, and if it did, how. We arrive at an interesting concept, that we were not very interested in the notion of ‘insanity’ itself, in other words, to us, ‘insanity’ in ‘general’ does not exist. ‘Insanity’ only exists in ‘situations’ and ‘conditions’, that is, ‘who’, ‘with whom’, ‘when’, ‘where’, ‘why’, ‘why not’…? Only in these ‘wholes’, ‘situations’ and ‘assemblages’ does the word ‘insanity’ has a ‘referent’. Here, the significance of ‘insanity’ lies in its ‘eventualness’ and not its ‘essence’. And here, because of the ‘eventual’, ‘insanity’ gained a ‘new’ reference, such that ‘sanity’, ‘fascination,’, ‘dream’, ‘rationality’, etc. can no longer be distinguished. Such ‘attitude of observation’ no longer serve as the ‘judgement’ of words (the essence between insanity and sanity), nor the ‘micro-politics’ of the boundary between objects (insanity against fascination’,), nor the ‘fight’ between words and matter (the essences of insanity versus the eventual in insanity). Instead, it’s the ‘materialisation’ of a concept, a ‘new’ form of ‘clinical symptom’, ‘an unprecedented form of insanity’: who, with whom, when, where, how, why… What we are observing has always been the ‘process of individuation of events under certain circumstances’, not the words, the object, person, nor subject…We call that ‘becoming insane’.

The operation of our brain is not like Freud’s ‘stage’, with various characters, symbols, representations. Instead, its operation resembles the ‘factory’ of Deleuze: machines, mechanisms, installations, settings. It constantly produces desires and becomes a ‘machine of desires’.

To complete this concept, Deleuze divided the Freudian desire: we never long for a ‘matter’, a ‘word’ or any ‘object’. What we yearn for has alway been a ‘state’, a ‘whole’, a ‘collection’. We crave not for ‘daddy mummy-penis nipple’, but for ‘a world of one’s own’. As Proust puts it, ‘I hunger for not only this woman, but also the landscape surrounding her…’, ‘What a woman wants is never only a dress, but the world she can embrace wearing the dress. What a man wants is never only a woman, but the life he can live having that woman.’

It is ‘desire’ that creates a ‘world we must arrive’, rushing us to ‘leave here to go there’, compelling us to ‘become’.”

excerpt from text by Véronic-Ting CHEN. Continue reading

More of Jiang’s work here

┐ Chen Wei └

© Chen Wei, Broken Aquarium, from the series Everyday, Scenery and Props, 2009

© Chen Wei, Idol behind the curtains, from the series Everyday, Scenery and Props, 2009

“The photography/installation works of 31-year old artist Chen Wei illustrate an intricate imagination fascinated with the eccentric and fanciful pursuits of early science, mathematics, alchemy, philosophers and madmen. Taxidermy, broken mirrors, melted wax, bats, bees, deserted bedrooms, and found objects become the artist’s tableau. With a meticulous attention to details, Chen Wei creates mesmerizing scenes that leave the viewer puzzled by their intricate narrative, fantastic visual impact and odd beauty. In some of the works, the sole human subject resembles an absorbed mad scientist or passionate poet, adding feelings of isolation or estrangement to an already bizarre scene.
read more
Chen Wei’s creative and contemplative process consists of searching for and compiling myriad fragments of personal memories, and incorporating inspiration and objects from childhood or fantasies imagined juxtaposed with realities found in modern China. Most of the works are sketched and created on location in the artist’s studio and then photographed, with the end result being less about the camera process as it is about the assembly of the elaborate elements that are captured in his works. The spirit and style of Chen Wei’s photography works also point towards a new generation of emerging Chinese artists born in the 1980’s who are less focused on political history or obvious social criticisms than personal and intellectual freedoms and the individual’s place in a now modern and developed China. History for them has been obscured by economic and social reforms, and the speed and scale of development is the contemporary China they have witnessed.”

source: m97 Gallery

His place here

┐ Kevin Van Aelst └

I don’t usually post on photographers whose work is being highlighted by other photography bloggers, since people who visit this place are often the same. I like to offer something else, and for that I trust my own parallel research. There are times like this when I shred that “rule” to pieces given the impact the work has on me. Here’s Kevin’s work, found in Lenscratch

© Kevin Van Aelst, Tragedies, 2009

© Kevin Van Aelst, Cemetery, 2010

Artist Kevin Van Aelst is not one to cry over spilled milk. More likely, Van Aelst has “spilled” the milk himself and is diligently coaxing the white drops into a semblance of order. Van Aelst’s specialty is something he calls “conceptual photography.” His large color prints are treats for the eye; Van Aelst’s strong design sense is garnering him increasing commercial work. But what engages Van Aelst more than the act of photography is the play of ideas and their realization in visual form.
“Something very important to me is the idea of randomness, taking something that should be random and applying a very specific order to it,” says Van Aelst.
“If conceptual art didn’t exist, I wouldn’t have any interest in making art. I respond much more to ideas than purely visual things,” Van Aelst says. His overarching idea is the use of everyday objects and materials to illustrate and represent more profound concepts. Milk spills in a logarithmic spiral. Gummy worms represent human chromosomes and gummy bears make up the periodic table. Hair in the bottom of a sink is arranged in the graph of a human heartbeat. An Oreo cookie’s cream filling is cut away to reveal the yin yang symbol.
Hearkening back to his undergraduate studies in psychology, Van Aelst recalls that he took classes in cognition and perception – how people view stimuli differently. Much of his work operates on two levels of perception, the conceptual and the material. Referring to his photograph “Periodic Table of the Elements,” now part of the permanent collection of the Wadsworth Atheneum, Van Aelst has found there is the viewer “who sees gummy bears and has to read the title to see the periodic table and (the viewer) who sees the periodic table and has to get real close to see that they’re gummy bears.”

source: article by Hank Hoffman

More of his work here

┐ Melinda Gibson └

© Melinda Gibson, from the project Photography as contemporary art, 2011

© Melinda Gibson, from the project Photography as contemporary art, 2011

If Melinda Gibson’s photomontages look familiar, don’t be surprised. A flash of Ed Burtynsky here, a slice of Juergen Teller there, they are all made up of elements of some of the major works of the 1990s and 2000s, culled from the pages of The Photograph As Contemporary Art. Written and edited by Charlotte Cotton (former curator at the V&A and LACMA, and now creative director of the UK’s National Media Museum), it is one of the key texts for students starting out in photographic education. Which is precisely why the 26-year-old, who graduated from London College of Communication in 2006 and is now a visiting lecturer herself, chose to use it.

“I wanted to produce a body of work that was original – unique pieces unable to be reproduced – which in turn commented on the availability of photography in our heightened digitalised age. I also wanted to provoke questions about copyright and ownership through the re-appropriation of imagery. What is important to me is questioning the medium and the conventions that surround it, examining these and suggesting other ways to view them.”
Using just a scalpel, an adhesive and “a lot of patience”, she took the book apart (…)

But, as she has already hinted, there’s another, more critical purpose to the work, in particular the way such books serve to canonise particular photographers and images. “What I find frustrating is that the same images appear and re-appear every year at [educational] institutions. As you wonder through the different degree shows, you feel as though you have seen it all before – just modern takes on Martin Parr, Stephen Shore or Nan Goldin. What crossed my mind was whether these institutions are to blame for this, or whether it is truly impossible to produce something new. In my view, the canonisation of such sources acts as a hindrance to creativity, where people feel they have to produce something similar to be accepted or understood.”

in British Journal of Photography. Continue reading

Melinda’s blog here

┐ Anne Collier └

© Anne Collier, Questions (Viewpoint), 2011

© Anne Collier, Questions (Evidence), 2011

© Anne Collier, Questions (Connection), 2011

“I only work in the studio and use a large-format plate camera. It’s a very laborious process that allows almost no room for improvisation. Everything has to be perfectly aligned and calibrated. I’m typically photographing things that are two-dimensional: book and magazine covers, record sleeves, film stills, etc. or objects that have very little physical depth such as the developing trays or audio cassette tapes. I’m interested in this flatness. My approach to making images is very influenced – and informed – by commercial and technical photography, where there is no ambiguity as to what is being depicted. Like commercial photography I’m interested in establishing an aesthetic clarity but at the same time, through the nature of the objects I shoot, I’m equally interested in creating a sense of emotional or psychological uncertainty. This tension – between what is depicted and the nature of its depiction – is central to my approach.

Photography, by its nature, encourages various forms of framing – whether it’s in the camera’s viewfinder, the format of the film used, or the dimensions of the subsequent print, you are constantly made aware of how a photograph edits things. The studio is increasingly present in my work as a kind of stage where objects are presented and documented. This is perhaps most evident in the images of stacks of records leaning against the studio’s grey floor and white walls. I’m interested in the apparent neutrality of these kinds of spaces, which include the monochromatic backdrops I also use in my work. Like the white cube gallery space, these visual devices serve to distance individual objects from their original circumstances or context, creating a space that is somehow both specific and ambiguous.”

excerpt from an interview by Alex Farquharson

More of Anne’s work here

┐ Pat Brassington └

© Pat Brassington, Untitled, from the series Cambridge Road, 2007

© Pat Brassington, Untitled, from the series Cambridge Road, 2007

“In most of her ‘artist’s statements’ and the rare interviews in press, Brassington mentions her engagement with both surrealism and psychoanalysis. But there is no allegiance, no endorsement, no salute to the father. Everything is troubled in one way or another: from horror imagery that is violent and abject, through the hauntingly strange and uncanny, to the hideous, the hilarious and the banal. Brassington interrogates and extrapolates on the psychoanalytic in extreme ways: orifices exhale, threaten and protrude; the feminine is hysteric, phallic, powerful; the father is demented, perverted (the père-version of the father) and menacingly psychotic.
Feminists have often critiqued Brassington’s work with reference to Julia Kristeva’s thesis about the subversive potential of the pre-Oedipal space and experience where the abject is a threat to the social order.7 The abject is what spills out from the body and cannot be contained: tears, vomit, sexual excretions, blood. It is characterised by the body seeping from its own containment (the skin), and tumbling into the social world unannounced. The abject body creates a kind of awe and fear in the viewer and as such has a radical edge in representation. Like the pre-Oedipal space before language, the abject threatens to topple polite social conventions.8 But, like the surrealists, Brassington interacts with psychoanalytic experience rather than adhering to any particular school of thought. As an artist aware of feminist art criticism, she undercuts the misogyny sometimes associated with the surrealists’ representations of feminine sexuality and their romantic notion of the female muse who was invariably fetishised through male desire. In her work sex, sexuality, desire and the sensual are evoked in a series of bizarre mise-en-scènes that present flashes and glimpses of dreamlikestates. These invoke hysteria and psychosis but do so by looking at fears, fantasies and traumas with a gaze that is importantly awry. This skewed perspective on the psychosexual landscape allows the artist to become a kind of conjurer.”

Excerpt from a paper by Anne Marsh, very worth reading

Pat’s work at Stills’ Gallery

┐ Clare Strand └

© Clare Strand, Signs of Struggle, 2003

© Clare Strand, Signs of Struggle, 2003

AFH: Is photography primarily an expressive tool for you?

CS: Photography clearly has an important role in my work but its application is determined by my subject matter. If you look back on my work, I have no one photographic style. I tend to manipulate the process to directly respond to the subject. Throughout my work I have appropriated existing photographic conventions to suit and embellish the subject. The majority of the conventions that I ‘borrow’ are sourced from the utilitarian applications of photography.

AFH: Do you start with a specific narrative or are you drawn to atmosphere and then later construct possible stories to explain or contextualise your images?

CS: When I start to make work it is totally subject driven and then I look around to see what business photography has with it – it never happens the other way round. Narratives sometimes emerge as part of this process, but they are always a bi-product, never a starting concern. My passion for photography is driven by utilitarian photography, which, in my opinion, is the source of some of the most visually rich photographic imagery – at its best offering baffling yet compelling visual-narrative possibilities. The appropriation of the utilitarian is evident through out my photography – in the conventions of 19th-century street/city portraiture shown in ‘Gone Astray’, and in the forensic applications in ‘Signs of a Struggle’; from the constructs of industrial Time and Motion photography in ‘The Betterment Room’ – Devices For Measuring Achievement’ to, most recently, the Aura photograph of the paranormal/spiritualist. This template of subject matter dictating photographic application continues throughout my work.

excerpt from Clare Strand’s interview with Ana Finel Honigman

Clare’s work here and much more information on her projects can easily be found online.

┐ Caï Hongshuo └

© Caï Hongshuo, New Anecdote of Social Talk, n°17, 2008

© Caï Hongshuo, Work ladder to the heaven, 2008

“L’œuvre photographique de Caï est cohérente et stylistiquement reconnaissable. Focalisé sur les jeux de lumières et de contrastes proposés par le noir et blanc, l’artiste nous propose des clichés semblant sortir d’un univers fantastique et onirique. Il se passionne pour la zoologie et nous offre un regard différent sur la faune et la flore. L’animal et le paysage sont ainsi transfigurés par le biais d’un appareil à rayons X.

Ses photographies sont révélatrices de l’attachement de l’artiste aux traditions culturelles de son pays. Le noir et blanc offre une palette réduite où la maîtrise des nuances et des subtiles dégradés se révèle dès lors indispensable. Les motifs et compositions de l’œuvre de Caï sont majoritairement des fondements de l’iconographie artistique chinoise : les natures mortes dépouillées, les paysages, les jardins et leurs étangs, l’animal saisi dans une attitude décorative, la narration émanant d’une représentation simple, les petits formats des œuvres (typiques des œuvres anciennes appréciées par les intellectuels de l’époque).”

source:Espace Art 22

More of Caï’s work here and here

┐ Jan von Holleben └

© Jan von Holleben, Untitled #14, from the series Mystery of Monsters, 2009

© Jan von Holleben, Untitled #15, from the series Mystery of Monsters, 2009

“Like amateur pornography, the pleasure of von Holleben’s work derives from its honesty. “People appreciate I’m not over-constructing an image: changing it in Photoshop 25 times, and their sense of reality alongside. I’m mucking around, but I’m not trying to cheat anyone (…) Play shapes von Holleben’s worldview – he sees it as a way to explore selfhood, relationships and ultimately reality. “Alongside Homo sapiens exists Homo ludens – the person who understands himself and the world through play,” says von Holleben. It’s an old idea, he points out. Alongside the Dutch theorist who coined the phrase, references to the primacy of play can be found from Aristotle to the Bible. The perspective fits snugly with von Holleben’s own past, too. He grew up in a commune, and spent innumerable afternoons building treehouses with friends. Seen in this context, his images are simply open games. Adopting the furniture and locations of everyday life lends them an immediate surrealism, and their deliberate crudeness makes the game explicit. Von Holleben’s viewers must invest themselves to consummate the image, and the outcome is magical realism. “The viewer has the chance to understand what I’ve done, but I do it in such a way that they don’t want to understand it,” he says. “No one wants to see a kid lying on the floor, they want to see a kid flying. They want to keep this shared vision alive.” By exploring the fantastical potential of everyday life, the viewer discovers a mode of perception that reclaims life from the banality of fact.”

Source: Creative review

von Holleben’s place here