≡ 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.»

┐ Ananda Serné └

© Ananda Serné, Untitled

© Ananda Serné, Untitled

Sometimes I see images in my head and then I draw them, but only with the intention to make a photo later. I almost never take a photo spontaneously.

Ananda’s site 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

┐ Kristoffer Axén └

© Kristoffer Axén, Untitled, from the series How we evolved from water, 2009-2010

© Kristoffer Axén, Untitled, from the series How we evolved from water, 2009-2010

“Built as a riddled narrative of essential fragments, How We Evolved From Water revolves around the state of isolation – not as a momentary occurrence of separation from other individuals but as the base and foundation of human thought itself.
As this is the case – that the tool we have to experience anything (translated through our senses) is the same implement creating a division – a clear and definable separation from all which we perceive being outside this sensation occurs.”

Read full article in Super Massive Black Hole

More of Kristoffer’s work here

║ Nadja Bournonville ║


© Nadja Bournonville, Untitled #3, from the series Amor Omnia Vincit


© Nadja Bournonville, Untitled #20, from the series Amor Omnia Vincit


© Nadja Bournonville, Untitled #19, from the series Amor Omnia Vincit


© Nadja Bournonville, Untitled #15, from the series Amor Omnia Vincit

“The study of personality presents many beautiful ambiguities as it opens up a limitless landscape of interpretative possibilities. For example, are there a finite number of stable enduring monolithic building blocks of personality in the neurological connections of our brain, identified as traits and constituted by our genetic inheritance, that predict our behaviour regardless of situation? Or are we individually so unique, so phenomenologically idiosyncratic, that to understand personality we have to explore subjective experiences? If so, are all attempts at population generalisation through psychometric gymnastics essentially futile? Maybe it makes no sense to think of personality residing within the mind at all but rather personality is constructed in the language that we use on a day-to-day basis. Alternatively, is the driving force of personality the universal unconscious urges and motivations of existence that if realised unambiguously lead to the annihilation of the human race? These are just four well evidenced, highly respected and sometimes controversial approaches to personality and they produce infinite options when searching for explanations of behaviour. While ambiguity has a controversial place within modern psychological theory, not least because one important goal of work in this area is to produce solutions, alleviate suffering and ameliorate pain and distress, ambiguity is celebrated within aesthetic epistemologies and here beauty is also constructed along an infinite number of ambiguous dimensions.

Bournonville, like a psychologist, presents constructions of personality. Not complete comprehensive structures, but rather she opens multiple seams, narrow and endlessly deep; multiple seams of fundamental personality dilemmas. These dilemmas are interrogated and problematised in such away that we are invited to explore our feelings in response to these elemental questions. Whether these feelings are conscious or not there is no escape from the Faustian Gretchenfrage provoked by the images. An obscured face looking upwards towards a symbolically and complexly textured background. Curtains opening and possibly beckoning us to trust our uncertain feelings of attraction and begin a journey, a drama, where passion, trust and hope have significant roles to play(…)”

Raymond MacDonal (to read the full text click here)

To see more of Nadja’s work click here

║ Julia Peirone ║

06Girl behind win_jpg

© Julia Peirone, Girl Behind Window, from the series Northern Cities, 2005

02Girl and bubble_jpg

© Julia Peirone, Girl and Bubble, from the series Northern Cities, 2005

“One of her more recent projects is titled Northern Lights. The Nordic Photography Centre in Oulu, Finland, chose Peirone to work with a team of photographers to document life in six different northern cities. The purpose of the project was to interpret urban reality and dispel the myth that the northernmost edge of the continent is all Laplanders and reindeer. Peirone and a small group of selected photographers travelled from Murmansk, Russia to Reykjavik, Iceland to Oulu, Finland, amongst other cities, for a year and a half, photographing what they experienced.

For Peirone, the project took on a personal goal as well. She explains, “For me, it was also about confronting my southern roots (being born in Argentina) and the northern mentality (I lived my whole life in Sweden) and then making a personal story about it. During these travels, I took a lot of pictures of people and things without thinking too much, just going by my intuition. Afterwards, I cut them out from their context and put different pieces together, just making an own reality.”

One of the most compelling images from Peirone’s Northern Cities series is Girl Behind Window. A pretty girl, outside and dressed for the cold, breathes from behind a windowpane – you can see her breath against the glass. She looks dreamy and faraway, framed by plants in the windowsill. As viewer, we can feel both the inside and out. The interior speaks of the human effort to create an inviting space – the plants are well cared for in spite of the freezing temperatures outside. The girl is on the cusp of two worlds – we see her from the warmth of indoors, but she is still a part of the cold, physically-intense world outdoors, presumably on her way inside to take refuge from the cold. The scene reminds the viewer of that sudden transfer from outside to in, the quickness with which one can cross boundaries, change one’s reality.

One of the most compelling images from Peirone’s Northern Cities series is Girl Behind Window. A pretty girl, outside and dressed for the cold, breathes from behind a windowpane – you can see her breath against the glass. She looks dreamy and faraway, framed by plants in the windowsill. As viewer, we can feel both the inside and out. The interior speaks of the human effort to create an inviting space – the plants are well cared for in spite of the freezing temperatures outside. The girl is on the cusp of two worlds – we see her from the warmth of indoors, but she is still a part of the cold, physically-intense world outdoors, presumably on her way inside to take refuge from the cold. The scene reminds the viewer of that sudden transfer from outside to in, the quickness with which one can cross boundaries, change one’s reality.

Peirone recalls the context of that photo, what she was doing and thinking about at the time: “I remember in Haparanda, there were no people on the streets. I just saw a lot of houses where people were indoors, looking out from inside. I got this claustrophobic feeling about this emptiness in the town. That feeling in some way inspires Girl Behind Window. But I was also inspired by the feeling I got from a lot of the Russian girls I met, and the passion and desire they have to get out from their home and environment. The dream of something better outside was a very strong feeling throughout the trip, especially in the Russian cities. Maybe the girl in the photo desires something – just wanting to breathe.”

Clayton Maxwell

To see more of Julia’s work click here

║Johan Bergström ║

© Johan Bergström, The Attachment, from the series Nostalgia, 2006

© Johan Bergström, Making New Connections, from the series Nostalgia, 2006

“A contemporary Russian saying claims that the past has become more unpredictable than the future. Nostalgia may depend precisely on the irrecoverable nature of the past for its emotional impact and appeal. It is the very pastness of the past, its inaccessibility, that likely accounts for a large part of nostalgia’s power. But this is rarely the past as actually experienced; it is the past as imagined, as idealized through selective memory and desire. (…) The work NOSTALGIA reflects on the mechanisms of nostalgia and questions ones solidarity with the past by visualizing memories too unpleasant or too trivial to remember. It points to the deceitfulness of memory, in the age of photography, where many seem to be under the delusion of being able to control the past.”
Johan Bergström

To see more of Johan’s work click here

║ Susanna Hesselberg ║

© Susanna Hesselberg, No Title, 1998

© Susanna Hesselberg, Desperate Men, 2005

“…Several of Hesselberg’s figures are women who are frozen in physically limiting positions. As such, the photographs can be read as feminist commentaries on the reality of women, but one can also find a corresponding interest in the existence of men – both sexes are staged in grotesque scenes, where humans seem to be at one with their surroundings, but at the same time in conflict with reality. Characteristic for the photographs is Hesselberg’s staging of the state of humanity, marked by a physical limitation of the freedom of movement and of an emotional loneliness…”
Anna Krogh

To see more of Susanna’s work click here