Month: April 2015

Pre -  The Entropy Pendulum archive image © Clare Strand

Five minutes with…Clare Strand

From photographs inspired by crime scenes to pseudo-scientific experiments, Clare Strand has always marched to the beat of her own drum – and her latest exhibition, Getting Better and Worse at the Same Time, is no exception. Featuring The Happenstance Generator (a machine that blows around images from her research projects) and The Entropy Pendulum (a moving arm that swings backwards and forwards over one of her prints), it’s a quirky, animated take on photography and kinesis that, like her previous projects, is somehow held together by Strand’s idiosyncratic, retro-futuristic aesthetic. BJP took five minutes with the artist to find out more. BJP: Is the work in this exhibition all new, apart from The Happenstance Generator? Clare Strand: It’s all pretty much new – there are few pieces that have been shown but never in the context of a cohesive show. BJP: Did you make it all for the show? Or have you just had a particularly fruitful time of it recently? CS: Yes, most the works have been made for this show. I like working …

2015-05-05T10:56:09+00:00

Katrina d’Autremont – If God Wants

“We’d all be in hell if that’s what God wanted.” Katrina d’Autremont’s grandfather used to say that often; he believed life was entirely determined according to God’s will. “I like the notion that we love our family because that’s what God wants,” says the photographer. Born in Denver in 1980, d’Autremont grew up in Montana and then Arizona; she’d spend extended holidays in Buenos Aires visiting her mother’s family, who live in a beautiful, airy old apartment. “I went to Argentina every two years for at least a month when I was growing up because my mom wanted us to know her family. When I think back on it, it was really magical.” As a child, photography was merely an amusement. She’d aim her basic point-and-shoot at random objects without giving thought to composition. Then at 14, while in high school, she used an SLR for the first time and began learning how to process film in a darkroom. “When I was an undergrad at college, I took a few photography classes, but it wasn’t until …

2015-05-05T13:25:07+00:00

John Conn – Signs of the Homeless

“We all see the homeless – more or less – although we often do our best to look elsewhere,” says New York photographer John Conn. “I would walk past, look at their signs and then their faces and try to match up the two – seeing if they correlate.” Framing the dual intimations of person and sign forms the basis of Conn’s 80-image series Homeless/Signs. There is no shortage of local subjects in New York; the amount of homeless people in the city recently reached the highest level since the 1930s Great Depression, with over 60,000 sleeping in shelters each night in February this year, according to charity Coalition for the Homeless. “The written word is powerful, it projects an image: these signs are the way they project themselves,” says the 66-year-old. Based in the Bronx, the north borough of New York, Conn photographed the majority of the photo essay over a two-month period in the summer of 2013 in the nearby Manhattan borough. Some people appeared in a spot one day and were gone the next, but …

2015-05-06T14:40:54+00:00

James Nachtwey – The Improviser

James Nachtwey stretches his arms across the sofa and pauses to think. He’s just declined to answer whether he ever has nightmares, and now he’s fielding a question that every war reporter has faced; has he ever truly feared for his life? He recalls covering the civil war in Sri Lanka. He was embedded with one of five rebel groups, but the Tamil Tigers, the main insurgent group, were taking out their opposition one by one. He was on an island off the Jaffna peninsula, hiding out. The position was being over-run, and the native New Yorker was completely isolated, unable to get out. He found a Catholic monastery, and hid. In a church in outer Sri Lanka, he found a copy of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, and he read it. He stayed there for three weeks, trying to focus on Shakespeare, until he found the chance to escape back to the mainland and to safety. “That was the first time I really thought I wasn’t going to make it,” Nachtwey says, his voice even. “Parts of my life I’d thought I’d …

2015-08-21T13:25:48+00:00

© Thomas Hoepker

What to see at Norway’s Nordic Light Festival of Photography 2015

The Nordic Light Festival of Photography, spaced across galleries in the small island-city of Kristiansund, on the northern reaches of the Norwegian coastland, is now in its tenth year. Not especially well-known in international photography circles, it’s one of the most picturesque, dedicated, surprising celebrations of photography in Europe. For a festival with only a handful of full-time staff, and made possible only by the army of local volunteers, its testament to the passion of the festival that 18 established international photographers will exhibit in Kristiansund. It’s tenth year is celebrated through the reappearance of three photographers who exhibited in previous festivals, such as Giorgia Fiorio. The international photographers present range from James Nachtwey, an American war photojournalist; to Thomas Hoepker, a German documentary photographer; to Per Maning, a Norwegian fine art photographer; to Pieter Ten Hoopen, a Dutch photojournalist and filmmaker (see photographs above). The festival uses its scale to its advantage, helping local photography people mixing with world-class photographers in the local bars and restaurants. Set in the local cinema in the centre of town, Nordic Lights’ …

2015-04-24T12:57:46+00:00

May2015

BJP #7835: Nude Animal Cigar

The May issue of British Journal of Photography, on sale now, is dedicated to photographers who don’t quite ‘fit in’. Our main feature is Michael Grieve’s interview with Nick Waplington, the iconic British photographer, as he exhibits his photography alongside Alexander McQueen at Tate Britain. For Waplington, the sense of being an outsider runs throughout his work, as does the idea of family. Originally from middle-class Surrey, he made his name with a series of photographs focusing on life on the Nottingham housing estate (where his grandfather had been born and still lived), capturing in lurid colour the ‘pre-Ikea’ interior worlds of two unemployed families 10 years into the Thatcher regime. The resulting photobook, Living Room, brought Waplington to international attention in 1991. And although it was talked about in the same breath as some of his older contemporaries loosely affiliated with the new wave of British documentary at the time, Waplington reflects on his approach differently. “I was inspired by the colour work of Paul Graham, Martin Parr and Tom Woods; I liked their aesthetic, though not necessarily …

2015-05-28T15:54:53+00:00

From Rapa Nui – By The Shade Of The Moai © Lorenzo Moscia

Lorenzo Moscia’s Haiti

“It was inconceivable to my father that he would end up with a son who wanted to pursue a career in the arts,” says photographer Lorenzo Moscia. Like many of his father’s generation in Italy, having lost nearly everything to the Second World War, the aftermath thrust him into manhood, and having to provide financial support to his struggling, large family of siblings. By the time his father had become a grown man himself, married, with a child of his own, he had worked tirelessly for many decades. So it’s not surprising that Lorenzo, his only child, would be raised to prize hard graft. Lorenzo’s upbringing in Rome was fairly typical, albeit lonesome – a constant quest for friendships. His parents relocated within Rome when he was 11, and he suddenly found himself starting a new school across town – the local Catholic school – surrounded by nothing but male priests. “It was the longest period of boredom I have ever experienced,” he says. This was alleviated somewhat by his parents’ purchase of a VHS camcorder in …

2016-02-24T13:27:59+00:00

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VIDEO: Roger Ballen – Outland

The New York photographer Roger Ballen has spent decades photographing the most extreme fringes of South African society. But this is not a documentary project, but a dark cavity into our collective psychology. “I started to work with the subjects in a theatrical, performative way,” Ballen says in our exclusive video interview. “I was there to transform reality.” Ballen is a hugely contentious figure in South Africa. Making his home there in the early eighties, Ballen began to provide the world with powerfully provocative portraits of marginalised, poverty-stricken communities – an uncomfortable reminder of the failings of the Apartheid system. Ballen was at first rooted in the socio-documentary tradition. But then he began to evolve. His photographs began to step beyond the role of witness into a complex portrayal of documentary fiction.  Here, poor whites, transplanted to the cities, take on theatrical role-plays within the pictures, acting out their position as social outsiders in an interplay with Ballen’s own symbolistic leanings. Removed from any established use-value as social documentation, the disturbing photographs ask uncomfortable questions of the viewer. As …

2015-05-07T11:56:43+00:00

Ciarán Óg Arnold wins First Book Award

A project called I went to the worst of bars hoping to get killed. but all I could do was to get drunk again, by Irish photographer Ciarán Óg Arnold, has won this year’s First Book Award. Born in 1977, Arnold has spent almost his whole life living his pictures in the town of Ballinasloe. The project, taken over the past five years, shows drunken knuckle-fights, hard men’s tears and derelict homes as the active participants in a post-recession landscape. “I never really had a project in mind,” Arnold tells BJP. “I just took the photographs at weekends to have something to do. The photographs are about this fatalistic atmosphere of male negativity. Machismo, and having nowhere to express it. I wanted to show how something feels, how it looks – to get the emotional desperation and the anger. I’ve never really talked about it with anyone before. It’s hard. “You would go into one nightclub on weekends, there’d be no one in the entire place except for these guys in the corner with the boxing machine, getting out their aggression …

2015-05-05T13:24:50+00:00

Lars Tunbjörk – obituary

Lars Tunbjörk, the renowned photographer best known for his vividly colourful, quietly witty photography of everyday life in Sweden, died this month aged 59, writes Thomas Cox. Tunbjörk was one of Sweden’s most celebrated photographers. Headlines from Swedish media publications included epithets like “Lars Tunbjörk changed the way we see ourselves” (Sweden Radio) and “Lars Tunbjörk showed Sweden through his own melancholy” (Dagens Nyheter). Born February 1956 in Borås, in the south of Sweden, Tunbjörk was 15 when he started taking photographs during work experience at his local newspaper Borås Tidning. After school, he began freelancing for the national newspaper Stockholms-Tidningen, before the fine art photography world first recognised his work with the Swedish Picture of the Year award for a black and white documentary picture of Swedish everyday life. Tunbjörk’s international breakthrough came in 1993 with the book Country Beside Itself. His best-known series include Office (2001), which captures office workers in unexpected positions while working – such as under the desk – and Home (2003), in which minimalist shots of everyday things – playgrounds, flowers, armchairs – expose a quiet …

2015-04-21T17:12:11+00:00

BJP Staff