Month: July 2015

Injecting joyful chaos into the spaces hidden within abandoned Irish cottages

“The interventions are intended as a fresh approach to subject matter that would otherwise be considered nostalgic,” explains Belfast-based photographer Jill Quigley, describing the work she’s been making in abandoned buildings in Ireland. The project came about when she sought a subject to work on during her master’s degree at the University of Ulster in Belfast, whose Photography MFA has gathered much recent praise. “I was drawn to the contradiction between contemporary lifestyle and all the historical aspects that linger in rural places, such as the area where I grew up in County Donegal,” she explains. “When I was walking around looking for inspiration, I came across many of these little abandoned houses. The problem was that the kind of imagery associated with places like these purports to document a disappearing way of life, and that wasn’t something I wanted to replicate. By painting things or throwing [something] the moment I took the photograph, I aimed to emphasise the present tense. Thankfully, due to the redundant nature of the spaces there was no need to …

2015-08-11T14:26:41+00:00

Cutting straight to the heart of female stereotyping in photography

BJP

“I nominated Isabelle [for our January 2014 ‘Ones to Watch’ issue] because her work is intelligent, imaginative, original and very funny,” says Eugénie Shinkle, lecturer and author of Fashion as Photograph. “She has drawn together performance art, sculpture, fashion and still life, with some shrewd feminist commentary and a wonderful eye for colour thrown in for good measure. and it’s clear she’s not just riffing on these diverse influences – she really understands how to make them all make sense as a photograph.” This ability to get to the misogynist heart of popular culture using razor-sharp wit and measured intelligence is what makes Wenzel’s work stand out. In Positions, we see Wenzel clad in various fabrics, posing as a table. In different positions her bottom, her back and her heels become the table. Wenzel’s face is hidden; wrapped in chessboard pattern leggings, she becomes a colourful domestic fixture, an Allen Jones table, but with the woman struggling to twist free from the confines of her contorted body. “What attracts me to her work is the way …

2015-09-16T10:45:33+00:00

Bedroom studio. Isle of Dogs, East London

Boys in the corner: Simon Wheatley’s images of Britain’s most exciting music subculture

It’s 2012 and in East London, the long-awaited Olympic Games are underway. Stratford, home to the new £537 million Olympic stadium and Westfield shopping centre, is heaving. Tourist money pours in. London, the UK and the world beyond, gets into the spirit of celebration. Simon Wheatley is in a living room in Maryland, a poor residential area less than a mile away from the Olympic Village. He’s recording this historic moment in time through the eyes of Chronik, a veteran grime MC. Through a haze of smoke, Chronik talks about the challenges of raising his family: “Now you want to make it a nice, white area, but what happened to the last ten years?” While he talks, he taps a Playstation controller, firing gunshots at clay targets on an Olympics video game. “That’s exactly it.” Wheatley says, pointing at the crisp symbolism playing out on his iPad screen three years on. “He was so near. Yet the only way he could gain access to the Olympics was in a video game – in virtual reality.” The …

2015-10-15T10:47:03+00:00

The angels of lot (Gli angeli di lot), 2008. From Sodom and Gomorrah © Alessandro Bavari

Alessandro Bavari – in the belly of the beast

There are many disparate moments in Alessandro Bavari’s childhood that inform the artist he is today – watching tadpoles hatch, the first time he walked into a Gothic church in Burgundy, losing grip of a balloon and seeing it bob away, meeting its fate against a rose bush. He says these impressions are so profound – a sensation, a feeling of wonder, a sound – they occasionally crop up in his work. Bavari uses mixed-media techniques to create a unique body of work that incorporates both photography and film. He often draws on literary influences, offering his own interpretation using model sets, organic objects, photography and digital manipulation. The results are often macabre, and sometimes irreverent. His ongoing series, Sodom and Gomorrah, is one such unique fusion of media. “Sodom and Gomorrah was first conceived 15 years ago. I was inspired by Invisible Cities, a novel by Italo Calvino, written and published in the 1970s, but which he cultivated over many years through travel notes and reflections, and organised by themes – the five senses, …

2015-08-11T14:29:17+00:00

Finding photography in a book market in an old Peckham car park

“I think we’re probably the most unambitious book market there is, ” says Lewis Chaplin, founder and one of the organisers of Peckham’s very own photofair Copeland Book Market. Chaplin is hardly one for bluster, but perhaps he should be. The annual south London art book market has become a hotbed of the best emerging photography in the UK. Running from the 31st of July to the 2nd of August, Copeland showcases thoughtfully crafted work from independent publishers such as Dobedo, Arcadia Missa and Jane & Jeremy. Chaplin and the team appreciates publishers for whom: “You can just tell that the motivation for making [books] is out of pure enjoyment, rather than to expand their business empire, turn a profit or make the right connections.” Now in its fourth year, this time Copeland are partnering with The White Review, a quarterly arts and literature journal who will be bringing together a curated series of events and publishers. It also represents a broadening of sorts, Chaplin says: “This year we’re really excited about having more literary publishers participating …

2015-08-11T14:30:09+00:00

Found in a Beijing recycling plant: “A weird and slightly fucked up tradition.”

“It was very unusual. I’ve been to a few Chinese weddings, but I had never seen this before — neither had most of my Chinese friends.” As a collector and editor for the UK-based Archive of Modern Conflict, Thomas Sauvin’s pursuit of intriguing images often takes him to odd places, but when he discovered a trove of forgotten images depicting a bygone wedding ritual, even he was surprised. “I thought negatives might be an interesting trail because it’s something people tend to neglect. I got in touch with a seller specialising in recycling trash that contained silver nitrate. I bought 35mm negatives by the kilo, without knowing what I would do with them.” Confronted with this vast stack of images, Sauvin started to look for unifying qualities within the images. He found a picture of Chinese newlyweds smoking a handmade wedding bong, a gesture – apparently – of good luck for newlyweds. Struck by the incongruity, he revisited his growing cache of negatives. “I thought it was interesting because it’s related to more youthful practice in Europe. …

2015-07-28T19:29:16+00:00

The changing landscapes of the modern American cowboy

“This is the last cowboy song, the end of a hundred year waltz. Voices sound sad as they’re singing along another piece of America’s lost.” So goes the chorus of Ed Bruce ballad The Last Cowboy, which was released in May 1980. But although their numbers have been dwindling for years, cowboys so still exist, roaming the plains and valleys of the American West as they have done since the late 19th century. They have had to adapt to 21st century life, though, and where the song has them supplementing their wages “in a market on weekends selling tobacco and beer’, it is now resources, from copper to gold, oil, natural gas and even wind and solar energy, which is competing with their herding and farming activities. Lucas Foglia approaches this knotty issue by surveying the subtleties of an American icon. He travelled throughout rural Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, and Wyoming between 2006 and 2013, visiting some of the least-populated regions in the United States and finding places in which “the landscape felt …

2015-08-11T14:31:27+00:00

Early morning photography from the streets of San Francisco

Travis Jensen answers the phone with a bleary voice. It’s the crack of dawn in San Francisco, but it doesn’t bother him too much. The street photographer with a cool 50,000 followers on Instagram has a seven-and-a-half mile walk into work every morning, and he uses it to take photographs. In black and white, Jensen shows a different side to a gleaming city, the urban icon of California living, the most socially liberal city in America, and now the headquarters of the world’s technology titans. “We’re the victims of the tech boom,” Jensen says. “I work full-time and I can barely afford to live here. Everyone here works a job and then has another hustle. And even if that’s selling dope, I respect it, because I know how hard it is to survive here.” Jensen moved to San Francisco from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, fresh out of high school and with $800 dollars to his name. “It’s a damn miracle I’m not in jail or dead,” he says. “And I’m not even kidding; it was rough, man. Smack …

2015-07-28T13:06:03+00:00

Boom, Belgium, 1988. © 2015 Harry Gruyaert / Magnum Photos.

Harry Gruyaert: “There is no story. It’s just a question of shapes and light”

“There is no story. It’s just a question of shapes and light,” Harry Gruyaert says. The storied Magnum photographer is notoriously reluctant to share how he creates his celebrated photography. As one of the first European photographers to take advantage of the creative potential colour photography held,  Gruyaert rarely follows received wisdom — as seen in the first English-language monograph of Gruyaert’s work, published by Thames & Hudson and offering a comprehensive retrospective of his career. While American photographers such as William Eggleston and Stephen Shore were eagerly embracing the new possibilities of colour, many photographers in Europe of the same generation preferred to relegate it to use in advertising, press and illustration. Gruyaert feels closer to the American approach. “In Europe and especially France, there’s a humanistic tradition of people like Cartier-Bresson where the most important thing is the people, not so much the environment,” he says. “I admired it, but I was never linked to it. I was much more interested in all the elements:  the decor and the lighting and all the cars: the details were …

2016-03-03T11:19:34+00:00

All about his mother: Fashion photographer Charlie Engman’s maternal muse

Her eyes are closed and her mouth open, an open robe hanging from her shoulders. She holds in her hand the talons of a grey bird, its wings spread-eagle. A strange, flared light seems to emanate from her. She’s the mother of Charlie Engman, the man behind the camera. In a few short years, the 26-year-old, New York-based photographer has risen to become one of the hottest properties in fashion photography – the go-to guy for brands such as Urban Outfitters and Kenzo and magazines like Zero1, Dazed & Confused and The Cut. His photographs are ephemeral, angular and acute with colour – like a still from a fever-dream. Chicago-born Engman spends roughly half his time in Europe, shooting models for magazines and agencies. We meet in Camden Town, north London, on a burning hot day, an hour or so before another shoot. I find him staring at a topless guy with a beer belly goose-stepping in time to a boombox. “Welcome to Camden,” I say. He laughs. Engman spent his teens and early 20s as a contemporary dancer and painter. He studied …

2015-09-21T18:00:28+00:00

BJP Staff