Month: February 2017

Image © Ren Hang, courtesy Stieglitz 19 gallery

An interview with Ren Hang

BJP

“I do not think nudity is challenging – nudity is common, everybody has it,” says Ren Hang. “I like people naked and I like sex; I use nudity so that I can feel more realism and sense of presence.” But whatever his view, his work has proved controversial in his native China, where galleries have found it difficult to show his images and “no Chinese fashion magazines let me make images”. Even so, he’s exhibited in China, Italy, France, Russia, Israel and Sweden, published his work in magazines around the world, and published several books, with organisations such as the respected Editions Bessard. “Ren Hang’s images challenge conventional codes of morality in a still highly conservative society,” states another of his publishers, Editions du Lic. “[…]The artist’s homeland remains harshly censorial against any material it deems immoral and Hang’s work certainly plays with fire.” Editions du Lic claims Hang is part of a new breed of 21st century Chinese artists, “riding the wave of modernisation and cultural reawakening in China”; Hang sees things more simply, …

2017-02-27T16:01:52+00:00

From the series Farang © Francesco Merlini

Ones to Watch: Francesco Merlini

BJP

“I was 13, standing on the balcony at home holding the first digital camera my family had ever owned. I was staring into the viewfinder trying to frame a flower, my eyes wide at its reproduction on the small screen,” says 30-year-old Francesco Merlini of the first picture he ever took. “I was struck by the immediacy of the photographic medium, the ease with which you can create something visually pleasing.” Merlini studied industrial design at Politecnico di Milano, and though photography featured in his life from an early age, he never considered dedicating himself to it. Like many of his generation, he used his camera for little more than documenting his life – his mates, girlfriends, trips. “Some photos worked but there was no meaning behind them, there was no purpose,” he says. “They were snaps. “The turning point came in 2010 when I started working at Prospekt [the agency of which he is now a member] as a photo editor and sales manager. I started doing scans and photographing events, developing my own …

2017-02-27T15:02:00+00:00

Clement Cheroux © Michael Grieve

Any Answers: Clément Chéroux

With 40 books and 20 exhibitions to his name, a doctorate in art history from Panthéon Sorbonne, 10 years teaching the history of photography, and another decade as curator at the Pompidou, Frenchman Clément Chéroux is the ideal replacement for the legendary Sandra Phillips at San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. BJP caught up with him in an interview first published in issue #7853 The work of a curator functions on a principle of association between images and ideas. The greatest pleasure is when you introduce a tension between these two poles and a spark appears. I worked at the Centre Pompidou for 10 years. It is an extraordinary place, located in the heart of Paris and in the heart of people. It will stay in mine. I am very excited to discover San Francisco, its people, its sun and its fog. I will miss the gargoyles up on the Saint-Jacques tower that I used to greet every morning on my way to work. Photography is not merely a passion. It’s a life. I met photography on …

2017-02-24T11:03:31+00:00

From the series Bright Days © Maryam Khastoo & Jonathan Clifford

A different side of Iran by Maryam Khastoo and Jonathan Clifford

In October 2016, Maryam Khastoo and Jonathan Clifford went to Iran to work on Khastoo’s ongoing project on her mother. Born to Iranian parents in Wales, Khastoo has visited the country regularly since she was a child, and lived there from 2010-2014; her mother now lives in Tehran, and Khastoo and Clifford spent ten days with her, Khastoo taking photographs and Clifford shooting film. After they’d finished work in the capital they “felt the need to get out” says Clifford, who was raised in Australia, and headed north for the quiet towns between the Caspian Sea and Alborz Mountain range. “Everyone we spoke of our plans with insisted that we go south to Isfahan, Shiraz or Yazd, which are the most common destinations for visitors to Iran due to their historical importance,” says Clifford. “But although these places certainly appealed, the idea of heading north, where Maryam has family, and staying with them on their orange and kiwi orchard, seemed a much better way to unwind after the hustle and chaos of Tehran. “We’d also discussed …

2017-02-23T16:35:48+00:00

The Critic, 1943. Image © Weegee/International Center of Photography, courtesy Howard Greenberg Gallery

On show – Weegee’s iconic images of New York’s seamy underbelly

Born near Lemburg in what’s now the Ukraine, Usher Fellig emigrated to the US in 1909 when he was ten. There he acquired a new, Anglicised name, Arthur, and started working as a photographer just three years later. In 1924 he was hired as a darkroom technician by Acme Newspictures (later United Press International Photos), and by 1935 – “spellbound by the mystery of murder”, as he put it – he had left to become a freelance news photographer. Centring his work around Manhattan’s police headquarters, his seemingly uncanny ability to get to crime scenes early earned him another new name – Weegee, inspired by the Ouija board (though another account traces it to his time as a darkroom “squeegee” boy). His talent for prescience was actually down to a portable police-band shortwave radio, which he got permission to run in 1938 – the only New York reporter to do so. Adding a complete darkroom in the boot of his car, Weegee was able to get his sensational images to newspapers such as the Herald-Tribune, Daily News, Post, The Sun, and PM Weekly long before anyone else. …

2017-02-23T12:57:39+00:00

Image © Maisie Cousins

Francesca Allen and Maisie Cousins celebrate strong women

“In a society that profits from your self-doubt, liking yourself is a rebellious act,” say photographers Francesca Allen and Maisie Cousins, the photographers behind KKOutlet’s first joint show I Feel Sick/Hot Flush. Allen, who’s a regular for publications such as Riposte, Noisey and The Fader, has taken one room and is showing portraits of “powerful, fearless women at the height of their sexual freedom”. Cousins, who featured in the Creative Review Photography Annual and Vogue Photo Festival last year, has devoted the second space to darkly humorous collages. “They’re taking what has traditionally been a male gaze and making it into something of their own,” runs the gallery press release. “However, they’re not just rehashing pseudo feminist versions of bygone erotic photographs; there’s flesh and sexuality, but their images are more than that. There’s a huge sense of fun, rebelliousness and unashamed hedonism.” The exhibition is open until 27 February at KKOutlet – London’s very own KesselsKramer outpost, which also features a well-stocked bookshop. www.kkoutlet.com www.maisiecousins.com www.francesca-allen.co.uk  

2017-02-22T16:30:24+00:00

From the series Playground © Julien Lombardi

Images hit the streets in JaipurPhoto festival

The term ‘travel photography’ may call to mind generic holiday snaps, but a festival in Jaipur is raising the bar for a more probing approach. Founded by the team behind GoaPhoto, artistic director Lola Mac Dougall and filmmaker and producer Nikhil Padgaonkar, JaipurPhoto returns to from 24 February to 05 March, following a successful inaugural edition in 2016, to explore what wanderlust can tell us about our times. Describing the relationship between travel and photography as an “endless conversation”, the festival spotlights the many ways photography has shaped how we experience the world. London-based curator and founder of The Photocaptionist, Federica Chiocchetti, this year’s guest curator, pinpoints the relevance of this conversation in our image-saturated culture as a starting point for putting together the 2017 edition. “I am fascinated by how the evolution of society and of photography has impacted on the very notion of travelling,” Chiocchetti says. From the pre-internet days of the travel agent selling a place through promotional images to the more recent way we filter our travel experiences through multiple devices, she notes that our experience …

2017-02-22T15:25:29+00:00

Untitled - from the series 'Senselessness' © Laura Thompson

From air freshener ape men to rubber gloved ghouls: A look into the D&AD 2016 Shortlisted project by Laura Thompson

BJP

Technology expands perception. Air travel turns a journey of thousands of miles into a matter of hours. Google Maps shows us the way through unfamiliar city streets. Over Skype we can see and hear our loved ones wherever we and they are. But our new abilities have come at a price. Our physical senses have deadened. Laura Thompson came across this conception in a study by Claude Levi Strauss, which described how members of a particular tribe could see Venus in daylight. The anthropologist noted that this was a skill that Western sailors had had in the past, but lost over time since they no longer used it to navigate. “I was surprised to learn that you aren’t born with an innate ability to sense things,” says Thompson, whose series Senseless was shortlisted for the 2016 D&AD Next Photographer Award in partnership with Getty Images. “It develops as you’re a child, your senses adapt to the specifics of your environment. Advances in technology bring passivity. Certain parts of our brains don’t develop because technology is …

2017-02-24T11:01:08+00:00

Tooting, London, 1975. From the series Family Units © Edward Barber

Obituary: Edward Barber 1949-2017

It’s a terrible shock and great sadness to be writing about Ed in the past tense. He was a great friend of mine for nearly 40 years, a man who believed passionately in the power of photography to show how people live, how they protest against the powerful and how people create things that counteract the corporate machine. We worked together on many projects for the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) and at the Half Moon Gallery and its magazine Camerawork. Ed was one of the original members of the collective at the Half Moon in Alie Street, Whitechapel, with fellow photographers Jenny Matthews, Mike Goldwater and Paul Trevor. This was to prove to be incredibly dynamic and brilliant group who curated numerous influential photographic exhibitions, many of which were by photographers who have continued to produce important work, as they have themselves. Ed had the idea of laminating the exhibitions, at first because the roof leaked in Alie Street and plastic lamination made them waterproof. He began touring the laminated exhibitions, sending them by …

2017-02-21T17:09:29+00:00

BJP Staff