Author: Charlotte Harding

The negative sublime of Edward Burtynsky’s corrupted landscapes

The Little Rann of Kutch is located in the Thar desert, a seasonal salt marsh in the Indian state of Gujarat. Salt is the main industry in the region. Every year for eight months, it is home to more than 100,000 Agariya workers who fan out over the delta and toil in the brutal sun to extract around one million tonnes of salt a year from the floodwaters of the nearby Arabian Sea. Like so much in the world today, the future of the Agariya people hangs in the balance. With a future currently under threat from receding groundwater levels and declining market values, the salt pans are likely to disappear without trace, along with a traditional way of life that has been sustained for the past four hundred years. Burtynsky’s latest series Salt Pans combines fine art and advocacy through his acclaimed aerial perspective to tackle the evidential environmental imprint imposed by the harsh processes of salt industry on the Agariya people and their land. Through their documentation of a disappearing landscape, the photographs are …

2016-10-13T13:19:15+00:00

New London Photography Show calls into question the Colonial Gaze

“We today can do everything, so long as we do not imitate Europe, so long as we are not obsessed by the desire to catch up with Europe.” These are the chilling and controversial words of Frantz Fanon on the latent Eurocentrism implicit to the ethos and order of our past and present society. These are also the themes explored in Decolonial Desire, the new exhibition on show at London’s Autograph ABP from multimedia artist Vasco Araújo, under the auspices of gallery director Mark Sealy. Araújo’s multidisciplinary works – encompassing photography, video, sculpture and archive imagery – explore how the trauma of the colonial encounter continues to haunt the modern world. In the exhibition, Araújo intends to generate difficult conversations and to shed light on the uncomfortable colonial history of his homeland, Portugal. Originally at the forefront of colonialisation, the country played a leading role in the discovery of the Americas, and consolidated its holdings as part of the ‘Scramble for Africa’ during the 19th Century. “It’s really important for us to discuss how history …

2016-10-07T16:00:27+00:00

Making Memeries at Unseen Photo Fair

This is the question explored in Making Memeries, the travelling installation created in collaboration between Bruno Ceschel, founder of Self Publish, Be Happy, and artist Lucas Blalock, which blurs the boundaries surrounding the on/offline existence and distribution of photography in the perpetual present. At last week’s Unseen Photo Fair, the installation was brought to life by a three-day programme that invited visitors to play and explore with the boundaries of contemporary photography – live – with artists, graphic designers and performers working at the forefront of the medium. Blalock’s work has long been interested in how the worldly and the virtual cohabit behind a photograph’s surface, with Making Memeries visualising this cohabitation, building an exceptional experience that challenges traditional expectations of viewership. “Making Memeries is set in a time when everyone has become a lifestyle photographer” explains Lucas Blalock. “It is still your life, but the image production is decidedly public; and in that case temporary, verging on fleeting, because these public channels have so, so many content providers and, along with our attention spans, are …

2016-10-06T11:19:57+00:00

POSTmatter relaunches, finding meaning amidst chaos in the digital age

How do you find meaning amidst chaos? Mythologies have always given shape to the world around us, weaving stories to make sense of natural forces, potential futures and other mysterious phenomena. The parallel between the myths and rites of the past, and the alternative belief systems of today’s postdigital age, are explored in POSTmatter’s newly relaunched online format, which will see the digital platform publish two issues per year, developing custom interactive and moving image pieces that put a new spin on the traditional. Separate to each issue, the magazine will also publish original written and visual pieces on varied topics throughout the year. With a primary focus on contemporary art, POSTmatter is the trailblazing force setting out to challenge the outdated separation between online and print, looking at how emerging and established artists alike are being influenced by new technologies, and how they in turn are changing the ways in which we engage with these tools. “I began to wonder why it seemed to be the rule that a magazine’s print output was the …

2016-09-29T13:33:40+00:00

Proof Reading: Tracing the history of evidential photography

What do photographs of 9/11, burnt filing cabinets and a police line-up all have in common? They are all compelling records that uncover revealing evidence. Since it’s invention, photography’s claims of truth and scientific objectivity have long furnished the photograph as the primary tool of evidence. From crime scenes, zoological specimens, lunar and space exploration, to family holidays and  atrocities taking place on the global stage, the photograph has been used as ‘proof’. Any contemporary artist using photography has to accept the evidential language embedded in the medium. As Susan Sontag mused in her seminal On Photography, “something we hear about, but doubt, seems proven when we’re shown a photograph of it.” The picture may distort, but there is always a presumption that something exists, or did exist, which is like what’s in a photograph. Central to the new exhibition at the Michael Hoppen Gallery are these themes. The Image as Question: An exploration of evidential photography, explores the long held fascination with all photography as a medium firmly grounded in the documentary tradition – how the camera …

2016-09-26T11:51:33+00:00

Visible Memories: Reclaiming the relics of the Soviet era

Bound to the north and west by the Baltic sea, and on the east by Russia, Lithuania has endured a turbulent past. Occupied from 1939 until it re-established independence in 1990, the former member of the Eastern Bloc was subject to the brutal dictatorship of the Soviet Union for over 50 years. Although the Cold War ended 26 years ago, and for many is a distant memory, the stark remnants of the brutal Soviet era have found an unlikely home in the Lithuanian countryside. Amongst the dense birch-covered wetlands of the Dzūkija National Park, lies Grūtas Park, otherwise known as Stalin World, where the regime’s symbols of power, the heroic archetypal statues and monoliths built to preserve and extend the Soviet’s communist ideology, reside. Established in 2001, the controversially kitsch ‘nostalgia’ theme park was built “to provide an opportunity for Lithuanian people, visitors to the country, and future generations to see the Soviet ideology which suppressed the spirit of Lithuania’s nation for decades,” according to the Grūta’s website. Artist Indrė Šerpytytė’s new series Pedestal addresses the gulf …

2016-09-23T10:33:03+00:00

Photographing Stage Four Hodgkins Lymphoma

The dichotomy between documenting and experiencing an event is a predicament faced by even the most established photographer, the continual dilemma of where to draw the line – when to shoot, and when to put the camera down. This dilemma however, came early on in 20 year old photographer Johnny Griffiths’ career. On the 13th April 2015, his partner Hannah was diagnosed with stage four Hodgkins Lymphoma. “The hardest thing was to find that balance between being a documentarian and being a boyfriend,” says Griffiths. “I had to keep reminding myself what the actual importance of it was.” His series It’s Cancer, follows the unpredictable summer the couple faced as Hannah carried out her treatment. Within weeks of Hannah’s diagnosis, the couple had returned to her home in Reading to begin a six month course of chemotherapy. “We were just being normal 20 year olds, having a good time and then it just kind of happened quite out of the blue. Hannah went to Berlin for her 20th birthday and on the flight back she …

2016-09-16T12:29:36+00:00

Apertura Madrid Gallery Weekend launches in the Spanish capital

Organised by Arte Madrid, each year the cultural event brings together curators, collectors and emerging artists from across the world to celebrate the art and culture of the Spanish capital – affirming its status as one of the epicentres of the contemporary art world. Showcasing the work of over 60 artists, the latest edition sees 43 galleries simultaneously open their doors to the public, offering extensive activities, events and exhibitions with the aim to “bring contemporary creation to the people and to raise the profile of Madrid art’s scene”. As part of the event, Blanca Berlín Gallery will present past work from visual artist Juan Manuel Castro Prieto, who uses photography as a means to highlight a reality hidden behind the apparent logic of everyday life. “Juan Manuel Castro Prieto is a virtuoso of photography, the images he captures are simple, unpretentious and unsuperfluous,” explains Blanca Berlín, “he is one of the most important photographers of the Spanish art scene, and thus has to be recognised.” The exhibition, entitled Luz de cuarto oscuro, recognises the …

2016-09-14T15:32:28+00:00

BJP Staff