In 2011, Chatelin, a successful photojournalist and author of the photobook Israel Borderline (2008), was sent to Libya to cover the uprising at the beginning of the war. After a few months he became frustrated with the work he was producing and decided to head in a different direction. Switching to a large format camera, he travelled to the Egyptian desert and began looking at the impact of shifting economies on the landscape and territories surrounding the nucleus of action. This work has also seen explorations to Detroit, western China and Siberia, which, like Egypt and Libya, are places with diverse histories and contrasting geographies but which are fixed in outside perceptions with a single vision.
Iran, Year 38, various Pulling together nearly 40 years of visual and political history is by no means an easy task, but in Iran, Year 38, curators Newsha Tavakolian and Anahita Ghabaian Etehadieh manage to elegantly weave together past and present in an exhibition that is both authoritative and authentic. Displaying work by over 60 Iranian photographers, the show takes the troubles and dissidence of revolution in 1979 as ‘year x’, the exhibition title referencing the time that has since passed. The show is broken into chapters covering the revolution, the Iran-Iraq war and – arguably the show’s crowning glory – how Iran’s contemporary photographers, the children of the revolution, are using a visual language to depict themes such as identity. Particularly of note is a large and striking rendition of a women brandishing a G-3 machine gun by Kaveh Kazemi, providing a necessary regional voice to a revolution often viewed in the West through a Western lens. A beautiful section celebrates Iranian filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami, and particularly captivating is Gelerah Kia Zand and her …
The classic British butterfly house acts as the backdrop to Alexander Mourant’s Aurelian, an evocative study of the passing of time and the slippery nature of memory. “These hot, artificial environments are used through the work to probe the nature of experience, such as an assembly point, or an artist’s studio, as an envisioned idea where time is not absolute but continuously contained and all-encompassing,” says the 23-year-old, who recently graduated from Falmouth University.
The director of Seen Fifteen Gallery on her five favourite at Arles this year – from the official programme, the Luma Rencontres Dummy Book Award, and the LUMA Foundation Parc des Ateliers
No matter how hard you try, sometimes Arles can be just like Glastonbury (sans mud) – lots of things going on and you get sidetracked, and don’t get to see the one thing you wanted to. However I did manage to get round a diverse group of exhibits this year, one of my favourites actually being the Alice Neel painting show at the Fondation Van Gogh. Here is my round-up of what I saw of note this edition. The House of the Ballenesque, Roger Ballen This was very talked about in Arles – an old ramshackle house that Ballen has taken over, to express somewhat of what goes on in his mind and informs his photography. Like a giant walk-in sketchbook, it’s part fun-house and part mental asylum, with lots of creepy figures and dolls heads stuck on mismatching bodies. It’s worth seeing because it’s a bit different, though it doesn’t quite feel like the main event – it’s more of a fun sideshow to his practice, but interesting nonetheless. Try to go on a …
From the dimly-lit back alleys of Belfast, right into the interiors of its inhabitants’ homes, Chad Alexander’s graduation project Entries takes us on a reflective journey through the streets where he grew up. The 27-year-old first picked up a camera after seeing an exhibition that combined scenes of the Northern Ireland conflict with vignettes of daily life; he has since been developing his own take on documentary in this series. “It was work that I had always wanted to make, but until that point I wasn’t exactly sure how to approach it,” he explains.
Think of Oxford and it’s the world-famous university that will probably spring to mind first; the ancient city is not necessarily one you would immediately associate with photography. But that may be about to change with the debut of a new fortnight-long “celebration of photography” from 08-24 September, curated by Tim Clark and Greg Hobson. With a focus on the medium’s “potential to conceal and reveal”, the programme is small but convincing, with work carefully matched to specific venues in the city centre. For example, Oxford’s old fire station, now a thriving public arts space, will host an exhibition of photographs devoted to Russian prison tattoos.
Born in 1908, Minor White lived at a time when being openly gay was risky. He remained in the closet for much of his life, fearful of losing his teaching positions at institutions such as the California School of Fine Arts, Rochester Institute of Technology and Massachusetts Institute of Technology – a factor which helped shape his aesthetic vision, argues an exhibition of his work currently on show in Madrid, “employing close-ups and cropping to express what couldn’t be shown”.
“I casted Fern for a campaign I was shooting, and we clicked right away,” says Rosaline Shahnavaz. “She showed up wearing thigh-high white PVC boots with about 600 button holes (God speed to the stylist) and she’d texted me the night before to see if she’d need to shave her armpits, because she’d been growing her hair for four months and really didn’t want to. We had a special dynamic straight away and I couldn’t stop casting her after that.” So began a working relationship that turned into a personal project and a friendship, with both women regularly meeting up to hang out and take pictures.
“I try to use photography to investigate the aspects of my family life that have been deliberately set aside,” says Thomas Duffield. His final-year project, The whole house is shaking, pays tribute to an idyllic childhood on a small farm on the outskirts of Leeds, while simultaneously confronting a darker enclave of family history. Composed from small details of everyday life and portraits of his mother, sister and grandfather, the project also dwells on his father’s clandestine heroin addiction, hidden from the children while they were growing up.