It is difficult to unravel, in many of the stories that Max Pinckers tells, where fiction became unstuck from fact. Or how the characters in his photographs can look back out at the world so boldly, shake their heads at reality as most people see it, and tell stories that fly in its face. But for the Brussels-based photographer, the six curious individuals in his latest book, Margins of Excess – including a boy who compulsively hijacks trains, and a private detective with prosthetic hands – lead the way to understanding documentary photography’s role in the ‘post-truth’ era.
One such character, an American amateur inventor with a mane of silken hair, sat at the kitchen table of his home in Dunnellon, Florida and told Pinckers that he believed he had become the media’s new Osama bin Laden. “My name is Richard Heene. A few years ago I got into a bit of trouble,” said the forty-something showman, detailing the events that led him to end up behind bars.
“When I was younger I was jealous of photographers who had their own very personal subject matter and aesthetic. It’s so important to allow yourself the freedom to be truly creative,” says Dutch artist Viviane Sassen. “Experimentation is central to my practice.”
Sassen’s daring and idiosyncratic approach hangs somewhere between fashion and fine art. At the core of her practice is an understanding of the importance of constant experimentation, thus making her images complex, unexpected and disarming. Her works are often an exchange or interaction between different elements, contributing to the tactility and physical quality of images. Colour, shape, powder and paint are just some of the tools she uses as enhancers.
Running during Les Rencontres d’Arles and with an opening week all of its own, Voies Off is a well-established, free, fringe festival. Featuring exhibitions, evening projections, portfolio reviews, and parties – this year sound-tracked by the Africa Fete Festival – it’s the place to discover and be discovered.
Based in the Cour de l’Archevêché in the centre of Arles but with exhibitions running all over town, Voies Off is sponsored by Leica and is screening the 2018 Leica Oskar Barnack Award finalists every night this week except Wednesday. But it also has a well-defined programme of their own, which this year includes an exhibition titled If Slovenia Were… curated by the respected Slovenian/French photographer Klavdij Sluban and featuring work by 19 contemporary Slovenian photographers.
Three winners and one special mention have been announced for the 2018 Prix du Livre at Rencontres d’Arles – and in all four cases, the books use archival or found photography. The Author Book Award went to Laurence Aëgerter’s Photographic Treatment, which is published by Dewi Lewis; the Historical book award went to The Pigeon Photographer, a collection of images by Julius Neubronner published by Rorhof; and – controversially – the Photo-text Book Award went to Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin’s War Primer 2, which was first published by MACK in 2011 but reissued in paperback this year. A special mention went to Giorgio Di Noto’s The Iceberg in the Author Book Award, which is published by Édition Patrick Frey.
Every year, Cortona On The Move has a focus, and this time it reflects the festival’s mission more directly than before by placing the spotlight on female photographers. “My selection is never a list of ‘favourites’, but rather involves an attempt to listen to what is happening around me, globally, both on a political, social and economic level, as well as in the field of photography itself,” says Rinaldo.
“These past months, women and women’s issues have been at the forefront of discussion in various fields, often in the news and even more on the street – protesting, resisting, demanding. My small contribution to this ‘movement’ is to acknowledge the numerous women photographers who tread the world to tell stories; to give them space and make them protagonists.”
Every so often there is an opus that challenges received wisdom not just on a single subject, but on a range of them. An Autobiography of Miss Wish, the collaboration between Noor photographer Nina Berman and Kimberly Stevens, the protagonist, published by Kehrer, is one of them. The book reads many ways: as a memoir, a commentary on justice systems and social services, an indictment of our disregard for the less fortunate and a reflection on documentary photography.
The hefty volume is, first and foremost, the story of a black woman who once went by the name of Cathy Wish, who Berman met on the streets of London’s West End in 1990 while studying the legacy of Margaret Thatcher’s neoliberal policies. “I noticed her banging on a door, headphones in her ears and cigarette in hand,” the US photojournalist says.
Photobooks have been booming for the last ten years or so but one prize has been there for the last 49 years – Les Prix du Livre at Arles, which was set up at the same time as the Rencontres d’Arles festival. With its long history and prestigious jury, which is this year overseen by FOAM director Marloes Krijnen, the Prix du Livre are some of the best-respected in photography.
Three Prix are up for grabs in three categories this year – the Historical Book Award, the Author Book Award, and the Photo-text Book Award, each of which come with a €6000 prize to be shared between the photographers and their publishers. The books are on show at Arles until 23 September, and the winners will be announced in the opening week.
It’s the biggest and best-respected photo festival in the world – it’s Arles and it’s back from 02 July-23 September, with a special opening week from 02-08 July. With the blessing of the French Minister of Culture François Nyssen – who declares that “Arles wouldn’t be Arles without photography” in her welcome to the festival – the 49th year of the festival is lead by director Sam Stourdzé, who took over its organisation in October 2014. As you might expect, the momentous events of May 1968 are commemorated at Arles this year, with a group of exhibitions titled Run Comrade, The Old World is Behind You. Considering events such as the student demonstrations and strikes in France, and the assassination of Robert F Kennedy that year, this section includes shows such as 1968, What a Story! which uses previously unseen images from police archives, Paris Match and Gamma-Rapho-Keystone. Elsewhere Arles looks to the future with a group of shows titled Augmented Humanity which includes work by Cristina de Middel & Bruno Morais, Matthieu Gafsou and Jonas Bendiksen; and in the Emergences section, which includes the ten photographers included in the New Discovery Award this year.
In the late 1700s and early 1800s, painters sometimes included ‘staffages’ in their work – human and animal figures that weren’t the primary figure, but which added life to the work. ‘Staffage’ means ‘accessories’ or ‘decoration’ in German, and was used to describe figures that had no specific identity or story, but which were included for compositional or decorative purposes.
It’s the name German-born artist Steffi Klenz has chosen for her latest series, which was commissioned by Tunbridge Wells Museum & Art Gallery and features objects from its collection. Researching the museum’s collections catalogue, Klenz got interested in museum theory – the idea that objects are given equal status through the way an institution registers, describes, displays and cares for them, and gain their value through the way they represent our shared stories.
In 2020 skateboarding will become an Olympic sport for the first time, joining the Games in Tokyo alongside surfing, karate and sport climbing. It’s big step for a sport that’s always been associated with the counter culture – with, as a new exhibition of skate photography puts it, going Against the Grain.
Including images by photographers such as Spike Jonze, C. R. Stecyk III, and Glen E. Friedman, Against the Grain: Skate Culture and the Camera traces the history of skateboarding, from the empty Californian pools of the 1970s to the now world-famous Palace Wayward Boys Choir – a London-based crew whose member Lev Tanju founded a wildly successful skateboard and clothing brand.