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Hometown of Robert Frank, Wipkingen, Zurich. From the series Hometown © John MacLean, courtesy Flowers Gallery

On show at Format: John MacLean’s Hometown

John MacLean’s Hometown project has its origins in his childhood fascination with great historical leaders such as Gandhi, Churchill, Stalin and Mao. As he got older, he kept his interest in biographies, but became more drawn to the lives of artists. “I started reading artists’ biographies and the genesis of this project was asking myself why I feel connected to some artists and not to others,” he says. “That gave me the idea of writing down a list of my art heroes, my mentors by proxy, who have kept me inspired along the way.” It also gave him the notion of visiting the places in which those artists grew up to see how – or if – these locations influenced their later work, with the added challenge of trying to capture that influence photographically. “The project is about the places these artists spent their formative years aged six to 12, the years where they’re absorbing everything in their environment – the years that, in this fantasy documentary, are translated into the adult artist’s work.” MacLean compiled …

2017-03-22T13:13:25+00:00

From the series Cargo © Jon Tonks

On show at Format – Jon Tonks’ Cargo

On the eve of the First World War, the British Empire accounted for over 23 percent of the world’s population: some 412 million people spread across nearly a quarter of Earth’s land area. At its very furthest reaches, the map of the Empire showed what looked like a scattering of tiny dots on the great blue expanse of the Pacific. Named Vanuatu, they make up a one-nation archipelago of more than 80 islands stretching across 800 miles of the South Seas. Located more than a thousand miles northeast of Australia, it has a population of less than 300,000 people. It’s a place few Britons have heard of but in Vanuatu, independent since 1980, the idea of ‘Britishness’ has weaved itself into the islanders’ ancestral, and even spiritual, beliefs. “Stories flourish in isolation,” says Christopher Lord, the Istanbul Bureau Chief for Monocle magazine, who has been collaborating with photographer Jon Tonks since the pair worked together on a story in Algeria as the Arab Spring was erupting. The island country has long been a source of …

2017-03-22T13:02:02+00:00

Monica Allende @ Mauro Bedoni

Any Answers: Monica Allende

The London-based curator, producer and educator is currently the director of Format International Photography Festival (providing maternity cover for Louise Clements) and artistic director of Getxophoto in Bilbao, where she grew up. Previously she was the photo editor at The Sunday Times Magazine where she launched Spectrum, the award-winning photography section. This interview was first published in the BJP’s March 2017 issue. I have always been quite self-reliant. I’m a low-consuming, low-impact individual who strongly believes in the social contract, which are values passed to me through my family and my upbringing in the Basque Country. I loved this city from the moment I arrived. Every day I feel excited to be in London; every day there is something new to see, hear, talk about or investigate. There is room to be who you please but as long as you use good manners. I’m just devastated that after Brexit, I might have to leave my life here. Do I miss being on a picture desk? I wish I was working as part of a team on …

2017-03-22T13:16:11+00:00

Sadie Wechsler-Eurption

Format Festival – the low down

This year’s edition of the biennial photography festival Format foregrounds work that describes the world around us at a specific moment in history. Habitat is a broad and yet provocative theme, one that is designed to interrogate not only our physical surroundings such as land, sea, plants, other humans and wildlife, but a range of less tangible and often more visually evasive things – the digital and political worlds, for example, or mass migration – which nevertheless have considerable repercussions on our lives. “I wanted to offer up experiences concerning the complexity of our existence on the planet,” says festival director Louise Clements, interviewed for the March 2017 issue of BJP. “Climate, migration, technology: they all seem to be accelerating and the consequences are quite momentous. We are impacting the geology of Earth. It was important to me to do something vital. As a festival, we’re not just here to celebrate the achievements of the artists; we also want to have some kind of impact.” Work by more than 300 artists and photographers will be …

2017-03-21T16:51:43+00:00

Illustrated People #14, on show in Düsseldorf. Images © Thomas Mailaender, courtesy NRW-Forum Düsseldorf

On show: The Fun Archive by Thomas Mailaender

As I enter the main entrance of the NRW-Forum museum in Düsseldorf, I do a double take. Just above me, caught at the periphery of my vision, is a poster from the museum’s upcoming exhibition, featuring a hairy bare arse emblazoned with a freshly raw tattoo simply stating the word ‘FUN’. Its juxtaposition against the backdrop of this elegantly conservative 1920s German building only heightens the strangeness of this vision. It also confirms that I must be in the right place. The multimedia artist Thomas Mailaender is in the process of installing his first solo museum show, The Fun Archive, opening in time for Düsseldorf Photo Weekend. We have met before but struggle and fail to remember when. Walking through the gallery space is like entering into the organised chaos of a building site as workers in overalls construct various makeshift walls, boxes and rooms. This is going to be no ordinary exhibition. Mailaender guides me into a room and explains that this is to be the ‘bunker’. It’s not yet painted but will be a concrete …

2017-03-16T17:39:00+00:00

made in chelsea-ten spot 3

Dougie Wallace goes live and direct on BBC4

The inimitable Dougie Wallace comes out from behind the camera on 16 March, in a 30-minute documentary screened on BBC4 at 8.30pm. Part of the mini-series What Do Artists Do All Day? the programme follows Wallace on the streets of Chelsea and Knightsbridge as he shoots the images for his forthcoming book, Harrodsburg; it also shows him at work in Blackpool, and includes walk-on parts for photographer Martin Parr (who collects his work), and Dewi Lewis (who is publishing Harrodsburg). Born in Glasgow and serving in the army before getting into photography via selling used camper vans and backpacking, Wallace started Harrodsburg after reading that a man born in the London borough of Kensington and Chelsea has a life expectancy of 84.4, the longest average lifespan of anywhere in the UK; boys born in Calton in Glasgow – near where Wallace grew up – have a life expectancy of just 53.9. Harrodsburg won the inaugural Magnum Photography Award in 2016, and the series will be exhibited at the printspace in Shoreditch, where the book will also be launched at 7.30pm on 21 …

2017-03-16T11:54:16+00:00

From the series My Danube, 2014 © Lurdes R. Basolí

Danube Revisited: The Inge Morath Truck Project goes on show

During her life, she encouraged photographers to realise their photographic ambitions. In death, the former Magnum photographer’s legacy lives on in the Inge Morath Foundation, established in 2003 – a year after her death – to preserve her archive. Central to the foundation is the Inge Morath Award, a $5000 grant designed to help women photographers under the age of 30 finish a long-term documentary project. “When Inge died, Larry Towell and a group of Magnum photographers created the award in her memory,” John Jacob, director at the foundation, told BJP in an article first published in our April 2014 ‘Women Only’ issue. “The Inge Morath Foundation co-administers the award, but it’s very much driven by the Magnum Foundation.” Every year, Jacob and a jury of Magnum photographers name an overall winner and up to two finalists. Entrants submit between 40 and 60 images from an ongoing personal project. “Each year we look at 80 to 100 submissions and then select a number to present to the Magnum photographers at their AGM,” explains Jacob. “There was …

2017-03-10T15:00:13+00:00

Me as Cahun holding a mask of my face, 2012 © Gillian Wearing, courtesy of Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York and Maureen Paley, London.

Exhibition: Behind the mask at the NPG

Early 20th-century surrealist photographer Claude Cahun (1894-1954) and contemporary artist Gillian Wearing come together in The National Portrait Gallery’s ambitious new exhibition, Behind the mask, another mask. The exhibition includes 100 works by the two artists who, despite being separated by 70 years, have “extraordinary links” according to curator Sarah Howgate, in an interview for the March 2017 issue of BJP. “Although their trajectories as artists are markedly different, many parallels can be drawn between their work,” she says. The exhibition – the result of a “light-bulb moment” at a round-table meeting of NPG directors – addresses themes of gender, masquerade and performance through images that often involve the artists dressing up and wearing masks to portray a character or communicate a message. In an early Cahun self-portrait the photographer is dressed as a ‘dandy’, for example – a young man with a shaved head and a neatly pressed black suit, complete with a handkerchief tucked into the breast pocket. The show explores “Cahun’s transformation from young girl to gender-neutral figure”, explains Howgate. Cahun, a contemporary of Man Ray who was born Lucy …

2017-03-08T14:58:26+00:00

Patient Care Bay (Bigfoot dewar being filled with liquid nitrogen), Alcor Life Extension Foundation, Scottsdale, Arizona, USA. October 2006. From The Prospect of Immortality © Murray Ballard

Murray Ballard shoots cryonics in The Prospect of Immortality

BJP

As debut projects go, Murray Ballard could scarcely have chosen a more intriguing subject than cryonics. The practice of preserving dead bodies at very low temperatures, in the hope of bringing them back to life far in the future, is commonly thought to exist only in science fiction, where it is generally known by its technically inaccurate name of “cryogenic freezing”. Yet as Ballard (no relation to his namesake, the sci-fi author JG) discovered during his five- year investigation, hundreds of people around the world have already invested in what he has calls “The Prospect of Immortality”. The 27-year-old began documenting cryonicists while studying photography at the University of Brighton, after he discovered there was a group of British believers based just along the Sussex coast in Peacehaven. He was soon making much longer excursions, his work taking him to the Alcor Life Extension Foundation in Arizona three times, the rival Cryonics Institute in Michigan twice, and the burgeoning Kriorus facility just outside Moscow on a further two occasions. Having worked as an assistant to Magnum photographer …

2017-03-07T11:11:03+00:00

BJP Staff