All posts filed under: Features

Project: On Abortion by Laia Abril

Laia Abril is no stranger to themes of distress. Bulimia, coping with the death of a child, the asexual community, virtual sex-performer couples – these are all topics that the Barcelona-based photographer has explored and attempted to demystify with her multi-layered, story-based practice. The subjects she tackles are complex and provocative, but ones she is able to connect with by way of female empathy, “where I can be involved emotionally”, she says. Her most extensive work to date explores the struggle of eating disorders and is divided into chapters, starting with a short film titled A Bad Day. Next came Thinspiration, a self-published fanzine exploring and critiquing the selfie culture used by the pro-ana community; and finally The Epilogue, which follows an American family in the aftermath of losing their daughter to bulimia. Separating the work into sections allowed her to approach different aspects through different platforms, not only in the multiplicity of perspectives but also in a constantly evolving visual stimulation. Her new work, A History of Misogyny, also adopts the use of a …

2017-05-05T13:10:41+00:00

Endia Beal’s Am I What You’re Looking For?

“At Yale University, I found myself in a place of ‘double consciousness’,” recalls Endia Beal, citing the writer, sociologist and activist WEB Du Bois. Beal was the only black person in the 2013 cohort for the fine arts MA in photography, and also in her workplace – an IT department. “I grew up in one culture and now inhabited another, becoming a mediator between these two worlds,” she says. Upon learning that her hair, a red Afro, fascinated her colleagues, she turned the tables on them, allowing them to feel it but recording their impressions. “It felt like I was doing something I wasn’t supposed to be doing but wanted to do,” admits one of them, while others spoke of the moment being “uncomfortable”, “voyeuristic” or “awkward”, highlighting the inappropriateness of the question, “Can I touch your hair?” Beal’s work since has continued to question and provoke, often challenging the uniformity of corporate culture. In an amusing but no less incisive series, she styled seven white women in their forties with ‘black’ hairdos, then took head …

2017-04-19T16:12:34+00:00

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

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 …

2017-05-09T12:39:32+00:00

Seba Kurtis’ new work on migrants goes on show

It was discarded by the side of the road in Austria – a poultry lorry seeping human decay. When the authorities entered in August 2015, they found 71 bodies collapsed in a heap of necrosis, among them children, one a baby. All had died of asphyxiation. Beyond the horror, the discovery pointed to a complex global network of traffickers and asylum seekers. Some of the dead were confirmed as Syrian; others were harder to identify. The owner of the lorry, which had set off from Budapest, was a Bulgarian of Lebanese origin. Shortly after, the Hungarian police detained three East Europeans and an Afghan, all likely “low-ranking members of a Bulgarian- Hungarian human-trafficking gang”. A week later, a photo of three-year-old Alan Kurdi’s body washed up on a beach near Bodrum, went viral, putting an innocent human face on the migration crisis in Europe, which by now had become a deeply divisive political issue. The lorry in Austria was different. The victims remained invisible. The descriptions of the discovery forced you to make your own …

2017-04-04T11:40:56+00:00

Richard Renaldi reflects on shooting Manhattan Sunday

It’s Saturday night, and darkness has spilled across the city, transforming Manhattan’s sidewalks into a catwalk of bacchanalia, spotlighted by street lamps and neon piping. Clusters of sinewy figures in tank tops lean on metal railings outside favourite haunts such as Studio 54 or Paradise Garage, hips cocked, smoking cigarettes. A wall painting of a large, fleshy tentacle reaching out of a rolling wave frames a set of black doors with signs indicating ‘General Admission’ and ‘VIP Only’. Stepping into a hidden world, you head downstairs and join a steadily expanding crowd of bodies swaying to tribal house beats, swirling in artificial mist and the odour of hormone-spiked sweat laced with chemical stimulants. Faces blur. Everything begins to lose focus. It’s just past midnight when we join photographer Richard Renaldi’s journey through the night. The timestamp [00.07] captions the first image – a shiny, half-full dance floor – in his new photobook, Manhattan Sunday, published by Aperture. Shot over five years, the book delineates a night out on New York’s gay clubbing scene, celebrating its …

2017-02-16T13:39:12+00:00

Daniel Stier’s Weird Science

Fascinated by the strange environments typical of pure scientific research, Daniel Stier set about investigating the idea of the experiment as an art form. “I am interested in the experiment, the idea of work that people do without any clear outcome. This constant loop of doing something, maybe failing and then starting again. That is exactly what we do as artists,” he tells BJP.

2016-11-02T18:05:47+00:00

BJP Staff