Foto/Industria Biennial returns to Bologna, with 14 exhibitions centring around the idea of identity and illusion in photographs of work, curated by Francois Hébel and including image-makers such as Thomas Ruff, Josef Koudelka, Lee Friedlander, Joan Fontcuberta, Alexander Rodchenko, Mitch Epstein, Yukichi Watabe, John Myers and Michele Borzoni.
One of the dominant influences in contemporary European photography is wheeled into the restaurant at the NRW Forum, a grand art gallery a stone’s throw from the Rhine. It’s the height of the Düsseldorf Photo Weekend, and people of all ages are passing through the galleries on either side of us. Many of them won’t realise it, but most of the photography here is deeply indebted to this slight and unassuming woman, born in East Germany before the war, and now happily talking over pasta and wine in the café. She has now been without Bernd, her husband, for more than seven years, after he died from complications during heart surgery. That straight bob of blonde hair is greying. She is now 81, and sits slightly stooped in her wheelchair. You have to strain to hear what she says, yet she recounts her life with a remarkable wit and poise. Some people start to switch off at this age; Hilla Becher, it seems, could not be more connected to her surroundings. She met her husband in …
We are in Arles, where in July 2016 he showed Mortuary, one of his signature sculptural installations, made up of heavily manipulated, elongated photographic forms. He had been selected for the Rencontres photofestival’s Discovery Award, though in truth this cat had been long out of the bag – Yokota exhibited in Arles in 2015, showing his almost imperceptible inky-black prints from his Inversion series as part of Another Language: 8 Japanese Photographers, curated by Simon Baker of Tate Modern. And in the preceding half decade, his intriguing, visually arresting performances, experiments, installations, books, soundscapes and collaborations have blazed a trail from Tokyo to wider international acclaim, taking photography on a journey to the extreme. In this he is a revolutionary, with neither pretension nor timid creativity. The sheer energy with which he produces work is extraordinary, verging on obsessional and driven by a desire to constantly record, destroy and then recreate. Anxiety is the fuel. “In my mind, I have an image of burning energy in continual production,” he says.
There is something frantic about David Brandon Geeting’s photography. In his latest collection, Amusement Park, the Greenpoint, Brooklyn-based artist creates a mood that is exhilarating and vibrant, but also verging on collapse, as though its tether could snap at any moment. Where his 2015 book, Infinite Power, was energetic and kinetic, with Amusement Park he’s aiming for “information overload”. “I’m not afraid of making people confused or dizzy,” he says. “I wanted it to be an onslaught of colours and forms and things that don’t make sense.”
Illuminating India: Photography 1857-2017, is the first exhibition to document the history of photography in India, and includes both archive and contemporary work. It includes images by India’s first known photographer Ahmad Ali Khan, pioneering art photographer Marahaja Ram Singh II, the country’s first female photojournalist, Homai Vyarawalla; and award-winning contemporary photographers such Magnum’s Sohrab Hura. It also includes images of India taken by non-Indians, including Henri Cartier-Bresson, Werner Bischof, Margaret Bourke White, Lucien Hervé, Mitch Epstein, Vasantha Yogananthan, and Olivia Arthur.
This October photographers have taken over the popular Art on a Postcard fundraiser run by The Hepatistis C Trust. Over 1000 unique works will be available for £50, with big names such as Jim Goldberg, Martin Parr and Wolfgang Tillmans joining in alongside less-familiar talents. In total 1200 lottery tickets will be available, with the postcards assigned at random to ticket-holders on 30 October. The images will go on show at theprintspace, Shoreditch from 12-24 October, with a private view on 12 October; in addition all the images, and a full list of the participating image-makers can also be seen at www.artonapostcard.com/photo-postcard/ Tickets are bought online at www.artonapostcard.com/shop/ and all money raised will go to The Hepatitis C Trust’s campaign to eliminate hepatitis C from the UK by 2030.
“In this series, I dissolve images and fragments of time,” says French photographer David Infante. The monochrome ‘portraits’ that make up Mirror without a memory certainly feel as if they are unfixed, spanning time as they shift and melt under a fragmented surface. Triggered by a period of solitude in London, he resurrected images from his archive, reprocessing his memories by selecting photographs, cutting them up and combining snippets to give them new forms. For Infante, slowing down time or wrestling many layers of it into one frame takes us into what he calls “parallel worlds”: a space to reflect and search for new meanings beyond the surface of the everyday. The photographer, who has just completed an MA at the Royal College of Art in London and is based in southern Portugal, ascribes his meditative approach to his early experience with analogue photography. “It brought me concentration and contemplation,” he explains.
When Veronica Viacava moved to London, straight out of high school in Milan, she had never studied photography. But she had developed an interest in the concept of the photographic image, beyond the physicality of manually taking pictures, and seeking independence from her family, who didn’t approve of her desire to study the arts, enrolled at the University of Middlesex. Viacava has just graduated, and her work has been deeply personal throughout. When she was 17, her mother passed away, which led to intense musings on old family photo albums. By the end of her second year at Middlesex, she had begun to think about the materialisation of memory and “the idea of photography turning the past into an object”, she says. “So that you can look through it.”
Think of a horror or thriller, and you may think of the happy first half hour or so when everything seems like it’s fine. The Stepford Wives’ town initially seems like it’s perfect; The Vanishing opens with a couple going on a holiday. It’s only later that the tone takes a turn for the worse, before descending into something more substantially scary. That shift is something the residents of Amherst, Massachusetts may be familiar with because, while of the face of it they live in an idyll, rightly or wrongly they suspect the potential for disaster. “7.32pm – Residents at The Boulders complained about a man yelling out the window in a foreign language,” reads a police report published in the local paper, the Amherst Bulletin. “The man told police he was just stating his excitement for the dinner he was about to eat.” “5.53pm – A woman called police after being approach by a photographer in downtown who asked if he could take pictures of her feet,” another reads. “The photographer was not located.” …
On the face of it, Thomas Ruff has radically altered course since his first major series brought him to international fame in the mid-1980s. He followed his portraits of fellow students at the Düsseldorf Art Academy (where he was studying photography with the legendary Bernd and Hilla Becher) with photographs of modern architecture in the 1987-1991 series Hauser, and then began working with appropriated images. His 1989 series, Sterne, used astronomical panoramas from the European Southern Observatory, for example, while his Zeitungsfotos made during the 1990s took images culled from newspapers. Over the following decade he has continued working with the vernacular, incorporating source material such as manga comics which he manipulated into colourful abstractions (Substrat), highly pixellated images he downloaded from the internet (Jpegs), and an archive of glass negatives found in a factory archive from the 1930s and 40s (Machines). But while Ruff is happy to admit his techniques change from series to series, the concept behind his work has remained consistent. In an interview for his latest catalogue he told Hans Ulrich …