Born in Italy, Luca Desienna has been a freelance photographer since 1998. One of the co-founders of Gomma Books in 2004, he has produced four Gomma magazines plus two publications devoted to black-and-white photography, MONO volumes I and II, working with image-makers such as Roger Ballen, Antoine D’Agata, Trent Parke, Daido Moriyama, and Anders Petersen. Petersen has described Desienna’s personal project My Dearest Javanese Concubine as “a story full of vitamins and warm energy”, and the series was shown at the official selection of the 2012 Arles Voies Off. My Dearest Javanese Concubine is now being made into a book by Gomma Books in collaboration with VOID and BlowUp Press, available for pre-order now and due for publication in May.
Situated on the harbour in the Stadsgårdskajen district of Stockholm is the privately-owned and commercially-run photography centre Fotografiska. A self-styled museum housed in an impressive and beautifully-renovated former customs house, built in 1906 in the Art Nouveau style, Fotografiska opened in 2010, and has since exhibited the work of renowned photographers such as Annie Leibovitz, Joel-Peter Witkin, Anders Petersen, Sarah Moon and Christer Strömholm, to name but a few. Two of the most recent solo exhibitions were of the photojournalist Paul Hansen and the fashion and art photographer Viviane Sassen. Such is the success of Fotografiska that the museum is now set to open two new galleries, with others planned for the future. New York will be first, then London – and the plans for London would make the world’s largest photography gallery.
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.
“They are places you go to when you’ve lost everything – but not before,” says Klaus Pichler of the Viennese bars that feature in his latest book, Golden Days Before They End, released in June and now in its third reprint. It’s one of two books Pichler shot in 2016. The other, This Will Change Your Life Forever, currently in the design stage and due to be published in October, is a sarcastic critique of the esotericism industry and the photography that feeds it. Pichler collaborated on Golden Days with journalist Clemens Marschall, who was familiar with Vienna’s rapidly disappearing old dive bars and the often ‘colourful’ patrons that clung to them. “Clemens has always gone to these bars,” explains Pichler. “He doesn’t like to go to fancy places. Five years ago he noticed that these bars are beginning to close down because of increased regulation, an inability to adapt to a changing city, and a dying clientele.”
My advice to younger photographers is not to be a photographer but to be a human says Anders Petersen, the Swedish image-maker behind the celebrated photobook Café Lehmitz
Shot in Japan over two years, Tokyo is Yours is inspired by manga, surrealism and film noir, and uses a gritty monochrome that Meg Hewitt first experimented with back in Sydney
“Anders Petersen, Pierre Molinier, Antoine d’Agata, Teresa Margolles, Karlheinz Weinberger, Paulo Nozolino, Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin produce a work outside of orthodoxies where emotion is everything,” states Alberto Garcia-Alix. “They take their great strength from their capacity for transmission and empathy. “Like a spark. An intense current of excitement. We convulse. We fill ourselves with resonances. The comprehension of the universe as the last act. That is the great subliminal power that art has. The exaltation of the being.” The Spanish photographer, known for his raw portraiture and involvement with the hedonistic post-Franco La Movida Madrilene, has been given free reign to curate PHotoEspaña’s 20th edition, and has taken a radical approach. Celebrating “work that lives outside the norms because it feeds off what is most intimate and passionate in the author”, he’s selected cult and obsessive projects, many of which have an element of sexual subversion. He finds “exaltation takes flesh as a catapult for the senses” in d’Agata’s scenes of sexual encounter for example, and “fierce hedonism and independence” in Molinier’s fantastic and fetishistic …