The Walther Collection has kicked off an 18-month exploration of vernacular photography with a show titled The Shadow Archive: An Investigation into Vernacular Portrait Photography. Taken from the 1850s to the present day, the collected portraits depict groups such as ‘migrant laborers’, ‘inmates of an asylum’, ‘criminal photographs’, and ‘G&G Precision Works Photographic Identity Badges’, and, says the organisers, show how “identification photographs have been used to sort, shape, segregate, and select subjects based on occupation, social group, body type, or political affiliation”. The title references a phrase used by writer and photographer Allan Sekula to reference “the entire social field of human representations, comprising both heroes and deviants, within which every portrait takes its place as part of a moral hierarchy”.
It’s a spectacularly beautiful early morning in December and the traffic is rolling past indifferently on one of North London’s less than silent streets. I’m standing in front of a large red door, having come to visit David King and his world-famous collection documenting the extraordinary visual history of the Soviet Union. King has been assembling the collection for almost five decades and now it is in the process of being transferred to the archives of Tate Modern. The collection has always run in parallel to his work as a graphic designer, photographer and author – work, it is fair to say, that shows influence from the Bolshevik-era material he has discovered on his many visits to the former USSR, and which he has often drawn from in his books, posters, photographs and graphic work.
Sue Steward is remembered on 16 November with music and tributes at The Tabernacle, London. Even Sue, a writer who excelled in celebrating lives, might have struggled to write an obituary that unravelled the vibrant meshing of her own. She lived with ferocious energy and enthusiasm, and a genuine gift for friendship so innate that she never realised how unique it was. When Sue died recently from a brain haemorrhage, sustained in her beloved East Sussex garden, grief ricocheted through an extensive global network of friends and colleagues.
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.
Martin Parr has found a permanent home for the foundation he set up in 2014, giving visitors access to his archive and to his formidable collection. “I’ve been very lucky,” he told BJP’s Gemma Padley. “I have secured a very good living from doing this, and so the foundation is a great way to feed some of that back into the system.”
“Where are ‘we’ going as a collective society?” That’s the question posed by this year’s Getxophoto Festival, back for its 11th edition under the stewardship of new artistic director, Bilbao-born Monica Allende. The festival, which opens on 31 August and runs until 01 October 2017, comprises 20 main exhibitions, many of them outdoors, and a lively programme of activity and events unfurling around the coastal town of Getxo in the Basque country. “‘Transitions’, the theme for the next three instalments of the festival, starts from the idea that we are entering “a period of post-globalisation”, says Allende, a former photo editor at The Sunday Times. “This concept has been on the fringes of debate for some time but is gathering momentum in mainstream discourse. “We see its effects through increased polarisation of political debate around the threats of climate change, the refugee crisis and the rise of nationalist populism. This is a moment of major uncertainties, where the status quo of the state and global free-market agreements are being questioned as solutions for a balanced …
“I like it when you can tell they had fun making it, that they did it for themselves before anyone else,” says photographer Juno Calypso. “That criteria probably doesn’t apply well to documentary projects but I take pictures of myself in wigs and tacky lingerie, so what do I know?” She’s a fast-rising star in photography who launched her career with a series of self-portraits playing a fictional character named Joyce, but she’s also helping out as one of the judges of this year’s BJP Breakthrough Awards. She likes underdogs and “a photographer or a subject that isn’t already over-represented in the history of photography”, she says but, having been on the other side of the fence, adds that she knows how scary it can be to enter a prize. ”I know how it feels to place all your hopes into a single competition,” she says. “I don’t want to make lazy decisions [when judging]. What I will say though, is even if you do get rejected – keep applying or just do your own …
“He’s not a prophet, but he sees where things might go because he has an eye for the world,” said Chris Dercon, director of the Volksbuhne Berlin and co-curator of Tate Modern’s Wolfgang Tillmans: 2017 show at its press view this morning. A huge 14-room exhibition it bears out Dercon’s words with installations such as the ironically titled truth study centre, a collection of newspaper and magazine clippings, objects, drawings and images, that reflect on media representation of facts and our propensity to believe what we want despite them; also on show are Tillmans’ pro-Remain posters from the recent British referendum on EU membership. A close-up shot of a car headlight shot in 2012 is accompanied by the thought (in the exhibition booklet) that headlights are more angular now, “giving them a predatory appearance that might reflect a more competitive climate”; shots taken in nightclubs are interpreted in terms of the freedom might experience in such places. Other images show apples, celebrities, static interference; a specially-designed room, The Playback Room, is devoted to sharing recorded music on state-of-the-art equipment. The subject matter varies but …
The founder of Mack Books talks through the photographic exhibitions, events and publications that made his year
The director of the We Folk agency on the best photographic projects and events of 2016 and 2017