Tate Modern’s forthcoming show Shape of Light: 100 Years of Photography and Abstract Art will exhibit over 300 works by more than 100 artists, making it the first show of this scale to trace abstract art and photography’s parallel development. On show from 2 May to 15 October, the exhibition will span from early experiments of the 1900s to digital innovations of the present day, examining how photographers through the years have responded to the emerging field of abstract art. It will place pioneering work such as Alvin Langdon Coburn’s Vortographs (1917) and Imogen Cunningham’s Triangles (1928) alongside iconic paintings and sculptures by the likes of George Braque and Jackson Pollock.
In 1969 the Finnish-born photographer Sirkka-Liisa Konttinen ditched her filmmaking course, moving to Newcastle with a group of idealistic young ex-students to found the Amber collective, and embarking on a series of long-term projects, including her seminal work on Byker, which was inscribed in the Unesco UK Memory of the World Register. Nearly 50 years on, she continues to live and work in the north-east as a member of Amber
“The works selected here have all run up against a more or less bitter-sweet reality, and their authors have liberally arranged, glued, assembled, masked and cut out the components of that reality in order to present it to us as something different, eminently subjective, and decidedly moving,” writes Raphaëlle Stopin, artistic advisor for the 2018 Prix HSBC. She’s writing of the 12 photographers shortlisted for two top prizes, which this year have gone Antoine Bruy (France, 1986) and Petros Efstathiadis (Greece, 1980). The other shortlisted photographers are: Olivia Gay (France, 1973), with the series Envisagées; Karin Crona (Sweden 1968), De la possibilité d’une image; Elsa Leydier (France, 1988), Platanos con platino; Sandra Mehl (France, 1980), Ilona et Maddelena; Shinji Nagabe (Brazil, 1975), Espinha; Michele Palazzi (Italy 1984), Finisterrae; Walker Pickering (USA, 1980), Esprit de corps; Marie Quéau (France, 1985), Odds and ends; Brea Souders (USA, 1978), Film electric; and Vladimir Vasilev (Bulgaria, 1977), T(h)races.
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.
When he joined Tate Modern in 2009 he was Tate’s very first photography curator – but now Simon Baker is on the move, succeeding Jean-Luc Monterosso as the director of the Maison Européenne de la Photographie in Paris. Monterosso, who founded the MEP back in 1996, will leave the institution on 31 March. The news comes just weeks after Shoair Mavlian, assistant curator at Tate Modern, announced she was leaving the institution to become Photoworks’ new director. In October 2017 Kate Bush joined Tate Britain as its adjunct curator of photography, however, responsible for “researching and building the collection of British photography and curating exhibitions and displays”. In September 2017, Tate announced that it had acquired Martin Parr’s 12,000-strong photobook collection, making it one of the leading institutional collectors in this field.
“I’m thrilled to be given the opportunity to lead an organisation I have admired for so many years,” says Shoair Mavlian of her new role, director of Photoworks. “I look forward to working with the team, developing partnerships and supporting artists at local, national and international levels to connect new audiences with photography.”
Tate Modern’s curator of photography picks out his top five of the year, including Maisie Cousins’ grass, peonie, bum show from TJ Boulting Gallery
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.