Author: Diane Smyth

FORMAT Festival returns to Derby, UK from 15 March-14 April

Derby is a small British city but once every two years it hosts a big event – the FORMAT Festival. Directed by the well-respected photography specialist Louise Fedotov-Clements and running since 2004, FORMAT has established a firm reputation for interesting international work, and FORMAT19 looks set to continue the good work with exhibitions spread across both Derby and another neighbouring city, Nottingham. Taking place next spring, FORMAT19 is themed FOREVER/NOW and takes on an interesting contemporary question – the role of documentary photography.

“In 2007, while the photography world was still grappling with the idea of photography as an interpretive, non-narrative, non-representational medium, writer Lucy Soutter wrote about the ‘expressive’ versus the ‘straight’ documentary photograph, insightfully characterising the then two sides of the debate,” runs the FORMAT19 press material.

“Since then photography has grown to encompass many manifestations of the ‘crooked’ image through hybrid forms and visual practises and no longer worries about narrative versus abstraction, expressive versus objective. The new generation of photographic artists rush towards the new, embracing the rapid transformation that technology and cultural exchanges bring to it.”

2018-12-18T10:07:51+00:00

Creative Brief: Sarah Barnett, N by Norwegian

“It was moving to London that got me interested in publishing,” says Sarah Barnett, who relocated to the capital from Manchester with a multimedia degree and experience working in an interactive agency. She quickly got a job at Progressive Content marketing agency, and later became the art editor of Economia magazine, working with Rebecca McClelland (formerly photography editor for New Statesman, Port and Wallpaper*) and photographer Catherine Hyland. Together, they had “the challenge of trying to push the creative boundaries of an accountancy magazine,” she recalls. “We worked with some of the best portrait photographers and that definitely influenced me in how I work with photography today.”

In 2016, she became the art director of N by Norwegian, spearheading its recent redesign to allow more room for photography series, demanding a “whole new level of editing”, says Barnett. “We might be an in-flight publication, but we’re more than just travel.”

2018-12-14T14:16:26+00:00

Chinese photographer Lu Guang officially arrested

The Chinese police have confirmed that they have arrested photographer Lu Guang, according to reports in The New York Times and elsewhere. He has been missing since early November but, his wife Xu Xiaoli has apparently confirmed, the police called his family this week to confirm he was arrested in Kashgar – an ancient city in southern Xinjiang that has seen a government crackdown on Uighurs and other Muslim minorities.

 Xu says she still doesn’t know why Lu has been arrested though, and says that the police haven’t provided a written notice confirming the detention. A friend of Lu’s who disappeared at the same time is also still missing, though Xu had no more information about his fate.

2018-12-17T11:17:38+00:00

BJP-online Loves…

BJP-online Loves the new Russian photography on FotoDepartament’s Attention Hub, the RPS’ list of 100 photographic heroines, Claudio Majorana’s Head of the Lion, John Myers’ Looking at the Overlooked, Feast for the Eyes – The Story of Food in Photography on show at FOAM, Jamie Hawkesworth’s a blue painted fence, and La Vertigine by Federico Clavarino

2018-12-14T12:21:18+00:00

A hundred photographic heroines

What do Sophie Calle, Rineke Dijkstra, Susan Meiselas, and Hannah Starkey all have in common? They’re all on the list of 100 contemporary women photographers picked out by the UK’s Royal Photographic Society, after an open call for nominations. Over 1300 photographers were recommended to the organisation by the general public, which was slimmed down by a judging panel headed up by photographer Rut Blees Luxemburg.

The final list includes well-known names but also less recognised image-makers such as Native American artist Wendy Red Star, Moscow-based photographer Oksana Yushko, and Paola Paredes from Ecuador. Each Heroine will be awarded a Margaret Harper medal, named after the first female president of The Royal Photographic Society, and the first female professor of photography in the UK. An exhibition and accompanying publication will follow, all part of a bid to highlight women working in what is still a male-dominated industry.

“Although it was a truly challenging exercise having to consider 1300 women, being a part of the jury for Hundred Heroines was ultimately an incredibly stimulating and inspirational process,” says Luxemburg. “This final list reflects both the global expanse of female practice and the intergenerational input into contemporary photography. It reflects the wide range of methodologies, practices and diverse approaches of women working with the photographic medium. This is a moment of change and this list of heroines pays heed to it.”

2018-12-17T12:31:51+00:00

Feast for the Eyes – The Story of Food in Photography on show at FOAM

When William Henry Fox Talbot pioneered the salted paper and calotype processes in 1841, he soon turned his new inventions to food, capturing two baskets overflowing with fruit. Creating an image designed to mimic the paintings of the time, and to contrast the colours and textures of the pineapple and peaches, he also made an image rife with welcoming symbolism – the pineapple a sign of hospitality, the peach a sign of fecundity.

“Fox Talbot’s photograph was copying the traditions of painting and its attendant symbolism,” says photography curator and writer Susan Bright. “But it was also concerned with the role of photography, and elevating its status to that of art. In this respect it resonates nicely with artists such as Daniel Gordon, whose work also deals with the medium of photography. But his constructed pineapple has nothing to do with symbolism, or striving to be understood as art. It is art. He is questioning the role of visual perception, what is real and what is not.

“The way food is photographed says a tremendous amount about significant aspects of our culture,” Bright continues. “It is often about fantasy, be that national, sexual or historical. Photographs of food are the carrier for so many things – desire, consumption, taste, immigration and feminism, for example. It has been a major part of the development of fine art, editorial, fashion, marketing and product photography throughout the 20th and 21st century.”

2018-12-17T15:09:12+00:00

John Myers Looking at the Overlooked

John Myers is back with new book called Looking at the Overlooked – a good title for a photographer who specialises in images of the unremarkable, and who himself nearly fell from photographic history. Working in Britain’s post-industrial Midlands from 1973-1981, Myers created an archive of the unspectacular that attracted attention at the time but then lay undisturbed for 30 years until a chance meeting with a curator. A solo show at Birmingham’s Ikon Gallery followed in 2011, kick-starting a comprehensive reappraisal at his work that’s resulted in more solo shows and several publications.

Looking at the Overlooked is published by RBB Photobooks, which also published a collection of Myer’s portraits earlier this year. But where The Portraits focused in on pictures of people, Looking at the Overlooked is a glorious compendium of “the claustrophobia of the suburban landscape in the 1970s”. Focusing in on substations, shops, houses, televisions, and so-called “landscapes without incident” – or as Myers puts it, “boring photographs” – the images are all recorded with a deadpan aesthetic that’s won Myers comparisons to the celebrated New Topographics movement in the US.

2018-12-12T11:46:53+00:00

Claudio Majorana’s Head of the Lion

As a medical student specialising in youth and cognitive neuroscience, Claudio Majorana is not a typical documentary photographer. Having grown up with a mother in fine arts and a father in medicine, his attraction to the symbiosis between art and science was initiated at a young age, and his interest in photography – an artistic medium rooted in scientific process – came to him naturally. “Throughout my childhood, I spent tiSme painting in my mother’s atelier, or helping my father develop X-rays in his radiology darkroom. That’s where my interest in images began,” he reflects.

When Majorana was accepted into medical school at 19, he also began photographing voraciously. In the summer of 2011, he encountered a group of kids in the suburbs of Catania, his hometown in Sicily, and began documenting moments in their daily life, rooted in skateboarding culture and the general struggles and raucous habits that colour adolescent life. The result is his series, Head of the Lion.

2018-12-11T12:09:42+00:00

New Russian photography on FotoDepartament’s Attention Hub

“The way the international audience perceives Russian photography is often based on ‘exoticism’, that builds a pernicious stereotyping around Russian art,” say the makers of Attention Hub. “We show the artists who speak an intercultural and international language, pushing imaginary boundaries.”

Put together by FotoDepartament, the respected St Petersburg gallery, publisher, and arts centre, Attention Hub’s premise is simple – to harness the international reach of the internet to promote a hand-picked selection of emerging Russian photographers. Prints of the photographers’ work can be bought online for as little as €220, with half the price going to the photographer; the rest of the money will go towards building a programme of international events and initiatives to promote their work.

“Online is a dynamic and accessible format, providing the maximum audience coverage from anywhere in the world,” runs the site’s introductory text. “The combination of technology, digitalisation of information consumption, and trends of selling art online all build new ways of overcoming physical boundaries and setting up the convenient and focused support that independent art needs.”

2018-12-11T10:13:56+00:00

Jamie Hawkesworth’s a blue painted fence

In 2010, when BJP first came across Jamie Hawkesworth, he’d just been shooting in Preston Bus Station along with Adam Murray and Robert Parkinson from the Preston is my Paris zine. Picking out passersby who caught his eye in the rundown but celebrated Brutalist transport hub, Hawkesworth’s images were published in a free newspaper and given to the disadvantaged teenagers who used the buses. They helped save the bus station from demolition, but they also helped launch a stellar career, with Hawkesworth signing up with the prestigious London agency  MAP soon afterwards.

Fast-forward to 2018 and Hawkesworth is a celebrated fashion photographer, who’s shot ad campaigns for Alexander McQueen and Marni, and editorial for publications such as Vogue Italia, W, and Purple. He’s also got an exhibition on show in London, a blue painted fence, which shows off his film, drawings, and writing, as well as new photographs from Kenya, Louisiana and Romania. Despite his success he’s still very much the same man BJP first met eight years ago, down-to-earth and modest, with a refreshingly breezy approach to his many talents. 

Of his drawings, for example, he says it’s just a case of “having room to get out there and explore, of being open to chance”. “I found myself giving it a try, thinking ‘Oh I’ll just try some charcoal’, and it went from there,” he says. “The great thing about charcoal is it’s easy to get it on [the paper] and see where energy takes you.”

2018-12-10T10:56:38+00:00

BJP Staff