Author: Sarah Roberts

Birgit Jürgenssen. Ich Bin

Birgit Jürgenssen belongs to a circle of Austrian women artists who were prominent in the 1970s for work that explored gender identity and the reclamation of the female body. Inspired by the work of Louise Bourgeois and Meret Oppenheim, Jürgenssen helped create a space for sharp feminist commentary, in opposition to the male Viennese Actionist movement that was dominant at the time. She is now remembered as one of the leading figures of the Austrian avant-garde. In the latest edition of an exhibition series, the Copenhagen-based Louisiana Museum of Modern Art is bringing Jürgenssen’s photographs and drawings to the fore. Born in Vienna in 1949, Jürgenssen died prematurely at the age of 54. Although her work received scant attention during her lifetime, in recent years, Jürgenssen has garnered significant posthumous recognition, drawing support for her humorous compositions that focus on the destruction of rigid gender roles and freedom of choice. Rebelliousness runs as a thread throughout her extensive works, interrogating the notion of normalcy and traditional gender constructs. In one piece, entitled Housewives’ Kitchen Apron, …

2019-06-13T15:32:02+01:00

OpenWalls 2020: The hidden landscapes where our food is produced

Many people have seen polytunnels, but few have witnessed the vast manmade landscapes that are engineered within their polythene walls. In a new series shot across the UK –  entitled Polytunnel – Marco Kesseler ventures inside these structures and quietly contemplates the hidden spaces in which our food is produced. “Nature always vies for its own control, dominance and space,” says Kesseler reflecting on the work, which explores the relationship between chaos and control in the natural environment. “Farmers seek to control that space, which creates an interesting balance.” In the series, photographs  show wild shrubs clawing against the outside of the polytunnel plastic, or fallen leaves settled on the structure juxtaposed with streams of artificial sunlight that are projected onto the material inside. Beneath the polythene skin, seasons are stretched and softened, and minute changes compound over time to transform the landscape. Shot over the course of a year, Kesseler was interested in the changing of the seasons within this controlled space, and the different stages throughout the annual cycle of planting, growing and …

2019-06-10T17:39:56+01:00

The unseen work of Werner Bischof

Cola and cigarette advertisements, a man scaling San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge, the fuzzy bright lights of Broadway. This is some of the iconography that makes up Werner Bischof’s collection of colour photographs from early 1950s America. Alongside them are images of everyday life; the shadow of a tree on a brick building, a car in snowfall, and workmen constructing a highway bridge in California. The work is going on show for the first time, in an exhibition devoted to his USA series at David Hill Gallery. Bischof was the first non-founding member to be welcomed into the then-fledgling Magnum collective, in 1949 joining Robert Capa, David  Seymour, Henri Cartier-Bresson and George Rodger. He had already become recognised for his pioneering use of colour photography, and was one of the first documentary photographers to take the format seriously. At the time of joining Magnum, most of Bischof’s contemporaries still predominantly worked in monochrome, a trend that continued well into the 1960s. USA is a series of work that brings early 1950s America vividly to life, …

2019-06-07T09:56:44+01:00

Portrait of Humanity: Love, life and death in Mexico

In Charlie Kwai’s winning Portrait of Humanity image, a young child stands drinking milk from a bottle, seemingly stunned by the camera, and dressed in a Captain America costume. The photograph was taken in Mexico City in 2016, just a few days after Donald Trump won the presidential election in the US. “To see a Mexican boy dressed as Captain America seemed ironic,” Kwai explains. “At the time, and since, the rhetoric from the US administration has been extremely negative towards Mexicans.” The image is typical of Kwai’s work. Up close and severe, it embodies the beliefs at the heart of his practice; that “a picture exists to create discussion.” Kwai has long-established himself as a confrontational street photographer, but he insists this is not the case, and that while the proximity between himself and his subject can often appear intrusive, it in fact reflects their intimacy. Starting out shooting on the streets of London, Kwai has since taken his high-flash, up-close approach to portraiture elsewhere, specifically Mexico. Basing himself in the country’s capital, his …

2019-06-05T12:38:08+01:00

Portrait of Humanity: Surfing Iran

Baluchestan lies on the border of Iran and Pakistan, and is considered one of Iran’s most dangerous regions. Often used as a trafficking route between Pakistan and Afghanistan, Baluchestan has become a perilous crossing, its people – the Baloch – caught between two much larger nations. A small village in the Baluchestan province, called Ramin, seems an unlikely spot for a surfing revolution, but it has become the centre of Iran’s Hijabi surfer movement. Photographer Giulia Frigieri was first drawn to Baluchestan after watching a documentary called Into the Sea, which followed Irish surfer Easky Britton, Iranian snowboarder Mona Seraji, and Iranian diver Shahla Yasini as they introduced surfing to the area. The school they set up there – We Surf In Iran – teaches men, women and children how to surf, how to craft their own surfboards, and about marine life and water safety. Surfing in Ramin, however, does not come without obstacles, particularly for women.“There is no adequate sportswear for Muslim women in Iran,” explains Frigieri. “Women have to wear multiple layers of …

2019-05-29T14:39:33+01:00

OpenWalls 2020 is now open for entries

This year marks the second edition of OpenWalls, an international award aimed at creating opportunities for photographers to exhibit their work around the globe. Continuing from the success of our inaugural edition, this year’s OpenWalls exhibition will also be held in Arles to coincide with Les Rencontres d’Arles 2020.   The theme of this year’s exhibition is Growth. We are calling for images that convey a sense of change or transition, which can draw either on personal growth, or the changes that one witnesses in everyday life. We hope the images will reflect both positive and negative responses to change, whether this be in the form of nature and the environment, or in the growth of an individual, of a community, of ideas or movements. The award will culminate in a group show at Galerie Huit Arles, a 17th century mansion and gallery space that has been at the heart of photography in Arles for over a decade. For the first time, the award is split into two categories. In the Series category, photographers are …

2019-05-30T15:09:45+01:00

OpenWalls: Home & Away from three perspectives

For the inaugural edition of OpenWalls, we asked photographers to respond to the theme Home & Away. From the thousands of entries, 50 shortlisted images and 3 finalist photographers have been selected to exhibit as part of a month-long group show at Galerie Huit Arles, coinciding with the 50th edition of Les Rencontres d’Arles. Each of the selected images conjure a powerful and varied sense of place, incorporating themes of belonging, escapism and identity. Of the three finalist photographers – Gregory Michenaud, Louise Hagger and Urszula Tarasiewicz – one will be announced as the overall winner of OpenWalls 2019 at the exhibition opening. Below, each photographer explains their interpretation of the theme, and how their chosen photograph reflects notions of home, or the act of being away. Gregory Michenaud Gregory Michenaud is based in Krakow, Poland. His OpenWalls photograph forms part of his ongoing series Yibbum, which follows the great grandson of a Yibbum child, who is in search of his identity. The Yibbum tradition obliges the oldest surviving brother of a man who dies …

2019-05-30T11:39:46+01:00

Portrait of Humanity: Inside North Korea

“I’m interested in the dynamics between power and ordinary people,” says Fabian Muir. “Especially in nations and societies that operate outside of Western norms.” Muir has travelled to North Korea on five occasions, each time conducting a photographic survey of everyday life in the country. His work interrogates Western perspectives of North Korea, which are often focused on the stark differences that autocracy bestows on the people living there. “Ordinary people in such countries invariably demonstrate the same positive human traits one can find all over the world,” explains Muir. “I try to bring these out where possible.” Muir’s winning Portrait of Humanity image was taken in an orphanage in Nampo, a port town on the west coast of North Korea. He notes that when he first entered the orphanage, the children had been running around, playing. “They were given some kind of cue by a teacher to arrange themselves beneath the leaders’ portraits,” he says. “The idea had been for a more posed portrait with the children looking into the lens, but instead I …

2019-05-22T12:03:28+01:00

Land of Ibeji

Nigeria has the highest twin birth rate of any country in the world. Because of this, the notion of twinhood almost pervades consciousness. Attitudes towards twins, however, are complex and multifaceted – in some areas of the country they are celebrated, in others feared. Photographers Benedicte Kurzen and Sanne de Wilde set out to explore perceptions of twinhood in three parts of Nigeria: Igbo Ora, Abuja, and Calabar, with each area demonstrating different attitudes towards twins. In Igbo-Ora, the self-proclaimed ‘twin capital of the world’, twins are celebrated and shrines are built to worship them and their inseparable bonds. Abuja represents the darker history of twinhood – here, Kurzen and de Wilde visited an orphanage sheltering twins who are threatened by the community for their perceived role in bringing bad luck. Calabar presented the opportunity to explore how traditions and beliefs towards twins have changed over time. The resulting series, Land of Ibeji, is now on show at TJ Boulting gallery in London, and is one of the many exhibitions taking place across the capital …

2019-05-22T11:57:01+01:00

BJP Staff