This article was originally published in issue #7892 of British Journal of Photography. As a free gift to our community during the coronavirus lockdown, we are offering it as a free digital edition here. Male privilege permeates the private clubs depicted in Karen Knorr’s series, Gentlemen – hidden spaces where the act of exclusion protects the power of those invited in. Spread throughout St James’s, a historically wealthy area in central London, grand Georgian buildings housed, and continue to house, the playgrounds of the rich: extended living rooms for royalty, politicians, new and old money. In perpetuating racial, class and gender divisions, the clubs, which Knorr photographed from 1981 to 1983, safeguarded the ascendency of a privileged few. Now, Knorr’s series is being shown as part of the Barbican Art Gallery’s latest blockbuster show, Masculinities: Liberation through Photography (currently closed due to the coronavirus lockdown in London). Knorr was born in Germany to American parents, grew up in San Juan, Puerto Rico, studied in Paris, and moved to London in the summer of 1976. She wanted …
In the 1930s, more than 70,000 people sought refuge in Britain from Nazi-dominated Europe. Among them were a group of women photographers, now brought together in a new exhibition
More than 250 photographs by one of Il Mondo magazine’s most esteemed contributors in the 50s and 60s go on show in Rome this month
“To me photography is a means, perhaps the best means of our age – of widening knowledge of our world. Photography is a method of education, for acquainting people of all ages and conditions with the truth about life today,” wrote photographer Berenice Abbott, in an unpublished text from 1946, Statement in Regard to Photography Today. Berenice Abbott: Portraits of Modernity will run at the Fundación MAPFRE in Barcelona till 19 May 2019. Following its showing in Barcelona, the exhibition will go on display at the Fundación MAPFRE’s Sala Recoletos in Madrid from 01 June till 23 August.
In 2011 Nigel Poor, a professor of photography at the California State University, began volunteering at the San Quentin State Prison, just north of San Francisco, as a photo history instructor in the prison’s college programme. Two years later, she moved over to work with incarcerated men in the existing prison radio station, but concurrently pulled on her background in photography.
In an exercise Poor calls “mapping”, she asked prisoners to annotate famous photographs. Works by Lee Friedlander, David Hilliard, Stephen Shore and others were pored over by prisoners, resulting in text-laden replicates. These creative brainstorms have been preserved, and now hang on wires sandwiched between glass as works of art, in the first room of an exhibition on show at the Milwaukee Art Museum until 10 March, titled The San Quentin Project: Nigel Poor and the Men of San Quentin State Prison.
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.
For over 40 years, American photographer Dawoud Bey has been photographing people from groups too often marginalised in the USA, seeking out stories overlooked by conventional and stereotypical portrayals.
Born and raised in New York, Bey began his career in 1975 at the age of 22. For five years he documented the neighbourhood of Harlem – where his parents grew up, and which he often visited as a child – making pictures of everyday life. This series, along with three more of his projects, is on show this month at the Stephen Bulger Gallery in Toronto, Canad
Originally trained as a journalist, Barcelona-born Laia Abril expanded her storytelling methods after studying at New York’s ICP. She is best-known for the first chapter of her long-term project A History of Misogyny, On Abortion, which recently won the Paris Photo-Aperture Foundation PhotoBook of the Year Award and has been shortlisted for the 2019 Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize
She cradles a Rolleicord camera to her breast, her eyes staring into her reflection. Until recently, the woman behind the camera was unknown, living a quiet life as a nanny in Chicago and dying, alone in a nursing home, in 2009 at the age of 83. When Vivian Maier’s cache of 100,000 images were unearthed, her work was compared with the greats of street photography. A film was made, Finding Vivian Maier, which introduced a new generation to her work. But Maier herself was the draw; who, exactly, was the mysterious French nanny? What drove her relentless imagery, and why did she keep it so resolutely hidden?
Maier was a private but eccentric Mary Poppins-like figure, who spoke with a delicate French trill and was never without her medium format camera. She took thousands of photographs from the 1950s to 70s, but squirrelled them away in a room she forbade anyone to enter. She was poor, and in 2007 her possessions were auctioned off to recoup her debts – her archive of photographs among them. John Maloof, an estate agent and president of his local history society, discovered them at an auction and took a punt, hoping to find images for a book he was writing on the Portage Park area of Chicago. He found nothing relevant, and put the whole lot into storage for two years.
The Parisian curator Quentin Bajac has spent the past two decades working in three of the world’s leading cultural destinations – starting out at the Musée d’Orsay, he moved to Centre Pompidou, and then the most coveted post of all, chief curator of photography at MoMA in New York. Here he shares his insights into photography and life with BJP editorial director Simon Bainbridge