In 1971 Polaroid introduced the Big Shot camera; featuring an integrated flash, viewfinder and fixed focus lens, it was aimed at shooting portraits – and was enthusiastically taken up by artist Andy Warhol. The camera was discontinued in 1973 but Warhol kept using it until his death in 1987, capturing shots of actors, artists, politicians, clubbers, and Factory hangers-on. He also used it to photograph himself, creating a self-portrait in 1979 in what he called his “fright wig” that measures a whopping 81.3cm x 55.9cm.
BASTIAN gallery is showing this huge self-portrait in an exhibition of over 60 of Warhol’s Polaroids, highlighting “the artist’s prolific capacity as a chronicler of his time”. “Alongside other friends, clients and Studio 54 dwellers, these photographs – initially preparatory works for Warhol’s iconic silkscreen portraits – reveal a lack of pathos or individuation, underlining the artist’s notion of an era where ‘everybody looks alike and acts alike, and we’re getting more and more that way’,” states the gallery.
In the winter of 1988, at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Philadelphia, an exhibition opened, triggering outrage. The Perfect Moment, a display of 125 photographs by New Yorker Robert Mapplethorpe, was the most comprehensive show of his work to date – and the most provocative – featuring images he had taken over the previous 25 years, including those of his divisive X Portfolio.
The retrospective came at a difficult time in Mapplethorpe’s life: he was 42, and losing his fight with Aids – the disease that would take his life the following March. Perhaps, for him, this was his final chance to show this expansive oeuvre to the public – most of it shot in his Manhattan loft. But his pristine black-and-white photographs of BDSM scenes, and the sexy, sinewy strangers he met at the Mineshaft sex club, shocked conservative audiences. On a political level, the culture wars in the US were raging.
Born in 1981, French photographer Benjamin Deroche studied literature before becoming a photographer – and its mark can perhaps still be seen in his images’ ability to “dereal reality” as critic Françoise Paviot puts it. In his recent series Surnature and Baltica, for example, he creates installations within the landscape, contrasting the natural world with his constructed interventions.
Evoking the land art of Andy Goldsworthy or Nils Udo but resulting in appealing, richly-colour images, this work aims to help viewers question their vision of the world. “There are often very beautiful things in the exteriors of my image but I decide not to return them,” he says, “to leave them out of the field as if there existed a kind of magic to guess them.”
Born in Poland, educated in Switzerland, resident in Caracas, Venezuela from 1975-83, and now living in Paris, Gabriela Morawetz is a truly global citizen and artist, who has exhibited in galleries and museums across North and South America and Europe, including the Chicago Cultural Center, the Gallery of Modern Art in Lodz, Poland, The Recanaty Foundation Museum in Israel, and the Museo de Arte Contemporaneo in Caracas.
Even so, she creates her own worlds in her photography, microcosms in which most of the elements are literally made by her. Her latest show, Unwägbarkeiten / Imponderables, features a series of images using painting, canvas, glass, metal, and reflections, drawing on her background in painting, sculpture, and engraving, which she studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Krakow before moving into photography.
Our pick of the key stories from the past week, including Paris’ Circulation(s) festival of emerging European photography, the first-ever Kyiv Photo Book festival, and Todd Hido’s Bright Black World
Our pick of the key stories from the past week, including: World Press Photo Foundation’s 6×6 talents from North and Central America; Kensuke Koike and Thomas Sauvin’s No More No Less; Graciela Iturbide’s Mexico; JA Mortram’s Small Town Inertia; and the Jimei x Arles festival in China
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
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.”
The people in Chloe Rosser’s anonymous human sculptures are sometimes friends or couples, but mostly, they are strangers. They twist, bend, and stretch, before they eventually lock, morphing into curious, intimate, and sometimes grotesque figurines.
“Photography is the only medium which allows me to sculpt with human flesh,” says Rosser, “the human body is the most intimately familiar thing to us. Seeing it in these strange poses affects you deeper than if you were to see a sculpture because it’s real, and you can imagine being it, and feeling what it feels.”
“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.”