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.”
Michalis Poulas has lived in Crete for much of his life. It was here that he first learned the technicalities of photography from his father, who opened a film-processing shop on the Greek island in 1988, and here that he built a career as a professional photographer. Shooting mostly on digital, in 2014 he decided to revisit the world of medium format, and with all the languidness that such work entails, it seemed natural that the island should serve as his subject.
The result is Infinite Perimeter, an as- yet-unfinished series which looks at a decade of sociopolitical unrest on the island with a cool objectivity. While all the images were taken in Crete – 90 per cent of them within 10 kilometres of Poulas’s home – this is neither documentary photography, nor a series about Greece specifically. Rather, it’s about the instability permeating the Western world today.
Its opening has been pushed back to 2020, but the LUMA Arles complex is taking shape in the French town celebrated for its prestigious Les Rencontres d’Arles photography festival.
Set on the site of the former SNCF rail yard long used for exhibitions by Les Rencontres, LUMA Arles will be an interdisciplinary arts centre aimed at supporting and producing exhibitions, research, education and archives. It is backed by Swiss collector Maja Hoffmann, whose LUMA Foundation has been involved with Les Rencontres d’Arles since 2013. LUMA Arles will occupy a 20-acre site when it’s complete, and the arts centre will be the centre-piece.
“What lies behind this project is my particular, unique attachment to Slovenia,” writes Klavdij Sluban, a French photographer of Slovenian origin and curator of If Slovenia Were. “It is an exceptional project in as much as it was born out of the desire to share a stretch of a photographic journey with a group of young Slovenian photographers, quite apart from any institutional, educational or other structures.”
Stemming from a desire to keep in touch with the country of his roots, Sluban began the project with an open call, selecting 18 young Slovenian photographers to take part. Each responded freely to the theme, and have been working on their projects for the past three years, developing them in meetings with Sluban on his occasional visits to the country. The resulting projects include series on expatriates who have emigrated elsewhere, photographers’ personal interpretations of Slovenian family life, and introspective series dealing with the artists’ private experiences.
So far the wildfires in California have claimed the lives of 94 people and laid waste to 1,667,855 acres of land this year. And, according to Dutch paper NRC Handelsblad, they’ve also consumed a world-renown library of photobooks, put together over the last six years by Dutch collector Manfred Heiting.
Based at Cutberth Road, Malibu, Heiting’s collection included vintage photographs, posters, ceramics and art deco furniture – and at least 36,000 photobooks. Residents in this area were told to evacuate a week ago, and the coastal town is now “a war zone”, Heiting told NRC Handelsblad. At the time of the report on 20 November, Heiting has not yet been given the green light to visit his house but he stated that: “On satellite photos I can see that everything in my neighborhood has disappeared. Two or three houses may have survived. The rest was pulverized in a ten-minute fire storm.”
Although it is Spanish photographer Sole Satana’s latest body of work, From a Bad Place was conceived several years ago, during a difficult time when she was struggling with anxiety and depression.
Closely related to her personal life, Satana’s photography tells a very subjective story about her take on everyday life. Her images will be on show at the Centro Parraga in Murcia, Spain, as part of a collaborative project between the gallery and collective UnderPhoto. Now in its second edition, the project aims to bring together emerging creators who offer a “deeply personal representation of reality”.
From a Bad Place will be exhibited alongside photography from Satana’s partner in life and work JD Valiente, a BJP One to Watch this year. The couple met when they were teenagers and have been together for 14 years. They often now collaborate on joint projects, such as the story Dead Meat, but this show, titled Parentésis, is made up of two solo series.
Quentin Bajac is leaving the coveted role of chief curator of photography at New York’s Museum of Modern Art for a new job in Paris – director of the Jeu de Paume. He succeeds Marta Gili at the Jeu de Paume, who announced in June that she would resign as the museum’s director after 12 years in the role. MoMA has stated that it will “immediately launch a search for a new chief curator of photography”, a role first made famous by John Szarkowski from 1962 to 1991.
“How to fill the gap between politics and art? This is both an old and a new problem,” writes Takuma Nakahira, in the afterword to PROVOKE no.1, published 50 years ago this month. Led by some of Japan’s best-known photographers and art critics – including Takuma Nakahira, Koji Taki, and iconoclast Daido Moriyama, who joined from the second issue – the magazine stemmed from the anger and discontent that they felt towards the post-war world. Though it survived only three issues, and was criticised at the time, it is now widely recognised as a ground-breaking publication in the history of contemporary Japanese photography.
The magazines were printed in 1968 and 1969, both turbulent years for politics which featured the May 1968 riots in Paris; the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr and the anti-Vietnam protests in the US; the end of the Prague Spring. In Japan, 1968 was the year that a string of violent student uprisings forced many of the top universities to close.
Award-winning photographer Shahidul Alam has spent over 100 days in jail, but – according to Reuters and several Bangladeshi newspapers – has finally been granted bail by the High Court this morning. “We’re delighted that ultimately the court has granted him bail,” said his lawyer Sarah Hossain in the Reuters’ report, adding she expected her client to be out soon.
The 63-year-old photographer and activist was arrested at his home in Dhaka on 05 August, and was charged the next day with violating Section 57 of Bangladesh’s Information and Communication Technology Act (ICT), after giving an interview to Al Jazeera on the current wave of student protests in Bangladesh against unsafe roads. In the interview, he stated that these actions stemmed from anger about widespread government corruption, and the charges mean he faces up to 14 years in prison.
Would you want Martin Parr to take your portrait? You might say its a brave soul who goes in front of his penetrating lens, but it’s part of a portfolio of benefits the Martin Parr Foundation is launching in its Membership Scheme.
Parr set up the Bristol-based Foundation in 2014 to house his archive, but in October 2017 it opened to the public in a purpose-built space, offering free access to much more – a rolling programme of exhibitions, a large photobook library, and a growing collection of prints. Parr’s used the opportunity to hone in on British and Irish photographers, as well as work taken in the British Isles by others, and put the focus on their documentary work – an area which he believes is still underrated.