With the OpenWalls Arles 2020 open at Galerie Huit Arles until 05 September, British Journal of Photography delves deeper into the ‘Growth’ single image winners
Inspired by a mixture of western and oriental philosophies, the OpenWalls Arles 2020 winner’s conceptual series conjures a dreamlike world that defies logic
In his book Examples: The Making of 40 Photographs, Ansel Adams recounts the production history of his 1944 image “Winter Sunrise,” depicting darkened hills beneath the vast, craggy peaks of Mount Whitney, Sierra Nevada. Lone Pine High School graduates had climbed the rocky slopes of the Alabama Hills to whitewash an imposing “L P” against the stone, which the famed American landscape photographer later ruthlessly removed in his negative: “I have been criticised by some for doing this,” he writes, “but I am not enough of a purist to perpetuate the scar and thereby destroy — for me, at least — the extraordinary beauty and perfection of the scene.” Where Adams epitomised idealised landscape photography, which elevated the natural and the elemental in deliberate omission of human interference, some decades later the “New Topographic” era would materialise in partial response. Through the 1970s, the likes of Robert Adams, Lewis Baltz and Catherine Wagner employed landscape photography to visualise man-made America in all its rigorous banality: monochrome warehouses, industrial sites, parking lots. It is between these …
OpenWalls is an international photography award exhibiting contemporary work in prestigious and historic locations around the world At work, at leisure, awake, asleep, in the street, in reflection. The everyday is, according to 20th century French philosopher Maurice Blanchot, that which is “most difficult to discover”: it is “what we are first of all, and most often”; it is ourselves, ordinarily. But the immediate proximity of our everyday renders its beauty hard to appreciate. When ‘Daily Life’ was chosen as one of two themes for OpenWalls Arles 2020 — a look at the small moments, the ordinary routines, that make up human existence — we had no idea the exhibition would fall in such an extraordinary year. At the time of writing, the world is slowly emerging from lockdown, persisting through a pandemic that continues to magnify cracks in our systems. Following the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minnesotan police in May, the Black Lives Matter movement has erupted around the globe. Across oceans and borders, ways of thinking, acting and existing …
“The language of photography and books is evolving rapidly,” comments Sebastian Hau, as the major book fair he co-founded, Cosmos, separates from the main programme at Les Rencontres d’Arles to return offspace
In November this year, Jimei x Arles International Photography Festival, the sister festival to the renowned Rencontres d’Arles, celebrated its fourth edition in Xiamen, in China’s Fuijan province. With an overall view to “serve as a cultural exchange between France and China”, the annual event hopes to also raise the profile of photography in China by providing a meeting place for professionals in the field and providing a platform for emerging photographers to showcase their talent.
“It is a matter of promoting an idea of culture and art, that is both creative and popular, open to greater audiences but also a site for encounters between creatives,” explains Victoria Jonathan, one half of the creative direction team alongside Bérénice Angremy. “It is also an opportunity to nurture an artistic dialogue between Chinese and European artists and audiences. Ideas travel with exhibitions and art projects. For Arles, it is also an opportunity to have a foot in China and grow a deeper knowledge of the Chinese and Asian photography scenes.”
BJP’s annual Cool + Noteworthy issue is back, presenting the people, places and projects that have caught our eye over the past year.
Among this year’s noteworthies is the photographer behind our cover story, Tyler Mitchell, who became the first black cover photographer of American Vogue when he shot Beyoncé for the September 2018 issue. He tells the BJP about his new-found mission since returning home after living in London: “I realised I have a responsibility to be, specifically, a black American photographer and filmmaker.”
We also spotlight Kensuke Koike, a Japanese collagist who gives new life to old photo albums. Koike has attracted a loyal following on Instagram with his savvy cut-and-move videos, making his latest book one of the most anticipated on 2018. Feng Li is another newcomer who has made waves in fashion photography over the past year. This issue we feature Li’s playful fashion shoot in his native Chengdu, a creative city on the rise in China.
Chinese photographer Lei Lei has won the Jimei x Arles Discovery Award, giving him 200,000 RMB plus a spot in Arles’ prestigious Discovery Award exhibition and competition next summer. Born in 1985 and now living in Beijing and Los Angeles, the photographer won with the project Weekend, which uses archive images to consider history, nostalgia, and personal identity. Lei Lei’s previous projects include Hand-coloured, a joint series with French artist Thomas Sauvin which also features archive images, and which was exhibited at the Festival Images Vevey and previously published on bjp-online in December 2017.
Lei Lei was picked out from the 10 photographers shortlisted for the Discovery Award, all of whose work is currently on show in Citizen Square in Jimei, South East China. The other photographers included by the curators Dong Bingfeng, Li Jie, Chelsea Qianxi Liu, Holly Roussell and Wang Yan were: Coca Dai (1976), Hu Wei (1989), Pixy Liao (1979), Lau Wai (1982), Shao Ruilu (1993), Shen Wei (1977), Su Jiehao (1988), Wong Wingsang (1990), and Yang Wenbin (1996).
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.
Last year, after 10 years of creating hundreds of images for a project about her relationship, Pixy Liao decided it was finally time to create a book. “I’m not a very productive photographer, so I always felt like I didn’t have enough images” she says, “but ten years felt like the right time”.
As a woman brought up in China, Liao always thought she would end up with an older man who would look after her and protect her. But while studying for an MFA in photography in Memphis, Tennessee, she met Moro, a Japanese musician five years her junior. Being with Moro challenged her own views on how a man or woman should behave in a heterosexual relationship, and so she began to explore this through photography with a project titled Experimental Relationship.