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
Hunger is an experimental project based on Franz Kafka’s short story, A Hunger Artist, about the once-glorious, but now dying, art of performers who starved themselves. Curated by Greek publishing house Void, it involves the work of 28 photographers, both established and up-and-coming, presented in seven broadsheet publications, and in an online exhibition on PHMuseum.com.
The 18-year-old Hamburg Triennial will be directed for the second time by Polish curator Krzysztof Candrowicz, who moved to Hamburg four years ago and set about transforming the it, bringing people and institutions together, and determined to make it more relevant to the viewing public. The 2015 edition was, he says, “The first holistic attempt to create the collaborative framework of the festival. Before, the museums were basically highlighting their own exhibitions, but there was no actual curatorial collective structure.” The determinedly political and environmentally-conscious theme this year was inspired by an amalgamation of many factors, he says, including spending a year “away from structured, mechanised and commercial reality”, travelling around Latin America, Nepal and India. “Breaking Point became, for me, a metaphor for rapid and sometimes unexpected transformation on a personal and global level.”
London-based publisher MACK Books is one of the world’s best-respected photobook makers. A leading producer of contemporary books, working with some of the most established artists in the field, MACK has also won acclaim for republishing hard-to-find classics such as Masahisa Fukase’s Ravens and Luigi Ghirri’s Kodachrome, and for supporting and promoting emerging artists, particularly through its prestigious First Book Award. In addition, MACK has published several books compiling writing on photography by artists such as Joan Fontcuberta, Allan Sekula and Victor Burgin. MACK was originally set up as steidlMACK in 2004 and was part of the Steidl publishing house, but its founder, Michael Mack, left the German company to go it alone in 2010. Now MACK’s work to date under both imprints is being showcased at the Centre for Contemporary Photography in Australia, in an exhibition presented by Perimeter Books which features over 200 books and special editions, including MACK’s pioneering experiments in digital publishing via MAPP Editions. In most cases, visitors are able to hold, handle and read these rare and sometimes out-of-print photobooks.
Foto/Industria Biennial returns to Bologna, with 14 exhibitions centring around the idea of identity and illusion in photographs of work, curated by Francois Hébel and including image-makers such as Thomas Ruff, Josef Koudelka, Lee Friedlander, Joan Fontcuberta, Alexander Rodchenko, Mitch Epstein, Yukichi Watabe, John Myers and Michele Borzoni.
For its 15th birthday, North America’s leading photofestival takes on a new name. Momenta: Biennale de l’image is designed to denote a more studied approach than the previous Month of Photography identity and is entirely in keeping with the direction of the festival – in recent years, under the creative direction of artists, curators and academics including Joan Fontcuberta, Paul Wombell and Marie Frase, it has addressed themes such as the ‘post-photographic’ condition and the impact of automation in image-making. This year’s invited curator is Ami Barak, a French visual authority.
Blank Paper: Histoires du présent immédiat [Stories of the Immediate Present], which features recent work by Julián Barón, Ricardo Cases, Federico Clavarino, David Hornillos, Alejandro Marote, Óscar Monzón, Bernardita Morello, Miren Pastor, Michele Tagliaferri, Fosi Vegue and Antonio M. Xoubanova, opened this week at the offbeat Ground Control space in Arles. Images from the six-member collective are intertwined with those from teachers and alumni from the eponymous school
“People consume photographs,” says Erik Kessels, “they don’t look at them anymore.” It’s a theme he’s played with in his work, most notably in the installation 24hrs In Photos, in which he printed out all the images posted on Flickr on a single day.
In November 2001, the US-led military action against the Taliban in Afghanistan appeared to be a success. The Coalition Forces were closing in on insurgents, Kabul had fallen, Kandahar was next, and the hunt was on for Osama Bin Laden, the mastermind behind the 9/11 attacks. At the end of November the international press, including The Independent, The Sunday Times and The New York Times, ran a series of news stories, complete with detailed illustrations, about Bin Laden’s secret hideaway. Bin Laden, it was reported, was hiding in a network of tunnels buried deep within the Tora Bora mountains. The network had its own ventilation system, a hydroelectric power-generating system and enough space for up to 1000 elite fighters. News of this secret lair spread and ‘the factsʼ surrounding his hideaway became incorporated into military, political and news broadcasts around the world. Bin Laden’s lair was a fictional entity, but it was presented as real, and at the time was virtually unquestioned by mainstream media. It is precisely this unquestioning attitude that Catalan photographer Joan Fontcuberta …