Photo London is back at Somerset House this May for its fifth instalment, with a special exhibition of new and unseen work by this year’s Master of Photography, Stephen Shore, plus Vivian Maier, Roger Fenton, Eamonn Doyle, almost 100 galleries from 21 different countries, and a giant egg sculpture.
Known for his pioneering use of colour photography, Shore’s newest body of work will be shown for the first time in the UK at the fair, as well as a series of 60 small photographs titled Los Angeles, taken through a single day in the city in 1969. “We are honoured to present Stephen Shore as our 2019 Master of Photography,” said Photo London’s founding directors Michael Benson and Fariba Farshad. “As his recent retrospective at MOMA (New York) admirably demonstrated, Stephen is a truly pioneering photographer who has consistently pushed the boundaries of image making throughout a long and successful career.”
Arnis Balcus, photographer, editor in chief of FK Magazine and director of Riga Photomonth, picks out the projects that caught his eye, including Georgs Avetisjans’ Homeland The Longest Village
Sara Palmieri’s Scenario is the latest instalment of an ongoing photographic experimentation with the nature of the invisible and the mysterious. Her investigations began with M, a work based around family archives depicting her grandmother’s hair. Subsequently Palmieri, who was born in Rome, attended a year-long workshop at the ISSP International Masterclass in Latvia, which was headed by Aaron Schuman, and where she produced La plume plonge a la tête and Scenario.
The projects share a vocabulary of darkness and shadows, with a weighty element of construction: each work produces its own internally functioning visual universe, where everything is significant and no element is left to chance. “I’m interested in the non-visible aspects of reality that I try to represent through a process of time, memories and intuitions, the unconscious and revelations, fragments and recompositions,” Palmieri explains.
“One could easily say there’s nothing to photograph there, because it’s just like any other park,” says Latvian photographer Arnis Balcus of Victory Park. Situated in the Latvian capital Riga, Victory Park [‘Uzvaras Park’ in Latvian] was officially opened in 1910, in the presence of Tsar Nicholas II and the Mayor of Riga. But, as Balcus explains, “it is a park with a complex history”. First built to commemorate Latvian independence, the park was given its current name after the Soviet victory over Nazi Germany in WWII, and as such “embodies the historical trauma of a small Baltic nation”, says Balcus. It’s famous for its Victory Monument which, at 79m high, looms over Riga’s skyline and provides a daily reminder of the controversial issue it signifies.
Centred around the theme of New Chic, the works on show at Riga Photomonth this May “are united by quests in the language of photography,” says curator Alnis Stakle. Raising questions about the materiality of photography, he continues, these projects also examine “individual and collective meanings and identities and the rituals of looking and showing off”. Inka and Niclas Lindergård are showing a series titled The Belt of Venus and the Shadow of the Earth, for example, which addresses the materiality of the photograph and photography’s role in the stylisation of the landscape. Through manipulation and the use of colour flashlights “their works become an open portal to the hyperrealistic synthesis of beauty, kitsch and visual desire in the language of photography,” says Stakle, who is director of Multimedia Communication and Photography at Riga Stradins University, and a celebrated photographer in his own right (bjp-online featured his series Theory of R in March 2017).
This year marked the 100th anniversary to the October Revolution; the Bolshevik coup lead by Vladamir Lenin that would result in the Russian Civil War (1917-22) and, ultimately, the foundation of the USSR and the communist regime that lasted until 1991. In the BJP’s latest issue, we try to understand something of the vast history of the Eastern Bloc.