A new exhibition considers the relativity of photographic taste, and how something that is a mistake for one generation may become a success for the next
From the bustling cities in the work of Eamonn Doyle and Guy Tillim, to Mark Power’s survey of decaying American landscapes, and a collaboration between Clémentine Schneidermann, Charlotte James, and a group of children in South Wales – this month’s issue is dedicated to the idea of the street as a site of theatre and historical spectacle.
Carolyn Drake first visited Ukraine more than a decade ago, as part of a year-long Fulbright fellowship investigation of changing notions of gender in the former USSR. Coming of age at the end of the Cold War, and with preconceptions about the region, she “saw it as a chance to step out of my present frame of reference, as a way to look at the malleability and impermanence of beliefs,” she recalls. Searching for expressions of female identity in the West of the country, she met the hosts of a church-run orphanage, who directed her to an older institution nearby called Petrykhiv Internat. Tucked away in a forest on the outskirts of Ternopil, it was a state-run boarding house, where around 70 girls marked as ill or disabled had been sent to live. Labelled abnormal, they had been deemed unfit to live beyond the home’s towering walls. That first trip took place in 2006; eight years later, she returned, eager to find out what had become of the girls and their home. “I expected to show up and ask someone on the staff how I could find the girls,” she says. “But when I arrived, I found most of them were still there, now in their twenties.
The curator, writer, and creative consultant picks out her top five of 2017 – including Jason Fulford’s Fake Newsroom, a contemporary spin on Larry Sultan and Mike Mandel’s 1983 performance
“There are two important things about this show,” says Clément Chéroux, senior curator of photography at SFMOMA. “First, the quantity of work – more than 300 photographs, quite a large selection, because we were able to get support from most of the big institutions – MOMA, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, National Gallery of Canada, the Musée du Quai Branly and so on, and private collections from around the world. Second, is the fact that it is arranged thematically rather than chronologically. Usually when you look at important retrospectives they are chronological, but we organised by theme because we wanted to organise it around Evans’ passion for the vernacular. He was fascinated with vernacular culture.”
With 40 books and 20 exhibitions to his name, a doctorate in art history from Panthéon Sorbonne, 10 years teaching the history of photography, and another decade as curator at the Pompidou, Frenchman Clément Chéroux is the ideal replacement for the legendary Sandra Phillips at San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. BJP caught up with him in an interview first published in issue #7853 The work of a curator functions on a principle of association between images and ideas. The greatest pleasure is when you introduce a tension between these two poles and a spark appears. I worked at the Centre Pompidou for 10 years. It is an extraordinary place, located in the heart of Paris and in the heart of people. It will stay in mine. I am very excited to discover San Francisco, its people, its sun and its fog. I will miss the gargoyles up on the Saint-Jacques tower that I used to greet every morning on my way to work. Photography is not merely a passion. It’s a life. I met photography on …
If you are into photography, the last three years have dragged interminably in Northern California. Since the lights went out at San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) in 2013, when it closed for a massive expansion on the back of a blockbusting Garry Winogrand retrospective that brought in huge crowds, there’s been a sense of loss and anticipation. Founded in 1935, the museum has always been the city’s visual arts powerhouse. It was also the first North American museum to collect photography seriously, and has mounted many stellar photography exhibitions in its eight decades. The intervening period has seen other photography venues emerge from its shadow; most notably Pier 24, an exhibition space dedicated to a large and eclectic private photography collection that rivals many museums, housed in a massive set of vaults under the Bay Bridge. Those lucky enough to snag a slot via its reservation system (limited to just 20 viewers at a time) have enjoyed thematic exhibitions – such as last year’s Secondhand, devoted to found imagery that has been reworked, …