Hiroshi Sugimoto @ The Pace Gallery (Royal Academy of Art)

The gallery website state the following about Sugimoto whose work I have seen before, recently at The Constructed World’s exhibition and also in Arles 2013 …

Pace London is delighted to present Hiroshi Sugimoto: Still Life Diorama series. Essential to Sugimoto’s work is the concept of mastery and using available media to create images that resonate long after a viewing. His images are formally composed and rigorously printed, and evidence of the inevitable distortions that accompany the processes of seeing and interpretation.”
While I like Sugimoto’s imagery, I find his printing rather basic, lacking the tonal range that is possible with contemporary digital printing methods that I have of late been experimenting with. Apart from just wanting to see and enjoy the images, I also want to investigate them!
A fellow student, Keith Greenough, has been to see the exhibition; reading his comments is stimulating and I wonder if I shall share his views. He is clearly enamoured with Sugimoto but I am not sure I shall be!?
I find the Pace Gallery at the back of the Royal Academy of the Arts (Googlemaps points me elsewhere!) where a large white room holds a small collection of huge black and white prints; they vary a little in size but some are at least 6 feet high and considerably wider such as the panoramic of trees in woodland that faces one on entry into the gallery.
The photographs are all black and white prints made with the help of a large format film camera with the resultant prints being made via the traditional chemical method one assumes although I can not find verification of this; these could be digital prints therefore. None of the prints, there are 13, carry any indication of what they are, no captions or titles, although an information sheet put out by the gallery tells us they are dioramas, photographs of paintings from natural history museums.
At first, the life like nature of the paintings might deceive one into thinking they are photographs but on closer inspection, one can see that much has been painted; the detail is uncannily accurate yet not entirely realistic unlike the convincing representations made by photographs.
What Sugimoto has done is photograph coloured paintings and made them into tonally rich photographs unlike others of his I have seen such as his sea horizon images. This is an interesting transformation and certainly pleasing to the eye but I find myself objecting not just at Sugimoto but at much black and white printing in which there is an apparent obsession with a true black and a high white, an extended tonal range that no longer reflects the tonal range it represents, preferring instead to exist on it’s own. Sugimoto has craftily managed the tonal range yet the result is a slightly unnatural looking image which, in this case, is understandable as the dioramas are themselves representations with their inevitable signs of fiction.
When I look at Sugimoto’s work, I find myself fascinated and drawn in to his vision yet at the same time, I am aware of my own way of working and what I am trying to achieve and sense a difference. Unlike Sugimoto, I do not know what I am trying to say if anything.
Sugimoto has a message behind what he is doing and writes, “The first time I saw a diorama I was overwhelmed by the fragility of existence that it captured. being models of nature, dioramas include many of the world’s constituent parts. The only thing absent is life itself. Time comes to a halt and never-ending stillness reigns.”
Sugimoto is interested in the concepts of memory and preservation; he has a lifelong interest in the forces of history with the changes of the natural world which might be loosely described as evolution. He also writes, “All over the planet, nature is being transformed into un-nature at breakneck speed.”
It is wonderful to walk around this exhibition. Initially, there are inevitable questions about how the work is made and what it might mean yet overall, the photographs convey an overwhelming sense of nature that is both peaceful as in the woodland panorama yet can also be violent, the Ostriches guard eggs and chicks as a small group of piglike creatures eye them expectantly creating an image that contains suspense, an image that Sugimoto has transformed for us to contemplate.
HERE is a review of the exhibition from The Evening Standard; there is also a personal account at Keith Greenough, fellow OCA student’s blog.
Advertisements

London Art Fair 2015 and the main photography exhibition

I have missed the talk (see below) about the main exhibition at The London Art Fair but still want to see the exhibition which is called “Against Nature” which for someone like myself is provocative and hence requires closer inspection. Goethe has been credited with the statement, “Anything against nature is good!”

The talk was called, “Photography as Object? Explaining Hybrids of Photographic Art Explored in Photo50″ and carried the following introductory text … “Are photographic processes and applications more than pixels of digital information? A printed image was physically made by hand, and constituted an inherent physicality which is nowadays absent. From the early photographic developments, artists have been intrigued by the processes and materiality of photography; experimenting in between the axis of the photograph as image and the photograph as object. Realising these critical and experimental results, what kind of possibilities does this hybrid art form hold for the future of the photograph as an object?”

This is something that occupies me as I like to make photographs that have a physical presence even though the process in doing so is digital. However, what value does the physical object have in today’s world and might not the digital form be of greater value since it can be stored in multiple locations and as well as being enjoyed in a more singular format such as on a plasma screen. Probably, people are going to feel more reliant when buying, on the physical object rather than a pixelated one that is easily copied and more fragile to preserve.

There is a wall sized board telling the visitor what the exhibition is about. “Against Nature” does not use Goethe as it’s cue but Joris Karl Huymans who has written a book by that name in which he suggests “a spatial experience aligned with reflections on the function of images and representation.” The exhibition focuses on “new ways of interpreting an intrinsic sense of object hood.”

Tom Lovelace shows a print of a colour negative hence the colours in the image, of a door in a wall, are all reversed.

Adax Hannah uses video snapshots for their instantaneity and shows “Blackwater Ophelia” a reworking of a Pre-Raphealite painting.

One room of the makeshift gallery is taken up by Nikolai Ishchuk who shows a photograph of a rock in a plain studio background under which a lizard is held, apparently squashed. A lot of the work is sculptures.

Hassan Hajjaj has created a colourful room with Arabaic looking script on the wallpaper. A series of portraits are hung around the room which looks like a cafe as there are tables and chairs.

I quite enjoyed The London Art Fair and would happily have spent more time there although one does feel a little pressurised; one woman offered me the chance to look through a box of small prints. I was interested in the way they were being presented since the box doubled as a frame through which the photographs could be viewed. Apart from being pressed for time, I did not think an much of the prints being shown and hence might well have felt compromised at being shown and encouraged to buy them.

There was some work in the fair that I did like though such as a Spanish woman who had caught birds in flight including a line of cranes.

The art fair seems concerned with conceptual work that usually needs some kind of explanation to understand it, an explanation that can often double as a selling point. It is not easy to enjoy art when one is being pressurised!

There is a commercial element to the fair that extends to the entry which is not free although once in, the talks are. At the reception desk, I was initially refused entry because I did not have the correct documentation although my registration had gone through; then someone tried to take my ticket off me and had to have it pointed out to him that it was a six day ticket even though I was only attending for one day.

It was however possible to photograph inside and so I was able to document the photographic exhibition and make one or two other images such as one that contains the word FREE which is of interest to OCA tutor, Robert Enoch.

Martin Parr: talk at the Holbourne Museum, Bath

the cover of a book about Martin Parr was on the screen as we waited for him to talk

the cover of a book about Martin Parr was on the projection screen as we waited for him to talk

 

There seems to be no title to the talk. On entry, we are confronted with a screen that shows the cover of a book recently updated about Martin Parr by Val Williams and published by Phaidon. On the cover, is text referring to the controversial nature of Parr’s work.

The director of the Holbourne Museum introduces Martin Parr and makes the connection between him and the Georgian cartoonist and satirist Thomas Rowlandson exhibition currently running in the Museum; Parr is likewise creating “fiction out of reality.”
Parr a Regency photographer!? An idea that makes for an introductory joke to his talk.
Started photography at an early age thanks to encouragement from his grand father. Studied at polytechnic in Manchester at a time when photography was not considered art but was soon to be seen as such. Home Sweet Home was his first exhibitied body of work about the crassness and kitsch found in people’s homes.
Obsessed photographer, son of an obsessive birdwatcher. Moved to Bradford where he became part of a group of photographers and photographed around the area. Non Conformist body of work from this time and place. Black and White medium of the day; colour regarded as frivolous.
Small chapel of about 8 or 9 people. Photographed this small community. Small details from the fabric of life. Book not published until about 40 years later.
Bad Weather (originally published 1982), a body of work that deals with a natural obsession. Used an underwater camera and flash gun to photograph this unconventional subject. Started to photograph boring places while trying to make interesting photographs.
Different photographs of some place! Which photographs tell the truth?
Has done over 80 photo books and put together 3 volumes of a history about the Photobook. Curating show for Barbican in 2016; curated ARLES in 2004.
Editing Photobooks such as Peter Mitchell‘s book.
A collector of memorabilia such as that of Margaret Thatcher. Trays with photographs on them. Book about watches with photographs of Saddam Hussein on them as well as Bin Laden memorabilia.
Believer in satire and comedy; takes it seriously. Likes Hancock.
Enjoys the simplicity of the postcard. Particularly those of the motorway which is no longer so photographed.
The Last Resort, a run down tourist resort near Liverpool called New Brighton, photographed over three summers. Impossible to do now as attitude towards photographing children has changed so much. Book came out in 1986 and since republished.
Commissioned to photograph Salford inside shops. Apparently boring subjects of the time are now interesting because so much has changed. Tupperware party!
Decided to do a project about the Middle classes so moved to Bath which resulted in The Cost of Living. Photographed events that had a middle class feel. Dinner parties, childbirth classes, aerobics … Etc
Decided to join an agency and chose Magnum. Opened up the possibility of magazine work. Even did fashion work although he had no real appreciation for it.
Did photos for The Guardian. British cities. Still does some editorial work.
Series of photos used for Agatha Christie novels appeared in France.
The global economy. Someone looking at you when photographing can ruin but possibly make a photograph.
Machu Piccu and other tourist sites now full of people. Photographing tourists at tourist sites rather than the attraction. Small World, a book resulting from this.
Bought a macro lens to allow him to get closer to his subject. Photographed British food initially but went on to photograph cliches … Snails in France etc Resulted in book called Common Sense which was exhibited around the world.
Boring Postcards proved to be a best selling book; contains no photographs by Parr. Made pilgrimage to a town called Boring in Oregon which resulted in a book called Boring Photographs.
Think of England about British life; Ascott, Weymouth, Eastbourne Etc
Series of photographs about beaches in South America. Made a deliberately cheap looking book with a poor designer that was badly printed! Also did a series called Life’s a Beach, one version of which was made to look like an old fashioned album.
Luxury around 2010 to show the world of the rich. Went to art fairs, fashions shows etc where the rich were. Dubai featured as well as As it, South African horse races, Melbourne Cup in Oz, Gucci store in Moscow, San Moritz, Beijing Art Show.
Photography of The Black Country; been revived by ethnic groups that have moved in there. Old businesses surviving as well as modern stores etc
10,000 photos to 500 edits which is then whittled down to about 25. Created an archive box.
 Martin Parr is one of the great photographers of our age and yet many people question his approach to photographing people which may seem insensitive at times although this is going to depend largely on the situation; Parr’s response on reflection though, is apparently sensitive to what he sees. He may be a cynic though his sense of humour is evident. Seeing him as a caricaturist is one way to understand his modus operandi. Perhaps the real difference between his “cartoons” of people although similar to those of Hogarth and Rowlandson, are of real people not products of the imagination. What might be the feelings of those people and how much does the situation differ from those who are being caricatured by artists like Hogarth or contemporary cartoonists like Peter Brookes (a cartoon today saw PM Cameroon appearing to actually lick the backside of Obama). “Je suis Charlie!” is the worldwide mantra since last week of those who want to defend freedom of expression yet should others be insulted? Out for an afternoon walk, I photograph late afternoon light falling on Winter trees and although the beauty is poignant, I can not help but feel Parr’s genius in capturing something quite unique that un;like the sunlit trees, will never be repeated.
Here is a comment, “‘Martin Parr is a chronicler of our age – His photographs are original and entertaining, accessible and understandable. But at the same time they show us in a penetrating way how we live, how we present ourselves to others, and what we value.’ – Thomas Weski

Elina Brotherus talk in London @ The Wapping Project

I have seen her work exhibited a couple of times before and so made my way to London to hear her talk; the OCA who arranged this also made a video of the event.

The first time I saw her work was at the Sense of Place exhibition in Bruxelles where there was an hour long video of herself walking naked into and out of a lake. I sat and watched it and felt a sense of calm mingled with a slight eroticism although Elina is not advertising herself here as an available woman and her face remains largely hidden.
She struck me as rather a melancholic person but perhaps her talk will dispell this idea. On entering the relatively small, wood paneled room overlooking Dover Street in London, presently home to the Wapping Project, I see that she has a strong presence that beams across to those of us listening to her.

The other work of hers I saw was about a year ago in the Motherhood exhibition. This was a series of photographs about her repeated attempt to have a child via artificial insemination treatment which proved futile.
In her talk, she says at one point that her life is not a quiet river rather a dark corridor !! Why can not artists be happy? It seems they trade on our unhappiness, sorrow which we tend to ignore even repress. This is of course not true of all artists or art and there is a feeling of contemplation in Brotherus’ work if not transcendence.
Her standing in the lake series of photographs that I saw as a video is also being produced as prints and a small paperback book.
This exhibition contains her characteristically simple subjects namely landscape, fog, reflections, the human being in natural surroundings with reference to art contexts.
Her work New Paintings rose out of an intense study of the history of art. However, the idea that painting is dead and photography has taken over is not the meaning of her work; she loves the Old Masters. This work is reproduced in a book called The New Painting which happens to be on sale in the gallery; I can not resist buying a copy since this is an approach to photography that interests me and one in which I dabble (Magritte photographic recreations for instance also Vermeer). The body of work called The New Painting (the book is dated 2005) contains a portfolio of her work from the begining of the Millenium in which she experiences a shift in her work, the former being about content and the more recent about form (according to an interview recorded about 10 years ago).
She likes to sit by the window and look at the sky since “These moments of blank mind are necessary, for it is then that ideas emerge from the deep.” She also says “I love to watch. I’m shifting more and more away from words into images.”
Her attitude to colour is to try and remember colours she sees, taking notes in the spirit of Bonnard, trying for instance to describe what the colour of the sky looks like, “what colour the water or the shadows are.” Finding correct colours for her prints which she makes herself is similar to the process of the artist searching for the right oil pigment.
She is presently working with a Dutch photobook designer who sees the photobook rather like one might a film as there are a succession of images. Furthermore, there is composition beforehand and then another composition afterwards as the book takes shape.
 
books Dutch designer
Black Passport Stanley Green
War Porn
 
photobook like a film
composing before and something after
Her most famous photograph is a self-portrait wearing a red nose, in fact a squashed fruit, which was on the cover on what is probably the most widely read book on art photography, The Photograph as Contemporary Art by Charlotte Cotton; this photograph is about an instance in her life, a record of that experience, and is unrepeatable. When work is personal not easy to have someone else there such as a model.
One can often see the cable release in her photographs; this shows the model is the photographer which is quite important. The images are an invitation to a shared contemplation!
Her landscapes with figures in do not have intended meaning; she does not think that far ahead! With some subjects that are difficult to discuss a photograph can help to explain what is happening; this is not a cathartic process rather detatchment from the experience.
Her work is something that happens! it is not calculated.
She enjoys creating exhibitions from collections of her photos, laying out the photos on large table and then starting to select ones that mean something to her.
I chat with her awhile afterwards and she writes down a list of her teachers. She is a famous or at least internationally recognised artist for a reason not because of luck yet it is not easy to recognise her genius from the photographs. That takes a little time and the images need to work on one for awhile.

 

 

OCA – constructing worlds 10/01/2015

” … The photography in the exhibition sharpens our reading of architecture and urban environments as metaphors for the society that inhabits it.” Alona Pardo and Elias Redstone

My first question I have about this exhibition is why select 18 of the world’s exceptional photographers rather than find work by eminent architectural photographers? The answer is soon found in the introduction to the catalogue by Alona Pardo and Elias Redstone who are the curators of the exhibition; they write … “The understanding that photography which takes architecture as its subject matter has the ability to communicate wider truths about society is fundamental to the work presented …” This is opposed to conventional notions of making an accurate representation of the building. The photographers here are not concerned with “interpreting the intentions of the architects” rather giving a sense of the lived space and “the symbolic value of our built world.”

I see this exhibition in the company of fellow students, a few of whom I know and a few of whom I get to know; OCA tutor Sharon says it’ll take us about an hour and a half to view this exhibition!? I know I could take much longer and may go back for a second viewing if there is time; good to have a comprehensive view of the exhibition but one session might be enough since I do have the catalogue which shows many of the photographs but I suspect not all. I ask at the shop about this and they say that a few may not be in the catalogue; in fact, many are not. For instance, Berenice Abbott has 7 photos in the catalogue but 27 photographs in the exhibition.
The following comes from notes made at the time while viewing work as well as reflections following conversations, inputs from tutors and essays in the catalogue.
Berenice Abbott
Her photos became a definitive view of NYC; from collection of about 1,000 negatives. Some of the prints here are signed on the mounts in pencil with the name in capitals.
Felt compelled to photograph the “city of incredible contrasts, the city of stone needles and skyscrapers” There is a contrast here between the old and the new architecture, skyscrapers replacing older smaller buildings.
Night View from top of Empire States Building
Narrow perpendicular of “Broadway and Exchange Place, 1932”; implies verticality of N YC
South Street looking East, c.1936 shows more spacious side to NYC at that time
Interesting view of Brooklyn Bridge with a warehouse in the foreground and skyscrapers in the background.
These initial images of the exhibition show growth; later ones show decay.
Walker Evans
 
Like Bernice Abbott used large format 10 by 8; the prints appear to be contact prints or might they be digital? We are not informed.
Meticulous detail thanks not only to the camera but also developing and printing techniques. There tends to be an eveness of tone in Evans’ work rather than the dynamic contrasts created by Ansel Adams.
There is an interesting 19’th century shop front from Charleston, made in 1936.
A great deal of these images are well known such as the “Love Before Breakfast” poster in “Atlanta, Georgia. Frame houses and a billboard, 1936” which features in Evans’ book American Photographs.
Some images such as one of a sharecropper’s daughter from Alabama made in the summer of 1936 hardly seem to be about architecture other than revealing a slated wooden background as does the iconic image of Allie May Burroughs from the same time. The image of the sharecropper himself shows even less architectural detail; what are the curators thinking here?
The final image exhibited is of a “farmyard covered with flood waters near Ridgeley, Tennessee (February 1937); the farmhouse is marooned but land and trees help frame the image.
Julius Shulman is not someone I have heard of. He has depicted Californian 1940’s and later architecture from the post war era. His realistic and convincing use of colour (chromogenic printing) is striking for the time though he also made black and white images. There are striking views over Los Angeles at night from 1960.
Advertisements!? If so, for what!? Not just the buildings but an aspirational lifestyle.
He photographed buildings by different architects and is considered to be an advocate of Southern-Californian Modernism.
Lucien Herve
“I look at everything that I see with enormous intensity”
Modernist use of high contrast, show and highlight. Some views are from India owing to Le Corbusier’s influence; he collaborated with the architect and manages to reflect some of that vision. A lot of small prints on show.
Wonderful sense of play in the chiaroscuro effect further emphasised by formal qualities. This is visible in the Chandigarh images which are digital silver gelatin prints; looking at prints made at the time, the strong contrast is a later decision yet possibly part of the original intention of the artist.
looking at work by Ed Ruscha

looking at work by Ed Ruscha

Ed Ruscha
 
Black and white photos which look like graphic documents; Modernist approach also somewhat deadpan. Ruscha is best known for his 26 Gasoline stations Photobook but he did other typologies such as Some Los Angeles Apartments, 1965 which is on show here.
For some reason, the curators did not exhibit the gasoline stations perhaps because they were not so concerned with architecture as other works.
The begining of a more culturally conscious and dystopian view.
looking at work by the Bechers

looking at work by the Bechers

Bernd and Hillary Becher
 
Deadpan but fascinating photographs of industrial buildings in which the buildings are treated almost as individuals. Wonderful quality and craftsmanship behind these immaculate prints. A fellow student points out the difference in times with the earliest made in 1970 and the most recent in 2012 (although Bernd died in 2007); the quality has remained intact and one can not distinguish differences although the 1970 image has more definitive contrast that the later ones.
Diagrammatic almost mathematical approach.
As if an alien had come to look at earth! These documents have preserve some of these forms, a happy outcome to the work!
Stephen Shore
 
“Architecture is the form in which many cultural forces etc
Early colour photography from the 1970s made on large format; the images are striking for the sheer strength of representation as well as subject matter. ??
Shows some of his postcards; they do not bear his name and although they might be boring, they do give a sense of place.
Strong sense of colour; in his talk, Shore emphasised the need to talk about a colour palette.
Shore made many of his photographs on road trips; his work reflects the fascination of this particular genre of exploration.
Thomas Struth
 
German and deadpan; photos from around the world. Early work is in black and white while later is in colour! No real consistency in photographs shown.
His work has been compared to Atget in the absence of people; however, Atget’s images tend to be closer up while Struth’s images are show more space with a stronger idea of the street.
At this point, the exhibition moves downstairs. The first part has run from the 1930s to the 1970s. The lower floor reveals a shift in vision to a more subjective view. Some of the work here such as the Sugimoto is more like an installation – the work is more lyrical and contemplative!
The feeling of actually being in the space delineated by the architecture.
Luisa Lambri
 
Imaginative, Almost identical but hard to recognise images; from the inside of a building of cracks of light in windows. Minimal difference between the four photos shown.
Hiroshima Sugimoto
 
An interesting and favourite photographer with an imaginative approach but find myself questioning his blunt use of black and white.
Basic abstract forms. Out of focus images but this does not matter because the presence of these  often well known buildings is still recognisable.
Luigi Ghirri
 
Obvious emphasis on architecture; clean geometrically composed images.
Colours are seldom strong even when sky is included.
Not well known places yet sensitively portrayed sometimes with visual puns. The images are some of the most pleasant to look at.
Helena Binet
 
Modernist use of light and shade with extreme contrast but with tonal depth; the dynamic quality of this work is almost completely lost in the catalogue reproduction of her work.
Here her photographs are shown in a smaller, octagonal space that nicely reflects the angular nature of her work.
She photographed The Jewish Museum in Berlin while it was being built hence the walls are bare and the light falling into the interiors largely accidental.
Guy Tillim
Marks another shift in the exhibition to architecture in the Third World. Here however, it is often dystopian with the photographer trying to make sense of the buildings he sees with groups of images revealing many aspects of these building’s functions.
Andreas Gursky
Post photographic at least post analogue! Prints here seem to lack basic technical skill.
Exploring ideas of contemporary life such as the way we live so closely together.
Final group of five photographers exploring contemporary architecture, the way in which it is expanding often without any real sense of urban growth.
There is work by Bas Princen from the Middle East and also that of Simon Norfolk from Afghanistan. Many of these are from the Burke and Norfolk series but also from Chronotopia as well as Scenes From A Liberated Baghdad. The prints appear to be colour negative 10 by 8 contact prints and are rich in colour and detail.
Nadav Kander‘s work is printed large and in colour; the photographs do not look too polished or accomplished which adds to the sense of the real these images convey. Although about the Yellow River, they are concerned with the architecture that is growing up around it.
Constructing Worlds exhibition at The Barbican

Constructing Worlds exhibition at The Barbican

 
 For further insight into this exhibition, an essay by David Company is worth reading !

Nick Hannes @ Foto Museum, Antwerp

This exhibition is called “Mediterranean: the continuity of man” and at the entrance there is a quote by Ernle Bradford, “The Pacific may have the most changeless ageless aspect of any ocean, but the Mediterranean Sea celebrates the continuity of man.” I do not understand the relevance of this quote. Maybe the exhibition will reveal it to me.

The work is all in colour and shows varied scenes from around the shores of the Mediterranean where in recent years there has been war as well as mass tourism. There are boats full of holiday makers as well as boats full of refugees searching for a better life.
Tourism features in many of these images; not just people having a good time but also the effect tourism has on the environment. Man constructed landscapes that often make exotic locations seem banal.
One image that is used in a poster advertising this exhibition, shows the rear view of an elderly naked white woman sitting on a subbed while a dark black man crouches by her, attempting to sell her bric a brac such as the bracelet he is tying around her wrist. It is from Saint-Tropez in France and made in 2013. The contrast here is striking and much of the exhibition is about contrast, the way in which pleasure seeking continues alongside more desperate scenes such as the mass grave of 300 anonymous migrants who drowned while trying to cross the Evros River on the border between Turkey and Greece.  Between these two extremes, there are images showing urban detritus, the cost of these ways of living.
The juxtaposition of images here is quite different here to the ordered sequence of the book. A large photograph of a crowd protesting in Cairo faces another large photograph of people partying in Ibiza. The walls that face each other reveal different worlds, that of an Arabian zone of conflict, where people demand change and a more northern coastline where people seem to live only for pleasure.
There are gasoline stations that recall Ed Ruscha’s 26 Gasoline Stations yet these are often disused gasoline stations, from Greece not California; it seems the economy has taken it’s toll here.
The photographs vary in size but almost all are framed in wood; one exception are smaller prints pinned to the wall at almost ground level. These seem to reflect on the subject of those above them. The larger framed prints vary in size and format.
The text introducing this exhibition seems to be advertising it. The cradle of civilisation, birthplace of three major religions (not sure exactly what these are other than Christianity and Judaism) and the world’s most popular tourist destination. Yet it also mentions the other side of the Arab Spring when protest was unleashed.
What is this exhibition saying? The write up seen on entry gives some clues yet the viewer is left to decide.
There are a lot of images to consider. One of the smaller images (these are about A3 in size) shows a man firing a gun into a night sky; one might ask what for and conclude that it is for the photographer because he is lined up to shoot into the moon that glimmers in the sky above! Most of these images do not appear to be setup though, rather catch glimpses of contemporary life.
Another image shows rolls of barbed wire in the street with an image of the colonel from Kentucky Fried Chicken pinned on them; further back, there are a line of armed police while in the foreground, a man talks on his mobile phone. The caption is simple “Cairo, Egypt, 2012”.
There really is an awful lot of information about the contemporary Mediterranean coastline contained within these images yet I am not sure that is what this exhibition is about. It is not really about the continuity of man either as the exhibition subtitle suggests rather it is concerned withe possessed and the dispossessed of the region.
The captions tell us little, nothing beyond place, yet the photos themselves have distinctive visual messages. Some photographs have no captions at all, a few have more extended text that does inform the viewer such as one that tells us the UNITED employs over 1,000 peacekeepers on the Lebanese-Israeli border.
There is a website www.continuityofman.com