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Sofa Portraits now available for pre-order

  1.          Sofa Portraits is now available for pre-order from my website (orders will deliver in October/November)   The pric...

Monday, 29 March 2010

Thursday, 25 March 2010

Jaap Scheeren and Edward Steichen

I love Hans Gremmen and Jaap Scheeren's book Fake Flowers in Full Colour. It reminds me of Steichen's dye-transfer flowers, except Scheeren's attempts at putting all the separarations together went wrong - but then so did Steichen's in a different way. The book is an investigation of how wrong or otherwise the experiment went.

"We were wondering if it was possible to create a 3D-colour 
seperation. We tried to do this with a bouquet of fake flowers.
made 4 still-lifes: one in Cyan, one in Magenta, one in Yellow, one 
in Black. We made photo’s of this still lifes and printed them over 
each other. In theory it would have been the start-image, but in 
practice it became “fake flowers in full colour”.

Buy the book here. 

Monday, 22 March 2010

The Fashion Industry = The Catholic Church

I saw the White Ribbon at the weekend. A marvellous film with a nightmare cast of characters who look like they've walked out of August Sander's early portraits.

Who would be the village photographer to go with the abusive doctor (that is his daughter in the picture) and manipulative pastor who help make the film such a masterpiece description of sexual repression and abuse of power? How about Terry Richardson, currently on the end of a slamming for being exploitative of young models.

He'd fit right in, no, the whole fashion industry would fit right in. There is the conceit that the fashion industry are some kind of inclusive, liberal institution where freedom of expression and thought are held to the fore - and in places that is true. Yet Terry Richardson has been manipulating models/wannabe models into sexual contact with him in front of his lackeys, with the implicit premise that if you do as he says then success will come ("It's not who you know, it's who you blow."). These young models are ambitious and some are easily manipulated into doing things they don't want to. Throw in a few body-image problems, mental health issues/eating disorders and then the vulnerability Richardson is preying on becomes positively abusive. It's not just a bit of harmless fun in other words.

What is interesting is how people have sprung to his defence ( here and check out some of the comments out on Photo-Editor). It's no secret that Richardson and others have been doing this, indeed half the fashion industry (ant the photography industry as well) are complicit in it - which to a certain extent excuses Richardson, but only inasmuch as it condemns the fashion/photography industry as a whole, an industry that has absolutely no interest in monitoring what goes on in the name of promoting and producing its products or in preventing the abuses that accompany this promotion and production.

They are like the Catholic Church (and you can substitute the religion of your choice here and the sentiment will still apply); editor-cardinals, designer-cardinals, art-director-cardinals and photographer-cardinals - covering up and remaining silent over the abuse that is going on in their midst, and pretending that they are nice and liberal and promoting freedom of expression and freedom of thought. But they are worse than the Catholic Church, because at least some members of that church are doing something to confront the paedophilia, jew-hating, homophobia and misogyny in its midst. You can switch the prejudices around but the wilful denial and obfuscation of what are quite clear-cut employment related ethical issues is so deafening that it is news when anyone steps out of line to speak out (as Rie Rasmussen did with Richardson). Being a model is a job and nothing more. ("So, Miss Jones, now before you get that promotion to head teller, how about a little hand job. It'll be fun!" How does that sound? ).

Can legislation, some kind of regulation  or some kind of boycott change this. Probably not. I'm really happy to boycott Gucci and all the rest, but then I don't buy it anyway. And I think the only people who would boycott their stuff are the people who don't buy it already. 

I'll end this ramble with a quote (by Banksy), because the real reason I despise parts of the fashion and photography industry is because of the way they inflict their distorted, degraded insecurities on us, the way they try to devalue our minds, our bodies and our values in a way we can't escape. They do it to me, my wife, my daughter and everyone I love. And much as I try to escape it, I can't. It's everywhere. .

"The people who truly deface our neighbourhoods are the companies that scrawl their giant slogans across buildings and buses trying to make us feel inadequate unless we buy their stuff."

The other films I saw at the weekend were High Noon, and then The Seven Samurai. Fashion as a small town? What kind of a town?

Friday, 19 March 2010

Koen Hauser: The Dutch God of Creation

Mix Larry Sultan and Mike Mandel’s Evidence with some Cindy Sherman’s Film Stills, add a whole lot of Joan Fontcuberta, print the results on the cheapest paper you can find and you’ll still be a million miles away from Koen Hauser’s latest book, De Luister Van Het Land.

Koen Hauser specialises in strange manipulations; of children, anatomy models, archive pictures and himself. For De Luister Van Het Land, Hauser was let loose on the 11 million images of the Spaarnestaad Photo Archive.  Free to roam the archive, Hauser becomes the master of our imaginations, manipulating himself into the archival narrative to make images that Hausers labels performéance;, images intended to “invoke the spirit of creation.”

These performéances lead us into  a parallel universe where Hauser is God, a supremely Dutch God whose  features look out at us from a multitude of black and white backdrops as he creates the world. We see him lying on an examination table surrounded by military personnel, he poses with a giant model of a fly, embraces a young fawn and finally ends up lying dead in a coffin.

Mannequins, giraffes, diving equipment and dolphins are recurrent themes in the book and many of the images are printed through heavy colour filters. Why Hauser does any of this is a mystery, as is his decision to print the book on paper reminiscent of a European guide to local businesses. Similarly, his division of the book into 9 sections ranging from flora and fauna to people and artefacts seems arbitrary but at the same time provides a structure and imaginary historical narrative for the viewer to follow. Hauser has an explanation for why all this happens but ultimately the book remains a mystery because De Luister Van Het Land may look a bit cheap, but it is definitely not nasty. It’s a gem that wears it’s weirdness on its chest, growing both odder and more familiar with each viewing. 

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Global Photography Show in Venice

My Sofa Portraits will be on show at the Global Photography Show (curated by Massimo Sordi  and Stefania Rössl) at the Galleriana Contemporaneo )in Venice. Opens tomorrow so all you Venetians head over there for some fantastic photography.

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Requiem for Detroit: 5 Stars and a bag of urban spinach

Staying on documentary's, but of a more reliable kind than Exit Through the Gift Shop, Julien Temple's Requiem for Detroit (here on iplayer) is magnificent. Simple and straigthtforward, it goes way beyond ruin porn with no reconstructions, no celebrity narrators, just  insightful interviews with people who understand the history of the city they live in and are eloquent and generous enough to talk about how race, transport, drugs, housing and the car industry all contributed to Detroit's decline. There's even an anti-corporate glint of hope at the end with the city's urban agriculture movement.

Another documentary,  Motor City's Burning: From Motown to Iggy and the Stooges features the music of Detroit and shows the political backdrop against which it was made. Check out film of Martha and the Vandellas' performing on a  working production line. John Sinclair is magnificent, George Clinton is out of this world and Iggy Pop is Iggy Pop.

And sorry if you are outside Europe and can't get iplayer. 

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Exit Through the Gift Shop

Seen the film now and everything in the previous post is kind of completely false - but still true at the same time. I loved the film, and it's all in good faith, but with a few things left unsaid.

Towards the end of the film somebody asked, What is the joke, who is it being played on, is there a joke? Indeed. If there wasn't a joke, why was I laughing. Isn't it all a joke? Banksy - still a Bristol-ish boy at heart.

Monday, 15 March 2010

Banksy and Brainwash

I haven't seen Banksy's film, Exit Through the Gift Shop yet (I babysat so others could see it) but that won't stop a blog post on the film and it's main character, Mr Brainwash - a mad film maker and graffiti obsessive who suddenly starts making his own work and becomes a massive success..

There are all kinds of manipulations at work here, so not seeing the film is probably an advantage in trying to untie the threads of deceit Banksy weaves. He seems to want to encourage the idea that Mr Brainwash, aka Thierry Guetta (perhaps) is at least partially a figment of the Banksy imagination, an idea he has foisted on the art world and fed on the internet through evasion and ambiguity.

Issues of identity, authority, authorship, ownership, marketing, finance, celebrity, information, the internet, idleness and hype are apparent in the work of Banksy and Mr Brainwash. Is Brainwash real (is Banksy real), did he create the work (we know, or we are supposed to understand that Mr Brainwash's work is created by a band of screen-print art-monkeys), how much is Banksy involved, is he Banksy.

The work is uh-yes-and-no to all of them. We don't know, we have no way of knowing, but perhaps that doesn't matter, because Banksy has us all jumping through hoops trying to know. All this guessing is part of his grand Duchampian thought experiment - in which case the work might have value. But what if it's not - then does it have value? What is the work anyway? Is it the Brainwash prints or the totality of which they are part? I don't know. Do you?

The very idea that we are thinking about these questions, possibly gives Brainwash value and makes it part of our discussion and understanding of art, where it comes from and its value; and the nature of value. I don't think the Brainwash prints should have any financial value, but they do have a philosophical one as part of the grand Banksy project. Or even not as part of a grand Banksy project. Smoke and mirrors wrapped in a  name that disguises nothing. Brainwash? Come on?

There is little  information on the internet about either Mr Brainwash or Thierry Guetta - the best thing is this interview in the Times. Here are some excerpts.

"If the film was intended as a satire on the superficiality of the contemporary art scene, the satire was going over the heads of the buyers forking out $50,000 to $200,000 a canvas. “It doesn’t matter if he is good or bad,” one said. “He has the right connections, and that’s why I am buying. Plus, I like him.”
“People want to know: am I real? Am I joking? Am I Banksy? Is it a whole joke by Banksy? But the more they see me the more it becomes real to them. It would ’ave to be a big, big joke. Who would do it? Who would ’ire all these people?”
He’s quite open about the fact that he doesn’t construct the work himself. “There might be 20 people in my bus but I am the driver,” he says. “I am the one who say ‘stop’. I am the one who say ‘I don’t like it’. I am the one who say ‘the face is not right’. I am the one who say ‘I want this like that’.” When the work is done he embeds dollar bills and sometimes drops of his own blood into the work to authenticate them. “For the people in me who believe I do it 100 per cent,” he says, pointing to a wall of portraits down which a can of paint has been slopped. “You see this? I did this yesterday. Drop some paint down that wall. I felt like the painting was nothing, so dropping some paint it become something, something artistic, something street . . .”


If the whole stunt was intended as a joke about art and authenticity — a twist on the old “a monkey could do it” line — it appears to have far exceeded its maker’s intentions. Shrouded in shadow, Banky ends the documentary wondering if he did the right thing launching Mr Brainwash on the world. “Andy Warhol was replicating images to show they were meaningless,” he says. “And now, thanks to Mr Brainwash, they’re definitely meaningless.”

Ultimately if the art world really is so supercial, Banksy and should get on with doing something better with his life. Instead Banksy states the bleeding obvious, telling us things we know already or should know already. Which is what Richard Hamilton did, what all the best artists do.

So in the end, you do see Mr Brainwash and think, I could do that. And you get onto photoshop and mess with the curves and hue. And end up with something a monkey really could do. As you can see from my efforts above, Mr Brainwash has nothing to fear. But if I spend another 10 minutes and work out how to use that mask thingy.....

Richard Hamilton v Sir Peter Blake Album Cover Death Match

(Not Sir - doesn't want it) Richard Hamilton designed the White Album sleeve, Sir Peter Blake designed the Sergeant Pepper sleeve. But which one's better?

Friday, 12 March 2010

Richard Hamilton, Inventor of Pop Art

Everybody is talking about (sorry - seeing Irving Penn at the NPG and The Sweet Smell of Success in the same week has addled my brain) Richard Hamilton. Hamilton is the grandaddy, no -  inventor of Pop Art. He has a show on at the Serpentine Gallery in Hyde Park, London, England which I saw last week.

It's a mixture of old work and new work with some of the newer  work not quite hitting the spot - as  This Guardian review   points out. It doesn't work "where politics take over and the art becomes subordinate".  And here's another review which says why Hamilton makes art out of the obvious.

I like the obvious because  it is often not that obvious (and certainly not as obvious as we assume it to be - from our little self-contained world of self-contained assumptions). We need constant reminding of the obvious to help us stay human, to help us remember that killing and lying and stealing are bad. The simplicity and directness of the Palestine Map works incredibly well, especially with the Mordechai Vanunu print (based on the photo above) right next to it. It's obvious but it still manages to be visceral.

 Hamilton's work clears the smoke and mirrors of the world around us and then reapplies it until only the memory remains. It's influential (you can see bits of Hamilton directly in some of Paul Graham's work for example, as well as so, so many other people working with photography), and for me, the only pieces that dont' work are the Blair-based prints and mouldings, but that is because Blair is a slippery, chimerical character who exists only in the realms of his own fevered parallel-universe of an imagination. Nothing good can come out of him - not even good in a bad way, or bad in a good way.

The Times calls him the most important artist in Britain.

"America being America, the claims of Hamilton, Paolozzi and co to having instigated pop art have been ruthlessly swatted away. But the facts are the facts. And the facts tell us that, by 1954, Hamilton was producing collages and screenprints filled with film stars, comic heroes, pin-ups, pile-ups and kitchen goodies, whose chief purpose was to question the modern relationship between a consumer and his goodies. Even today, in this serpentine display at the Serpentine, Hamilton is surreptitiously investigating the manipulation of the buyer by the seller"

And this is Hamilton speaking in an Interview with the Telegraph

“I have a concept of being rejected for most of my life,” Hamilton tells me, with a smile. “When I had a show at the Tate in 1992 [his last London exhibition], it was rated the worst show of the year. And I felt rather proud of that, really – I’d come out on top for something at last. But I’ve always felt the same way: I never did anything that anybody else wanted.”

And the picture at the top is by Juergen Teller.

Thursday, 11 March 2010

Contact Editions and Steve Macleod

Contact Editions is the brainchild of Anna Stevens and Emily Graham - they sell super-value prints of fabulous photographers like Laura Pannack and Ben Roberts. They also run a blog called Contact Collective, 
which has an interview with printer/photographer Steve Macleod.

The video was made by Foto8 who have a whole lot more online here

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Irving Penn at the National Portrait Gallery

Everybody's talking about... Irving Penn at the NPG.

It's greatest hits time and my favourites are Truman Capote and the Duchess of Windsor rammed in to a Penn corner. The early work in other words.

Oh, and Grace Kelly.

And Francis Bacon.

And many more, especially if it's earlier rather than later. Here is curator Magdalene Keaney talking about the exhibition.

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Why the Long Face Part 17

Oliver Burkemann asks why so many people look so miserable in photographs, why they turn looking miserable into an art form, why looking happy, being happy is so desperately uncool. This obviously applies to photography where miserable, vacant faces are the norm - though it's really the artist who should be miserable and not the subject - the artist being the one for whom "cheeriness betokens a failure to comprehend the horrors of existence." Perhaps the whole miserabilist thing is part of the Smoke and Mirrors of Self-Promotion - where the higher the value, the less the need to smile and please. We are serious artists, remember, Prada not Walmart, Waitrose not Aldi, never mind our 6 figure income (that's including the pennies remember). Read the whole article here. And the Psychology Today research into fashion faces here.

Why the long faces? In Psychology Today, the designer Ingrid Fetell speculated that modernist spaces might be inherently ­depressing. "Desaturated" colours may mute our autonomic nervous systems, making us less animated; there's also evidence that angular shapes trigger an unconscious fear response, perhaps because we've evolved to associate angles in nature – cliffs, rocks – with danger. But I reckon the hipsters are one more example of a ­phenomenon that, though well-known, remains mysterious: the link between gloominess and cool. Looking happy isn't hip. When did you last see a catwalk model ­grinning? No less a celebrity frowner than Victoria Beckham has labelled this the "miserable cow syndrome", and seems to appreciate its ironies. "People would be quite upset if I ­actually smiled," she said.

US psychologists have ­studied this puzzle: they cropped pictures of models in ads so only their faces were visible, then asked people to rank them in order of mood. Overwhelmingly, models ­advertising pricier brands were judged to look glummer. This is probably down to signalling, noted ­researcher ­Timothy Ketelaar: smiling indicates eagerness to please, ­suggesting low status. If a Prada model isn't smiling, she clearly doesn't need to, implying high status. Brands that target less wealthy ­customers use smiling ­models, suggesting lower status, and thus affordability.

More broadly, being happy is seen as indicating silliness, boringness or lack of creativity. ("To be stupid, and selfish, and to have good health are the three requirements for ­happiness," groused Flaubert, "though if stupidity is lacking, the others are useless.") The image of the brooding artist is compelling; cheeriness ­betokens a failure to comprehend the horrors of existence.

Monday, 8 March 2010

What does collaboration mean?

Colin Jacobson comes up with some comments on the World Press Photo in his Foto 8 blog post, especially why there are such limited captions on the winning entries - a mystery considering the Press that comes between the World and the Photo.

It's a point that is especially relevant to Farah Abdi Warsameh's picture story of a Somali being stoned to death. Swiss photographer Matthias Bruggman, who says he is the "last white guy, to the best of my knowledge, to have gone to that area" (in Somalia) comes up with an explanation of how the victim came to be stoned.

...the story I've been told (but haven't been able to check, for obvious reasons) is much more mundane - an official wanted to sleep with the guy's wife, he paid a witness and got him killed.

Which kind of puts a different tack on things. Anyway, the real reason Bruggman is pitching in is because Jacobson has these comments to make about the Somali Stoning pictures.

"The rather disgusting pictures in General News Stories of a man being stoned to death in Somalia raise some interesting ethical matters. Obviously, there was collaboration between the photographer, Farah Abdl Warsameh, and those carrying out this gruesome death sentence and without wanting to sound frivolous, the last thing on the unfortunate victim’s mind would have been a request for model release (though it could be an interesting debate as to whether those about to die can legitimately claim rights over their image). What we can deduce is that a photographer who is prepared to document such a horrible event must have a peculiarly strong stomach."

The key word here is collaboration and it is one that Bruggman picks up on in no uncertain terms.

Second, the calling out of a Somali stringer as "collaborating" with the insurgent group that stoned a man. This is, quite frankly, shows a tragic, and complete disconnect with the realities that Somali photographers face. Collaborating my ass. The guy either lives in Afgooye, the town where the picture was taken, or had to get there from Mogadishu, through an extremely dangerous road. These guys are taking an impossible amount of risk to get the story of their country, which no one gives a rat's ass about outside of militant islam and pirates.

......And later.

Maybe it's just a dreadful lack of command of the english language on Jacobson's side. Or the symptoms of too many years behind a desk. Describing Somali photographers as "collaborators" from a lofty position in Britain is of a level of disconnect only matched with bringing up model releases right behind it.

Coming from a state of fearful ignorance about all the characters concerned, I'm with Bruggman on this - it does seem strange why Jacobson should use the word collaboration (in an implicity pejorative sense ) in connection with Warsameh. It also raises the ethics bar on photography and news gathering in general?

What is collaboration, who is a collaborator? Is anyone who photographers evil deeds a collaborator, is anyone who misreports or underreports or exagerrates a collaborator, anyone who works with a particular brand or ownership of press, or reports on events in particular places from a particular standpoint. Are these people now or have they ever been collaborators - Nachtwey, Hetherington, Broomberg and Chanarin, Meisel, Teller, Richardson, McGinley, Clarke, Parr, Griffiths Jones, Adams, McCullin, Mann, Meiselas?  And if they are collaborating, who are they collaborating with and to what end?

Friday, 5 March 2010

Yann Gross and African Skateboarders


Some of them remind me of both Paul Close and Pieter Hugo.

"I love exploring the way people come together," says the award-winning Swiss photographer Yann Gross, 29. "Two years ago, I visited my girlfriend who was working in Uganda, and she took me to this skate park she'd found in Kitintale, a working-class suburb of Kampala. It's the first east African skate park, and as a skateboarder I was fascinated by the community that had built up around it. It was constructed entirely by local kids. I ended up staying there for two months; I became friends with them first, and only then I started to take pictures.
"Here, you can see some goats milling around. It's a poor neighbourhood; there's no big shops, just small huts made of bricks and mud. The park is a little island in the middle, where the children can live their dream."

Thursday, 4 March 2010

A Short Interview with Gemma Barnett of The Photographers Gallery Print Sales

A Short Interview with Gemma Barnett of The Photographers Gallery Print Sales

We represent 47 photographers. When I arrived in 2008 we had 77 so it’s slowly reducing. They are split down the middle with half doing black and white work – people like Lartique, Bravo, Bert Hardy and Wolf Suschitsky – and the other half doing contemporary work. Simon Roberts is our best seller. People are buying equally in both traditions but we have a stronger contemporary stock and seem to sell a lot of landscapes.

Before I arrived we were still accepting submissions and it was crazy – we still have a bag behind the door filled with CDs that have been sent in. Now all the curators go to art fairs, graduation shows, we look at our own graduate show, and we go to the MA shows at places like the RCA and LCC - it's very London-centric. I do go to portfolio reviews but it’s difficult to take people on that basis because there is no history of work and I want to know that before I can look after photographers.

Pricing and editioning is done on instinct but the photographers have a lot of say. Jacob Holdt insisted on selling his prints uneditioned. I have to test the market so we start low. Putting prices up too high can put people off. We have sold a lot of Nicholas Huges prints which start at around £300 and he wants to put the price up, but I don’t think they would sell any higher. Edgar Martins recently raised the prices of his prints to £5,000, which is fine except that I haven’t sold a print since doing so. If work is from the art world (as opposed to the photography world), there is a sense that it can command higher prices. So for Indre Serpytyte who has exhibited at Yossi Milo in New York and produces more conceptual work, the prices can be higher.

I am under the impression that the smaller the edition the better – if the edition is 30, it’s too big. I’m trying to encourage people to limit the number in an edition. Steven Vaughan sells well at the gallery and he does five images in 3 sizes – which is not too many.

We have a unique audience here. We have ½ million visitors a year but only 15-20% come to print sales. Often our clients are first time buyers, often couples who have their first home and want some decorative art for the walls and are buying a photograph for the first time. We also have established buyers and I focus most of my attention on corporate sales – where people like Sebastiao Salgado and Guy Tillim have sold very well recently.

If could start again, I would be tempted to sell on personality alone. There are some big egos out there, and it can be a thankless task - no matter how many pictures you sell for somebody, you don’t get a word of thanks. But then you get people like Wolfgang Suschitzky. He’s 95 years old, he never complains, he comes to every opening and he always has a smile on his face. He’s wonderful!

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Foam on Issuu

See pdfs of back issues of Foam Magazine here.

A Short Interview with Ben Burdett of Atlas Gallery

A Short Interview with Ben Burdett of Atlas Gallery

I came into photography from antiquarian books 20 years ago – books was where the photography market lived 20 years ago because in the seventies and eighties the market was for 19th century photographs and focused on books and albums. Originally, Atlas dealt in rare books but then about 12 years ago we moved exclusively into photography

We go after people whose work we like – at Atlas we have a relatively consensual way of choosing exhibitions. Some of the artists we show I have directly approached and offered a show to, some approach us or sometimes estates of archives will approach us with bodies of work. Increasingly we are showing more contemporary work from both young and older unrepresented photographers. There are a lot of really talented photographers out there who have no platform.

We do buy work at auctions and in the secondary market – but it’s different because you know exactly what you are buying and how it is going to sell. If you are promoting a photographer as a name, you have to work at getting exhibitions and promoting his career.

We get 20 emails and 5 or 6 envelopes a week. A lot of collectors now are going to degree shows and just buying work directly from students who are in the very early stages of their careers.

I prefer low editions of under 10 depending on what it is and how much work goes into it. For a new photographer you can’t be too self-important and make very small editions with prices too high because people are going to say “Who are you?” and not buy the work. You want photographers to be seen to sell – and if they do sell, you can always put their prices up. Nothing locks a photographer in as much as having a particular price and edition that doesn’t sell. At the same time, there are very successful photographers who do really high editions, but they are the exception rather than the rule. We sell to collectors, corporate collections, museums, photographers, we sell to people who fall for individual images, especially well known images people recognize; they sell most easily because when people see them, they know and love them already. The decision has already been made. They don’t have to learn to like them.

The market has changed. There are far fewer casual buys from people wandering in and buying something because they like it and they have a huge amount of money they have just made from some deal. The people we are buying for and selling to seem to be buying more though . The serious buyers are buying more, partly because it’s a good time to be buying and there are some good deals around.

We have some fairly serious and committed buyers and collectors building a collection with a particular theme or period. That’s the interesting thing about photography; you have a vast time span of years so we sell work from early 19th century to contemporary which is different to most fine art galleries.

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Long Live the Photo-Story


If you like the 1980s, get involved with The Paper Eaters: Long Live the Photo-Story at Selfridges Ultralounge in London, England. It's run by The Girls, aka Andrea Blood and Zoe Sinclair (a little bit of Cindy Sherman, a little bit of Pierre and Gilles, a whole lot of Japanese something or other, some collage and cut and paste and even a little bit of Myra Hindley. You can sign up to be a contributor or assistant - but loving the 80s seems to be a prerequisite and you  might have to dress up and vote conservative and listen to Spandau Ballet and suchlike. More information here.

Encapsulating the punk DIY aesthetic, The Paper Eaters: Long Live the Photo-Story!  makes a defiant stand against the digital world.

Artist duo The Girls (Andrea Blood and Zoë Sinclair) adopt the roles of editors-in-chief of a photo-story magazine with a difference. While the Ultralounge at Selfridges is transformed into an 80’s inspired den, where they will create three photo-story magazines. Selfridges’ staff and customers are taking part in shoots, and will be invited to contribute ideas and shape the stories as they are shot. Each issue will be compiled using traditional cut and paste techniques, and include contributions from guests from the fashion and art world.

You’re invited to relive the 80’s by interacting with the drive-in photo-story viewing booth, customised 1980’s make-overs, a dry ice dance floor – or even take a lead role in a photo-story for the magazine.

A Short Interview with Michael Diemar of Diemar and Noble

A Short Interview with Michael Diemar of Diemar and Noble

I opened Diemar and Noble on May 6th 2009 with Laura Noble. We had both been interested in the whole canon of photography as a historical medium, Laura from working in books at The Photographers’ Gallery and myself from collecting, and we felt that there was so much contemporary photography which was too difficult for most galleries to show. Three of our early shows were by Jennie Gunhammar, Maeve Berry and Jonathan Olley and they dealt with illness, death and violence. It was difficult work for some people, but it is work we believe in. The interesting thing is we are connecting with museums and collectors and developing the careers of our photographers through exposure to a wider audience.

When I first became aware of the Castles of Ulster I thought this was one of the great post-war projects. We phoned Jonathan Olley up and asked him to have a show with us and he said yes – nobody had ever done this to him before. Sometimes we contact people, but Laura and I go to university shows, portfolio reviews and art fairs.

On a daily basis we get 3 or 4 calls for representation. But you really have to believe in something to represent it and really feel something is first rate – so it’s difficult because we are constantly saying no to people. It’s not always the immediate commercial element that appeals – we are willing to work at being proactive at getting work in exhibitions or in books (Laura has a lot of experience in publishing). We get together with a photographer we believe in and say how we can build on their work, what we can do next to help them progress.

We show people from the 19th century to the present day, and once people understand what we have brought in from the history of photography, that signals the quality of the contemporary work we have chosen.

With regard to pricing and editioning, it depends on where people come from. If the photographers come from a fine art tradition, like Emily Allchurch and Lisa Holden, low editions of 3 are the thing. For documentary photographers, the edition is more likely to be between 10 and 15. We need to compare the prices to the rest of the market, to see where other comparable work is selling and how much it is selling for. We do have a policy of pricing to sell.

My background is a collector. I started buying Mapplethorpe, the first picture I bought was a Mapplethorpe flower, and gradually I worked myself backwards in time until I was buying 19th century Gustave Le Gray prints. You need a background either as a collector or working in an auction house to have a gallery that deals with the whole of the history of photography. You need a real feel for the photograph as an object.

We get experienced collectors and if you are a collector, you buy no matter what. During the recession of the early 1990s, everything in the art market collapsed except for photography. That was because there was that hard core of collectors. It is the same now. There are changes because from being a strange collecting thing, photography suddenly became a hot medium and as a result, the vintage became scarcer and colour photography came in. When the present recession hit, those who would just drop into a gallery and drop a hideous amount of money have disappeared. The others who have disappeared are lower-end buyers in the £250-£500 market. Work priced at that level is more difficult to sell than it was. But if you think something is good, you stick with it and eventually it will sell either for the name or what the picture is about.

I’m not that keen on running what’s been done before, with running greatest hits shows. So for the George Rodger show I worked with his widow, had access to his papers and diaries and showed new work in a way that showed more than just a greatest hits show.

We have an upcoming show by Lisa Holden. She was adopted as a child, she worked in performance and her work is grounded in these two things and her feelings of alienation. So there is a personal investment in the image-making. It’s not just about getting an idea and photographing it. It’s about being part of the idea and feeling it – and making something people can believe in.

Monday, 1 March 2010

A Short Interview with Tim Jeffries of Hamiltons Gallery

A short interview with Tim Jeffries of Hamiltons Gallery

When we started Hamiltons in 1984, we decided that to have a fighting chance of getting noticed we needed some heavyweights like Norman Parkinson, David Bailey and Don McCullin. Later we got Robert Maplethorpe and Irving Penn. When we started, late 20th century photography wasn’t collectable. It was early 20th century photographers like Man Ray, Edward Steichen , Stieglitz, Weston and Atget who were selling.

We need to keep an eye on young, developing artists. Often they come to me or are brought to me. They send in their portfolio or a link, but to be honest, the bigger the name of the photographer, the more likely we are going to go for them.

If you’re dealing with someone of Penn’s stature, the price and editioning is done for you. We don’t decide. In the case of a younger photographer, I would have a great hand in the pricing of a work. One needs to know what is going on in the auction world, you need to place the artist in comparable company in terms of price. The big danger is pricing them out of the market, because there is nothing worse than having a show where nothing sells and there’s nothing better than a sellout show. As a golden rule of thumb, if you’re not sure of a price, put it on the low side – because you can always put a price up, but lowering a price always looks really bad.

When I first met Robert Mapplethorpe I was relatively new to the business. I was so excited by being in his presence, I didn’t think of asking the price of his prints. Then I found out they were going for US $1,500. This was in 1987 when our other most expensive prints were US $1,000. I thought I was going to have trouble selling them, but they flew out of the door. It was a turning point because if you have the opportunity to work with a truly international superstar it brings a new market with new collectors and a new inspiration.

We have a solid group of regular collectors. But for me a real collector is almost obsessive – collecting is like a sickness where somebody simply has to have a picture. They have nowhere to put it, but they have to have it. Many people today are not collectors, they are decorators. They have a room with wall space and they need something to fill that space, something that will go with the rest of the room.

Photography is very accessible. We must be aware of how photography has informed our generation. We are all, in some way, visually literate – so there is a less of a barrier between a photograph and, for example, a pickled shark. In the next 50 years, tastes will change. Look at how photography has changed in the last 10 years – now traditional film photography looks backward. So today’s photography has made yesterday’s more valuable. In the same way, the photography of the future will make today's photography more valuable.