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Thursday, 30 November 2017

10 years of the blog: And the Best Talk is Lina Hashim in Conversation with Amak Mahmoodian

Next up on the 10 years of the blog is the best talk which was by Lina Hashim in conversation with Amak Mahmoodian.

Lina deals with really complex ideas that she is thoroughly engaged with, that she understands and that she communicates clearly and directly to her audience. There is passion and understanding both of what she is dealing with and the visual lexica she is working with. She operates in a very direct world of evidence, belief and truth and she makes work that confronts this world head on. It is ridiculously difficult.

In that respect she shares something with Mathieu Asselin's Monsanto, which has just been shortlisted for the Deutsche Borse Prize. Asselin also deals with things head on, and has "No ambiguity" as a kind of catch phrase. His work, like Lina's, is rooted in evidence in belief and in and idea of truth, an idea of right and wrong.

In photography, there is an inbuilt and lazy cynicism that everything is propaganda, that nothing is truth. There is some value in this. When everything is accepted as truth, then it's important to look at what's true, what's not true, and how images/words/siting can make us believe or not believe in something. What, basically is the language of news, advertising, propaganda, documentary, fashion, travel, everything.

OK, so we got that. But what happens when truth goes out the window and we pretend that we don't believe in truth anymore. I say pretend because it's pretty selective when people say that everything is propaganda and there is no truth. Stick a few quid under their nose and most people will believe in the truth of hard currency pretty quick, even though that's the biggest mass psychosis of all.

In this so-called post-truth society, when everything is believed to be untrue, partially true or propaganda, it's still important to look at how images are understood, how they can influence us, how they interact with power.

When images are used against us on a regular basis, we need to understand how they are used and how they are understood and the relationship between the two. And then we can use those strategies in our own work.

But the underlying foundation of the post-truth society is that there is no truth, there are no absolutes.
That's a hugely political foundation to build upon. It's a foundation upon which no progressive policies in economics, in gender, in sexuality, in race, in health, housing, childcare, education, or welfare can be built. It's a foundation that is antithetical to all that is good and human and kind. It's a foundation for people with robber-baron hearts and robber-baron minds. It's a foundation for the government we have in the UK at the moment, a government that will happily sacrifice the life of the poor, the homeless, the sick, the disabled to line their own greed-filled pockets.

In the UK Jim Mortram deals directly with this in his work. He is emotionally and personally involved in what he does. but he is one of very few. Far too few. I do sometimes wonder if the obsession with the conceptual and the emotionally and socially distant meta-story isn't more to do with a secret plot to shut down the massively persuasive visual arguments that could be ranged against our neo-liberal overlords than it is to do with a fatigue with slightly crappy concerned photography. Because when that's crap, it really is crap as well.

Still, I think we need more 'truth' in our lives, more no-compromise fuck-those bastards kinds of ways of thinking. We need it in photography. So much photography relies on meta-narratives on how we tell stories, of how images are understood.

That's fine, but if you are going to deal with meta-narratives, you had better be sure you understand the narrative supremely well. Both the narrative that the meta is dealing with and the narrative of the meta.

It takes a long time to learn the narrative. Lina Hashim is immersed in the narrative. It's part of her life. Mathieu Asselin spent five years working on Monsanto. It's not easy to learn the story your going to pick apart. It is really hard. It wears you down. It can fuck you up!

One idea of the meta-narrative is that all the stories have been told. I would call mierda de toro to that as they say in Spain. The stories have not all been told. They have not even begun to be told.

The problem is it is quite difficult to tell a good story. First of all you have to know something about it, which is actually much harder than cobbling together a few images together with a lame editing rationale and some confident mumbling  about post-truth narratives, and subverting the supremacy of sequencing paradigms.

And then once you've done your research, you've got to photograph, interview, film, write and collect your story with the added dilemma that as you do so, the simplistic visual musings that you made earlier might be a bit shite. So on you go. And on you go. And on you go. And it's five years before you finish. And then you have to try and publish and show and sell the damn thing.

Fuck that for a game of soldiers, it's much easier to pretend that all the stories have been told and then cack out some sorry lines about meta-narratives that nobody is really going to understand anyway. Do that three or four times a year and you're made up.

That's why I'm so happy Mathieu Asselin has done so well with his mammoth 5-year project, Monsanto, which has just been nominated for the 2018 Deutsche Borse Prize. It is a proper story, it's an obvious story and it's one that hasn't been visually told. And it was tremendously difficult to tell, it was hugely wearing, possibly dangerous and came with a massive personal commitment. That's not easy.

As  I already mentioned, Asselin's tagline for the project is "No ambivalence" and I really like that too. It's a polite way of saying "Fuck these bastards". If you want post-truth you can have it, but I'd rather go to post-post-truth - which is truth. And the truth is what Asselin tells in Monsanto. They're bastards and here's the proof. And if you want some meta-narratives, well here they are as well, this is the visual language of how they lie, take note and learn it and see where else you can spot it.

That brings me back to Lina Hashim, the best speaker I've heard in the last 10 years. She also deals with  tremendously difficult subjects that she is invested in personally.

I saw her in conversation with about 18 other people but the number doesn't matter. Everyone there knew she was the real deal (and follow her on Instagram to see some of her latest work on Suicide Bombers). And you don't get many real deals.

The writing below is from a feature I wrote for the BJP a couple of years ago. Here Lina talks about her Suicde Bombers porject.

In her most recent project, Hashim collects and modifies pictures of dead suicide bombers. By doing so she examines the cult of martyrdom, asking how that martyrdom is established, and looking at the contradictions between religious laws, the acts of killing and the fetishisation of the bombers’ remains through images. “The Koran says that committing suicide is the biggest sin, and killing somebody is the next biggest sin,” she states, adding that martyrs are supposed to be created on the battlefield, and only if you are fighting soldiers.

“These people are not on a battlefield and they are killing everyone. And they are especially killing other Muslims and making their own rules. It’s very interesting because we don’t know where this fiction comes from. It’s definitely not from the Koran.”
Hashim’s main focus is on the blood of the bombers. “When they die, only the imam can take the decision of who is a martyr and who is a killer. And when they make the decision, they make it with blood. If the body gets washed, the body gets sent to the grave as a normal person, which in this case means as a killer. And if they don’t wash the blood, they send the body into the grave as a martyr. That means they are honouring him. They want to show he is going to God with the sign of blood to show the clearness of his heart in defending Islam.”
Read the whole article here. 

See more images and follow Lina on Instagram here.

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

10 Years of the Blog: Best Video/Best Goal/Best Day

The thing that has given me most pleasure over the years of the blog is Mishka Henner's video of his father walking across the pitch following Man City's last gasp title winning victory over QPR in 2012.

I used to go to football a lot, home and away and all the rest of it but hadn't been to see a live game for a long, long time. I only followed City when they were shit which about sums everything up. Still, my wife and daughter say they have never seen me as happy as they did on that day.

My main job at the time was teaching ESOL to young migrants at the time (my favourite job incidentally) and I went into work the following day and we did a couple of things. First we re-enacted the goal. I was Sergio Aguero, a boy called Abadin was Mario Balotelli, and a girl called dua was the QPR goalkeeper Paddy Kenny. In my mind it was virtually identical to the real thing, complete with ripping my shirt off and waving it around my head. In reality it was probably a bit like this scene from Kes. But so it goes. You can see the last five minutes of the game here here.

The other thing I did was play Mishka Henner's video to the class - over and over. For a couple of months it was the start to the day. It was emotion cranked up with a Cowboy Junkies soundtrack (which had its own nostalgia for me).

And then earlier this year Mishka Henner's father died, and that changed it again. It becomes a dual memory, a double nostalgia. It brought tears to my eyes before, and now it does so in double doses, in two different ways. But it also brings me closer to a man I never met and have no involvement with except through a youtube video. And that is something, because it doesn't feel that way when I watch this video.

This is from the post I made earlier this year.

But from that simple video, I remember Bill's face, his smile, his, hat, his little jaunt that is not quite a dance, and Henner's affection as they head back to their seats. I watch it for the good-naturedness of it all, for the jubilation, for the smiling steward, the man on his knees in the centre circle, the disbelief, for the feeling of summer peace, all accompanied by the slowest Blue Moon every by the Cowboy Junkies.

It's not part of the Henner ouvre, it's something else, and it's quite beautiful. And enjoyable. I don't know if there are too many things in photography I've enjoyed quite so much as Bill walking across that pitch in 2012. It's a window into a soul that I can identify with, that I can share a moment with from a distance. So I feel like I know him a little bit. And for that I am grateful. Thank you Mishka Henner and thank you Bill!

Monday, 27 November 2017

Corbeau: We all live on the land

Perhaps my favourite book cover design of the last 10 years is Macquenoise by Pierre Liebaert published by Le Caillou Bleu. It's just sumptuous. 

Macquenoise is a book about living on the land. It's about a family. who live an austere life where violence, death and the eventual resurgence of the land is ever present

I get similar feelings from Corbeau by Anne Golazanother book about austere and rather sad rural living (Corbeau is French for raven and the book was inspired by Poe's poem of the same name). Like Macquenoise, this has a beautiful fold out cover that leads into a poetic, ungrounded textual narrative by Antoine Jaccoud that reshapes quite direct, and very grounded images to produce something that provides a metaphysical commentary on the parallels of our lives as a family and our lives on the land. And no matter where we live, we do live on the land. We can pretend otherwise or close our eyes to it. But that is where we live and what we live off. 

This is what the statement says: 

Part memoir, part tableau, Corbeau is a multi-layered narrative collage tracing life and death in the rural farm on which Swiss artist Anne Golaz grew up. Made over a twelve-year period and bridging three generations, the three-part book weaves together photographs, video stills and drawings, with texts by the author, screenwriter and playwright, Antoine Jaccoud, as well as the artist’s own writings. Jaccoud reconstructs transcripts of conversations between family members and memories recounted by the artist to build this intricate story of stories into a dramatalogical work. The protagonist of Corbeau is a young man seen in each chapter dutifully working on the farm. Gradually, however, his sense of duty appears to be instilled with doubt, a doubt that infuses the entire book.

Exploring themes of time, life, destiny and death, Corbeau – which takes its title from an enigmatic poem by Edgar Allan Poe – eludes a chronological order to picture a place in which the future is only reminiscent of the past. And where destiny is shaped in the claire-obscures nooks of childhood. In the artist’s words, the narrative construction exists ‘in a vacuum’, which tellingly offers a framework for both support and destruction. It is within such a circumscribed space that mixed feelings towards heritage arise.

Corbeau is about life and death, it is about the natural entropy and futility of our existence,  the contingincies of family life, the cycles of rural misery, and the ultimate futility of it all. Our existences are fleeting, and even the generational cycles of living on the land are fleeting. The land is eternal, the land will recover even when dead. It has an existence in and of itself. We are but temporary. 

It's about farming then. It's about landscape too in a strange way - in a strange way because there isn't really one classic landscape in there. But there doesn't have to be for it to be about landscape. It's there, implicit in its absence. Robert Liddell talked about five kinds of landscape going from the utilitarian/simple, the symbolic, the ironic,and the ironic to the 'kaleidoscope' where there is a shifting between the outside world to the world of the interior. 

That's what happens in Corbeau, with a dose of the symbolic (the landscape mirroring the chaotic state of the main players in the book) added for good measure. So Corbeau is about the dual attitudes we have to life; the emotional and the functional, and the way this is expressed in this farming industry. It's about a basic family draw to living this life, generation after generation, and the inability of the family ever to escape it. 

The pictures and the words are nostalgic in one sense, almost in a pre-nostalgic sense where there is a pleasure in imagining the nostalgia one step removed from the reality. Because as soon as you touch the reality, the nostalgia disappears in a pool of blood, or in the clamp of a hoof-clipping machine. 

The inheritance of debt, the burden of the land, the conflict between these different sides of the farming self, the self filled with love that caresses a distressed cow into calmness, is rammed up against the a self which is filled with a brutal attention that does not stray beyond an economic imperative that has been traumatised for generations. 

Corbeau deals with all of these elements and looks at the ways in which the people of the farm; the father in particular, come to terms - or fail to come to terms - with the multiple realities of their farming lives. 

It's quite a bleak book, but the words elevate into a parallel universe where the hard and cold facts of farming are somehow given an levitude that isn't really apparent. And the words are fictional, sort of. I think. I'm not quite sure. 

It's a beautiful book. 

Buy Corbeau here. 

Friday, 24 November 2017

Auschwitz Before and After by Charlotte Delbo

In non-fiction, two of the most moving books I've read since the blog started (or in my whole life), which I'm ashamed to say I hadn't read before, are Primo Levi's If this is a Man/The Truce and Charlotte Delbo's Auschwitz Before and After.

This is what I wrote about Auschwitz Before and After. If you haven't read this (or Primo Levi's strangely horrifying and human book), you should. It's an amazing story.

I read Auschwitz Before  and After by Charlotte Delbo after I was sent it by Deborah Parkin. It was a battered old copy complete with annotations from when Deborah was doing Holocaust Studies. And it didn't exactly seem like cheery reading so I never quite got round to it.

But Deborah badgered me and so I started reading it. I've never read anything quite like it. As the title suggests, the book follows Delbo through different layers of suffering. At Auschwitz, Delbo (who was in the French Resistance) describes how survival is not something that happens but something you choose; and the longer time goes by and the more you suffer, the harder it is to choose - death is the easy choice, death is the human choice, the choice where comfort, release and all the soft emotions lie.

As Delbo says...

'They expect the worse, not the unthinkable.'

The more Delbo suffers, the more she becomes one with her surroundings; the land, the water, the mud, the cold, the sun. Her whole being seeps into the mud that she struggles to walk through when it's wet. Cold cuts through to the depths of her being in Winter, and when she gets a chance to wash herself in a stream, her feet and nails have merged with the socks she has not taken off for so many months. Even the salvation of spring sunshine comes at a cost with the realisation that it's much harder to die when it's hot. The Summer means a longer death with more suffering.

At the same time, Delbo also becomes one with those around her. She is both an individual who must reach into the deepest recesses of her mind to survive, but also part of an organic community identity. When the cold, fatigue, hunger, thirst, pain or despair get too much, it is the other women in the group that will save her, if save is the right word because the depersonalisation and pain ran so deep, the cruelty so all-encompassing as exemplified in this quote from the book.

"I was standing amid my comrades and I think to myself that if I ever return and will want to explain the inexplainable, I shall say: “I was saying to myself: you must stay standing through roll call. You must get through one more day. It is because you got through today that you will return one day, if you ever return.” This is not so. Actually I did not say anything to myself. I thought of nothing. The will to resist was doubtlessly buried in some deep, hidden spring which is now broken, I will never know. And if the women who died had required those who returned to account for what had taken place, they would be unable to do so. I thought of nothing. I felt nothing. I was a skeleton of cold, with cold blowing through all the crevices in between a skeleton’s ribs."

And then there is After Auschwitz when Delbo returns home to France and the suffering continues in psychological form. With the constant battle for survival gone, nothing is real anymore. The suffering she has experienced distances Delbo and her fellow concentration camp survivors from the remainder of society. Delbo visits her old comrades and they describe how they are surviving; in a half-life where questions are constantly asked of everyone they meet - what would this person have done in Auschwitz, how can this person possibly understand what I have been through, how can I laugh with my children when...

Strangely enough, the book wasn't depressing at all. It was horrific, compelling and illuminating but had overtones of life in it while still being brutally visceral. Anyway, if you are remotely interested in history, the holocaust, survival or landscape, or humanity in its broadest sense, Auschwitz Before and After is essential reading.

Read the whole post here. 

Thursday, 23 November 2017

The Dreck of Photographic Music: The post I could repeat every day

This is the most visited page on the blog over the last 10 years? It's a picture of dogs playing poker, by Cassius Coolidge!

But follow the links and you'll also find an obituary of Tom Lubbock who was a wonderful arts writer for the Independent, the sadly missed daily that closed only last year. And there's a great Caravaggio painting of a card cheat, which you can read about here in one of Lubbock's fine pieces of writing.

In fact, on this blog all the most popular posts revolve around sex, dogs and crime. If you can get two together, that's a bonus. I've never managed to get three together. That's the holy grail and I'm not there yet.

But of the highly-visited posts, there are some that  have substance. The Dreck of Photographic Music  is one of them in a ranty sort of way, basically because I could and do repeat it in some shape or form every year. So it wins the best rant of the blog.

So I'll repeat it again here. It's all about looking at the photography on a walk into town. Read the full post here.

I walked into town yesterday and looked at the photographs on view. I didn't see any for the first half mile or so, then got up the hill to Camden (in Bath, not London) and they were everywhere. It started with pictures of pot noodle and beer at Best One, bad food and bad drink, went on to images of a lost cat,  a bottle of Moroccan Oil and houses for sale and rent, The cat poster was the highlight. It didn't get better than that.

It was like a photo-festival with images in-situ on posters, on walls, in windows, on lamposts, cars, T-shirts, packaging, everywhere. It's a photo-festival that is happening in every economically developed town in the world. You can't escape this shit. It is everywhere.

It was a street-show that had an ideology of conformity at its heart; to consumerism, commodified emotion and a shared experience of pre-chewed sentimentalised joylessness disguised with a perfect-toothed smile.

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Best Photobooks in the Last 10 years

The 10th anniversary of this blog is coming up. Yesterday I featured my best post, today, as I write, my favourite photobooks, in the last 10 years that have featured on the blog are:

Anne de Gelas: L'Amoureuse

L'Amoureuse by Anne De Gelas and published by Le Caillou Bleu is a book about loss. It's moving and heartfelt but also has a determination and hardness about it; the determination to confront unexpected and tragic loss, to be angry about it, to hate it, to accept it, to build it into one's life story and be able to move on to a place where the pain and anger is tinged with affection and love.

This is the basic story (rough translation from text above):

There is a never a right way to tell a child about the death of his father.

T., my lover and father of my son, died on April 5, 2010 of a brain stroke. He fell beside us on a beach at the North Sea. The violence of his death put me in front of a big void…a silence that echoed in my head only equal to the brightness of the blue sky which no planes crossed because of the ashes of a volcano in anger, my anger.

To face that loss, I plunged myself into the work that I had started more than 10 years ago consisting in writing a personal diary, now focussing on telling about my suffering but also about that surplus energy that burst within me.

Read more in A book that made me cry

Amak Mahmoodian: Shenasnameh

"I didn’t know it could be a book at first. I believe all good books start with some personal stories. It doesn’t matter if they are going to be successful or not, but each person must have a personal reason to create a book.

I started to collect the pictures with my friends and family and then friends of friends, in Tehran and then in other cities. At first I didn’t ask other women because I didn’t know if I had the right to ask other women.

As I collected them, I started to notice how different they were, especially in their look. It was really emotional for me, because in many cases I had their photograph but I had never met the woman. I would imagine her voice and her smile, her eyes, her life.  And then I would go and meet the woman and when I knocked at the door, it was like I was going to meet a photograph.

Sometimes I was really shocked because the woman was so different from the portrait I had imagined from the photograph. So each woman was different from another and then each woman was different from her photograph."

Read more about it here.

Ivars Gravlejs: Early works

"I'm from Latvia. It is normal there when you are in a strange place to ask if you can stay the night. So I am in Vienna. It's a strange place, yes, and I asked this Lithuanian guy if I can stay the night. And he says yes. So I get to his place and then he picks up my tablet. It's an Asus, just a cheap one. And he throws it against the wall. Look, it's smashed. And then he gets me by the neck and he's killing me. But I am lucky and I can get out. So I get out and go somewhere else. Then I see him today and he remembers nothing. I hope he will pay for a new tablet."

That's what Ivars Gravlejs said when I met him in Vienna. I was at a table with Michael Mack who called him over to show his new book, Early Works. And then I saw Early Works and the world has never been quite the same since. 

Ignacio Navas: Yolanda

Yolanda by Ignacio Navas is a modest book (Navas calls it a fanzine). It's about a woman called Yolanda, and it tells her story and that of her boyfriend, Gabriel. This is how the story ends:

She died December 6th, 1995. 

I already didn't like Christmas much, so from that year on, I haven't been able to stand it. 

It was hard, very hard. I was 25, very young. It was a mess.


Read more about Yolanda here

Vincent Ferrané: Milky Way

This hasn't featured on the blog but it's marvellous!

You can read about it here.

This is just a small selection of favourites based on what resonates with me at the moment, the books that popped into my mind when I thought about what I remembered, what went deep into my core in some way. There could be so many, many more books in here because everything that has featured on the blog has value, has a story, shows people expressing themselves through words, images and the book form in all its glory.

Thank you to everybody who I have spoken to about books, who has made books, who is working on books, who publishes books, who sells books. Thank you for all the books and thank you for your work and thank you for talking to  me about your work. It is a marvellous form of visual storytelling. There have been so many brilliant books in the last 10 years and there are still brilliant books now. Long may the book form continue.

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

10 Years of the Blog: The Best Post!

E* from sohrab hura on Vimeo.

On 14th December, this blog will have been going for 10 years. There have been over 1,600 posts, 2 million pageviews and thousands of pictures and words, some of which really mean a lot.

So to commemorate the 10 year anniversary of the blog, in the run up to the 14th December, I'm going to celebrate by regurgitating some of the old posts.

And I'll do it in list form. So:

  • Best post
  • Most read post
  • Most nonsensical post
  • Best books
  • Best photography event
  • Best exhibition
  • Best project
  • Best talk
and so on.

Lots of bests. It doesn't mean they are the best, it simply means they are called the best. Which is almost the same!

Anyway, the best post?

That's really easy. It's this interview from 2015 (I know the pictures won't load) with Sohrab Hura. It starts

'I've always wondered about what new photography is happening in India but never really knew quite how dynamic Indian photography is until I asked Sohrab Hura (Magnum member and author of the truly fantastic Life is Elsewhere) about it. Sohrab is helping to run the Delhi Photo-Festival - which takes place at the beginning of November and doubles up with Photo Kathmandu if you're thinking of an India/Nepal Photo-Festival double-header. 

I asked Sohrab a few questions about the festivals and Indian photography and this is what he said. It's long but it's worth it - especially for the links and the searches that take you into new and undiscovered places (by me at least).'

.... and continues like this.

What are the difficulties Indian photography faces?

I think in the last few years the internet has given many of the photographers a certain independence that had not really existed before, But despite the proliferation of this new found freedom, the photo scene in India remains quite scattered unlike say for example in Bangladesh where a lot of the current photography is specific to the students and alumni of two institutions i.e. Pathshala and Counterfoto. Personally speaking, this is not a problem for me but it does make a difference if someone from outside was to look for work in a specific country/region/space. 

There is also a certain degree of expectation, from outside, of what Indian Photography should be or should not be and I’m sure the same exists across other mediums and other similar non-occidental regions as well.
As in every field and every place, it is a little more difficult for women here too.  There is a huge part of photography that may require one to be out and about quite a lot and given the lack of safety for women it is at times not easy for photographers who happen to be women.  

Add to it competing with male egos, trying to do what you want to do while dealing with other social pressures, dealing with unwanted and unsolicited advances by men, sometimes from within photography itself and finally there existing this underlying current that far from acknowledges any of these obstacles. It’s not the easiest world out there and kudos to the photographers who happen to be women and who’ve pulled through.

All of which was very innocent and understated, but which touched a major nerve and caused something of a shitstorm and led to this post on Sexual Harrassment in Photography, which led to direct complaints in India against somebody called Manik Katyal, which led to him launching a lawsuit against just about everybody (including me), which subsequently led to criminal charges being filed against Katyal. All of which is ongoing. And if somebody would like to tell me what is happening with it now, please do.

It was a major pain and expensive, but so nice to actually see women in India putting their money where their mouth is and standing up for their rights and fighting a minor-league shit!

That's why it's the best post.

Thursday, 16 November 2017

Thanks for the Memories

Thank you to Diane Smyth for a lovely piece on All Quiet on the Home Front in BJP online

“Nothing that can prepare you for the shock of becoming a parent; you kind of lose yourself,” he says. “It drives you insane. But then you gain a new identity, only for that  to die too, when you realise they have their own lives to lead. Then you have to have another rebirth. I don’t think it’s always that comfortable. Sometimes you wish things were different. You wish your children away at times. You always wish them back.”
The book is part of a group of family-based works Pantall is working on, which include a German family album from the 1930s (Pantall’s mother is German), and Sofa Portraits, which pictures Isabel watching television on the same coffee-coloured settee, variously wide-eyed and somnolent.
In the piece it mentions the place I used to work at. Actually, it's officially my last day tomorrow, so I'll take this opportunity to thank everybody I worked with there, but in particular the students. I'll really miss you. You were an inspiration. Keep on making noise, get yours and others voices heard and keep on making great images. I'll look forward to seeing you in the outside world. And thank you for the summer leaving card. It makes a difference. 

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Paris Photo

These are a  fair few things that I liked at Paris Photo. First of all, these sewn collages by Annegret Soltau. When I was walking by these, a kid saw them, gasped, ran to his mum and said "Mum, this is scary!"

And so it is!

The first thing I saw when I walked in the Grand Palais was a picture of Yukio Mishima by Eikoh Hosoe. This is from Ordeal by Roses and Mishima is looking well-hard, but there was a lot of Hosoe around the Grand Palais. And big. And I would have bought it if circumstances were three zeroes different.

Antonio Lopez's grids were stunning and fun.

Macron was there, but even better was accidentally running into Mathieu Asselin shaking hands with his friend The Minister of Culture and Minister of Work with Sam Stourdze in attendance. 

The most beautiful presentation award, by popular acclaim, goes to this shelf of Masao Yamamoto. Presented in glass, they were both delicate but also organic. The photograph as object really comes alive. Done wrong it could go a bit IKEA. And it will go a bit IKEA with some people, but here it was special. 

The mass of images and the apparent randomness of what is shown in some booths can be overwhelming at times. It was hard to settle at times. So it was really beautiful to see the East Wing Gallery showing just one set of prints: Astres Noirs by Katrin Koenning and Sarker Protick. This was an almost meditative space amidst the madness and though I missed Sarker, it was really lovely to finally meet Katrin. 

Kazuma Obara's new book 30, published by Editorial RM (sorry I can't find the link). I've got the original handmade book which is a thing of beauty and what Editorial RM have done to reproduce it is quite amazing, as it was with Silent Histories.

The emphasis on the material of the image continued throughout the hall with pictures presented above mounts, with edges, and a certain roughness showing. There was supremely subtle framing of smaller images, and then you got those where the process was central to what was on display The photogravures by Susan Derges were very special with glorious greys and pages almost resting on the mount.

And lastly there was this by Boris Ignatov. Just fabulous.