Featured post

Exhibiting, Curating, Collaborating, Publishing, Learning and More: Talks at the RPS

          Image Copyright Pawan Joshi, of Photo Kathmandu I am also very much looking forward to introducing these speakers for the third se...

Friday, 26 February 2021

Anthony Luvera: Collaboration and who, what, where to photograph

 Collaboration and Queerness – Anthony Luvera / 31 March

Collaborative Portrait of Fox Fisher from Not Going Shopping (2013-2014) by Anthony Luvera

The fifth speaker in the RPS series (go here for more information and to sign up) is Anthony Luvera. 

Anthony Luvera works with collaboration, he deals very directly with the ethics of representation, with how to tell a story, with the process of making an image. 

        She / Her / Hers / Herself (2017 - ongoing) by Anthony Luvera 


It's absolutely vital work, essential to photographic practice because it can help us understand not just how work is made, and the purpose it serves, but because it can help us understand how work has been made and the purpose it serves. 

I think one thing that really stands out for me (in my view and my words) about Anthony is the gentle, but very considered approach he takes to making work. It's not about the spectacle, it's not about the grand gestures, but is about something that is embedded in the work itself. 

There is  a shift from the often epic nature and rhetoric of photography (which I really like at times, I must confess) to something altogether more gentle. Ethics are absolutely central to the work, but there is a quietness to Anthony's ethical approach that makes it both self-contained and all the stronger because of it.

And that is evident in the collaborative work that Anthony has made both with homeless people (which he is well known for) but also with queerness in a variety of settings. It's not so much how  photography can be used to deal with ideas of gender and sexuality, but more how people who are living in a world that has difficulty addressing ideas of gender and sexuality use images to make their lives, and those of others, a more thoughtful and ultimately better place.  

It's a very loving process and a small but important shift. 


                        She / Her / Hers / Herself (2017 - ongoing) by Anthony Luvera


This is the brief for Anthony's talk.

Anthony Luvera has worked with collaboration for almost 20 years, exploring different ways in which the dynamics of agency, power, representation, and ethics overlap in a socially engaged practice. In this talk, Anthony will share some of the strategies he employs using photographs, text, pedagogy, digital spaces, and oral history recordings. Focusing on his work with queer communities across the United Kingdom, he will examine the limits of collaboration, questions of agency, representational responsibility, and the tension between process and outcomes in collaborative practice. 

 Go here for more information and to sign up. The talks start on March 3rd and here is the full line up. 

    Collaborative Self-Portrait of Raymond Dunn from Let Us Eat Cake (2017) by Anthony Luvera


1. Wednesday 3rd March – Exhibiting Photography – Hannah Watson

2. Wednesday 10th March – Curating Photography - Susan Bright

3. Wednesday 17th March – Cultural, political and personal identity in Mexican and Latin American photography - Ana Casas Broda

4. Wednesday 24th March – Flora, Photography, Illustration - Gem Toes Crichton

5. Wednesday 31st March – Collaboration and Queerness - Anthony Luvera

6. Wednesday 7th April – The personal, the historical, the political: Disecting In the Shadow of the Pyramids  Laura El Tantawy

7. Wednesday 14th April – Africa in the Photobook - Ben Krewinkel

8. Wednesday 21st April – Establishing a Photo Festival - Nayantara Gurung Kakshapati 


(Note that the wonderful Laura El Tantawy will now be speaking on 7th April)


Wednesday, 24 February 2021

Ben Krewinkel and Africa in the Photobook

 



Image above from: Une vie après la mort Photographer: Georges Senga


I first came across Ben Krewinkel's work with African photobooks a few years ago when he started posting spreads on Facebook. 

What began as a trickle of photobooks on Africa became a torrent and the Africa in the Photobook website was set up (click on the countries section). It is a quite astonishing website which features photobooks from pretty much every country in Africa. 

It is also very diverse, and serves as a history of European involvement, colonialism, and control in the continent in particular. In addition to contemporary photobooks, there are books from the colonial era, books made and funded by colonial powers to convince the European world of 'civilising influences', books funded by missionary outreaches to show the 'good works' being done, books being used as elements in European pro- and anti- wars. There are books which feature the competition between colonial powers, but also between African countries, it's a rich and astonishing mix which really lays bare the ways in which photography served anthropology, colonialism, and scientific racism. 

Then there are the books that come after independence, books where that serve the purpose of showing the new confidence and prosperity of decolonialisation, that show infrastructure and social development. 

As Africa becomes the site of superpower proxy wars, there are books that take on an ideological edge, that serve an audience in the USA or the Soviet Bloc, there are books that read like a cult of personality, with influences from Chinese or North Korean propaganda books. And here the family resemblances become weird as design choices and layouts are disseminated through ideological state gifts that pass between leaders and ministries and delegations. 


What is interesting is the way in which photography serves functions (anthropology, the mission, development) that provides a visual element to ideological and political change. So you get political books, protest books, and propaganda books coming from multiple perspectives which will connect both to wider traditions of protest, but also have their own (in the colonial versions shown here) family resemblances.














What is also interesting is who produced these and who didn't (the British didn't in great numbers for some reason) and also the ways in which colonial voices and themes are replicated throughout the photobook history both through expected channels and through less expected channels. 




This whole project began as a labour of love by Ben Krewinkel (a white European who wonders exactly how come he comes to do this thing), something that deepened as it went on, something that was mostly self-funded (most of the books in this collection are not expensive items), but that will end with exhibtions and a volume published by Delpire next year that will include multiple perspectives that go beyond the predominantly European voice, bringing in the new ideas and reimaginings that can come into being as with George Senga's book on Patrice Lumumba, Une vie après la mort.

These are some of the things Ben Krewinkel will talk about in his RPS lecture on April 14th, all things to do with the African photobook, with initiating and pursuing and transforming a personal project into a major published and exhibited survey that ties to global histories, personal visions, rampant injustice, and the visual rationalisations that were used to uphold it. 

See Africa in the Photobook here.


This is the brief for Ben's talk. To sign up or get more information, go the RPS Site.

1.    Africa in the Photobook - Ben Krewinkel

In this talk Ben will examine the history of the photobook in Africa over the last 150 years. He will examine the role photography played in upholding colonial power in Africa, in missionary schools, in the independence movement, to the present day. The production, purpose, and audience of photobooks that include propaganda, personality cult, and protest books will also be examined. 





1.Wednesday 3rd March – Exhibiting Photography – Hannah Watson

2. Wednesday 10th March – Curating Photography - Susan Bright

3. Wednesday 17th March – Cultural, political and personal identity in Mexican and Latin American photography - Ana Casas Broda

4. Wednesday 24th March – Flora, Photography, Illustration - Gem Toes Crichton

5. Wednesday 31st March – Collaboration and Queerness - Anthony Luvera

6. Wednesday 7th April – The archive in photography – Candice Jansen

7. Wednesday 14th April – Africa in the Photobook - Ben Krewinkel

8. Wednesday 21st April – Establishing a Photo Festival - Nayantara Gurung Kakshapati

Monday, 22 February 2021

Ana Casas Broda and new forms of photographic thinking




The third speaker in the RPS series of talks on exhibiting, curating, collaborating and more is Ana Casas Broda.

I only spoke to Ana for the first time late last year and I feel invigorated by her. I primarily knew her from her Kinderwunsch work that I saw in Susan Bright curated Home Truths exhibition at the Photographer's Gallery. It's work on motherhood that is raw, primal, and has something of a dark side of the subconscious to it. 

That dark side, the sense that photography can go beneath the surface and tap into the way we feel, experience, and see the world is also evident in Ana's curatorial work at La Hydra in Mexico City. 



   Image by Diego Moreno



Here Ana continues to tap into themes of motherhood, domesticity, family and sexuality through this group. She also runs a very active publishing house, which has upcoming books  by Joan Fontcuberta and Diego Moreno.

Moreno's latest book, IN MY MIND THERE IS NEVER SILENCE, looks at the 'panzudos' that are found in 'the neighborhood of La Merced in San Cristóbal de las Casas in Chiapas, México. Revealing themselves every year on the 22nd of September—the feast day of Our Lady of La Merced—the Panzudos descend onto the streets to purify themselves of their sins.'

Read more about Diego Moreno here.

    

It's work that exemplifies Ana's fascination with Mexican and Latin American photography and the ways in which colonialism, politics and protest have changed in the region in the last 70 years. In the past there was a photography of activism and witnessing. It was a photography that mattered, that captured the violence and oppression across the continent, which served as a visual source of information and witnessing. 

That tradition continues, but photography is also transforming rapidly as new technologies come into being, and the way is opened for new practitioners. In Moreno's work, pre-Hispanic traditions come into play in familiar situations, in work that "gives new meaning to the intricate tangle of the concealed and the visible, the individual and the collective subconscious, on the highly complex map of coexisting cultures and beliefs in contemporary Mexico,” says Moreno.

So photography is tapping into visual and psychological ways of being that are completely (as in COMPLETELY) outside the traditional western frame of reference. What happens to images when they come from beyond the traditions of a broadly accepted canon, when they link to ways of thinking that do not fall into the rigid Abrahamic and commercial hierarchies of contemporary photography theory and practice? 

It's a broad question but it ties into ideas of diversity that go beyond representation into the ways of thinking that lie behind that representation. And you can extend that to the ways of thinking that lie behind how we talk about photography, or art, or representation. If you are operating in spheres where artistic, cultural, and economic capital overlap, and the ways in which you think are limited to North European/American polarities, then who gets seen or talked about or valued is determined by conforming to a correct way of thinking. 

And that is what Ana's talk will be about; the diversity of representation in Mexico and the region, the way new technologies are opening up photography to new forms of photographic representation, new ways  of thinking and new audiences. And it will be about much more, because Ana is perhaps the most energetic and dynamic person I have ever met; her head is spinning with resources, references, and a love for the visual in its most challenging forms. 



This is the brief for the talk. You can sign up and find more information here.

Mexico and Latin America are marked by social and political struggles, cultural and ethnic contrasts. With more than 300 indigenous communities that preserve pre-Hispanic traditions, living side by side with mestizos and foreigners, Mexico is one of the most diverse and complex countries in the world. 

This talk will look at how, in the last 15 years, the democratization of access to internet, social media and photographic devices have opened a new and amazing scenario in which communities outside the mainstream art scene in Mexico are creating new representations that address their own cultural and personal identity in ways that integrate their ancient cosmovision with contemporary photography.


1.Wednesday 3rd March – Exhibiting Photography – Hannah Watson

2. Wednesday 10th March – Curating Photography - Susan Bright

3. Wednesday 17th March – Cultural, political and personal identity in Mexican and Latin American photography - Ana Casas Broda

4. Wednesday 24th March – Flora, Photography, Illustration - Gem Toes Crichton

5. Wednesday 31st March – Collaboration and Queerness - Anthony Luvera

6. Wednesday 7th April – The archive in photography – Candice Jansen

7. Wednesday 14th April – Africa in the Photobook - Ben Krewinkel

8. Wednesday 21st April – Establishing a Photo Festival - Nayantara Gurung Kakshapati


More information here.



Friday, 19 February 2021

Candice Jansen and the futures of black archives



    Photo copyright Nelise Nkosi




(Candice Jansen was originally scheduled to speak at the RPS but unfortunately cannot now attend. Instead Laura El Tantawy will talk on  The personal, the historical, the political: Dissecting In the Shadow of the Pyramids  Laura El Tantawy - Go here for more details

I was  blown away by talking to Candice a few weeks back, and hearing on how the archive, learning, and curriculum development can work together. As I understand it (and this is very much in my words), in her role she is working with archives, but also working with learning, and understanding how that learning plays out both with the visual history of the Workshop (and South Africa by extension), and with the histories of learning and what we give value to.

That becomes a question of what we give value to? How and why do we value written histories against oral histories, how do we understand things locally and globally, why do some ways of thinking, being, and speaking dominate over others, and how can image making become part of a community rather than about a community - which then means it's not about that community at all.

Tied into this is the question of how can we build a curriculum that is centred around these ideas, that looks at the archive to see how images have been used in the past, but also reconfigures how they can be used in the present. 




Some of those issues remind me of a talk that Dr Robbie Shilliam gave on  The British Academy and the British Empire: Blackness as a problem at home and abroad’ back in June last year.

Again, very much in my words, from a flawed and limited knowledge of anthropology this talk fed into how the black presence in academia came to be associated with the degeneration of the academy?

It looked at the changing motives of anthropology from Malinowski to Seligman to Banton, the ways in which ideas of  'cognitive incompotence' led to 'cultural incompetence' and then 'psychological incompetence'.

This fed into early ideas of British race relations where you got ideas of an 'urban incompetence' that tied to the establishment of the idea of  the inabilities of black people to adapt to particular situations, which ties to a 'political incompetence' where blacks and Commonwealth peoples are more susceptible to communist propaganda. 

So you have anthropology feeding into and creating ideas of  genetic, cognitive, cultural, psychological,  behavioural, work-ethic, aesthetic, and many more incompetences. And tied right in there (though the lecture didn't touch on this much) is photography. People, myself include, always ask how photography can effect change. Well, it already has, albeit as a gaslighting tool of oppression and difference. 

The talk was about how racism, prejudice, and rationalisation is embedded in society, in academia, in belief systems, how particular intelligences and means of expression (so the written as opposed to oral histories for example, the expository as opposed to the poetic) are valued above others and how this valuing is reinforced at every level.

If you want to know more, you'll have to go to the source, because I'm at the edge of my knowledge here, but I can't wait to get Candice's perspective on this from a very different angle.






1.Wednesday 3rd March – Exhibiting Photography – Hannah Watson
2. Wednesday 10th March – Curating Photography - Susan Bright
3. Wednesday 17th March – Cultural, political and personal identity in Mexican and Latin American photography - Ana Casas Broda
4. Wednesday 24th March – Flora, Photography, Illustration - Gem Toes Crichton
5. Wednesday 31st March – Collaboration and Queerness - Anthony Luvera
6. Wednesday 7th April –  The personal, the historical, the political: Disecting In the Shadow of the Pyramids  Laura El Tantawy
7. Wednesday 14th April – Africa in the Photobook - Ben Krewinkel
8. Wednesday 21st April – Establishing a Photo Festival - Nayantara Gurung Kakshapati

Wednesday, 17 February 2021

Hannah Watson at the Royal Photographic Society, March 3rd

 



I am starting a new series of talks  at the RPS on March 3rd. The series includes speakers from around the world who are involved in the connections between how local, international, ethical, creative and commercial concerns overlap in the  showing, publishing, and dissemination of  work. 

The speakers are not primarily photographers in these talks, but rather people who think very carefully about images have been and are used. 

And the first speaker is Hannah Watson of TJ Boulting Gallery


1.     In her talk,  Exhibiting Photography, Hannah Watson of TJ Boulting Gallery will look at how to show work from multiple perspectives. She will look at how she set up and built her gallery, how art and commerce combine in the settings of the online space, the gallery, and the fair. She will also give insights into how ideas, practice, and the commercial overlap and how the photographer/artist can combine these elements in presenting their work to galleries. She will also talk about how she got her gallery established, and what it is that makes work be successfully either critically or commercially, something that we think about, write about, teach so much, but we can never quite put our fingers on. 


      How all those elements of making work come together, pricing work, describing work, promoting work in different settings (from her own gallery to major photography fairs like Photo London) where different audiences and expectations apply will also be examined. All of these elements are something of a mystery, but the artists, and in particular female artists (Maisie Cousins, Juno Calypso, and Haley Morris-Cafiero are all featured here, as is Jack Latham), that TJ Boulting indicate that the idea of there being something substantial in great images, that tying in to broader photographic, visual, and cultural narratives makes things some images operate on different levels. What those levels are, we hope to find out. If you are wondering about exhibiting work, pricing work, or approaching galleries, this is a talk for you. There will be ample opportunities for questions as we seek to unpack the mysteries of exhibiting photography.

      Go here for more information and to sign up. The talks start on March 3rd and here is the full line up. 


1.    1. Wednesday 3rd March – Exhibiting Photography – Hannah Watson

2. Wednesday 10th March – Curating Photography - Susan Bright

3. Wednesday 17th March – Cultural, political and personal identity in Mexican and Latin American photography - Ana Casas Broda

4. Wednesday 24th March – Flora, Photography, Illustration - Gem Toes Crichton

5. Wednesday 31st March – Collaboration and Queerness - Anthony Luvera

6. Wednesday 7th April – The personal, the historical, the political: Disecting In the Shadow of the Pyramids  Laura El Tantawy

7. Wednesday 14th April – Africa in the Photobook - Ben Krewinkel

8. Wednesday 21st April – Establishing a Photo Festival - Nayantara Gurung Kakshapati 








Hannah Watson is the Director of publisher Trolley Books and contemporary art gallery TJ Boulting. Established in 2001, Trolley Books publish a diverse range of titles presenting unique stories in photography, photojournalism and contemporary art. In 2005 Trolley received a special commendation from the Kraszna-Krausz Book Awards for its outstanding contribution to photography book publishing. Hannah Watson joined Trolley in 2005 and continues the legacy of its founder Gigi Giannuzzi, who died at the end of 2012. The gallery TJ Boulting was founded when they relocated from Shoreditch to Fitzrovia in 2011. The gallery takes its name from the landmark Arts & Crafts building it inhabits. TJ Boulting’s programme supports and represents emerging and mid career contemporary artists in all mediums, including Juno Calypso, Maisie Cousins, Haley Morris-Cafiero, Poulomi Basu and Benedicte Kurzen. TJ Boulting has hosted the British Journal of Photography International Award since 2015, whose winners include Dominic Hawgood, Felicity Hammond, Juno Calypso, Daniel Castro Garcia, Sara, Peter & Tobias and Jack Latham. Hannah is Chair of The Fitzrovia Chapel, the Grade II* listed building originally part of the former Middlesex Hospital and a secular charity for art and the community, on the awards committee for the Royal Photographic Society, and Chair of the Contemporaries patrons committee for The Photographers' Gallery.





Friday, 12 February 2021

Exhibiting, Curating, Collaborating, Publishing, Learning and More: Talks at the RPS

     
    Image Copyright Pawan Joshi, of Photo Kathmandu


I am also very much looking forward to introducing these speakers for the third series of RPS lectures. They will be looking at how photography is made, used, understood, and exhibited from multiple perspectives. There will different perspectives on exhibiting, curating, publishing, on how regional histories, collaboration, the curriculum, and science feed into and from our understanding of images, how that has and can be used for both good means and bad - and how we can try to address the injustices of the past through a change in understanding what the community of knowledge is and can be. 

For more information and to sign up, please visit the RPS here.



 The third, of a three-part series, led by Colin Pantall, consists of eight lectures, each with an experienced and knowledgeable speaker. Sign up for the series or each individually (live shortly). 

This series of talks will create connections between the processes of making work and how local, international, ethical, creative and commercial concerns overlap in the  showing, publishing, and dissemination of  work. The talks will examine the photobook, the exhibition, the archive, collaborative work, the photo-festival, power, and regional identities.

Each Wednesday from 1800-2000 (GMT / BST from 31 March) a different speaker will give a view into how the understanding of images changes with context, with time, and with political imperatives. It will help you frame how you present your own work, and will help you understand how and why images from around the world have been made.


1. Exhibiting Photography – Hannah Watson / 3 March

    Installation image, Maisie Cousins, at TJ Boulting Gallery

Book this as a single event here

In Exhibiting Photography, Hannah Watson of T J Boulting Gallery will look at how to show work from multiple perspectives. She will look at how she set up and built her gallery, how art and commerce combine in the settings of the online space, the gallery, and the fair. She will also give insights into how ideas, practice, and the commercial overlap and how the photographer/artist can combine these elements in presenting their work to galleries.



2. Curating photography - Susan Bright / 10 March






In exhibitions such as Face of Fashion, Home Truths, and Feast for the Eyes, Susan Bright has curated both her own long-term projects to show in different locations in different sites for different purposes. This talk will look at how Susan has curated her shows using light, space, colour, sequencing, and collaboration. It will look at the different psychological spaces of curation and the ways in which the can serve the visual, the intellectual, the emotional, or the personal.


3. Cultural, political and personal identity in Mexican and Latin American photography - Ana Casas Broda / 17 March



Image by Diego Moreno - pre-order his book, In my mind there is never silence here

Mexico and Latin America are marked by social and political struggles, cultural and ethnic contrasts. With more than 300 indigenous communities that preserve pre-Hispanic traditions, living side by side with mestizos and foreigners, Mexico is one of the most diverse and complex countries in the world. This talk will look at how, in the last 15 years, the democratization of access to internet, social media and photographic devices have opened a new and amazing scenario in which communities outside the mainstream art scene in Mexico are creating new representations that address their own cultural and personal identity in ways that integrate their ancient cosmovision with contemporary photography.

4. Photography, Illustration and Flora – Gem Toes-Crichton / 24 March




When Anna Atkins made the first photobook in 1843, flora of different types have been at the forefront of photography. In this lecture, Gem Toes-Crichton will examine the history of flora in photography, the overlap between flora and multiple alternative processes (beginning with Atkins’ cyanotypes). She will also look at how photography, illustration, and science have overlapped in images of flora, and why illustration remains the preferred method of record at many of the herbaria around the world today (including the one where Gem has made her own work).

5. Collaboration and Queerness – Anthony Luvera / 31 March

Collaborative Portrait of Fox Fisher from Not Going Shopping (2013-2014) by Anthony Luvera

Anthony Luvera has worked with collaboration for almost 20 years, exploring different ways in which the dynamics of agency, power, representation, and ethics overlap in a socially engaged practice. In this talk, Anthony will share some of the strategies he employs using photographs, text, pedagogy, digital spaces, and oral history recordings. Focusing on his work with queer communities across the United Kingdom, he will examine the limits of collaboration, questions of agency, representational responsibility, and the tension between process and outcomes in collaborative practice. 

6. The personal, the historical, the political: Disecting In the Shadow of the Pyramids

 Laura el-Tantawy/ 7 April




In 2014, Laura El-Tantawy published In the Shadow of the Pyramids. Predominantly photographed during the uprising in Egypt during the 2011 Arab Spring, it was a protest book that combined images of the demonstrations  with a personal passage of grief and self-discovery. In the years following the revolution, the optimism and hope has disappeared as Egypt has entered an even more repressive period of its history. In this talk, Laura will question her original personal take on the period, examining how the image can  connect to broader visual, historical and political narratives. 



7. Africa in the Photobook - Ben Krewinkel / 14 April 



In this talk Ben Krewinkel will examine the history of the photobook in Africa over the last 150 years. He will examine the role photography played in upholding colonial power in Africa, in missionary schools, in the independence movement, to the present day. The production, purpose, and audience of photobooks that include propaganda, personality cult, and protest books will also be examined.

8. Establishing a festival – Nayantara Gurung Kakshapati

/ 21 April 



 Image copyright Pawan Joshi

Nayantara runs Photo Kathmandu, a biennial photo-festival that, from small beginnings, has grown to be renowned for its engagement with community, with urban architecture, and with the region. This lecture will look at how the festival has grown, how it links the local, the regional, and the international. It will also examine how the photo-festival has developed a burgeoning internationalism in photography, and ask what this means for the future of photographic arts.


For more information and to sign up, please visit the RPS here.

Wednesday, 10 February 2021

My new online course at Spazio Labo

 







I am really looking forward to starting a new online course at Spazio Labo. It's one where the photography practice of photography is combined with the visual and the theoretical to give an overview of how images are made, shown, and understood. 

It will be visual, accessible, and engaging. It starts on March 18th and you can get more details and sign up here

Over a period of eight weeks, this course will look at the different ideas, influences, and practices that have been used to tell visual stories in some of the major photographic movements and genres of photography.



Using both contemporary and historical examples, the course will take an engaging look at how stories are told through photography in print, in the gallery, in photobooks. The course will look at the ideas behind images and how artistic, cultural, and political influences have helped shape how those images can be understood.







Each session will include a lecture on a key genre of photography, as well as introductory readings and references to the ideas underlying that photography. There will be short sessions where students can put up images for peer and tutor review.




By the end of the course, students will have an understanding of how and why images are made, shown, and understood, how they fit within broader social and cultural movements, and how these ideas can be used to tell stories with their own images.


Go here for more details...