I was having a poke around aCurator-featured photographer Brian David Stevens' site today after he Tweeted about the 87th birthday of Anthony Wedgwood Benn, a British politician who, as per good old Wikipedia "...has topped several polls to find the most popular politician in Britain. He has also been described as "one of the few UK politicians to have become more left-wing after holding ministerial office." Since leaving Parliament, Benn has become more involved in the grass-roots politics of demonstrations and meetings, as opposed to parliamentary activities, and has been the President of the Stop the War Coalition for the last decade. He has also been a vegetarian since the 1970s." Yay for Tony Benn.
Then I connected with this portrait of Molly Parkin ("a Welsh painter, novelist and journalist, who became most famous for exploits in the 1960s") with George Melly (an English jazz and blues singer, critic, writer and lecturer. From 1965 to 1973 he was a film and television critic for The Observer and lectured on art history, with an emphasis on surrealism.)
BDS and I share a bit of common history so in a nod to the music of our time, a portrait of the Jesus and Mary Chain. I wonder whether I still look just as sardonic, 25 years on.
aCurator-featured artist Zachary Bako has been working with artist Liu Bolin in China for some time now. Recently they were in New York, with Bako documenting a collaboration between Bolin and French artist JR.
"Liu Bolin's passion for his artwork was clear from the start. The more I worked with Liu, the more interested I got in capturing his emotion, and that of those around him, as he works. When we collaborate, I find myself peeling the camera away from my face, almost like I need to take a minute now and then just to bear witness to the intensity of the atmosphere around me. In particular, when we were in his hometown of Binzhou in Shandong Province, China, last September creating two works."
"Liu Bolin and JR have known each other for 4 or 5 years ago. They
first met in Arles, France. During Liu Bolin's first performance for
Hiding in New York in 2011 (at that time, in front of the Kenny Scharf
mural on Houston and Bowery) JR stopped by to give his regards. Almost a
year later the two would collaborate on a piece."
"First, JR photographed Liu Bolin's face (the frame denotes his left eye
partially visible through the fingers of his left hand) (Liu Bolin is
predominately left-handed when creating sculptures and painting) Then JR
and his assistants pasted the mural onto his studio door. Once the
pasting was completed, we waited for the correct light and Liu Bolin and
his assistants then painted JR into his own image. Perched on
scaffolding across the street, (there was a SUV parked from the correct
POV, so we elevated camera to combat this) Liu Bolin directed his
assistants with a laser pointer to perfect every last detail. The final
product, a photograph."
"Frankly, Liu Bolin and JR respect each other's work; even so much that
JR has collected one of Liu Bolin's pieces. I think that it is fantastic
that a cultural bridge is connected with these two artists. They are no
doubt, two very important artists of our time; both having very
distinct messages within their work. I consider their collaboration a
homage to one another." - Zachary Bako.
I met the delightful Hye-Ryoung Min at a portfolio review and she got me hooked on the show she'd been covering on Channel 247.
In her teens, Hye-Ryoung couldn't help but think that somebody was watching her all the time. "I had to act as a main actress in some kind of movie which made me feel self-conscious wherever I went. This might be typical of many other teenagers and it might even play a part in how one creates a sense of self. I remember when the movie 'The Truman Show' came out in 1998. It opens with the question: "What if you were watched every moment of your life?" It completely matched my imagination. The movie went on to show how Truman would really feel after he realized the truth of his condition. Which leads me to ask: how different is our behavior when we are conscious of others around us? And what do involuntary actions tell or reveal about us?"
"I had five television sets at home. Three of them were in the living room and two were in the back, one in the bedroom and the other one in the kitchen. By "televisions" I actually mean windows. The three windows in the living room had the most interesting and varied shows and actors, since they give out on the main boulevard with its constant flow of people and situations. But I also enjoyed the daily shows in the backyard featuring a more regular cast of actors and private moments.
This kind of programming had a loose schedule and no guarantees that shows would play on time. For the most part, it was all silent film and the story lines were pretty much repetitive. However, I started noticing subtle nuances and differences from day to day. Repetition helped me understand actors' basic characters; nuance and difference offered me clues into their hidden stories." Hye-Ryoung Min, 2012.
Anindya Chakraborty sent in his series of photographs on Dhokra, an ancient metal casting process taking place in West Bengal. Here is the story in his words.
"The village of Deriapur in West Bengal is not very much known to outsiders. Although Indians are familiar with metal casting for more than five thousands years and Dokra is one of the ancient metal casting process still existing within Santhals, there are less people to take notice of it."
"The people of Deriapur have a unique history. They belonged to Malhar tribe which was nomadic in nature. Finally they settled in two places in West Bengal, India. One of those two places is Deriapur where around 50 families are putting up. Their art of creating metal structures is beautiful but silent. It does
not ring bell in Governments officials who are busy in much more
important matters and they closed their office which used to lend out
money to the artisans sometime back. Media has many other important
things to cover as well so the people of Deriapur are slowly getting the
same idea and moving on."
"Some of their children go to school and drop out because of money
and elders work mostly in fields or they prefer to drink when they have
some money. Art can come later. Around 20 years back one of these people
got an award from the President for his talent and got 1 Lakh Indian
rupees (which was a good amount that time)."
"The same person now goes to field for living. They don't have much complains though and they are slowly getting into a state which we call - terribly happy!"
US-born artist Roger Ballen studied psychology and geology; he talks about peering into the earth, and we see that he also peers into humanity. Living in South Africa since the late 70s Ballen photographed exclusively in the wild until he brought his camera and flash inside in the early 80s, finding motifs in the poor rural communities that he would use in later work. He does not sketch his scenes in advance, knowing that one can't predict too much. People say his work is dark... "The reason most people say these pictures are disturbing is they can't deal with their own repression."
Ballen has a new exhibition at the Manchester Art Gallery in England 'Shadow Land: Photographs by Roger Ballen 1983-2011' opening March 30th, and another at Marta Herford, Germany, opening April 22nd, 2012.
Ballen has known the band members of Die Antwoord for several years and in a befitting collaboration they recently produced this music video for 'I Fink U Freeky.'
Order your copy of 'Photographs Not Taken', a collection of short essays by photographers including Ballen's story 'The Cat Catcher.'
Also, "The Roger Ballen Foundation is dedicated to the advancement of education of photography in South Africa. RBF creates and supports programmes of the highest quality to further the understanding and appreciation of the medium. Working with artists from around the world, our program enables students and general audiences to engage with notable contemporary photographic art that would otherwise not be seen in South Africa."
At the New York Film Academy last year I presented my dog and pony show and held a review of the students' work. It was a small and intense group and I was impressed with their well-roundedness. Props to them and their tutors.
I was happy to attend the final exhibition recently and catch up with Scott Brownlee. Scott has vastly developed his project on gender, making portraits, recording a frank video interview with Mik about being intersex, and publishing 'Mixed', a book examining gender identity. Go Scott!
British photographer Mark Sherratt sent in a new series shot in January as he traveled around India. Notorious for its packed public transport, Mark's images give us a sense there's room to breathe. Just about.
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As a member of the American Photography Archives Group, in my role representing the Estate of Yousuf Karsh, I sit among some truly great archivists, including relatives of Ernst Haas, Phillipe Halsman, Inge Morath, Gordon Parks and many more. The founder of this group is the inimitable Mary Engel, daughter of photographers Ruth Orkin and Morris Engel, who also works hard representing her parents' archives.
Daughter of a silent film actress, Ruth Orkin had an early interest in film movies and was the first messenger girl at MGM Studios! "Orkin wanted to become a cinematographer; however, women were not allowed to join the union. It was not until the 1950′s when she and her husband Morris Engel made their first independent feature film "Little Fugitive." Truffaut credited the film with helping to start the French New Wave."
In Mary's words: "My mother, Ruth Orkin, had many loves. Photography and travel were two of them. When she was 17, my mother took a cross-country trip by herself, bicycling and hitchhiking from her home in Los Angeles to New York, snapping pictures along the way. She later moved to New York, where this spirit of adventure continued. She photographed Tanglewood's summer music festivals, honed her craft in nightclubs, joined the Photo League, and with her first published story in Look magazine, became "a full-fledged photojournalist." In 1951, Life sent her on assignment to Israel. From there she went to Italy, and it was in Florence that she met Jinx Allen (now known as Ninalee Craig), a painter and fellow American.
The two were talking about their shared experiences traveling alone as young single women, when my mother had an idea. "Come on," she said, "lets go out and shoot pictures of what it's really like." In the morning, while the Italian women were inside preparing lunch, Jinx gawked at statues, asked Military officials for directions, fumbled with lire and flirted in cafes while my mother photographed her. They had a lot of fun, as the photograph, "Staring at the Statue", demonstrates. My mother's best known image, "American Girl in Italy" was also created as part of this series."
aCurator is pleased to publish some of the rest of this photo shoot.
From Lady Day to Lady Gaga... The opening night of She Bop A Lula was a huge success. At Proud's Strand Gallery in central London, the exhibition includes over 60 photographs for sale at £200 of the most influential female recording artists of the past six decades, by female photographers. All proceeds go to Breakthrough Breast Cancer Charity.
Running through April 1st, please support the cause, spread the word, buy yourself a photograph of a recording artist you love!