Saturday, 28 January 2012

Influential quotes - David Bailey, Koos Breukel, Rineke Dijkstra, Richard Kern, Wolfgang Tillmans

I have a few quotes from a few photographers here that I could say have proven to be similar and influential to me over the past months. 
David Bailey
On David Bailey,
“This what Bailey referred to as his ‘imposed democracy’ It forces the viewer of these photographers to confront the human form in the most direct and searingly honest way imaginable.”
Koos Breukel
On Koos Breukel,
“The major difference between other studio photographs and Koos Breukel is that he photographs people because he wants to find out if they have suffered some form of injury as a result of setbacks in their lvies and if they have managed to come to terms with this.”
Rineke Dijkstra
“For Me, the start point of work is observation; how do you look at things and how can you capture emotion or an idea or an image? How do you relate to your subject and what exactly inspires you when you look at something or somebody? What inspires you when you look at works of art?”
Richard Kern
On Richard Kern,
“Photographer and film maker remains, first and foremost, a portraitist. For more than two decades Kern has sought to unravel and illuminate the complex and often darker sides of human nature. Kern makes the psychological space between the sitter, photographer and audience his subject. With his dry, matter of fact approach, he underlines the absurdity of truth and objectivity in photography while playing with our reliance on taxonomies around sexual representation.”
Wolfgang Tillmans
“If sex and violence are used to entertain people or to market something, they are acceptable. It is aimless, directionless sex that shocks and scares people most. Normally when women are photographed thy are offering themselves in someway. People don’t mind that - it’s when self-affirmed, powerful women are shown to be in control of their sexuality that people feel threatened. And yet to me such images are harmless - innocent, even. How odd, that the most innocent image should seem the most obscene.”

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

'Vacancy' contribution

I’ve got the opportunity to have some work displayed in the Holden Gallery, if I can get the print done and framed in time. I have had this image for about one year now, and I have not used it for anything. However, I now have a book in progress entitled 'Vacancy' which I will elaborate later that I'm keen on including it in.
I particularly like it for the way you get this descending level of contrast. The location of the image as well is something I like about it, I have been there a number of times and this image looks nothing like it should on a clear day. Everything about the location has changed in this image.

Thomas Struth

I have recently been directed toward the work of German photographer Thomas Struth. Just because my recent ideas found themselves lurking in to the psychological path of Struth’s work. I found this particularly interesting, during an interview given in 1988, Struth is asked to reply to a statement that describes his work “as political and social” : “Certainly, even if not, of course, in a direct manner. As far as my work on urban space is concerned, it is political and social in the sense I described before, of an analysis and a synthesis of our way of living in this society. But, I also think that my interest in portraiture, which I started to make 5 years ago, works in that direction, as a sort of testimony to people living in our age.”
Thomas Struth’s work is a testimony that ‘us’ photographers are researchers. This next extract is from James Lingwood’s Composure [or on being Still] text on Thomas Struth.
Thomas Struth’s photographs over the past 20 years constitute a sustained and concentrated inquiry into the ethics and aesthetics of seeing. Struth’s research is not motivated solely by an interest in what we can see - the surfaces of places, people and paintings - important though the subjects of his photographs are to him. He is equally preoccupied with the question of the way that we see. Because the way that we see, the manners and the models of seeing, are a powerful signifier or our social being, of the way that we are, with ourselves and with others; of the way that we negotiate our relations with people around us, with ‘Strangers and Friends’, to return to the title of an earlier book of Struth’s.
Taken from STILL by Thomas Struth

Thomas Struth has been that artist that I have always admired (from a distance), however it is only now that I feel it has become more relevant to me. With the work I am doing now and the project I am lining up to run straight off of it, I find my own mentality comparing to Struth’s.
Here are a few photographs from his portraits that analyse families. 

Monday, 23 January 2012

I have included these videos on the blog as a personal reminder to keep revising ideas on future work. I will be working with possibly three Polish friends on creating a portrait series that looks at life as an immigrant in this country. I do not want to create this work as a pathetic excuse to make work as just a personal response, but rather to make work that still possesses the methodology I have begun working with of late that is spurred on by an emotive reaction to recent events.

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Selective Colour Correction - Prints

After my films have been developed and dried, I usually put the negative through the Hassleblad scanner, so that for starters I can access the images digitally. It is also a good method for me to figure out which frames I am going to use to make darkroom prints out of. Almost like a digital contact sheet. You might add, what is the point in doing that, either stick to one or the other. For me, I find it practical to do so.
Throughout this current project I have planned to make the prints myself and frame them myself, so the digital images you saw before of Monika Sur, were just scans of the negative.
Reasons for doing this is for exhibition purposes. I want a certain aesthetic to come through with the images when they are displayed. 
So, I have been working on making prints of the three images of Monika. The film I used for the shoot was a Fujichrome film which was cross processed. It was also around two months out of date. 
Most times the colours on these films do tend to go a little bit off, but not that drastic considering the time.
As the portraits were shot in the studio the whole light set up was artificial, however, what has made the printing process even more difficult is how off the colours was. There also was a line of Magenta which appeared on the arm of Monika that would deem the print a fail. 
Through quite a bit of time I managed to get somewhere with it through the method of selective colour correction. Selective colour is something that can be altered in photoshop in about 5 minutes  - this process took me days to accomplish (correctly). 

I have plans to get these framed at the sizes they are. I want to create the frames myself, and I have been thinking about it on and off now, almost subconscious; just how I want to display the photographs.
I would like to cover the frames in ivy vines. I wasn’t sure this idea could be possible but I have been assured it is doable. The reason for this is because I am currently working with the title for this piece of work, and though at the moment I have entitled it Walls, that is subject to change. It is to do with the barriers that relationships produce, so therefore I would like something to represent that. The title, the images, and even the way the images are displayed. I would like them to all come together as one WHOLE piece.

Friday, 6 January 2012

Eija-Liisa Ahtila

To begin, what connects me with Eija-Liisa Ahtila’s work are the themes she explores, the methodology of her practice and what drives her to create the work she does. Simply because, they are things I have begun to notice in myself.
Born in Hämeenlinna, Finland in 1959, Ahtila’s work takes on themes such as, love, sexuality, identity, jealousy, anger, vulnerabilit, and reconciliation. She has continued to explore these powerful emotions that underly human relationships throughout her career, and her work has been described (by herself) as ‘human dramas’. Ahtila creates fictional narratives from lengthy periods of research as well as from her own observations and experiences. The process of emotional reconciliation is a recurrent motif: her characters move between past and present without relying on a conventional cinematic 'flashback'. In recent work, the border between 'self' and 'other' is investigated as the viewer is invited to peer inside the minds of individuals caught in moments of psychological fragility.

Elija-Liisa Ahtila, Laugh, 2000
from the Assitant Series, 27 x 73 in. (69 x 186.5cm) framed

Eija-Liisa Ahtila, Closed Door, 2000
from the Assistant Series, 27 x 73 in. (69 x 186.5 cm) framed

Eija-Liisa Ahtila, View, 2000
from the Assistant Series, 24 x 68 in. (61 x 172.5) framed

She is very much concerned with the language of film-making. There are three elements that she views as central to her work: the way images are constructed, the way narrative unfolds, and the physical space in which the work is encountered. She is interested in how film and video are absorbed into our everyday worlds, and many of her works adopt the techniques of contemporary media, from music videos, commercials, cinema trailers to documentary film. Some of the films are shown on multiple screens, or within complex installations that require the viewer to navigate their way through the space. Others are as likely to be encountered in a cinema or on television as in a gallery setting.

Eija-Liisa Ahtila, House, 2000
from the Assistant Series, 24 x 68 in. (61 x 172.5 cm) framed

Eija-Liisa Ahtila, Support, 2000
from the Assistant Series, 27 x 73 in. (69 x 186.5 cm) framed

Eija-Liisa Ahtila currently works in Helsinki.

Sunday, 1 January 2012

Future Work? and Tania Bruguera

There has been quite a bit of an uproar throughout the past year in Great Britain. In terms of the government, the economy, communities - social integration - immigration, and patriotism.
More notably with the riots (riots that evolved in to looting) that spread from London right up the country to other cities such as Bristol, Birmingham and Manchester. Some said that the outbreak was predictable and it was only a matter of time before the growing tension and impatience with the British government reached its limit. 
What has made me talk about this, as with everything, you take in what your environment gives you, during the period of the riots there were journalist holding brief interviews with the public, and with the people carrying out the looting. During one interview a reporter asks the question to a Salford man in his thirties (who obviously didn’t give two shits about anything and saw it as a keen opportunity to get away with senseless looting) “why have you got to do it?” to which he responded “why? Because you’re letting all the polish, all the ... everyone in our country, letting everyone do our jobs, and we can’t get no jobs.”
A few months later “My Tram Experience” was uploaded on to youtube. A racial outburst by a drunken caucasian woman on a busy South London tram. Through the length of the video she attacks various ethnical minorities in what was some kind of ‘defense’ for her England. “Loads of black people, and loads of fucking Polish”
I guess what has me linking the two videos together and what has triggered some form of response from me is the fact that both if these racially aggravated videos not only attack people of colour who have migrated to this country, not just in our generations but generations before, but it attacks people of Polish decent.
I have quite a few friends here in Manchester, some live in the city centre, others on the outskirts such as Salford, and Droylsden, and through the ones I speak to on this matter they tell me what a racist city it is. The mention the casual demeaning responses they receive when a person detects their accent. Which is incredibly sad, especially as we are now in 2012.
I think subconsciously my mind has been thinking about this quite a bit, and it is not as if I look at these situations through a secondary position and assume I know what it feels like. I am an ethnical minority myself. I have experienced first hand racism in such instances. First hand and second hand racism are very different experiences. Almost like the contrast between sympathy and empathy.  
Anyway I had been thinking about this in terms of work form. With the methodology not far off the work of portraits I am doing now. Perhaps with influences from such artist’s as Eija Liisa Ahtila and Elina Brotherus. Then earlier this week reading through the January - February 2012 issue of Freize magazine, I came across Tania Bruguera, an artist involved in a long-term project in New York, called the Immigrant Movement International. A project that doesn’t set out to represent politics but creates political situations. 
Bruguera, a Cuban artist who lives and works in Queens, New York defines her work as ‘Behaviour Art’. To which she aims to create art that actively inhabits cultural, political and social power structures, in an attempt to influence, rather than represent, them.
So, like with many things in the artistic world there are artists that have done what you intend to do and you might not know it, however I believe I’m going to continue with this train of thought. It is all still very staggered with no acute ending. Besides we work on different mediums!