ARTSTALKING

Esther Teichmann, Fractal Scars, Salt Water and Tears

Flowers Gallery, 4th April - 10th May 2014

In her first solo show at Flowers, Esther Teichmann invites us into a liquid dream-like world of desire. Cascading waterfalls and seashells whispering the lapping of waves are juxtaposed with statues who seem to be stepping out of the stone from which they are carved. A large scale backdrop of a cave is painted in dripping inks. Languid female nudes punctuate mythical landscapes, auto-erotic in their gaze and gesture, eyes turned away or averted to storm clouds above them. A pregnant woman lies under a night sky with a child lying between her thighs, another rests on her elbow, back turned, swallowed by the darkness of the boat-bed she is lying upon. Sisters, friends, lovers, strangers, these women of flesh and stone tell us of pleasure and longing.

Teichmann’s practice uses still and moving image, collage and painting to create alternate worlds, which blur autobiography and fiction. Central to the work lies an exploration of the origins of fantasy and desire and how these are bound to experiences of loss and representation. Both filmic works and photographs of turned away bodies and primordial spaces of enchantment work with the relationships between images, and the narratives these juxtapositions create.

The exhibition is accompanied by a book by Self Pubish Be Happy

A late update from our Burtynsky exhibition last year.  Beautiful and abstract, these painterly photographs added a new plane of aestheticism to the subject of destruction of the landscape, in this instance with regards to one of the world’s most rapidly depleting resources - Water.

Edward Burtynsky, Water, Flowers Cork Street (Oct - Nov 2013)

Water is the most recent instalment of the artist’s investigation into our continually compromised environment. Weaving together the various roles that it plays in everyday life, Burtynsky has undertaken an ambitious representation of water’s increasingly fragmented life cycle. Often from an aerial perspective, the photographs take on a unique abstraction and painterly quality. Many of the images focus our attention not on water itself, but on the systems that humans have put in place in order to harness, shape and commodify it. Water follows the format of previous projects such as Oil, China and Quarries in it’s encyclopaedic exploration of a broad theme through a series of connected chapters or locations.

The first chapter, Distress, serves as a warning to the absence of water, these photographs show evidence of spoiled water sources and scarification left on the land after its desiccation. Concentrating on the area surrounding the Gulf of Mexico and the Colorado River delta, Burtynsky captures phosphate run-offs, abandoned shrimp farms, and the brilliant aquamarine excretion of geothermic chemicals into Lake Cerro Prieto, Mexico. The second part of the project illustrates humankind’s manipulation of the natural environment, geometrically engineered to Control the substance of water. The photographs document monumental infrastructures ranging from irrigation channels and flood controls, to the creation of water reserves and colossal hydroelectric power projects.

Within Agriculture, Burtynsky uses Pivot Irrigation in Texas and Dryland Farming in Monegros, Spain as archetypal case-studies of large scale terraforming phenomena. Carved into dramatic patchwork patterns, human intervention has led to these mineral rich lands being bled of their natural resources. Aquaculture is the cultivation of aquatic organisms under controlled conditions. Parts of the world have seen a rapid development due to the increasing pressures put on natural fish populations. Here, Burtynsky turns his interest to China, where aquaculture has become an important economic activity.

In Waterfront, Burtynsky meditates on the socio-cultural element of our relationship with water, revealing a deep fascination with the way humans interact with their environment. This contemplation is crystalized through images of mass tourism in Benidorm, contentious habitation schemes in Cape Coral and The Kumbh Mela, a religious festivity at the junction of the sacred Ganges in India. In conclusion, Source highlights the efficiency and purity of healthy ecosystems and natural water cycles. As though etched or painted, erosion has weaved colourful river patterns onto dramatic landscapes. Spanning from the Sacred Headwaters in British Columbia to the volcanic deserts and glacier streams of Iceland, the photographs depict both the vulnerability of water at its foundations and the increasing threat of human expansion.

Both beautiful and haunting Burtynsky’s Water creates a compelling global portrait that illustrates humanity’s past, present and future relationship with the natural world and its most vital and rapidly depleting resource.

Nobuyoshi Araki

Michael Hoppen Contemporary, 02.05.13 - 15.06.13

Often described as ‘The King of Provocation’ and Photography’s ‘dirty uncle,’ Nobuyoshi Araki’s work is nothing if not controversial.  His current exhibition at Michael Hoppen Contemporary celebrates his most contentious body of work, centred on the Japanese art of erotic bondage, ‘Kinbaku-bi’ or as it is literally translated ‘the beauty of tight binding.’  Large-scale, beautifully coloured and alluringly, his photographs are notorious for defying Japanese social customs and censorship. 

Staging a further investigation into the controversy surrounding Araki’s bondage work, the gallery has hung the ‘Kinbaku-bi’ pieces alongside traditional Japanese ‘Shunga’ prints from the 18th and 19th Centuries.  An early and covertly disseminated art form, the beautiful woodblock carvings became widely distributed and covetable collector objects.  Through placing these traditional erotic prints alongside Araki’s photographs, the exhibition has successfully placed his work in the cultural and aesthetic context of traditional Japanese erotica.  From such a perspective Araki’s work can be explained as a contemporary exploration of established themes, thus validating work both historically and aesthetically.

Interviewed for the Guardian, Simon Baker (photography curator at the Tate), roots the allure of Araki’s work in the duality of Japanese culture, a point that is further alluded to by the presence of the ‘Shunga’ prints.  “It’s an incredibly polite, formal society on the surface, but it has this underside of sexuality.  Araki very effectively works on this relationship.”

Born in the 1960’s in Japan, Daido Moriyama is best known for his unflinching documentation of Tokyo street life. His often politically charged photographs act as recordings of a time of great political and social change in Japanese cities, of tradition giving way to ‘Americanised’ or Western values. Much like his iconic ‘Stray dog’, Moriyama roams the streets capturing the darker side of everyday experience. His images of the city are grainy and unpolished, reflective of the alienating and ever changing environment being photographed.

Moriyama’s most recent ‘Tights' project departs from the dark street photography for which he is best known. The stark, clean lines play on erotically abstracted human forms. And yet for all the apparent aesthetic differences in the aesthetic of these more recent photographs, the sentiment is the same: a desire to observe and preserve the everyday details that are so often overlooked. 

Richard Prince’s photographic series known as the ‘Cowboys’ was produced between 1980 and 1992. Created during a decade devoted to materialism and illusion, the works are a deconstruction of the cultural and commercial pre-occupations of the era. With the series, Prince elaborated on ideas first explored by Andy Warhol, hijacking an American Myth by re-photographing a Marlboro cigarette advertisement.  ‘The Cowboy’ is the defining image of personal freedom and machismo associated with American culture, and through removing the associated logo’s and health warnings of the advertisement, and enlarging the re-photographed image for gallery display, Prince undermined the seeming authenticity of the images, exposing their role/employment as manifestations of society’s desires.

Prince’s Untitled (Cowboy) was the first “re-photograph” to sell for over $1 million at auction at Christies in 2005.

Dennis Hopper (1936 -2010) is perhaps best known for his roles in Hollywood films such as Blue Velvet, Apocalypse Now and Hoosiers.  In the years before he found fame in front of the camera, he was also revered as a photographer, and images from his ‘Lost Album' are currently being exhibited at the Gagosian in NYC for the first time since 1970.  

His photographs captured the spirit and protagonists of the 1960’s with portraits of artists, actors and political figures.  To me, however, perhaps the most evocative are those shown above from various trips to Mexico - from Los Angeles to Tijuana. The photographs are incredibly filmic, reminiscent of the imagery conjured from Cormac MacCarthy's 'Border Trilogy' and of the poetic prose weaved around such cultural myths from the Mexican border, and of their traditional associations. 

 

During the 1960’s and 70’s, Helmut Newton revolutionised this image of femininity. His women are immaculate, dominant and powerful, and almost always completely naked.  His imagery is laden with a multitude of influences ranging from expressionist cinema to S&M and Surrealism.  Amazonian subjects are set against the backdrop of luxurious interiors and exotic locations armed with sinister props and insolent demeanours.

The glamour and exoticism of Newton’s photographs are often cited to have been rooted in his experiences of growing up within the European upper-classes, and particularly his childhood in the decadent pre-war Berlin.   Timeless and endlessly imitated, the models and provocative poses of his photographs transformed the fashion world and reflected the period of extreme change and sexual revolution that liberated his era.

Mike Brodie 

A Period of Juvenile Prosperity

In 2003, aged 18, Mike Brodie took his camera with him as he rode across America in freight trains with his drifter friends.  The photographs produced from this period are both epic and intimate, a portrait of a romanticised youth caught in a Kerouac-esque rite of passage.  The work conjures associations with Ryan McGinley’s liberated adolescence, and more self-consciously with the portraits of Steve McCurry which Brodie cited as one of his influences.

The work has now been distilled into a book published by Twin Palms and is currently being exhibited both at Yossi Milo in New York, and M+B Gallery in LA.

Jeurgen Teller, Woo!

One of the few artists to operate successfully in both the art world, and the commercial sphere of advertising and fashion, Jeurgen Teller’s exhibition at the ICA seamlessly documents the journey of a career that has navigated the breadth of photography from the 80’s to today.

Entering the exhibition we are greeted by a large format triptych depicting  Vivienne Westwood coquettishly posed like a naughty, naked Queen Elizabeth.  Her white skin and self-confidence is magnificent framed against the woven Baroque patterns, and the images exude all that is distinctive and recognisable about Teller’s aesthetic; humour, self-mocking and provocative.  The pieces provide the centrepiece to an exhibition that seems to have been constructed to remind us of Teller’s capacity to subvert the conventional relationship of artist and model, particularly in the context of celebrity portraiture. 

Jeurgen Teller, Woo! Is at the ICA until 17th March 2013

 

Revealed yet concealed. Shameless yet shameful. Ease with unease. Beauty and destruction. These paradoxes are displayed in all my work; an inquiry into what it feels like to be human.

-Nadav Kander

Coated in white marble dust and set against the void of the photographers’ studio, the subjects of Nadav Kander’s BODIES. 6 Women, 1 Man serve as monumental studies of the human condition. 

Far from the airbrushed perfection that permeates images of nudity in popular culture, Nadav Kander presents us with honest photographs of the human form.  The ‘bodies’ featured reference the forms of the classical and renaissance past, whilst modernising the genre of the nude to act as a tool for philosophical investigation.  Faces turned from the viewer, but bodies offered completely, the forms invite the meditation and self-reflection customarily associated with religious iconography and tomb sculpture. 

Kander has cited Elizabethan notions of purity as an influence for his bleached treatment of the auburn haired bodies.  The subjects are placed awkwardly, contorted and twisted or bowed reverently.  In Audrey with Toes and Wrist Bent (2011) the form reclines, her toes and fingers curled uncomfortably from limbs.  Flaws laid bare, the figure is exposed and vulnerable to our gaze.  It is this sense of vulnerability, and of humanity stripped of its defences that Kander investigates as a point of beauty.

Wherever I may be, my pictures seek to expose the shadow and vulnerability that exists in all of us, and it is this vulnerability that I find so beautiful.

-Nadav Kander

BODIES. 6 Women, 1 Man develops the exploration of the human condition established by Kander in earlier work such as Yangtze - The Long River.  Whether photographing the consequences of the incomprehensible development in modern-day China, or a white painted nude suspended against the darkness of his studio, his photographs are linked by their ‘compassionate ruthlessness’, and by the constant strive to explore the poeticism of life’s idiosyncrasies.

Nadav Kander (b. 1961, Israel) is best known for Yangtze – The Long River, for which he earned the prestigious Prix Pictet award in 2009.  Other series include Obama’s People, an acclaimed 52 portrait series commissioned by New York Times magazine, and his recent portraits for the National Portrait Gallery exhibition Road to 2012.  Kander’s work is included in several public collections, and he has exhibited worldwide at venues such as the Palais de Tokyo, the Herzilya Museum of Contemporary Art, Israel and the Kunsthallen Nikolaj, Copenhagen.   He was named International Photographer of the Year at the 7th Annual Lucie Awards in 2009 and has received awards from the Art Director’s Club and IPA in the USA, the D&AD and the John Kobal Foundation in the UK and Epica in Europe. 

Nadav Kander BODIES, 6 Women, 1 Man is at Flowers Cork Street from the 11th January - 9th February 2013.

The exhibition has received fantastic reviews in The Guardian, The Independent, The Week, The Huffington Post, The Evening Standard, and Time Magazine’s Lightbox.

There will be a book signing for the BODIES, 6 Women, 1 Man publication at The Photographers Gallery this Friday 25th January from 5-6pm.

Ryan McGinley

Like Nan Goldin and Wolfgang Tillmans before him, Ryan McGinley’s photographs engage with the subject of youth, and the documenting of his generation.  His work is distinguished from that of his predecessors however by its sense of liberation and joy.  His friends and acquaintances perform for the camera, displaying themselves frankly with a self-awareness that is distinctly contemporary.

The youthful sublime is the central theme to McGinley’s work, whether relating to his early adventures in downtown Manhattan, or more recently in his studio portraits and more closely choreographed work.

Sylvia Wolf, the Whitney Museum's Curator of Photography remarked at the time of McKinley's 2003 exhibition that,  “Each new generation discovers sex, drugs, and danger as though theirs is the first to experience adventure or rebellion. Unlike many past photographs of teen culture, McGinley’s images lack irony, boredom and angst. There is a disarming delight McGinley and his subjects appear to take in their lifestyle. With images that are charged with spontaneity, candor, and exuberance, McGinley adds new energy to the genre.”

NOEMIE GOUDAL

Since graduating from the RCA in 2010, Noemie Goudal’s work has acquired a huge amount of interest.  Playing with the notions of the ‘natural and the artificial, the constructed and the found,’ her photographs create a playful dialogue with the viewer, in which codes of representation are teased apart to become a point of investigation.

Goudal’s most recent series 'Haven her body was,' showing at Edel Assanti until the 14th October, is perhaps her most refined exploration of this theme.  In these works she interacts with the contradictions and ideas articulated in ‘Desert Islands’ by Gilles Deleuze.  The contradictions in her photographs allude to the crisis of meaning integral to understanding today’s alienated world.

Noemie’s work is currently featured in both the London Journal of Photography and Fourth & Main.  ‘Haven Her Body Was’ will be moving to Project B in Milan in November.

UNSEEN AMSTERDAM

19 - 23 September 2012

A converted gas works to the west of Amsterdam provided the dramatic setting for the first edition of this Dutch photography fair.  The fantastically marketed and presented event showcased the Dutch at the forefrunt of design, whilst nurturing the photography world around its ‘Unseen’ concept.  

The ‘Unseen’ idea was interpreted variably, with galleries being encouraged to exhibit works by relatively unknown talents, whilst also exhibiting new work by some of photography’s most established names.  

The range in quality of work was vast.  But peaks in the spectrum and atmosphere made up for an occasional lack of quality.  Highlights included ‘Talking to Ants’ by Stephen Gill and some beautiful little Noe Sendas prints at Michael Hoppen.  Nadav Kander’s poetic, monumental interpretation of the nude in a preview from his ‘BODIES. 6 women, 1 man’ series proved a pinnacle for many, and Margerita Gluzberg's solo show at Paradise Row made an interesting commentary on the structures of desire and consumer culture in such a setting.  

The online and communal aspect of the fair was a huge success, with events, talks and forums removing any preconceived notions of exclusivity associated with the art world.  Such ideas were continued into the realm of buying and collecting, and a huge emphasis was placed on encouraging the young or first-time buyer.  For example the Unseen Collection, a highly successful auxiliary project, asked participating galleries to include one or two works worth under 1,000 euro in a separate exhibition.  The result was an encouraging influx of inexperienced buyers, and previously alienated public, who with a little help from the Bank Giro Lottery were able to take an active interest and commercial participation in the fair.

It was this sense of inclusiveness that gave the lasting impression at Unseen, an emphasis not only placed by the fair itself, but by the multitude of side projects such as talks, interviews, dummy awards and exhibitions that accompanied it.

LIU ZHENG


Liu Zheng’s photographs provide an ‘achingly modern’ representation of China. Each photograph is made up of traditionally and theatrically posed subjects, often staged in tableaux. The upper two works are disguised as 19th century scenes from the Peking Opera, and are veiled with layers of aesthetic tradition. However upon closer examination the works are revealed to be made up of contemporary subjects in various states of debauchery, often satirically criticising Chinese culture and decadence. His all-encompassing, uninhibited presentation of society and its outsiders is reminiscent of the work of Diane Arbus and Nan Goldin.

The two lower photographs are from the series’ ‘The Chinese,’ which is currently showing at Yossi Milo Gallery, and portray a society battling contradictory states of modernization and tradition, it is this juxtaposition that provides the central theme to Zheng’s work.

TARYN SIMON

The Innocents


Taryn Simon’s The Innocents is a fascinating, cinematically styled investigation into photography’s role within the justice system in the United States.  Following on from a project commissioned by the New York Times in which Simon photographed men who had been wrongfully convicted, imprisoned and eventually freed from Death Row, The Innocents further investigates the role of the camera in such a system, and ‘photography’s function as a credible eyewitness and arbiter of justice.’  

Simon’s subjects are specifically those for whom photographic evidence played a substantial role in them being illegitimately convicted of crimes.  The men are posed in locations specific to their cases, and each piece is accompanied by texts such as: ’Larry Mayes: Served 18.5 years of an 80 year sentence for Rape, Robbery, and Unlawful Deviate Conduct’ 2002.

Simon has stated how ‘Photography’s ability to blur truth and fiction is one of its most compelling qualities,’ and through the medium of The Innocents reveals the severe and even lethal consequences that such ambiguity can incur.

Taryn Simon is represented by The Gagosian and her recent work, A Living Man Declared Dead and Other Chapters I–XVIII, is currently on exhibition at The Museum of Modern Art, New York.