I am going to PhotoEspaña on 5-7th June. I am joining a The Photographers Gallery Patrons Programme. Here I look at some of the artists and participants I will be meeting and review what I think before I go. I will update after my visit with what changed.
The Incised Shadow, Javier Vallhonrat
‘This exhibition is the result of over 10 years of fieldwork at the Maladeta Glacier in the Pyrenees. During this time, the artist has explored and spent time at the glacier that is now in a delicate state of conservation.
Along with his photography equipment and his high altitude tent, which serves as both a shelter and a camera obscura, Vallhonrat has stayed on site year after year to document this badly harmed glacier “animal”. He respects its vulnerability and portrays it from its most immediate proximity to distant views, flying over it in a light aircraft.
The Incised Shadow underlines the importance of working slowly and the physical experience, as a way of developing an affective and symbolic relationship to the Maladeta Glacier that is portrayed with love and respect in the hopes of treasuring a possible future for it.’ (Source Photoespaña link above).
My impressions – The opening image shows a number of photographs in rectangle layed overlapping each other to show the glacier. There is a blue seam in the centre of the image that both looks like a cross and has a horse’s head top left biting in to the rock and hanging feet. The effect is visually pleasing to my eye. There are then three images showing fractures and what I imagine is erosion. The fifth image is a simulation of erosion and the final image more fractures. The images on their own do not capture my attention or send a message to me. I am interested to know how my experience of them changes with more and context.
Earth Water Fire Air – Kimsooja
My impressions – Interest but lack of understanding. The Earth Water Fire Air exhibition looks like it has a big message and I need more context to be able to understand it. Her work in the Yorkshire Sculpture Park looks beautiful but also obviously gets different reactions to the overlay of her breathing. I look forward to understanding more.
Take 2. I had to look more at her work to prepare for the exhibition.
‘Time is mental space we can never grab, as physical presence is space we can never escape from. We can always recall the time when we want, but can never locate our body the moment we want to.
Bottari Truck is a processing object throughout space and time, locating and dislocating ourselves to the place where we came from, and where we are going to.’
‘I contain my projects in my body which I find as my studio and I don’t try to remember or describe them all.’
‘ If Bottari Truck is a bundle with clothes, an airplane is a bundle of people, same as the compartment of a subway train. Bottari is everywhere, body and mind, womb and tomb, globe and universe, bundle of bundle of bundle… folding and unfolding our mind and geography, time and space.’
Impressions 2. Understanding Bottari originating from sewing bedcovers and bundling up items that have meaning or are being taken on a journey helps me with context. I am drawn to the idea of projects being ‘in my body’ as this relates to work I intend to explore around ‘The Truth and Beauty of Me’ in my project.
‘My intention in these performative prints was to explore my body within a circular framework as a geometric axis, using images of my arms, hands and legs stretched and folded in various poses to create spatial dimensions that were highlighted with different colour tones.’
‘ I started a “sewing” practice in the early eighties neither as a female artist nor as a female specifically interested in sewing nor as someone who was particularly good at sewing. Rather, I was questioning the surface of the tableau and measuring its bodily and psychological depth, binding myself to it (the other) and taking it as a mirror with which to reflect myself, which was also a healing process for me and for others.’
‘traditional Korean bedcovers of newly married couples as a ready-made/ready-used aesthetic formation. By wrapping fragments of used traditional clothing in these colourful bedcovers, the bottari constituted a wrapped two-dimensional “tableau” that had been transformed into a three-dimensional sculpture simply by tying one knot and encasing all the contents, as if hugging them all inwardly or being pregnant. It is an action of wrapping bodies and memories. While I was in New York, these bottari objects were a formalistic and aesthetic statement, but when I returned to Korea, I saw our society and women’s roles in it from a more critical perspective, and the bottari was no longer just an aesthetic object. Rather, it became tied to notions of the body, to my own conditions and to those of women in general in Korean society, and also to human destiny in a broader sense. After that, I no longer used fragments of coloured fabrics inside of the bottari as a way of creating a type of “pigment.” Instead, I began to wrap used clothing in its entirety in order to emphasize elements of reality.’
‘ My first video was actually intended as a documentary film of my methodical working process with the bedcovers at a chosen site in Oksanseowon Valley in Kyungju. There I laid the bedcovers out on the ground like a field of laundry and then slowly collected them in my arms and wrapped them into bottari. The film shows every single step and interaction with these flexible fabrics (or “canvases”). At the end, I wrapped everything into two bottari and carried them away. When I was reviewing the footage, I immediately noticed that my body walking on the fabric signified a symbolic needle and I furthermore discovered that the camera’s lens and the video’s frame served as another form of immaterial framing within the screen. The video thus became a wrapping of the wrapping. The juxtaposition of such opposites—the physicality of the bottari, which evokes a body, together with the video frame as another immaterial way of wrapping—has been a component of my work ever since.’
Art and every day life Video by Kimsooja
Impressions 3. Stimulated and interested to do deeper now. I am learning from this process that there is an initial look and see – react based on own worldview – look deeper in to context and background – see more, agree/disagree – establish insight – interest in looking deeper or saying that is enough. In this case I will go further.
Totally sold on her work now and interested in seeing more. Lots of ideas for me from researching her work.
Contemporary Practice in Spanish Photography – Lead by Susan Bright
My impressions – I watched the Guest Lecture by Susan Bright at Falmouth University and was fascinated by her process of curating and the insight it gave me. I look forward to this particularly as I live in Spain and want to understand more about contemporary practice in Spain.
I find this work beautiful and very pleasing to look at. The colours, lighting, compositions and forms work easily with my eye. It is fascinating to know she has grown, cooked or built the objects in her pictures. I am interested in the connection to still life painters. Looking forward to learning more.
Again easy for me to enjoy. Lovely colour, form, relationships and association with something eaten by the photographer. Look forward to seeing more of her work.
Considered to be one of the fathers of photography, William Klein (New York, 1928) revolutionized the visual photographic language. This exhibition, coinciding with the celebration of his 90th year, is the first great retrospective dedicated to Klein in our country. The monographic exhibit Manifesto puts his photographic work in dialogue with his paintings, works on paper and cinematographic pieces to render a comprehensive representation of the artist.
The aesthetic of William Klein speaks to us of a century in movement, a century of changes, creations and revolutions. There is a constant element throughout his work, from his first paintings as a student of Fernand Léger, to the abstract experiments in the early 1950s, the street photography and books, and even film: which is the use of the line that connects and gives structure, that bursts and runs. Urban geometry and human geometry. Always at the center, near his subject to capture the best lines of tension, Klein created during the 1950s great series of images in the heart of New York —then Rome, Moscow and Tokyo— that today are emblematic in the history of photography. Source
Looking forward to this as I deepen my understanding of the roots of contemporary photography planted in the past.
I have listened to a number of interviews and looked at a lot of his work so am looking forward to this show.
Leila Alaoui (1982–2016) was a French-Moroccan photographer and video artist. She worked as a commercial photographer for magazines and NGOs and completed assignments on refugees. Her work was exhibited widely. Alaoui died from injuries suffered in a terrorist attack in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso.
Alaoui believed that photography and art could be used for social activism, and should be used for “reflecting and questioning society”. As a result, she chose to focus her work on social and national realities of cultural identity and diversity, migration and displacement. To do this, she used image creation, reports and studio video installations. Alaoui often emphasizes her subjects, minimizing the background of some of her portraits.
Her photos have been published in numerous publications, including The New York Times and Vogue. She also completed assignments for the Spanish TV reality show El Mago. In 2013, she was commissioned by the Danish Refugee Council to create a series of portraits of refugees in Lebanon. The project was called “Natreen” (“We Wait”). In 2013, she created a video installation entitled “Crossings”, describing the journeys of Moroccans travelling to Europe. In 2015, she completed a photographic assignment “Everyday Heroes of Syria”, in Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq, focusing on Syrians living in refugee settlements. The project was completed for the Danish Refugee Council, the European Commission Humanitarian Aid Office and ActionAid.
Alaoui was hired by UN Women and Amnesty International to work on a photographic assignment on women’s rights in Burkina Faso. On January 16, 2016, during her first week working on the assignment, she was seriously wounded by gunshots while sitting in a parked car with her driver outside while gunmen attacked the Cappucino and the Splendid Hotel. Mahamadi Ouédraogo, the driver, sustained critical injuries and died in the vehicle. Alaoui was quickly taken to a hospital and seemed initially in a stable condition following an operation. She died three days later of a heart attack. Her remains were flown to Morocco at the expense of King Mohammed VI of Morocco.
On her death, the director of the Maison européenne de la photographie and the president of Arab World Institute made a joint statement praising her work giving “a voice to the voiceless” and noting that she was “one of the most promising photographers of her generation.” source
My own interest in roots, migration (my mothers family in particular) and identity will be stimulated by this exhibition.