Spreading Spreads by Milan-based photographer Piotr Niepsuj

19.07.2019 | Art , Blog | BY:

Milan-based photographer and creative consultant Piotr Niepsuj is best known for his raw portraits of urban scenes. Born in Lodz, Poland, Niepsuj first arrived in Italy to study architecture before working for PIG Magazine, the Italian equivalent of Dazed or ID. It was at PIG that he was first given a camera and sent on assignment to photograph people anywhere from the streets of Milan to music festivals. He now shoots campaigns for brands like Off-white and Perks and Mini who he photographed for issue XX of Twin. 

Most recently, Niepsuj presented a photo magazine called Spreads at Artifact in Spazio Maiocchi in Milan. Spreads features images of Tokyo inspired by Moriyama, which Niepsuj took on a digital camera on his recent trip to the Japanese capital city. Here, we speak with him about his practice and evolution as a photographer, his thoughts on contemporary photography, and his new work Spreads. 

Image by Piotr Niepsuj

What is your first memory working as a photographer?

My first assignment ever. It was an interview and portrait of Jeremy Scott of Moschino. I didn’t even know what I was doing. It was very courageous of the magazine PIG, and it was a very good time for me. I learned everything. I learned about magazines. I learned about photography. A lot of hard work, no money, and good parties. 

How have you evolved as a photographer since then? 

I grew up in a very vice school of photography. You would go with your camera and photograph whatever surrounded you whether it was a party or a festival or a trend on the street. It’s basically what everybody does now, but it’s what anybody from Ryan McGinley to Juergen Teller who’s kind of father of this style was doing when I started. The approach doesn’t really change. I just go with my camera and shoot what I see and what I like. 

I think the world changed more than I did. In the beginning, we photographed parties, trends, and us being young. Then, us being young turned old and boring. It’s also much more difficult to take pictures of people now because of how much more aware we are of being photographed. The naturalness is lost. This changed about the world. 

Image by Piotr Niepsuj

Have you changed cameras? What are you working with – digital or analogue? 

I change cameras from analogue to digital. I shoot a lot with my phone also, because it’s the easiest and the fastest way. I think it’s like the contemporary equivalent of point and shoot. 

When I first started, I used to love analogue. Then, I didn’t approve of it. You realize all of your pictures look the same as the pictures of people twenty or thirty years ago – but they are not as good. When you think about how they’re going to be seen in the future, you wonder why a picture from 2019 has to look like a picture from 1980?

I think the iPhone picture is the picture of 2019, and when someone sees in 2050 a picture from 2019, it’s a bit strange to see it like a fake picture from 25 years before. I became bored, too, with the graininess of it. Then, it became commercial.

When I started working for real and shooting commercially, I realized film is the way not to get crazy. I produce so many images that my hard drives are exploding. Even mentally it’s too much. With digital, you can be shooting all the time – 2000 shots per day. I arrived to the point I understand film again.

Image by Piotr Niepsuj

Why do you like photographing urban scenes?

I studied architecture, so it’s always somehow inside me, this interest in cities and urbanization. Cities are the same everywhere you go, the same elements exist. They’re temporary and permanent. Temporary things eventually stay, and permanent things get old and change. Old and very new always clash, because the old is still functional and still works. It’s a documentation. Cities are like living structures in the end, and urban scenes are like a proof of history filled with layers, evolution, communication, advertisement, stratification, development. 

I always think and hope every time I take an image that it’s not for selling a product, that it will have a value in 20 years. Even if I shoot the backstage of a fashion show for a brand, I always try not to show like a perfect image. It’s always like trying to find the mess, what’s human. 

What is your new work Spreads

P: It’s at Artifact, the store space Kaleidoscope shares with Slam Jam at Spazio Maiocchi. The work is about Tokyo and Moriyama. Last October, I went with some friends to Tokyo. I’ve always wanted to go to Tokyo, and I brought this little point-and-shoot digital camera and just went down the streets and took pictures of everything from little homes in the streets to the trash. There’re thousands of images of this trip. I also went into all the bookstores, looking at old and new books to add to my collection. I found this one about Record Magazine that Moriyama founded. It’s the magazine he made for himself with only his pictures. I was reading this and looking at thousands of his images and realized it’s the same. I want to have my record now. I’m presenting it for the first time. 150+ prints from the magazine and outtakes were also “exhibited” during the launch.

Image by Piotr Niepsuj

Spreads reminds me of your Instagram @spreadingspreads where you post images of photos in books, often two-page spreads. Are the images in conversation with each other or intended to create a dialogue?

Not necessarily, but when there are two images next to each other, you always try to find a dialogue. It’s important to me to think about. Even if you look at the Spreading Spreads Instagram, I very rarely put a spread that is only one image. With spreads, sometimes there’s no conversation. Sometimes, there is. Sometimes, it’s a joke. Sometimes, it’s aesthetically working. That’s the fun of making a magazine or a book. 

Follow Piotr Niepsuj @piotrniepsuj and @spreadingspreads.

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Alexander Binder lends “A Glimpse Into The Bardo”

14.05.2019 | Art , Blog | BY:

German photographer Alexander Binder has been known as a self taught photographer gifted with the abilities of taking his viewers on psychedelic trip into a universe full of contrasts, and oddities using his craft vintage lenses, prisms and optical toys. His work has been featured in several mainstream media outlets including Vice Sleek and even Twin’s 2011 issue.

In his work, Binder explores the blurred lines between the real and surreal, fiction and fantasy, but his latest work is a venture into what is known as the subconscious. Inspired by Sigmund Freud’s famous paperback “The Interpretation of Dreams,” Binder’s series entitled “A Glimpse Into The Bardo” explores the abstract and symbolic aspects of consciousness. In an effort to make this venture as accurate as possible, the photographer had to learn to suppress his conscious control over the photographic process and in aid of this he used pinhole lenses, double exposures and various filters which made it nearly impossible for him to predict the final result. For an even further “Glimpse Into The Bardo,” we sat down with the artist himself to discuss the process. 


What was it like suppressing your conscious instincts during the creation of this series? Were you ever tempted to check if everything was going well? 

Our brain is pretty creative in inventing excuses to exert conscious control over everything we do. Not to forget that we live in a time where “thinking”, “control” and “rational behavior” are highly valued competences. We monitor our health-status 24/7 via fitness-trackers and we love listening to people who explain our world in rational terms.

So actually it was difficult and I had to use several methods to trick myself. I guess it helped a lot that I have been working with self-made lenses, prisms and pinhole cameras for more than a decade because these tools make it almost impossible to predict the final results in detail.

Another way to limit my conscious thinking was a chaotic timing for the whole editing process. Some of the images were on my hard drives for more than three years before I even had a look at them – and some of the photos were made in less than three days.

How long did it take you to create the entire series?

Several years and I am still working on new images for this constantly evolving project.During the process I realized that this specific series maybe doesn’t need a real beginning or an end. I don’t want to sound too esoteric but it just “is”.

What from Sigmund Freud’s “The interpretation of dreams sparked this concept? 

There is actually one paragraph that caught my attention:

“The dream-content is (…) presented in hieroglyphics, whose symbols must be translated, one by one (…). It would of course, be incorrect to attempt to read these symbols in accordance with their values as pictures, instead of in accordance with their meaning as symbols.”

(Source: “The interpretation of dreams” 1913 / Chapter 6 “The Dream Work”)

This is exactly the way that I wanted to look at the photographs. There is nothing to understand about these images with your rational mind. They are abstract symbols that have to be interpreted step by step. Something like a Rorschach test that helps to assess an individual’s personality – or at least trigger some questions about yourself, your hopes, fears and desires.

Being inspired by Sigmund Freud’s “The interpretation of dreams , a book which speaks to the exploration of dreams as our “unconscious wishes,”  do you think the end result from this series may hold some personal underlying connotation to you as well?

Yes, I think so. When I look at the series today I see a deep, almost romantic wish for some kind of nature mysticism.

What’s your favourite image from the series? Why?

There is one image that stuck in my head and I don’t remember when or how I took the photo. It’s one of the most abstract images of the series and it has – at least for me – a very strong, symbolic quality.

Honestly I don’t even know whether I like it or not but it resonates with me on a very subtle level. It makes me think about much more than a blurry black-and-white photograph, a bright light or the vague depiction of a wing-like object. As Symbolist poet Mallarmé said it’s not about the thing, but the effect which it produces. (See Below)

What would you like viewers to take away from this series?

The series doesn’t have a single-minded message or narrative. It doesn’t help trying to “understand” these images in the classical sense, e.g. recognizing specific objects.

Like Freud said, these are more or less hieroglyphics. And everybody has to interpret them in his own way and look for a personal meaning. So the only thing that I wish viewers would do, is that they took their time and let the photos open the doors to their subconscious.

What are you up to next? Will you continue to explore the subconscious? 

The exploration of the subconscious is one of the key motivations and goes far beyond my photographic activities. There is so much to read, learn and also experience that one lifetime is not enough.

I just returned from Northern India where I had the chance to get a deeper understanding of Tibetan culture and especially the Tibetan art in its various forms – from mesmerizing Thangka paintings to otherworldly bronze statues. So there will definitely be a photo project not about, but heavily influenced by this journey.

Keep up with Alexander and his work at Alexander Binder or on instagram 

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PH Museum Women Photographers Grant 2018

22.10.2018 | Art , Blog | BY:

PH Museum presents their second annual grant specifically geared towards women and non binary photographers. This year’s grant is for artists who are focused on promoting the growth of a new generation of creatives, encouraging stories told from a female perspective while responding to the necessity of fighting for gender equality in the industry. The project is focused on empowering women and non-binary photographers of all ages, colour and orientation from all across the world who work in diverse areas of photography.  Applicants are required to present a maximum of 20 photos centred around a specific concept or theme with at least four of the photos being from 2015 onwards.  The final prize will not only be £10,000 in cash but also includes several opportunities to promote the awardees’ works across several platforms. Vogue Italia’s photography department has chimed in to select the work of three photographers which they will run online, along with several other small prizes. All photography series will be reviewed by a board of judges which will include Photographer Alessandra Sanguinetti, Filmaker and Curator Karen McQuaid, The Photographer’s Gallery Senior Curator Karen McQuaid and Instagram’s Creative Lead Pamela Chen.   The deadline for submissions will be October 24th. For more info, visit PH Museum.

Miia Autio from Variation Of White  – PHM 2017 Women Photographers Grant Honorable Mention
Sarah Blesener from Beckon – Us From Home – PHM 2017 Women Photographers Grant Honorable Mention
Raphaela Rosella from You’ll Know It When You Feel It – PHM 2017 Women Photographers Grant 1st Prize

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Afropunk by Kasandra Enid Torres

14.09.2016 | Culture | BY:

For 27-year-old photographer Kasandra Enid Torres, community is at the heart of the arresting and wholly joyous work she produces. Originally from South Florida, by way of Puerto Rico, Torres now resides in New York’s Washington Heights, and regularly shoots the kids in her neighbourhood.

This latest project, the ‘Afropunk Brooklyn’ series, is a collection of special moments brought to life in vivid colour. When Twin caught up with Torres, she described the atmosphere of the festival in which the images were created as “amazing”, with the crowd being “super chill and open”. She continued: “One of the days in the festival there was this DJ mixing some beats and everyone just really got in it. There was this amazing energy of everyone going with the beats and a sense of acceptance and joy. One of the shots is from this moment – it’s of a girl dancing.”

When asked what she believes the project portrays, Torres was thoughtful in her response, “I think it conveys feelings of power, pride and beauty.” And when further questioned about the resulting images, in comparision with her initial expectation of them, she replied: “Somewhat, if anything it showed me more about people.” Take a look for yourself below.

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afropunk_3

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afropunk_8

Kasandraenidtorres.com

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steflead

Online Exclusive: Stef Mitchell’s London Go-Sees

19.01.2016 | Art , Twin Life | BY:

New York-based photographer Stef Mitchell is fast becoming something of a Twin favourite. You may recall she took us on a visceral journey behind the lens of some of her favourite shots last year – and the success of that story left us wanting more.

Around November, Stef found herself in London and happened to meet some great new people, as one so often does when travelling. As a result she embarked on a – quite literally – explosive series of go-sees, and is publishing them exclusively with Twin online. This marks the first in a new series of specially commissioned works from people that we love, and want to showcase – keep your eye out for more of the same in the year to come.

Meanwhile, enjoy this brilliant series from Stef, and discover a little more about her – and these images – below.

What was the idea behind these pictures?
I wanted to shoot a little series of go-sees while I was in London for a week. I really enjoy the process of a go-see because they’re extremely useful, and mostly because people are never what you expect. And every now and then you find someone amazing who you know you could collaborate really well with. I also enjoy dealing with different personalities and finding out how you get along. I usually don’t look at the pictures while I’m taking them, and it’s kind of nice if later on if you find something you like.

Where did you take them?
I took most of these pictures in Notting Hill where we stayed with a friend. Also the fireworks were for Guy Fawkes, but someone felt enthusiastic enough to let them off every night that week. I managed to catch them only once!

When did you first ever pick up a camera? What did you shoot?
I first picked up a (disposable) camera in the first grade and shot a roll of my friends at school.

When did you know that this would become your career?
I wanted this to become my career when I was about 17.

Have you been influenced by anyone over the years? Or is there someone who’s career you’d love to emulate?
I’ve been influenced by different parts of various photographers and artists over the years. But I wouldn’t want anyone in particular’s career. I think it’s exciting to head in your own direction.

What brought you to New York? Can you describe your neighbourhood?
I was traveling through New York and met a girl at a party who ended up bringing me back here by getting me an interview to intern with Annie Leibovitz. I actually ended up marrying that girl and we live on the Lower East Side. The block we live on is the type of place where you can see something inspiring or beautiful and someone projectile vomiting or being arrested simultaneously.

Do you prefer drawing or photography?
I don’t prefer either drawing or taking photos, they’re both nice for different reasons. I definitely get frustrated at times with both and it’s nice to be able to switch between the two.

Do you prefer sounds or silence when you work? If sounds, any particular ones?
I prefer sounds! I like whoever I’m shooting to chose the music so they’re happy. But if they don’t care I like Blood Orange.

Who and where would you still love to shoot?
So many different people! And I want to shoot in Italy, Sweden and the Bahamas. And Scotland!

What’s coming up in the next six months for you?
The next six months – I have a few projects coming out that I’m excited about and will hopefully spend more time running around Europe and dining at as many pubs in London as possible.

stefmitchelltwin

All images by Stef Mitchell, commissioned exclusively for Twin; with special thanks to Claire Dickens at IMG London

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Jane Bown

23.12.2014 | Art , Culture | BY:

Celebrated photographer and Twin girl Jane Bown sadly died, aged 89, on Sunday 21 December. She joined The Observer in 1949 and went on to photograph the Queen, the Beatles, Richard Nixon, and other key figures of the 20th century. Several of her pictures hang in the National Portrait Gallery.

Quoting from her interview in Twin issue X [believed to be her last ever], Bown said, ‘I’ve never wanted to take a bad picture of anybody.’ Such a simple ethos is much at odds with our current society of paparazzi and bare-all celebrity. No wonder her sharply beautiful portraits continue to hold a sense of wonder for us all today.

Photography by Linda Brownlee

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Maripol rocks

11.10.2010 | Art , Blog , Culture , Fashion , Music | BY:

Stylist, creative director, jewellery designer, Polaroid artist, cult film producer, boutique owner: Maripol’s CV reads like a Soho House members list.  But no, this is one woman’s work. Wholly appropriately, then, is it that her first monograph, entitled ‘Little Red Riding Hood’, should be a mixed media scrapbook.

Drawings, designs, Polaroids and writings chart her creative journey from a stint at the famous Fiorucci house to her recent collaboration on a line of accessories with Marc Jacobs.  Thrown into the mix are snapshots from her work with Grace Jones, Deborah Harry and, most notably, Madonna, whose iconic ‘Like a Virgin’ style was Maripol’s brainchild.  This is one seriously covetable coffee table book.

Published by Damiani.

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It’s a kind of magic

05.10.2010 | Art , Blog , Culture | BY:

Eadweard Muybridge is more like a magician than a photographer. His legacy spans the divide between

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scientific documentation and investigative – yet humorous – art. Deemed able to stop time, Eadweard Muybridge, born Edward James Muggeridge in 1830 in Kingston upon Thames, is now the focus of an exhibition at Tate Britain. Best known for using stop-motion to prove that a galloping horse has all four feet off the ground at one stage in its stride, the Tate’s retrospective works reveal a fuller picture.

Leland Stanford, Jr. on his Pony “Gypsy”—Phases of a Stride by a Pony While Cantering, 1879

Muybridge’s documentary approach and catalogue aesthetic prefigures cinematic technology and is yet wholly reminiscent, for modern audiences, of that medium. His composition of panoramic landscapes is akin to the skill of a film director. What’s more, his invention of ‘zoopraxiscope’ – a method of projecting painted versions of his photographs as motion sequences – anticipated the technological advancements that were to come in cinema.

This is a show that appeals to biologists and historians, as much as photographers as filmmakers. The visceral truths Muybridge uncovered about natural life and technology’s possibilities are ultimately: “a feat in photography which has never been excelled, and which marks an era in the art.”

Dancing (fancy.) (Movements. Female). Plate 188, 1887

Eadweard Muybridge is at the Tate Britain until 16 January 2011.
www.tate.org.uk

Horses. Running. Phryne L. Plate 40, 1879, from The Attitudes of Animals in Motion, 1881.

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