When featured in a commercial or documentative format, photography more often than not can be understood by many, however conceptual art photography and its intended purpose and message remains slightly more mysterious to some. Last week, Twin visited the Photographers’ Gallery, London, for the launch of Why Art Photography? – the latest book written by female photographer, critic and art historian, Lucy Soutter, that provides a deeper understanding and explanation to photography as an art form.
Throughout its six chapters, Soutter’s book explores themes such as ambiguity, objectivity and authenticity, whilst introducing the reader to various fresh perspectives and responses to existing debates, cogently defending the form of conceptual art as a valid use for photography. We were privileged enough to hear Lucy talk through the final chapter entitled ‘Beyond Photography’, which provides an excellent summary to the book’s key focal point. Here she examines the work of a number of contemporary conceptual artists, all of whom have merged photography with various other 2D, 3D and even abstract art forms, demonstrating that the photographic medium should never in any way be only limited to the ‘wall’.
Why Art Photography? published by Routledge, is available to purchase now.
London-born photographer Kate Bellm’s work is all about letting loose. But don’t let the carefree attitude behind her images fool you: with her colourful and striking images, the young talent has already worked for clients such as Adidas, Harrods and Fleet Ilya, as well as exhibited at venues such as the Galerie M. H. Karst in Paris, alongside household names such as Terry Richardson and Nick Knight.
Twin caught up with the photography wünderkind to chat about cosmopolitan creative contrasts, Guy Bourdin and why nudity equals freedom…
What first sparked your interest in photography?
I liked everything about photography from the moment I started: playing around with different techniques in the darkroom and in camera, meeting different people all the time and making imaginary scenarios and memories that are all yours. My favourite thing about it is definitely the memories you save, imagining the photos in 30 years time when you look back on these small worlds of different people who have travelled and inspired you for all the shots.
Working between Berlin and London, what creative differences do you see between the two cities?
For me they are worlds apart. Berlin is all about characters and crazy shoots, freedom, nature and getting naked, breaking into old houses and shooting amazing untouched spots. I feel like a lot in London has been seen before as so much photography is done there and obviously the work is much more commercial and fashion based. Nevertheless, I am inspired there too, by my family and where I grew up in the countryside which evidently is the location for most of my shoots in England.
Some of your photos have a quite Guy Bourdin-esque feel to them, would you say that he is a big influence? Where else do you find inspiration?
Yeah, he totally inspires me. I have had all his books since I was a teenager and actually was just in a group show with his work! [The ICONS OF TOMORROW exhibit at Christophe Guye Galerie in Zurich] That was definitely a dream come true. Also, I am really inspired by all my friends in Berlin right now, they always come by my studio and together we think of crazy new techniques to develop my photos with and have big painting and illustration sessions together.
On the subject of Bourdin, what role does sexuality play in your work?
I just love sexy photos. I mean it’s not even underlying anymore for me unless I’m working it into a fashion shoot. I like shooting my friends naked, for me it’s complete freedom!
As female photographer how do you attempt to represent women in your images?
I represent them as free and having a good time in whatever situation we find ourselves in. I want people to realise that naked images are not a big deal, it’s actually more a state of mind of being happy with your body. But somehow without even realising it, the girls always look insanely sexy.
What work can we expect to see from you in the future?
More road trips, naked girls, skateboarders and paint bombs. Issue 2 of my zine ROCKERS is coming out next week. It will be a Girls edition, so full of all my favourite ladies. I also have a group show coming up in Berlin in September where we are building an acid forest full of colour-painted wood, space skate ramps, wigwams, bone chandeliers and other mystical wonders. Watch out for it on my blog: katesworld.tumblr.com.
Kicking off this week, the New York Photo Festival 2012 is set to display an international variety of creative talent. Now in its fourth consecutive year, the event intermixes submissions from fine art, documentary, advertising, photo books and multimedia – in other words, expect an interesting representation of the photography genre.
At the forefront of this year’s festival is an exploration of the convergence between fine art and documentary photography. Accompanying this theme will be exclusive curations by SocialDocumentary.net founder Glenn Ruga, former P.S. 1 Contemporary Art Center/The Museum of Modern Art curator Amy-Smith Stewart, TRACE Magazine founder Claude Grunitzky, and multimedia artist/musician DJ Spooky. Entitled On the Razor’s Edge: Between Documentary and Fine Art Photography (a focus on art documentary), What Do You Believe In (the interplay between photography and personal ideas), the Curse and the Gift (how digital photography and smartphones has changed the shape of the photography medium) and Sinfonia Antarctica (a review of the effect of archiving Antarctic history on digital media art), the shows will include work from the likes of Rina Castelnuovo, Jen DeNike, Yamini Nayar, and Evangelia Kranioti.
Encompassing sculpture, architecture, digital media and live performance, the NYPH ’12 proves that photography is more than just the simple click of a button – just like its creators, the art form is both of a complex and captivating nature.
The New York Photo Festival 2012 runs from May 16-20 and is headquartered at POWERHOUSE Arena, 37 Main Street, Brooklyn, NY 11201 nyph.at
What do you get when two young creative women, call together their friends to contribute to a zine dissecting what it is to be creative and female? The answer is teenVAG, a zine that explores coming of age, beauty and the body from a firmly feminine viewpoint. Confounding stereotypes and creating new imagery that fits their own feelings, Twin spoke to Natasha and Allison about teenVAG…
Where did the name teenVAG come from?
The name “teenVAG” is rooted in yesteryear conversation with an especially dear group of friends- we often threw around the word “pussy.” Coincidentally, we all previously held internships at Condé Nast.
What thoughts preoccupy you as artists and how is teenVAG a conduit for them?
There are infinite forms of expressions. Collectively, the constant desire to create has fuelled our greatest artistic ventures and our initiative enables these visions to come into fruition. We are constantly developing ideas, themes, and insights while cultivating a unique rapport with an incredibly talented group of our contemporaries. teenVAG has allowed us to create an evolving, communal space we share amongst our featured artists and audience.
Why did you feel the need to form a female collective of artists?
New York is a super hub of creatives. The artists we worked with on Issue # 1 inspired the idea of an all female project- they set the groundwork for the basis of the project. The progression of Issue # 2 continues to foster a strong voice and female presence we feel most necessary amongst the creative community.
Why is a zine still an effective way of communicating ideas in the era of blogs, tumblrs etc?
It is tangible- there is physical contact with our audience. The viewer experiences the artist’s work without interruption and becomes a part of the collective dialogue taking place. The zine becomes a perpetual vehicle of communication that can always be revisited. In our digital age it offers a slight sense of nostalgia and a quiet escape from the fast paced nature of the information super-highway.
Who are the other female artists involved in the zine?
We work with twelve artists each issue- a mix of friends, acquaintances and artists we admire. Issue # 1 focused on the basis of photography and featured the work of Nina Hartmann, Sandy Kim, Maggie Lee, Nicole Lesser, Kathy Lo, Katheryn Love, Luisa Opalesky, Logan White, Coco Young, and Nadriah Zakariya.
Issue # 2 encompasses several mediums ranging from sculpture, to illustration, painting and mixed media as well as the inclusion of photography. Issue # 2 features work by Aimee Brodeur, Elizabeth Jaeger, Olivia Locher, Carly Mark, Katie Miller, Anamaria Morris, Sophie Van der Perre, Rebecca Andrea Richard, Tara Sinn, Brooke Ellen Taylor, Alexandra Velasco, and Jessica Williams.
What, if any, obstacles do female artists still face?
teenVAG: When initially reaching out to print teenVAG Issue # 1, a business denied carrying out the job due to “explicit sexual content,” “pornographic” imagery, and a questionable title. Female artists face connotations that are inherently attached to their art due to gender- we want to break that stigma.
Where is the zine available?
The zine is available on our online shop http://teenvag.bigcartel.com/. as well as a selection of stockists in NY, LA and TX. For a full list of stockists check out our website teenvag.com
We are planning our second show for May of this year- it will be a collective exhibition surveying the work of artists we have been working with for the past year. In the coming months we will begin the conceptualisation of teenVAG Issue # 3 due out in September 2012.
We’ll also be doing a collaborative selection of pop-up shows and mini-events throughout the summer- we are very excited to continue working with an amazing network of creatives and hope to expand teenVAG to its fullest potential
In 2009 Cass Bird took a group into the forest with the intention of taking femininity back to its basics and stripping away the gender stereotypes.
Casting friends as well as queer women scouted on the streets of New York, her book Rewilding represents Bird’s attempt to go native. The results are androgynous scenes among Tennessee’s lush forests, which take the gender soaked tutu and make it climb a tree.
“I’m trying to play and celebrate life,” says Bird. “To create a space where people can physically express and take risks.”
From portraits to reportage and award-winning advertisements to Pirelli calendars, the images of Brian Duffy are an iconic documentation of decades past. Now the Proud Chelsea gallery is making a tribute to the photography legend, who passed away in 2010, by displaying a rare collection of his signed prints.
Starting his career in the Fifties as a freelance photographer for Harper’s Bazaar, Duffy went on to photograph the likes of Jean Shrimpton, John Lennon and David Bowie, most memorably for the cover of his Aladdin Sane album.
Duffy, alongside David Bailey and Terence Donovan – nicknamed the Terrible Trio by British press – innovated the style of documentary fashion photography by capturing the zeitgeist of Swinging London in the Sixties.
After making the decision to abandon still photography, the English photographer and film producer famously attempted to burn all of his negatives in 1979. Fortunately, a few priceless artifacts remain, making this exhibition both a poignant photographic homage and an unmissable visual experience.
Duffy: The Lost Portraits is on display until May 13 at Proud Chelsea, 161 King’s Road London SW3 5XP.
Ari Seth Cohen’s blog, Advanced Style, has always been a standout in the online world thanks to its mantra of “capturing the sartorial savvy of the senior set”.
A fresh departure from the often youth-orientated direction of most street style blogs, Cohen’s documentation of the timelessly stylish 60 years plus crowd has garnered him a cult following, so the news that his photographs are soon to be released in book form is sure to please both young and old.
With over 200 images of eccentric elderlies and interviews by the likes of Dita Von Teese, Advanced Style proves that aging doesn’t mean having to compromise. After all, like Yves Saint Laurent once said: fashions fade, style is eternal.
Advanced Style by Ari Seth Cohen is out May 22, published by powerHouse books.
In a world dominated by endless choice, sometimes the hardest decision can be deciding between one or the other. Enter Mélanie Crété’s highly addictive Tumblr blog, This or That.
Ranging from the age old question of Audrey versus Marilyn to Ferrero Rocher versus Mon Chéri, in Crété’s online world, everything boils down to the idea of a simple choice. We sat down with the digital marketing and social media manager to talk about the idea behind her blog, print versus digital and to play a round of This or That Twin style…
What prompted you to start This or That?
I have always been a bit obsessed with DIY collages and mood boards. Then Myspace came in and I discovered the joy of Photobucket while trying to teach myself photoshop and basic html, which I guess lead the way to This or That. When I started working in digital marketing and social media four years ago, I spent days researching blogs, organising them by theme in a very anal way and got completely hooked on Tumblr which I decided was the perfect platform to showcase my very messy iPhoto library. The concept somehow came very instinctively, the name came from the fact that I actually never know when to use ‘this’ or ‘that’ (I’m from Paris).
When did you first become fascinated with all things digital?
In 2000 when I installed Napster and ICQ on my PC.
How do you see the relationship between print and digital publications developing, will one replace the other?
Nothing will replace anything. I just see digital being integrated in all parts of the process with both digital and print teams working in synergy to produce amazing content and using different formats which is relevant to all platforms, including social media.
You are also a DJ, what are your top five favourite tunes of all time? I used to DJ—I don’t think you can be good at everything so I had to make choices!
But my favourite tracks at the moment are:
The Pharcyde – Passing Me By
Machinedrum – Van Vogue
ASAP – Peso
Grimes – Oblivion
Mos Def – Auditorium
In the sense of This or That…Blackberry or iPhone?
Either coffee or tea?
Either Bikini Kill or Courtney Love?
Either The Rolling Stones or The Beatles?
Either the city or countryside?
City during the week , countryside at the weekend.
Either Eddie or Patsy from Absolutely Fabulous?
The metamorphoses of Cindy Sherman knows no boundaries, so it makes sense that an exhibition honouring her work is in a place as vast and all-encompassing as the Museum of Modern Art gallery in New York.
Looking back at her three decades and counting career, the just opened showcase contains over 170 of Sherman’s iconic pieces and portraits, witnessing her take on roles from cinema noir actress to Jean Fouquet’s Madonna of Melun. But Sherman’s countless transformations are beyond pure dress up and trying on a new persona; they are a deep questioning of identity, representation and the role and placement of women in society.
Rather than being solely retrospective, the exhibit is also the first showing of Sherman’s photographic murals from 2010 in America, as well as Carte Blanche: Cindy Sherman, a screening of films made and curated by the conceptual artist, which is fitting considering the strong influence of the medium on her work. The movies will range from horror classic The Texas Chain Saw Massacre to John Waters’ Desperate Living, whilst including Sherman’s short film Doll Clothes and feature film Office Killer.
The extensive display of her work shows that even under wigs, prosthetics and layers of makeup, the real Cindy Sherman is always unmistakably there.
Cindy Sherman is on display until June 11 at The Joan and Preston Robert Tisch Exhibition Gallery, MoMA, 11 West 53 Street, New York, NY 10019 moma.org
There are many words to describe Claude Cahun: feminist, political activist, Surrealist artist, poet, writer, photographer, actress. However, the word thought-provoking seems to say it best.
Born in 1894 as Lucy Schwob in Nantes, she began practicing her most well-known form of creative expression, self portraits, at 18 years old. Produced under her pseudonym and playing between the extremes of androgyny and hyper-femininity, Cahun’s images express the idea that gender and sexuality perhaps aren’t always an A or B answer.
Involved in a life-long romantic and artistic partnership with her stepsister, and as a member of Georges Bataille’s left-wing organisation Contre-Attaque in Paris, Cahun was no stranger to controversy. In protest against the fascist regime of WWII, she distributed oppositional pamphlets combining governmental critic and poetic rhythm among the soldiers.
At a time where not even religious freedom was granted, Cahun’s defiance of political, gender, sexual and aesthetical conventions within society is remarkable. In her anti-realist, autobiographical work Aveux Nos Avenus, she wrote: “I will follow the wake in the air, the trail on the water, the mirage in the pupil … I wish to hunt myself down, to struggle with myself.”
This internal struggle, both emotionally and on the artistic surface, helped make Cahun not only an intriguing artist, but also an inspirational legend.
Entre Nous: The Art of Claude Cahun is on display from February 25 to June 3 at The Art Institute of Chicago. www.artic.edu