Tag Archives: Documentary

Yvonne Venegas: Construction of Appearance

Yvonne Venegas, From the series El Tiempo Que Pasamos, Inédito, 2006 and Maria Elvia de Hank, 2006-2010

Over the years, Yvonne Venegas has a developed a specific visual language through her photographs which thrive on moments of fleeting imperfection. She captures her subjects in flux, scenes that reveal artifice, and various states of becoming.  Venegas balances beauty and composition with ideas of the absurd.  She finds substance beneath layers of  pretense and turns a critical gaze toward the superficial.  It should be noted that Venegas does not focus on the unsavoriness of her subjects rather she unconvers moments of tangible realness and underscores the human condition.

“Growing up with my father was not simply to be the daughter of a social photographer, it also meant to live with somebody who wanted to belong to the particular social class, that took effort for him to accommodate himself within. In that effort I saw the clients come in and out of the studio and I assisted many weddings, not as a guest, but as a child. My participation in people´s events was not something I enjoyed, but it was almost viewing something foreign with an added feeling that it could never be mine. […] In photography I have found a way to make moments, people and situations my own. So if compared, my dad´s and my reason to photograph were very different: his had to do with a need for money and mine had to do with a need to see things my way.”

The images produced by Yvonne Venegas tend to be betrayals: efforts to snap the shutter a split second before or after the subject’s awareness takes control of the image. This untimeliness is on various occasions a fruit of parasitism: capturing one model while being photographed by another, the eruption of the lens standing in an unresolved parallax against a scene constructed by someone else.

There is nothing more rhetorical than a pose, that decided effort to transcend the contingency of one’s face and posture by means of an eidos, a vehicle whereby the corporeal, the instantaneous, the fungible aspire to the condition of an eternal Platonic idea. In spite of the historical impact of different forms of the anti-portrait (the uncontrollable image of Robert Frank or the zoological passion of Diane Arbus for the singularity of the camera), social habits and professional photographic practice continue to adhere to the pictorial expectation of capturing an idealized “I”: the care lavished on the image and its lighting, the precise coordination of eye and shutter finger, and above all the productive self-censoring of the photographic subject. All these forces conspire to constitute a sublimated emissary that conceals and fabricates, in the face of the camera, a controlled appearance, an artifact of subjectivity. One stops and appears before the camera, one pauses,1 greeting it as a servant approaches his master.

1 The etymology of the word could not be more eloquent. Spanish posar, according to Corominas, derives from Late Latin pausare (‘cease, stop’). In this sense, it shares meaning with the idea of the “presentation” of our ontology. See Joan Corominas, Breve diccionario etimológico de la lengua castellana (Madrid: Gredos, 1990), p. 470.

If a pose has a symbolic and culturally constructed quality, a gesture, on the other hand, is an almost organic aspect of our appearance in the presence of others: a clue, no less revealing than the silver bromide of a vintage photograph, of an atomic fact in the endless chain of events that make up the world.

“I believe that there are many societies in Latin America where the task of keeping up the appearances of our family, friends, and group falls to women.”

The transition from analog and chemical photography to the illusionism of digital photography has only radicalized the most ordinary photographic custom: whereas the destruction of a photograph used to entail a certain magical disquiet (ultimately, the cutting or tearing of a snapshot suggested a furious slaughter), the ease of eliminating files from digital devices has empowered photographic subjects to exercise police-state control over the beauty and fitness of their faces.

”We elaborate an image of ourselves that coincides with certain norms in compliance with what everyone else finds acceptable” (Pierre Bourdieu)

“In The Most Beautiful Brides of Baja California (2000-2004) we studied this phenomenon among upper middle class women of Tijuana. Using my friendship to gain access, I found myself researching what people believe being photogenic is all about, and how they choose to present themselves before a photographic camera. In time, I became more interested in seeking out their fragile moments, perhaps those occasions when the subjects were not ready for the photo and were, therefore, unaware of their own representation. My study of this facet proposes to find the human side, based on the construction of a shell that exists in order to be contemplated by others”

Venegas stays away from clear narratives and statements by instead presenting her conclusions to more than four years of work as fragments of an experience, each one a subtle document of a space whose telling reflects on identity.

In her portrayal of wealth and celebrity, Venegas counters expectations on the part of subjects and viewers alike.

Text: Press release, Shoshana Wayne Gallery, Cuauhtémoc Medina for the book Gestus, published by RM editorial in 2015 and Alfonso Morales ‘A factory of dreams’ for the solo exhibition at Museo de Arte Carrillo Gil in México City, ‘You will never be younger than this day’, 2012, found on Yvonne Venegas website http://yvonnevenegas.com
Edit by Magazine Contemporary Culture.
All images belongs to the respective artist and management.

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Talia Chetrit, I Wanted to Expose the Vulnerability in the Private Moments Between Takes

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Talia Chetrit, Heat, 2015, Parents/Trees, 2014 and Jeans, 2016

Talia Chetrit’s work focuses on the human body—often her own—as a starting point to examine how images are constructed to support different agendas and interpretations of reality. After beginning her practice with an exploration of the manipulative nature of photography, Chetrit is increasingly interested in the relationship the camera has with the subject matter it documents.

“I’m Selecting”, Talia Chetrit’s second exhibition at Sies and Hoke, comprises two discrete bodies of work. One consists of 13 images shot on the streets of New York and Paris. The other, made using a mirror, is a suite of four photographs which depict the artist in her studio, nude from the waist down. Tightly cropped and grainy, semi-anonymized images of businessmen crossing the street and groups of people buying museum tickets typify the impersonal. While, contrastingly, the artist stares back at her viewer in bottomless, startling self-portraits.

The seeming incongruity between these two series is bridged by the amount of control exercised over both. Chetrit’s focus has long been aimed at the ways in which images are constructed and the manner in which they function in society: their contrivances, their agendas, and their fictions. Often the body serves as a site for this exploration of photography’s tenets, and in I’m Selecting, Chetrit uses the bodies of others as well as her own. These images are a reminder of the degree of self-scrutiny we impose on ourselves when we know our pictures are being taken, and the feeling of panic inspired by being photographed without realizing it.

“After reviewing images I had taken of my parents 20 years ago as a teenager, I returned home again to photograph them. As I was shooting, I discovered a dynamic between them that was unknown to me. The presence of the camera and the resulting power shift created an artificial atmosphere that revealed an uneasy interaction between them and a window into their relationship. Curious to find a way to capture this dynamic I began, unbeknownst to them, to videotape our numerous photo sessions over the following year. I wanted to expose the vulnerability in the private moments I had witnessed between takes — moments that the photographs had failed to represent. Parents is a sequence of clips which attempts to capture this staged reality.” Talia Chetrit, 2015

Talia Chetrit was born in Washington, DC in 1982 and lives in New York. Her recent solo exhibitions include Model, Kaufmann Repetto, Milan (2014); Leslie Fritz, New York (2013); Bodies in Trouble, Sies + Höke, Düsseldorf (2012); Ringer, Michael Benevento, Los Angeles (2011); Marking, Kaufmann Repetto, Milan (2011), Renwick, New York (2011). Recent group shows include, amongst others: MORNING AND EVENING ASYLUM, Tanya Leighton, Berlin & Off Vendome, Düsseldorf (2014); The Black Moon, Palais de Tokyo, Paris (2013); A Disagreeable Object, Sculpture Center, New York (2012); Figure and Form in Contemporary Photography, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles (2012); Second Nature, deCordova Museum, Lincoln, MA (2012); The Extension, Vilma Gold, London (2011); and The Reach of Realism, Museum of Contemporary Art, Miami (2009).

Text: Patrick Armstrong, http://www.contemporaryartdaily.com/2015/06/talia-chetrit-at-sies-hoke/ and The Aimia AGO Photography Prize https://www.aimiaagophotographyprize.com/artists/talia-chetrit.
All images belongs to the respective artist and management.

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Ivar Kvaal, Dvale


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Ivar Kvaal, Dvale, 2016

The series contained within Dvale (hibernation in Norwegian) was created during the lead-up to the opening of the Norwegian hospital Ahus in 2008. Ivar Kvaal has captured the building in a slumbering state, in the weeks and months before it was brought to life. The images in the book encompass a fragile and fleeting stillness, in sharp contrast to the hectic everyday life of hospitals.

In Dvale whitewashed, unornamented rooms are filled with building equipment, stacks of ceiling panels and loose cables. Medical machines stand untouched, still covered by plastic. The geometry of these temporarily misplaced parts serve to create breaks in otherwise linear compositions, inviting sculptural associations that tend towards abstraction. The absence of bodies is striking – Kvaal’s images emphasize the hospital as a technical construct: a mass of individual parts reliant on medical and scientific knowledge.

The book can be placed within the tradition of documentary photography, but avoids dramatic or narrative devices. The hospital is presented as a scenography under development, a backdrop for future events. Dvale can be conceived of as a contemplative space, where the beauty in functional and technical environments can become apparent.

Ivar Kvaal (b.1983) has garnered critical acclaim for his photography in Norway and elsewhere. Images from the Dvale series have been exhibited at numerous institutions and galleries, including The Aperture Foundation in New York, Musée de l’Elysée in Switzerland and The Devos Art Museum in Michigan. The series is also featured in Thames and Hudson’s anthology reGeneration2

Source: Torpedo Bookshop
Text: Teknisk Industri, http://www.tekniskindustri.no/store/p33/Ivar.
All images belongs to the respective artist and management.

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This is Exile: Diaries of Child Refugees, 2015

20160225-exili_600This is Exile Diaries of Child Refugees
This is Exile Diaries of Child Refugees

Mani Yassir Benchelah, This is Exile: Diaries of Child Refugees, Film stills, 2015

Over the course of a year, Emmy-award-winning director Mani Yassir Benchelah made this intimate portrait of Syrian refugee children forced to flee from the violence of civil war to neighboring Lebanon. The documentary allows the children to tell their stories in their own words capturing the truth of how they deal with loss, hardship and a political consciousness beyond their age.

This Is Exile is an extraordinary intimate portrait of child refugees forced to flee from the violence of Syria’s civil war to neighbouring Lebanon. The documentary tells the stories of the children’s lives in their own words and captures the moving truth of how they deal with loss, hardship and the poignancy of dashed hopes. Their testimony in this film is a beautifully crafted microcosm of the human cost of the ongoing civil war in Syria that has forced over 4 million people to flee; half of whom are children. There is still no end to the war in sight.

While her younger brother fetches water, Aya talks about how a soldier pressured her to provide information about her father. Little Nouredine lived through the siege of Homs and, stuttering, explains how he believes that President Assad’s soldiers are following him everywhere. Thirteen-year-old Layim harbors feelings of vengeance, although he actually likes nothing better than to help people, for example by handing out rations. Nearly all the children look forward to returning home one day, but Fatima, who is disabled, is thriving in Switzerland where she feels fully acknowledged for the first time. Mustafa desperately wants to study, but he has to work for the money his family needs so badly.

Through the prism of their testimony, we gain perspective on the fate of millions of Syrian refugees, half of whom are children.

Source: Arab Film Days Oslo.
Text: International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam.
All images belongs to the respective artist and managment.

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Performance Artist: Tris Vonna-Michell

tris vonna-michell 04 Tris-Vonna-Michell

The Trades of Others, 2008, and Finding Chopin: Dans l’Essex, 2014

Through live performance and audio recordings of spoken texts, Vonna-Michell relays circuitous and multilayered narratives that combine personal anecdotes and historical research. Vonna-Michell’s narrative structures are characterized by repeated detours, dead ends, and streams of association. Dense conglomeration of photographic material, from film and slide projections to photographic prints and other ephemera form a “visual script” that is animated by the artist’s recitations. Integrating fiction and factual information, Vonna-Michell’s narratives address the nature of coincidence and contingency, often referencing his personal history and artistic production. His practice builds on a process that is both recursive and prospective with images drawn from his own archive, including those from previous works, continually reappearing in new configurations.

By splicing the lived with the learnt, Vonna-Michell’s stories and actions form a personal analogue to that monumental act of dispersal and investigation: the large-scale destruction of documents by Stasi officials in 1989, and the new government’s subsequent commissioning of archivists (nicknamed ‘the puzzlers’) to reassemble the mountain of some 600 million scraps. For a month in 2005 Vonna-Michell holed up in a GDR-era Leipzig bed-sit alone with his personal archive of photographs, taking 36 exposures of each image before painstakingly shredding each one by hand. This fragmented portfolio was later presented at his Glasgow School of Art degree show, the resulting photographic slides now used in performance, mementoes of a partial re-enactment and an end-point to his earlier body of work.

Other objects that Vonna-Michell uses in performance have an insufficient and temporary quality: in hahn/huhn, a conspiracy thriller that ducks into the tunnels rumoured to lie under Berlin’s Anhalter Bahnhof, three blocks of dry ice squat in a line between artist and listener, chilling the feet and offering a shonky reminder of the Cold War and the Berlin Wall; episodes in Finding Chopinare represented by a newspaper clipping, an egg carton and a stick of rock. So ephemeral are these carefully gathered props that many were allegedly stolen during an exhibition in Brussels in 2006, after which the artist replaced them with a seven-inch vinyl recording, Short Stories & Tall Tales (2007). The record is the only saleable item Vonna-Michell has produced to date, the token of a failure to maintain an archive that yet gestures towards the continuing possibility of circulation. An archive attempts a totalizing collection of information, but what if, as in the case of the Stasi, it is kept safe or destroyed, hoarded or dispersed?

Vonna-Michell’s practice reflects on the possibility of recording and transmitting history through the spoken and written word, tracing the associative complexities of how histories and rumours are told.

Tris Vonna-Michell lives and works between Stockholm and Southend-on-Sea in the UK. Recent solo exhibitions have been organized by VOX Centre de l’Image Contemporain in Montreal, T293 in Rome, Jan Mot in Brussels, Capitain Petzel in Berlin, BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art in Gateshead, Metro Pictures in New York, and Cabinet Gallery in London. Vonna-Michell’s work has been included in exhibitions at the Tate Britain in London, Moderna Museet in Malmö, the Centre Pompidou in Paris, the Secession in Vienna, the Shanghai Biennial, and the Yokohama Triennial. Vonna-Michell was nominated for the 2014 Turner Prize, and was awarded the Baloise Art Prize and Ars Viva Prize for Fine Arts in 2008. He studied at the Glasgow School of Art, the Städelschule in Frankfurt, and Emily Carr University in Vancouver.

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Photography: Chris Steele-Perkins

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STC1999014Z00046-05AAFGHANISTAN. Combattenti talebani che si muovono contro le forze di Masood. 1996.

AFGHANISTAN. 1994. Kabul. Trying out artificial limbs at ICRC clinic in Kabul.

Chris Steele-Perkins, Virtual reality display by Subaru, Japan, 1999, Street Children in Luanda, Angola, 1999, Taliban fighters move against Masood’s forces, Afghanistan, 1996 and Trying out artificial limbs at ICRC clinic in Kabul, Afghanistan, 1994

Christopher Horace Steele-Perkins (born 28 July 1947) is a British photographer and member of Magnum Photos, best known for his depiction of Africa, Afghanistan, England, and Japan.

Steele-Perkins photographed wars and disasters in the third world, leaving Viva in 1979 to join Magnum Photos as a nominee (on encouragement by Josef Koudelka), and becoming an associate member in 1981 and a full member in 1983. He continued to work in Britain, taking photographs published as The Pleasure Principle, an examination (in colour) of life in Britain but also a reflection of himself. With Philip Marlow, he successfully pushed for the opening of a London office for Magnum; the proposal was approved in 1986. Steele-Perkins served as the President of Magnum from 1995 to 1998.

Steele-Perkins made four trips to Afghanistan in the 1990s, sometimes staying with the Taliban, the majority of whom “were just ordinary guys” who treated him courteously. Together with James Nachtwey and others, he was also fired on, prompting him to reconsider his priorities: in addition to the danger of the front line:

“you never get good pictures out of it. I’ve yet to see a decent front-line war picture. All the strong stuff is a bit further back, where the emotions are.”

A book of his black and white images, Afghanistan, was published first in French, and later in English and in Japanese. The review by Philip Hensher in the Spectator read in part:

“These astonishingly beautiful photographs are more moving than can be described; they hardly ever dwell on physical brutalities, but on the bleak rubble and desert of the country, punctuated by inexplicable moments of formal beauty, even pastoral bliss… the grandeur of the images comes from Steele-Perkins never neglecting the human, the individual face in the great crowd of history.”

Work in South Korea included a contribution to a Hayward Gallery touring exhibition of photographs of contemporary slavery, “Documenting Disposable People”, in which Steele-Perkins interviewed and made black-and-white photographs of Korean “comfort women”. “Their eyes were really important to me: I wanted them to look at you, and for you to look at them”, he wrote. “They’re not going to be around that much longer, and it was important to give this show a history.” The photographs were published within Documenting Disposable People: Contemporary Global Slavery.

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Documentary: Diana Vreeland, The eye has to travel

Documentary: Diana Vreeland The eye has to travel

Still from the Documentary, Diana Vreeland, The Eye Has To Travel, 2012

Diana Vreeland, The Eye Has To Travel, Documentary, 2012
Directed By: Bent-Jorgen Perlmutt, Frédéric Tcheng and Lisa Immordino Vreeland
86 min. Biography, Documentary.

“There’s only one very good life, and that’s the life you know you want and you make it yourself”.

During Diana Vreeland’s fifty year reign as the “Empress of Fashion,” she launched Twiggy, advised Jackie Onassis, and established countless trends that have withstood the test of time. She was the fashion editor of Harper’s Bazaar where she worked for twenty-five years before becoming editor-in-chief of Vogue, followed by a remarkable stint at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute, where she helped popularize its historical collections. Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel is an intimate portrait and a vibrant celebration of one of the most influential women of the twentieth century, an enduring icon who has had a strong influence on the course of fashion, beauty, publishing and culture.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HP3wsNdANhM

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Film: The Corporation, 2003

The documentary The Corporation, 2003 looks at the concept of the corporation throughout recent history up to its present-day dominance.

‘Drawing the metaphor of the early attempts to fly. The man going off of a very high cliff in his airplane, with the wings flapping, and the guys flapping the wings and the wind is in his face, and this poor fool thinks he’s flying, but, in fact, he’s in free fall, and he just doesn’t know it yet because the ground is so far away, but, of course, the craft is doomed to crash.

That’s the way our civilization is, the very high cliff represents the virtually unlimited resources we seem to have when we began this journey. The craft isn’t flying because it’s not built according to the laws of aerodynamics and it’s subject to the law of gravity. Our civilization is not flying because it’s not built according to the laws of aerodynamics for civilizations that would fly. And, of course, the ground is still a long way away, but some people have seen that ground rushing up sooner than the rest of us have. The visionaries have seen it and have told us it’s coming.

“There’s not a single scientific, peer-reviewed paper published in the last 25 years that would contradict this scenario: every living system of earth is in decline, every life support system of earth is in decline, and these together constitute the biosphere, the biosphere that supports and nurtures all of life, and not just our life but perhaps 30 million other species that share this planet with us.”

The typical company of the 20th century: extractive, wasteful, abusive, linear in all of its processes, taking from the earth, making, wasting, sending its products back to the biosphere, waste to a landfill.’

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0379225/

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