January 24, 2014

Friday Round Up - 24 January, 2014

This week on Friday Round Up new work from Alexia Sinclair, Tim Page shares more unpublished work, Nathan Benn's Kodachrome Memory in review, an interview with Iranian photojournalist Majid Saeedi and more. Plus there are new features on Photojournalism Now including links to features in Pro Photo magazine and also L'Oeil de la Photographie. Have a great weekend.

Alexia Sinclair – A Frozen Tale

It will come as no surprise to the readers of this blog that my interest in Sydney photo-media artist Alexia Sinclair’s work is driven by my love of history, particularly Europe in the late Middle Ages and the Renaissance, periods Sinclair celebrates in her work. From the 1400s to the late 1800s European life was influenced by radical social change across all spectrums of society - politics, religion, art and knowledge – and artists of the time captured both the lives of the privileged and those of the common person. 

These themes are played out in Sinclair’s latest collection, “A Frozen Tale,” which is currently on exhibition in Brisbane at Queensland Centre for Photography. I spoke to Sinclair via Skype earlier this week, during nap-time – Sinclair and her husband, and producer, James Hill are new parents – about “A Frozen Tale”, a narrative that brings to life the people who allowed the privileged to live a life of luxury and leisure at Skokloster Slott. This majestic 17th Century castle was built in the Swedish Age of Greatness and is known as one of the finest examples of Baroque architecture. It also houses the largest private art collection in Europe and some of these works feature in Sinclair’s photomontages. 

In “A Frozen Tale” Sinclair has created a cast of characters to convey what daily life may have been like 300 years ago in this castle, which is built within a network of lakes upon perpetually frozen ground. Skokloster Slott lies next to Lake Mälaren, 80km from Stockholm, and its contents have been ‘frozen in time,’ untouched for more than three centuries.

In creating her vision for “A Frozen Tale” Sinclair started by researching those important historical figures who had visited the castle over its lifetime, but the more she delved the more she became intrigued with those who worked in the castle. Creating fantasy characters allowed Sinclair to bring together a narrative on what she imagined Skokloster Slott was like when filled with life.

“I like to produce narrative pieces,” says Sinclair who draws inspiration from the paintings of particular periods of history. “Artists really did do so much exploration into the common person and the everyday life and so many paintings of this period are of people engaged in daily activities and that’s what I got swept up in.” 

All images (C) Alexia Sinclair
It took Sinclair three months to organise the initial shoot, which was done on a shoestring budget with many volunteers. She put out calls on social media for assistants, and for models of all shapes and sizes including a mother and newborn for her image featuring the wet nurse. Once her team of 40 was assembled Sinclair and Hill went through the process of finding sponsors for the gear they needed, as carting it from Australia was too expensive. Profoto and PhaseOne came on board, and armed with suitcases full of costumes that Sinclair had made, the pair headed to Sweden.

“Skokloster Slott is called ‘a cabinet of curiosities inside a cabinet of curiosities’ that is how it is described in the period because every room is so uniquely different to the next and every room tells an entirely different story,” explains Sinclair. “I had planned to use certain rooms based on my research, but when I got there I discovered they’d moved tapestries over the years from those rooms, or they were closed, so there was so much thinking on my toes and decisions made in minutes,” she concludes.

Exhibition prints are sponsored by Canson.

“A Frozen Tale”
Until 16 February, 2014
Queensland Centre for Photography
Cnr. Cordelia and Russell Streets, South Brisbane

Click here for more work by Alexia Sinclair 

Photo Essay:
Amos Chapple – Yakutsk The Coldest City on Earth

Amos Chapple's photographs from the world's coldest city Yakutsk continues this blog's "frozen" theme, which began in December with Elena Chernyshova's amazing photo essay on Norilsk in far north Siberia.

All images (C) Amos Chapple

A New Zealander Chapple was one of the photographers to work on the project to document all of UNESCO's world heritage sites globally (2006-2010) and has photographed in more than 60 countries.

Book Review:
Nathan Benn’s Kodachrome Memory: American Pictures 1972-1990

(C) Nathan Benn

In this recently released book by former National Geographic photographer Nathan Benn, images that were considered pedestrian at the time they were shot, now take on historical significance as they capture an America that has virtually disappeared.

Benn’s appreciation for the role of rich, saturated colour in storytelling is a feature of the book and within the pages of “Kodachrome Memory” we find idiosyncratic America..." To read the full review click on the Book Reviews link at the top of the blog or here.

Unpublished Photographs:
Tim Page Unseen
Lanka Redux

(C) Tim Page

Tim Page is back this week with a new installment for his unpublished series, Tim Page Unseen, which is exclusive to Photojournalism Now. "Lanka Redux," says Page, was “a spiritual resurrection both for myself and my photography. It became a rich re-awakening after a decade of recovery and rehab from the disasters of war...” To read his entertaining recollection of his time in Sri Lanka click on the tab above Tim Page Unseen, or here.

Majid Saeedi - Life is War

This week Iranian photographer Majid Saeedi became the third recipient of the Lucas Dolega Award*. Saeedi has covered the Afghanistan conflict for more than a decade. But his interest in Afghanistan and its people extends beyond the news headlines and since 2009 Saeedi has lived amongst that country's inhabitants to tell the story of daily life in a war zone.

At Visa pour l’Image last year I spoke to Saeedi about the thinking behind his images, which formed the exhibition Life in War, and featured in the Festival’s core program.

Majid Saeedi at Visa pour l'Image 2013
(C) Alison Stieven-Taylor

“I wanted to get closer to the normal people of Afghanistan, to live with them, eat with them and talk to them. To tell their stories, which have become part of my life also,” says Saeedi. “A lot of us sit at home and don’t even know our neighbours. As a photographer I believe it is my responsibility to show how other people live their lives”.

(C) All Images Majid Saeedi

In 2013 Saeedi took second place in the World Press Photo editorial awards adding to a long list of international awards including being named Photographer of the Year in Iran seven times. But industry accolades don’t impress Saeedi as much as the reactions of those who attend his exhibition.

“For me the most important thing is to show the daily life of Afghanistan. Last year I won a World Press Photo award, but I wasn’t as happy then as I was when I saw my exhibition and how the audience is affected by my images. The reactions of their faces…that made me the happiest.”

Saeedi says he enjoys the exhibition format as it enables him to show a number of images at one time and communicate a more complete story to the viewer as opposed to one or two photographs in a news context. “The images we see in the news are part of a bigger story. I hope those who visit my exhibition gain some understanding of the reality of life in Afghanistan through this collection of photographs”.

To see more of his work click here.

* Now in its third year the Lucas Dolega Award carries a prize of 10,000 Euros, an exhibition in Paris and publication in various magazines. Applicants are required to “present a report on the coverage of any event relevant to the defense of freedoms and democracy, a conflict (civil or military wars, riots, attacks or public demonstrations…), a revolution, a natural or sanitary disaster, and/or their consequences on civil populations”.

Worth Reading:
Fellow L'Oeil de la Photographie correspondent and blogger Elisabeth Avedon has written a tremendous article from her interview with the founder and editor-in-chief of L'Oeil de la Photographie Jean-Jacques Naudet.  Read it here and if you can please support L'Oeil in its bid to raise funds in order to continue to bring you the latest news and views in the complex, exciting and vast world of photography. Click here for more details. 

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