December 05, 2014

Friday Round Up - 5th December, 2014

This week it's all about books and there's something for everyone in this round up of new publications. In fact there are so many new photography books worth talking about that Photojournalism Now will publish a second book review feature next week. Plus this week the last exhibitions for 2014 at Melbourne's Colour Factory and Sydney's 10x8 Gallery and Blackeye Gallery.

Book Reviews Feature - Mary Ellen Mark, Jennifer Blau, Dan Eckstein, Taewon Jang, Street Photography, Photoshow, First World War in Colour and Eyemazing.

Man and Beast
Photographs from Mexico and India
Mary Ellen Mark



American photographer Mary Ellen Mark has been taking pictures for more than 50 years and has managed to straddle the worlds of movie stills and documentary photography with equal success.

Like other notable photographers Mark studied painting and art history before she took a major in photojournalism; it was a light bulb moment. “Photography became an immediate love for me. I had always read books about photography and was always fascinated with great photography. But it hadn’t occurred to me that it was something I could do myself until I got to graduate school and picked up a camera in my very early twenties”. 


Maharaja of Udaipur and his dog, Udaipur, India, 1996

Madonna the giraffe, Oaxaca, Mexico, 1998 
 
Child acrobat with two children in peacock costumes, Great Royal Circus, Himmatnagar, India, 1989

Since then Mark has pursued her passion for visual storytelling with her work the subject of articles, exhibitions and books, the latest of which is Man and Beast: Photographs from Mexico and India.

“My photographs often explore the balance between man and beast – whether it’s literally a photo of a person with an animal or an underlying sense of the beast within human nature,” she says in the introduction to Man and Beast. “The photographs in this book are from two countries I love very much: India and Mexico. Both countries overwhelm my senses with their powerful imagery. They are very complex, intriguing, and inspiring….I find strong similarities between these two cultures separated by thousands of miles.”

Throughout her career Mark has focused her camera on stories that fall outside the mainstream - brothels in Bombay, street kids in Seattle, pregnant teens, circus performers - creating visual explorations that pull back the layers of the human experience.

Man and Beast is very much in this vein and features images shot in the 1960s through to more recent times, with the majority published for the first time. Here simple street scenes are paired with more formal portraits, but each carry the Mark signature where there is a sense of something slightly off balance.

The book’s beautifully reproduced black and white plates and red linen cover with gold embossed lettering are the perfect package in which to present another chapter in Mark’s remarkable career.

Man and Beast
University of Texas Press

The 50 Book
Jennifer Blau



In a world obsessed with youth and staying young, The 50 Book celebrates those women who have hit the half-century mark, sharing with the reader their wisdom, acceptance and misgivings around ageing.

Photographer Jennifer Blau’s portraits capture the sense of freedom as well as the fear that hitting the magic number of fifty induces in many, not just women. But women do have a different journey to men, and the conditioning of the female sex can be hard to shift. Many women focus on the deterioration of the outer, rather than the betterment of the inner, but Blau’s book brings the latter to the fore through short chapters that largely focus on positive affirmation.

Fifty is a number that seems to speed up the clock. All of a sudden the years that have gone before seem more visible. Lines appear, grey hairs proliferate, and skin loses its elasticity. The shell, the outer being, shows signs of wear and the face that looks back at you in the mirror can feel like a betrayal.








But turning 50 should also be a celebration of what has gone before, of the experiences that have shaped a life. Often it is a time of renewal, with many changing direction and spreading their wings with the confidence that wisdom and life experience brings. And it’s an age when you realise that time is a luxury you no longer have, every minute counts. Many embark on projects or lifestyle changes that bring renewal and a sense of greater purpose.






The 50 Book brings together all of the emotional elements of reaching this milestone in personal stories told by women of all backgrounds. It is uplifting and at the same time real, and that’s one of the things I like so much about this book. The women featured are brave enough to tell it like it is. For some turning 50 has been the most confronting experience, and for others, the most liberating. Interspersed with Blau’s sensitive portraits, are personal stories and quotes, including Blau's own story, that make the book even more accessible.

Available from the50book.com
You can buy the book at www.the50book.com 
304 pages/73 images
Published by Captain Honey, Byron Bay


Horn Please: The Decorated Trucks of India
Dan Eckstein


This new book from New York’s powerHouse Books has an almost handmade feel. Its brightly coloured, thick cardboard cover and dark green on the inside front pages evokes another era which design-wise supports the book's content.

There have been many photographic books on India’s complex cultural hierarchy, but Horn Please introduces readers to a new group, India’s truck drivers. The horror stories about driving the roads of this geographically diverse sub-continent abound. Courage and a dose of fatalism are necessary to survive these roads. A book that portrays those who live on the chaotic highways and streets of India’s teeming cities, is immediately a curiosity. 






In Horn Please, India’s TATA trucks are adorned with bright colours, motives, patterns and religious icons. And that’s just the exterior view. Inside the trucks have been shaped into living quarters with a place to cook and sleep on the long journeys.

“Horn Please is the mantra of the Indian Highway,” says photographer Dan Eckstein in the book’s introduction. “Some version of the phrase is painted on the back of practically every truck on the road. In a place where lanes are a mere suggestion, side-view mirrors are seldom used, and modes of transport range from ox-drawn carts to 18-wheel trucks, the ever-present horn is an essential part of driving etiquette.”










Eckstein hints at the lives these truck drivers lead on the road and the camaraderie they share. The book would have been better served by the inclusion of more text, particularly personal stories and discussion on the cargo these drivers carry. While the images are strong, they are somewhat repetitive, and text could have broken up the visual narrative. Having said that, Horn Please is visually engaging and if nothing else leaves the reader with a desire to know more, and that can’t be a bad thing.

Horn Please
powerHouse Books


Stained Ground
Taewon Jang



The photographs in Stained Ground, a new release from German publisher Hatje Cantz, leap from the pages of this exquisitely printed book. Jang’s luminescent images of industrial plants, what he calls cathedrals of the modern era, are reproduced to show their full potency. “Ominous, overwhelming and harshly lit,” this collection of images delivers an erudite visual investigation of industrial sites across the USA.









Jang, a South Korean photographer, uses nature to light his frame and his cathedrals are shot at specific times of the day – dawn, dusk, midnight – and in all seasons to create the desired effect: to create an apocalyptic mood.

People don’t feature in these images. Rather Jang chooses to use moving machinery to convey life. Here he suggests these machines are in control inviting thought around the notion of artificial intelligence and its impact on humanity.

Stained Ground features an essay After Night Falls (Lyle Rexer), which discusses the “dark photograph” and leads to the chapter on Jang’s treatment of this aesthetic. The book also includes an interview with Jang conducted by Suejin Shin – Letter to My Father: An interview with Taewon Jang, where he explains his motivation for the project shot over seven years from 2007 to 2013. 





Jang says he chose to photograph in the US because of the practice of erecting new factories often alongside those they replace. This phenomenon is not seen in Korea where old factories are demolished and new ones built upon them, rather than allowing the disused site to decay. It is the American environment that allows Jang to trace time, to see the old and new together, something he says “is unimaginable in a small country like Korea”.

Stained Ground
Taewon Jang
Hatje Cantz
100 images
160pp

The World Atlas of Street Photography
Jackie Higgins


Australian Jesse Marlow’s photograph features on the cover of this weighty production from Thames and Hudson. With Susan Sontag’s ode to the urban landscape – “A landscape of voluptuous extremes” - as a catalyst for this collection, The World Atlas of Street Photography presents street photography from around the world and its sweep is comprehensive. 

(C) Julio Bittencourt

(C) Peter Funch

(C) Maciej Dakowicz

(C) Claudia Jaguaribe

The Atlas is sectioned into geographical chapters with specific cities chosen as features. New York, Los Angeles and Chicago feature in the North American line up with works from the likes of Joel Meyerowitz and Bruce Gilden appearing alongside lesser-known photographers. A similar approach is taken throughout each section and the result is a rich resource that weaves older images from the last century with contemporary works to make comment on social trends and cultural mores. With a total of 640 photographs, 500 in colour, The World Atlas of Street Photography is a must-have for anyone interested in street photography.

The Street Photographer’s Manual
David Gibson




Also from Thames and Hudson is The Street Photographer’s Manual by David Gibson. This practical “how to” book features profiles on, and advice from, well known street photographers as well as project to undertake. It’s a useful book that provides insights into how certain images were crafted as well as well as discussing different styles of shooting on the street.

The World Atlas of Street Photography
The Street Photographer’s Manual
Both available from Thames and Hudson

Photoshow: Landmark exhibitions that defined the history of photography
Edited by: Alessandra Mauro



Taking a different approach to discussing the history of photography is Photoshow. In this new book from Thames & Hudson the evolution of the medium is unfurled through essays by various historians who draw on the some of the most important photographic exhibitions, such as The Family of Man. Exhibitions dating back to the 1800s are discussed alongside those of the digital age, with ‘here is new york’ nominated as “possibly the most seen exhibition in history”.

Photoshow begins in the now, with an interview with Quentin Bajac, chief curator of photography at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York on the topic of curating photographs in the Internet Age. Bajac says “I think my own generation has gone beyond the view of the photograph as just a print hung on a wall…museums…should go with the evolutionary flow of practice, which today is towards ever increasing diversification and also – even if photographers are still a little reticent about it - a greater degree of immateriality”.

MoMA features heavily as expected, and there is an interesting essay on MoMA’s director of photography John Szarkowski as well as discourse on four major exhibitions. Alfred Stieglitz and 291 are also the subject of a chapter, which reminds us of Stieglitz’ passion and commitment to have the photograph treated as a genuine work of art.

Crystal Palace, built to house London’s Great Exhibition of 1851, lithograph. © Science Photo Library/Contrasto

Exhibition poster for Film und Foto, Stuttgart,1929. © gift of The Lauder Foundation, Leonard and Evelyn Lauder Fund/MoMA/Scala


Edward Steichen with the maquette for The Family of Man. © Wayne Miller/Magnum Photos

The exhibition here is new york, Prince street, New york, 2001

The exhibition here is new york, Prince street, New york, 2001 
 
Editor Mauro, who is the artistic director of Forma Foundation for Photography in Milan, also includes references to exhibitions in Europe with chapters on the 1891 Vienna International Exhibition of Artistic Photography and Robert Delpire and the Centre National de la Photographie in Paris. 

Photoshow is a welcome addition to the conversation and a great reference book that shows in written word and pictures how the staging of photographic exhibitions also continues to evolve. Available from: Thames and Hudson

In Brief:

The First World War in Colour
Peter Walther
Published by: Taschen



This is another first class book from Taschen featuring a large number of photographs that have not been published previously. It’s weighted toward the more technically minded, with in depth discussion on the photographic techniques used in the early colour days and the practitioners. However even if you are not that interested in the chemistry, there is significant historical value in this book also. Available from Taschen

German Trench Canteen
(C) Hans Hildenbrand

Soldiers pose in concrete trench
(C) Hans Hildenbrand

British Ambulance 
Jules Gervais-Courtellemont

British Tank
The American Committee for Devastated France

A Favourite - Eyemazing: The New Collectible Art Photography
Eyemazing Susan
Published by: Thames & Hudson



Eyemazing Susan is the nom de plume of Susan Zadeh (pictured below), the founder of Eyemazing magazine, which began in 2003. This book is a compilation of works that have appeared in the magazine over the past decade to 2013 and it is one of my favourite photographic art books. 


Eyemazing Susan


(C) Michael-Ackerman

(C) Pablo Genoves

(C) Sandro Miller

(C) Sebastian Bremer

(C) Wang Ningde

(C) William Ropp

With 423 colour illustrations Eyemazing is an almost overwhelming book in size and scope, but it is one that you can keep dipping in to, to find inspiration in the boundary-breaking imagery. 
Available from: Thames and Hudson

Exhibitions:

Melbourne

Carlo Chechi - Colour & Harmony
An exploration of 19th Century gum bichromate printing



(C) Carlo Chechi

Using ancient photograph print techniques, Italian photographer Carlo Chechi's exhibition, Colour & Harmony, presents the lives of circus performers in Florence in a series of portraits. Chechi says he chose to use the gum bichromate technique because it is imperfect.

“I love imperfection. I mean, imperfection is what gives you uniqueness. It allows you to be different. It is what makes us human beings. Merging together a “surreal” story and a “surreal” technique, I thought it would be interesting! Giving uniqueness to a unique story with a unique (because of its imperfection) technique.”

Until 31 January
Colour Factory
409-429 Gore Street
Fitzroy
Closed 19 December to 12 January 2015

Sydney

Group Show - 10x8 Gallery


(C) Eirini Alligiannis

(C) Juno Gemes

(C) Michael Fairbairn

(C) Naomi Riddle
(C) Zorica Purlija

This is the last show for 10 x 8 Gallery this year and features Eirini Alligiannis, Dylan Coombe, Michael Corridore, Simone Darcy, Michael Fairbairn, Keiko Goto, Jamie Hladky, Ruth Maddison, Peter Morgan, Zorica Purlija, Naomi Riddle, George Shaw, Talia Smith, Julie Sundbeg, Juno Gemes and Aku Kadago.

10x8 Gallery
Until 24 December
Level 3, Central, 28 Broadway,
Chippendale

Graham Shearer - Eau 
Blackeye Gallery








(C) Graham Shearer

When a photographer uses the movement of water and light the effect can be quite surreal. Such is the case with Graham Shearer's latest series of underwater images taken recently in Western Australia. Here sunlight and the ripple of the water create patterns that cover bare skin like tribal markings and turn watery backgrounds into molten metal. Shearer is one of Australia's most renowned advertising and fashion photographers. He is credited with helping to launch the careers of the likes of Elle Macpherson and some of his iconic fashion images are also included in this show.

Until 24 December
Blackeye Gallery
3/138 Darlinghurst Road,
Darlinghurst