All posts filed under: photography

Documenting terror

Serbian fashion photographer Jovana Mladenovic is exhibiting her new series Monumental Fear at the LIBRARY in London, as part of the first-ever Balkan art exhibition to be held in the city. Her haunting series explores and documents Second World War monuments in former Yugoslavia. The artist’s aim is to bring to life a period of history forgotten by many of the younger generation. Interruption, presented by Contemporary Balkan Art, showcases 40 works by Balkan artists including paintings, sculptures, photographs, prints and graphics. It is showing at LIBRARY on St Martin’s Lane until mid-May. Mladenovic is in conversation at the club on April 25th. The subject of the talk is the artist’s new series and how brutalism and architecture formed a national identity in former Yugoslavia. Photo: Jovana Mladenovic, Kosmaj Monument (2016).      

Reaching the heights: Martin Chambi’s pioneering photos of Andean people

The Peruvian photographer Martin Chambi is not a household name like his famous compatriot, Mario Testino, but his pioneering photographs of indigenous people were ahead of their time. Martin Chambi transcended his impoverished start in life to become one of the Andean country’s most prized photographers. Martin Chambi was born in 1891 into a Quechua-speaking peasant family in one of Peru’s poorest regions, Puno. The region, located to the southeast of the country, borders Lake Titicaca. When his father went to work in a goldmine in Carabaya province, Chambi went with him and it was in this unlikely place that he first experienced photography. He got to know the mine’s resident photographer, who taught him the basics of photography. This early brush with photography planted the seed that would develop into a lifelong passion. In 1908, Chambi headed to the more cosmopolitan city of Arequipa, where photography was more advanced and sophisticated. He became an apprentice in the studio of another photographer. Nearly a decade later, after a long period of training, he set up …

Playing with identity in the work of Sawada Tomoko

Sawada Tomoko plays with notions of identity through the traditional medium of self-portraiture. Her OMIAI♡ project sees the artist herself dress up in costumes, wigs and other ingenious disguises – including weight gain – to transform into various characters. The project, which verges on performance, consists of thirty self portraits, aimed at representing a different kind of woman in a playful and coyly subversive way. The images mimic the traditional form of photography that would be taken during the Japanese custom of omiai, an integral part of an arranged marriage. The images are presented in vintage frames selected by the artist, again mimicking an old tradition – of displays of photographs in the windows of local photo studios in Japan. Tomoko was born in 1977 and raised in Kobe, Japan. She studied at the Seian University of Art and Design. Her photographs featured earlier this year in the exhibition The Younger Generation: Contemporary Japanese Photography, which took place at the Getty Center, Los Angeles, and featured the work of five contemporary photographers born in Germany …

Ishiuchi Miyako and postwar Japan

The work of Japanese photographer Ishiuchi Miyako lies at a crossroads between the personal and the political, the fictional and the documentary. She has been interested in the subject of postwar Japan, particularly the impact of American occupation and Americanization on her native country, for the past four decades. Miyako was born in 1947 in Kiryu. She grew up in Yokosuka, where the United States had set up a naval base just a few years before she was born. As a young person, she disliked the prevalence of American culture in the city. In the 1970s, nearly two decades are she first lived there with her family, the artist returned to her hometown armed with a camera, taking photos as a kind of catharis. The Yokosuka Story series of photographs that resulted speak of solitude, desolation, and pain. In another series, entitled Apartment, Miyako went in search of tumbledown apartment buildings, like the one her family inhabited when she was growing up. For this evocative series, she documented cramped living conditions and derelict buildings in …

Documenting youth: Oliver Kruger’s striking photographs

In the striking series of photographs Golden Youth, South Africa-born Oliver Kruger documents Johannesburg’s youth culture. After visiting a street festival with a friend, the artist decided to set up a studio on the sidelines of the event and take portraits of people attending the festival. The result is a series of sensitive yet psychologically probing portraits of his sitters. On the surface, flamboyant dress gives us a very real sense of the sartorial preoccupations of Johannesburg’s youth culture. But these are not photos from fashion pages, as these intimate shots prize out an intimacy from their sitters, however tough they appear. Kruger was born in Stellenbosch in 1977 and now lives and works in Cape Town. Oliver Kruger was profiled in the November/December issue of The Kurios. Photo: From the Golden Youth series, courtesy of Oliver Kruger.

Santiago nights: Leonora Vicuña’s lyrical work

Chilean photographer Leonora Vicuña (b.1952) creates timeless, lyrical images that capture nightlife in her native Santiago as well as in Paris and Barcelona. Her photos immortalize these nocturnal scenes, giving us a rich array of bohemian characters, including musicians, waiters, transvestites and vagabonds. During the dictatorship of General Pinochet in the 1970s and ‘80s, Vicuña spent some years living and working in France. She was one of the founders of the AFI, the first association of professional independent photographers in Chile, which fought for the restoration of democracy in the 1980s. Vicuña, who is also a Professor of Photography in Santiago, has been employing colour pigments and pencils on the surface of her silver gelatin prints since the late 1970s to bring her images of popular culture to life. In this way, she is able to add a personal touch to the images and recall the atmosphere of the original scene. The photos are a nostalgic, personal interpretation of everyday activities – playing cards, dancing, having a drink at a tapas bar – that take …

A vibrant city in motion: Horacio Coppola’s Buenos Aires

Argentine Modernism is under the spotlight in a new retrospective at New York’s MoMa focusing on the works of Horacio Coppola and Grete Stern. Coppola, an Argentine of Italian descent, and Stern, a German Jew, met at the Bauhaus, the experimental German art school, in the 1930s. With the rise of the Nazi regime and the subsequent closure of the Bauhaus, they moved to Buenos Aires in 1936, via London, where they got married. With the knowledge and training they had received in Germany, they soon established themselves as pioneers of Modernism in Argentina, combining a sharp eye for abstraction and design with local themes and subject matters. One obvious approach to examining their work has been to consider the axis of influence between Germany and Argentina. However, another interesting and novel comparison is between Buenos Aires and Paris, as the Argentine capital has often been considered ‘the Paris of South America’. In a post-colonial context, such a claim is deceptive. It implies that Buenos Aires is simply an imitation of the Parisian capital, with …

The intimacy of colour: Australian hand-coloured photos from the 70s

The 1970s saw a revival in hand-coloured photography in Australia, and the technique remains a significant aspect of the practice of many artists today. The hand-colouring of photographs enables an artist to personalize and individualize a print , as well as imbue it with warmth and intimacy. Australian artists like Ruth Maddison, Miriam Stannage, Micky Allan and Robyn Stacey revived the technique of hand-colouring photographs. They were recently on show at the National Gallery of Australia in Sydney, as part of the Colour my world: hand-coloured Australian photography exhibition. The hand-colouring of images goes back a long way in the history of photography. In the mid-19th Century, when photography was still a nascent art form, artists applied paint, dye or other media to black and white images. Hand-colouring would be used either to add aesthetic or economic value to an image, or to correct a photographic mistake. In the early 20th Century the practice declined as modernist artists sought greater technical purity. To continue reading, please subscribe to the September/October 2015 issue here, or by searching for …

Sensual in the Soviet Union: Nikolai Bakharev’s stunning photos of bathers

Russian photographer Nikolai Bakharev originally trained as a mechanic before working as a Communal Services Factory photographer in the 1960s. His arresting photographs of bathers were taken during the 1980s and 1990s when photographing nudity was strictly prohibited in the Soviet Union. In this way, these images of bathers on public beaches in Russia blur the boundaries between the public and private, and create a tension between public posing and private activity. From under a conservative exterior, a furtive eroticism emerges. To continue reading this article, please subscribe to the September/October 2015 issue here, or by searching for the Kurios App on your mobile device. Photo credit: Nikolai Bakharev, No .14, from the series Relation, 1980. Gelatin Silver print ©MAMM, Moscow / Nikolai Bakharev Collection of the Moscow House of Photography Museum.

Capturing West Africa’s elite: the photography of a different era

A new exhibition at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, In and Out of the Studio: Photographic Portraits from West Africa, presents over a century of portrait photography in West Africa. Many of these works, which were taken between the 1870s and the 1970s, are being displayed for the first time. There’s a broad selection of images on show, including postcards and original negatives as well as conventional photographs. The choice of photographers is similarly broad, taking in both amateur and professional photographers who captured life in Senegal, Mali, Gabon and Cameroon, among others. What is interesting about these photographs is that they present us with an image of Africa that is seldom recognized – it is often presumed that photographs of Africa from earlier eras were taken by foreign photographers. West Africa, where photography arrived in the 1840s, became a booming photography centre on its own terms. In other words, photographic production was not controlled just by foreigners – rather it was adapted by locals to their own traditions and aesthetic preferences. European and …

Now who’s wearing the trousers?

Pioneering photographer Annemarie Heinrich (1912-2005) had hard mountains to climb but her persistence eventually paid off. The daring Argentine artist, who moved to Argentina with her family to escape the Nazis, lived at a time when photography was considered a lesser cultural form in Buenos Aires. To complicate matters further, Heinrich liked to experiment with photographing nudity. She kept this a secret which, given that society even disapproved of her habit of wearing trousers to work, was probably wise. A comprehensive retrospective of the German-born photographer’s work at the Museum of Latin American Art of Buenos Aires (MALBA) — which ended earlier this month — uncovered her passionate, and very private, experiments with photography. Heinrich photographed many stars of the cinema, theatre and ballet in the 1930s and 1940s, when Argentina cinema was experiencing its Golden Age. In this era, Buenos Aires – dubbed the ‘Paris of the South’ — was a magnet for foreign performers who relished the rich cultural life of the city. The resplendent Colon Theatre is still considered one of the …

Remote corners

The work of British photographer Jimmy Nelson (b. 1967) has taken him to some of the least-travelled parts of the world. The self-taught artist began taking photographs when he embarked upon a journey across Tibet in 1987, aged just 19. His year-long journey through the Himalayan country lasted one year, and resulted in a visual diary of images of parts of Tibet that had not previously been explored. His initial foray into photography was published and gained him international attention. Fast forward nearly three decades and Nelson has been present at some of the most culturally and historically significant events of our time. In the 1990s, he was commissioned to document Russia’s involvement in Afghanistan and the beginning of the war in Yugoslavia. In 1994, Nelson and his Dutch wife also embarked on a pioneering photography project in China just as the People’s Republic was opening up. The 30-month project, to be called Literary Portraits of China, took them to the far reaches of the vast nation. In the late 1990s, Nelson began to receive …

Zurich to Tehran

Iranian-born Shirana Shahbazi produces photographs in classical art-historical genres, including landscape, portraiture and still life. She often repeats images across different mediums, for instance in hand-painted billboards in Iran, or in hand-made carpets. Recently, she has also translated her imagery into large-scale installations hung on wallpaper. In her latest body of work, shown here, Shahbazi was inspired by a family road trip from Zurich to Tehran in April of last year. These delicate, washed-out images appear to evoke travel and landscape photography, but they are far more intimate than typical images of that kind. See more images of Shahbazi’s work in the July/August issue of The Kurios. Photo: © Shirana Shahbazi. Photo courtesy of On Stellar Rays, New York.

Rio remembered

At the outbreak of the Second World War, Kurt Klagsbrunn (1918-2005) arrived in Rio de Janeiro, the then-capital of Brazil. The Austrian medical student of Jewish descent had been forced to abandon university with the rise of the Nazis. He fled from Vienna, seeking refuge first in Lisbon, then Rotterdam,with his family. He finally alighted in Rio in 1939. Klagsbrunn began, slowly but surely, to start taking photographs of life on the other side of the Atlantic. His work began to reflect the diverse panorama of people living in this vibrant city, from slave descendants to aristocrats. Rio would become a source of lasting inspiration to the young immigrant and he began to document parties as well as social and political events. More than 200 of his Rio photographs are brought together in the enlightening exhibition Kurt Klagsbrunn, a humanist photographer in Rio (1940-1960), at the Museu de Arte do Rio. “One of Kurt’s features is a very loving relationship with Rio de Janeiro,” said Paulo Herkenhoff, one of the exhibition’s curators. “Klagsbrunn produced an …