All posts tagged: photography

The everyday through new eyes: Andrés Durán’s Edited Monument series

Chilean photographer Andrés Durán’s recent work has centred on reinterpreting everyday sights in Santiago, his native city. In the series, Cartel House (2001), he documenting hidden locations in the city’s residential outskirts via appropriated billboards. Meanwhile in Viewpoint (2011), he captured inverse perspectives on advertising. In his latest body of work, Edited Monument (2014), he digitally transforms Santiago’s public sculptures, resulting in images that trick our perceptions. Neglected military figures, politicians and national heroes are seen from a new perspective, with their pedestal inverted and placed over the top of the effigy. In this way, he draws our attention to historically and politically important statues that have long been forgotten about – expect perhaps for the occasional photo by a passing tourist. Durán was born in 1974 and is currently a professor in the digital image department at Universidad ARCIS in Santiago. Photo: Prócer de pie, 2014, (S#1, P#2) © Andrés Durán. Courtesy of the artist and Metales Pesados. Santiago.    

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 …

Not just a fantasy: Hellen van Meene’s uncanny portraits

Dutch-born Hellen van Meene is best known for her portraits of young girls, which pulsate with psychological tension. These elegant images show girls in various stages of adolescence, though the realism in these photographs is threaded with a fantastical element. The resulting uncanniness is redolent of fairy tales, but also of images from art history, recalling the works of artists like Vermeer, Velasquez and Millais. Characterized by their use of light and their exquisite elegance, they combine classical references with gothic horror, alluded to in these images of solitary, faceless, sometimes headless, girls. The artist, who works from the outskirts of Amsterdam, is well versed in the traditions of classical painting. She was born in Alkmaar, The Netherlands, in 1972, and now lives and works in Heiloo, The Netherlands. Untitled, Chromogenic print, 2015, 16 x 16 inches, edition of 10. © Hellen van Meene, Courtesy of the Artist, Yancey Richardson Gallery.

In search of childhood: the ‘double self portraits’ of Chino Otsuka

Chino Otsuka was born in Japan in 1972 but left to study in the UK when she was just ten years old. Her enigmatic photographs are to be located somewhere at the intersection of these two worlds. The photographs in her series Imagine Finding Me, seen here, are what she calls “double self portraits.” They are inspired by the idea of the artist talking with her younger self. These half-light photos are digitally retouched to seamlessly combine images of herself as a child with those of her as an adult. In this way, she is like a voyager back in time, re-visiting her former self as though in a dream. The resulting images are beautiful and dreamlike. 1976 and 2005, Kamakura, Japan, 2005. Chino Otsuka (Japanese, born 1972). ©Chino Otsuka. Wilson Centre for Photography.    

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 …

Alternative reality: Sara Ramo’s blurred boundaries

Spanish artist Sara Ramo (b.1975) recently presented new works, including videos, photographs and sculptures – at Galeria Fortes Vilaça in Sao Paolo. The works in Os Ajudantes (The Helpers) blur the boundaries between reality and fiction. In one video, twelve masked creatures wander through a dark landscape, playing musical instruments. Under the flickering light of bonfires, their appearance comes and goes, lending the video a mysterious atmosphere. Bereft of any narrative, we are left pondering the reality of these odd creatures, which at times appear familiar and at other times, completely foreign. In the series Matriz e a Perversão da Forma (Matrix and the Perversion of Form), the artist presents sculptures made of dental stone. Each piece is a mixture of the real – its material is something we recognize – but the shape is unfamiliar. As in the video, we are confronted with fragments of a whole, which has a distancing effect on the viewer. Sara Ramo was born in 1975 in Madrid, Spain, and currently lives and works between the city of her …

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 …

Conflict remembered: Jo Ractliffe’s photos of Angola and South Africa

African photography is under the spotlight at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, with a moving exhibition of work produced in the last decade by the South African photographer Jo Ractliffe. South African photographer Jo Ractliffe (born 1961) explores the themes of conflict, history, memory and displacement with her camera. She has described her work as an attempt to “retrieve a place for memory.” Ractliffe was born in 1961 in Cape Town and currently lives in Johannesburg. She completed her BAFA and MFA degrees at the University of Cape Town. Three recent series of photographs are featured in this show, focusing on recent conflict in her native South Africa and neighbouring Angola. Her earliest series Terreno Ocupado (2007–8) was produced around five years after the end of the Angolan Civil War (1975-2002), during Ractliffe’s first visit to the capital, Luanda. Her images of shantytowns speak of struggle and land occupation, highlighting the vulnerability of the city’s infrastructure post civil war. Her photographs highlight the imprint that the Portuguese colonial occupation of Angola had on Luanda. …

The Belgian engineer who captured the lives of Chile’s remote Mapuche

The Belgian engineer Gustave Verniory (1865-1949) arrived in Chile at the end of the 19th Century to build a railway in the remote region of Araucanía, in the mid-south of the country. The region, occupied by indigeneous Mapuche tribes, had not become part of Chile until the 1880s. Verniory came to know a group of Mapuche people, and he began to photograph them, in their everyday attire. He also captured images of the railway’s construction and other viaducts and bridges that had been built as the Chilean government drove modernization of Chile’s remoter regions. His photos document an interesting time in the history of the province when industrialization was rapidly changing the lives of the Mapuche. The government had occupied Araucania in the 1880s to end the resistance of Mapuche tribes. Subsequently European and Chileans settled in the area, with the population of Araucania growing considerably in the early 20th Century. A region of mountains and lakes and fertile agricultural land, it came to be known as the “granary of Chile.” Around one third of …

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 …

Double take

The pioneering Argentine photographer and filmmaker Horacio Coppola (1906-2012) was a key Modernist figure. He was one of ten siblings born to Italian immigrants in Buenos Aires at a time when photography was only an emerging art form. He travelled to Europe in the 1920s and 1930s, where his early experiments with photography began to take on a Surrealist edge. Coppola is the subject of a new retrospective at New York’s MOMA, alongside his wife German-born Grete Stern, also an artist. Coppola enjoyed walking the streets of London, waiting for moments of Surrealist uncanniness to appear. In this photo, taken in London in 1934, clothes and shoes for sale outside a shop swing in the wind, giving the strange sensation that they are being worn. In another photo in the exhibition, also taken in London in 1934, he photographed a display of various antiques at a flea market in the city, including the reflections of passers-by in the mirrors. Viewed more closely, the reflection of a sculptural bust can be seen in the mirror too, …

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 …

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 …

Forgotten pioneers

The Argentine artist Flavia da Rin was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina in 1978, and still lives in the city. Her practice includes photography and painting. In a recent series of powerful photographs, Da Rin has re-created images taken in the 1920s and 1930s of mould-breaking women who had a passion for dance, including Lizica Codreanu, Giannina Censi and Mary Wigman. The Romanian ballet dancer Lizica Codreanu was a member of Serge Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes and a constant fixture in avant-garde circles during Paris’ heyday. She was a favourite of the Ukrainian-born painter Sonia Delaunay, and the Romanian-born sculptor Constantin Brancusi, both of whom made their careers in France and designed iconic costumes for her. To continue reading about Flavia Da Rin’s work and the forgotten female artists she photographed, read the May/June issue of The Kurios. Photo: Flavia da Rin, Untitled (Codreano /Brancusi III), 2014. Photo courtesy of Ruth Benzacar Galeria de Arte.

Desert hope

An exhibition at the Museo de la Memoria in Santiago,Chile, is showing 58 photographs from the Flowers in the Desert series by New York-based photographer Paula Allen. These photographs tell the story of a group of Chileans, known as the women of Calama,who spent 17 years searching for their relatives who disappeared after the 1973 military coup of General Augusto Pinochet. In the first few months after their disappearance, the women of Calama met in secret but in time, frustrated by the lack of state information about their loved ones fates, they took to the desert themselves with shovels to try to find the bodies. The husbands, fathers and brothers of these women went missing during the infamous Caravan of Death, a term used to describe the journey taken by five soldiers to four northern cities. They murdered a total of 72 people on their way, including 26 men in the city of Calama. Their bodies were buried in a secret grave in the desert. Continue reading about Flowers in the Desert in the May/June issue of The Kurios, out …