Popped into the Michael Hoppen gallery today to see Tiina Itkonen's show Ultima Thule, a series of images made in Greenland.
As I have mentioned so many times here on the B Mode I get a bit tired and a little frustrated when an area of the planet becomes fashionable and bundles of photographers fall over themselves to go make beautiful images. At the moment the hot favorites are China and Greenland but before I cried out 'If I see one more photograph of a bloody Ice burg I'll go snow blind' I decided to see what was what at the 'oh so homely' MHG. After all the MHG is at the only gallery in London showing anything decent in photography as far as I am concerned and for that I have the greatest of respect.
My fears where realised when the first image I beheld at the show was a big fact lump of ice, in other words, an ice burg (see above). In all there fullness the images a quite beautiful and in a nice format, however I felt they where let down by the plexiglass/die bond framing which tends to make an image look cheap and makes a good mirror if the hanging space is over lit. Sadly though the images in the entire show fail to deliver simply because theres no impact. Compared to the work of say Otto Becker's 'Broken Line' Itkonen's work just looks bland. Harsh words perhaps, but I guess thats what you get if you choose such a popular subject thats being done by a vast number of photographers.
Despite all I have said I would gladly go to Greenland tomorrow, and would probably photograph Ice Burgs until the dam things melted..
In between researching my ongoing coastal project and making a fine apple pie, I managed to sit down (written as if I was incredibly busy and important..) and watch Annie Leibovitz's 'Life Through A Lens'. After my harsh words a few weeks ago on her alleged debt and how if it where true how appalling that would be, I felt obligated to watch this film on the worlds/ Americas most famous photographer. When I awoke an hour later I realised I was none the wiser regarding the life of Leibovitz other than she took some drugs early on, went into rehab, then became a household name.
To some up this film (and others like it) I would say that just because someone photographs interesting people (or makes interesting and beautiful images), does not mean they themselves are interesting, or should I say interesting enough to make a film about...This is no reflection on a truly great photographer, I am sure she is very nice in the flesh and she can photo me anytime. She just doesn't seem to have anything interesting to say... But hey, no one has even heard of me, but I am an entertainer....
Although I like to think of this beautiful blog as a simple vent for my feelings on photography I read this today and thought it most relevant especially considering how much time most of us spend in small rooms in front of a computer screen. The most amazing thing is the fact that it was written a century ago...
Well it must have been months since I last wrote, or may be its just weeks. But as no one has told me they miss the blog it doesn't really matter..
When I lived Stateside the IPA (International Photography Awards) where a big deal and that seems to be catching on here in the UK. As with any international award its huge competition and although I have often voiced my dislike of such awards with words like 'lottery' and 'won't change your life' I thought it may be worth mentioning here. As with any of the big competitions there always seems (to me) to be a repetition of images each year. Hardly ever is there anything unique, just more of the bland safe photography we all see far too often. And before anyone shouts 'Nothing is original, its all been done before' I'm not talking about reinventing the wheel and producing photographs of Pluto. I would just like to see something different. However Josef Hoflehner's work kicks ass (although it does smell of Michael Kenna...)
As I have mentioned on here previously I like to think of myself as a culture vulture once in a while (although I am not) and like to try and buy a book one Friday of every month. There is no real reason for the Friday thing other than the shops are less busy than a Saturday...
To put it simply today's purchase Vanishing Landscapes (John Berger) is outstanding. Twenty photographers (half of which I adore and have mentioned here) with their own take on the diminishing landscape. Its a beautiful book and great to see so many fine photographers in one place. After viewing the book I couldn't help thinking , 'What if you put all of these twenty photographers on an island (or in this case a big ice burg) armed only with a knife, a candle and of course a camera?' Would they knife-fight it out for the best vantage points, or would they all come away with something completely different. Judging by the book, I think the latter..
I would urge (as I so often do) anyone with a vague interest in landscapes, and of course the environment to buy this book ...Superdooper..
(Amazon is £15.00 cheaper than the shops)
I came across the work of Richard Nicholson today and although I am quite fond of his East End Lock up series (see website) I just adore the Darkroom images (see above). Its nothing really to do with the technique (I personally think using a safe light or some dirty 12 watt bulb to light the shots may have added some drama, but I guess its not really necessary for such a project as this) I simply like the fact that they are working darkrooms. It takes me back to my printing days with the smell of chemistry burning my nostrils to the sound of running water...
I was especially delighted to see my old enlarger still going strong and being very well looked after. (I won't mention which darkroom it is as I am still weeping from our separation).
One thing the Darkroom series does do very well is show how personal these spaces are to the printer. Be they messy, tidy, dirty, clean, with an old enlarger, with a new enlarger, a big space or a small space, they all show a little piece of the once hero's of photography when the world was mostly analog and a little smellier.....Longer may it last....
Death to the Pixel..
I have been tossing and turning all night as to which image I would rather have. The Andreas Gursky diptych 99 cent, or the photographs of Jordan and Peter Andre's wedding. With the Gursky you have the irony of a photograph of a 99 cent store fetching millions at auction, but with the wedding pictures you have the page three has-been best known for her immense balloons and twenty biography's and a little fella who once sang about mysterious girls and lived in a jungle. But after a few cups of coffee this morning and a cereal bar I decided that if I had $3,400,000 it would be much better spent on something like a new gallery, a nice big house, an orphanage restoration, or a small islands economy.
We are living in a time when wedding and baby photographs are more valuable than fine art and this my friends makes me want to vomit into the hat of vanity worn by many a celebrity.
I don't think there has been a week that has gone by lately when someone hasn't said to me; "Oh the resession, oh, it will effect 'The Arts' first, Oh, no one buys prints in these times, oh Marcus what will you do, maybe your dad could get you a job at the tin factory..." To be honest it makes me want to dig out my 18 ounce boxing gloves and go to town on the blighters, Its just not what I want to hear. Its usually the same people that tell you that no one makes a living just selling prints which is utter rubbish as Ansel Adams made over a million dollars in print sales the first year he started to sell. May I also mention Andreas Gursky, Gregory Grewdson, Jeff Wall, Richard Misrach, so on and so forth..... May I also add to the list the kind of people who tell me soon I wont be able to get any film, or that camera will give you a bad back. Just go write a poem or something....
Doing what I do you have to remain positive. I am not in the habit of crawling into a dark corner and waiting for things to pass. Nuff said..
Now I have that off my chest heres some beautiful work by one Christian Weber. Wonderful work in particular 'A Reason To Believe' project. Its really something (see above)..