II Amerika Exhibitors in Print

Two of the exhibitors in the II AMERIKA exhibition have recently appeared in print with work that is also featured in the show.

Clémence De Limburg is featured in Issue 16 of Foam magazine with her Satmar Series.

Nicolas Silberfaden's Papz! series is on Time.Com and a couple of weeks ago he was interviewed in the British Journal of Photography, with one of the images from the series on the cover and several more published inside. (The BJP content is only available online if you have a subscription).

You can see prints from both these photographers and many more at the ICP Education Gallery in New York until October the 12th.

Yasutaka Kojima

If you are in Tokyo this week I suggest you check out Yasutaka Kojima's show at Place M.

The opening is on Wednesday the 24th September at 6pm.

Invasion '68: Prague

On September the 4th in NYC, it seemed like the place to be in the photo community was the opening of Koudelka's Invasion '68 exhibition at the Aperture Foundation. I got their early with my son and my mum and a couple of friends and got a chance to look around briefly before the hordes of people overwhelmed the space and made it almost imposible to move, let alone look at the work. A couple of beers and a few hellos to some familiar faces and it was time to go. I have since been back and taken a good look around. It is well worth spending some time with these images. As photographs they are fantastic. It is no wonder they garnered the attention they did at the time. Koudelka is right there, in the thick of it. you can read the emotion on the faces of the soldiers, the civilians and the protestors. As a whole they are an important historical document and it is good to see more than just the 'ten best' that were originally chosen from the 5000 odd that were taken that week.

I was also told by another photographer to check out the sister show at Pace/MacGill as this has the original prints. Something I will hopefully get a chance to do this week. The inkjets are good, but those silver gelatins will have a little more of an object d'art aura about them I'm sure.

The photographer Josef Koudelka at his “Invasion 68: Prague” exhibition at Aperture Gallery.

Photo: Andrew Henderson/The New York Times

Read the New York Times Article here.

One of my favourite aspects of this exhibition was the photographs of posters that had sprung up following the Soviet led invasion of Czechoslovakia. As well as being on the gallery walls, these were reproduced as if they were the original posters and pasted to a construction hoarding outside the gallery building at 525 West 27th Street.

Nice touch.

Photographer Lucy Helton on W27th Street on the opening night of Koudelka's exhibition at Aperture.

And as always, I love to see the contact sheets...

One of Koudelka's contact sheets, reproduced in Aperture Magazine.

Read a previous post on Koudelka here.

Susan Meiselas

Over the past couple of weeks I have seen a lot of photography on the walls of various galleries. Some of it good, some of it bad. Here is one of the good...

NICARAGUA. Santo Domingo. 1979. Main street in rural town.

Last week I went to the opening of the new shows at the ICP museum but as always with openings it was difficult to take in the work properly, so today I went back to check them out, specifically the Susan Meiselas retrospective. I call it that because there is work from the most famous projects of her almost 40 year career on the walls and the accompanying catalogue is a weighty tome featuring beautifully reproduced photographs, essays and interviews, pages from her published books and all manner of notes and clippings which cover a lot of the work she has done so far.

Like many people, my introduction to Meiselas work was through the photographs she took during the Nicaraguan insurrection of 1978-79. Quite simply they are stunning. I said recently to a friend that in looking at those photographs I wondered that even if I were in that situation, would I be able to record it in images as powerful as Meiselas'. I think that is the mark of a truly great photographer; that the content is carried to the fore by the aesthetics so that there emerges a synthesis of style and substance that transcends either.

Take for example the following image, shown here in the annotated copy of 'Nicaragua' Meiselas used when trying to track down the people in the photographs years after they were taken. (More on that later).

This man is Pablo 'Bareta' Arauz, for a long time known simply as Molotov Man. Though not perhaps the greatest photograph in the book, the appropriation of the image points to the power of the synthesis of style and content I am getting at. One room in the ICP exhibition deals with how the images from Nicaragua were used and published. One entire wall is devoted to Molotov Man, showing how the image was reproduced on posters, painted on walls, made into stencils, printed on matchboxes and even became the subject of a copyright debate. The image is striking and it's appropriation for various causes is fascinating.

The interesting thing here for me is the way Meiselas brings this iconic image back to it's original context, cleverly using the appropriations to add to rather than diffuse the power of the original.

In the essay 'On The Rights Of Molotov Man' Meiselas states that

'...it is important to me-in fact, it is central to my work-that I do what I can to respect the individuality of the people I photograph, all of whom exist in specific times and places.'

In fact she works so hard on this that her projects are infused with this personal connection. Her photographs contain that element of collaboration I find so important in the debate about journalistic exploitation. Her journey back to Nicaragua years later - documented in the film 'Pictures from a Revolution' to track down the people she photographed and give them the oportunity to speak about those times and what had happened snce is compelling and poignant. The ICP show has put these testimonies on display alongside the photographs and the 2008 edition of 'Nicaragua' includes a DVD of the film.

It is obviously important for Meiselas that the people in her photographs are given a voice. This is something she often takes literally, as evidenced not only by 'Pictures from a Revolution' but also through the audio interviews she conducted for her earlier 'Carnival Strippers' project. Extracts from these recordings echo though the room displaying the photographs from this project and enhance the reading of these photographs wonderfully, grounding them and giving them - there's that word again - context.

Also on show are various images and artifacts from her 'Kurdistan' Project. I have to confess that this project overwhelms me a bit. A sprawling website and a scholarly publication on the Kurds is something I wish I had the time to explore and as a contribution to the history of the Middle East it would seem to me to be an essential addition. I look forward to reading the section about this project in the exhibition catalogue and learning more about it.

In all, Susan Meiselas seems to regard the photograph as first and foremost a document, and moreover a document that should be used in conjuction with other documents (written, filmed or recorded) and properly placed within a context.

I admire this greatly. It is both a recognition of the photograph's power and an admission of it's limitations. From what I can see, Meiselas seems to work with commitment, integrity and respect. I come away from her work more knowledgable than I was before and as a photographer I am inspired not only be her photographs, but by everything that goes into making them - and perhaps more importantly - what happens after.

On the way out

But not gone yet....

I found this image on a blog my good friend Pat, known to many as 'The Wizard'. Lord knows where he finds the stuff he posts. He must have a better internet search engine than me...

condi the barbarian

From a protest (in brussels I think) about the recent situation in Georgia. It's an AP photo but beyond that I have no idea - any info about it is welcome!

The horror of knife crime.

When I was younger, growing up in England, I witnessed fights. I was in fights (not very often - I'm better at taking a punch thatn throwing one) and dealt with the aftermath of fights. There was a lot of proper physical violence on the streets for a supposedly civilised nation. In those days though, it was all mostly fists and feet. It was rare to see a knife pulled and that usually meant everyone ran. Broken bones and bloodied bodies happened but I never saw anyone get stabbed. No-one I knew ever got so badly injured they died from their wounds. Guns never ever came into it. Ever. I did meet a few people who had been involved in some of the darker business but the most of what I witnessed or was a part of was drunken brawling; stupid and senseless.

Things are different now. Stabbings, especially among teenagers seem to be on the increase. Guns are appearing in England's inner cities and life seems to be getting cheaper by the day. It's difficult to asses whether the deadly violence is actually on the increase or if it is just more publicly reported, but one thing I do know is that there are certain places in England I would worry about bringing up kids in. In my ten years of living in London I definitely noticed an increase in the aggression of teenagers, as well as a change in the pattern of violent crime. The worrying thing for me is that it seems to be becoming more random, more deadly and that the murdered are having their lives taken at an early age.

In 2000, a 10 year old named Damilola Taylor died in my neighbourhood from a stab wound to the leg. He was on the way home from studying in the local library after school. Two brothers, aged 12 and 13 at the time of the murder were eventually convicted. Damilola's mother died from a heart attack in April this year, with some people saying that really she had never recovered from the loss of her son and her death was of a broken heart. Damilola's murder was big national news.

This year, in London alone, 26 teenagers have been fatally shot or stabbed.

A recent victim of this violence was David Idowu, a 14 year old who died from a knife wound to the heart.

His mother, Grace Idowu, has made available to the press a photograph of her son in hospital, where he struggled for survival for 20 days before succumbing to his wounds. He had lost 90% of his blood in the attack and his brain had been damaged due to the lack of blood supply.

I personally think it a brave and courageous thing to do and I commend her for attempting to turn a tragic situation into a positive gesture.

Speaking about her decision to release the photograph to the press, Grace Idowu said'

"That is my beautiful boy," she said. "I want this picture published so people can see what happened to him. I want young people to see what happens when you put a knife in someone.

"They should just stop all this. He was not a criminal, he was an innocent boy. All this is for nothing."

Amen to that.

The Republicans

I tried to find a photograph that expressed the recent political developments in the U.S. and the election campaign in general, but this cartoon by Steve Bell just does it so much better than anything else I could find.

Hurricane Ike - Haiti to Texas (Spot the difference)

Praville, Haiti: Haitian women struggle to stay in line while a members of the United Nations Stabilisation Mission In Haiti (Minustah) try to keep order during food distribution

Photograph: Orlando Barria/EPA

Beaumont, USA: Texas residents stock up on pre-cooked items, canned goods, water, ice and other items in advance of Hurricane Ike's arrival at a grocery store

Photograph: Dave Tryan/AP

Raft of the Medusa and the Presidency of George W. Bush

The Raft of George W. Bush (2006) Joel-Peter Witkin

Thanks Marie!

II AMERIKA Exhibition - Opening Night

Friday saw the opening of II Amerika at the ICP education gallery. Click here for more info on the show.

Thanks to:

Everyone who came on the night and helped make it the successful evening it was!

All the exhibitors for their outstanding photography and for working really hard in a short space of time to pull the show together - in some cases from thousands of miles away.

Deidre and Nico (my fellow curators) for their sharp eyes and bright ideas!

The ICP staff for all their support and for inviting us in the first place - especially Donna, Eugene, Per, Yvette (and her team!).

A special thankyou goes out to Doro and the excellent Doroasako for providing the live music.

Finally, A huge thankyou to Lucy who worked incredibly hard to keep everything under control throughout the project and without whom this could never have happened.

Also, respect is due to everyone involved who went above and beyond and put in the extra effort when it was needed to keep this project on track and make sure everything was ready on time. We couldn't have done it without you.

Onto some pictures...

II Amerika

Pax signs the comments book

The wonderful catalogue display

Christie and Gabriele find something amusing

My wife enjoys a beer (or two)

Chang and Louise in serious art opening mode

Lucy and Jorge celebrate

Satomi points out her work on the pricelist!

Discussing Richard's pictures

Julia checking out the Papz!


...and the sublime Doroasako

Axl & Dave (with Jenny in the background looking at me suspiciously...)

A photo opportunity

The crowd towards the end of the evening

The photographers.

II AMERIKA Exhibition

Education Gallery Opening: II Amerika

Reception: September 12 | Friday | 7:00–9:00 pm
1114 Avenue of the Americas at 43rd Street

Curated by ICP Full-Time Programs alumni Tom White, Deidre Schoo, and Nicolas Silberfaden, and coordinated by Lucy Helton, this exhibition explores intriguing concepts born out of the unique American experience.

II Amerika will be on view in the Education Gallery September 6– October 12, Monday–Sunday, 10:00 am–6:00 pm.

For further information please call, 212.857.0001.


II AMERIKA Exhibition - Final Preparations.

I was in the ICP yesterday to drop off the last pieces of artwork for the II AMERIKA show. It is almost ready. It's been a lot of work but today it will all be done. Join us on Friday the 12th for the opening reception!