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In a series of black and white images of the German landscape made between 1987 and 1997, Michael Schmidt has forged a new pictorial language to deconstruct the world he observes. Concerned with light and form, Schmidt’s images contain a wealth of silver tones, a spectrum of rich greys which evolve from light to dark in mystical, imperceptible gradients. But the black and white filter is also a tool that allows Schmidt to neutralise the world, impeding the subjective perception of his viewer. It is through his editorial process, a process of montage, that Schmidt constructs an interior dialect, fashioning a self-contained world within the linear sequence of the book.
Michael Schmidt was born in 1945 in Berlin. He passed away in Berlin on 24 May, 2014, a few days after the printing of NATUR. Michael Schmidt produced some of the most significant bodies of photographs in the history of the medium and is renowned for his books, most notably, the projects Waffenruhe (1987), U-NI-TY (1996), Berlin nach 45 (2005), and Lebensmittel (2012). His solo exhibitions include ‘Lebensmittel’ Martin-Gropius-Bau, Berlin 2013 / Galerie im Taxispalais, Innsbruck 2012 / Museum Morsbroich, Leverkusen 2012; ‘Grey as Colour. Photographs until 2009’, Haus der Kunst, Munich (2010); ‘Frauen – EIN-HEIT – Menschenbilder’, at the Kunstverein in der Kunsthalle Dusseldorf (2000); and ‘U-NI-TY’, at the Museum of Modern Art, New York and Sprengel Museum, Hannover (1996). Recent group shows include ‘Consumption: the Fifth Prix Pictet Shortlist’, Victoria & Albert Museum, London (2014) and ‘The Encyclopedic Palace’, 55th Biennale, Venice (2013).
Rosalind Fox Solomon spent five months in Israel and the West Bank during 2010–11, working in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Nahariya, Bethlehem and Jenin. Travelling by local bus along with commuter workers, she photographed Jewish teenagers at Purim, Christians at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, and Ghanaian pilgrims at the Mount of Olives. The photographs contain numerous interwoven narratives, some with particular political charge, such as the casket of Juliano Mer-Khamis, a Palestinian activist of dual descent who established the Freedom Theatre, assassinated during Solomon’s visit to the territory.
Her photographs are informed by an acute sensitivity to lives conditioned by race and religion, ethnicity and location. Through a cacophonous image sequence, Solomon articulates the turmoil of her experience of the region, recounting ‘I felt the tension. The stress…. I wanted to express the chaos and pressure that was around me’. Punctuating the images are fragments of text – amusing and frightening background conversations, recorded in Solomon’s journal; the texts reveal the humanity of each person photographed, a window onto lives conditioned by violence and uncertainty.
48 pages | 28 tritone plates
23.5 cm x 26.5 cm
Joanna Piotrowska’s uncomfortable album, a series of staged family shots, insists upon the fundamental anxiety at the heart of the family: its system of relationships, adamantine bonds that are equally oppressive and rewarding. Her images display intimate family scenes – cosily paired bodies, meeting and converging, in images which teeter on the verge of a dysfunctional moment. In one snapshot, two adult brothers lie together on a Persian carpet wearing only white briefs; in another, the black-clothed bodies of two embracing women merge, suggesting the atavistic overlap of mother and daughter. The title itself, which denotes a warm or stuffy atmosphere, captures the paradoxical nature of the family: frowsty spaces are both cosy and claustrophobic, intimate and airless. The images are carefully staged: Piotrowska asked her family subjects to pose in almost sculptural gestures, re-enacting moments of intimacy – repeating spontaneous instants of tenderness, in performances which are imbued with a plethora of new meanings. Influenced by the philosophy of the German psychotherapist Bert Hellinger, Piotrowska integrated movements and gestures from Hellinger’s therapeutic method Family Constellations, which attempts to expose and heal multi-generational trauma. Her black-and-white images, intentionally nostalgic for lost moment of happiness, are shrewd observations of the tension of self that pervades every family dynamic.
Spanning almost three decades, Moonshine is a portrait of the American Appalachian folk, a mythologised region populated by ‘moonshiners’. Van Manen’s images are defined by a fierce intimacy with her subject, as the viewer teeters on the edge of the frame, perpetually trespassing on private moments: rollicking children practicing handstands on the couch; a kneeling daughter combing the hair of her grandmother.
Van Manen first visited the region in 1985, to the Appalachian areas of Kentucky, Tennessee and West Virginia, returning periodically up until 2013 to visit mining families with whom she lived: the Boggs family with their ten red-haired sons; miners Mavis and Junior. The intergenerational images subtly trace the insidious changes undergone by Appalachia – the slow and steady demise of the mining industry, and the migration of inhabitants from ramshackle wooden cabins to the city, or urban trailer parks. Van Manen intermixes black-and-white images with later colour work – another register of time passing and the inevitability of change.
8 Women Collier Schorr
72 pages | 34 colour plates
24 cm x 31 cm
Hardcover with acetate dust jacket
Collier Schorr’s latest book 8 Women presents work which spans from the mid-nineties to the present. Schorr’s earliest works utilised appropriated adverts from fashion magazines to address issues of authorship and desire; the works introduced a female gaze into the debate about female representation. Appropriation was Schorr’s first medium and in some sense she returns to it, taking her own commissioned fashion images and folding them into a dialogue with other works. The works in 8 Women propose a variety of subjects, all of whom are involved in performance, be it as artists, models or musicians. Schorr, who has been working in fashion for the last 10 years, created sets that doubled as her studio, teasing out images that could only be made with a subject that could travel between the object of desire and the enforcer of an identity crafted in that very moment. Working between out-takes and manipulations of tear sheets, Schorr questions who the women that desire to be looked at are, as well as what power exists in acknowledging that as a post-feminist position.
An Archeology of Fear and Desire is an attempt to recontextualise Israel as place and metaphor, exploring longing, belonging and exclusion. Frédéric Brenner follows up his opus Diaspora with a visual essay about Israel, a land of devouring myths in which constructs– social and religious–perpetuate a tyranny of roles, which render us strangers to what is most intimate in ourselves.
Brenner’s essay is an X-ray of an ongoing experiment in survival, portraying the complexity of multiple, dissonant identities. These images question the promise attached to this land and explore the cauldron of fear and shadow within this territory and in each of us, unrecognised, unredeemed, denied, dissimulated and silenced, where the other is instrumentalised and thereby sacrificed.
An Archeology of Fear and Desire is part of a project entitled This Place, which explores the complexity of Israel and the West Bank, as place and metaphor, through the eyes of twelve internationally acclaimed photographers, consisting of a travelling exhibition, companion publications and a program of live events. Brenner initiated the project in 2006 and continues to guide it.
Brenner is best known for Diaspora, the result of a 25-year search in 40 countries to create a visual record of the Jewish people at the end of the twentieth century. Brenner is the Laureate of the French Academy in Rome (1992) and the Prix Niepce (1981); he has directed an original film and published six books, including Diaspora: Homelands in Exile (2003).
Roe Ethridge’s practice is that of a restless maverick and his constantly evolving visual sensibility has spawned a myriad of copyists in what has become known as ‘the new school of synthetic photography’.
In this his latest artist book, Ethridge conflates a rich array of photographic tropes, combining personal documentary images made in western Palm Beach County, his mother’s childhood home, with surreal collage works, and a series discarded from a Chanel fashion shoot. These are interwoven with what appears to be a carefully directed scene depicting a teeth-white Durango SUV sinking into and then being retrieved from a canal. The clash of visual styles, histories and meaning establish a flatline of dissonance underscored by the touchline admonition of the neon title – SACRIFICE YOUR BODY.
Ethridge’s storytelling invokes a sense of discomfit akin to David Lynch’s film-making, a lucid undermining of veracity and morality and the ingrained materiality that underpins American life.
Veramente encompasses Italian photographer Guido Guidi’s entire oeuvre, bringing together excerpts of his series from 1959 to the present day to illuminate the distinctive photographic language he has forged over a 40-year career.
Guidi, a pioneer of new Italian landscape photography, was influenced by architectural history, neorealist Italian film, and conceptual art. Using photography as a process and an experience of understanding, Guidi’s body of work frames a visual discourse that revolves around what it means to see, or what it may mean to offer up an image.
Veramente is published to accompany a touring exhibition of the same name opening at the Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson in January 2014, and then moving to Huis Marseille Museum voor Fotografie, Amsterdam in June and the Museo d’Arte della Città, Ravenna in October.
Thirty years ago in 1983, Italian photographer Guido Guidi created a short photographic series, taken inside a room in Preganziol, Italy. The sixteen images which make up Preganziol, 1983 were taken within the confines of four bare walls. The only light is emitted through two windows which sit crossways from one another.
Preganziol, 1983 is, at first glance, a simple exploration of light, a photographer’s exercise in how to define and describe physical space within a photograph and how light shapes these descriptions. On closer inspection the series is multi-layered: Guidi’s portraits of a room alludes to the idea of the camera obscura; exterior vistas allude to the Albertian window; blank walls create an aura of emptiness and abandonment; and the shifting of light across the walls signifies the movement of time.
Guidi’s skill as a photographer and craftsman of the image is evident here, and this conceptual sequence is charged by a leitmotif running through Guidi’s work: the void, the knowledge that beyond the frame reality goes on unfolding, immeasurable, endless.