Monday, 25 April 2011

A thought

Wolfgang Tillmans' practice has always blurred distinctions between high art, commercial and documentary forms of photography. These photos are from a series of images taken in Haiti which appeared some time ago on the BBC website and are perhaps his closest to straight journalistic work. Although they appear here as part of a concise series there is nothing to stop these photos appearing in one of his installations in dialogue with other images from his archives, in fact it is not improbable that they won't. These photos raise questions that are also examined in the work of Allan Sekula, whose work I blogged about below, questions regarding the relationship between journalistic or documentary photography and fine art photography and the representation of labour in fine art photography. The topic of representation is particularly interesting, the ethical implications of 'straight' photographers like Tillmans and Sekula seemingly questioned by the 'near documentary' or staged realism of a practitioner such as Jeff Wall. Photography has long been a medium questioned by the high/fine art establishment of the West, Greenberg's assessment of it's 'transparency' as a medium still posing the main problem for those looking for the work of the artist's hand in the final output. I feel that it is increasingly methods of display that are redefining the nature of 'straight' photography in the world of art, from Tillmans' heterogeneous wall installations to people such as Sekula and Zoe Leonard employing conceptual traditions such as the series or the grid to frame their documentary influenced practice.

Post Script 26/04: Interesting news this evening: Jim Goldberg's documentary project Open See has won this year's Deutche Borse prize for photography, triumphing over amongst others Thomas Demand.

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Still missing

Ai Wei Wei has now been missing eleven days since being arrested at Beijing Airport by Chinese authorities. Today it was reported that the artist is 'confessing' to crimes of tax evasion, bigamy and spreading pornography on the internet. The Guggenheim have set up a petition calling for his release which you can sign here.

Sunday, 3 April 2011

No Age presents

This evening I finally got round to seeing No Age perform after two years of listening to them and multiple missed opportunities during their previous UK tours. This however was not an ordinary gig; held at the ICA, the event consisted of the band performing a live soundtrack to Jean-Jacques Annaud's 1988 film The Bear, which follows an orphaned bear cub who befriends an older, male grizzly bear who has been wounded by hunters, and charts their companionship and attempts to avoid the guns of the two hunters. It provided a more than suitable back drop to the sounds coming from below the screen, No Age's instrumental improvisation allowing you to to sit back and lose yourself in the narrative of the - at times quite poignant - film. Playing continuously for the length of the film it was akin to album tracks such as Impossible Bouquet or Escarpment, the guitars and electronics at time melodic and at others crashing down, with walls of distortion and drums used to heighten the tension at certain moments throughout the film. Managing to avoid both repetitiveness and overbearing the film, their understated playing style, doing a lot with not a lot, turned this marriage of music and film into a pretty successful one in my opinion. Perhaps more No Age film scores are needed?

Saturday, 2 April 2011