Friday, April 4, 2014

Stories With Pictures at the AUCKLAND WRITERS FESTIVAL



On Friday May 16, 2pm until 3.30pm in the Goodman Fielder Room, Level 4, of the Aotea Center, I will be presenting a workshop as part of the AUCKLAND WRITERS FESTIVAL.

In short, I'll be talking about what makes a good photograph. Will be fun! The festival have this to say about the event: With more than 380 billion photographs taken each year, each telling a story, almost everybody these day considers themselves a photographer. But while seemingly easy, taking a great photograph is anything but. Art-based photographer Harvey Benge published his first photobook in 1993; twenty years on with more than 40 publications to his credit, Benge can spot a great picture from a dog. In this workshop he explains the distinction.

You can check out the AUCKLAND WRITERS FESTIVAL program HERE.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

photo-eye: Some Things... Jörg Colberg writes

 


It was nice to get a mention on photo-eye this week, particularly from Jörg Colberg whose opinions I respect more than many...

This week's Book of the Week pick comes from Conscientious Photography Magazine writer, photographer and teacher Jörg Colberg who has selected Some Things You Should Have Told Me by Harvey Benge published by Dewi Lewis.
"I don't know how I would categorize the photographs Harvey Benge takes. He's certainly not the only person doing this kind of work. He also is not the only person to have made a book containing these little fragments extracted from the world. However, the majority of books made around pictures like Harvey's end up trying way too hard to be clever. That's the curse of this kind of photography: It is clever, at least to some extent, and it is so tempting to exploit that cleverness. But the cleverness can never be the point of the whole exercise. Unlike all these other books Harvey's Some Things You Should Have Told Me is genuinely moving; it tells you a story, and I have no idea how I would talk about that story. The story is never fully revealed, drawing the viewer back in. Inevitably, some things will not be resolved (something else many photographers dislike — Harvey, however, does not shy away from uncertainty); and that's fine. This book seems to have flown under a lot of radars; and while I have spent a lot of time with it, I forgot to include it in my list of my favourite books 2013. But it's going to be in this year's list for sure. Some Things You Should Have Told Me has everything a great photobook should have: Great pictures, a great concept, and more." —Jörg Colberg


You can go to Jörg Colberg's  photography magazine Conscientious HERE.





Thursday, February 20, 2014

FotoBookFestival, Dummy Award 2014

 

OMG it's that time again!

Photographers worldwide are invited to present their so far unpublished photobooks to an international public and to eminent experts. The best 50 books will be exhibited at international photo events in Athens, Cologne, Dublin, Madrid, Oslo, Paris, Rome, Paraty and Sao Paulo. From these 50 titles, the winners will be chosen by an international jury of experts at The PhotoBookMuseum Cologne in September. The winner of the First Prize will be given the opportunity to realize their dummy as a “real” book and will be reported on in the magazine European Photography. Registration for the Award costs 32 Euros (plus return postage charges, if necessary). Entry will open on February 12 and close on 22 May 2014.

You can enter HERE.

Robert Adams at Jeu De Paume, Paris

 
Robert Adams, Colorado Springs, Colorado, 1968

American photographer Robert Adams is the subject of an extensive retrospective - The Place We Live - currently showing at the Jeu de Paume in Paris. The exhibition is probably the most sweeping survey ever mounted of the 76 year old photographers work. The show presents more than 250 prints from 21 different series allowing visitors to observe Adams' career long exploration of the American West.

The West has often served as a proving ground for landscape photographers. At least since Timothy O'Sullivan's landmark geological surveys in the 1860s and 1870s, photographers from around the country and the world have gone west of the Mississippi in search of a vision of a vast, raw, countryside no longer visible in the ostensibly more civilized, urbanized corners of the Earth. From O'Sullivan's photographs to the films of John Ford, images of the West have also become a critical part of the American imaginary, a fantasy of an unconquered territory filled with opportunity and challenges fit for true heroes. In the 1960s and 1970s, photographers continued to go west and photograph what they found, but for artists like Adams the fantasy of an untrammeled land of opportunity was no longer tenable. Adams' work, as well as that of Lewis Baltz, Stephen Shore, Joe Deal and Henry Wessel, Jr, is often referred to as "New Topographics", from a 1975  George Eastman House exhibition of the same name. Their work focused on the intersection between technology and the landscape. Instead of searching for the pristine wild they sought out the altered, transformed or even damaged terrain of the modern West. Adams' work was characterized in particular by an intimacy and an emotional appeal that many of his fellow photographers assiduously avoided. Coming to photography rather later in life while working on his dissertation in Colorado, Adams was often drawn to those moments where the isolation, even loneliness of suburban life was most on display and where the harm done to the environment was most visible. At a time when the world is struggling to deal with humanity's impact on the planet, Adams' photographs are particularly poignant. This exhibition offers a unique chance to see the breadth of his lifelong attempt to picture this struggle.

Robert Adams: The Place We Live will be on view until May 18. For more information you can go to the Jeu De Paume site HERE.


Monday, February 17, 2014

Auckland weekend, light and shadow under clear blue summer skys

 

Aucklanders were spoilt for choice this last weekend. With the NRL Auckland Nines, rapper Eminem's concert and the annual Lantern Festival celebrating Chinese New Year, there was something for everybody. I took to the streets and made these photographs.







Thursday, February 13, 2014

Malcolm McLaren: The Quest for Authentic Creativity

 

Posted this week on the superbly expansive site OPEN CULTURE is a 50 minute speech, The Quest for Authentic Creativity, delivered in 2009 by British musician, impresario, visual artist, performer, clothes designer and boutique owner Malcolm McLaren.

In early October of 2009, Malcolm McLaren was nearing death but didn’t know it yet. He showed up at the 2009 Handheld Learning conference feeling fatigued, but managed to deliver a provocative and heartfelt speech titled, “Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Txt Pistols,” in which he reflects on his life growing up in post-World War II England and expresses dismay over the rise of what he called “karaoke culture.”
“All popular culture today,” said McLaren, “goes to great lengths to promote the idea that it’s cool to be stupid.” He championed instead the “messy process of creativity” in which struggle, failure and the acquisition of skill and knowledge are valued above instant fame. You can watch the complete speech above. A few days after it was given, McLaren went into the hospital and learned that he had cancer. He died six months later, on April 8, 2010.

McLaren takes no prisoners in his address. He talks of the horror of the commodified world where artist's foolishly seek fame over self discovery. Where colleges promote career paths over educating the whole person. He exalts the importance of failure, he calls it magnificent failure. McLaren advocated the need to be fearless, experience the unknown, and the artistic value of banality. He closed his address stating that so many artist's careers had about as much authenticity as you'd find when fucking an inflatable doll.

You can see the McLaren's speech HERE. And you can go to OPEN CULTURE, HERE.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Wim Wenders - and Evans, Eggleston and Shore, with a touch of Hopper

 

I had the pleasure last night of watching Wim Wenders 2006 movie Don't Come Knocking.
The movie in itself is not a great movie, some critics called it a beautiful mess, unsure of direction or tone. This may be so, however what captured me was the stunning photography which is the real star of this movie. Orchestrated by cinematographer Franz Lustig, every frame glows with light and shadow, infused with honeyed yellows, burnt reds, and acid greens. Some images evoke Edward Hopper paintings and the poetry of the photography brings to mind Walker Evans, William Eggleston and Stephen Shore. One reviewer commented that he could have watched the movie with the sound off and gone home happy. I agree. Have a look and see for yourself.




Monday, February 10, 2014

NEW YORK in April or July

 

I'm looking for somebody in New York who might be interested in doing a house swap with me for either 2 weeks in April (18 April - 3 May) or July (5 July - 19 July). Ideally something  in Manhattan would be perfect. I'd be coming with my delightful 17 year old daughter Zoe.
I have a very pleasant, large, 3 bedroom home in central Auckland that looks out over the city and is close to the harbor and beautiful beaches.
Alternatively, if a house swap is not possible, somebody might have a place we could rent.

Anybody interested could email me at: harvey.benge@xtra.co.nz