Saturday, September 29, 2012

Flamboya by Viviane Sassen

In the previous post, I compared the visual flair of the images in the Afronauts to the work of Viviane Sassen. Here's an example of what I  meant.

Viviane Sassen's 2008 book ‘Flamboya’ brings together photographs made in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Zambia and Ghana. Sassen herself, Dutch and white, lived in Kenya as a little girl. Since 2001 she returns to different parts of the African continent and takes photographs featuring black people and studies of foliage and landscape. This makes some critics anxious. Arguments about colonial legacies and inherent power imbalance raise their heads but, frankly, could be dispelled simply by looking at the pictures. There is too much collaboration here and it just doesn’t feel coercive. One suggestion is that pictures ‘of’ people are not only ‘about’ them. It could also be said that pictures can be ‘with’ someone, when photography is used as a verb. Furthermore, these super-nuanced images do little to reinforce stereotypes as has been argued. I don’t remember seeing anything like this. Eye-popping patterns and dappled shadows merge to conceal and reveal. Bodies engage with one another in unexpected configurations or simply end where ambiguous sinewy lines begin. Real flowers collude with printed ones to trick the viewer. Human forms gesture and articulate a particular, rather than general, presence in the vertical depths of equatorial shadow.

The format of the book is unusual. Between a short story and an essay there are 49 photographs over 40 illustrated pages, 17 of which are narrower, a little over a half of the width of the others. These create new potentials: concealing, revealing and demanding interaction. Tiny formal rhythms are implied. Their scale occasionally seems to be defined by the extent of the 6x7 format which was used in making these pictures. It’s another of Sassen’s playful propositions but in physical format.  -- Jason Evans

Viviane Sassen // Flamboya from haveanicebook on Vimeo.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Mist: Three Gorges Dam by Niels Stomps

Mist: Three Gorges Dam by Niels Stomps

Stomps describes his approach like this:
My photographic work exists of photographic series. The central theme of these projects is the way people behave and respond to major changes in their environment and surroundings. Sociologic or environmental changes so big and prominent that the individual can only adapt. My photographic work deals with the changes that take shape when people are being pushed to adapt their lives around the inevitable.
In the presentation of my work I prefer to use photographs as a string of images and to combine several series in a publication that must expose the subject. With each project I combine several series drifting around the subject.
 In the case of Mist, the book opens with data -- a series of lightly printed page with a dominant number and an explanation of the relevance of the number for Three Gorges Dam. 140, the number of cities that had to be relocated; 700,000 kilos of cement poured into the dam each day; 39,300,000,000 cubic meters of volume for the reservoir. Each photographic series begins with several yellow pages and a written title which literally or metaphorically relates to the photos.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Afronauts by Cristina de Middel

The best photobook I've seen this year. In this beautiful self-published (and unfortunately already out of print) book Cristina de Middel brings together the visual flair of Viviane Sassen and the conceptual power of Joan Fontcuberta in order to recreate the optimistic 1960's vision of a small African nation sending its citizens into space.

This video uses de Middel's photos to describe the historical events.

The Afronauts by Cristina De Middel from DEVELOP Tube on Vimeo.

The book itself has a less romanticized feel than you get from looking at the selected images used in the video above. As shown in the video below, the book intersperses de Middel's images with a variety of documentary materials that, in a manner reminiscent of Fontcuberta's Fauna, provide additional conceptual heft to the experience.

the afronauts by Cristina de middel from Bottling Fruit on Vimeo.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

PIG 05049 by Christien Meindertsma

Christien Meindertsma's book PIG 05049 provides a fascinating look at the efficiencies of capitalist economies through its classification of wide variety of products derived from a single pig. Meindertsma describes the project for TedX:

TEDxAmsterdam: Christien Meindertsma from TEDxAmsterdam on Vimeo.

 And here is a look at the book itself:

PIG 05049 from Christien Meindertsma on Vimeo.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

See You Soon by Maxwell Anderson

We met during late spring.
She was sitting alone, smoking a cigarette and gazing at the sky.

I was immediately compelled to photograph her.

We had a few chance meetings.
She enjoyed wandering by the Thames at night.
I started to join her.

She came to live with me in my small flat in Peckham.
We didn't go out much, sometimes we would just read together.

At the end of summer she had to leave London when her visa expired.
After I watched her walk through the departures gate at Heathrow, I drove home.

The sky was beautiful.

I imagined what a beautiful last view she would have of England.
I realised how much I would miss her.

I haven't seen her since.

Currently out of print.

Maxwell Anderson - See You Soon from Lorenzo Ricciarelli on Vimeo.