Aesthetica Issue 103

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Issue 103 October / November 2021




A critical survey of contemporary African art over the last 150 years

Photographs that consider nature and the language of co-existence

Portraits from the UK high street uncover shifting identity politics

Exploring the role that images play in the climate emergency

UK £5.95 Europe €11.95 USA $15.49


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Welcome Editor’s Note

On the Cover Crescent moons, bending branches, manicured garlands and paper cranes: these are the objects that characterise the colourful self-portraits of Spanish photographer Fares Micue. The images are dreamlike, hopeful, and, at times, surreal. Faces are obscured by flowers and balloons. (p. 70)

Cover Image: Fares Micue, Burning Energy (2019).

What does it mean to be engaged? What does it mean to be bold? What does it mean to be different? These questions underpin this issue of Aesthetica. The politics of identity aren't easy to navigate, and as we move further and further into the 21st century, it’s refreshing to see many of these ideas being deconstructed and re-shaped. It makes me hopeful for a new society that redefines the parameters of choice. The pandemic has transformed our sense of place. I’ve heard that it's a state of mind, but I have to question that notion a bit further. I’m very pleased to be re-adjusting to certain aspects of life prepandemic. It makes me optimistic and, in some ways, more creative, allowing for moments of serendipity. Inside this issue we take a look at work that is both self-reflexive and outward-facing. Thomas Wrede's Glaciers project foregrounds retreating ice in the Alps – and how Swiss glaciers are dying. We had this damaging idea that the climate emergency was something happening “faraway” – but here it is, right in front of us. Wrede is offering a huge wake-up call, but is there anything changing quickly enough? Diana Markosian’s latest series at the International Center of Photography, New York, blends creative documentary, archive and personal memory. We then take speak to Casey Orr, photographer of Saturday Girl, a fascinating series that explores individuality through 600 images of young women on the high street. It’s a survey of shifting trends, and how geography plays a large role in identity creation. Meanwhile, we bring you photography projects from Kevin Cooley, Andreas Gefeller and Markus Guschelbauer. Alongside these features, Jessica Backhaus' abstract still lifes embrace colour and texture. We also publish an entire series by Sophie Holden, the winner of the Aesthetica / LCC Next Generation Award, a photographer to watch as her career burgeons. Finally, Fares Micue’s images offer bold narratives through careful lighting and playful, but considered, choreography. Dive in and enjoy. Cherie Federico

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Art 16 News Design Museum considers our current waste age, whilst the Barbican commissions Shilpa Gupta to create a multi-channel installation for The Curve.

26 10 to See This season's most exciting exhibitions include a show of new work from Dawoud Bey, and a celebration of Yale's first women students.

30 Creating Atmosphere Ellen Kooi's meticulous images echo the work of the Dutch Golden Age, highlighting a wider sense of tension: psychologically and geographically.

36 Textual Intervention Sophie Holden's inspiration comes from archive materials and vintage magazines, replicating their aesthetics with analogue film and annotations.

46 Terms of Engagement We survey a breadth of contemporary African art in light of an essential encyclopaedic volume, from Omar Victor Diop to Dawit L. Petros.

52 Networks from Above Andreas Gefeller's aerial photographs highlight the shapes and patterns of infrastructure. In the depths of night, whole cities are shot from above.

64 A Life Re-enacted In a series titled Santa Barbara, Diana Markosian draws on her autobiography, by weaving fantasy and reality together in a rescripting of memory.

70 Dynamic Self-Portraits Crescent moons, bending branches, manicured garlands and grouped balloons: these are the objects that characterise Fares Micue's works.

82 Art as Provocation What role do images play in our understanding of crisis? Thomas Wrede's photographs help to combat anthropocentrism at the Vienna Biennale.

88 Planes of Existence Kevin Cooley provides a phenomenological enquiry into humankind's relationship with the five elements: earth, air, fire, water and aether.

100 Modes of Expression How does style equate to a sense of belonging? This was the question posed by Casey Orr, who took to the UK high street for Saturday Girl.

106 Abstract Formations In the baking Berlin summer, Jessica Backhaus arranged a number of colourful paper cut-outs, capturing the results as they curled and bent.

116 Worlds of Disconnect Markus Guschelbauer places tree trunks against eye popping frames, juxtaposing flanks of lichen and peeling bark with candy-colour backgrounds.

124 Gallery Reviews 20 years on, Imperial War Museum remembers 9/11 with shots of Ground Zero. We also review Sarah Waiswa as part of Bristol Photo Festival.

129 Film & Music Gagarine is a drama set in the French housing project named after astronaut Yuri Gagarin, and Julia Shapiro returns with a brand new album.


Artists’ Directory

Last Words

133 The Latest Publications Three radical new titles change the way we think about portraiture, the rise of the selfie and Black feminist theory – both in and out the gallery.

140 Featured Practitioners This issue’s artists push the boundaries of their varied media, using a variety of techniques to present complex perspectives on the world.

146 Ritika Biswas The Artistic Director of the 2021 Sea Art Festival, Busan, explores the themes of friction, resonance and kinship: art that considers our state of flux.

Aesthetica Magazine is trade marked worldwide. © Aesthetica Magazine Ltd 2021.

The Aesthetica Team: Editor: Cherie Federico Associate Editor: Kate Simpson Digital Content Creator: Eleanor Sutherland Digital Assistant: Saffron Ward

Advertisement Enquiries: Megan Hobson (0044) (0)844 568 2001

ISSN 1743-2715. All work is copyrighted to the author or artist. All rights reserved. No part of this magazine may be used or reproduced without permission from the publisher. Published by Cherie Federico and Dale Donley. Aesthetica Magazine 21 New Street York, YO1 8RA, UK Newstrade Distribution: Warners Group Publications plc. Gallery & Specialist Distribution: Central Books. Printed by Warners Midlands plc.

Advertising Coordinator: Megan Hobson Artists’ Directory Coordinator: Katherine Smira Production Director: Dale Donley Office Manager: Helen Osbond Designer: Matt Glasby Video Producer: Chris Maudsley Contributors: Diane Smyth Greg Thomas Rachel Segal Hamilton Reviewers: Kyle Bryony, James Mottram, Stephanie Watts, Jack Solloway, Shyama Laxman, Olivia Hampton, Matt Swain, Eleanor Sutherland, Angie Rizzo, Adam Heardman, Shirley Stevenson

Artists’ Directory Enquiries: Katherine Smira Subscriptions: General Enquiries: Press Releases:

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Nana Yaw Oduro, If we play like this, we stand a chance (1), 2021. Courtesy of AFIKARIS.


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Fresh Perspectives 1-54 CONTEMPORARY AFRICAN ART FAIR Somerset House, London | 14-17 October

In the image If we play like this, we stand a chance (2021), outstretched arms hold gleaming white eggs against the faces of young men, their eyes shielded from a setting sun in the distance. The composition is signature for Accra-based Nana Yaw Oduro (b. 1994), whose intriguing compositions explore boyhood, masculinity and identity through a geometry of bodies – portraiture reinvented through surreal and unexpected gestures. Oduro is just one of the innovative emerging photographers to be represented at the ninth edition of 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair, with 48 galleries coming together from 19 countries: from the Ivory Coast to Senegal, Switzerland to Brazil. Other new voices include Prince Gyasi (b. 1995) – whose synaesthetic iPhone images work as “a therapy of colours,” committed to “offering a counter-narrative to dominant westerncentred notions of beauty” – and self-taught Mous Lamrabat (b. 1983), who reinvents fashion photography, mixing “ostentatious luxury and counterfeiting, according to Moroccan cultural references.” More established artists include the likes of Zanele Muholi, James Barnor, Omar Ba and Berni Searle. Alongside the exhibitions, the fair continues to establish itself as a leading voice in the African art market with an extensive accompanying programme, titled Continental Drift, comprising artists’ talks, film screenings, panel discussions and performances, all curated by Dr. Omar Kholeif, Director of Collections and Senior Curator at Sharjah Art Foundation. Philanthropy, legacy and interstitial spaces are amongst the themes for this year.

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Dialogues with Nature EARTHBOUND Millennium Gallery, Sheffield | Until 31 October

The Anthropocene is defined by humankind’s impact on the planet. This includes global warming; habitat loss; variations in the chemical composition of the atmosphere, oceans and soil; and extinction of animals. Given human history is so short in comparison to the age of the Earth (4.5 billion years old), it’s time to take stock of our role in causing the climate crisis. In cities across the world, industrialisation was a symbol of progress, with the ubiquitous smokestack standing tall and proud against the skyline. Sheffield became defined by the 18th century steel industry. Fast-forward to the 20th century, and the brutalist social housing that populated landscapes during the 1950s and 1960s became iconic, even gaining protected status as we moved into the beginning of the 21st century. Earthbound, now on show at Millennium Gallery, Sheffield, places our interactions with the environment in plain sight. Exhibiting artists include Etel Adnan, Mirosław Bałka, Phyllida Barlow, Berlinde De Bruyckere, Theaster Gates, Richard Long and Yto Barrada – featured here with a photograph of peeling wallpaper, depicting a near-perfect alpine scene. The works question our relationship with the natural world and how we simultaneously idolise its beauty and fail to protect it. Many of these artists draw attention to how the landscape is changing rapidly around us, given the recent floods in Europe, China and the USA, and the fires burning for weeks throughout California, Australia and Greece. Earthbound is a timely, relevant and necessary show, as we move further into ecological emergency.

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Yto Barrada, Wallpaper – Tangier, 2001. Courtesy the Roberts Institute of Art and the David and Indrė Roberts Collection. ©Yto Barrada.

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Shilpa Gupta I Live Under Your Sky Too, (2017). Animated light installation 975 x 487 cm. Courtesy: Shilpa Gupta.

Sense of Belonging SUN AT NIGHT Barbican, London | Opens 7 October

Shilpa Gupta’s (b. 1976) new commission opens this autumn at the Barbican. Gupta will build on the acclaimed project For, In Your Tongue, I Cannot Fit (2017-2018) – an immersive multi-channel installation, which comprises 100 microphones suspended above 100 metal spikes, each of which is piercing a page of poetry by a writer who’s been incarcerated for their work. The soundscape alternates between Arabic, Azeri, Chinese, English, Hindi and Spanish, including poetry from the eighth to the 21st centuries, from the likes of Faiz Ahmad Faiz, Samuel Bamford, Irina Ratushinskaya, and the 14th century Azerbaijani poet Nesimi – whose writing inspired the title of the installation. Each microphone utters verses of poetry, which are then echoed by a chorus of 99 counterparts, standing together in solidarity. Gupta draws attention to wider, shared stories through each piece of writing. She says: “When I first walked into the cavernous space of The Curve, it reminded me of a snaking back alley, and perhaps even the spine of a curled-up creature. The curator’s proposition to show the sound installation, For, In Your Tongue, I Cannot Fit, made sense: to infuse The Curve with voices that hover, take risks and persist throughout the being of our societies.” Gupta is one of South Asia’s most critically acclaimed artists, and her multidisciplinary practice encompasses a wide range of media, from text and sculpture to photography, video and sound, exploring ideological and physical boundaries. This extends to a wider understanding of how, as individuals, we come to feel a sense of belonging or, indeed, abject and complete isolation.

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Imagery as Reinvention PHOTOGRAPHY ISTANBUL 212 Studio, Istanbul | 1-11 October

Fabiola Cedillo’s Los Mundos de TITA follows the photographer’s older sister, Tita, who was diagnosed with a rare brain disorder as a child, experiencing the West and Lennox-Gastaut syndromes. Now in her 30s, Tita remains in a “childlike state” – in need of her family’s full-time care and devoted attention. “Our communication is based on hugs and deep gazes,” writes Cedillo’s father in a statement preceding the series. “Her fragility and hyperactivity drive us forward into taking care of her without rest.” Cedillo's series was longlisted for the Aesthetica Art Prize in 2019 – lauded for its intimate portraiture centred around pastel pink colour schemes – and now it provides the lead imagery for the fourth edition of 212 Photography Istanbul. The festival is well-known for its ties to talent development, showcasing new artists from Turkey and beyond across 10 days and seven venues. Other exhibiting practitioners include Thomas Albdorf (b. 1982), whose images consider decontextualisation caused by digital dissemination, and Scarlett Hooft Graafland (b. 1973), whose vibrant and dream-like photographs provide a lasting record of carefully choreographed, site-specific sculptural interventions in some of the most isolated corners of the Earth. The fair coincides with the 212 Photography Competition, judged in 2021 by Michael Benson, Director, Photo London; Pauline Vermare, Cultural Director, Magnum Photos; Claartje van Dijk, Head of Exhibitions, Foam; Anne Morin, Photography Director, diChroma; Paul Bevan, Lecturer, London College of Fashion; and Tom Seymour, Associate Editor, The Art Newspaper.

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Fabiola Cedillo, The World of Tita, 212 Photography Istanbul, 2020

An e-waste sorting and recycling facility, Belgium. Image by Recupel.


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Tackling Consumption WASTE AGE Design Museum, London | Opens 23 October

The next couple of months are critical for the planet. From 1 to 12 November, the COP26 summit will bring parties together to accelerate action towards the goals of the Paris Agreement and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. As Alok Sharma, COP President-Designate, notes: “Whether future generations look back at this time with admiration or despair depends entirely on our ability to seize this moment.” How we limit the damage and cultivate sustainable lifestyles is a complex issue grounded in social and economic injustice. However, one thing’s clear: we need to completely rethink the ways we consume, especially in the west, with North America responsible for 29% of global cumulative emissions, and Europe 22% (Our World in Data, the University of Oxford, 2019). Design Museum’s Waste Age opens one week before COP26, and takes mass-production as its focus, in light of a statistic that 80% of products are thrown away in the first six months. The exhibition explores how design can completely reshape the way we engage with everyday objects – from fashion and food to electronics and furniture. In one project, Mycelium fungus offers the structural basis for a two-storey building. In another, discarded fishing nets are given second lives as chairs, combatting the notion that fishing equipment makes up just under half of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, and 10% of all ocean plastic (Forbes, 2021). Whilst policy and reform are undoubtedly the hooks for creating real, lasting change, Design Museum contributes creative ingenuity when we need it most.

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On what grounds are relationships built, maintained and broken down? How, when, and under what circumstances do we celebrate one another? This list of must-see shows and events considers these topics, with works across photography and film, fashion and sculpture.


Trinity John Hansard Gallery, Southampton | 3 August - 30 October “I really want visitors to the exhibition to feel they are stepping into the kind of ‘at the movies’ experience that I feel is still missing from mainstream society: the experience of being taken away by a trilogy of epic cinematic films, featuring complex culturally marginalised characters.” Trinity, the largest solo exhibition to date by artist Hetain Patel (b. 1980), opens this autumn. The eponymous title is also the name for an ambitious new film by Patel, the final part of a trilogy that will premiere at the gallery and tour to New Art Exchange in 2022.


In This Here Place Sean Kelly, New York | 10 September - 23 October Dawoud Bey's (b. 1953) new body of work, In This Here Place, focuses on plantations in Louisiana, continuing the artist's examination of African American history, and concurrent efforts to make Black pasts resonate in the contemporary moment. Bey has been widely heralded for compelling portraits which depict histories that have largely remained underrepresented, and these new large-scale photographs are no exception. The compositions present the landscapes that initiated and defined the relationships between African Americans and America.


150 Years of Women at Yale

Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven | 17 September - 9 January

1 On the Basis of Art references the phrase used in the landmark 1972 US federal Education Amendments Act, which declared that no one could be discriminated against “on the basis of sex” in any programme receiving federal financial assistance, and which forced Yale's School of Art to hire full-time female faculty beginning that year. The exhibition celebrates the 50th anniversary of coeducation at the college, and the 150th anniversary of the first women students, including works by graduates An-My Lê and Mickalene Thomas, amongst others.


Sampling the Future NGV, Melbourne | 27 August - 6 February Sampling the Future showcases leading speculative designers whose practices bridge the worlds of design, technology, science and philosophy in order to reimagine how and why objects, structures and buildings are made. The show includes many never-before-seen pieces such as 3D-printed corals, modular underwater reef structures and robotically knitted architecture. Alice Springs-based designer Elliat Rich is featured, alongside architects Roland Snooks and Leanne Zilka; and Melbourne duo Georgia Nowak and Eugene Peripletchikov.


Women, Photography and Feminisms Pérez Art Museum, Miami | 18-19 November "I believe in the power of photography as a political force to rearrange the domination of society." So notes Aldeide Delgado, Founder and Director of Women Photographers International Archive (WOPHA) and Director of the inaugural WOPHA Congress, an international convention offering critical debate on the artistic canon. This event will address the decolonisation of archives, and offer a series of future curatorial strategies for equal representation, dismantling hierarchies and challenging the institutions that have long governed the art world at large.

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MoMU, Antwerp | 25 September - 2 January From the mid-16th to 18th centuries, Antwerp played a leading role in the creation and distribution of lace. The lack of branding – in contrast to Brussels, Bruges or Mechelen – is one of the reasons why studies on lace usually only make passing mention of Antwerp, despite its huge legacy with international clientele. P.LACE.S offers a unique conversation between historical textile craft and contemporary fashion. It creates visual play between the past and present, from Iris van Herpen to Alexander McQueen, pulling from international collections.


Women & Photography: Ways of Seeing and Being Seen Various, Oxford | 15 October - 15 November How are we seen? In what way does our appearance differ from the definition of ourselves we wish to share? How do we look at, examine, and internalise, each other? These are just some of the vital questions being asked at Photo Oxford this year, which places women practitioners centre stage. From Heather Agyepong’s visualisation of African American vaudeville performer and activist Aida Overton Walker (1880-1914), to Hundred Heroines’ exhibition on Relationships, Identity and Power, this year’s programming is rich, diverse and essential.


Light, Space, Surface

Addison Gallery of American Art, Andover | 23 November - 20 March In the 1960s and 1970s, various southern Californian artists began to create works that investigated perceptual phenomena: how we come to understand form, volume, presence and absence through light, as seen directly through the reflection or refraction of materials. This exhibition, first initiated by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, explores the art of light and space, as well as related works with polished surfaces often referred to as “finish fetish.” Featured artists include Mary Corse, Bruce Nauman, Helen Pashgian and James Turrell.


New Era

Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney | 1 October - 28 February Doug Aitken’s first major solo exhibition in the southern hemisphere opens at the MCA as part of the Sydney International Art Series. Exhibiting alongside the retrospective is one of Aitken’s largest moving image installations to date, SONG 1 (2012). The film, originally commissioned as a 360 piece for Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington DC, features a mix of anonymous individuals and professional performers, each offering varied renditions of a popular song. The imagery and sounds exist in a constant cycle of play-and-repeat.


Unstable Presence SFMOMA, San Francisco | 2 October - 6 March Rafael Lozano-Hemmer (b. 1967) is inspired by phantasmagoria, carnival and animatronics., He originally studied chemistry before moving into participatory art installations that raise questions about memory, poetry, and the notion of private and public spaces. Often, LozanoHemmer calls upon light and shadow, with works that act as "anti-monuments." This autumn, SFMOMA presents seven ethereal installations, including Call on Water (2016), which writes words in mid-air through plumes of vapour that ascend upwards from a water basin.

1. Hetain Patel, Trinity (2021), film still. 2. Dawoud Bey, Irrigation Ditch (2019). Silver Gelatin Prints Mounted on Dibond 48 x 59 inches. Edition of 6 and 2 APs © Dawoud Bey. Courtesy: Sean Kelly, New York. 3. Mickalene Thomas, Remember Me, 2006. Chromogenic print. Yale University Art Gallery, Katharine Ordway Fund. © Mickalene Thomas/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York 4. Living Seawall Project by Alex Goad. 5. Deborah Willis, Carrie At Euro Salon, Eatonville (2009) © Deborah Willis. Courtesy of the artist and WOPHA. 6. Iris van Herpen, in collaboration with Philip Beesley, Glitch dress in laser-cut Mylar® fabric, In Between the Lines Couture Collection, Spring–Summer 2017, Model: Elza Matiz, © Photo: Sølve Sundsbø / Art + Commerce 7. Too Many Blackamoors (#2), 2015, Heather Agyepong. Courtesy of James Hyman Gallery, commissioned by Autograph ABP. 8. Mary Corse, Untitled (Clear White), 1968. Plexiglas, argon fixtures, solid state Tesla coils, and monofilament, Plexi box: 57 3/8 × 59 1/4 × 6 3/8 inches; Tesla coil box: 72 × 70 × 10 1/2 inches. Purchased with funds provided by the Modern and Contemporary Art Council. 9. Doug Aitken, SONG 1 (still), 2012/2015, commissioned, with generous production support, by the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution. Image courtesy the artist; 303 Gallery, New York; Galerie Eva Presenhuber, Zurich; Victoria Miro, London; and Regen Projects, Los Angeles © the artist. 10. Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, Call on Water, 2016 (installation view, Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Monterrey, 2019); courtesy the artist and bitforms, Max Estrella, Wilde, and Pace galleries. © Rafael Lozano-Hemmer / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / VEGAP, Spain; photo: Mariana Yañez.

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During the 1600s, landscape painting flourished as an in- A: To what extent are your images “planned”? Can, and dependent genre in the Dutch Republic (United Provinces of should, a photograph ever be mapped out entirely? the Netherlands) and in the Spanish Netherlands (now Bel- EK: When I am on the road, I carry a smaller Leica with me, gium). Flemish landscapes were broadly divided into two cat- as opposed to my larger Phase One camera, in order to be egories: realist and imaginary. Those that favoured the latter more flexible. I make a habit of location scouting as a refertook sprawling mountainous topographies and built on their ence point. I look back on these initial shots to see if the imoutlines, as seen in the likes of Kerstiaen de Keuninck (1560- mediate sensation I had with a given place is something I can 1632) and Joos de Momper (1564-1635). These imaginary extend further. Despite this list of preparations, I always leave landscapes were generally deemed more valuable, sought room for chance; uncontrollable elements are a crucial part after by collectors who valued invention and "refined" fiction. of my practice. I work with non-professional models and try Dutch photographer Ellen Kooi (b. 1962) creates theatrical to welcome unforeseen circumstances. In this way, my interimages that are reminiscent of these historical artists, pro- ventions are met with others', and they infiltrate one another. ducing dramatic stories in nature. She recalls the work of the Golden Age – toeing the line between fantasy and reality A: You’ve often been compared to Baroque, Renaissance – whilst re-inventing the trope of the “figure in the landscape” and Early Netherlandish painters such as Johannes Verby shifting focus towards female protagonists. Shot in the meer, Pieter Bruegel and Hieronymus Bosch. How do you Netherlands, the photographs often present a brooding sky feel your work sits amongst these historical figures, and what, if anything, do you take from them today? and unsettled scenery in order to re-enact inner turmoil. Kooi’s background in documenting theatre and dance is EK: Whilst I must say I am hesitant to compare my work to evident in her central characters, who are often in motion or painters of such stature, it would be hard to deny that their lost in thought. This ability to add narrative to familiar scen- work has impacted my development. In my years of studyery pulls the creations away from the everyday, and plunges ing and appreciating art, I came to respect all images that can them into a magical environment in which colours are in- transfer the atmosphere and identity of a landscape or scene. creasingly vivid, shapes are all the more pronounced, and The reason these great painters are still relevant today is due nature takes on a wilder expression. Kooi’s work has been ex- to their capacity to make images come to life. In my work, I hibited across the world, from MoPA San Diego to Museo de can only hope to do the same, using my camera to make Arte Contemporáneo de Castilla y León, with the most recent a given moment appear almost tangible to the viewer. Just presentation, at Camara Oscura Gallery, Madrid, open until like these great painters, I look to colour, composition and 23 December as part of APERTURA Madrid Gallery Weekend. setting – adding lights that emphasise the atmosphere – but

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Ellen Kooi, Herenduinen - zwart water (2021). Courtesy of the artist and Camara Oscura Galeria de Arte, Madrid.

“We look at the world around us and project our own meaning onto it. Two people may look out over the same woodlands, but they will never share the same view completely. There’s a kind of psychological projection that takes place.”

Previous Page: Ellen Kooi, Coruna – bloemen (2019). Courtesy of the artist and Camara Oscura Galeria de Arte, Madrid. www. Left: Ellen Kooi, Heemskerk – groep (2018). Courtesy of the artist and Camara Oscura Galeria de Arte, Madrid. www.

A: Your photographs seem to build on romantic tropes, with lone figures abandoned in swathes of nature: individuals walking down empty paths, or standing, pensive, staring across woodland rivers. Elsewhere, models are half-submerged in lakes, arms stretched upwards towards the sky. What does nature mean to you and your subjects? How do you use photography to express this? EK: I would not say I build on romantic tropes as much as I A: You have also been revered amongst contemporary seek out a certain romantic symbolism. The difference lies in Dutch photographers such as Erwin Olaf, Rineke Dijkstra, the tension. My figures are not only depicted as witnesses to Ruud van Empel and Hellen van Meene. Many of these what goes on around them, but they are also positioned in comparisons are tied to your Dutch identity and heritage, reaction to it. The landscape solicits a certain response that given that the images are all shot in the Netherlands. How can be interpreted as pensive by some, or rather as longing far is geography important within your wider practice? Is or fear by others. This is what I hope to achieve – to create it something you wish to be defined by as an artist? In a kind of friction between the subject and their environment, the basis of which is open to interpretation. Nature, in a way, 2021, how relevant is the artist's physical location? EK: The places in which we choose to live – to take root and does the exact same thing. We look at the world around us build our collective identity – influence us greatly, passed and project our own meaning onto it each and every day. down through generations upon generations. This is also Two people may look out over the same woodland scene, why my Netherlands-based pieces can be considered the but they will never share the same view completely. There’s a most personal; they reflect my history and that of those kind of psychological projection that takes place. Our histoaround me. However, I aspire to achieve diversity across my ry, ideas and stories shape our experience, and nature leaves portfolio, so this also means that I shoot abroad and con- enough room for multiple perceptions to co-exist. sider new locations. Whenever I venture out to other places, I always try to respond to the history of a place, which requires A: Here, choreography is a hyper-visible element, is studying archives or consulting sources on the topography. there a lexicon that can be built through gesture? At other times I try to make a “foreign” location personal. For EK: From my early days as a theatre and dance photograexample, in the piece Sibilini – Rim (2006), I responded to a pher, I developed an eye for body language. The way a body vast open space in Italy, flanked by mountains and the threat is balanced can totally change the meaning of an image, of a dark sky. I placed my daughter in the image, and there even down to the stiffness of a hand. I still find that fascinating. My figures aren’t passive, rather, they are overcome by she moved freely against an expansive plane of possibility. the technique we use is considerably different. Many painters of that century never saw any of the landscapes they painted. Sometimes they copied parts, and other times made up totally new sceneries. I could do the same with the new photocollage techniques but I choose not to. Also, my protagonists have been captured on the spot. For me, the fact that this actually happened – that we were together – is important.

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Ellen Kooi, Itegem – kite (2018). Courtesy of the artist and Camara Oscura Galeria de Arte, Madrid.

A: Your new series, Written in Water, is currently on dis- Right: Ellen Kooi, Halfweg - nevel, (2019). play at Camara Oscura gallery, Madrid. Beyond its aes- Courtesy of the artist and Camara thetic and atmospheric qualities, why does water con- Oscura Galeria de Arte, Madrid. tinue to inspire and invigorate us as viewers and artists? Should images be offering something more to viewers? EK: Whilst not all the works in this show feature water in their composition, the temporality of water is what moved me. All the pieces capture a transcendental moment, the idea that everything is fleeting – here one minute and gone the next. To my mind, water contains these same properties. It can drag A: In the age of the Anthropocene, it’s become crucial something down, washing the past away as if it were never that we re-conceptualise the role that humanity plays. really there. Scientists and philosophers have always put It's widely accepted that we must change our modes water and its many apparitions at the centre of their world, of thinking and decentralise ourselves as a species. We and their wider conception of the self. Key examples of this must consider our existence part of a larger, fragile eco- include the Greek philosophers Heraclitus of Ephesus (c. system, one which we have irrevocably altered. How can 530-470 BC) and Thales of Miletus (c. 624-545 BC). we use photography to engender new ideas, with this in mind? How might the protagonist be replaced, no longer A: How do their philosophies apply to your work? dominating the picture, both literally and metaphori- EK: Thales declared water to be the nature of all things. It is inherent in his hypotheses that water, therefore, had the pocally? Is this something you feel responsible for? EK: As a photographer, taking an Anthropogenic stance tential to change all things. Heraclitus stated: "We both step might mean shooting empty cityscapes or landscapes with- and do not step in the same rivers. We are and are not. Cold Words out human presence – maybe only traces of us – or imagin- things grow hot, the hot cools, the wet dries, the parched Kate Simpson ing how a world might look if we never existed. Maybe I am moistens." These early philosophies may be deemed as not beyond trying yet, I haven't given up on humanity. I am romantic, anthropological, abstract or even geological, but still hoping that we can reconnect, so I consider where we they do provide a literal sea of possibilities. It's crucial that Ellen Kooi: are at right now: mostly alienated from the Earth, sometimes we consider and understand our constant state of flux. Even Written in Water lost from our own human nature, but close to the answers the molecular structure of water is complicated, I’m told. This Camara Oscura, Madrid which lie all around us. Getting people to recognise their may well be the reason it has captured our interest as artists Until 23 December vulnerability is my way of pointing out our significance and and spectators for so long. I feel a certain pull towards its responsibility, towards ourselves, each other, and the planet. ever-changing form, wondering about what lays beyond. the supremacy of the organic world. Sometimes the individuals appear unsure of their surrounding, whilst at other times they are gravitating towards it, or even wholly consumed by it. There is a sense of magnetism at play here – the push and pull between personhood and the materiality of nature. I’m interested in how physical movement reflects, or reveals, our inner contemplations, thoughts and desires. I create a connection between interior and exterior, and I'm fascinated by how this can all come to light within the photographic frame.

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Textual Intervention Sophie Holden

Sophie Holden is the 2021 recipient of the Aesthetica / London College of Communication Next Generation Award – an initiative that celebrates rising stars in photography. Holden’s inspiration comes from sifting through archival materials and vintage magazines, aesthetics that are replicated through the grain of analogue film and hand-written annotations. It’s as if, as viewers we, too, are rifling through abandoned papers, or indeed, old diary entries, as we gaze over personal thoughts and coming-of-age ruminations. Holden’s works are at once deeply confessional and somehow anonymous, moving between locations like dots on a map. She writes: “I look out across the city and I realise that there are thousands – millions – of lives I will never witness, never be a part of.” Elsewhere, jotted alongside a sloping roof she notes: “Reality is slowly morphing into a film – but I am not the main character, even in my own head.”

Sophie Holden, Untitled from Eventide (2021).

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Sophie Holden, Untitled from Eventide (2021).

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Sophie Holden, Untitled from Eventide (2021).

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Sophie Holden, Untitled from Eventide (2021).

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Sophie Holden, Untitled from Eventide (2021).

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Sophie Holden, Untitled from Eventide (2021).

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Sophie Holden, Untitled from Eventide (2021).

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Sophie Holden, Untitled from Eventide (2021).

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Sophie Holden, Untitled from Eventide (2021).



In a 2015 photo-study, Omar Victor Diop (b. 1980) places rican art – to contemporary installation works by artists such himself in the guise of Muslim scholar Omar Ibn Saïd, who as Magdalene A.N. Odundo (b. 1950). In Odunduo’s Tranwas born in Senegal in 1770 and sold into slavery in North sition II (2014), 1,000 glass pieces are suspended from the America in 1807. Saïd produced a remarkable memoir which ceiling, inspired by the forms and contortions of the human stands as one of few surviving slave narratives, and the only body as both a collective and an individual vessel. Each African nation differs hugely, responding to what hisknown text of its kind in 1850. His portrait, shown here, is uptorian Ali Mazrui, (1933-2014) calls Africa’s “triple heritage": dated with drapery reminiscent of the European Rococo era. Diop was born in Senegal’s capital Dakar, where he still indigenous, Arab / Islamic and European Christian. The sheer works. His portrait of Saïd is from a series exploring African size and demographic diversity of the continent and its geinteractions with, and exploitation by, white European culture. ographies has sparked a wealth of artistic movements over In other pieces he assumes the role of Gustav (Albert) Badin the last 150 years, and this is clear in African Artists: From (c. 1747-1822), an enslaved foster child and servant to 1882 to Now. However, certain experiences, like the trauma Queen Louisa Ulrika of Sweden; and Dom Nicolau (c. 1830- of imperial subjugation, are held in common for many art1860), ruler of the historic kingdom of Kongo, and an early ists. Film Noir Cadre Doré 2 (2017), made by Togo-born Clay protestor against colonialism. These subjects are shown Apenouvon (b. 1970), for example, shows a black viscous posing with bright yellow footballs, goalkeepers’ gloves and substance spilling out of a luxurious gilded frame onto the referees’ cards, as well as various other footballers’ props. gallery floor. The work acts as a grim indictment of imperial These compositions suggest the simultaneous veneration of, resource plunder and the European culture that profited. In a similar fashion, Rwandan sculptor Valerie Piraino (b. and hostility towards, African sportsmen amongst white fans, 1981) produced Niger Delta Blues III (2016). The piece coma present-day analogy for the likes of Badin and Saïd. Diop is a hugely successful figure in the worlds of fashion prises five marulas (fruits indigenous to South Africa) cast and advertising, and the most recent of a string of pioneering in black epoxy clay, hanging from a net that both secures West African studio photographers who have captured the and controls. These fruits, and others such as papayas, are culture of their nations either through, or alongside, a com- recurrent in Piraino’s work, with the papaya’s presence in submercial practice. He is also one of over 300 artists included Saharan Africa itself an outcome of colonial exchange. Beyond certain shared histories, further connections can in Phaidon’s encyclopaedic new volume African Artists: From 1882 to Now, which spans a veritable galaxy of styles and be found in both aesthetics and technique. Omar Victor eras: from the expressive realist paintings of Nigerian Aina Diop’s recent experiments in studio and fashion portraiture, Onabolu (1882-1963) – seen as a forefather of modern Af- for example, can be traced back to a number of influential

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Dawit L. Petros, Single Cube Formation, No. 4, Nazareth, Ethiopia, 2011. Picture credit: Courtesy the artist and Tiwani Contemporary. Archival pigment print, 76.2 × 91.4 cm, (30 × 36 in) Born 1972, Asmara, Eritrea. Lives Chicago, USA, and Montreal, Canada.

“Innovation is, therefore, linked to cross-cultural exchange, and it’s crucial to discuss the emergence of contemporary African art in relation to the experience of modernity.”

Previous Page: Omar Victor Diop, Omar Ibn Saïd (2015). © Omar Victor Diop.Courtesy Galerie MAGNIN-A, Paris. From the series Diaspora. Pigment inkjet printing on Harman by Hahnemühle paper.

Left: Zina Saro-Wiwa, Precious Eats Boli & Fish with Oil Bean, from Table Manners, Season 2 (2019). Digital video, 5 mins 37 secs. Picture credit: Courtesy the artist and Tiwani Contemporary.

mid-to-late 20th century photographers based in Mali. Seydou Keïta (1921-2001), a native of capital city Bamako, established his famous home studio in 1948, photographing up to 30,000 of the city’s inhabitants during the period of economic and demographic expansion following WWII. Malick Sidibé (1935-2016), of a younger generation than Keïta, expanded on Mali’s rich legacy of studio photography. Sidibé was a cattle herder’s son inspired by the cultural blossoming that followed independence from France in 1960. Before turning to formal shoots in the 1970s, he produced joyous images of Bamako youth and nightlife. The infamous Nuit de Noël (Happy-Club) (1963) shows two young dancers with their heads inclined towards each other in intimate reverie, feet poised in time with a faraway beat. Similarly inspired by the studio portraiture of Sidibé and Keïta is Atong Atem (b. 1991), who’s also listed in Phaidon's title. Atem’s works, such as Self Portrait on Mercury (2017), are an act of resistance, questioning why we are photographed, and for whom. Atem was born in Ethiopia to south Sudanese parents and escaped the second Sudanese Civil War of 1983-2005, before arriving in Australia at age six. Her selfportraits, which often involve luminous face paint along with surreal and futuristic props, play on her sense of alienation in a white-dominated country, subverting the Eurocentric gaze which would see her, first and foremost, as “other.” The camera is also a gateway to abstracted versions of the self, as seen through a number of featured artists. Eritrean Dawit L. Petros (b. 1972) grew up between Ethiopia and Kenya, and now lives between Chicago and Montreal. His staged photographs are centrally concerned with crosscultural exchange and migration. Models are often placed

in eccentric poses on vast or sublime landscapes, signifying both the insignificance of human life and our continued pull towards the horizon. Single Cube Formation, No. 4, Nazareth, Ethiopia (2011) is part of a series that sees subjects spread across continents, each scene featuring an empty cardboard box which faces the viewer like a window into the void. The gesture references destitution, but also retains an element of anonymity and privacy, whilst alluding to the concepts of minimalism and the black block as an avant-garde motif. Furthermore, the case of Zina Saro-Wiwa (b. 1976) is particularly interesting. Born in Port Harcourt, Nigeria, SaroWiwa works as an artist and activist, documenting sustainable, local food cultures. The Table Manners film series (20142016) uses vibrant colour palettes to show people using their hands to eat meals made from local produce, positioning food as “an experiential reliquary of marginalised tradition.” The series highlights the performative practices of food consumption, and the role that dining plays in defining communities. It also references the philosophies of 19th century French gastronome Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, who, in the 1825 title The Physiology of Taste, wrote: “Tell me what you eat and I shall tell you what you are.” Innovation is, therefore, linked to cross-cultural exchange, and it’s crucial to discuss the emergence of contemporary African art in relation to the experience of modernity. For Chika Okeke-Agulu (b. 1966), Professor of African and African Diaspora Art at Princeton University, one point of interest is “the rich traditions of modern art that emerged in the work of African artists at the turn of the 20th century, just as their counterparts in Europe – thanks largely to artistic resources put at their disposal by colonialism – were developing their

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Zina Saro-Wiwa, Dorcas Eats Roasted Snails and Drinks Maltina, from Table Manners, season 2, 2019. Digital video, 6 mins 47 secs. Picture credit: Courtesy the artist and Tiwani Contemporary.

own modern art.” Cairo was one hub of invention, with sculptor Mahmoud Mukhtar (1891-1934) inverting European “Egyptomania” – a notable influence on Beaux-Arts and Art Deco style – with crisp, hieratic statuary referencing the country’s ancient monuments. Where a likeness of the sphinx in western public art would have signified exotic curiosity, in early 20th century Egypt, civic works such as Nahdat Misr (Egypt's Awakening / Egypt's Renaissance, 1928) expressed anticolonial ambition and the reclamation of a shared past. By the time European empires were crumbling across the 1950s and 1960s, a number of regional traditions across Africa had seized cultural sovereignty. In this context, “newfangled ideas about national culture” melded with the “reclamation of indigenous and Islamic art traditions,” resulting in what Okeke-Agulu defines as “a postcolonial brand of modern art.” Broadly, this meant an intensive formal experimentation with indigenous forms and design, and the association of the resulting modernist painting and sculpture with cultural authenticity and sociopolitical self-determination. For Okeke-Agulu, “contemporary art” in Africa emerged “in the wake of a reassessment by artists and citizens of Africa’s realities after the euphoric period of political independence.” Until the 1970s, African art, in spite of its variety, broadly “participated in the collective imagining of a new culture and society.” Wider concepts and movements such as PanAfricanism, Négritude, and even Pan-Arabism provided some basis for combined and collective endeavour. By contrast, “contemporary art tend[s] to be critical or sceptical of such concerns, largely because of widespread disappointments with – and failures of – post-independence nation building.” Having said this, Okeke-Agulu draws attention to various

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infrastructural and economic models that have created the Right: Atong Atem, Self Portrait on Mercury, conditions for large-scale creativity across the continent. (2017). From the series Self Portrait As. From the rise of international residency networks from the Digital colour photograph, 90 × 60 cm, (35 3/8 × 23 5/8 in), edition of 10 + 2 1970s to better-resourced institutions since the 1990s and, AP, private collections. Picture credit: more recently, the advent of major events such as ART X Courtesy the artist and Mars Gallery. Lagos in Nigeria, Cape Town Art Fair and 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair, African art is receiving global acclaim. Ghana’s debut pavilion at the 2019 Venice Biennale, designed by architect David Adjaye, speaks of a sea-change, as do the major retrospectives offered to the likes of Zanele Muholi (b. 1972) and Julie Mehretu (b. 1970) by the Tate and Whitney respectively. Muholi's run at Tate Modern was so successful, and so considerably popular, that a follow-up exhibition is being planned in the same venue for 2023. Even with these groundbreaking practitioners making their way onto the walls of global institutions, being seen by thousands and provoking vital conversations about inclusive programming, it’s crucial that western audiences reflect on their terms of engagement. Okeke-Agulu expands: “One of the most enduring yet paradoxical statements ever made about Africa, and one which has shaped perceptions of the continent, was popularised in the 16th century but credited to the Roman writer Pliny: ‘Always something new out of Africa.’ Words Okeke-Agulu continues: “This newness wasn't meant to Greg Thomas signal that Europeans of the ancient world – or of the age of exploration – looked to Africa as a source of progressive developments; rather Africa was the land of exotic animals and African Artists: people, an unending source of surprising curiosities, rem- From 1882 to Now is nants of evolutionary oddities. Even to this day, and despite published by Phaidon slow but halting recognition of African artists’ participation in the making of modern art, the ‘out of Africa’ attitude endures.”

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Networks from Above Andreas Gefeller

In 2015, British philosopher Alain de Botton (b. 1969) uploaded a YouTube video titled How To Make an Attractive City. The film, released as part of de Botton’s The School of Life series, included six key elements that were deemed fundamental to creating an aesthetically stimulating metropolis. These pillars included offering a “pleasing balance” of order, symmetry and repetition, whilst being inherently compact, with “all of the best cities having squares no more than 100 feet in diameter, so that you can make out a person’s face on the other side – lest they become alienating.” Here, de Botton posits intriguing questions towards manmade aesthetics, and the patterns with which we organise our lives. Andreas Gefeller’s aerial photographs highlight these shapes and patterns of infrastructure, from the sprawling and asymmetrical to the small and neatly packaged. From Las Vegas to Cairo, Calgary to Milan, these illuminated maps are both stark and alluring.

Andreas Gefeller, SV 21 (Milan), 2015. All images courtesy of the Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit, NASA Johnson Space Center; and Atlas Gallery London.

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Andreas Gefeller, SV 01 (Las Vegas), 2012

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Andreas Gefeller, SV 02 (Houston), 2012..

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Andreas Gefeller, SV 04 (Brasilia), 2012.

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Andreas Gefeller, SV 05 (Calgary), 2012.


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Andreas Gefeller, SV 06 (Beijing), 2012.

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Andreas Gefeller, SV 07 (Jubail), 2012.

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Andreas Gefeller, SV 08 (Dallas), 2012.

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Andreas Gefeller, SV 11 (Cairo), 2012.

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Andreas Gefeller, SV 14 (Tokyo), 2015.

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Andreas Gefeller, SV 15 (Gulf of Tonkin), 2015.

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Santa Barbara is also the name of Diana Markosian’s most It sounds like a storyline from a soap opera. Diana Markosian (b. 1989) was seven years old when she arrived in Santa Bar- recent body of work, made in 2019, a 14-minute short film bara, California, having moved from Moscow with her mother and accompanying set of cinematic still images, currently and older brother. They were there to visit a family friend, Eli, on show at the International Center of Photography (ICP), but the stay ended up becoming permanent when Svetlana, New York, and concurrently at San Francisco Museum of her mother, married Eli. It was only 20 years later – when the Modern Art. The project follows two other highly personalartist and her brother reconnected with their father, visiting ised series, including Inventing My Father (2013-2014) and him in Armenia for the first time since they’d left Russia – that Mornings (With You) (2016), in which the artist explored the Markosian discovered the truth about their migration. In fact, strange experience of re-establishing familial relationships her mother had never met Eli before stepping off the plane after decades without contact. “It’s an attempt to understand on that day. The two had only corresponded through letters, [my mother],” she says of Santa Barbara. “There’s the initial having been introduced to one another by a matchmaking shock, disappointment and anger, but I wanted to go beyond agency that helped women in former Soviet countries find those feelings and really see my parents as people.” The title is more than a passing reference to her mother’s favourite TV American men to marry – their ticket to a brand new life. In a way, it is a storyline from a soap opera. Markosian’s show, it’s “the thread that held it all together,” says Markosian, parents, both well-educated Armenians – an economist who collaborated with one of the soap’s scriptwriters to reimand an engineer – had moved to Moscow to complete their agine Svetlana’s emotional and geographical journey. “Because this felt so dramatic and painful, I needed to inPhD studies in 1991. Here, they found themselves destitute in economic turmoil following the end of the Soviet Union. troduce an element of playfulness,” she says. In the exhibiThey had separated before their daughter was born. Svetlana, tion, Svetlana’s journey is presented through an immersive disillusioned with a new political reality, was an avid viewer installation that takes visitors into a small, intimate room – of the American soap opera Santa Barbara. The 1980s series decked out to resemble a domestic interior in 1990s Moscow was hugely popular in Russia at the time – one of the first (complete with a retro telephone and overflowing ashtrays). western shows to be aired after the collapse of communism. A grand entrance gives way to a larger space – representIt became one of the country’s longest-running programmes, ing the idealised American Dream. The short film is projected, screening from 1992 to 2002. The glamorous, sun-drenched life-size, on a wall, and all around the space are still images lives of its attractive and wealthy characters – in particular restaging snapshot-like memories of the family’s first year the on-off romance between “supercouple” Eden Capwell there – the wedding, honeymoon and Christmas Day, as well as more lyrical close-up portraits that hint at Svetlana’s inner and Cruz Castillo – inspired a heady fantasy in Svetlana.

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Diana Markosian, Mom Alone. (2019) © Diana Markosian.

“Diana Markosian had no agency in the decisions that led her move to the USA as a seven-year-old, but as an artist, she reclaims ownership over the narrative through the lens. However, working creatively with non-fiction has its own ethical issues.”

Previous Page: Diana Markosian, A New Life. (2019) © Diana Markosian. Left: Diana Markosian, After School. (2019) © Diana Markosian.

struggles. Finally, visitors come to a heavy curtain, which can be pulled aside to reveal portraits of the actors playing the “characters”, along with video footage of their auditions and a print-out of the film’s script, which has been annotated. There are differences between Markosian’s art and the original soap opera – not least the way that the former deliberately displays its own artifice. And yet it’s interesting that both depend on lens-based media. Is there something inherent in all film and photography, whether it’s fine art portraiture or an episode of EastEnders, that produces a uniquely strong sense of empathy or engagement? In the 1935 essay, The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction, German philosopher Walter Benjamin said that: “The audience’s identification with the actor is really an identification with the camera.” As such, it’s the editorial choices that make screenbased media so powerful, perhaps more so than real life. The director or photographer manipulates our feelings, pulling us close or pushing us away from the action. We become lost in an experience that mimics embodiment. This can be seen in various still portraits of Svetlana, for example. She is usually shown up close, and almost always looking anxiously beyond the frame, as though searching for something. Her body is listless, slumped back on a car seat or collapsing into Eli’s embrace, but her face glows, lit by the bright Californian sun or the flickering of a TV screen. In a portrait with her son, the mood shifts, however. Here, she is in charge, her body framing his, with a tender smile. Her eyes are closed in blissful devotion – like a modern-day Madonna. Diana Markosian had no agency in the decisions that led to her move to the USA as a seven-year-old child, but as an artist, she reclaims ownership over the narrative through

the lens. However, working creatively with documentary has its own ethical issues. There’s a risk that the people who are being semi-fictionalised will feel betrayed or misrepresented. Markosian’s family were “fully involved” in the process. “My mom crossed out my lines and wrote her version of it. I gave it to my father; he crossed out more lines,” she says. “My greatest joy was seeing my family come together to remember something we all disagreed on.” The contrast between how different members of her family recalled the same events was striking. Beyond certain, indisputable facts that they could agree upon as objective truth – the date they left, say, or the flight they took – each brought their own emotional reality, a kind of subjective filter. Although Markosian took all this into account, ultimately, she was presenting her singular take on things. “There are parts of it [my mother] really didn't appreciate,” she admits, “but she accepts it.” “I lean towards the personal narrative because it's the one that I feel the most authority over. I don’t have that sense of wanderlust anymore. I’m comfortable staying where I am and deepening my sense of place and self.” Throughout making this work she occupied a dualistic role, “dissecting as an artist and mourning as a daughter.” Much of art today is, like this, a form of self-portraiture, from Tracey Emin’s My Bed (1998) to LaToya Ruby Frazier’s photography book The Notion of Family (2014). These “personal narratives” were once taken less seriously, precisely because they give marginalised groups the power to voice their own perspectives. However, contemporary culture, moving with the currents of identity politics, is becoming more attuned to asking: to whom do stories belong? And who has the right to tell them? The history of photography, in particular, is littered with

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Diana Markosian, The Courthouse. (2019) © Diana Markosian.

instances of ethnographic exploitation. Until very recently, many photographers would routinely travel the world, capturing images of communities, often without their consent, the results intended for consumption by a western audience. In the past decade there’s been a pushback against this, through grassroots organisations such as the The Everyday Projects, which champions “localised storytelling,” launching in 2012 with Everyday Africa and now including Everyday Eastern Europe and Everyday India. There's also Diversify Photo: “a community of BIPOC and non-western photographers, editors and visual producers working to break with the predominantly colonial and patriarchal eye through which the mass media has recorded the images of our time.” For some artists, Markosian included, this work also functions as a form of therapy. “There's a lot of shame that comes with the way [my mother] came here,” she says. “This project was a way of coming to terms with that. That is what I hunger for in art – growth.” In a particularly fascinating, memorable sequence, Svetlana sits across the table from the actor playing her, and is quizzed on her motives as a younger woman. The project’s continuous interplay between reality and reconstruction – its conscious dismantling of the “fourth wall” – reminds us that this narrative, and by extension all narratives through which we understand our lives, are unstable. We subject them to mental rescripting as we contemplate things from different vantage points over time. Markosian reminds us that we can, and often do, choose how we understand our lives. Now, rather than resenting her mother, she has come to respect her authorship over both their destinies. “She paid the ultimate sacrifice as a woman to give me a different life.” Markosian insists that the intended audience for the work

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was her mother. And yet, here it is, on display at ICP, and Right: Diana Markosian, Hendry's Beach. discussed in an international art magazine. If it had only ever (2019) © Diana Markosian. been her and her family who saw the film, would it still be art? Isn’t a work, after all, only to be considered as art because it is received, as such, by a wider public? This was the point made by Marcel Duchamp back in 1917 with the readymade sculpture, Fountain. Take away its context and we’re left with a urinal. Every family has their stories and, even when they have a huge plot twist like this one, it takes something more to make them meaningful for a viewer not directly involved. They need to invoke an affinity that transcends the specifics of the situation. “I think there's a bit of narcissism with personal work and I get scared of going down that route,” says Markosian. “You hope that your art touches someone beyond you, but it’s not something you can control.” Artists, whether or not they deal in the currency of personal narratives, are compelled at a certain point to set their work free. Once unleashed into the world, projects take on a momentum of their own – although this is invariably called into question when the creator does something that casts an ethical shadow over the piece. The cultural reckoning that came with the #MeToo movement, for example, made popular Words films uncomfortable viewing as a consequence of their as- Rachel Segal Hamilton sociation with certain writers, directors or actors. Soap operas, possibly more than any other genre, seem to belong to their audiences rather than the creators. The writers of Coronation Diana Markosian: Street or EastEnders may not have predicted that Bet Lynch Santa Barbara or Pat Butcher would become gay icons. Similarly, the writ- ICP, New York ers of Santa Barbara probably wouldn’t have anticipated the Until 10 January significance of the show for Russian viewers, or how it might completely shape the lives of many generations to come.

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Dynamic Self-Portraits Fares Micue

Crescent moons, bending branches, manicured garlands and grouped balloons: these are the objects that characterise the colourful self-portraits of self-taught Spanish photographer Fares Micue (b. 1987). The images are dreamlike, hopeful, and, at times, surreal; the artist's facial features are obscured entirely by blooming flowers and folded paper cranes. In these compositions, symbolism is key, with each object placed carefully to respond to the language of the body, as it presents itself to the viewer. Each photograph includes subtle indicators of emotion, as a hand is placed guarding the abdomen, or a head tilts upwards hopefully. Micue notes: “I want my work to be viewed as a whole story condensed into one frame.” High contrast is also important here, favouring simple compositions with slight differentiations; luminous yellow petals and pillar-box red origami are left to hold focus.

Fares Micue, Under the same Moon (2021).

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Fares Micue, The Happiness Source (2020).

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Fares Micue, Burning Energy (2019).

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Fares Micue, Romantic Sonata (2021).

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Fares Micue, I Choose You (2021).

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Fares Micue, Eternal Honeymoon (2020).

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Fares Micue, Imaginary Prison (2020).

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Fares Micue, A Lesson About Selflove (2020).

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Fares Micue, Follow Me to Loveland (2020).

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Fares Micue, Drops of Serenity (2019).

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Fares Micue, Camouflage (2019).

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“Generally, in the summer I take photographs and in the century – from the paintings of JMW Turner to the prose of winter I work on the post-production,” says German photog- John Ruskin – and has attracted mass tourism in the centurapher Thomas Wrede (b. 1963). “But for the first time, when ries that followed. The glacier at Belvédère, for example, has I got to the computer, I didn’t feel good sitting in front of my had additional appeal since 1870. The Carlen family – who screen, and it was because of what I was seeing.” Wrede is dis- own the iconic Belvédère Hotel on the Furka Pass (with cincussing the Glaciers project, currently on display as part of ematic cameos in the likes of Goldfinger) – have carved a the Vienna Biennale, comprising images of the Rhône Glacier grotto deep into the ice, creating a 100-metre long tunnel in Belvédère, Switzerland. The glacier has retreated by about that glows in a transfixing shade of blue. The Carlens were 150m between 2011 and 2016. It is now partially covered in also responsible for introducing the blankets – an act that white fleece blankets, which are there as an attempt to stop speaks of nurturing, but is underpinned by sharp business the melt and arrest the decline by reflecting the sun and sense; each visitor pays nine euros to visit the grotto. It sounds hard-nosed but, as Wrede points out, the Carlens holding in the cold. Delicately draped and sculptural, these materials have a certain beauty, but they’re also dirty and are far from alone. The Alps are a “big construction project.” ripped; at best they’re a sticking plaster solution to a much Entire communities are supported by its tourism, sports and deeper problem, and at worst they’re introducing a whole the complicated architecture that makes it all possible. Hownew issue by releasing micro-plastics into the environment. ever, it’s all being undermined, and fast. Chair lifts that escort passengers up and down the mountains are embedded in “It’s a very dark situation,” says Wrede. “The glacier is dying.” Wrede first photographed the Rhône Glacier in 2017, keen permafrost that’s melting; the foundations are literally being to show the effects of temperature change in Europe, when shook. The lifts in question lead to restaurants whose onceimages of melting were still largely reserved for “faraway” solid footing now seems tenuous. The WWF estimates that landscapes; the idea still so distanced that western audienc- there are 120 million tourists in the Alps each year. As Wrede es would not sit up and take notice. Fast-forward four years points out, the businesses that cater to them “put so much and the effects are only too evident everywhere, and so pro- money into this industry that they want to keep it.” Temperanounced that Wrede has already missed some planned shots ture rise means they’re having to invest in more resources, at Belvédère. “I started the series shooting these very grey in a kind of self-perpetuating trap or vicious cycle. In future, photographs, so this summer I wanted to go back and show the Carlens will have to dig the grotto deeper into the Earth. For Wrede, this corporate approach speaks to our entire the opposite,” he says. “But it’s disappeared. I’m too late.” Glaciers have long been a source of fascination, a popu- perception of the environment, that “rather than working with lar subject for Romantic writers and artists in the early 19th nature, we see it as a resource.” And this is how many cultures

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Thomas Wrede, Rhone Glacier #2, (2018). Middle part of a triptych, 120 x 390 cm, courtesy of Beck & Eggeling.

“In his later pieces, Wrede points to the notion of the sublime – the idea that, far from being able to exploit the world, humans will always be faced with forces much bigger than themselves.”

Previous Page: Thomas Wrede, Rhone Glacier, Ice Cave #1 (2019). 150 x 100 cm. Courtesy of Beck & Eggeling. Left: Thomas Wrede, Rhone Glacier_outside #4 (2019). 150 x 100 cm. Courtesy of Beck & Eggeling.

look at the planet (predominantly in the western world, of course). One of Wrede's early projects, Samso (1991-1995), depicts abandoned plastic sheeting used by Danish potato farmers. The sheeting has been used for years promote crop growth, and, in the 1980s and 1990s, it was buried in landfills after it had been discarded. It’s now being uncovered slowly by the elements. In the photographs, swaths of white material tangles itself with the landscape, bleak and ghostly. In his later pieces, Wrede points to the notion of the “sublime” – the idea that, far from being able to exploit and control the world, humans will always be faced with forces much bigger than themselves. “In one of my triptychs, for example, you can see people, very tiny, in one of the panels. Just as with old paintings, we see the relationship from its relative size.” It’s easy to see why the triptych has been included in CLIMATE CARE: Reimagining Shared Planetary Futures at the Museum of Applied Arts, Vienna (MAK), and a main contribution to the Vienna Biennale for Change. This exhibition hopes to “inspire a new relationship with the planet,” explains Biennale curator Marlies Wirth, “one that embraces a caring position towards all species, moving away from human exceptionalism. The arts can help us take a more-than-human perspective. Wrede’s series is a perfect example of this, evoking a sense of empathy whilst documenting the relative ‘smallness’ of humans in relation to geological forms.” Human exceptionalism, an idea sometimes also referenced by the terms humanocentrism or anthropocentrism, assumes that humans are the central or most important entity in the universe. It’s a major concept within environmental ethics and philosophy, as it is now often considered to be the root cause of manmade ecological problems. Human exceptionalism is

said to underpin the concept that the planet is something to be consumed and, by suggesting other viewpoints and perspectives, art can destabilise this philosophy. It’s appropriate, then, that CLIMATE CARE is a group show, enabling viewers to manifest a “more-than-human perspective” quite literally through various projects. Wirth continues: “These artists help to convey the relevance of a biocentric – as opposed to anthropocentric – worldview, by activating collective imagination and promoting the idea of a planetary community through a shift of proportions and power structures.” This approach underpins the entire Vienna Biennale this year. Subtitled PLANET LOVE: Climate Care in the Digital Age, it combines work by artists, designers and architects to both demonstrate the effects of global heating and suggest different approaches for alternative futures – timelines where we slow the damage and rediscover ancient practices. A public sculpture placed in Vienna’s Karlsplatz, titled Collective Action Viewer, created by Verena Tscherner and Joerg Auzinger, helps viewers to understand how climate change will impact their lives by allowing them to watch a virtual flood sweep over the Karlsplatz square via an adapted telescope. Meanwhile, EAT LOVE: Tomorrow’s Food and Food Spaces, a joint initiative between the MAK and the Vienna Business Agency, analyses the entire food cycle, highlighting sustainable solutions to our diets, shopping habits and food production. Under the motto “Let's talk food” the work moves from the fields to the shops and, finally, to our plates – exploring how urban food supplies might look in future. It takes the form of a prototype petrol station in a post-fossil fuel age. Meanwhile, an immersive installation by SUPERFLUX, titled Invocation for Hope, transports visitors into a future in which

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Thomas Wrede, Rhone Glacier #4, 220 x 170 cm (detail) (2020). Courtesy of Beck & Eggeling.

human beings are no longer the focus. The immersive installation includes an oasis set in a sparse forest of blackened trees. It builds on environmental philosopher Timothy Morton’s consideration of the climate crisis as a “Hyperobject” – a phenomenon of such spatial and temporal scale that it is beyond the capacity of the human mind to fully grasp it. SUPERFLUX notes: “After travelling through a grid-like forest of burnt and blackened pines – the unexpectedly graceful skeletons of a former time – you find, at its heart, a resurgent living forest, in which multiple species are in harmony with humanity, offering a promise of a new way of living. In this cradle of biodiversity, you come to a freshwater pool, which reflects, not your own face, but another creature – a bison, an otter, a bird of prey – coming to the water to drink.” In every edition of the Vienna Biennale – be it focused on automation and the future of human labour, artificial intelligence or climate care – the event encourages literacy and agency around the big challenges of the present and nearfuture. It’s an interesting context for Wrede’s work given that, as a photographer, his pieces are rooted in the present, not the future. Each image is a line in the sand, a statement which can impress upon viewers how bleak the situation is already. Of course, as with all photographs, there is an agenda. Wrede's Rhône Glacier triptych looks particularly apocalyptic at the Biennale, for example, shot as sterile grey compositions in order to provoke an emotional response of desolation and emptiness. Other images from Wrede's Glacier series, including Blutschnee (2020), depict red snow, which is caused by a species of algae. This phenomenon is naturally occurring but can also increase glacier melt, both by creating “sun cups” and by darkening snow; Wrede hopes that these images will

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provoke a visceral reaction in the viewer, “the feeling that the Right: Wrede, Rhone Glacier_inside #6, environment could be a body.”And if he intends to move Thomas (2019). 150 x 100 cm. Courtesy of Beck & Eggeling. people, it’s working. “When I first showed this work in Berlin, the images made audiences very angry,” he says. “It’s a provocation, not documentation. I think of it as in-between fiction and reality, though I didn’t do much post-production. I didn’t have to change much because the world there is so crazy.” However, by highlighting the futility of a “quick-fix solution,” Wrede manages to capture both the landscape and humanity’s extensive and damaging hubris. He succeeds in showing both the worlds that humans have created and the perspectives that have shaped them – what’s out there and the fantasies and desires that have become embedded under the surface. This is true of Wrede's other projects, which include Manhattan Picture Worlds (2002-2007). Here, New York streets are shown with illusions of large-scale advertising billboards. Meanwhile, Magic Worlds (1997-1998) includes a strange mix of the real and fantastical at amusement parks; or Real Landscapes (2004-present), which disrupts our sense of scale by making model constructions seem “life-size.” Ultimately, the Glaciers project is optimistic through its ab- Words surdity. We know that things are currently going one way, but Diane Smyth this always has the potential to change. This is evident when staring melting ice in the face. Where the Vienna Biennale asserts that tackling the crisis requires a new perspective, Wrede’s photography sets the precedent for a brand-new type CLIMATE CARE, Vienna of thinking altogether. Ultimately, wrapping glaciers in blan- Biennale for Change 2021 kets won’t save the ice, and a piece of art won’t stop the planet Until 3 October from warming. Photography can’t change global policy, but, crucially, it can spark a shift in consciousness. “The only so- lution is to change our whole idea of life,” Wrede concludes.

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Planes of Existence Kevin Cooley

Kevin Cooley’s (b. 1975) work offers a “phenomenological, systems-based enquiry into humanity's contemporary relationship with the five classical elements – earth, air, fire, water and aether.” His latest series reveal the struggles – both practically and psychologically – of inhabiting a planet we, as a species, are slowly destroying. Images from Still Burning, for example, depict moments before, during, and after the La Tuna Canyon Fire in September 2017, which burned through approximately 7,194 acres in the Verdugo Mountains, Los Angeles, and nearly destroyed Cooley’s house, studio, and entire photographic archive. Blazing pink skies are presented alongside the slow-shuttered tracking of flight paths; celestial constellations are seen against lone ocotillo plants in the desert. The colour palette is both unsettling and mesmerising – deep purples, midnight blues and dusky oranges hold our attention as the landscape is incinerated in the distance.

Kevin Cooley, Dark Sky, Montello (2017).

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Kevin Cooley, Octillo, Anza Borrego (2020).

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Kevin Cooley, Cheatgrass, Montello (2017).

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Kevin Cooley, Lone Pine Fire II (2017).

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Kevin Cooley, Lone Pine Fire (2017).

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Kevin Cooley, Takeoffs JFK Runway 13R Sunset (2006).

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Casey Orr (b. 1968) is distinctly interested in the lives of women – in their relationships with themselves, the notion of home, nationhood, individuality as well as a sense of belonging. This line of questioning has taken Orr across the globe, exhibiting portraits extensively across the USA and in numerous galleries, museums and festivals in the UK, including The Palace of Westminster, Tate Exchange, Tate Liverpool, Brighton Photo Biennial, Yorkshire Sculpture Park, National Portrait Gallery, and at HM Prison, Leeds – the first time the walls of a prison have been used as a space for art. The Saturday Girl series (2013-present) is an award-winning collection of portraits of young women, shot across the UK, on Saturday afternoons in town centres. In this groundbreaking series, Orr would advertise her pop-up studio, inviting members of the general public to be part of a photographic project that celebrated the “sparkling potential” of the weekend, and to respond to the call: “see and be seen.” In doing so, Orr brought the history of the “promenade” to 21st century culture, exploring the politics of watching and interpreting one another, whilst tapping into identity and gender politics as they rapidly shifted. In 2019, the series won the Format Festival Award, and this October, Bluecoat Press will be publishing the project as a photo-book. The latest iteration of the project, Saturday Girl About Town, is currently being shot until March 2022. During these months, Orr is collaborating with local communities and high street action zones, creating studio sessions adhering to Covid restrictions in empty shops, and delivering live presentations and shows in Burnley, Blackpool, Wigan and Redcar.

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A: When did you have the initial idea for Saturday Girl? Was there a distinct moment that inspired the series? CO: It began in Leeds in 2013. I started noticing young women with “big hair”: backcombed 1960s-style; teased and sprayed; with wigs and hair pieces. I started wondering what it meant in terms of culture, tribe identities and values, and how these things burst forth in the unspoken languages of fashion and bodily self-expression. This vocabulary is passed down playfully through the generations, with changes that respond to cultural undercurrents, whilst sharing a connection to the past. I decided to only photograph on Saturday afternoons when city centres and high streets were a place of shopping and hanging out – looking and being looked at – promenading. A: How did the idea develop into a UK-wide series – from Leeds to Glasgow; Preston to Belfast? As such a broad project, how has it affected the ways you see yourself, as well as the people you pass on the street? CO: In 2015, I took my pop-up portrait studio to Liverpool. It was here that I started to wonder about regional differences in the language of fashion and the body. Liverpool women just blew me away with their style. The Liverpool aesthetic of wearing curlers in your hair whilst out shopping on a Saturday afternoon is just so playful and expressive, saying to the world: “I’m going out tonight!” I wondered if other cities were as individual, and if the culture of a place could be read by the ways women chose to look. I decided to take the studio on the road, to visit towns throughout the UK and find out. I visited 15 cities and photographed over 600 people, and,

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Casey Orr, Untitled from the Saturday Girl Brighton series (2016).

“We are informed by the self, our context and the landscape. Fashion is used as a way to find tribes, share values and be with like-minded people. It is a way to claim individuality, and also step in line with the masses.”

Previous Page: Casey Orr, Untitled from the Saturday Girl Belfast series (2017). Left: Casey Orr, Untitled from the Saturday Girl Belfast series (2017).

yes, landscape, economics, demographics and a local filter play a part in how we present ourselves, but we are also deeply connected to a wider conversation that flows through our lives. It seems that with every question I ask with photography the answer is always: “Everything is connected.” A: How far was the series governed by its subjects: those who responded to an open call? How much choreography was involved in each of the compositions? Beyond the pop-up studio, were the shots pre-meditated? CO: Saturday Girl is documentary photography. The portraits aren’t styled beyond the personal decisions made in front of bedroom mirrors. These images are a document of culture, read through fashion. Most of the people I photographed were approached on the street that day. The project acts as a witness to these young lives. The series continues to excite me as it evolves and refers to the times in which we live, as well as a shared past that is being reinvented. In this way, I feel connected to other past lives – to my younger self – and to the present moment all at once. I am reminded that we all share a language that is at once steeped in culture, history and memory, and is also inherently fluid and changing. Fashion and physical expression are important and powerful tools for us all, to state who we are beyond consumerism and capitalism; beyond selfies and social media platforms. A: To what extent is the project about exploring the semantics of identity – the signs with which we express who we are, what we value, where we come from and how we spend our free time? How does this tap into our belonging within social groups: platonic, familial and romantic?

CO: The work is absolutely about this. It is about what happens when, through the hypervisibility of our coming-of-age years, we begin to use this language. It is superpower; it is joyful creativity and play. We are informed by the self, our local context, family, community, economics and the wider landscape. Fashion is used as a way to find tribes, share values and be with like-minded people. It is a way to claim individuality, and also step in line with the masses. A: Many of your images – and especially the curated collages – demonstrate how high street trends proliferate in culture, grouping individuals together by the way they style their hair, the cuts and colours of clothing, or the brands by which they associate. Has it made you think differently about individuality, in the ways we seek this out, or the ways we are distinctly similar? CO: There are trends that filter throughout UK culture and can be followed without spending a lot, but there is a wider pool of inspiration that has occurred since the rise of social media and camera phones. This has empowered young people and LGBTQIA communities with a platform, and enabled people to find a multitude of possibilities beyond what they see from mainstream channels. There is always a dance between individuality and group identity; wanting to belong to a community whilst also aspiring to be a “distinct” person. Getting that right is a fine balance. The collages are photographic typologies in which shared elements denote a kind of relationship. Photographing is, essentially, collecting. A: The portraits are intimately poised; how did you navigate the lines between authority and vulnerability with

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Casey Orr, Untitled from the Saturday Girl Hull, Liverpool and Manchester series (2015-2016).

the women you photographed? Should documentary photography always be contractual? And does this need to be revisited as our self-awareness changes? CO: Making a portrait is always an agreement, both spoken and unspoken. I want the person to understand what being photographed for Saturday Girl means and in what context their image might appear as part of the public face of the project – in books and exhibitions. I also want the person to feel seen, to have a say in how they are portrayed. The best portraits are self-aware, multi-layered and vulnerable, whilst also holding agency and a sense of self. It is such an intimate and humbling process when it works. I feel a responsibility to everyone in the work, many of them are so very young when they agree to be photographed. Everyone signs an image release form. Some individuals have asked to be removed from the project later, which I always do. I want them to think about what they are entering into by participating. A: You’ve noted that, throughout the years between 2013 and 2019, the series began to be redefined as “the male and female labels began to fall away to be replaced with more fluid identities and freedoms.” How important was it that the series be defined by anyone and everyone who wanted to take part, or identify as a “Saturday Girl?” In what way did the title of the project become much more than the sum of its parts, as an inclusive concept? CO: When I started the series, the word “girl” had a much different, and perhaps simpler, label. I was setting out to photograph young women. However, since then, the deconstruction of gender identity has filtered throughout the project, and our binary understanding of identity is gone. To see

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this limiting idea of who a person can be fall apart in matter of years is so hopeful – so inspiring. There is much that needs dismantling in this world of invisible assumptions and systems of power. The collapse of the gender binary gives me hope for the changes we need throughout society. As a photographer, I am trying to learn, listen, and follow these changes in culture. It is essential to stay in this flow of ideas.

Right: Casey Orr, Untitled from the Saturday Girl Leeds series (2013).

A: Moving forward, what questions are you exploring with the next iteration of Saturday Girl About Town? CO: Since Covid, young people have been away from each other, and the physical social spaces of self-discovery. This time has altered society in ways which aren’t even evident yet. It has been isolating and life-changing in a multitude of ways. Although, young people are already using creative, life-affirming body language in response to Covid, social distancing, masks and their new reality. The 2021 series will be set in smaller towns, as opposed to larger cultural centres and cities. It starts in Burnley, Redcar, Blackpool and Wigan. The work expands beyond the portrait to include the changing high streets, documenting the places that have been damaged by online shopping, which has, in turn, been accelerated by the pandemic. The project will contribute to local Words and national conversations that are shaping new spaces for Kate Simpson community, play, fashion and identity. I ask: “Who owns the high streets?” In the process, I'll be working closely with local authorities, educators and creatives in each town, and with a Saturday Girl is published team of people headed by Creative Producer and Curator by Bluecoat Press James Lawler, and Open Eye Gallery Director Sarah Fisher. There will also be an exhibition at Open Eye Gallery in 2024 celebrating the 10-year anniversary of Saturday Girl.

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Abstract Formations Jessica Backhaus

In the baking Berlin summer, German-American photographer Jessica Backhaus (b. 1970) arranged a number of transparent paper cut outs. In the direct sunlight and concurrent heat, the shapes began to rise from the surface, bending and curling into one another whilst casting block shadows on the page. She captured their dance-like forms as pink, blue, green and yellow sections began to intersect as abstracted Venn diagrams. Beyond the visual appeal of tessellating colour samples, Backhaus invented a “photography of chance” as each paper sample began to arch and bow according to its own will, wilting as the moisture evaporated and the cuts shrank in size. After the initial layering of samples, she became an observer of events – documenting an aesthetic experiment with little control over the final composition. Cut Outs will be on display at Robert Morat Galerie, Berlin, in January 2022.

Jessica Backhaus, Cut 0ut 13 (2020). Fine Art Pigment Print. Copyright Jessica Backhaus, Courtesy Robert Morat Gallery.

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Jessica Backhaus, Cut 0ut 13 (2020). Fine Art Pigment Print. Copyright Jessica Backhaus, Courtesy Robert Morat Gallery.

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Jessica Backhaus, Cut 0ut 6 (2020). Fine Art Pigment Print. Copyright Jessica Backhaus, Courtesy Robert Morat Gallery.

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Jessica Backhaus, Cut 0ut 5 (2020). Fine Art Pigment Print. Copyright Jessica Backhaus, Courtesy Robert Morat Gallery.

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Jessica Backhaus, Cut 0ut 31 (2020). Fine Art Pigment Print. Copyright Jessica Backhaus, Courtesy Robert Morat Gallery.

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Jessica Backhaus, Cut 0ut 35 (2020). Fine Art Pigment Print. Copyright Jessica Backhaus, Courtesy Robert Morat Gallery.

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Jessica Backhaus, Cut 0ut 30 (2020). Fine Art Pigment Print. Copyright Jessica Backhaus, Courtesy Robert Morat Gallery.

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Jessica Backhaus, Cut 0ut 32 (2020). Fine Art Pigment Print. Copyright Jessica Backhaus, Courtesy Robert Morat Gallery.

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Jessica Backhaus, Cut 0ut 40 (2020). Fine Art Pigment Print. Copyright Jessica Backhaus, Courtesy Robert Morat Gallery.


Worlds of Disconnect Markus Guschelbauer

“You and the tree in your backyard come from a common ancestor. A billion and a half years ago, the two of you parted ways. But even now, after an immense journey in separate directions, that tree and you still share a quarter of your genes.” So wrote American novelist Richard Powers (b. 1957) in The Overstory (2018). Markus Guschelbauer’s (b. 1974) photographs speak to this world of disconnect, in which roughly a third of all trees have been cut down. Today, there are just four billion hectares left, roughly 400 trees for every person. In these closely cropped images, Guschelbauer places singular trunks against eye-popping frames, juxtaposing flanks of lichen and peeling bark with candy-coloured backgrounds. The results are beguiling and conceptually challenging. Each composition considers the unique beauty of trees, whilst simultaneously presenting them like products on a supermarket shelf – items to be picked and consumed.

Markus Guschelbauer, Plum (2013). Analog C-print, 117 x 129cm.

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Markus Guschelbauer, Trunk I (2014). Digital C-print, 45 x 30cm.

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Markus Guschelbauer, Trunk II (2014). Digital C-print, 45 x 30cm.

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Markus Guschelbauer, Trunk IV (2014). Digital C-print, 45 x 30cm.

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Markus Guschelbauer, Trunk III (2014). Digital C-print, 45 x 30cm.

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Markus Guschelbauer, Trunk V (2014). Digital C-print, 45 x 30cm.

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Markus Guschelbauer, Trunk VI (2014). Digital C-print, 45 x 30cm.


Exhibition Reviews


Youth Rising in the UK 1981-2021 GROUP SHOW

In a photograph (possibly) taken by Claude Cahun in 1936, the artist Sheila Legge appears as a “Phantom of Surrealism” in Trafalgar Square, her head encased by flowers. Pigeons clamour along her outstretched arms. The wings of one bird are in rapid motion, blurring into a background that’s obscured by the photo’s shallow depth of field. The image is arresting, but, as often with Surrealist pictures, risks meaningless “what-about-if”-erry alongside bourgeoise disconnect. Whether intentionally or not, the first photograph in Side Gallery’s Youth Rising in the UK 1981-2021 (Paul Alexander Knox’s 2019 portrait of Michael, a young man from South Shields with a history of homelessness) recalls this picture of Legge. Michael’s head is entirely shrouded in a solidseeming plume from his vape-pen. Traffic blurs like pigeons in the black-and-white surroundings. He’s anonymous, but

extremely present. There’s no disappearing into clouds of theory here. Knox’s photo, by covering Michael’s face, makes us take notice of him, and beyond this, remember him. The exhibition follows the UK’s contemporary youth through trials of labour, alienation, and racial and social oppression, allowing human selves to emerge from hardship. The show understands what Cahun’s picture of Legge does not: that photographs make material the passing moments Words of history. These are not spaces for rarefied thought, but mi- Adam Heardman crozones in which people and time become tangible. Each of the nine photographers capture lived realities of unprecedented times, whether it’s Tom Sussex’s portraits of London- Side Gallery, Newcastle ers involved in the Black Lives Matter protests, or Maryam 17 July - 3 October Wahid using her mother’s traditional Pakistani wedding dress to explore 35 years of immigrant identity in Birmingham.


Photographing Ground Zero WIM WENDERS

“This was hell, where we were, but heaven has opened up to shine the most stunning light into it.” So reads a caption by German artist Wim Wenders (b. 1945) introducing Photographing Ground Zero at Imperial War Museum, London. Type the quote into a search engine: the most relevant results? Dante’s Inferno and Milton’s Paradise Lost. Christian mythologies of war, purgatory, the epic struggle of good versus evil: these are not, however, the scenes depicted in the exhibition. This isn’t Dürer. Yet Wenders, a renowned filmmaker and photographer, has a similar eye for drama and perspective. He recalls Dürer’s woodcut Draughtsman Drawing a Nude in the 1991 science-fiction film Until the End of the World, set in the shadow of a global catastrophe. Five panoramic floor-to-ceiling prints, heroic in scale and colour – document a moment of sunlight in the aftermath

of the attacks just months after 9/11. Steam rises in plumes from melted girders. Diggers bow towards the ground, now a worksite and mass grave, as the sun’s rays “exorcise” the shadows (a term Wenders used to describe his intent). As a picture of hope it is remarkable and deeply affecting, if unmoored emotionally from our political reality today. The withdrawal of allied forces from Afghanistan, and the concurrent fall of Kabul to the Taliban just a few months Words ago, inevitably colours the images differently – and the Jack Solloway museum’s anniversary programming as a whole. The light through which Wenders captured Ground Zero is unquestionably beautiful, and it does dominate the one-room show. IWM, London However, this captivating light provokes us – contrary to its 10 September - 9 January intended sense of reprieve – to confront all that we have lost, and might continue to lose, in the global “War on Terror.”



“There is nothing particularly fascinating about this place,” Daidō Moriyama (b.1938) told The Guardian in 2016. He was talking about a street in Tokyo in one of his images. “I shoot it every time I pass, like a dog will return to piss on a corner it knows. I am like that dog marking its territory.” Some artists overtalk their work. Moriyama, on the other hand, might justly be accused of doing the opposite. The celebrated Japanese photographer is best known for highcontrast, black and white street photography, a selection of which is on show at Hamiltons Gallery. A Journey in Ink recalls the wanderlust that defines Moriyama’s anecdotal point-and-shoots, from the grainy lip-laden billboards in Visions of Japan (1990) and Tokyo (2001), to a mutt sporting shades in Hawaii (2007) that bears more than a passing resemblance to American journalist Hunter S. Thompson.

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For Moriyama, it was Kerouac’s On the Road, not Thompson, that showed him the way. The novel gave shape and occasionally, in the instance of his 2011 retrospective in Osaka, a name to his work. Indeed, America’s post-war influence on Japan itself is inescapable. Commercials promise sex or put Mickey Mouse next to us on the bedside table. The 2001 Untitled (Lips 16 Times) is a Warhol-inspired reproduction without the “pop” of colour. It doesn’t need it. We know the Words lips are Coca-Cola red. It plays wonderfully with our expec- Jack Solloway tations and over-exposure to poster culture’s iconography. Faces, silhouettes, road markings – Moriyama’s inky black prints collapse finer details into white or void. Is this what it Hamiltons Gallery, London means to see the world at a glance? The blotched newspaper- 8 September - 30 October like images report to us a city in motion. Nothing particularly fascinating, he says. Well, Moriyama certainly makes it so.

1a. South Shields Emmaus companion, Michael (© Paul Alexander Knox Commissioned by AmberSide and the Virgin Money Foundation.

1b. Alice from the series Of Quiet Birds (© Sadie Catt . 2. © Wim Wenders, New York, November 8, 2001, II. 3. Daido Moriyama, Kagerou (Mayfly), 1972 © Daido Moriyama Foundation.


1b 2


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4a. Rania Matar, Alae (with the mirror), Beirut Lebanon, 2020, 19 x 24 inchers. Archival pigment ink print, edition of 8. 4b. 4a. Rania Matar, Alae (with the mirror), Beirut Lebanon, 2020, 19 x 24 inchers. Archival pigment ink print, edition of 8 . 5. Keisha Scarville, Untitled (Surrogate Skin), 2016, (c) Keisha Scarville, image courtesy of Huxley-Parlour. 6. Anette (25 Futures Series), 2017 © Sarah Waiswa.




Rania Matar’s (b. 1964) series She (2017-2021) features young women in the contrasting cultural settings of Lebanon and the United States. Despites these varied geographies, the subjects adhere to a shared sense of femininity, expressed through composed self-presentation. It is fair to say that because of the overwhelming representation of “femme” women, the series examines gender identity across cultures. Alae (with the mirror), Beirut Lebanon (2020), is the first in a selection of 11 images on display at Obscura Gallery, Santa Fe. It depicts a young woman with a hand-held mirror, located on the upper floor of a high-rise building. The figure faces the Beirut skyline whilst pointedly returning the photographer’s gaze through the mirror. She watches herself being watched. Alae could be a metaphor for coming-of-age in a contemporary world – hypervisible through the lens. Throughout the series, the subjects participate in the photo-

graphic process, exhibiting agency in the way they are seen. They arrange themselves in flattering poses along rocks and deteriorating architecture, letting their hair drape and catch the light, echoing a mainstream editorial take on beauty. She can be differentiated from fashion portraiture, however, by its celebration of the individual, not just their aesthetic. Matar illustrates the strength and power of her collaborators through their connection to sensuality. They engage with the material of their surrounding worlds: resting in water and standing barefoot on the rocky earth. Walking through the exhibition brings to mind those working in environmental portraiture, such as Deana Lawson and Jess T. Dugan, who create images that honour individuality whilst informing the viewer about the struggles and joys related to specific communities. In She, the focus, perhaps, is on forging connections between subjects, rooted in the physicality of the body.

Words Angie Rizzo

Obscura Gallery, Santa Fe 25 August - 31 October



I Belong to This, curated by American photographer Justine Kurland, brings together 17 women and non-binary artists to explore a sense of self and belonging. The title is derived from Ariana Reines’ poem Save the World, and in Kurland’s words, “can be read as a declaration of identification, a promise of solidarity, or a blurring of self into multitudes.” The artists explore unique lived experiences, be it immigration, religion, family history or motherhood, to create a body of work that considers both personal narratives and the artists’ identities as photographers. This can be seen clearly in Jennifer Calivas’ series of Self-Portrait[s] While Buried, taken remotely from under a pile of sand. The artist’s hand pokes up from under the earth, grasping a remote cable, reminiscent of Ana Mendieta’s Earth Body (1972-1985). Moving through the exhibition, Naima Green, Cheryl Mukherji and Annie Hsiao-Ching Wang are highlights. Green’s Pur.suit (2019) is a series of nine vibrant prints

of the queer community presented as playing cards. The work is an expansion of Cathy Opie’s Dyke Deck (1995), in which "couples were hearts, jocks were clubs, femmes were diamonds; and butches were spades." Mukherji’s I Held My Mother (2020) reworks an old photograph with threadwork. Meanwhile, Wang’s The Mother as a Creator comprises a series of collective self-portraits taken over many years with her son. The images act as a mise en abyme, evoking a timetunnel through layered photographs. They appear at increments over the years, with the photographs filling the shot Words and accumulating. The work arose a question Wang posed to Shyama Laxman herself 20 years ago: “I love children, but why am I so afraid of becoming a mother?” The compositions play on this sense of altered identity, as the pictures denote someone new. Huxley-Parlour, London This seminal show offers something for everyone, irrespec- 14 September - 16 October tive of their identities, experiences or beliefs – reflecting, with nuance, what it means to belong, to ourselves, or otherwise.


Lips Touched with Blood SARAH WAISWA

For Lips Touched with Blood, currently on display as part of the 2021 Bristol Photo Festival, Kenya-based documentary and portrait photographer Sarah Waiswa (b. 1980) has responded to the British Empire and Commonwealth Collection at the Bristol archives. The goal was to re-create the photos taken by British travellers of African people between 1860 and the 1970s and, in doing so, disrupt the colonial narrative. The show title comes from the caption of a portrait taken in 1953, after an alleged Mau Mau cleansing ceremony shortly after the Lari massacre. There is much ambiguity in both the photograph and its caption, whilst the portrait demonstrates a sense of simultaneous power and defiance. Waiswa digitally manipulates the archival images, leaving only a silhouette of individuals in the composition. In the age of social media – when we are constantly putting images out into the ether, and each more filtered than the last – blacking out subjects is a statement. Waiswa wants the viewer

to consider who these people are, or were. What expressions did they have on their faces? Why have they been removed here? Metaphorically, it also speaks to the erasure of the culture and identity of Africans under British rule. Next to these doctored archival images are stunning contemporary portraits of young African men and women, who are embracing the aesthetics of culture in the form of cornrows and cowry shells, with a tinge of western influence as evidenced in their clothes, makeup and other accessories. These young people – with their confident smiles and a sense of calm – provide a kind of filler to the silhouettes. The message seems to be that if you want to “look” at African people, see these faces filled with pride and defiance, and none that have been forced. Ultimately, Waiswa normalises the act of looking, if only we could view each other without the lens of colour. It's interesting, moreover, that some sitters wear sunglasses, stopping the viewer from locking eyes.

Words Shyama Laxman

Bristol Museum and Art Gallery 18 May - 31 October

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film reviews



“Everything looked fun through the camera,” notes Belmaya Nepali, the young woman at the heart of this documentary. Lacking any education, this extraordinary Nepalese villager finds her voice through photography and filmmaking, despite a tumultuous upbringing. Being poverty-stricken and having a mother that suffers from severe mental health issues would be enough to topple most, but Belmaya is as strong-willed as they come. The youngest of six, Belmaya ran away when she was 12, ending up in a girls’ home in Pokhara. Now the mother of a daughter named Bipana, she endures a difficult, and sometimes violent, marriage. “She has a clean heart, but is too outspoken,” remarks husband Biren, who is anything but easy to live with. “Until you’ve understood yourself, don’t get married,” she witheringly remarks. Yet as the bold title I Am Belmaya hints, this is a genu-

ine story of empowerment. The film is directed by British filmmaker Sue Carpenter, who first met Belmaya in her Pokhara home when, in 2006, Carpenter was overseeing a photography project, My World, My View. Sparking her interest in filmmaking, Belmaya refused to let go of her dream. Seven years later, as Carpenter’s film begins, she is taking documentary filmmaking classes, deciding to focus the camera on female experiences in Nepal. The moist-eyed finale sees Belmaya achieve her goals by completing a short documentary about the importance of educating young girls. She even screens it in her home village after attending film festivals, and young children march through the streets announcing the film, and decorate a makeshift outdoor cinema with balloons and candles. Whilst the film does veer towards sentimentality, it’s never enough to derail the inspirational focus.

Words James Mottram



In their feature debut, Fanny Liatard and Jérémy Trouilh find melancholic magic in an all-too-real story of innercity housing displacement. Cité Gargarine was originally opened by the French Communist Party in 1961, inaugurated in 1963, and named after cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin. It once stood as a symbol of the future of France, but is now in disrepair, and marked for complete demolition. Youri is a quiet but community-focused teenager living in the housing project. When he finds he has no family with which to relocate, he continues living there in secret, slipping into a surreal world. The building becomes a vessel for exploring outer space, and he, like the namesake cosmonaut, is an intrepid astronaut trying to survive in an unforgiving and unrelenting environment. Whilst many existing films confront the subject of the failure of social housing with kitchen sink realism, it’s the

magical element in this film that makes its poignancy so effective. The outside of the building is deserted, yet inside Youri has highlighted the beauty of the structure with a human touch: light shines into the flat through holes made to reflect a map of stars. A miraculous garden grows from the concrete. Youri explains to a friend that all living things just need water, sunlight and air. Later, those three key elements of life become unattainable to him as the building is boarded up and the water shut off. Gagarine was designed to sustain human life, but, in the end, it became as isolated and unwelcoming as a rocket drifting in outer space, its inhabitants stranded in the void. This feature is a sensitive farewell to an important artefact from the 20th century, with its quietly gripping lead performance, attention to the history of Cité Garagine, and testimonials from real residents of the projects.

Words Stephanie Watts


Oliver Sacks: His Own Life RIC BURNS

Ric Burns’ documentary is warm and tender. It provides a portrait of Oliver Sacks, a man facing, with dignity, his final years after being a famed neurologist. That’s not to say Burns’ film is sentimental, although there are tears when Sacks gathers together his closest friends shortly after he’s received a terminal cancer diagnosis. He died in August 2015, aged 82, but lived out his last months in the way he’d always lived: with great enthusiasm. Sacks is most famous for writing Awakenings, the 1973 book that became a Hollywood film in 1990, starring Robin Williams and Robert DeNiro. The title demonstrated Sacks’ work with victims of encephalitis lethargica, who were left in catatonic states – sometimes for decades on end. The film was sugar-coated, but it pushed Sacks into the mainstream world, gaining recognition that he had never received when the book was initially published.

However, Burns’ film isn’t just about miracle work; it offers a fully rounded depiction of Sacks, who, by his own admission, was self-destructive in earlier years. There was an addiction to amphetamines, and an obsession with bodybuilding when he first moved to San Francisco. His attraction to men was something of a struggle, and for 35 years he was celibate (although this strand does conclude with something close to a happy ending). The sense is that Sacks was a man operating way before his time; his work at Beth Abraham Hospital in the Bronx was initially dismissed by the neurological community. Burns succeeds in underlining Sacks’ resoluteness. For all his own troubles – his brother Michael also suffered from schizophrenia – there was never any sense of wallowing in self-pity. Instead, he devoted his life to those in need of help, something Burns captures here elegantly.

Words James Mottram

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music reviews


Always Inside Your Head LONE

Eight albums is an impressive creative achievement, especially as lucky number eight has arrived after a fiveyear hiatus for musician and DJ Matt Cutler (AKA Lone). This time around, the album features a vocalist for the very first time. Morgane Diet wistfully dots her lyrics over every evolving breakbeat and muffled drum and bass moment, pairing with a trademarked electronic sound. There are heavy leanings towards the likes of William Orbit, and much of the project feels like it could sit comfortably on the soundtrack to Danny Boyle’s seminal film The Beach, with wavy chords and dripping reverb. There is a low and melancholic weight to the energy across the 10 detailed songs, which hang in well-manicured musical spaces in-between the heavy production. In this way, Always Inside Your Head feels like early Morcheeba – as if we're out on the rave scene at 4am and the music has

been carefully selected to match a wind-down. Songs like Echo Paths edge dangerously close to intermittent hotel lobby music, but reach back to the safe territory of jungle infused hedonism in Mouth Of God, replete with chasm-style drops. Moving forwards, the beautiful Tree for Tree is an album standout, feeling more detailed and emotive, and chugging steadily like train wheels on a long, meditative and distant journey. It’s moments like these where the Lone of old comes back into the fore, if only to disperse back to the sound design nature at the tail-end of the album with Undaunted and Coming Into Being and Passing Away, both so minimal and drenched in trippy peaceful journeying. House and breakbeat are presented here at their most ambient, culminating in a body of highly absorbing music. This is for laying in a hammock, or on an extremely fluffy rug.

Words Kyle Bryony



In March 2020, Julia Shapiro (of Chastity Belt, Childbirth, and Who Is She?) traded Seattle’s late-winter gloom for the never-ending sunshine and seemingly endless opportunities of Los Angeles, only to be forced into near-total isolation. Shapiro found herself stuck in a city with nowhere to go and nothing to do, but in a classic case of crisis equating to opportunity, new songs began to crystalise. Shapiro’s roommate Melina Duterte (Jay Som) transformed their house into a studio, making it easy to realise the sounds in her head, even at the height of lockdown – writing and recording the entire album. Zorked is Shapiro’s second album under her own name, the title describing “any situation where lost identity, being stoned or not sober is all-consuming.” Duterte, acting as co-producer, encouraged Shapiro out of her comfort zone, resulting in notably heavier sounds than

almost all of her previous work. This is immediately apparent in album opener Death (XIII), which draws inspiration from the namesake Tarot card, drone metal and shoegaze, musically defined by layers of guitars and programmed drums. Come With Me, the album’s dreamlike lead single, takes inspiration from a mushroom trip gone bad, and talks about being taken to “awful places.” Lyrically, album closer Hall of Mirrors places a sense of lost identity at the forefront and reflects upon the psychic damage that's been done along the way. Shapiro is an observer of human behaviour, detailing a somewhat suffocated luxury, yet never sounding beleaguered. Though Shapiro found herself coming to terms with a new city in a near hermit-like existence, she maintained a sense of humour about all of it, which permeates in places amidst a rich and expansive musical backdrop.

Words Matt Swain



From pressing play, Berlin-based singer, musician and performer DJ Lotic challenges everything you might expect from electronic music today, and does so in the most refreshing way possible. Vehemence and delicate softness lock horns at every corner of this fantastic and curious record. Similarities to Icelandic legend Björk are so acute that it's no surprise the two have worked and performed together in various capacities over the years. The wailing, disjointed – and at times discordant – music is fascinating and haunting, both freeing and jarring concurrently. On Always You, it feels like four separate songs have been created, slammed together and overlaid with heavily Thom Yorke-inspired vocals. Somehow, despite feeling like we’re moving between rooms at an experimental sound exhibition, it works, and is memorable. The Radiohead energy continues in the percussion of

A Plea, with vocals that feel like improvisational exhalations from an extremely pained and grieving soul. Guttual, breathy and fully authentic. The delicate harp in Apart slots right into the middle of the dreamily cacophonous nine songs, and displays the heavenly peace at the heart of Lotic’s wild and intelligent creative process. This is a record that could only have been made in a city like Berlin, filled with self-discovery, creation and exploration. Lotic offers a whole journey from the very beginning to the eight minute-long epic at the end. Diamond is layered with Tune Yards-style vocal doodles, meandering through an Alice in Wonderland-like world. With the name “Lotic” itself meaning “to inhabit rapidly moving water,” the relevance could not be more evident. This album feels exactly like laying still in rushing water, letting the streams pour over and submerge the body.

Words Kyle Bryony

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book reviews


A Black Gaze TINA M. CAMPT

When attending exhibitions, Tina Campt likes to sit cross- "In the neighborhood barbershop, time is bent to its limit. legged on the floor. She’s a professor at Brown University, These are spaces of activism and education ... where but in the gallery setting, she’ll assume the pose of a dili- marches were advertised, where protest literature was disgent, attentive pupil. She notes: “There was a time when tributed, and where activists were recruited." I was self-conscious about it. But after years of yielding Throughout the book, Campt skilfully unpacks “the to gravity to create a personal cone of silence so I could labor” of reading Black perspectives (it’s “a” not “the” take in the full impact of art in spaces that frequently Black gaze), challenging the canonical view of art that militate against the forms of lingering and observing re- prevents real and tangible connection. Anyone being quired to truly grapple with work that is difficult to come looked at for a prolonged period of time knows that the to grips with in the space of a gallery or museum, I have sensation is physical. (We say gazes are “rapt”, which no compunction about sliding down a wall and claiming comes to us through the French word for “kidnap.”) the undervalued real estate of a gallery floor.” The problem is, how do we rewrite the language of art A Black Gaze is built around this act of “lingering.” and the way it's seen? Campt, in return asks: “How do you Campt, a Black feminist theorist of visual culture, asks ‘feel’ one another when no one touches?” She argues for us to “attune ourselves to the visual frequencies of Black the experiential over the historical, and in doing so, offers life” and assume a sense of "slowness." She continues: a comprehensive survey of contemporary Black artists.

Words Shirley Stevenson




What is a portrait? What do we expect it to say? Are there greater demands on the “truth” content of this genre compared to other forms of art? What about when the camera is involved? Photography is a medium associated with an ideal of documentary clarity: a spotless window on reality. But why should it be? Photographers have the same right to creative artifice, poetic licence and sleight of hand as any other practitioners. Why does a photographic portrait even have to involve a likeness of the sitter at all, or even take a real person as its subject? These are amongst the questions teased out by Phillip Prodger’s new study. Photographic portraiture is a type of artwork we might feel we intuitively understand, but it is revealed across this book to have a rich and wild hinterland, from fictionalised self-portraits and photocollage to abstract works created with doctored or cus-

tomised gear. One of the most engaging inclusions is Christopher Bucklow’s Guest, 12.27pm 10th July 2001, created by placing pinpricked tinfoil across a lens to render a human torso as a constellation of glowing dots. Later on, we are transported to the chilly, dystopian territory of AI portraiture, whilst chapters on fashion shoots, studio staging and cinematic narrative lead us towards fantasy and role play. However, it’s by exploring the history of photography to categorise human emotions, character traits and social groups that the author stirs the deepest and darkest waters. Eugenicist Francis Galton’s composite portraits are a case in point, created to outline the “typical” appearance of groups such as criminals and consumptives. Because photography can be used for such sinister and controlling ends, we should pause and think about the sheer saturation of digital images today.

Words Greg Thomas

Thames & Hudson


Photography – A Feminist History EMMA LEWIS

In 2021, it’s more important than ever to ask questions. comprehensive account. It aligns the everyday experiWe are living in an era of misinformation, in which unreli- ences, struggles and ambitions of women’s movements able facts spread like wildfire. Yet it’s also a time of essen- around the world, with developments in the history of tial cultural re-examination. History is being unravelled art. The research spans from Olympe de Gouges’ Decand rewritten – foregrounding those left out of tradition- laration of the Rights of Woman and of the Female Citizen al narratives. So, whose stories are we telling, and why? (1791) – in which the activist paved the way for feminism – to the present-day. The battle is far from over. In 2017, Photography – A Feminist History centres around this. Many will be familiar with the canonical history of pho- World Press Photo revealed that, in the five years prior, tography, as author Emma Lewis posits, “it is white, west- women took up only 15 percent of the prize submissions. Chapters such as The Body, the Camera and the Gaze; ern and overwhelmingly male.” And whilst there have been efforts to reinstate women’s names into the records Myth, Memory and the Climate Emergency, and Social – with some sticking, like Lee Miller, Vivian Maier or Anna Photos and Online Spaces tackle crucial themes by 20th Atkins – there are still many thousands who have been and 21st century artists alike. Readers can find pages ignored or overshadowed by their male counterparts. dedicated to key contemporary figures; amongst the Whilst it’s impossible to encompass the full breadth roster of names are Graciela Iturbide, Rineke Dijkstra, Paz of female talent behind the lens, Lewis has produced a Errázuriz, JEB, Nan Goldin, Poulomi Basu and Sim Chi Yin.

Words Eleanor Sutherland


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The Destination for Art and Culture

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artists’ directory



German multidisciplinary artist Christel Sobke is based in Berlin. Throughout her environmentally-minded career she has explored the natural world through painting, photography, sculpture and most recently, digital imagery. The Flower series embraces colour variation to depict the changeability of nature through human action. Sobke notes: “I show the jewels of nature: flowers in all their splendour. We should do everything we can to preserve this simple, everyday beauty.”

Erik Paul is a California-based sign maker, graphic designer, painter, sculptor and engineer; the combined technical and creative aspects of printmaking are a particular passion. This multifaceted approach has fuelled a varied, joyful career in which the experience in one medium has helped to inform another. Paul notes: “Being able to find a correlation between my profession and my art has been a revelation and a pleasant surprise. I never dreamed that my skills as a sign maker would serve as a catalyst for my artistic creations.” I Instagram: @thisiserikpaul


Flor Troconis is a Venezuela-born artist based between Miami, Los Angeles, London and Istanbul. Her extensive travels fuel a curiosity and appetite for abstract experimentation with contrasting geometric colour and form.

Jonathan Alibone is an artist whose practice articulates contemporary social, cultural and environmental anxieties through the conventions of the landscape and romantic traditions in western art. It is a meditation on the conflict between nature and culture – between the deep geological past and a profoundly uncertain future. Invoking our precarious relationship with history and the natural world, Alibone’s work signifies upheaval and the destructive activities that alter and transform our understanding of the landscape. I Instagram: @flortro I IG: @jonathan.alibone


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UK-based JR CHUO is a paper cut and spray paint artist whose work explores the notion of façades in society that conceal harsh realities. His work is inspired by the tragic beauty and striking colours found in dying coral. CHUO cuts all of his designs by hand – thousands of individual shapes work in harmony to form large, seamless designs. The artist’s latest piece, Roppongi Reef, will be exhibited at the Tokyo International Art Fair, 8-9 October.

Kathryn Sawbridge is a UK-based multidisciplinary artist. Her work explores various local landscapes and scenes, in which she strips them back to their basic colour palettes without the distraction of everyday details. The resulting two- and three-dimensional pieces leave enough hints for the viewer to explore their environment on a deeper level, connecting individual colours to their personal memory. Sawbridge holds a BA in Photography and a Master’s in Fine Art, and has participated in numerous exhibitions in the UK and USA. I Instagram: @jrchuo I Instagram: @kate3s

PIPPA KING Pippa King is a UK-based painter and poet. She is a colourist and her thematic works often express a passion for the North Norfolk landscape and coastline, as well as mythical subjects. King enjoys working in series such as Literary Heroes & a Few Villains, Myths, Moths & Marshes, A Personal History of Flying, Love Letters to Utamaro and Sea-Dogs & Divas. She has exhibited widely, including the Summer Exhibition at the The Royal Academy of Arts and The Guardian Best British Art Now show. King’s work is held in several notable private collections.

Sven Pfrommer is a German fine art photographer and visual artist based between Berlin and Singapore. His multidisciplinary practice crosses the boundaries of photography, painting and printmaking; the works are created using acrylic, metal, wood panel or canvas. For Tokyo Crossing, Pfrommer explored movement in the city by applying a multiple exposure technique. The series won a Gold in the Architecture/Cityscape category at PX3 2021.

Instagram: @thebluestudio1 I I Instagram: @sven_pfrommer


For submission enquiries regarding the Artists’ Directory, contact Katherine Smira on

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artists’ directory

alex ewerth


Multidisciplinary artist Alex Ewerth holds degrees from Chelsea College of Arts and Central Saint Martins. Her practice includes painting, sculpture and installation; she is strongly influenced by unconventional materials. This can be seen in works such as Kyoto. Ewerth has participated in numerous international exhibitions. Based in Hamburg, she is represented by Galerie Holthoff. I Instagram: @alexandraewerth

Brendon Marczan is a painter and illustrator based in London. Many of his artworks feature a tipi symbol – a nod to the traditional dwellings of some Indigenous Canadians and Native Americans. These triangular shapes represent shelter, safety and home. The tight patterns throughout Marczan's work further reinforce a sense of community in fractured times. I Instagram: @brendonmarczan

Cher Pruys

Clare Thatcher

Cher Pruys is a painter specialising in capturing the everyday through hyperrealism. Still lifes, landscapes, flora and fauna, machines and portraiture all form part of the artist's practice; each piece is skilfully created with emotion and great attention to detail. Pruys believes that a well-executed painting can influence a viewer’s feelings in the same way music influences one’s emotions. I Instagram: @cherpruys

Clare Thatcher is a fine artist and co-founder of CLaSH Art Space Bristol. Painting and drawing is at the heart of her practice, in which she explores landscapes of personal resonance. The use of pure colour – which she creates from pigments – is key. The Quiet Space series reflects time spent in the vast beauty of Alaska in 2019, and forms a large body of work. I IG: @clare_artist I Twitter: @ClareThatcher2

Emily Irvin

Evgenia Pervak

Emily Irvin is an American artist, performer, writer, poet and activist from Appalachia. These roles are used to examine ceramic questions in which the artist observes their body in relation to the world in which it can touch. Their recent project, Reverberate, collages performative material explorations into objects that suggest a room. Irvin has exhibited and published work internationally. I Instagram: @irvinemily

Evgenia Pervak is a fine art photographer based in Kiev. Inspired by impressionism, she creates works reminiscent of oil-on-canvas paintings. In the limited-edition series My Secret Garden, Pervak strives to connect the viewer with their inner harmony. Fine lines and bold pastels express flowers as a symbol of pure beauty. I Instagram: @pervak_evgenia

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Gunilla Daga

Ioannis Galanopoulos-Papavasileiou

Gunilla Daga is painter based in Stockholm who produces artworks which, in John Austin’s words, “are connected to each other, each image being born from the previous and forming a series of works where the artist investigates not only the nature of the materials at hand but seems to push each shape to take different forms." Daga has exhibited work throughout Europe and the USA. I IG: @gunilladaga

Ioannis Galanopoulos-Papavasileiou aka Yiannis Galanopoulos is an Assistant Professor of Visual Arts at Zayed University, Abu Dhabi. His art practice examines place and identity, specifically the relationship between ideated, geographic and virtual place and the connections between objects, artists, the media, viewers and wider society. He has participated in numerous exhibitions throughout the world.

judie long

Karan Kapoor

New York-based photographer Judie Long demonstrates a love for her subject matter as well as the action of creation. Scenes are captured with an eye for what she believes the viewer will appreciate seeing every day; the use of vivid colours and bold black and white are key in creating the artworks. Long's images are purchased as museum-quality framed works or ready-to-frame paper prints. I IG: @ajudieoriginal

Karan Kapoor is an award-winning Indo-British photographer whose background in reportage informs his commercial and fine art images. Renowned for a polished and dynamic yet spontaneous style, Kapoor is drawn to unique characters and stories, finding inspiration in the energy of his subjects. The displayed work is part of the Mafia Island series. I Instagram: @karankapoor_photographer

Karl Weiming Lu

Margie Kelk

Originally a civil engineer, Karl Weiming Lu participated in the significant '85 New Wave art movement in 1980s China. He moved to Australia in 1991 to pursue postgraduate studies in philosophy and international studies, as well as art, design and architecture. This background has informed Lu's Origin series, and expresses an intuition about the origin of universe, nature and life through his bold and fluent brush strokes.

Toronto-based multimedia artist Margie Kelk takes an exploratory and experimental approach in her practice. She appropriates and reconstructs visual fragments of ideas through diverse media that include sculpture, ceramics, drawing, painting and digital applications. Kelk is also an accomplished filmmaker whose work has screened in over 80 national and international film festivals. I IG: @mskelk

For submission enquiries regarding the Artists’ Directory, contact Katherine Smira on

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artists’ directory

Ole Gahms Henriksen

Rebecka Hoffmann

Ole Gahms Henriksen is a Danish painter and ceramicist based in Spain. Using a variety of mediums, he plays with light, repetition and layers, although it is colour that is of paramount importance in his latest largescale series. Each oil-on-canvas painting is 90cm x 73cm and expresses a current perspective his everyday life and surroundings in 2021.

Stockholm-based artist Rebecka Hoffmann is a graduate of Beckmans College of Design. In her work, she asks: "How do we design the man of the future? To relate to the development of technology, I want to look at the theory of philosophy and the importance of existing in our time. I use methods and tools to connect with the Kierkegaard’s aesthetics in which I speculate on a dystopic vision of society." IG: @rebecka.hoffmann

Rudo Bolcar

Sander Steins

Rudo Bolcar is a UK-based visual artist who holds a crafts and design degree. Sculpture is at the heart of his practice, in which he explores the relationship between traditional and modern structures. Classical sculpture is a key inspiration, and a variety of textural media such as resin, clay, wood, plaster and metals are used to express Bolcar's ideas. Instagram: @rudobolcar

Sander Steins is an artist and photographer based in the Netherlands. He experiments with new digital techniques to explore nature, technology and the darker sides of society. The resulting works are vibrant abstract collages and paintings on paper. Steins' new series Going Global will premiere at The Other Art Fair, Global Virtual Edition, 8-29 November. I Instagram: @sandersteins

Sijong Kim

Tatiana Lvovna Makarova

South Korean artist Sijong Kim holds an MA from the Royal College of Art. He uses his art practice to question ways of seeing, and investigates how the world can be perceived to have different meanings depending upon which media are used to express ideas. Kim notes: "Art is a way to contain my playfulness." Shown here is work from the Invasion series, in which the artist places himself into historic photographs.

Tatiana Lvovna Makarova is a Doctor of Arts, Professor at Kosygin University in Moscow. She is also a costume designer, graphic designer and artist. An author of 227 books and articles on design, advertising and PR, she has participated in 90 exhibitions and won 25 awards. Clients include Grey Group, Avantgarde Russia and Mosfilm. Instagram: @blue_river_yellow_cat I Tik Tok: Makarova_T_Art_Design

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Amy Majed

Chiu Li Ying

The manipulation of light is Amy Majed’s primary aesthetic – artificial and natural light meet in an amalgamation of forms, shadows and geometries. She is inspired by everyday items in the domestic space, alluding to a sense of safety paired with the restraints of being a social carer. Majed won the 2021 Aesthetica York St John Degree Show Award. Instagram: @made_by_amyy_

Chiu Li Ying is an award-winning, Taiwan-based graphic designer and photographer. Li Ying believes in using the camera and editing software in the same way a painter uses paints and brushes. She notes: "In this age of digital photography, there are so many tools that I think creativity is infinite. Through photography, I convey my thoughts without limitation." Instagram:

fiona pratt

Hannah Mills

Fiona Pratt's three-dimensional work centres on elements found in coastal and inland landscapes; sedimentary layers, roots and buried histories record the ephemeral. Natural materials such as hessian and jute signify the Earth, amalgamating with a sense of weight and gravitational pull embodied in the artist's hanging vertical structures. Photography: Andrea Vassallo. Instagram: @fionatextiles

Hannah Mills is a UK-based visual artist whose practice is largely a personal reflection of herself. Experimentation with acrylics, oil, charcoal and graphite has allowed Mills to expand her portfolio, which includes painting, drawing and sculpture. She has exhibited work in solo shows, and selected pieces are held in numerous private collections in Europe, Canada and South Africa.

Kunal Kohli

Marie Marchandise

Kunal Kohli is an award-winning photographer based in New York. For the series Absolution he notes: "It is about our strength to move on from our past and what we don’t know about our future. When we accept and surrender to what is now, only then we can reach our absolution. I also want to emphasise the emotions we go through before reaching our absolution." IG: @kunal_kohli_photography

A photographer and art director, Marie Marchandise specialises in editorial work. The amalgamation of materials, mediums and processes enables her to dig deeper into the meaning of what she creates. Designer: Michelle TSM² @michelletsm2_. Model: Agnès Tassel @atassel. Hairstylist: Hugo Bardin @hugobardinpaloma. Makeup artist: Océane Susini @oceanesusini.

Nimisha Doongarwal

Ori Gerard Frances

Nimisha Doongarwal is a mixed media artist. Her conceptuallylayered pieces explore relationships between past and popular culture by referencing sociopolitical topics. The artist's aim is to "give a voice to issues faced by women and people of colour." Doongarwal has exhibited work in museums and galleries including the de Young Museum, San Francisco. Instagram: @nimishart

The work of photographer and digital artist Ori Gerard Frances has been widely exhibited. He believes the language of poetry and art is the only way to express certain aspects of our experience of reality in subtle and complex ways. Recent awards and honourable mentions include the Tokyo International Foto Awards, the IPA’s International Photography Awards and the MonoVisions Photography Awards.

For submission enquiries regarding the Artists’ Directory, contact Katherine Smira on

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Lee Changjin, In One Drop of Water Is Found All The Secrets Of All The Oceans. (2019) . Materials: Plastic bottles, water, dye, LED. Dimensions variable.

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Ritika Biswas Artistic Director, Sea Art Festival 2021

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“Sea Art Festival, delivered in Busan, South Korea, embraces a state of flux. The theme for this year is Non / Human Assemblages, exploring the unknown within which we find ourselves. The works in the festival trace the liquid flows that run across all human and non-human bodies: as well as states of friction, resonance and kinship. At our festival venue – Ilgwang Beach in Busan and the East Sea – we offer portals into the geo-politics of interspecies extra-activism; the lived histories of Haenyeo communities (female divers in South Korea); and the luminescent visual poetry of anemones, algae and eels. The festival invites us to experience uncanny and joyful encounters with ourselves, as well as the many worlds we have, do, or will inhabit.” Sea Art Festival 2021 runs 16 October - 14 November.

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