# 26 Happy Spring 2011 €17,50
Yeondoo Jung / Thomas Mailaender / Henze Boekhout / Olivia Bee / Ruth van Beek / Eva-Fiore Kovacovsky / Jaimie Warren / Inge Morath
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Yeondoo Jung / Thomas Mailaender / Henze Boekhout / Olivia Bee / Ruth van Beek / Eva-Fiore Kovacovsky / Jaimie Warren / Inge Morath
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6 Portfolio Overview 8 On My Mind images selected by Joachim Schmid, Zeina Arida, Eduardo Brandão, Pipilotti Rist, Anne Wilkes Tucker & Vince Aletti 14 Interview Jeff Wall: Unpredictable Pictures by Aaron Peck
21 Theme introduction Happiness is Easy by Marcel Feil
Portfolios 31 Yeondoo Jung Wonderland text by Andreas Schlaegel
51 Thomas Mailaender Sponsoring text by Caroline Niémant
71 Henze Boekhout So Close, So Far text by Pim Milo
91 Olivia Bee Everyday text by Ken Miller
111 Ruth van Beek Secrets of the Wildlife text by Marc Valli
131 Eva-Fiore Kovacovsky 39 Gräser text by Alex Klein
Don’t You Feel Better text by Hesse McGraw
171 Inge Morath The Mask Series with Saul Steinberg text by John P. Jacob
192 Photobooks by Sebastian Hau
197 Foam A msterdam Exhibition Programme 218 Colophon
Editorial by Marloes Krijnen Editor-in-chief
Now that the days are lengthening again, the temperature slowly rising and spring undeniably on its way, it seemed to the editors that this would be the perfect moment for Foam Magazine to take ‘Happy’ as its theme. This choice of subject may initially seem surprising. After all, happiness, joy and gaiety are not feelings that have a rich tradition in professional photography, nor indeed in the arts generally, which have always been more likely to broach heavy social or philosophical topics. On the occasions when an artist concentrates on looking inwards, focusing on his or her own emotional life, melancholy, gloom, depression, powerlessness and longing are more likely to prevail. Gladness and cheerfulness touch upon a lightness of being that seems alien to many artists. And gaiety is often regarded with a degree of scepticism and disdain. Surely if something is straightforwardly joyful then it cannot possibly be serious. Yet happiness and joy are deeply human emotions. The pursuit of happiness in fact motivates much of human activity. Ultimately we all want to be happy and contented. Happiness tends to lie in the little things in life: the sun breaking through, the trees turning green again, the smile of a child, the certainty that there’s someone who loves you. True, it quickly tips over into sentimentality, and for that reason we may not be popular when we make a show of joyful feelings, but that doesn’t make it any less fundamental. Happiness can be far more than a secret, sentimental pleasure. It may sometimes be expressed in exuberance, in an explosion of song, dance and silliness. As if the child in us has suddenly been given full rein – free, unconstrained and without embarrassment. For this Happy issue we have brought together work that made us, the editors, feel glad, that expresses a cheerful lust for life, work that is marked by a silent enjoyment, or that attests to an infectious non-conformism. At the very least, all of it gave us a good, joyous feeling. At the same time we are convinced this does not mean there’s any lack of profundity here, or of intrinsic complexity. Happiness and joy are a deadly serious business, in a way unique to them. We are extremely pleased to be able to present eight portfolios that are as diverse and surprising as ever, and that we hope will give you a good, joyous feeling too. We are no less proud of the extensive interview that Canadian artist Jeff Wall has granted exclusively to Foam Magazine, nor of the six extremely diverse representatives of the cultural world who have contributed to our regular feature On My Mind. • 5
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Yeondoo Jung Wonderland
Thomas Mailaender Sponsoring
For Wonderland, Yeondoo Jung selected children’s drawings explained by the small artists themselves, and to be turned into a photographic reality in great detail, using as little Photo shop as he could get away with. The reality of the resulting images is, as one would expect, populated by a myriad fairies. Fragments of fairytales, personal dreams and wishes, fantastic inventions and interpretations of their surroundings go DIYCinemascope through Jung’s lens.
Thomas Mailaender constantly hijacks art milieu conventions and sidesteps expectations by pirate-exhibiting persona-nongrata items and manners. He focuses on the source material and subjects; appropriates and diverts found images from the Internet, flea markets and the like. Mailaender is an insatiable and compulsive collector of photographs and sociological patterns. For the project Sponsoring he re-appropriated the genre of the bank-check-ceremony portrait.
Henze Boekhout So Close, So Far
Olivia Bee Everyday
Henze Boekhout takes an entirely consistent view of the world around him. It is dreamy, as well as concrete and very much to-the-point. We see exactly what his world is, an in-between land, a universe very close to our own. It is not an area of transition between two boundaries, but rather a world with its own merits. Constructed still lifes effortlessly take their place beside documentary photos shot with a large-format camera and impromptu snapshots.
What began as the casual documentation of the scene around sixteen-year-old Olivia Bee has, over the years, turned into a self-aware depiction of the romanticism of teenage life. Bee has developed a colour-saturated aesthetic filled with semiimprovisatory, sometimes staged ecstatic moments. In a way, immediate nostalgia is the overwhelming quality of Bee’s images – a reminiscence of a moment that she is currently experiencing and regrets having to leave behind.
Eva-Fiore Kovacovsky 39 Gräser
Ruth van Beek’s work studies and questions the world of animals and landscapes we would otherwise take for granted. The result reminds us of two-dimensional sculptures with a simple, subtle and abstract visual language. In fact, she doesn’t limit herself to creating new meanings out of old images but with every new work she creates a new physical and tactile reality. It is gifted with a confounding directness - a naturalness that is unique among collage artists.
39 Gräser presents us with collected leaves of grass, pressed against glass and scanned. Using what Eva-Fiore Kovacovsky considers a modern-day equivalent to the print-making process of the Naturselbstdruck, she employs a photocopy machine to scan her grass arrangements and prints them by inkjet. The plants are suspended in an empty field, thus allowing the reader to focus on minute individual details. The title is a reference to the number of grasses depicted in the portfolio.
Jaimie Warren Don’t You Feel Better
Inge Morath The Mask Series with Saul Steinberg
In a culture that holds grandiose artifice aloft, Jaimie Warren’s photos instead align with giggly-ghastly moments of deep authenticity. Her images are direct products of fun-making performances. Although the moments, events and experiences the photos spring from are important, their lack of a specific trace allows the work to generate the broadest possible range of responses. It is the likelihood of seemingly contradictory responses that interests Warren, depending upon on your own set of references.
The creation of the Mask Series, with collaborator Saul Steinberg, marks a singular moment in the career of Magnum photographer Inge Morath. It was her first self-consciously artistic statement, and it is the only large body of images, in a fifty-year career in photojournalism, that is conceptually motivated. This series is the record of a partnership between two artists, but it is also deeply personal: the announcement and enactment of a new kind of partnership a different kind of connection between photographer and subject. 7
Ruth van Beek Secrets of the Wildlife
On My Mind
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Six well-known figures from the cultural world selected an image that has recently been on their minds...
One of 180 photographs, allegedly taken by a serial murder suspect, released by Los Angeles Police Department in December 2010
Joachim Schmid In December 2010 the Los Angeles Police Department released 180 photographs that had been found in the possession of a suspect in a serial murder case. They are all photographs of women, who may or may not be residents of Los Angeles. They may or may not be prostitutes (like the women who were killed); they may or may not be murder victims. We don’t know. We don’t even know whether the arrested suspect took these photographs himself. Without any indication of where the photographs come from, most wouldn’t be worth a second glance; to you or me, that is. Of course it’s a different matter for the friends and family of the women depicted. And for the person who took the pictures. Most of the women were clearly alive when the photos were taken; some are smiling, some are posing. Some appear to be asleep – they may or may not be sleeping the big sleep. Some may have been shot soon after, or just before, the photographer shot the picture. We don’t know. It is the obvious fact that we don’t know anything – apart from where these photographs come from. That makes them so eerie. We want to know, but the pictures don’t tell us. We look at them and they look at us. That’s all there is. • Joachim Schmid (1955, Germany) is a Berlin-based artist. He has been working with found photographs since the early 1980s; his works have been shown and published internationally and are included in numerous collections. In 1990 he founded the Institut zur Wiederaufbereitung von Altfotos (The Institute for the Reprocessing of Used Photographs).
on my mind Film still from the short film Tomorrow Everything Will Be Alright, 2010 © Akram Zaatari
Zeina Arida This image is extracted from Tomorrow Everything Will Be Alright, the latest film by Akram Zaatari, my friend and collaborator for fourteen years now. The film deals with the eruption of the past into the present, the sudden reappearance of someone who disappeared ten years before. It reminds me of the lightness of being in Beirut fifteen years ago. Like many young people of my generation, I had just come back from a ten-year exile and I really wanted to contribute to the rebuilding of my country. At that time we were struggling to make things happen and we were interested in looking into our past, without the nostalgia that characterized those who wanted the Switzerland of the Middle East back, and without the general amnesia that prevailed about the years of the civil war. It reminds me of the early days of the Arab Image Foundation, when I would wait impatiently for Akram to return from his travels. Together we would open the boxes and envelopes full of photographs and discover the stories that they were telling or hiding. One of my strongest emotions was when I saw this impressive register of photo passports for the first time, a huge book that looks like an accountant’s register. Akram found it in Saida, in a flooded studio that belonged to the Soussi photographers. I had never felt such a strong feeling of familiarity when looking at strangers’ faces. • Zeina Arida (1970, Lebanon) has been director of the Arab Image Foundation since its inception in 1997. The foundation is a non-profit organization established in Beirut to preserve and study photographs from the Middle East, North Africa and the Arab Diaspora.
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From the series Marcados, 1981/83 © Claudia Andujar, courtesy Galeria Vermelho, São Paolo
Eduardo Brandão I first saw this image on a contact print in 2005. It was one among hundreds of images that belonged to the same family, that was edited later as a series and named Marcados (Portuguese: marked or branded). The image was made by Claudia Andujar on a work trip to the Yanomami Indians in the northern Amazon region between 1981 and 1983, at a time when she was coordinating the Yanomami Park Creation Commission. The purpose of the trip was to assess the situation of the Indians, in particular the health of those who had been in contact with ‘white people’. These ‘white people’, or non-yanomamis, were in the area to construct federal roads. The data collected would be used, not only to evaluate the health of the group, but also to delineate what came to be the Yanomami territory defined by a Brazilian governmental decree in the 1990s. The major problem for Andujar when documenting the Indians – that they do not respond to names – was solved by assigning each of the Indians a number, and photographing them to identify each individual for his or her healthcare record. I have worked with Claudia in showing the series of 82 photographs at several exhibitions and have assisted her in the publication of the book Marcados, edited by the Brazilian publisher Cosac Naify in 2009. After all these years working with the images, they continue to intrigue me with their force. They carry within them several important aspects of the history of photography. The image, a portrait of a young kid with the number 55 hung on his chest, is first and foremost a portrait. Moreover, it is a historical document, it is photojournalism, it is a political statement and it is art photography. • Eduardo Brandão (1957, Brazil) is director of Galeria Vermelho in São Paulo, representing leading Brazilian artists. In October 2010 he curated Historias de Mapas, Piratas e Tesouros, a group show on contemporary Latin American photography for Instituto Cultural Itaú, São Paulo.
on my mind Kelvin and Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate. Video still, with no date © coincidence
Pipilotti Rist I wear thick glasses. Without them, with my face close, everything looks as if seen through a magnifying glass; rags become roughened wood fibres, like eyelashes. My father thinks I looked inside myself too much as a child and my eyeballs kept growing backwards as a result. They are still growing infinitely. I can see my throat while I stand on the precipice. I jump into the gastric juice and wait, bobbing peacefully, while milk is poured over me and my death is dissolving like a high-speed cloud. While my lung is still transforming oxygen and glucose into water, carbon dioxide and energy, I remember the dinner with risotto at which Andrea Cavalli told me that during this process groups of 20,000 molecules cluster together to change one single electron. So I jump into one of those clusters, crawling until it becomes tight. It flings me out and sets me free, ten meters above my throat. • Pipilotti Rist (1962, Switzerland) is an artist working mainly with audio video installations. Her works blur the boundaries between visual art and popular culture. Recent solo exhibitions were held at the Museum of Modern Art, New York (2008) and Museum Boijmans van Beuningen, Rotterdam (2009) among others.
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The Sentimental Ballad, from the series World of Feelings and Imaginations, 1970s © Zofia Rydet, courtesy Asymetria Gallery, Warsaw
Anne Wilkes Tucker Zofia Rydet’s series World of Feelings and Imaginations was a delight for me to discover at the 2010 Paris Photo. Rydet, who was Polish, created a desolate photomontage series about a couple’s confined and restricted life. Masks have replaced the faces on both the man and the woman, the same mask in each collage. Often the couple are shadowed by the same ceramic dog and other banal collectables. Whether the woman sits behind or parallel to the man, she appears subservient. Other images in the other segments of the fifteen part series portray women alone and in mental pain, often standing in landscapes of ruins. They wear masks that are different from the couple’s but the same for each woman. The only emotional relief in the series comes when Rydet includes children. Part of my attraction to her work was my prior love for the collages of Toshiko Okanoue and Grete Stern, women likewise working with feminine/feminist issues using collage in the post-war decades. Between 1948 and 1951, Stern, a German living in Argentina, interpreted other women’s dreams. She took the dreams of submission and oppression submitted to the magazine Idilio by mostly working class women and created surreal collages visualizing their fantasies. Between 1951 and 1957 Okanoue made ‘collage after collage’ by clipping from reportage, fashion, and camera magazines to re-create her own dreams. Each unknown to the other, these women found ways to express their fears and dreams in rich, disturbing and indelible collages. I am sure there are more women’s collages yet to be discovered in which lives, fears, and dreams materialize in these highly personal ways.• Anne Wilkes Tucker (1945, Louisiana) has been a curator of photography at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, since 1976. In 2001, Time Magazine honoured her as America’s Best Curator; five years later she received the Focus Award for Lifetime Achievement from the Griffin Museum of Photography.
on my mind
Found image, 1926
Vince Aletti Anyone interested in portraiture as a collaboration between artist and subject has got to find mug shots fascinating. With the subject under arrest, the power struggle that animates most portraiture, a subtly shifting drama of dominance and submission, flattery and candour, would seem settled in the photographer’s favour. But even in the police station, a sitter can assert himself and signal his defiance, his contempt, his nonchalance, or his unshaken dignity. Instructed to face forward and turn to the right, he has few options and little time, so much of what happens in those moments between prisoner and photo grapher is spontaneous and instinctual. Typically, the camera records a criminal’s cold glare, a hard-as-nails front that masks a strategic withdrawal. But not everyone arrested by the police is a criminal, and the confusion, shame, and fear on some of their faces is painful to look at. I don’t know whether the boy in this picture, identified on the back as Clyde Charles Kizer, 18, from Scranton, Pennsylvania, is guilty or innocent of the charge, Larceny of Automobile. Tense and nervous, he averts his eyes, as if by refusing to confront the camera he could will himself free again. How long after his 1926 arrest he was declared DEAD, we’ll never know, but he still looks wonderfully present, like he was plucked off the streets of today’s East Village for a modelling session with Bruce Weber. His haircut is already perfect. • Vince Aletti (1945, Pennsylvania) reviews photography exhibitions in the ‘Goings on About Town’ section of The New Yorker and photobooks for Photograph. The winner of ICP’s Infinity Award for writing in 2005, he was also co-curator of the 2009 Year of Fashion exhibitions at the International Center of Photography, New York.
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While finishing an exhibition in which Jeff Wall combines his own works with master paintings, he reflects in his conversation with Aaron Peck on his relationship to the complex nature of photoÂ graphy over the past thirty years and the inspiration he still draws from such masters as CĂŠzanne and Manet. The willingness to err in the process of image-making and the need to struggle against, and play with, the expectations that constrain photography are an intrinsic part of his philosophy.
Jeff Wall by Aaron Peck
Unpredictable Pictures photographs by Stephen Waddell
group of pictures started to relate one to another, and flow in a direction. The last three, Pawnshop, Knife Throw, and Search of Premises, carried the sense of connection further, I think, as if I was writing an essay about the economy or something. And, as it went along I just went with it. I thought, ‘well, that’s differ ent, let’s see what happens.’ I’m not doing that now, I think I’m back to my old ways of drifting from one thing to the next, but I liked doing it at the time and I might do it again, even though in principle I don’t like the idea of having a thematic project.
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It reminds me of something that I’ve always found fascinating about your work – there’s a willingness to try something and in that, a willingness to err. Not to say, the pictures make mistakes. But once you’ve executed them in a way you’re satisfied with, the end result is out of your control, and you just sort of allow the picture to be. And so I was wondering when you make a picture if you have a relationship to error. Yes I do. I’ve got a big relationship to error! I’ve made pictures – as everyone has done – that I estimate more highly than others. That’s the way it is, unfortunately. I have remade, or at least re-worked, a couple of pictures that I wasn’t satisfied with and was disappointed by, pictures originally done in the 80s. I had the chance to do something about them because the problems could be worked on with computer technology in the 2000s. I think I improved those pictures. You know, not every picture can be the best quality, unfortunately. But it’s maybe even better that way, because, as you say, you can try something and it probably won’t work, and you might even sense strongly that it won’t work, but it might be an interesting failure, which means it still has some value. And it’s good for you to do it, good for me to do it. I don’t try to fail, ever. I try to make every picture the best I can. But sometimes there are risks involved, and I don’t mind those at all. Photography is so unpredictable. I think, maybe after all this time, people have really learned how complex it is as an artistic medium. It might not be that complex as a reportage medium by now, since reportage has become rather a known entity. But, artistically, it isn’t that way. I’m impressed by how intricate the problems are. Because it’s so complicated, I think it is important not to presume you know what photography is. And that’s what I’ve been striving towards: to not know what photography is and, therefore, not deciding that I’m this kind of photographer or that kind of photographer. Maybe that’s a personality trait, because there are really good people, like the Bechers, who did very definitely decide what kind of photo graphers they were and then made the work they intended to make, to perfection. And for them, it works. It never would for me. Rules or approaches that work for one personality won’t necessarily work for another. One of the important rules about the arts is that there are no rules that can apply automatically to different individuals. There are standards of achievement, but there are no rules governing a yet-to-be-made work of art. What I can do well, other people would do badly, and vice versa. All the interesting photographers – artists of any kind – have a marked character and it shows up not so much in the expressive nature of their work, but in the structure of it or the way they proceed in that work. So, I don’t want to know what photography is.
Your show at Marian Goodman in 2009 struck me as a new direction in a lot of ways, and I don’t say that for the obvious reasons. The main reason it struck me as a new direction was about a third of the pictures depict a similar subject. They depict scenes of – I don’t know what I would call it – alternative or underground economies. You have pawnshops. You have people siphoning gas. You have a picture of police searching a premises (which, to me, reads as a photograph about drugs). Were you intentionally following a focused topic? I think it was by semi-accident; when I started working on those pictures in the spring of the previous year, starting with the image of the two men moving an engine block, I had no idea of relating one to another, particularly, because usually I just go from one subject to the next whether they’re related or not, according to any number of circumstances. The next picture was the woman walking along the street carrying a little package in her hand (Figures on a Sidewalk). I hadn’t thought about how it related to the previous one, but it kind of did, because she was carrying something, just as they were, and it was probably something of limited value, like the engine block. And then the other subjects just started popping up, rather quickly in fact. Maybe then I began to get the idea that these pictures might be about people ‘getting by’, managing, surviving, with limited means. Then I think I made Two Eat from Bag, and then Siphoning, and so the thematic connec tions became very evident. Most of my exhibitions, especially in galleries, have been just a group of pictures I have managed to complete in time for the show, and that is why a lot of my shows in galleries aren’t really good, as shows. They aren’t coherent in the way that, say, a show by an artist like Gerhard Richter would be – a coher ent group of works that looks great in a particular space. I’ve done some really ugly gallery shows because of the fact that the pictures in them don’t have that kind of unity. I used to think of that as a weak point about my work. But in any case, this 16
In some ways you may have just answered the question I’m going to ask, but it relates to something Mark Lewis has said about your work: ‘I knew that I was misunderstanding it, that every reading or interpretation that I made (and probably still make) of the image was continually being undermined by the image itself.’ I found this an apt description of my own viewing of your pictures, because there is an openness to them, particularly your work after 1990. They don’t resolve themselves easily. And I was wondering if the openness of reading is something you pursue intentionally in the way you compose a picture.
them essentially in the same language. We can use very similar terms to talk about composition, let’s say, in any of these arts, the two-dimensional ones anyway. We can talk about almost all aspects of the making of a photographic picture the way we can about a drawn or a painted picture except for, of course, the treatment of the surface and the question of handwork. I don’t think there’s any freedom, or bondage, that is peculiar to photo graphy except maybe its social relationship to the practice of reportage, or vernacular photography, which none of the other arts has to deal with. In some important ways photography is constrained by the expectation that a photograph has to be an act of reportage, the way reportage is generally understood. I’ve tried to struggle against that, but also play with that, for a long time.
Yes I do. But I’ve done very much the opposite too. In the 1980s, I was more interested in interpretation and meaning than I am now, so then I would make a picture like Outburst (in 1989), which I think of as an epitome of the kind of pic ture whose meaning is meant to be known, as if it is almost embossed in the experience of the image. At that time, I felt I wanted to realize a theme so emphatically it would be made real and unavoidable. And then I got tired of that, I thought I’d taken that as far as I could. I could easily go back to it, though, there’s no reason not to. But around that moment I got very uninterested in meaning and interpretation in general. And so I did change directions sometime during the 1980s. I’m still kind of on that drift that began then. And even though its been quite a number of years, for me it still is ‘for the time being.’
I had wanted to talk about Knife Throw. I was curious about the way you select details. I was wondering how much arrangement of detail happens when you’re composing those photographs. I try to arrange whatever seems to be needed at the time. In some pictures, everything is arranged; in other pictures, it’s nothing, because there’s no need. This is an example of there being no rules. So I am not going to tell you what I did or didn’t do in Knife Throw. The reason I don’t want to tell that is because it’s not relevant. It doesn’t matter to the viewer how something appeared in a certain place. If the picture’s right, and it feels right, then it is right. And, anyway, in life, things are being moved around all the time. I mean, just talking on the phone now, I’ve already moved about seven objects in my room. With Knife Throw, the people came to the building and did or in fact did not do what I asked them to do. But, there is no set way of asking someone to do some thing, and of course no predictable way of knowing how they are going to do that something, since each person will do something their own way, whether it is throwing a knife or lying on the floor. ›
It seems to me you’re talking about freedom, and I’m wondering how this relates to your practice of art with photography. What specific freedom does photography offer that other canonical mediums don’t? None. They’re all the same. They essentially are all equivalent arts. They have same problems, the same aims, more or less, the same standards of quality. They’re akin, like a family. We can compare what we can call the depictive arts and talk about 17
Photography is so unpredictable. I think, maybe after all this time, people have really learned how complex it is as an artistic medium.
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To further this, at the beginning we were talking about the relationship your recent pictures have to a subject – the alternative economies or whatever you have – but in a lot of ways those pictures also don’t seem to have a subject, and I don’t mean that in a pejorative way. I mean it in a generative way. If a picture has a subject, each picture is also about any of the many details. Let me say it another way, there is a potential for other subjects to be contained in each picture. This is a condition of photography in general – or any depiction, for that matter – but your work seems to highlight it. I think it’s important, and yet it’s sort of indefinable. At the same time, any of those pictures you can mention do have a subject. Photographs really do have subjects, and very specific ones, whereas in a painting – let’s think of a Cézanne as an example – some of the figures in his paintings, almost reach the point where they are not very individuated, they’re almost generic, as if they are more instances of the presence of a figure than they are this or that specific person having been depicted. They don’t have much individuality at all, yet they’re still great. But photography can’t do that.You can’t photograph a person or a thing in general, you can only photograph specific things or people. So then the problem in terms of there being an 19
I have no method. I just go into a situation and I often spend quite a bit of time there, and in the process of spending time there, I learn things about the place. So as I am working, I might notice that an object seems to be too much in the frame for some reason and after a while I will realize that, even though I’ve looked at that situation for days before and not realized it. So then I’ll move it over a little bit until it seems better. Each situation is so specific, and the circumstances are so compli cated you can’t explain them, even to yourself. So you say, ‘well, if I move this object, what will happen to the whole picture?’ and you somehow have to make a decision about those things. Since I have the opportunity to move those objects around, I might do so. But since I also have the opportunity to leave them where they are, then I might do that too. Sometimes, it’s nice to just leave the thing you don’t like in, and not adjust it or do anything with it because it might turn out you like it after a while. Luckily, I have the opportunity to let the picture change as I go along. That’s one of the reasons why I like to take my time, because I know that I don’t really see the place I’m trying to photograph for a while. It takes me a while to see it, to see what it is that’s really at stake there, in terms of the picture.
indefinable quality of the subject is how to somehow elude the hardness of that specificity. Maybe elude is the wrong word, because you can’t elude it. Maybe it is more to enter into the indefinability of anything, no matter how concretely it appears to have been portrayed. At the moment, I feel like that’s the direction I’m going in, as I’ve said – to pictures that have subjects and yet aren’t that attached to their subjects. The subject is interesting, but it doesn’t carry the whole thing, at all. I think a lot of that comes from me being very interested in Cézanne for a long time. I’ve been struggling between Cézanne and Manet, in the way of models in painting, and they’re very, very different artists, both great, both of them perfect models for something, but both going in different directions. In Cézanne, it’s about what I’ve just been talking about, and with Manet it’s that too, but there is also the increased emphasis on the literary web of what that act of portrayal might mean. Manet moves toward that, Cézanne against it. Those two modes are so rich that you have to stay in a state of indecision in relationship to them. I know that seems to mean that my photography is modelled on painting. But it doesn’t. It just shows that there is a relationship between the goodness of certain achievements in painting and those of certain photographs, not necessarily mine. • foam magazine # 26 happy
Jeff Wall (1946, Canada) is renowned for his large-format backlit photographs with subject matter ranging from mundane corners of urban life to elaborate tableaux. His single pictures seem to depict an instant or a scenario of the before-and-after of a photographed moment left completely unknown open to multiple interpretations. BOZAR, Centre for Fine Arts in Brussels, opens the exhibition Jeff Wall – The Crooked Path in May, curated by Joël Benzakin and Jeff Wall presenting 25 selected works taken by Wall between the 1970s and the present day and combined with work of many other artists who have affected him over the years. Other solo shows include Whitechapel Gallery, London (2001); Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg, Germany (2001); Hasselblad Center, Göteborg, (2002); Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art, Oslo (2004) and retrospectives at Schaulager, Basel (2005); Tate Modern, London (2005); MoMA, New York (2007); the Chicago Art Institute (2007) and SFMoMA, San Francisco (2008) with another planned for the re-opened Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam. Stephen Waddell (1968, Canada) initially took up photography as a sketching tool in preparation for his paintings, and by the late 1990s began to focus on photography. Based in Vancouver, Stephen Waddell’s recent exhibitions include: Contemporary Art Gallery, Vancouver; Landesmuseum Darmstadt, Germany; Espai d’art contemporani de Castelló in Spain and MUHKA, Antwerp, Belgium. He won the prestigious Liliane Bettencourt Prix de la Photographie in 2010. A forthcoming overview of his photography, entitled Hunt and Gather, is being published by Steidl Publishing, Germany. Waddell is represented by Monte Clark Gallery/Clark and Faria, Vancouver/Toronto and Galerie Tanit, Munich. Aaron Peck (1979, Canada) is the author of The Bewilderments of Bernard Willis (2008) and, in collaboration with artists Adam Harrison and Dominic Osterried, Letters to the Pacific. His art writing has appeared in artforum.com, Art Papers, Canadian Art, Fillip and Matador. He also has contributed to numerous exhibition catalogues in Canada. He lives in Vancouver, where he teaches at Emily Carr University.
21 theme introduction
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Happiness is Easy by Marcel Feil
On 14 September 2009, French president Nicholas Sarkozy had clearly had enough. The worldwide economic crisis had assumed unprecedented proportions, a European currency crisis was in prospect that would put the foundations of the entire European project to the test, and now the popularity of the French head of state was declining rapidly. Something would have to be done. Sarkozy’s government unveiled its intention to introduce a revolutionary new way of measuring economic growth. At the heart of the French plan was the inclusion of happiness and well-being as economic indicators. Sarkozy was naturally hoping that other countries would endorse this radical change to methods of measuring progress and prosperity. ‘A great revolution is waiting for us,’ the French president declared. ‘For years, people said that finance was a formidable creator of wealth, only to discover one day that it accumulated so many risks that the world almost plunged into chaos. The crisis doesn’t just make us free to imagine other models, another future, another world. It obliges us to do so.’ › 23
What is the fundamental nature of happiness? Is it a mood, an emotion, or simply a series of agreeable events? Are there different kinds of happiness, and what characterizes a pleasant and satisfying life? And, of course: how can we achieve a state of supreme happiness? Perplexing questions indeed.
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Sarkozy’s transformation from ardent supporter of an orthodox Anglo-Saxon economic model, in which the unfettered free market is all but sacred, into an advocate of an alternative way of conceiving prosperity aroused scepticism, predictably enough, in many people. All the more so since his revolutionary plan turned out not to have been devised by him and his closest political allies at all. The credit for inventing the concept of Gross National Happiness as a counterpart to Gross National Product goes to Jigme Singye Wangchuck, former king of the Himalayan state of Bhutan.
much anti-depressant medication that it is apparently contaminating the water supplies of major American cities. No wonder the number of publications looking at happiness, contentment, joy, and indeed how to achieve them, has increased enormously of late. Well-intended advice and selfstyled happiness specialists are everywhere. In many respects happiness is a hype, and commercially speaking it’s extremely profitable, since ultimately all of us see it as our goal. Even within science, a growing interest in the phenomenon of happiness has given birth to a new school of thought known as positive psychology.
What is happiness? In the United States and many other Western countries it is often linked to money, or the lack of it. Economists assess consumer confidence by looking at propPsychology has traditionally been concerned above all with pathology, concentrating erty and income. GNP is routinely trotted out as the on things that go wrong most important indicator with the mind, such as of a country’s wellbeing. depression, anxiety, obBut little Bhutan came up session and so forth. with a different idea. In When someone became 1972, concerned about depressed, psychologists the problems encountered would look for a cause by developing nations and try to work out what could be done about it. So that concentrate purely on economic growth, the Confucius psychology was all about newly enthroned King disorders and syndromes, Wangchuck decided that not GNP but GNH should be the about departures from what passed for normal and healthy behaviour. Not until the late twentieth century did a number country’s first priority. of scientists turn the question on its head and ask what it is Bhutan, the king insisted, must ensure that progress was eventhat makes people happy. Joy and carefree happiness had, ly spread across the whole country and reconciled with the after all, become aberrations in the mental landscape. This preservation of cultural traditions, with environmental protecCopernican shift in perspective marked the beginning of a tion and with responsible governance. The king established a new science of happiness. number of state agencies whose task it was to strive towards these goals. Bhutan’s example is now serving as a catalyst Out of positive psychology countless questions arise about for a wide-ranging debate about the nature of happiness, the nature of contentment and joy. What is the fundamental especially as it relates to nature of happiness? Is it a mood, an emotion, or national wellbeing. All over the world, more and simply a series of agreemore economists, social able events? Are there different kinds of happiness, scientists, civil servants and what characterizes a and business people are pleasant and satisfying attempting to develop a life? And, of course: how procedure that defines can we achieve a state of prosperity in a way that supreme happiness? Pertakes account of noneconomic factors, such as Aldous Huxley plexing questions indeed. access to health care, time to spend with family, and the husbanding of natural resources. It’s hardly surprising, then, that many scientists have concenIn short, wealth is gradually giving ground to wellbeing. trated primarily on those things that stand in the way of happiness. Dr. Robert Holden, founder of the British Happiness Yet aren’t happiness and contentment prime examples of Project, defines the main barriers to happiness as destinathings that must first be experienced by individuals before tion addiction, the hedonic treadmill and cynicism. Typical they can exist at a national level? This seems to go without of destination addiction is a perpetual orientation towards saying, but in practice the experience of individual happiness what we want as distinct from what we have. It means we are turns out to be far from simple, certainly in the West. Several unable to live in the now but instead are purely concerned long-term international studies suggest that depression is the with the future. Holden compares it to someone who eats world’s most influential illness, in part because over recent a banana with the aim of finishing it as quickly as possible, decades it has gained its firmest grip on the most productive rather than enjoying the taste. Closely connected to this is and economically important countries. Americans take so the hedonic treadmill, a permanent state of dissatisfaction
Happiness is something you get as a by-product in the process of making something else.
To be truly happy and contented, you must let go of what it means to be happy or content.
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27 theme introduction
altruism and gratitude, elements that, as we have seen, contribute to happiness. These factors combine and influence one another. Physical effort, especially when coupled with the kick we get out of speed and dynamism, leads to an increased sense of living in the now. There’s simply no time to worry about anything but the game. In a rather loftier sense, games can also be seen as alternative forms of society. They are defined by their own rules, their own imperatives and prohibitions, to which players must with what we have, especially conform if they want to avoid in a material sense, that results literally being sidelined. Players from the fact that as our wealth withdraw from the rules and increases our expectations inconventions of real life and crease along with it. We never Albert Schweitzer achieve satiation, let alone satfor a time pride themselves isfaction. Cynicism, finally, is on qualities other than those required as part of the daily round. Games have a practical a fundamentally negative attitude characterized by a deep purpose, too. The one true meaning of the game lies in the distrust of the integrity or professional motives of others. It fact that it is being played. The essence of a game is simply the leads to persistent negative thinking and in the long run to playing of it. It makes no demands beyond that. All acts, all both mental and physical symptoms. behaviours and all emotions are fundamentally meaningless unless deployed within the context of the game, on the playing No less interesting, of course, are the ingredients for a happy field, while the game is taking place. It’s far from coincidental and harmonious life. Most studies identify three kinds of bethat the very same characteristics are associated by German haviour which, no doubt along with several others, make an philosopher Hans-Georg Gadamer with the defining features unmistakably positive contribution to the achievement of lastof art – art as the disinterested and usually sublimated expresing wellbeing: altruism, gratitude and playfulness. Although sion of man at play, of humo ludens. altruism can be explained in an evolutionary sense by the fact that cooperation has clear advantages for individual memFor as long as the game lasts, there is no place for the concerns bers of a group, which makes it in essence a form of selfor incentives that attach to real interest, it also has a number life. They are put to one side of favourable side-effects. Altruism stimulates empathy, for a while. Play is therefore communication skills and the a form of conscious naivety, and there are those to whom it willingness to share. A number seems childish, not something of studies have shown that in to be taken seriously within the the majority of people who parameters of the adult world. help others, altruism also leads But in that childishness may lie to something called a helper’s the key to feeling cheerful and high, best described as a bene glad. Is happiness not to a great ficial form of excitement and degree an absence of cares? As a marked increase in energy. you grow older, first as an adoAlbert Camus Might it perhaps be cynical, lescent, then as a young adult, therefore, to continue to think you are slowly but steadily hemmed in by the conventions of of altruism as essentially equivalent to egoism? Meanwhile, adult life.You start to worry about gaining qualifications, about recent research suggests that the person on the receiving end what others think of you, and what you think of yourself; you may in many cases derive greater benefit from being helped become concerned about getting a job, a respectable career, than we might at first suppose, since a sense of gratitude a social status. You feel incensed by injustice, whether in your makes us feel happier and more content. own street or elsewhere. As your world becomes larger and your interests more concrete, the issues that can potentially worry It’s rather easier to understand why playfulness makes us you increase exponentially. Before you know it, you discover feel good. Active participation in sport is a proven source you’re suffering such banes of adulthood as destination addicof mental energy, and it activates the brain centres respontion, the hedonistic treadmill, and cynicism. sible for positive emotions. The significantly greater amount of free time that modern society provides has not led to a corresponding increase in happiness, since most of our leiHappy? Blessed are the poor in spirit. sure hours are spent on more-or-less passive activities such Is it possible to recover a little of that carefree feeling of early as watching television. Moreover, playing physical games, childhood, the sense that everything fits, that the world is certainly in groups, involves not just effort but cooperation,
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Happiness is nothing more than good health and a bad memory.
But what is happiness except the simple harmony between a man and the life he leads?
29 theme introduction
nambiguous and safe? To become utterly absorbed in a u made-up game played with nothing at all, humming while the sun shines and somewhere, high in a tree, a bird sings? Can we hold on to anything of that world in which everything seemed possible and all things appeared to have their natural place? To what degree is our striving after happiness an unconscious longing for a paradise lost?
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The point at which the world slowly but surely split into a reality within myself and a reality outside myself, and I developed a consciousness of being in the world – that’s where the trouble started. There was a world and there was my own self. How can the two be reconciled? How can I find that harmony again and restore that unity? All images by Jacques Henri Lartigue © Ministère de la Culture – France / AAJHL
Surely it cannot be by pure chance that several of the port folios in this Happy issue point to, or have their origins in, the world of childhood. Nothing is impossible there, as demonstrated by the children’s drawings on which the photographic work of the Korean Yeondoo Jung is based. Gravity, perspective and proportion have no significance for the creator of these colourful drawings. The disarming photographs are captivating evidence of an unbridled, as yet untamed imagination. With a box of pencils any world can be brought to life, but what if those fantastical drawings are meticulously copied by an adult artist, armed with a camera, who presumably has an ability to be both critical and methodical? Fantasy versus reality, child versus adult: our attempts at reconciliation portrayed.
List of works (in order of appearance): Coco, André et Dani, forêt de Rambouillet, 3 avril 1938 André, forêt de Rambouillet, 3 avril 1938 Golo et Simone, Forêt de Marly, 1er mai 1913 Golo et Simone, Forêt de Marly, 1er mai 1913 André Haguet, Dany, ma Ford blanche, forêt de Rambouillet, 1938 Jacques Henri Lartigue (1894 – 1986, France) was only seven in 1901 when he was given his first camera, a polished wood 13 x 18 plate camera on a tripod, an ensemble taller and heavier than himself. The boy concentrated on the essentials; with such cumbersome equipment there was no question of taking any old picture. Fortunately his father kept up with technical innovations and in 1904 gave him more manageable and advanced cameras. Everything became possible; he could now capture the slightest movement, engage the self-timer to appear in his own photographs, and take three-dimensional snapshots. Encouraged by the whole family the enthusiastic young photographer took his camera everywhere, photographing his little world, beginning with those closest to him: his parents, nanny, cousins, his brother Zissou, and his inventions at the Château de Rouzat. Over time, his universe broadened: the first car races, the first flights of heavier-than-air flying machines, the first tennis championships, elegant women promenading down Le Sentier de la Vertu in the Bois de Boulogne, the first winter sports, and holidays on the Riviera. But the Belle Époque was rapidly drawing to a close. Lartigue was twenty when war broke out. Too frail to carry weapons, he offered his services and his motor car, a Swiss PicPic sports model, to transport the wounded. Yet the carefree days lingered on. His first loves began to appear in his photographs: his cousin Simone, who had been his sweetheart since childhood and his first mistress, and the famous opera singer Marthe Chenal. Then came Madeleine Messager, known as Bibi, whom he married in Paris in 1919. Martine d’Astier, Director Donation J.H.Lartigue
Or take the zestful, raw and highly infectious photography of Olivia Bee – only sixteen years old and clearly without any desire as yet to conform to a respectable life or a carefully considered style of photography. Her work is all about her lust for life and the fun she has with her friends: strong, intractable, self-conscious and rebellious, dancing on the volcano of adulthood. Or the tragicomic work that Inge Morath produced in the 1960s with the celebrated artist Saul Steinberg; a world full of impeccably behaved, exemplary middle-class citizens, all hiding behind masks on which Steinberg has drawn. It’s a world without speech, like a silent movie, where people have no contact with each other but stare at us with cartoon eyes. How like death reality can be; how telling and disturbing Steinberg’s masquerade. It’s a collision between appearance and reality, camera and pencil, laughter and tears. Art can reconcile and heal, but it can also make inevitable loss painfully tangible. •
Yeondoo Jung Wonderland
Witches, Wonders and Yeondoo Jung by Andreas Schlaegel Many paths lead to the work of Yeondoo Jung, who is easily one of the best known artists today working in Korea. His work is appreciated at home, where he was the recipient of the 2007 Artist of the Year Award, an annual honour that comes with an extensive solo exhibition at the National Museum of Art in Seoul. But his work has also been featured prominently internationally, at the 51st Venice Biennale in 2008, as well as the Liverpool Biennale in the same year, while the following year his elaborate and complex multi-perspec47
tival video performance Cinemagician was a showstopper at the Performa festival in New York. And this year he is considered a strong contender for the third Prix Pictet, the prestigious prize for photography and sustainability that will be announced in March by Kofi Annan. Nominated for his 2001 work Evergreen Tower this gives us a chance to step back and look at the beginnings and highlights of an extraordinary artistic endeavour, that deals with the world as a dream, and the process of image making as a dream machine. â€ş
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Photography, simply for the reason of its speed, to portray the world we live in, is still the paradigmatic medium when it comes to the question of the truth in images. Even though we know the reality we see in these images to be distorted by digital manipulation, we still accept them to reveal – at least a little bit – of the truth. The earliest works of Yeondoo Jung appear to be simply observations of a specific urban environment, from the dynamic delivery boy on his motorbike in Hero (1998), to the anthropological approach in the two series Tokyo Brand City (2002), portraying shop assistants in the stylish background of their big-name brand stores in Tokyo, from Gaultier to Playboy. Seen as if through the shop window of the flagship stores, the sales people are seen in the classy interiors, surrounded by the glamorous products they sell, a surrounding that to many in fashion-addicted Japanese may very well appear as utter perfection. Maybe it is the subtly awkward posture, a position in the space appearing a little bit too staged, that gives away the artist’s interests. His pictures show workers in their work place, as if they had gotten themselves into a modern golden cage, where the glamour of products or brands fades into the harsh reality of a sales machinery. Strikingly, it is the posing that shows most of all the photographer’s empathy for his subjects.Yuko Hasegawa summed this up precisely: ‘By choreographing each individual’s life into his photos, Jung represents them as subjects, objectifies them, and comes back to reality, drastically charging the power of emotions.’ This certainly applies to the Evergreen Tower series, which portrays 32 families who live in identical flats in an epony-
↗ Location, #28, 2010 © Yeondoo Jung
mous apartment block, characteristic as it is of the outskirts of Seoul. Jung visited their apartments; each family inhabits exactly the same architectural layout. Jung set up his camera for a family photograph at precisely the same spot in each living room. ‘Since all the families live in the same building, the architectural structure is the same except the decoration, and the family,’ the artist explained. The limitations of how the requirements of every family can be arranged in this gigantic concrete beehive, first draws the viewer’s attention to the present aspect of repetition. There is only a limited number of conceivable variations on how to arrange a couch and TV set in any one room. But on closer examination it is also fun to see how the interests of the residents are reflected in one way or another in their living rooms. The small signifiers give their lives meaning, or as the artist himself puts it: ‘150 sq feet of identical living room space is heavenly ground for the tired salary earner who has just got back from his hardworking routine to find his warm-hearted family waiting for him.’ The delicacy of Jung’s rendering of individual lives in these re-fabricated 48
s ettings, with his focus on the big picture, yet without paying less attention to the small, ephemeral characteristics and subtle differences, lends his works a unique charm, that expresses an emotional state of mind. He does not resort to theatrical antics or other tricks of the trade, noisy expressions or grand gestures. In his fixed focus portrayal of standardized modern life Yeondoo Jung bridges the gap between the reality of the apartment block, and the dream of a home, or the standardized apartment as the castle of a common man. The individual life of the Korean nuclear family in mass-produced housing is a truly universal subject. And if the repetition could appear as a horror scenario to some cultures, to less fortunate dwellers, the high standards depicted may appear more like a dream. And is there anything more personal than dreams? Yeondoo Jung’s breakthrough came with a series of photographs entitled Bewitched (2001), as in the American series from the sixties, where an astronaut is married to a fairy who can change things by practicing witchcraft. The idea was simple: the
The tableaus produced this way are moving, and may appear naive on a superficial level, in terms of the linearity of the trajectory, when for example a mechanic from a car repair shop is transformed into Formula One Racing Champ. And of course any idea of an individual future will always be more complex than the single instance staged in this presentation. In spite of the elaborated details, from elaborate props to precise compositions it is once again the theatricality of the protagonists themselves, their posing in all seriousness, with a stiffness, that takes the viewer back to the earliest times of photography. Presented as a slide show, fading very slowly from before to after, in a long procession, it is a satisfying experience of magic, to see
The worlds dreamt up, for their short life span seem so alluring, so sweet and beautiful, that one would like to become a part of it.
the everyday surrounding simply dissolve around the portrayed, fading into an often glamorous, shimmering future. In a strange reciprocal twist, often it is exactly this dream scenario that relates not only desire or passion, but also exactly what can’t or won’t be fulfilled in reality – in this sense these images carry a twinge of tragedy. Sometimes the images of the Bewitched series transform into a surprisingly simple, or even ridiculously predictable way. As when a waiter in a small restaurant turns into the cook of a deluxe restaurant, upping the ante not only on himself but also on his surroundings. Or when a Karaoke singer turns into a Rockstar. Is it simply too obvious, or is it a display of the lack of imagination of the dreamer? Either way, Jung is capable of arranging these pictures without giving the viewer the feeling he is watching some exploitative scheme. Rather the opposite, these are transformations, where one can sense a distinct relationship of trust between the artist and his performers. And Jung is obviously aware of this, and seeks not to disappoint. This makes this work touching, and not simply zany, sarcastic or exotic. Even when the employee of an ice cream parlour turns into a polar explorer, with a sleigh, surrounded by her huskies, like Nanook from the North, or an elderly teacher turns into a younger version of himself. A waitress turns into a primary school teacher, while a photo model wishes herself out of the studio, and away, onto the front lawn of a beautiful house, with three kids. Even if the common fantasy would probably go into the directly opposite direction, more often than not the worlds dreamt up, for their short life span seem so alluring, so sweet and beautiful, that one would like to become a part of it. ›
↗ Location, #29, 2010 © Yeondoo Jung
a rtist would ask people he encountered by chance about their dreams for their own personal future, offering to make their dreams come true, if only for the fleeting moment of a photo session.
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These individual ideas, amount to a larger picture of a better world for oneself, giving voice to another universal dream. The artist also visualized the dreams of several New Yorkers, such as that of a young cinema projectionist, who became a fighter jet pilot for a day, as in Top Gun. And another waiter in a luxurious restaurant turns into a banjo player in a speakeasy from the twenties. The succession of images presents different designs for life, hinting at the ability of the individual to fantasize. Taking his idea to the supposedly leastspoilt fantasizers, in his Wonderland (2005), Jung made kindergarten kids his collaborators. Not content with collecting 1200 children’s drawings from four kindergartens, he also selected drawings explained by the small artists themselves, and in great detail. Selecting the ones he expected to make the most interesting images, he took to interpreting their untarnished fantasy worlds and turning them into a photographic reality, using as little Photoshop as he could get away with. This reality is, as one would expect, populated by a myriad of fairies, frolicking in the grass. One tiny fairy, dressed in a red hoodie, dances on a log and holds flowers; or a hybrid fairytale prince and male witch, dressed up in pink, rides on a broomstick towards a large illuminated shelf filled with small tarts on plates. What sounds surprisingly simple is, of course, a complex explanation and reading of the images’ contents. Specially designed elaborate costumes, elevations into flight via photomontage or a scaffolding, while clumsy crayon scribbles turn into pure logic placed in more-or-less real perspective appears to bridge clear-cut adult and boundless children’s worlds.
the production of these works, the artist suggested: ‘If I have dreams that’s one thing. But what children are invested in, that’s absolutely something else.’ Especially, as when children dream, they are far from the control of their parents, far from all responsibilities, and through all the layers of imagination and fantasy, it becomes clear, that they regard themselves as a part of the society we share with them, and they want it to turn out well. I like to believe I can read these dreams clearly. But then again, this could be me, and my recognizing the European, or maybe genuinely British, cultural backdrop that informs these fantasies, to an extent that I, maybe hastily, consider clichés of creative expression. But then again, they are also part of a cultural heritage that includes having learned to see images in a specific way, such as to think of photographs primarily as depicting reality. These photographs – and there is not a doubt in my mind – do exactly that. •
All images © Yeondoo Jung Yeondoo Jung (1969, Korea) is one of Korea’s leading contemporary artist working with lens-based media and performances. The Korean Ministry of Culture Seoul selected him as Artist of the Year in 2008. Studying in Seoul and the UK, he graduated in 1997 with an MFA from Goldsmith College at the University of London. In 2007 he received the Artist of the Year Award from the National Museum of Contemporary Art in Seoul, accompanied by an exhibition, followed by the Today’s Young Artist Award from the Korean Ministry of Culture. He is currently a nominee for the prestigious Prix Pictet. His work has been included in the Taipei Biennial (2006), Venice Biennale (2005), Gwangju Biennale (2004, 2006), Istanbul Biennial (2003) and the Liverpool Biennial (2004). He has had many solo exhibitions in Europe, Asia and the United States, most recently Handmade Memories at Tina Kim Gallery, New York and Cinemagician, at CREAM International Festival for Arts and Media Yokohama 2009, Bank Art, Yokohama. His work has been featured in many exhibitions throughout the world, most recently his solo exhibition at Galerie Perrotin, Paris and the group exhibition at the Asia Society, New York. In 2010, he was one of the artists who took part in Chaotic Harmony: Contemporary Korean Photography at The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston and the Santa Barbara Museum of Art.
While it was obviously a genius tactic to display the photographs with the drawings, showing the process of translation, another brilliant move was to cast teenagers in the roles of the grown-ups in the photographs. Often at the beginning of their professional education, Jung relies heavily on his protagonists’ sensitivities, and their ability to fall back into early childhood, while already appearing to be young adults. Through Jung’s lens these dreams go DIY-Cinemascope, fragments of fairytales, personal dreams and wishes, along with fantastic inventions and interpretations of their surroundings. During
Andreas Schlaegel (1966, Democratic Republic of Congo) is a writer, artist and curator, based in Berlin. He studied painting and sculpture with Per Kirkeby, Isa Genzken and Georg Herold at the Städelschule, Frankfurt and completed an MA in Fine Arts at Goldsmiths College in London, together with Yeondoo Jung. Currently he teaches at the Academy of Fine Arts in Helsinki, Finland. He contributes regularly to international art journals such as Flash Art International and Spike Art Quarterly.
Thomas Mailaender Sponsoring
The Culture of Bad Jokes by Caroline Niémant
‘Sorry, but you cannot bring your own artwork at the fair,’ said a security guard when he discovered Thomas Mailaender’s improvised and unauthorized perfor mance, a remote-controlled wheeled reproduction of the Centre Pompidou building, entitled Centre Pompidou Is Closed For Holiday (2010), moving along an aisle of the Armory Show in New York. The guard at the fair couldn’t know his offhand remark described exactly what Mailaender was doing; he constantly hijacks art milieu conventions and side steps expectations by pirate-exhibiting persona-non-grata items and manners. He focuses on the source material and 67
subjects and appropriates and diverts found images from the internet, flea markets and the like. Mailaender is an insatiable and compulsive collector of photographs and sociological patterns. One of his major investigations is a typological survey, inventory and recycling of human behaviour, particularly hobbies and incidental activities, using entertainment as a substance and a means to develop his practice. Through his mise en abyme of the frivolous he allows a multitude of amateur and/or vernacular objects, images and customs to attain the status of artworks, repeatedly questioning the notion of artistic legitimacy. ›
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What do you think of my appraisal of the French situation? Have you ever been accused of being a lazy painter by some of my local photography colleagues? Do you sense this in-between position of yours that I have described and if so, do you find it in any way problematic for your recognition by both milieus?
As an art-scene observer, I have to admit that Mailaender appears to me to be one of the most refreshing figures, a stimulating curiosity, almost a UFO in the French landscape. Too rarely, in my opinion, French photographers and the many other players in the photographic arts liberate themselves from their heavy national patrimony. They earnestly hold onto the view of a photograph as a document, the sacralisation of the photographicobject, revering its aesthetic authority and the relevance of technique, leaving to one side a pertinent part of the latest conceptually based, photographyrelated activities intrinsically linked to other art disciplines. On a parallel path – particularly in France, where photography and the art worlds seldom meet – an emerging generation of French artists is inclined to extreme intellectualization and theorization, which is nostalgically and indefatigably referent to literature and the historicavant-gardes. (Will Foam help me get political asylum once this daunting – and Manichean, I admit – French tableau is published?). Thomas Mailaender meets the first category’s belief in letting fly. For example: hardcore and coarse Photoshop manipulation, an affinity with the hideous and kitsch, a demystification of the notion of authorship and the predominance of unworthy subjects. He does not play the game of the second category by simply refusing to allow his work to rely on discourse. Paradoxically, Mailaender is one of a few who manages to reunite both realms, exploding their absurd separation and demarcation and even including the general public in his circle, as demonstrated by the wild outbursts irreverent of laughter with which his work is invariably greeted.
To some extent I agree with your point of view. I am based in Paris but my work is mostly shown abroad. In many ways I’m a tourist in Paris and I think that really affects my work. Honestly, I have never been accused of being a lazy painter, which actually might be kind of fun, but I think the French photographic scene is really classical, self-centred and I don’t really understand why it totally refuses to mix with contemporary art. Even when underscored by more intricate issues, your work has an immediate emotional impact. Even though you quote Hans-Peter Feldmann and Bas Jan Ader as references, it seems you refuse any type of intellectualization, hiding the cerebral and erudite components of your gestures. Is your approachability a deliberate decision to address an audience broader than a circle of initiates? Naturally, I consume a lot of art and my references go from dada to pioneers in
expanding the genre of photography such as Hans-Peter Feldmann, Ed Ruscha, John Baldessari or those involved with performance like Bas Jan Ader or Roman Signer. But my work is primarily influenced by what we call in French contre culture. One of my favourite inspirations for quite some time now has been the French journal Hara Kiri which was banned by the government in the early eighties. I like to dig into the down-anddirty places of popular culture. I guess that’s why it ends up being accessible. Most people can associate more easily with something they’ve experienced. All my projects start, immediately, with a bad joke or something unique I’ve found. Then follows a much longer process of developing from that raw starting point and linking it to both my personal questioning and to art history, a side of my work that is not obvious. I’m not interested in providing a recipe or offering intelligent references; it’s tricky to play the fool and at the same time explain that it’s a cleverly thought-out game. It’s often better not to offer any explanation and just let people figure it out. Your whole body of work and field of inquiry is driven by the notion of absurdity. That might be a good description of your work process, which usually involves a tremendous
← Centre Pompidou is closed for holiday,’visiting relatives’, Fragmental Museum, New York City, 2010 © Thomas Mailaender ↙ No Pain, No Gain, tattoo, C-print 30 x 40 cm (life size) in a brass frame, 2010 © Thomas Mailaender
Mailaender is an insatiable and compulsive collector of photographs and sociological patterns.
amount of time spent in research, preparation and production, a dedication to playing the fool as you yourself say.You spent six months studying pottery on a neighbourhood course and ultimately produced the most banal, unaesthetic and unskilled vases and mugs to use as supports for a series of found photographs (Handicraft, work-inprogress since 2008). And many of your projects require long and tedious Photoshop manipulations. How does your investment in each project relate to your intention and how does it affect the final object? It’s great that you noticed that some of my work is time-consuming – that makes me feel less like a lazy painter – although it’s not systematic. There’s no predetermined schema; each project finds its own development. For example, projects like Extreme Tourism are quick and easy. I got to know Steve Young, a Hawaiian commercial photographer who specializes in volcanoes. Throughout his career he has taken thousands of magma landscape shots and he is now proposing, through 69
Sponsoring, on the other hand, came about after lengthy and precise photo manipulation. I’d noticed the very specific typology in the group-photo graphy genre that I would call the bankcheck-ceremony portrait and started to collect them from big companies’ websites. Those firms are always releasing usage-free, high resolution pictures for their press relations delighted by the idea that some journalists might actually write an article about them giving money to a charity. I consider this typology a sort of modern propaganda and wanted to re-appropriate the genre. I decided to step into the picture again and cash all those checks. The mystification has to be precise enough for the viewer to believe in it. So, I photographed myself with exactly the same light conditions as in the original photographs, often repeating the same technical mistakes (low exposure, flash too strong, red eye, etc.) and then went through a long and tedious retouching process, which I prefer to do myself, like a counterfeiter. You created an alter ego character to incorporate in your series (Sponsoring, 2009 and Extreme Tourism, 2008) and to be physically involved in your performances (Centre Pompidou Is Closed For Holiday, 2010).You caricatured your own experience as a new father (Gone Fishing, 2009) and used your family members as models (Items, 2004). What is the raison d’être and the relevance of these autobiographical manifestations and citations? ›
his website, to virtually integrate you into them for twenty bucks. All I had to do was stand in front of a white background and e-mail him the pictures. The result is a series of twenty pictures starring a tourist not afraid to toast his brand new sneakers.
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At some point, I was looking for a kind of hero, actually an anti-hero would be more accurate. That everyday guy with a secret, spectacular other life. So I ended up picking myself as a character, mostly for reasons of convenience: I was available every time I needed a picture of my subject. There’s nothing narcissistic about this, nor is there any real question about my personal story. It’s simply about a universal guy, someone most of us can relate to. You frequently work in collaboration with others. A world-champion sand sculptor (Life Is a Beach, 2006), a volcano photographer (Extreme Tourism), the acrobatic squad of the Paris police force (Acrobatic Squad, 2004), a Guinness Book record recipient silversmith (Items) and Pricasso (a very special kind of painter as his name suggests, the main protagonist of a series to be seen next summer at Les Rencontres d’Arles), have all contributed to your projects.Why did you feel the need to incarnate your virtual references and have active participants in your enterprise?
With Charity Business in 2008, I bought 3,000 rolls of toilet paper and offered them to a French charity. My only condition was that they give me a letter thanking me for the gift and for my dedication to their cause. In the letter, the director mentioned that this amount of toilet paper represented a year’s supply for all the homeless people in my hometown, Marseille. I’ve been attacked for this. Some people say that it amounts to a manipulation and that I was somehow making fun of the charity system. But even if I accept that it was a form of manipulation – with sculptural qualities – I have to admit that I simply, genuinely find it very funny, and I definitely like the idea that every homeless person who flushed a toilet in Marseille in 2009 was in some way part of an artistic performance. •
I’ve always loved specialists. I spend lots of time looking for people with singular practices who have a lousy resonance with art history. I like to get to know them so I can fully interpret their methods and approaches. My latest project was with the Australian artist who calls himself Pricasso, I guess as a reference to the Spanish artist and because of the style of brushstrokes he uses. For Life Is a Beach, I was invited to Hyères by Michel Mallard and the Villa Noailles to produce a French Riviera piece. I asked Benoit Dutherage, the twice runner-up in the world championship sand sculptor competition to spend an entire week with me on the beach. I sketched very stupid ephemeral sculptures like life-size BMW convertibles or a giant hamburger and he sculptedthem. The photos are a testimony to that week-long performance.
All images © Thomas Mailaender Sponsoring, chromogenic prints 100 x 66 cm in multicoloured spangles painted frames, 2009 Thomas Mailaender (1979, France) is based in Paris and Marseille. He finished his masters degree at the École Nationale des Arts Décoratifs Paris in 2003 and continued his studies for a year at the Villa Arson in Nice (2004). His work since has focused on playing with the now classical concept of typology. A recently deceased famous French critic once compared his work to that of Bernd and Hilla Becher under the influence of Pastis, a local aniseed liquor popular in the south of France. His work has been turning recently toward video and performance employing himself as the main character. Last year he directed the movie Super Mamie 2001 shown at PACA / Montevideo, Marseille. His work was part of a range of group exhibitions in 2010: Revenge curated by Kirke Kangro, in Tallinn Art Hall, Estonia; Use Me Abuse Me curated by Erik Kessels at the New York Photo Festival and at the Photomanias Festival in Malaga, Spain, and a group show with Roman Signer, Fischli & Weiss, Francis Alys among others at the International Biennial of Photography and Visual Arts in Liège, Belgium. Forthcoming exhibitions featuring his work are the group show at Les Rencontres d’Arles (July 2011), curated by Martin Parr, Erik Kessels, Joan Fontcuberta, Clément Chéroux and Joachim Schmid and Carte Blanche at the Centre Pompidou, Metz, invited by Hubert Colas.
Your work frequently teeters on the brink of the acceptable, the borderline between good and bad taste. It touches on moral issues such as the definition and judgment of tastefulness and exploits our tendency to laugh at pathetic situations. Some of your pieces are considered politically incorrect by some of your audiences. How do you respond to those criticisms?
Caroline Niémant (1977, France) is a curator, publisher and editor based in Paris. She graduated in 2000 from the International Center of Photography in New York. After working in the field of commercial photography for five years in New York and founding PH print, a photographers’ agency in Paris, she created along with Art Director Stéphane Blanc the collective and non-profit organization Peeping Tom, dedicated to contemporary art and photography.
Henze Boekhout So Close, So Far
A Life in Bits and Pieces by Pim Milo
In his book Seconds First (1993, Frag ment Publishers) Henze Boekhout experimented with associative visual com positions of extremely divergent photo graphic material. Constructed still lifes effortlessly take their place beside docu mentary photos shot with a large-format camera and impromptu snapshots from a moving train. The connecting factor is the illusionist trick with flat space and three-dimensional reality, and everyday things around us leading their own life. Connoisseurs consider Seconds First to 87
be as one of the most successful photo books. It should therefore not have been left out of Martin Parr’s and Gerry Badger’s The Photobook: A History. That it was, is undoubtedly due to Boekhout’s modesty. He neglected to bring his book to the attention of the authors. Yevgeny Khaldei Khaldei came to fame with his photo of a Russian soldier planting the red Soviet flag on the Reichstag in Berlin in May 1945. Khaldei had carried the flag under
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his coat from Moscow, no doubt planning to take just such a photo of the conquest of Berlin as Joe Rosenthal’s iconic image Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima, taken on the summit of Mount Suribachi, which was made two months earlier. A photo like Khaldei’s is of endless fascination to Henze Boekhout. Always having to be one step ahead of what you’re planning is Boekhout’s motto. He saw Khaldei’s photo for the first time in the German magazine Stern. Could such a photo be real? Yes, it could. Then he heard the story behind it. That was the essence of the thing: a reflection on the context that enables the photographer to go beyond the staging of the photo. The dining room and kitchen offer Boekhout a view of the back gardens, roofs, terraces and a chimney. Next to that chimney is a sloping surface that was covered in snow last winter. It had the bright reflectivity of a projection screen. Boekhout placed a flash in the side window of this kitchen and lured gulls with bread. He photographed the white surface with his large-format camera, with the gulls fighting for crusts of bread in front of it. The result is an image so razor-sharp that it seems as if the gulls have been edited in afterwards. That’s how Boekhout works. Is that staged photography? Araki Henze Boekhout is always searching for ways to go further within the circumstances he’s presented with. In the year 2000, he got his first home computer, prompting the questions: how does it work, how can I take it further? In 2005, he purchased his first digital camera. Boekhout doesn’t want to hold on tightly to one method, but to continually take new steps. Never mind about technique – which after all should have nothing more
than a supportive function – and heed the advice of Araki: ‘If you want to change your photographs, you need to change cameras. Changing cameras means that your photographs will change.’ Brâncuşi In 1980 Boekhout built a 30x40 camera because he wanted to understand what it was like to make an exposure so extreme that it required a large-format camera. Not so the viewer could see every grain – that was already perfectly possible with a 6x7 camera – but for another reason: the impossibility; the resistance to creating a photo in a very physical way. He wanted to know what the essence was, how he could connect what came from himself to photography. That’s why he built that 30x40 camera – to begin photography afresh. He was influenced by the sculpture and photography of Constantin Brâncuşi; what Brâncuşi sculpted and photographed created a single whole and he worked with an extraordinary eye and feeling. Boekhout’s content has always been oriented towards visual arts rather than photography as such, which he found 88
less accessible. Then he encountered the work of Brâncuşi, for whom simplicity in art was not an end in itself, but a pursuance of the true meaning of things by the elimination of all superfluous elements. Boekhout tries to attain perfection by penetrating to the essence. Bits and pieces Boekhout’s oeuvre encompasses about 300 photos which he can return to, which he draws on, which contain the bits and pieces that satisfy him. For him, although a photo has value in its own right, it has to have a context; it must be able to function. He is not in search of abstraction. The image must be a place, but also a detail. That is what he means by context. People do not live their lives in the light of major events but in the detail of daily life. Boekhout’s concern is how to make that visible, how it is related to everything else. Call his oeuvre a collection of bits and pieces. He finds the same type of observation in poetry as well: not the factuality, but the reflection. Boekhout’s photography is not a matter of flexing his muscles. Sometimes it’s just a quick glance: a little fly, a
↙ Detail from artist’s book 20 Towers, edition of 25, 2007 © Henze Boekhout, courtesy Johan Deumens Gallery, Haarlem
Sometimes it’s just a quick glance: a little fly, a small stream, an insignificant thing.
small stream, an insignificant thing. What he is concerned with is finding relationships that are just slightly different. He attempts to give meaning to things by photographing them. He is not a ‘photohunter’, but rather someone who handles a camera cautiously; he can easily spend a day walking through the city without taking any photos. Taking photos is the exception; nonetheless, the greatest satisfaction is in recording an image. Le Nouvel Observateur As Henze Boekhout doesn’t take an urgent view of things, it’s easy for his work to escape our notice. His photo graphy is uninsistent – not out of a lack of assertiveness, but through a need for contemplation, as in the silence with which he viewed the photo supplements in a French newsmagazine in the late 1970s. The seven photo supplements published in Le Nouvel Observateur between June 1977 and December 1979 by art director Robert Delpire struck Boekhout like a bolt of lightening. He has always kept them, because of their incomprehens ibility: Robert Frank, Josef Koudelka, Guy Bourdin, Diane Arbus. Preposterous. Delpire took every 89
Twin Towers Photographing architecture is no simple task. The perspective is always distorted if an ordinary camera is used, but a technical camera with an adjustable back, though usually large and heavy provides a solution. Boekhout is fortunate to have a brother who is an instrument maker who can work from a simple drawing and a short explanation. When Boekhout was invited to New York in 1989, his brother had just finished the Bookwood Wide (Bookwood being the literal English translation of the Dutch name Boekhout). In New York Boekhout was fascinated by the Twin Towers. He couldn’t understand how structures so beautiful and so incredibly cheeky could have been built in such a city; two immense legs in a city already filled with skyscrapers. Pure beauty or abjectly ugly? Abhorrence or admiration? Bravura or megalomania? Boekhout simply could not comprehend it. On a map of the city he investigated the places from where the World Trade Center could be seen and chose a number of streets from which he could focus on the towers. After 9/11 Boekhout couldn’t resist publishing his images as a book. In 2007 20 Towers appeared in an edition of just 25, published by Johan Deumens Gallery
liberty, working with the image associatively. The work of William Eggleston, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Lewis Hine was made subordinate to Delpire’s design. For Boekhout those photo supplements in Le Nouvel Observateur were a benchmark. Even after all these years there is still something in them that he can’t quite get a grip on. Delpire broke all the rules – and by doing so created something new.
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in Haarlem, an artist’s book now in the collections of libraries in Europe and the US. It is a box containing a leporello book and lift-out pages, with bilingual text and documentation. There are images of the WTC as one large panorama, as well as the story of the Bookwood Wide, delightfully illustrated with close-up images of the camera. It all arose out of a fascination for the Twin Towers, without answering the question of whether they were beautiful or ugly. Utrecht When Boekhout was given the assignment to photograph the city of Utrecht, he chose to view the city from such unexpected viewpoints as interiors, office buildings and balconies. He photographed the spectacle of a sports competition at night in the FC Utrecht stadium from a nearby student dormitory and a fire-prevention training session for railway staff from an adjoining office, deliberately making things more complex, in the reverse of the sort of contemporary photography that strips away just about everything. For Boekhout things don’t have to be unambiguous, but they can work as a metaphor. Layering the image – that’s what he likes.
Fighting the good fight Boekhout’s almost childishly stubborn ‘I-do-what-I-like’ mentality is heartwarming. Genuine enthusiasm is at the core of every project. He is innovative and perceptive, and he has the desire and the willingness to reinvent himself over and over. The philosophy of simply promoting what you love, admire or react to implicitly is what Boekhout recognized in the work of Robert Delpire. While it does seem that Boekhout’s oeuvre has no concrete subject he takes an entirely consistent view of the world around him. It is dreamy, as well as concrete and very much to-the-point. We see exactly what it is and even so the images come from an in-between land, a universe that is very close to ours. It is not an area of transition such as between two boundaries, but a world with its own merits, and that is accessible to all those who have an eye for it. •
All images © Henze Boekhout Henze Boekhout (1947, The Netherlands) began his career as a self-taught photographer in his hometown of Haarlem, where he still lives and works. His oeuvre of the past 30 years is composed of mainly single images alongside commissioned series for municipalities throughout the Netherlands. Boekhout’s photographs recall a kind of magic realism and take their own position within Dutch documentary photography. His work has been part of the group exhibition Nature as Artifice – New Dutch Landscape in Photography and Video Art, travelling to the George Eastman House in Rochester, the Neue Pinakothek in Munich and the Aperture Foundation, New York. Other exhibitions showcasing his work were Stedelijke Fotografie Utrecht in the Centraal Museum, Utrecht (2008), Constructed Moment at KW14 in Den Bosch (2005) and Henze Boekhout en Paul Bogaers: Objectivelessness at De Vishal in Haarlem (2001), all in the Netherlands. He discovered the format of the photobook for his work in 1993 at a time before the wide appreciation of photobooks and published the book Seconds First. His artist’s book 20 Towers followed in 2007 among a few unpublished books. Pim Milo (1947, The Netherlands) started writing on photography after spending the first half of his professional life in the world of advertising – leaving at the height of his career, when he was COO at Saatchi & Saatchi. He is co-author of Photographers in the Netherlands, An Anthology 1852-2002 (2003), Avenue, from A to Zero (2006) and Geschiedenis van de Nederlandse Fotografie. Both his careers will come together in 2013, in a book and exhibition about 50 years of advertising photography.
Olivia Bee Everyday
A Visual Tale of Teenage Life by Ken Miller
Frankly, it’s a bit odd asking a 16-year-old photographer about how she began her photographic career. She is beginning her creative career, so it’s not as if she has had the perspective of years to focus her aesthetic choices. Unless that photographer happens to be Olivia Bolles, better known through her Flickr name Olivia Bee. Though still a junior in high school, Bee already works as a photographic professional – with clients and an agent – which makes discussing the origins of her work entirely appropriate. 107
Bee first began shooting when she was 11 years old, not entirely voluntarily. As a student at a school with a specialized program in the arts, she was required to pick up a camera as part of her curriculum. By her own admission, it was not love at first sight. ‘When I first started shooting, I took a lot of pictures of stuffed animals and Christmas ornaments. Things that wouldn’t be embarrassed [to be photographed] and that I wouldn’t be embarrassed [to photograph]…’ ›
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Somehow, she stuck with it, though she now reflects that her early encounters with photography were ‘kind of forced.’ Bee slowly became more comfortable photo graphing her friends, the presence of a camera providing a convenient prop for adolescent socializing. What began as the casual documentation of her scene has, over the years, turned into a self-aware depiction of the romanticism of teenage life. Bee has developed a colour-saturated aesthetic filled with semi-improvisatory, sometimes-staged ecstatic moments, and this portfolio includes one of Bee’s favour ite images: the distinctly McGinley-esque photo of Bee and her boyfriend nearly kissing underwater. ‘I basically always have my camera with me,’ Bee says. ‘I feel naked without a camera. Especially when I’m hang ing out with people, if I don’t have my camera, I don’t know what to do.’ As Bee has matured, so has both the quality of her photographs and her relationship to picture-taking. ‘Taking photos has made me notice things. Photography has made me way more aware [of my surround ings].’ All the while, Bee has posted her photographs online, and her photo
stream now contains well over 1,000 images, dating back to 2007. This archive very easily could have been the end of it, a repository for youthful ambition. A precociously creative kid, Bee would have moved on to college and possibly become an artist or possibly not, as so many young photography students have. Instead, Converse came calling. When the Nike subsidiary’s agency first contacted Bee, ‘I thought it was a spam email, so I just disregarded it,’ she recalls. ‘Brilliant, huh?’ But after a little persistence, Bee agreed to participate in a shoot, despite being ‘super nervous and freaked out.’ An unsurprising reaction considering that she was 14 at the time. The experience of participating in a commercial campaign was abrupt and overwhelming. ‘There were 30 Converse people in my house every day,’ she remembers. ‘But I got to ride my bike around school, which was cool.’ Bee now speaks with (slightly disconcerting) familiarity about the various agencies and creative directors that she’s worked with, and manifests astounding confidence about the lessons she’s rapidly learned about working professionally. Clients such
↗ Untitled, 2010 © Olivia Bee
as Nike, Harper Collins and &samhoud have since found her through Flickr, where she has approximately 20,000 contacts, and Bee now works professionally through her representative. In the Converse video, Bee’s voice narrates footage of the young photographer wearing short shorts, pedalling her bike down her school’s highway as she muses, ‘I’m really driven to capture the moments of teenage life. I especially like people laughing and having fun being this age, the social life of high school and the confusion of high school.’ For a generation raised on the manipulated self-revelations of Facebook, portraying youth culture for an advertisement came naturally to Bee’s classmates. Her preference is still to shoot her friends rather than professional models, and she says that, ‘Part of the thing for me is the connection between model and photographer. It’s pretty apparent when I see photos where the photographer and the model have nothing to do with each other.’ To that end, she’s developed the habit of spending at least a couple of days hanging out and getting dinner with her models before any shoot.
who you’re talking to. People will either say that I’m 16 and inexperienced and can’t shoot anything or they’ll say I’m 16 and have a new look and should shoot everything.’
↗ Untitled, 2010 © Olivia Bee
Bee’s preference for including her friends in advertising projects has lead to conflicts with some parents concerned about commercial exploitation. When it came time to sign the release forms for Converse, ‘Some people’s parents freaked out,’ she says. ‘Like, “Oh my God, you’re ‘selling our children!” It was something ridiculous.’ Both wiser and more naïve in the ways of contemporary media, Bee’s friends did not share in that parental concern. ‘They like being in front of the camera,’ Bee says, ‘I mean, why not? They’re perfect-looking all the time!’ Still, Bee admits, ‘I’ve gotten super underpaid in the past. Things like that really piss me off. I may be a 16-year-old, but I’m working as a professional, so you might as well pay me as a professional.’ She also admits that, ‘A lot of people don’t hire me because I’m young, [but] personally, I love my age right now, because I have so much fun all the time.’ With a couple of commercial projects under her belt, Bee has been shooting long enough to be self-reflexive about her appeal. ‘As a photographer, I can make [my age] work to my advantage or my disadvantage. It just depends on
Bee freely attests that she is still exploring new influences and inspirations.
Speaking by Skype, she casually mentions, ‘I’m really working on my identity right now, and that’s been taking a lot of time.’ Despite alternating between film and digital, Bee maintains, ‘I try to be really consistent with my colour scheme, just because that’s my signature: really blue blues and the pinky-blue skin.’ Perhaps the example set by Ryan McGinley is apt in another sense as well, since he began his career shooting diaristic images of his friends behaving badly; in addition to criticism of the photographs’ drug and dick-filled subject matter, some viewers were put off by the obvious debt the pictures owed to Nan Goldin, a New York photographer of an earlier generation. Yet, though McGinley’s early photoswon him notoriety, he continued to evolve his style, drifting into the more abstract and ethereal mode of expression that has influenced Bee. It is this later, radically different photographs that have come to define McGinley’s legacy, so it is intriguing to speculate what future work will come to define Bee. Bee freely attests that she is still exploring new influences and inspirations, both on her own and through school, and says she is currently particularly intrigued by 1970s rock photography luminaries such as Annie Leibovitz. Her favourite retro images are of her own parents before they wed. ‘My parents were studs, oh my god!
Yet, despite already possessing a fully developed audience and career, Bee is a photographer still exploring her own voice. If there is any risk to the unusual early affirmation that she has received, it is that the quick reward will serve to stunt her long term creative development. Her early images, though pleasing on the eye, risked banality in their loveliness. And in some ways, her most notable asset with regards to commercial work, was also arguably her greatest flaw: she is so intimate with her subjects and so eager to construct a romantic narrative through her images of her friends, that she lacked the perspective to give her photographs the sharp edged insight that would make them endure.
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They were really tight!’ she exclaims before acknowledging that they’re still ‘pretty hip’ despite being 45. In a way, immediate nostalgia is the overwhelming quality of Bee’s images – a reminiscence of a moment that she is currently experiencing and regrets having to leave behind. ‘I have no idea what I’m going to be doing in 5 years, 10 years. Even next weekend, I have no idea what I’m going to be doing.’ So in that sense, perhaps, she is not entirely different from other young photographers who would only aspire to her success, such as the teens submitting photos to the Whitney Museum, in conjunction with a recent road trip exhibition by Lee Friedlander. In fact, one of Bee’s plans post-graduation is to go on a road trip to check out some music festivals and roller coasters. Photographically, this gibes with her growing interest in shooting domestic environments and landscapes, which demonstrate a newfound emotional ambiguity. Recent images in Bee’s Flickr stream showcase her ongoing experimentation with tools such as double exposure, rugged black and whites, and shocking notes of unnatural colour. If her early work was astoundingly proficient for such a young photographer, her new work is disconcerting because of how successfully she has come to embrace a variety of styles and an expanded palette. Moreover, she is carrying out this aesthetic dialogue in public – each new post receives dozens of comments, ranging from text-speak accolades to long form tribute poems. Somehow, Bee seems to be both receptive and unaffected.
All images © Olivia Bee Olivia Bee (1994, Oregon) is the artist’s or Flickr name of Olivia Grace Bolles, who has already built up an impressive oeuvre of distinctive documentary photographs of her teenage friends and family in the form of a photographic diary. Bee’s pictures are a raw and honest description of her life, showing herself and friends going through the different experiences of teenage life. She has done commercial work for Converse and Nike, and had her work featured in Frankie and American Photo. In 2010 she was part of the Converse/DAZED 2010 Emerging Artists Award. Her work has been exhibited in the group exhibition Art & Connection, organized by &samhoud and Foam Amsterdam, showcasing work by four young photographers: Olivia Bee, Melanie Vogel, Sibylle Fendt and Maziar Moradi. Olivia Bee is represented by Candace Gelman & Associates.
‘I don’t really care [about the attention],’ Bee proclaims. ‘I do what I want, and if people like it, that’s cool. I’m doing all of this stuff for me. Even if I fail as a photo grapher, I’m still going to be doing it.’ No matter what, she’ll have the pictures to prove it. •
Ken Miller ( 1972, New York) edited the book Shoot: Photography of the Moment (2009) featuring work of Nan Goldin, Stephen Shore, Wolfgang Tillmans, Juergen Teller and others, accompanied by an exhibition and events at the New Museum, New York; Tate Modern, London; Colette in Paris; UCCA in Beijing and PARCO in Tokyo. In 2007 he published Revisionaries, showcasing nearly 100 of the most intriguing young visual artists of the past decade. He recently curated A Function of Forms, with work by Lee Friedlander and Daido Moriyama, among others, for Japanese apparel company Uniqlo.
Ruth van Beek Secrets of the Wildlife
Ruth van Beek
Why I Swallowed My Scissors by Marc Valli
When I was asked to write an essay on Ruth van Beek’s work and collage I suddenly had one of those ideas. Wouldn’t it be nice to write it as a collage, assembling it out of other writers’ quotes? But my heart sank when I realized that I knew only a few scattered writings on collage – and collage relies on an abundance of material being available. This lack of serious thinking on the subject is puzzling, and, as I will try to show, not just in narrow art-historical terms. 127
The birth of collage in the early years of the twentieth century is inextricably linked with technology: transport, photography and litho printing. Collage appeared at the same time as trains and vehicles started rushing noisily across continents and planes first showed up in our skies (that wonderful invention would soon be dropping huge bombs on the disbelieving populations below). Images were travelling just as fast and landing with even greater impact. Max
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Ernst’s The Murdering Aeroplane (1920) perfectly sums up this twisted new paradigm. Something, or someone, could be transplanted with terrifying speed from one reality into another, while realities themselves were being blown apart, cut up and reassembled through previously inconceivable wars. No medium has captured the great clash of realities, the war of the worlds, which has characterized the past one hundred years more accurately than collage. Brief History of Visual A Explosions In my view there are three great periods in the history of collage: the surrealist age of the 1920s, the pop period of 1960s, and ours. It is interesting to note that each of these occurred during periods of unprecedented cultural change. The first saw the rise of modernism, communism and fascism in Europe in the twenties (political iconography abounds in collages of the period), the second coincides with the emergence of mass popular culture in the cold war America of the sixties (the atom bomb mushroom cloud must be the most often collaged image in visual history). Collages have poured like delirious dreams out of these feverish periods. We are now living through a period of even greater cultural turmoil, and it is impossible to talk about collage today without mentioning the internet. In the internet, we’re all in bed together (sometimes literally) and all kinds of objects and bodies end up being superimposed, or juxtaposed. Any sense of scale or location is lost in a sea of information and trivia and porn, and all sense of real experience is absent from virtual space. The collage artist sieves through substrata of trivia like a geologist, or an archaeologist or palaeontologist, patiently collecting and reassembling the pieces, as if playing with a puzzle, in an attempt to make sense of the whole, to build a picture. The internet gives us an endless flow of images, but no picture.
↗ Juniperus, no.4, 2010 © Ruth van Beek
he Beauty of Chance T Encounters But if the internet is an ever-present background, most collage artists do not work digitally. In the same way as one cannot translate the physicality of a painting on a screen (brushstrokes, textures, gloss, spills…) one cannot digitally reproduce the unpredictable ballet of thin cutter-blades and scissors. If the beauty of a collage derives from the randomness of the materials involved and the conceptual daring of its creator, it also involves a certain perfection of gesture. The collage artist is a master of accidents, a virtuoso at handling cutters, an acrobat with a pair of scissors. The collagist’s blade is the equivalent of the painter’s brush and the gashes it inflicts on printed surfaces cannot be programmed numerically. One cannot recreate accidents, one cannot recreate chance. One cannot predict the fall of a blade no more than one could predict the flow of hair. ‘Beautiful as the chance encounter of a sewing machine and an umbrella on an operating table.’ Lautréamont’s words became a catchphrase for the surrealists. Note the non-fortuitous importance 128
of the word ‘chance’ (fortune in French) in that sentence. Never one to miss a quote, Marcel Duchamp used the sentence in relationship to his readymade objects. But, as always, Duchamp was being guilty of mischievous literalness. The sentence is itself an image, and Lautréamont was creating a collage, not a readymade. The Rules of the Game Collage artists are great collectors and it is through this simple act – the act of stopping to pick something up, putting it aside, filing it, treasuring it, making sure it is not lost or forgotten – that collagists are able to develop an intimate relationship with time. Their homes are flooded by piles paper, sheaves of cut-outs, folders, albums, cardboard boxes and filling cabinets full of printed matter. Amateur photography is a particularly fecund material for the collage artist, but so are vintage magazines, card collections, specialist publications, textbooks, mailorder catalogues, almanacs and encyclopaedias. Their studios thrive like underground botanical gardens, museums of natural and unnatural history, unevenly lit tunnels allowing the artist to
↗ Juniperus, no. 6, 2010 © Ruth van Beek
travel through the deepest recesses in our collective memory. A collage artist is an archivist gone bad, crazy, taking a malicious pleasure in subverting his or her material. There is something unquestionably rebellious, perverse, even I would dare say violent, in the act of cutting, subverting and willingly misplacing. Collage is theft and appropriation. It is as closely related to copyright infringement as graffiti is to vandalism. Could this be the reason collage was never taken seriously? Or is this because old scraps of paper glued together are hard to sell for a lot of money, unlike, for example, pickled sharks, elephant dung or mountains of pigment? In the minds of critics and curators, collage remains a game, a series of fortuitous accidents, an art form irrevocably linked to childhood play, a nostalgic pastime for people who wear anoraks, an activity on a par with ornithology or train-spotting. Is collage a game? Of course it is. The relationship between image and meaning is a highly unstable one, and collage thrives on such insecurity and instability playing an intriguing and significant board game with images and semantics.
The collages play a particularly clever and intricate game of hide and seek with the truth of an image.
We have swallowed the scissors. They’re now inside each and every one of us, cutting reality up and reassembling it. To us, collage has become as natural as breathing. Let me explain this through an example. What happens to us when we visit a museum? As we wander through the galleries the pictures drift by, some of their details lingering in our minds, growing, superimposing themselves onto others, gathering in corners, de- and then re-contextualizing themselves, slipping into other pictures, into memories, narratives, movies, who knows... We head down to the cafe and open a news paper or a magazine, the images from the museum mix with those we’re leafing through, so that by the time we’ve left the museum (having stopped by the shop to browse through yet more images and maybe even buy a few postcards) the experience has transformed itself in our minds into a completely new entity, something akin to a collage, or a number of collages. The same process continues as we head home past advertising posters, or sit down at our computers, or simply turn on the television. Our brains are constantly cutting and reassembling, trying to make sense of a visually saturated and conceptually fragmented reality. ›
ruth van beek
uth van Beek or the Poetics R of Paper Weights Ruth van Beek’s collages play a particularly clever and intricate game of hide and seek with the truth of an image. ‘The result is a picture of something that never existed,’ she explains on her website. Ruth van Beek was born in 1977 and graduated from the Gerrit Rietveld Academie in 2002, and I believe her work belongs to a new tradition of collage art. The clash of worlds, of technology and human nature, that sparked the great surrealist tradition has now been internalized into a new, more controlled and intimate form. No more rockets or planes, no more vacuum-cleaners, no more explosions (except flat explosions of colour). We are dealing here with a clash of inner realities, or the clash between inner and outer realms.
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Cultural Climate Change Ruth van Beek’s work studies traces of experience and sensorial data as a geologist would study a fault line, carefully measuring it, noticing particulars, tracking causes and effects, questioning developments in a landscape we would otherwise take for granted, linking peaceful ridges to violent earthquakes. The results are then carefully laid out, not as one would normally display a piece of contemporary art (an object with a lot of white around) but in groups, as configurations, in the way archaeologists or palaeontologists would lay out their findings (for example, inside a glass-topped display case.)
In fact the artist doesn’t limit herself to creating new meanings out of old images. With every new work she creates a new physical and tactile reality. Her pieces thrive with life, unique, mutant forms, each with its own paper DNA, each with its own folds and cuts and textures, each as beautiful as a chance encounter between the ghosts of Darwin and Derrida on an African savannah. •
We are living through a period of great ‘cultural global warming’ in which an excess of information in our atmosphere is condemning all manner of experience to early, almost instantaneous extinction; which is where the work of artists such as Ruth van Beek comes into play, rescuing experience, sensation, perception, possibly even feeling, out of the rubble of contemporary experience, out of its moraines of information. Ruth van Beek is no ordinary imagemaker. She has a particularly skillful way of moulding the space of the white page. The result makes me think of two-dimensional sculptures. Her visual language is simpler, subtler and, I am tempted to say, more abstract than that of most collage artists. It is gifted with a confounding directness. It is relevant to note that her work has a naturalness that is, I think, quite unique among the work of collage artists. She handles reproduced reality more delicately than most, and I picture her wearing white gloves as she touches old photographs. The artist has not just swallowed the scissors, but the camera as well. In her work the camera (preferably an amateur camera) clicks like a heart in the breast of an imaginary rabbit.
All images © Ruth van Beek Ruth van Beek (1977, The Netherlands) graduated from the Gerrit Rietveld Academie Amsterdam in 2002 and is now based in Koog aan de Zaan, north of Amsterdam. She collects random snapshots, slides and family albums and cuts pictures from newspapers and old books. Together these collected images form an archive in which pictures are assembled into constantly changing arrangements. She has had solo exhibitions at the Okay Mountain, Austin, Texas; Suze May Sho in Arnhem, both in 2010; Galerie 37 Spaarnestad, Haarlem (2009), and at Foam 3h, Amsterdam (2008). Her work has been featured in the exhibition Use Me Abuse Me curated by Erik Kessels at the New York Photo Festival in 2010. Her work has been part of group exhibitions at the Season Gallery, Seattle (2011); Recollecting History at the Amsterdam Centrum voor Fotografie (2010) and Van Zoetendaal Gallery, Amsterdam. This spring two exhibitions in the Netherlands will show her work: the group exhibition Taste My Photons at Noorderlicht Photogallery in Groningen (March – April 2011) and together with Koen Hauser’s work at the Galerie 37 Spaarnestad, Haarlem (May 2011). Marc Valli (1969, United Kingdom) is editor-in-chief of the art and visual culture magazine Elephant. He is a co-founder of bookselling company Magma after, as he said, his CV (featuring, among others, items such as bodybuilder, nightclub bouncer, filmmaker, fiction writer) had made him virtually unemployable. He is also the author of RGB (Reviewing Graphics in Britain) and Microworlds as well as a large body of unpublished fiction.
Eva-Fiore Kovacovsky 39 Gr채ser
Leaves of Grass by Alex Klein
In the earliest photographic images produced in the nineteenth century one finds a fondness for subjects that appear to meditate on the material properties and metaphoric implications of photo graphy itself. Louis Jacques Mandé Daguerre’s plaster casts, for example, are themselves ‘positive’ impressions from ‘negative’ moulds. Likewise, A Scene in a Library by William Henry Fox Talbot points to photography’s relationship to the book form, or his renderings of plants, literally photo-chemical machines 147
that convert carbon dioxide to sugar with the aid of sunlight. In this way, these early photographic images encode a kind of self-reflexivity that underscores the very conditions of the medium. Although the resulting compositions, often of static objects, were most likely determined by the conventions prescribed by classical still lifes and the technological constraints of lengthy exposure times, we might also interpret them as crucial, and prophetic, reflections on archivization, replication, and circulation. ›
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Alongside these pioneering investigations stands Anna Atkins (1799 – 1871) and her cyanotype prints of algae, which inspire their own strand of ‘photo’-chemical inquiry and mark one of the earliest endeavours within photographic selfpublishing. Photographic historian Larry J. Schaaf credits Atkins as both the first woman photographer and as the first person to print and publish a photo graphically illustrated book. Although Fox Talbot’s Pencil of Nature is often assumed to be the first mass-produced book of photographs, Atkins’ self-published British Algae: Cyanotype Impressions in fact predates Talbot’s iconic publication. Working in a domestic setting and often alongside her scientist father, Atkins wanted to create a detailed illustrated compendium to William Henry Harvey’s imageless 1841 A Manual of the British Algae. As Schaaf notes, unlike Talbot, whose primary agenda was to promote the wide dissemination of the photographic process and its application in book form, Atkins’ goal was to produce a comprehensive volume of reproducible images with the greatest veracity for the purpose of scientific study and general edification, all while maintaining a keen formal sensibility. ‘Impressions’ aptly describes the cyanotype process Atkins used, first developed by Sir John Herschel in 1842. Although cyanotypes failed to find a permanent place within botanical representation, their formal properties and relatively immediate effects had a great appeal to other disciplines, such as in engineering, where the cyanotype process was still popular until recently in the form of blueprints. Cyanotypes are similar to the method of making a photogram in a darkroom (we might be reminded here of James Welling’s Flowers series), and
↗ Apple Hills, installation with Granny Smith apples and a projector stand at Amsterdams Centrum voor Fotografie, 2010 © Eva-Fiore Kovacovsky
etter known today not only for their use b in architectural renderings, but as the commercially available Sunprints marketed to children. Perhaps as close as one can get to the early advertisements of ‘sun-drawn images,’ cyanotypes are produced by placing an object directly onto the surface of chemically coated paper, burning the image by exposing it to the sun, and subsequently ‘developing’ it in water. Because they are cameraless and negativeless photographs, each print is necessarily an original. Thus, Atkins’ book required that she carefully make repeated prints from her individual speci mens resulting in both formal and physical variations in the imprints made from her fragile seaweed arrangements. Over the course of ten years Atkins produced at least twelve copies of British Algae in various states of finish. Completed in 1853 and comprised of handwritten plates, custom seaweed type, and as many as 400 unique cyanotype prints, the three volume set stands as a remarkable achievement. Just two years later, in 1855, Walt Whitman (1819 – 1892) self-published his collection of poems, Leaves of Grass, 148
a book that he would go on to revise and reprint throughout the course of his life. In addition to self-financing the first edition he also did much of the typesetting, having apprenticed for a printer in his youth and founded the newspaper the Long Islander, where he served as ‘publisher, editor, pressman, distributor and even provided home delivery.’ Intensely personal, Leaves of Grass elicits the lived experience of Americans during a pivotal moment in the formation of U.S. national identity and amid fundamental political and socioeconomic change. And yet the book is perhaps best remembered for its wholehearted embrace of the senses and unbridled enthusiasm for the natural world amidst the shift to an increasingly industrialized landscape. A modern text of its time, Whitman’s verse thus reflected a certain ambivalence towards the technological advances afoot, with Whitman warning in one passage: ‘Poet! Beware lest your poems are made in the spirit that comes from the study of pictures of things, [and not from] contact with real things themselves.’ Despite the scepticism of this statement, Whitman’s engagement with photo
It is precisely the personal involvement with the natural world embodied in both Atkins’ and Whitman’s engagement with photography and the book form that drives Eva-Fiore Kovacovsky to produce her most recent body of work, reproduced here as 39 Gräser. For Kovacovsky, 1855 marks another important marker in the trajectory mapped so far with the publication of Physiotypia Plantarum Austriacarum by paleobotanist Constantin von Ettingshausen and botanist Alois Pokorny. This multi-volume publication depicts hundreds of plant specimens from the Austro-Hungarian territory using the Naturselbstdruck or nature printing process developed in Austria in 1850. The Naturselbstdruck process produced an image at the actual size of the plant material, however, with far greater detail than could have been hoped for in the cyanotype process. In addition to reproducing a specimen at actual size, this
↗ Horsetail, inkjet print & watercolour, 2009 © Eva-Fiore Kovacovsky
Simple in form yet surprisingly diverse, Kovacovsky’s minimal compositions seem to dance across the page.
process allowed one to transfer the very surface onto paper by means of a press, which Kovacovsky describes as a kind of predecessor of scanning. Using what she considers a modern-day equivalent to these print-making processes, Kovacovsky employs a photocopy machine to scan her grass arrangements and output them as inkjet prints on standard, off-the-shelf A4 paper in ten different pastel hues. Kovacovsky revels in a kind of freedom bound by the constraints of the standardized page and replication process, and because the grasses are always placed at random and output on different colours, each print is necessarily unique despite the book’s mass-produced materials. Although Kovacovsky’s project is situated squarely within the twenty-first century, the work channels the sensuous nature and exuberance of some of the nineteenth century projects examined so far. Always displayed in an intimate book or portfolio form, the work invites her viewers to become readers as they physically flip through the prints on differently coloured backgrounds, observing the interplay of natural forms from page to page. As with Atkins and Whitman, one
graphy was both intimate and profound, leaving behind dozens upon dozens of photographic portraits in which he posed both alone and with friends and r umoured lovers. Famously, the first edition of Leaves of Grass does not bear its author’s name. Instead, Whitman included an engraved reproduction of a daguerreotype of himself, stating: ‘The contents of the book form a daguerreotype of [my] inner being, and the title page bears a representation of its physical tabernacle.’ Whitman continued to rework and republish Leaves of Grass throughout his life, and as Leo Braudy has noted, with each subsequent and expanded edition, ‘Whitman’s image often kept pace, getting older and presented often in tandem with a script-like signature, printed as if personally autographed,’ thus making each edition appear to live and breathe along with its author.
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simultaneously registers the bluntness of depiction and a romantic sensibility – in 39 Gräser Kovacovsky literally presents us with her ‘leaves of grass.’ Pressed against the glass and scanned, the plants are suspended in an empty field, thus allowing the reader to focus on minute individual details. The title ‘39 Grasses,’ which refers the actual number of grasses depicted in the portfolio, avoids a layer of sentimentalism or nostalgia due to its straightforward presentation and use of current technology. And as with the varied number of prints included in British Algae, Kovacosky’s grass books vary in number such as 339 Gräser, 403 Gräser, 370 Gräser, each titled to reflect the number of grasses represented, one can’t help to also be reminded of the presentation of information favoured by Conceptual artists in publications from the 1960s and 1970s.
It is significant that Kovacovsky chooses to focus her attention on grass as opposed to other natural forms. Unburdened by the sentimental connotations of flowers, or the metaphoric significance of leaves, grass is a mundane plant that recedes into the background or grows in unwanted spaces. Simple in form yet surprisingly diverse, Kovacovsky’s minimal compositions seem to dance across the page. In one sense a playful riff on Atkins’ selfpublished algae compendium, the Gräser project forefronts a kind of sensitivity to lived experience through an attention to the natural world. Inciting readers to look anew, we are suddenly cognizant of the green expanse beneath our feet. •
Unlike the scientific, illustrative intention of a project like British Algae, Kovacovsky’s project perhaps bears a closer resemblance to some of Atkins’ later collaborative works, in which formal considerations rather than taxonomic order appear to have been the driving force. Raised in a bucolic setting on a farm in Switzerland, Kovacovsky brings to her work a sense of childhood wonderment and discovery, recounting ‘I have always been fascinated by flowers, and since my childhood it is almost impossible for me to go into nature without collecting flowers, leaves and straws of grass that I find interesting.’ This autobiographical dimension is emphasized by the way the grasses are selected. While Atkins relied on both her own expeditions and on the kindness of other plant enthusiasts to provide her with her materials, the grasses reproduced in Kovacovsky’s ‘flora’ are collected on her travels and harvested from the environs around her studio and in the forests and fields surrounding her mother’s home. Reminiscent of the kind of collections of leaves and shells one assembles as a child, the ‘leaves’ of Kovacovsky’s grass project creates a kind of map or record of her encounters with the natural world. As she writes, ‘Nature helps me to orientate myself and shows me the progress of the year. I find inspiration in nature’s biological methods, growth, appearance and its various symbolic meanings. I think about it as a system, a work in progress.’
All images © Eva-Fiore Kovacovsky Originally these images are part of an artist’s book in five different editions: unique inkjet photocopies of pressed plant specimens, bound in linen, 21 x 30 x 1 cm, 2010 Eva-Fiore Kovacovsky (1980, Switzerland) studied design at the Schule für Gestaltung in Basel until 2002 and went on to study photography at the Gerrit Rietveld Academie in Amsterdam where she graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts in 2006. Kovacovsky’s work has been featured in group shows in Europe and the US, among others in I heart Photograph at the Higher Pictures Gallery in New York, Rietveld Arsenale during the Venice Biennale 2009, Quickscan NL #01 at the Nederlands Fotomuseum in Rotterdam and the New York Photography Biennale in 2010. She made a solo presentation at the Kunstvereniging Diepenheim in the Netherlands, participated in Plat(t)form at the Fotomuseum Winterthur in Switzerland and was nominated for the Volkskrant Beeldende Kunst Prijs 2009 and the Thieme Art Award at the Art Amsterdam in 2007. Kovacovsky is represented by Van Zoetendaal Gallery in Amsterdam and Galerie Stampa in Basel and lives in Amsterdam. Alex Klein (1978, USA) is an artist based in Los Angeles. In 2009 she edited the essay collection Words Without Pictures (LACMA/Aperture, 2010), which documented a year of conversations about some of the most pressing issues shaping contemporary photography. She is a co-founder of the independent publishing imprint Oslo E ditions as well as a Lecturer in the Roski School of Fine Arts at the University of Southern California.
Jaimie Warren Donâ€™t You Feel Better
Radical Everyday by Hesse McGraw
In late July 1990, Roseanne Barr, the American comedian and one of Jaimie Warren’s cultural heroes yapped out a grotesquely comic rendition of the National Anthem. It was deliriously confusing, painful and thrilling to watch. A week later, the Gulf War began – its televised barrage conjured the same effect, yet with a death toll. At the time, it seemed Barr’s distorted anthem was an affront to all patriotic Americans and the war a rallying cry for our global prominence. For the generation coming of age post-McLuhan and pre-Facebook, the image began to hold a specific weight – the burden of truth loosened but the ability to mould a mass mind ballooned. In the two decades since, so many of our 167
favourite image-icons wilted. Exactly a year after Roseanne’s song, Pee-wee Herman was arrested for public masturbation. The paparazzi killed Princess Di, Sesame Street’s Cookie Monster stopped eating so many cookies, everyone went to rehab, and Travolta and Cruise stayed in the closet. Today it’s impossible to believe in the sanctioned image, and just as difficult for the unexpected image to do its work. In 2004, Janet Jackson’s wardrobe malfunctioned, but by 2006 Justin Timberlake put his dick in a box! Where do we land when lies hang aloft and actual surprise gets squashed? Jaimie Warren’s photographs come at this crisis from the opposite end. Hers is a large world built of small, emphatic truths. ›
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Jim Leedy, the late John Puscheck, David Ford, John O’Brien, David Hughes, now Jaimie Warren – who wield their influence with varying degrees of generosity and self-interest. These artists and organ izers codified a sensibility and points of reference that provided consistency in a community that could have too easily been drained by the transience of artists passing through its incredible art institute.
↗ Josh Gately's Buffalo Bill dance with the kids, Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts, Omaha, Nebraska, USA, 2009 © Whoop Dee Doo, INC.
In 2005 I wrote of Jaimie Warren’s work: The cool hunters never came to Kansas City. In this small, nostalgic and over-polite city, Jaimie Warren focuses on the grimy social patterns of an untainted community of artists disinterested in quantified hipness. These ego-free children prefer making pyramids and playing pranks than getting laid. They make no postures toward larger scenes or toWarren’s camera and beautiful network of images that record a specific, subtle and personal sense of humour bracing against the new order of marketable monocultures. Since then, Kansas City became more like a monoculture and cool hunters came hunting. Her images were part of the lure, but her work hasn’t given up – it still seeks out and makes a home for authentic, but misshapen communities. In a sense, that’s what Kansas City has always provided – a home for crackpots, cult-makers, mobsters, bank robbers, black baseball heroes, jazz heads, meat smokers and dirty art school kids. More often than not, these communities were short-lived and had golden years. Looking back, the last 10 years seems to have been a brilliant time for young, motivated but freewheeling artists in
Kansas City. Her best friends and collaborators, Cody Critcheloe of SSION, the fashion designer and artist Peggy Noland, artist Seth Johnson and Carnal Torpor, and the huge collaborative Whoop Dee Doo, all made work that made it out into a world with fantastic hype – through Deitch Projects, Peres Projects, the Van Abbemuseum, Assume Vivid Astro Focus (avaf) – yet more importantly they kept their work grounded in the creative mess hall of their hometown. To recognize that the culture of Kansas City is fundamentally not a safe place is to also recognize that Deitch Projects was fundamentally a place where unsafe work went to market and die. Kansas City is the prototypical MiddleAmerica city. It’s important because of its histories in the Civil War, Negro Leagues Baseball, barbecue and the mob, but struggles today because it can’t figure out what it wants to be. And because white people keep stealing black culture. The contemporary art community in Kansas City, like many Midwestern cities, always seemed like it could evaporate in a season, but has remarkably held up with no real money for three decades. Its factions form around visionary figures – folks like 168
Jaimie Warren’s work is deeply rooted in the cultural character of Kansas City, in her relationship with the artist’s community there, and in the ethic required to work happily in a provincial city. She has written ‘the small-city artist is truly immersed in a ‘community’ – as opposed to working a ‘scene’… The final bond that is woven throughout these communities is their unsurpassed work ethic, which focuses not upon what there is to have, but what there is to create.’ While this may seem a quaint depiction, it is also a hopeful reality. This translates into unselfconscious DIY scene-making. There is little gamesmanship, dogged careerism or posturing. The lack of rear-view mirrors creates great latitude. And it creates the possibility to make your own fun in a context with few boundaries. Warren’s images are direct products of that fun-making. Why not smash your face in glitter cake! That $2 neon green wine is beautiful busted on the floor! A black mummy face is the cheapest Halloween costume! What the hell are those kids doing with that pink duct tape on their faces?! Although it is the impetus for much of the work, Warren remains circumspect about the process, ‘It’s childish in the sense that it’s about rejecting what might be expected. You are always in this, “I’m with my friends state of mind, so I don’t need
to impress anyone.” It was more free in India, we were dressing completely nuts, running through the streets, three white girls screaming not in an attempt to shock people, but to generate a deep confusion. We are transplanting our inside-joke, Kansas City-based sense of humour to a new context that made the situation as awkward as possible. Ultimately, it’s just us running around being completely disgusting, and using that as a situation to [make the photographs.] The work is about the way I entertain myself in a community where that is your only option.’
The direct intensity of Martin Parr’s work provides a formal influence. In Warren’s three major series, self-portraits, images of food, and social portraits, the intensity is uncannily consistent. Although the moments, events and experiences the photos spring from are important, their lack of a specific trace allows the work to generate the broadest possible range of responses. Warren is interested in the likelihood of seemingly contradictory responses, contingent upon on one’s personal set of references.
In Jaimie Warren’s world genuine horror is supplanted with happy surprise, and a dirty diaper with chocolate pudding.
All of this happens in real-time during Whoop Dee Doo, the children’s variety show, which Warren is a co-director of with Matt Roche. Whoop Dee Doo has become an engine of creative activity and community collaboration in Kansas City and is now driven by the intense efforts of over a half dozen artists and nearly 30 additional collaborators. At venues ranging from their own space in Kansas City to the Smart Museum in Chicago to the Malmöfestivalen in Malmö, Sweden, Whoop Dee Doo has invited a hyper eclectic range of local talent – think drag queens, Christian fiddlers, and a UFO proselytizer – to perform a live-filmed show for a packed audience of children and parents, all costumed and ready to dance. During the span of a few hour Whoop Dee Doo event, I’ve seen the eight-yearold victor of a black metal headbanging contest crowdsurfing, the pageant moms of over-sexualized six-year-olds urging their daughters to stuff dollar bills in the g-string of a male ‘body-builder’ and a mob of children dancing and singing along to Buffalo Bill’s self-actualization dance from The Silence of the Lambs. Miraculously, despite appearing on the verge of collapse under the weight of
For Warren, the performative process of making the work, particularly the selfportraits, necessitates a shift through the editing process. She aims to disassociate her relationship with the social making of the image and its aesthetic production. In effort to open up the potential reading of each image, she works to even out the multiple elements of the images, to literally suppress her relationship with the subject. She views this editing process as generating a ‘parade of confusion that opens a set of questions or opportunities for thinking about something in a new way; working with pairs or sequences of images allows someone to invent a narrative through looking at the images.’
↗ Poltergeist explosion with hosts Jaimie and Matt, Whoop Dee Doo Walnut Space, Kansas City, Missouri, USA, 2010 © Whoop Dee Doo, INC.
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its boundary bursting, Whoop Dee Doo emerges as an exuberant celebration of the unencumbered imagination of children. There is often a moment during every Whoop Dee Doo, right when a kid is plunging face-first into the dirty diaper-eating contest at the urging of a public librarian, for instance, that adult notions of acceptable behaviour dissolve. Whoop Dee Doo transforms children’s lack of cultivated inhibition into a spur for parents to get outside of their heads. In a culture that holds grandiose artifice aloft, Warren’s photos and Whoop Dee Doo instead align with gigglyghastly moments of deep authenticity – Roseanne Barr’s crotch grab, Pee-wee Herman’s public urge, or Buffalo Bill’s transsexual dance. Despite the mainstream urge to vilify transgressive acts, Warren recognizes cultural whiplash swings in both directions. Given a contemporary environment where all heroes, religious and secular, sooner or later fall, can it be more productive to invest the everyday with seemingly radical, harmless acts? In Jaimie Warren’s and Whoop Dee Doo’s world genuine horror is supplanted with happy surprise, and a dirty diaper with chocolate pudding. She has found a place for huge-eyed kids and the rest of us where radical normalcy forms the creative middle ground. •
All images © Jaimie Warren Jaimie Warren (1980, Wisconsin) is a curator, performance artist and photographer based in Kansas City, Missouri. She makes theatrical, humorous self-portraits in different scenarios and locations along with her public performances. Warren’s first artist monograph was published by Aperture (New York) in 2008. Her first solo museum exhibition was at the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art in Kansas City, and her work is featured in the Rizzoli publication SHOOT: Photography of the Moment curated by Ken Miller, among other 25 photographers including Nan Goldin, Juergen Teller and Wolfgang Tillmans, released by the New Museum in New York in November 2009. She is represented by Higher Pictures, New York, and has exhibited at White Flag Projects, St. Louis; Smith-Stewart Contemporary Art Gallery, New York; Getsumin Gallery, Osaka; Beida University, Beijing, Rocket Projects, Miami; Colette, Paris, among other venues. She and Matt Roche are co-directing Whoop Dee Doo, a faux public access television show for kids. Whoop Dee Doo (www.whoopdeedoo.tv) has worked with various galleries and museums including the Smart Museum at the University of Chicago, Deitch Projects (New York), The Bemis Center for Contemporary Art (Omaha, Nebraska), LOYAL gallery (Malmö, Sweden) and others. Structured like a high school talent show, Whoop Dee Doo highlights a diverse array of performers from the community in which it temporarily resides, engaging audiences of all ages and cultural backgrounds. Whoop Dee Doo strips away all divisions between high and low art and so blurs the lines between curating, art-making, performance and community. Whoop Dee Doo is a collaborative project by over 20 Kansas City artists. Hesse McGraw (1979, USA) is chief curator at the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts in Omaha, Nebraska, where in 2008 and 2009 two Whoop Dee Doo events were hosted. He was founding director and curator at Paragraph, a contemporary art gallery in Kansas City, Missouri and senior editor of Review, a Kansas City-based visual culture magazine. He frequently publishes exhibition essays and criticism, most recently in the Heartland exhibition catalogue, and in magazines such as Art Papers, Empty, RES and Tank.
Inge Morath The Mask Series with Saul Steinberg
Camera Dance by John P. Jacob
There is an underlying thread that runs through Inge Morath’s work that is most clearly articulated in her larger projects. Having witnessed the devastation of the Second World War as a young woman, as an adult Morath experienced its lingering impact over time and across geographical, political, and economic borders. In her photographs of Spain, Russia and China, for example, made over a span of many years, she documented the evidence of ongoing clashes 187
between tradition and modernity. Rather than photographing conflicts, however, Morath focused on the ways that, even under the most oppressive circumstances, the human spirit endures: through social and religious rituals, posturing and costuming, through work, sport, and through dance, music, and art; through the fundamental activities by which the values of one culture are expressed to another, and are perpetuated from one generation to the next. ›
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Looking at her pictures, one is struck by the consistency of Morath’s eye for the minutely theatrical. Whether photo graphing festivals or artists’ studios, on film sets or on the street, she encountered the world as a stage for the performance of life. Men and women sing and dance in her pictures. Her subjects are aware of – and they acknowledge – the photo grapher’s presence, for it is she to whom they speak or sing, she who is invited to dance. In this respect, Morath’s photographs are utterly subjective; they document not only an event, but also a relationship. More than documentary, they are documents of the precise mo ment of human connection. In a world still riven by the aftershocks of war, the thread that runs through Inge Morath’s photography is a joyful affirmation that the human spirit endures through creative self-expression. Singing, dan cing, photographing; for Morath, each of these is a performance requiring a partner. The photograph is what is made through that partnership, a trace of that connection. The creation of the Mask Series, with col laborator Saul Steinberg, marks a singular moment in Morath’s career. Personally, the series was made at the time of her relocation to the US from Europe, when she married and started a family with playwright Arthur Miller. It was her first self-consciously artistic statement, and it is the only large body of images, in a fifty-year long career in photojournalism, that is conceptually motivated. Chrono logically and aesthetically unique, the Mask Series is also complex in its inten tion and meaning. It is the record of a partnership between two artists, but it is also deeply personal: the announcement and enactment of a new kind of partner ship – a different kind of connection – between photographer and subject. Here, the playful surrealism that informs much of Morath’s early work is supplanted by a more probing, psychological portraiture. The subject is recognized not only as a delegate for his or her culture, but also as a distinct identity within it; an individual in relation to a community. Although Inge Morath would never again return to conceptual photography after the com pletion of her project with Steinberg, she never abandoned the more analytical ap proach to her subjects that she adopted in the Mask Series.
This is how I remember it by Inge Morath
↗ Inge Morath, Boy Drummer and Musician in a Courtyard, Isfahan, Iran, 1956 (enlargement from contact sheet) © The Inge Morath Foundation/Magnum Photos → Inge Morath, Romeria del Rocio, Andalucía, Spain, 1955 (enlargement from contact sheet) © The Inge Morath Foundation/ Magnum Photos
I was still in Vienna; it must have been the late forties. The war was finally over, and the excitement of the world’s opening up, allowing us to see things and have things we had been closed off from for so long was almost unbearable. We dressed in clothes from CARE packages (I had found a red and green silk number that I rarely got out of) and I devoured the American magazines that arrived at the ISB (Information Services Branch) Feature Section where I worked. Among them was The New Yorker, in whose pages I discovered for the first time the drawings of Saul Steinberg. Much of his work at the time dealt with Manhattan streets, Manhattan ladies and gentlemen, their dogs, cats, cars, and their strange, idiosyncratic ways. I fell in love with this Steinbergian universe and hoped to get one day to the New World and see it for myself and perhaps meet the artist whose singular vision had added a new dimension to my way of looking at the world. I came closer by moving to Paris and becoming a member of Magnum Photos and working with Henri Cartier-Bresson,
who knew Saul and had taken a wonderful portrait of him lying on a lawn, odalisque like, one leg in a black boot lifted skyward at a right angle. A curious kitten in the foreground is studying him. So now I knew what he looked like. I asked Henri what he was like. Henri rolled his eyes upward, his usual sign of appreciation, and said, ‘C’est un homme delicieux, d’une si grande intelligence. You’ll see, you’ll meet him.’ In 1956, I finally got to New York. My friend, the violinist Alexander Schneider, who was constantly on concert tours, lent me his flat on Twenty-third Street for a few days. He had given me the keys in Paris. I arrived late at night, exhausted, and crawled into bed with hardly a glance at the room. When I woke up it was light and I had forgotten where I was. On the wall facing the bed I noticed a number of framed documents that looked slightly familiar. In Austria, bureaucracy took itself and its documents very seriously. If you needed a certificate you first had to get the actual document in the office of the ministry concerned. Then you
It became clear how different various positions or gestures influenced the impact of the mask.
The date was made. Upper East Side in the Seventies. I rang the bell and Saul Steinberg came out wearing over his head a paper bag on which he had drawn a self-portrait. We entered a big room that opened out into a yard. On one wall Saul had pinned up a whole group of self-portraits in different moods drawn on those brown paper bags from the supermarket. I started to photograph right away and we immediately entered into a wonderful game. Saul changed masks and coats and it became clear how different sartorial details and various positions or gestures influenced the impact of the mask. Saul’s wife, the painter Hedda Sterne, joined us, holding up one or the other of the pussycat masks that were also pinned on the wall, tilting her head slightly to the side as cats do when they listen. She wore a black velvet bow pinned to the back of her head and became the pussycat that looked like a girl, or the girl that impersonated a pussycat. The actual cat watched quietly. ›
had to go and buy stamps of the value specified for this document in one of the small shops that sold tobacco, a state monopoly, as were the stamps. Once you had these stamps affixed you returned to your ministry to have one or more officials put their signatures and their seals wherever they belonged. Those documents on the wall seemed to me to be splendid examples of this bureaucratic folly and I went over to read them and find out what they were about. To my horror I could not read a single word. The elegant script formed no words that I could decipher. Had something happened to my eyes? I grew alarmed and rang my photographer friend Gjon Mili to explain the situation. He just laughed. ‘These,’ he said, ‘are Saul Steinberg documents. They are important, but you can’t read them.’ Sure enough, I picked up a book and I could read. But there was a truth in these fake documents that made them much more memorable than real ones. The artist had uncovered the essence of their vanity: seals and signatures chasing each other, competing in importance, to be finally beaten in the race by the last, biggest, most baroque one, accompanied by a blast of trumpets. Mili gave Saul Steinberg a call to tell him about my encounter with his documents and Saul agreed to meet me and maybe pose for a portrait.
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Saul’s studio was on the first floor. He sat down at his desk wearing a severe mask covering his head and then replaced it with a little one stuck to his nose. He had been working on clay figurines for an opera set. Tiny knights with raised lances sitting on armoured horses were placed all over pieces of paper painted with squares in dizzying perspectives. Saul had a great time moving them around, changing the outcome of their battles. Finally, I was permitted to take one portrait of Saul Steinberg without a mask. Hedda Sterne had made lunch. We sat at the big kitchen table and decided to do another session in a couple of days. I had always had a passion for taking portraits, but here an encounter of a different kind had taken place: the person sitting for the portrait wore a mask, impersonating an archetype, just as those illegible documents had been the archetypes of all important documents. During our next meeting we went into the yard, behind the kitchen. Saul wore one of his paper bag self-portraits. The masked man in the corner transformed the yard. It was his yard, with his table, his cat, his bushes. He was himself and yet at the same time he was a lot of men with glasses and a moustache who live in the city and have a yard. We discussed techniques of impersonating someone else . . . like those delicious moments during trips when no one knows you and you can present a new persona for a while.
locations were our rooms in the Chelsea Hotel, Saul’s apartment in the Village, and, on one occasion, a very elegant town house on Gramercy Park that belonged to a friend of Saul’s. Finally, we went out to Springs on Long Island where Saul had a house. An old car and a bike were great for props and on weekday mornings we could do some work on the stilluncrowded beaches. One day we finished. We had become friends, but the game was over and our encounters became maskless. Some of the pictures ended up in a book called Le Masque, which is full of wonderful Steinberg drawings. We had always planned to do more with this work of investigation into ‘Who am I impersonating today?’ ‘Which face do I wish to show the world?’ ‘Under what mask do I want to hide?’ A fine choice of such possibilities is presented here, an hommage to the great artist and connoisseur of the corners of our souls, Saul Steinberg. •
All images © The Inge Morath Foundation / Magnum Photos Selection from The Mask Series with Saul Steinberg, 1961-1962. Photographs by Inge Morath © The Inge Morath Foundation / Magnum Photos. Masks by Saul Steinberg © The Saul Steinberg Foundation / ARS, New York. Source autobiographical text: Inge Morath, Saul Steinberg Masquerade, New York: Viking Studio, 2000. Inge Morath (1923 – 2002, Austria) studied languages at university in Berlin. After the Second World War she worked as a translator and journalist, first as Vienna Correspondent and later as Austrian Editor, for Heute, an illustrated magazine from Munich. She collaborated with the photographer Ernst Haas in post-war Vienna, publishing her articles with Haas’ pictures. In 1949, Morath and Haas were invited by Robert Capa to join the newly-founded Magnum Photos in Paris, where she later worked as an editor. When she presented her first large photo essay to Capa, in 1953, he invited her to join the agency as a photographer. In 1953-54 she worked with Henri Cartier-Bresson as a researcher and assistant, and in 1955 she was the first woman to become a full member of Magnum Photos. During the late 1950s, Morath travelled widely, covering stories in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, the United States and South America for such publications as Holiday, Paris Match and Vogue. She photographed artists for Robert Delpire’s magazine L’Œil, meeting the artist Saul Steinberg in 1958. Over a period of several years they collaborated on a series of portraits, inviting individuals and groups to pose for Morath, wearing Steinberg’s masks.
I asked, ‘Besides the masks of yourself and the pussycat, do you make masks of other people? It would be fun to put all kinds of bodies under them.’ I cannot remember now if Saul said he had already done so or would do so; we just agreed that we would work together some more. I returned to Paris for work. When I finally got back to New York about a year later we immediately embarked on an extensive exploration of photographing different people, adapting their bodies and gestures to the Steinbergian persona they wore as a mask. I recruited all kinds of people to pose. Naturally, Saul was a superb impersonator; so was a young artist, Sigrid Spaeth, who had entered Saul’s life. I had met Arthur Miller and he looked great behind masks for tall men. A couple of young women in my office and several wayward poets also enjoyed losing themselves under the masks. Our
John P. Jacob (1957, USA) is currently director of the Inge Morath Foundation and director of Legacy Programs for the Magnum Foundation, both in New York City. He was co-curator, with Noriko Fuku, of the touring exhibition Man Ray: Unconcerned But Not Indifferent, (La Fabrica, 2007 - 2010), and his publications include Inge Morath: First Color (Steidl, 2009), Man Ray: Trees + Flowers – Insects Animals (Steidl, 2009), and Kodak Girl: from the Collection of Martha Cooper (Steidl, forthcoming).
Foam magazine’s annual Talent call is open until 17 April. We are looking for the world's next photography talent. Submit your work and it might get published in Foam Magazine's 2011 Talent issue.
Don't let this chance pass you by. Go to www.foammagazine.nl / talent for submission guidelines and requirements.
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by Sebastian Hau
Aymeric Fouquez Nord
Elisabeth Neudörfl E.D.S.A. E.D.S.A. is a limited-edition artist’s book designed by photographer Elisabeth Neudörfl. It focuses on an elevated traffic artery on the periphery of the megacity of Manila that allows traffic to skirt the city. In sequences of four to eight images, the camera appears to have moved mechanically either to the side or in a semi-circle. It sometimes seems to follow a car, or at other times it captures fleeting moments, architecture or billboards. A foreign world is surveyed using traffic as a reference point. Though it may not always be apparent what motivated the photographer to take a particular picture, our eyes become accustomed to the tranquillity of the images and allow us to be seduced by the rhythm of the pictures. When we follow the gentle melody of colours, dominated by grey punctuated by the shouting of paint and advertising, this seemingly aloof book suddenly becomes accessible. E.D.S.A is a large book composed solely of images, with only the cover design indicating where the images were made. Reduced to a minimum but capturing the joy of exploration, this is a satisfying book.
The long-term project that Rob Hornstra and Arnold van Bruggen are conducting on preparations for the winter Olympics in the Russian city of Sochi (see www. thesochiproject.org) led them to the Republic of Abkhazia, in the western part of Georgia, a republic, whose status was fought over between Georgia and Russia in 2008. It was recognised as an independent state by Russia but considered by Georgia to be still part of its territory. With over 300 pages, this publication weighs in heavily. The texts and photographs testify to the breadth and depth of the research undertaken by the two authors. The result is a book of self-assigned and self-published journalism done in a way never seen before. The images and texts are given equal space, and the design is scrupulous, clean and elegant.
For a number of years the French photographer Aymeric Fouquez has been documenting World War I cemeteries in Belgium and Holland. The series already amounts to 70 pictures and is still growing. When the photographs are exhibited, the primary impression is of an unemotional and documentary style. For this artist’s book, which shows only a selection from his images, Fouquez and the designer Winfried Heininger decided to present a personal side of the series. Each of the 700 copies includes an original photograph made from a movie of the artist as a young boy playing football at a cemetery. The book is printed on two different types of paper, some pages bluish in colour and others as glossy as photo paper. A few pictures are printed half on one sort of paper and half on the other. Many of the images document the heterotopian nature of cemeteries, which are shown bordering inconspicuously on towns and villages, as reflected by the design of the book, which refuses to present a central perspective. This book was one of my favourite personal discoveries at the now legendary 2010 Offprint Paris photobook fair.
Wiens Press ISBN 9783981128864
self-published No ISBN
Kodoji Press ISBN 9783037470152
Rob Hornstra & Arnold van Bruggen Empty Land, Promised Land, Forbidden Land
Thomas Manneke Liège
In the summer of 2010 the artist Thomas Demand curated an exhibition in Villa Paloma in Monaco that combined his own works with those of other sculptors, painters and photographers. He based the exhibition on Magritte’s works and writings on the representation of nature. The newly founded independent publishing house Mack Books has published one of the most elegant books of 2010 to accompany the exhibition. It includes excellent reproductions of pictures by artists ranging from Luigi Ghirri to Tacita Dean. An accompanying second smaller book on Ghirri offers many wonderful images. Neither the text nor the images in this large-format book displays any hint of frugality, allowing the reader to revel in the images, all of which surprise in this context and testify to the aesthetic freedom and taste of the artist.
In his 2009 début Nothing But Home Sébastien Girard presented his house as a construction site in a no-frills artist’s book. His second publication has a similar format but a different subject. In the streets of Toulouse, where he lives, Girard turned his attention to cars suffering from every sort of neglect: unrepaired damage, dirt, dust, dents and scratches. He photographed these neglected vehicles against a dark background and illuminated with a soft flash. As a result they appear to have peculiar human characteristics. The bumps and dents on elaborately designed cars testify to their present value and become in the eyes of the artist signifiers of the character of things ignored in everyday life. Girard has published his books himself in limited editions, and if we give credence to the blogs and the best-of lists of 2010 he will deservedly find fans and buyers for his idiosyncratic publications.
After Vilnius and Odessa, this is the third title by Thomas Manneke, a flâneur who spent three months exploring the city of Liège. The images show the industrial heritage of the city through murals of heroic workers and two-storey houses in working-class housing estates. But Manneke is once again able to present a city from a wide variety of perspectives and thus communicate much about life there. He has photographed a religious service in the African community, a single mother with her son, a man wearing the clothes of his deceased wife, and scenes of Belgian exuberance at an outdoor celebration. Themes from his previous publications reappear in this work: fire (a burnt-out house), the mutual infatuation of teenage couples and monuments. Manneke’s photographs reveal an openness and genuine curiosity. His books are tender, rich in variety and smartly edited.
Mack Books ISBN 9781907946004
self-published ISBN 9782953451634
Thomas Manneke & Schaden.com ISBN 9783932187858
La Carte d’après Nature
Sébastien Girard Desperate Cars
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Henk Wildschut Shelter In order to document the situation of illegal immigrants in Europe Henk Wildschut travelled to Melilla, Malta and several times to Calais to look for the small suburban forest camps where people live in before attempting to travel to the Continent and then on to the United Kingdom. These makeshift camps are regularly raided by the police, only to re-emerge. Despite his repeated visits Wildschut rarely encountered the same faces. A short concluding text provides context and describes the intentions of the photo grapher, but the book’s images can stand on their own. As a reflection of the immigrants’ precarious lives and as a guide for the reader, small holes have been made in the corners of the pictures to reveal hints of those that follow. Wildschut decided to photograph the interiors of the huts and tents to show order and displacement, the essential possessions people keep and thus the spaces that testify to the way their inhabitants live. With its respect for their lives, this book makes demands on our political conscience. In equal measure, its design is addressed to our intelligence.
Tina Enghoff, whose book Possible Relatives is an insider’s tip among photographers, has worked together with migrant women who have been victims of domestic violence. Repression prevents them from returning alone to their home countries and for various reasons they cannot leave their husbands. For her portraits, the photo grapher chose an approach for which there are few precedents. The women are photographed outdoors, in forests or fields, where they assume poses that are variously expressive, dance-like or introverted and embryonic. All of the poses indicate their condition. The images are often out of focus or taken with selective focus and thus heavily aestheticised. A text written with the help of a refugee organisation provides background information, but readers are for the most part left on their own with the pictures. I wish this book every success, above all because it is not a fine-art publication but rather a sober exploration of the subject.
This book could very well spring from an insight that explains the understanding looks often exchanged by young parents: children imitate adults. Judith van IJken has juxtaposed pictures of young adults from the Netherlands in their habitual surroundings with portraits of their parents when they were the same age. The guiding principle for the selection of these pictures was clothing. The people in the portraits are wearing either an item of clothing their parents were wearing at that time or similar clothes (a denim jacket, a plaid shirt, a pleated skirt) in a similar fashion (just as relaxed, just as elegant, just as shy). In addition to the subtle and perceptive portraits, this book won me over by its design. Every pair of pictures has a special layout: some are partially covered by others and can be revealed by folding a page inward or outward; discoveries and comparisons become a source of pleasure. This collection is as light-hearted as a children’s book.
Post Editions ISBN 9789460830341
Journal / Forlaget Vandkunsten ISBN 9197887609
self-published ISBN 9789090254524
Tina Enghoff Seven Years
Judith van IJken Mimicry
Sebastian Hau (1976, Germany) runs LE BAL BOOKS, the specialized Photobookshop linked to the independent exhibition space LE BAL in Paris. He previously worked for ten years at Schaden. com. He regularly contributes to Fotokritik.de, Foam Magazine and photo-eye Magazine.
Edmund Clarke Guantanamo: If The Light Goes Out The British photographer Edmund Clarke has documented in four parts the conditions in Guantanamo detainee camps, namely the detainees’ cells, the guards’ accommodation, censored letters to detainees and the house of a released detainee with whom Clarke spent some time. His approach is objective and reserved. He avoids adopting a position through his images, yet allows us to visualize the conditions and the human costs of the Western creation of states of emergency. Alongside the work of Trevor Paglen on kidnappings carried out by the CIA, for example, or Andreas Magdanz’s books on buildings, this work testifies to the obstinacy of a reporter and his will to bring to light hidden processes and background information. Dewi Lewis has produced an exemplary publication that lies somewhere between a company report and an art book. Dewi Lewis Publishing ISBN 9781904587965
Two books, the rather more comprehensive Coming up for Air and its counterpart B-Sides resulted from visits Stephen Gill made to Japan. At a conference last year Gill spoke about his experiences in Japan and his books. He explained in his modest way that his books say more about himself than about Japan. The photographs are refreshing and recall the history of Japanese photobooks; many of his subjects have been photographed by others, such as Moriyama and Takuma Nakahira. Readers will be puzzled the first time they open either of these books because most of the images are blurry. Gill first developed this process for his small artist’s book Trinidad. It allows the colours and their intensity to stand out even more and convey a sense of joy. Gill uses this artistic process to reduce the information available, thus focusing our attention on the photographs, which at the same time refuse to appeal to our intellect. One meaning of the title is the changed world a diver sees upon resurfacing. By taking these pictures out of focus and manipulating an information-processing device, Gill has almost physiologically enhanced his vision. Coming up for Air has a personal touch, as each of the 4500 copies comes with a different hand-painted cover. No wonder collectors continue to buy the books of this innovative and adventurous artist. Nobody ISBN 9780955657726 (Coming up for Air) ISBN 9780955657740 (B-Sides)
Stephen Gill Coming up for Air & B-Sides
Jo Ractliffe As Terras do Fim do Mundo The South African gallery Michael Stevenson has published this book by Jo Ractliffe on the involvement of the former apartheid regime of South Africa in the neighbouring state of Angola. She has documented that involvement by searching for traces of conflict and war. Accompanied by ex-soldiers of both countries, she travelled through almost impassable no-man’s-land and desert regions where former military structures are difficult to find. Murals of Fidel Castro can be seen in bombed-out barracks, but otherwise there are only landscapes of destruction. Including an essay by the photographer, this is a book with quiet images that bear witness to great turmoil. Michael Stevenson ISBN 9780620485517
Missed an issue? You can order back issues of Foam Magazine online. The earliest editions of Foam Magazine doubled as exhibition catalogues. Since the release of #3, Foam Magazine is no longer linked to the exhibition programme of the museum. Foam Magazine has become an exhibition space in itself. A timeless collectors-item, a source of inspiration and reflection, containing over a hundred pages of photography featuring a specific theme.
foam magazine # 26 #26 happy
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#25 Traces Seba Kurtis / Willem Popelier / Ishiuchi Miyako / Robert Frank / James D. Griffioen / Gert Jan Kocken / Anni Leppälä / The La Brea Matrix
#24 Talent Bergström / Boske / Dubuisson / Engman / Gibson / Lopez Luz/ Lowy / Herman / Nagahama / Prager / Rotatori / Stephenson / Somers / Volpatti / Weiner
#23 City Life Mohamed Bourouissa / Takashi Homma / Nontsikelelo Veleko / JH Engström / Otto Snoek / Bertrand Fleuret / Reinier Gerritsen / Joel Sternfeld
#22 Peeping Michael Wolf / Paul Kooiker / Tim Hetherington / Prague's Secret Police / Evan Baden / Trevor Paglen / Chris Jordan / Yasmine Chatila
#21 Merge Adam Broomberg & Oliver Chanarin / David Claerbout / Andrey Tarkovsky / Penelope Umbrico / Gunnel Wåhlstrand / Freudenthal & Verhagen / Nickel van Duijvenboden / Naoya Hatakeyama
#20 Talent Asfar / Bergantini / Castilho / Faulhaber / Fritz / Gerats / Gronsky / Klos / Koyama / Kruithof / Leong / Lundgren / Monteleone / Naudé / Purchas / Schuman / Van Agtmael/ Wilcox
#19 Wonder Jaap Scheeren / Jessica Backhaus Syoin Kajii / Koen Hauser / Madi Ju & Patrick Tsai / Sanna Kannisto
#18 Displaced Henk Wildschut / Roland Bonaparte & Friedrich Carel Hisgen / Jim Goldberg / Juul Hondius / Dana Popa
#17 Portrait Samuel Fosso / Franziska von Stenglin / Bill Sullivan / De Wilde, Stark & Bolander / Koos Breukel / Schels & Lakotta
#16 Talent Unver / Aue Sobol / Bamberg / Hugo/ Gebert / Mann / Nga / De Limburg/ Liu / Pickering / Missika/ Ebeling
The heart of Foam is located in the centre of Amsterdam, in the museum on the Keizersgracht. Here we schedule a varied programme of exhibitions including world-famous photographers as well as young or undiscovered talent. Large-scale exhibitions alternate with small, quickly changing shows. We also organise a dynamic programme of lectures, discussions, guided tours, workshops and special events.
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foam magazine #â€‰26 happy
From the series Afterlife, 2009 ÂŠ Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin
Antiphotojournalism Photojournalism is in the midst of a remarkable, and singularly unexpected, renaissance. New practices, strategies, viewpoints, techniques, and agents have radically transformed the institutions and the fundamental concepts of the field. While it has become fashionable to lament the death of photojournalism, actual events suggest that something quite different is taking place. New ways of reporting the news, new imaginations of what the news might be, have challenged the hegemonic figure of the photojournalist to its core and raised interesting ideas. Simultaneous upheavals have occurred from within the field and from without, where different kinds of images have broken down the absolute authority of the old ways. Following Allan Sekula we call these critical approaches ‘antiphotojournalism’. They have a history and come in the forms of film, video, slides, web-based presentations and many more. Classically, photojournalism consisted of clichés such as the heroic photographer, the iconic image and ‘the real’. Antiphotojournalism systematically criticizes those clichés by providing instead a profound and passionate fidelity to the image freed from the demands of tradition and free to ask other questions, make other claims, tell other stories. Sometimes the gesture is reflective. Sometimes the desire is evidentiary, not in the old sense of simply offering the evidence of images to public opinion assumed to be homogenous, but in much more precise ways: photographs have become evidence in war crimes tribunals. Sometimes the innovation is technological, whether it involves working with the hi-tech resources of advanced satellite imagery or the low-tech crowd-sourcing of participatory protest imaging. Sometimes the practices are archival. And sometimes the question is simply whether we even need images at all. •
1 April – 8 June 2011
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Globe Budget Hotel Room 301, 2010 © Dana Lixenberg
Dana Lixenberg: Set Amsterdam �5 March – 29 May 2011 In Set Amsterdam, Dana Lixenberg portrays the city in a series of landscapes and interiors. These photographs depict Amsterdam as a kind of film set, fashioned by its current and former residents. The absence of people in the images turns the viewer’s gaze to the space itself and to the myriad details which define these environments. In Set Amsterdam only traces of human activity hint at inhabitants and at lives fully lived. Lixenberg was inspired to create these photographs after being commissioned to create actors’ portraits for the eight-part television series A’dam – E.v.a. (Amsterdam and many others). This series, written by Robert Alberdingk Thijm and directed by Norbert ter Hall, broadcast from 6 March 2011 on Dutch television, examines individual lives in the city of Amsterdam. Her work on the series eventually guided Lixenberg to locations previously inconspicuous to her, such as a former bomb shelter, a Ghanaian church, cemeteries, a morgue, Amsterdam’s garbage incinerator and other public and private spaces. Lixenberg sought environments imparting a sense of transience that bear witness to the human stamp of its former residents. She also photographed spaces still filled with life and which, through subtle attention to detail and atmosphere, evoke a way of life. •
Misha de Ridder: Solstice 17 June – 28 August 2011
In the subarctic, on the edge of our planet, Misha de Ridder works with the special local light conditions to create photos and short films that reflect silence and stillness. The word ‘solstice’ derives from the Latin sol (sun) and statum (stand still), and reflects what we see on the first days of summer and winter when, at dawn the sun seems to linger for several minutes in its passage across the sky, before beginning to double back. The nomadic Sami people in the far north of Europe believe that all places and things in nature contain a soul, they travel through the wilderness in total silence. Misha de Ridder confronts us with the vulnerability of human existence in the presence of nature, where death is our final destination. •
Misha de Ridder, film still Golden, 2011, courtesy Galerie Juliètte Jongma, Amsterdam
Teenage Magazines 11 March – 23 March 2011
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For this exhibition, photography students at the Gerrit Rietveld Academie were challenged to create work with the title Teenage Magazines. The result is a magazine containing work that is often as provocative as it is poetic and intimate. The exhibition takes the form of a magazine dummy that has been enlarged and hung on the walls of the museum. It will be published in 2011.•
Gerhard Richter Cologne, 2010 © Anton Corbijn
Anton Corbijn 24 June – 24 August 2011 Anton Corbijn once declared his interest in portraying the pain of creation and the people who struggle with that process. Foam proudly presents Anton Corbijn’s latest photographic series devoted to some of the most renowned artists of today. Uniting an austerity principle with an aesthetic one, these black-and-white prints strike us both for their precision in capturing the geniality of the portrayed - in sometimes humorous, sometimes intriguing situations – as well as for their thoughtfulness.
Plug5, 2011 © Irene O'Callaghan
In a quiet but striking manner, these apparently perfect and yet spontaneous shots resume the drama involved in the act of creation and leave room for interpretation. As epitomes of an unselfish, strongly individual and lonely striving, these photos reveal Corbijn’s affectionate and attentive look and his sense of amazement and identification with others. • 202
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Shilpa Gupta. Untitled, 2006. Courtesy of the artist and Galerie Yvon Lambert, Paris.
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Seacoal Chris Killip
The Ruins of Detroit Yves Marchand & Romain Meffre
Far Too Close Martina Hoogland Ivanow
Text by Chris Killip Clothbound hardcover with a dustjacket 112 pages, 116 plates ISBN 978-3-86930-256-0
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Sรถdrakull Frรถsakull Mikael Olsson
Contraband Taryn Simon
Clothbound hardcover 40 pages, 27 b/w plates ISBN 978-3-86930-198-3
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漏 Stephen Gill 路 Outside In, 2010
1 to 5 June 2011 documenta-Halle Kassel
4th International Photobook Festival 1 to 5 June 2011 documenta-Halle Kassel From 1 to 5 June 2011 photobook enthusiasts from around the world will once again gather for the 4th International Photobook Festival in Kassel to address recent developments of this fascinating medium. Just like in previous years, internationally renowned practitioners have been invited to present their work with photobooks and to engage in conversations with the festival participants. We invite you to take part in the many talks, exhibitions, workshops, reviews, information and book stalls as well as a range of networking services.
Austria / Hilger / Grita Insam / Krinzinger / Krobath / Layr Wuestenhagen / Mario Mauroner / Meyer Kainer / Steinek / Elisabeth & Klaus Thoman / Belgium / Aeroplastics / Aliceday / Baronian-Francey / Base-Alpha / Jacques Cerami / Crown / D&A Lab / Patrick De Brock / Dependance / Deweer / Geukens & De Vil / Gladstone / Hoet Bekaert / Xavier Hufkens / Jos Jamar / Rodolphe Janssen / Elaine Levy / Maes & Matthys / Maruani & Noirhomme / Greta Meert / Meessen De Clercq / Mulier Mulier / Nomad / Office Baroque / Nathalie Obadia / Tatjana Pieters / Elisa Platteau & Cie / Almine Rech / Sebastien Ricou / André Simoens / Stephane Simoens / Sorry We’re Closed / Micheline Szwajcer / Transit / Twig / Van de Weghe / Van Der Mieden / Nadja Vilenne / Zeno X / De Zwarte Panter / Brazil / Leme / Chile / Gonzalez y Gonzalez / China / Continua / Cuba / Habana / Denmark / Andersen’s / Martin Asbaek / David Risley / Nils Staerk / V1 / Nicolai Wallner / Christina Wilson / Finland / Anhava / France / Galerie 1900-2000 / Air de Paris / Jean Brolly / Chez Valentin / Cortex Athletico / Frank Elbaz / Filles du Calvaire / GDM / Laurent Godin / In Situ Fabienne Leclerc / JGM / Jousse Entreprise / Yvon Lambert / Lelong / Maubrie / Nathalie Obadia / Françoise Paviot / Emmanuel Perrotin / Almine Rech / Michel Rein / Pietro Sparta / Daniel Templon / Suzanne Tarasieve / Georges-Philippe & Nathalie Vallois / Germany / Conrads / Figge Von Rosen / Reinhard Hauff / Nolan Judin / Klemm’s / Gebr. Lehmann / Nordenhake / Peres Projects / Jette Rudolph / Esther Schipper / Charim Ungar Berlin / Van Horn / Wentrup / Eva Winkeler / Thomas Zander / Zink / Greece / Bernier/Eliades / Rebecca Camhi / India / Galleryske / Maskara / Israel / Chelouche / Sommer / Italy / Continua / Massimo De Carlo / Invernizzi / Franco Soffiantino / Tucci Russo / Mexico / OMR / Norway / Galleri K / Portugal / Filomena Soares / Russia / Aidan / South Africa / Michael Stevenson / Spain / Distrito 4 / Max Estrella / Senda / Toni Tapies / Sweden / Niklas Belenius / Elastic / Nordenhake / Switzerland / Annex 14 / Blancpain / Buchmann / Susanna Kulli / Anne Mosseri Marlio / Schau Ort. Christiane Büntgen / Skopia / The Netherlands / Grimm / Ron Mandos / Gabriel Rolt / Martin Van Zomeren / Fons Welters / Turkey / artSümer / United Arab Emirates / Isabelle Van den Eynde / United Kingdom / Ancient & Modern / The Approach / Ben Brown / Fred / Ibid / Bernard Jacobson / Simon Lee / Lisson / Maureen Paley / The Paragon Press / Stuart Shave Modern Art / Timothy Taylor / United States of America / Conner / Eleven Rivington / François Ghebaly / Honor Fraser / Gladstone / Mc Caffrey / Perry Rubenstein / Stephane Stoyanov / Tracy Williams FIRST CALL / Belgium / Tulips & Roses / VidalCuglietta / Germany / Sonja Junkers / Italy / Francesca Minini / Portugal / Pedro Cera / The Netherlands / Juliette Jongma / Diana Stigter / United Kingdom / Corvi-Mora / Kate MacGarry / Mot International / Works Projects / United States of America / Miguel Abreu / Cherry and Martin / Lisa Cooley
29 contemporary art fair Thu 28 April - Sun 1 May 2011 Preview & Vernissage: Wednesday 27 April. By invitation only
Vernissage | June 14, 2011 | by invitation only Art Basel Conversations | June 15 to 19, 2011 | 10am to 11am Catalog order | Tel. +49 711 44 05 204, Fax +49 711 44 05 220, www.hatjecantz.de Follow us on Facebook and Twitter | www.facebook.com/artbasel | www.twitter.com/artbasel The International Art Show â€“ Die Internationale Kunstmesse Art 42 Basel, MCH Swiss Exhibition (Basel) Ltd., CH-4005 Basel Fax +41 58 206 26 86, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.artbasel.com
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Colophon Issue #26, Spring 2011 Editor-in-chief Marloes Krijnen Creative Director Pjotr de Jong Editors Caroline von Courten, Marcel Feil, Pjotr de Jong & Marloes Krijnen Editorial Adviser for issue #26 Marc Feustel Managing Editor Caroline von Courten Magazine Manager Niek van Lonkhuijzen
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Published on Apr 18, 2011
Spring is out and Foam Magazine explores the theme happy in relation to photography. The eight different portfolios in this issue express a...