gill moore photography

Tag Archive for 'London'

“Psycho Buildings” exhibition @ Hayward Gallery, London featuring Rachel Whiteread and others

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Taking its title from a book of photographs of odd structures by the artist Martin Kippenberger. A lot of urban spaces are very regimented, and a ‘psycho building’ is something that breaks out of this and reveals that our relationships with space can be extremely varied”.

For anyone with an interest in the built environment, I think a trip to the Hayward Gallery in London’s South Bank Centre could prove rewarding. Psycho Buildings runs until the 25th August 2008 and it utilises all the usual gallery space plus the three exterior terrace areas which are usually devoted to showcase sculptural exhibits.
Featuring ten of the best architecturally-inspired artists in the world, each installation is designed to make the viewer think twice about the nature of architecture and buildings. Visitors will enter and explore specially constructed dynamic creations which use light, colour, smell and challenging design. Each aims to illustrate how our build environment can shape mood and emotion and may prompt the question – when exactly does a building become a scuplture?
The artist’s are as follows:
Atelier Bow-Wow (Japan), Michael Beutler (Germany), Los Carpinteros (Cuba), Gelitin (Austria), Mike Nelson (UK), Ernesto Neto (Brazil), Tobias Putrih (Slovenia), Tomas Saraceno (Argentina), Do-Ho Suh (Korea) and Rachel Whiteread (UK).

Each artist had a month to install their work and this does mean the work displays a high level of detail and craftsmanship. Of major interest will be the installation created by Rachel Whiteread.

She is known to many as the UK artist awarded the Turner Prize in 1993 for her work “House” a concrete cast of the interior of a 19th Century terraced house in the East End of London.

For the “Psycho Buildings” exhibition Whiteread’ has chosen to display “The Finished Place (Village)” an installation made up of 200 doll’s houses from her personal collection, assembled over the last 20 years.

Step outside and visit one of the Sculptural Terraces areas and you will be confronted with work from Austrian collective Gelitin have created an infinity-style boating lake for the 21st century.

The exhibition takes place to mark the 40th anniversary of the Hayward Gallery, itself one of the world’s most architecturally unique spaces for displaying art. A major sponsor is Bloomberg. This company is one of the largest privately-owned supporter of the arts in the UK. They also sponsor “The New Contemporaries” showcase for emerging talent which I blogged about earlier in the year.

Not knowing much about Bloomberg I decided to delve a little deeper. They are a huge wordwide company built on providing up-to-the minute information and data for business and finance professionals. They support many cultural projects around the world, running a programme of exhibitions, performances, talks and other events. Six years ago Bloomberg opened up it’s own gallery called Bloomberg SPACE dedicated to commissioning and exhibiting contemporary art. “A dynamic space without an agenda, where artists and audience can explore new ideas and relationships in an innovative way” it is open to their employees and clients and the immediate community.

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The fight to protect everyone’s right to take photographs continues ….

One of my most popular posts has been regarding photographer’s rights in the UK : “Photography rights grabs, erosion of freedom, the fightback begins and blogging helps.” This topic is moving so fast I think it is worthy of a follow-up post. The Pro-Imaging website now has a separate page dealing with good and bad photography competions. This now makes it incredibly easy to check on which photo competions are just rights-grabs lurking behind the banner of a prize. Pro-Imaging are having good success with raising awareness and making information freely available, often getting some organizations to actually change their Terms and Conditions to something more palatable.

Sadly it is not all good news. The farce that was the “Olympic Torch Relay” took place in London at the start of the month. Inevitably the event was crashed by protestors wanting to focus attention on China and the situation in Tibet. We then saw a heavily guarded Olympic flame; a symbol of peace and unity, being protected by a massive security operation involving 2,000 members of the Metropolitan Police Force bolstered by Chinese security officers.
Regular members of the public and press photographers tried to record the event in pictures and reported some of the most heavy-handed policing seen in the UK for many a year. Quite brutal incidents of physical assaults, some on horseback, sent out quite a sobering picture of how easily rights can be waved aside when the time demands.
This comes on the back of a number of highly reported incidents involving community support officers and the police both seemingly unaware of UK law and challenging people’s legal right to photograph in public places. Austin Mitchell MP for Grimbsy has taken up the baton and tabled an Early Day Motion in the House of Commons condemning police action against lawful photography in public spaces and has urged the Home Office to agree a “photography code” to be drawn up and used by police officers and UK citizens as a guide to what is and isn’t possible for street photography. Click here for a link to the EDM wording in full. The link also lists every MP who has signed the petition, if your local MP hasn’t, then find your local MP and send them an email here.
If you want to show your support for this cause then you can sign a petition on the 10 Downing Street website.
For some links to some of the recent problems affecting members of the public trying to take photographs in public places, then Amateur Photographer has some good links.
And on the EPUK site they have a list of incidents affecting press photographers. Another one here @ photorights.org.
UPDATE : Further discussion on BBC Radio 4 blog on the current confusion regarding the law and photography, also on the Manchester Flickr group regarding contacting their MP’s.

UPDATE : Sept 08. Click here for a link to an excellent online video made by the NUJ (National Union of Journalists) UK regarding the erosion of civil liberties and media freedoms in Britain.
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Abbas Kiarostami, “Trees in Snow” inspiration for a challenge.

I have a long-standing project I began years ago, a mission to photograph my favourite trees.  Sadly, I am nowhere near finished, in fact by it’s very nature I probably never will reach completion.  One thing it does do though, is really get me thinking.  How can I make my work original and capture the subject with beauty and simplicity?  One series of shots from photographer Abbas Kiarostami is etched in my mind as a kind of benchmark.  
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 The work featured here is from the series “Trees in Snow”.  Kiarostami is an Iranian photographer.  He is super-talented and may be better known to many of you as an award-winning film-maker; “The Wind Will Carry Us” (1999), “A Taste of Cherry” (1997) and “Ten” (2002) are three from his impressive archive.  He wrote some words to introduce this series at the V&A, London in 2005.

“Snow descends from

the black clouds

with the whiteness of snow”

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The “Trees in Snow” images were borne out of Kiarostami’s long, solitary walks to search for film sets, sometimes covering thousands of miles in the Iranian landscape. Photographing these landscapes allowed him a spontaneous immersion in nature.  When travelling alone, he sees his camera as a way of sharing moments which would be torturous if not preserved. The scenes became the equivalent of emotional states and the trees almost human, echoing the saying of the Islamic mystic Muhyiddin Ibn ‘Arabi (born 1165 died 1240): ‘the tree is the sister of man’.
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Deutsche Borse Prize 2008; Esko Mannikko, John Davies, Jacob Holdt, Fazal Sheikh.

For anyone who wants a look at the four shortlisted candidates for the Deutsche Borse Prize 2008 then trundle over here click on the gallery view and there are a selection of thumbnails from each of the finalists’ images plus a short biography. Thanks to lensculture.com for a great bit of work.  The eventual winner, announced on 5 March 2008, was Esko Mannikko from Finland for his retrospective exhibition shown at Millesgarden, Stockhom entitled “Cocktails 1990-2007″.  
Two images from the winning exhibition are below.  
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“I am a photographer of fish, dogs and old men”, Männikkö once said. Bringing to attention stories which carry a universal poignancy, Männikkö shows us a world where animals, objects and people are all portrayed and treated with the same mutual respect and childlike wonder.
The three other nominated artists were: 
John Davies (UK) for his exhibition “The British Landscape” at Bradford National Media Museum.  He uses panoramic black and white photography to document the changing post-industrial landscape of Britain between 1979-2005.
Jacob Holdt (Denmark) for “United States 1970-1975″ a book which documents the lives of people he met whilst hitchhiking across the USA.  
Fazal Sheikh (USA) for the publication “Ladli” which seeks to examine the enduring prejudices against women in contemporary Indian Society.
For further information on the prize click here.  All shortlisted work can be seen until April 5th 2008 at the Photograpers’ Gallery, London.  Click here to go to their home site.

Two cycle schemes trying to make a difference: “Ciclovia” in Bogota and the “Velib” in Paris.

Well, it seems cycling has been deemed newsworthy in the UK at last. Naughty David Cameron has been found running a red light and going the wrong way down a one-way street on his bike. Something I would never do of course.
In an effort to balance out this negative press I urge you to take a look at this link: www.streetfilms.org/archives/lessons-from-bogota/ or click on the youTube image below.
It features a short film made all about an amazing scheme called “ciclovia” in Bogota where the usually car-laden streets are given over to pedestrians and cyclists every Sunday. It has been a massive success and shows how an area can be transformed if designers put community needs at the heart of things.
The film was made by a non-profit group aiming to reclaim New York back for its people. They want to improve the quality of life and make the streets safer for all New Yorkers; pedestrians and bicycles, skaters, rollerbladers, in fact any non-vehicular modes of transport. Via their website they provide evidence to back their case and a platform for discussion and dialogue on the issue: www.streetfilms.org.
Most people do agree that we must find alternatives to the car. Ideally, we want easy, cheap, practical and acceptable modes of transport. The rise of cycling in London has been dramatic since 2000 with a reported 83% increase in journey’s by bike. It shows the desire is there to use pedal power but conditions need to be right to make it happen and attitudes need to change.
In August last year Paris introduced a scheme called “Velib”, 20,000 bikes were dotted around 750 sites within the city centre for anyone to hire. One must purchase either a subscription (£20 for unlimited use all year) or pay per trip when the first half hour is free and then the cost is roughly a euro an hour. The system operates with either a pre-validated swipe card or the users credit card which then allows quick release of any bike from the bike’s locked collection points. Bikes do not have to be returned to the same spot.
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Use of the “Velib” has been high, with 1.6 million trips in the first month each bike being used roughly 30 times each day and that is despite many technical glitches suffered at the scheme’s start. The bikes also carry advertising space to subside some of the scheme’s costs. Using the bike as a portable marketing tool has encouraged advertisers to introduce schemes to Seville, Cordoba, Brussels and Vienna and is probably the most likely way a large scale scheme similar to the Parisian one may be brought to the UK.
Suprisingly, many of the Velib users are switchers from public transport rather than car-ditchers, so not quite the anticipated effect the French mayor had hoped for. However, it is still early days and has possibly started a slow sea change in opinion; the acceptance of the bike as a popular, even trendy, method of getting from A to B in a cosmopolitan and busy city. Could the UK be next to follow?

Vertical Gardens

I am intrigued by the work created by Patrick Blanc a french botanist and artist. We know all too well the huge need for green spaces especially in urban environments, he has a fantastic solution – Vertical Gardens www.verticalgardenpatrickblanc.com
Patrick Blanc Garden, Paris, France

He is based in Paris, certainly a city with many beautiful squares and buildings, but it is a geographical area with little room for expansion. There is very little opportunity for the creation of new open spaces or parks when demand for housing is so huge. However, where there is a blank building wall he sees an opportunity. He fixes a solid frame onto the wall and, by allowing water to trickle down, it provides soil-free habitats for various plants which in turn can provide a home for all manner of lifeforms from birds to frogs. The Garden can be inside or out and plant species are chosen to suit the climatic conditions.

Mr Blanc began his botanical experiments in his own home and now he works on commissions all over the world with projects ongoing in China, Spain and his native France. His first UK commissions are Leamouth Peninsula a docklands regeneration scheme ongoing in 2008 and the Pacha Club, Kings Cross, London. Due to the density of the growth there is no need for weeding, so over time they develop from a two dimensional design to a 3D living work of art and each project is protected by copyright. He has a book “The Vertical Garden: In Nature and the City”
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Postcript to this article.  Click here for latest news on the Pacha Club, London commission.
UPDATE.  In the UK there is a Gardeners World Special featuring an interview with Patrick Blanc and discussion of his work.  Date for broadcast is 8pm on Friday 20th March 2009.  I’ve done a quick update post here.
UPDATE.  Short feature and images @ Wired.com regarding PB’s recent vertical garden at the Athenaeum, London.  24 August 2009