Svalbard – An Arcticficial Life by Paris-based Julia de Cooker, born 1988, a French/Dutch photographer, educated at ECAL, the School of Art and Design in Lausanne, Switzerland, portrays an archipelago in the very north of mainland Europe.
According to Wikipedia, Svalbard, a Norwegian archipelago in the Arctic Ocean, about midway between continental Norway and the North Pole, was until 1925 known by its Dutch name Spitsbergen.
What do people do in such a remote place? How do they make a living? When, in 1596, the Dutch seafarer Willem Barentsz arrived at these islands, they became an international whaling base and also a point of departure for expeditions to the North Pole. And then there was also coal mining. Nowadays, the city of Longyearbyen, once known as a mining town, features hotels, restaurants and the University of Svalbard, founded in 1994, one of the most renowned places for the study of Arctic Science, I understand.
Julia de Cooker writes: “About two thousand people from more than forty countries live in the city. They take advantage of the special status of Svalbard, which allows them to live there without visas or working permits.” This is pretty exceptional indeed and I would have very much liked to discover as to why that is – yet the book doesn’t provide such information. I would also have appreciated to learn about the personal views of people living there, about their motivation to choose life in such a remote part of the planet etc.
Well, there are the pictures and they are testimony to something truly extraordinary. They visually complement Julia de Cookers interesting observations and deliberations. For instance, Svalbard is a place without tradition, there has never been an indigenuous community. Also, a quarter of the population is changing every year. Last but not least: “The combination of elements that have nothing to do with each other, or with the natural environment, is gripping. Is the presence of a limousine not surprising in a place where schools hold safety drills in case of a visit by a polar bear, where the priest moves about by helicopter, where houses so close to the North Pole have balconies?”
I’m fascinated by wide and empty spaces, especially the desert and the arctic. And, while I do know that there is quite some life out there in that nowhere, it is not what comes to mind when I look at these pictures of polar landscapes that show me a not exactly welcoming nature that can, obviously, do without human beings. Instead, I wonder why somebody would want to live in a place so far from what most people would term civilisation.
Julia de Cooker does not attempt to answer such questions but shows the strangeness that she must have felt when in Svalbard. She doesn’t question what she encountered, she documents it. And, in so doing lets the viewer wonder as much as she did when she arrived in this science fiction kind of place.
Life is truly stranger than fiction, and Svalbard – An Arcticficial Life once again proves it.
Kehrer Verlag, Heidelberg 2017
The 2017 Filter Photo Festival kicked off on Thursday, September 21st. The events continue through Sunday, September 24th; with workshops, portfolio reviews, artist talks and exhibitions all coordinated throughout the four days of the festival.
The festival includes a number of events and talks that are free and open to the public at several locations in the loop area and local galleries. The full schedule is available at Filter Photo’s site: http://filterphoto.org/filter-festival/
Thursday’s events were capped off with exhibition openings. Filter Photo held its first Members’ Exhibition, Prime. Juror, Kat Kiernan, Director of Panopticon Gallery and Editor-in-Chief of Don’t Take Pictures magazine, chose five artists for an installation at Fogelson Studio. All of the submitted work can be seen in the online exhibition, which represents the quality and breadth of work being produced by Filter Photo Members.
Juror, Jennifer Keats, Director of The Donut Shop, chose a compelling assortment of small works for the show at Filter Space Gallery, we like small things. Keats invited 30 artists who created the small and unique works in we like small things, each motivated to create artwork of the highest standards both in its materiality and its meaning. The history of photographic prints and the attitude toward their size has been an ever-changing one. People have much more cognitive over-load than ever before, and that can take a toll. In a world in which viewers are increasingly assaulted with imagery, artworks in small scales allow us a sense of control, a space to retreat, when we are able to fit it into the palm of our hands.
The third exhibit opening was Deception. The show’s juror, Brian Paul Clamp, Director, ClampArt, wrote this about the exhibition, “Deception and deceit typically are perceived as dark and ominous. But one can also fall victim to less treacherous duplicity—trickery more playful in nature. My inclusions in the exhibition include both formal and conceptual deceptions. And while some of the strong work in the show naturally might feel sinister and at times even frightening, there is an equal amount of lighthearted mischievousness and fun—representing balance and parity rather than a single-sided interpretation of the theme”.
Events continue throughout the weekend – For more information about the Filter Photo Festival, including schedule of events, workshops, portfolio review sessions, and contact information – please visit the Filter Photo website: www.filterphoto.org
F-Stop Magazine is a proud media sponsor of Filter Photo Festival.
Opening reception: Thursday, September 28, 5:30 – 7:30 PM
“For six decades, Emmet Gowin has contemplated humanity’s relationship to the natural world with visual wonderment. His pictures have evolved from intimate portraits of his Virginia family, to aerial vistas of volcanic devastation and nuclear test sites, to scientific surveys of tropical ecosystems and their dependent biodiversity. Though varied, Gowin’s subjects remain united by a celebration of place and are permeated by the enduring presence — whether literal or figurative — of his wife and muse, Edith. The featured images are therefore a natural continuation of his earlier work, Mariposas Nocturnas – Edith in Panama, presented by Pace/MacGill as both an exhibition and catalogue in 2006, as well as a companion to Gowin’s recent monograph, Mariposas Nocturnas: Moths of Central and South America, A Study in Beauty and Diversity, published by Princeton University Press this fall.”
at 32 East 57th Street in New York City
OPENING RECEPTION Wednesday, November 15, 6:00-8:00pm
“The idyllic and playful world of The Peconic Bay in Southampton, NY dances to life in Luciana Pampalone’s first solo exhibition. Each location was scouted by Pampalone and transformed into a vintage 1930s setting by the use of her models and props. A Graphlex camera, aviator goggles, parasols, retro bathing suits and games of croquet, (just to name a few) subtly tamper with the past, breathing life back into the 1930s. Moment by moment, Pampalone encapsulates the ephemeral quality of life, bending and blending human subjects within the natural landscape.”
Robin Rice Gallery
325 W 11TH ST NYC 10014 BETWEEN GREENWICH & WASHINGTON STS
Andrej Balco, Jan Brykczynski, Andrei Liankevich, Michal & Lstrok; uczak, Rafa & lstrok; Milach, Adam Pa nacute; Czuk, Agnieszka Rayss
Opening: September 28, 19:00
“The continuously expanding archival collection Lost Territories Archive (LTA) is the starting point for changing exhibition concepts of the artist collective SPUTNIK PHOTOS. Founded in 2006 by photographers from Poland, Belarus and Slovakia, it uses the individual experiences of its members as a starting point for an analysis of socio-political processes and socio-cultural phenomena in the former Soviet republics. Within the last decade, a large part of photographic inventory was generated in this way, documenting the development and transformation of the former Eastern Bloc. ”
FOTOHOF / Inge-Morath-Platz 1-3 / 5020 Salzburg / Austria
Opening Reception: September 23, 2017 from 6 – 8PM
Conversation with Pam Butler & Leigh Ledare: Thursday, October 12, 2017 at 7PM
“Pam Butler’s work explores the nuanced ways in which images reflect cultural coding and social structures. She focuses on the caricatured generic image, where stereotypes and their social myths become exposed. Through repetition, Butler highlights the need for conformity that lurks below our conscious awareness. Her work digs into the inherent contradictions and barely hidden absurdities that lie within our social norms.”
Baxter St at CCNY
126 Baxter Street
New York, NY 10013
Opening of the exhibition: 18. September 2017, at 20h
“The project is articulated through a fine tension between this moment of history and the history of art itself. Drawing inspiration from Ancient Greek storytelling and art pieces depicting mythological heroes, Tančič rejected a standard documentary approach in favor of something more personal. This allowed him to not only focus on real human destinies in a unique way, but also to portray his subjects in a completely new perspective. Essentially, Tančič decided to exploit, as French theorist G. Didi-Huberman put it, an anachronistic character of the image. This means that even though the Hḗrōs project serves as a witness of current humanitarian and political problems, Tančič found a way to escape the simplistic logic of mass-media coverage by opening a multi-layered space of artistic and historical reflection.”
Levstikov trg 7, 1000 Ljubljana
The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant was directly impacted by an earthquake on the 3rd of March, 2011. Tsunami waves breeched the perimeter of the power facility, and the resulting flood waters caused the plant to shut down. Overheated reactors exploded, radioactivity was released via the air and in water that washed into the sea. A thirty mile exclusion zone was established and a mass exodus of residents scattered out across Japan. Whole towns and villages were evacuated. Some villages were completely washed away by the sea. In these places, quite literally, the clock stopped on 3/11. Cats and farm animals starved in the streets. Food rotted in restaurant bowls. Open school books lie in place on desks. Non-essential belongings sit abandoned on the beds, counters, and surfaces in thousands of homes. Silence reigned.
In 2016, the residents of the town of Tomioka were given permission to return to walk their streets in the midst of a beautiful display of cherry blossoms. Rebecca Bathory was finally given permission to photograph in the exclusion zone — to capture for future generations this dark yet hopeful moment in their history.
This collection of images is intended to capture the sadness of a moment in history, a moment that is relevant to us all — no matter your politics or stance on nuclear power. In the end, these macro-economic decisions are measured out in individual human lives, losses and hopes.
Also, Fukushima is about more than just the kind of images that fit into the trope of melancholy, abandoned scenes. Bathory’s images contain a palpable absence of people who inhabited these scenes. The images of the city, the houses, stores, and streets are so complete in their absence of people. The disaster story of the nuclear plant accident, and the resulting purge of residents to safety, is very different than images of a building or hospital or school where one knows that people used to frequent those spaces at some time in the past. Here are entire cities where you know people are supposed to be now.
Bathory has photographed other similar locations, most notably Chernobyl. She says in her book that she photographed there, and one could deduce in Japan as well, because “as nature claims back the buildings that once thrived with life, in years to come they become just ruins and the photos I have taken on these trips will serve as a historical record. These photos are a reminder for me of that tragic event, and to those that view them show the fragility of human existence and how powers such as this should be treated carefully so as not to allow events like this to happen again.”
Return to Fukushima
by Rebecca Bathory
192 pages, Hardback
Published by Carpet Bombing Culture
Rebecca Bathory is a photographer based in the UK. She has published a number of photo books that ‘find beauty in darkness, poetry and meaning in the forgotten and surreal, imaginary worlds amongst decay.’ To see more of her work, please visit: http://www.rebeccabathory.com/
The objective of Festival, according to Aquin Mathews, is to create a platform to appreciate, debate and question the medium of photography by bringing international and local talent on one single platform, help them learn from each other. “Photography is a universal language”, says Aquin and has been a great educator all these years. It has the power to change the society, he added. .”
Key Exhibitions: –
Before it’s too late by Mathieu Willcocks | UK
Landscape by Cecilia Paredes | PERU
Philippines Drug Wars by Kate Geraghty – Sydney Morning Herald | AUSTRALIA
Celebrity Portraits by the Photographers from Sydney Morning Herald | Australia
The Rescue by Francesco Giusti | ITALY
The Hungry Tide by Swastik Pal | INDIA
Empathy by Sudharak Olwe | INDIA
Head On Photo festival | Australia
Water by Hikari Creative
IPF Portrait Prize | INDIA
For more info: www.indianphotofest.com
State Art Gallery, Madhapur
“Struth’s work takes viewers into spaces which are not accessible to most people, such as aeronautical centers, robotics laboratories, surgical suites, and nuclear fusion facilities. His photographs examine the human attempts to understand and harness forces of nature. Conveying a sense of awe at their scale and complexity, Struth has pushed the limits of the photographic medium, generating works—such as “Space Shuttle 1”—that are more than 12 feet wide.”
Saint Louis Art Museum
One Fine Arts Drive
St. Louis, MO 63110