Tag Archives: portraiture

Kickstarter Crowdfunding call for Alma Haser’s photo book Cosmic Surgery

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The book cover

It will be a photo book set in a fictional, not too distant future, at a point where “intelligent materials” are just about to transform the world of cosmetic surgery.

Today, I want to point readers of this blog to a crowdfunding campaign Cosmic Surgery Kickstarter by Alma Haser that has just six days to go.

Patient no. 16' Print

Patient no. 16′ Print

The book is based on a series of photographs made by Haser who creates sculptural portraits using origami shapes. These images play with dimension and space through transforming the sitter’s face into geometric shapes and patterns which deconstruct and then reimagine the original photographic portrait.

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Last year the team produced a limited edition of 10 books by hand and this campaign is to raise money to produce the second edition which will expand on the initial ideas. The book will be designed by Emily Macaulay (Stanley James Presswho has worked alongside Haser on the project, and will be accompanied by a story by science writer Piers Bizony, both of whom have helped to introduce a narrative background, layout and unique construction.

Alma hard at work finishing off the last of the Cosmic Surgery Portraits.

Alma finishing off the last of the Cosmic Surgery Portraits.

Page example from the second edition

Page example from the second edition

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The book will be limited to 500 copies and will have a hardcover printed and foil embossed. It will be 190x240mm (slightly smaller than A4) and contain 48 pages filled with the original portraits and a few new ones that haven’t been shown before. There will also be a number of smaller booklets inside, containing the written content. The book will also include a pop-up portrait and a folded one.

To make a pledge and for more information on the Cosmic Surgery Kickstarter campaign.

Photo Show – The Age of Anti-Ageing by Stewart Home and Chris Dorley-Brown at The Function Room London

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Becoming (M)other, Photo Chris Dorley-Brown

In a culture obsessed with the aesthetic rather than the fitness results of exercise, Anti-Ageing is more effectively achieved via digital manipulation than beauty products! From the press release

Stewart Home and Chris Dorley-Brown bring the past and the present together in The Age of Anti-Ageing which opens tonight and runs until 6 November in The Function Room. The Function Room hosts exhibitions and events in an upstairs room as the guests of the landlady of The Cock Tavern, and is run by Anthony Auerbach and Marlene Haring, with Dunya Kalantery. The latest exhibition comprises of two sets of digitally-manipulated composite family portraits merging mother and son, then and now, fiction and fact.

Becoming (M)other (set of 8 photographs, pigment giclée prints, each 584 × 690 mm)
“In 1966 Carla Hopkins took a series of fashion photographs of Julia Callan-Thompson, a club hostess who was hoping to become a model and movie actress. Julia landed a bit of film extra work and did press ads for products such as Max Factor lipstick but was soon devoting herself to a full time exploration of alternative realities in the company of such luminaries as Alex Trocchi, William Burroughs and Marianne Faithfull. In 2004, Julia’s son Stewart Home was photographed by Chris Dorley Brown imitating the poses from his mother’s 1966 modelling portfolio. A selection of the two sets of photographs were then morphed together to create a composite image of Julia at the age of twenty-two and her son Stewart aged 42.

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The Age of Anti-Ageing. Photo Chris Dorley-Brown

“The Age of Anti-Ageing, 2014 (set of 8 photographs, pigment giclée prints, each 584 × 690 mm)
In 2004 Stewart Home was photographed by Chris Dorley Brown imitating poses from photographs in his mother’s 1966 modelling portfolio. More recently, after noticing books with titles such as The Green Pharmacy: Anti-Ageing Prescriptions and The Anti-Ageing Beauty Bible lying around in the flats of friends, Stewart Home and Chris Dorley Brown decided to repose their 2004 restaged photographs a decade on. The photographs from 2004 and 2014 were then morphed together.

“Rationally the result should have been Stewart Home as he would have looked in 2005, but instead of this the morphs conjure up a timeless Stewart Home. Anti-Ageing books and products have become big business among the baby-boomer generation, but photographic manipulation makes them superfluous. In a culture obsessed with the aesthetic rather than the fitness results of exercise, Anti-Ageing is more effectively achieved via digital manipulation than beauty products!” From the press release

The show is curated by Clare Carolin

Upstairs at The Cock Tavern,
23 Phoenix Road,
London NW1 1HB
open: when the pub is open
admission: free

Moroccan stylist and photographer Hassan Hajjaj goes pop in The Future of Fashion Show Holland

Khadija Lagnawia, 2013
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Metallic Lambda print on Dibond with wood and found objects, 52.5 x 37 in. Courtesy of the artist and GUSFORD | los angeles

Summer may be on the wane but these bold bright portraits should cheer you up. Thanks to record producer and DJ Mark Moore for pointing me to this recent article on The Huffington Post about 53-year-old multidisciplinary artist Hassan Hajjaj who was born in Morocco and “moved to London in his teens, at the height of the punk craze”.

“For the last 15 years, he’s joined the two cultures, splitting his time between Marrakech and London as he turns out densely textured portrait photography that plays well in the West but requires North African artistry to even exist at all… His subjects are his current friends, who pose and dress in ways that translate into arresting hybrid art.” The Huffington Post

His flamboyant Pop-Up Pop-Art portraits combine elements of the traditional studio portrait with African-inspired textiles and props made from domestic and recycled bottles, tins and packets of food. Hajjaj is a self-taught artist, influenced by hip-hop, reggae and the club scene.

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Metallic Lambda print on Dibond with wood and found objects, 35.5 x 25.5 in. Courtesy of the artist and GUSFORD | los angeles

His work can be seen in the upcoming The Future of Fashion is Now exhibition on show from 11 October 2014 to 18 January 2015 at Museum Boijman Van Beuningen, Rotterdam, the Netherlands. “The exhibition examines the critical stance that young fashion designers worldwide are adopting with regard to ‘the fashion system’ and the role of clothes in contemporary society. Designers with non-Western backgrounds and designers from countries bordering Europe, where until recently there was little or no tradition of fashion, are actively seeking to transform the fashion system.” From Taymour Grahne Gallery website

Mr J. James, 2013
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Metallic Lambda print on Dibond with wood and found objects, 36.5 x 25 in. Courtesy of the artist and GUSFORD | los angeles.

Photo Stroll – Jane Hilton’s Precious launched as a book and on show at Eleven Gallery London

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Phewwww. There has been a lot happening and finding the time to write blog posts has been difficult recently. Not least as I got a new six-month part-time contract as Editorial Content Manager and Project Developer for Frame and Reference  – an online visual arts magazine and resource for the South East, not including London. Please check the site out, sign up to the E-bulletin and twitter feed and give me feedback as I develop the site to make it a go-to resource for anyone interested in what’s happening in the visual arts. Plus, Hotshoe has been relaunched and the website redeveloped. This means there will be changes afoot with regards to this blog also as I want to maintain editorial control, develop some of the content further and keep the personal feel that I have tried to build over the last three years. More of this another day. For now, I want to share with you some photos taken at the opening of photographer and filmmaker Jane Hilton’s new show, Precious, a collection of nude portraits of Nevada working girls. The title is apt and describes Hilton’s feelings towards her subjects: “To me, they are all precious,” she says.

In 2010, Jane decided to return to the American West for her latest book, Precious, a collection of intimate nude portraits of working girls. Hilton visited eleven brothels to find women prepared to be photographed in the nude. She first came across Madam Kitty’s Cathouse (Nevada, USA) in 1998 and returned in 2000 to film ten documentary films here as well as at the Moonlite Bunnyranch (Nevada, USA). The women in the photographs work in brothels where she had already built strong connections as well as smaller places, such as Shady Lady’s and Angel’s Ladies. Using a plate camera, with its associated slowess, became a bonding experience for Hilton as she discovered how some of the women had “issues about their own body shape” and unraveled different feelings about their journey as a working girl. “In some cases this became a very positive and cathartic experience,” Hilton notes.

“I hadn’t even thought about prostitution until I walked into a brothel. I was probably very naive, which actually in retrospect did me a favour. I am by nature very non-judgemental, and feel it very important to have experience of a subject matter before making any points of view about it. For the last fifteen years I have spent a lot of time getting to know the working girls from the legal houses in Nevada, producing ten documentary films and an exhibition. I know there are some incredible women hidden in these brothels and I wanted to show this. So I decided to go back again to make a series of intimate portraits in eleven different brothels across Nevada.” Jane Hilton.

Unlike many other photographic bodies of work on prostitution where the women remain anonymous with no attempts made to find the humanity in their physicality, Precious names the women (first names only) and focuses on the women, their stories, their lives, their bodies and the places where they work. The worlds and the lived lives of these women are embedded in the portraits and animate the women, unlike (for me) other recent photographic projects on the subject.

For now, I’m thinking of how some projects and approaches (Joachim Schmid’s, LA Women; Mishka Henner’s, No Man’s Land, and Scott Southern’s, Lowlife can be seen to fuel anonymity and separate the women from the audience, the world in general and the photographer/visual artist. At times in these projects, the focus seems to be on the project idea, above all. Schmid publishes police released-photos from the collection of a serial killer of women, some of whom may or may not be prostitutes, while Henner takes a conceptual approach using Google images where the “street women” have pixelated faces – in both cases distance is reproduced again. I will pick up on this in more detail in a future post and add to the discussion the question of how easy, or difficult, it has been for Hilton to get the work seen because many of the portraits show women in the nude.

Prostitution is one of the oldest professions and, although it is legal in Nevada, it is still not socially acceptable. Precious, according to Hilton, aims to challenge “traditional ideas of beauty” through showing women from different cultural backgrounds, ages and body shapes, as well as to challenge “misconceptions” surrounding prostitution. Precious, however, draws the viewer in and reveals as much about the women’s lives as their bodies. In this series, the overriding impression is that Hilton really does care about her subjects; she has observed and listened to these women in ways that go beyond what they do to make a living.

The portraits are (as always with Hilton’s work) intimate and gentle portrayals of different women working as prostitutes in Nevada, as well as some landscape images and details from the brothels, which help provide a context for the portraits. The approach is sensitive and the aesthetic is familiar from Hilton’s previous work including her debut book, Dead Eagle Trail – Portraits of the American Cowboy. Look out for Chelsea, a former drug and sex addict who planned on a career in forensic science; Cassie, a bright and sunny optimist, who, as a young woman had to overcome the bleakest of pasts after witnessing her mother’s murder by a brutal stepfather, and who looks to a future where her ambition is to be a businesswoman and philanthropist. Then there’s Nikki, who, three months into her pregnancy, became a prostitute to save money for single motherhood; and Sonia, a married 52-year-old writer living in a brothel with her husband.

Precious is on show at Eleven Gallery, London and runs until 26 May. The hardback book is published by Schilt Publishing and is available for £35.

Photo Fun – Intimate Portraits Near and Far Over a Century

Barry Adamson

Barry Adamson, © photo by Barry Adamson

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Anne Gavin and Miranda Gavin, photographer unknown. 1965

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Olive Bevis, photographer unknown, circa 1910.

It’s been one hell of a week. A Siberian Front hit Brighton and everything turned white and came to a stand still for a couple of days. Work got in the way of being able to post regularly and blog life took a back seat. Until today.

So, I thought I’d ease myself back into the blogosphere with some intimate monotone portraits spanning 1910 to 2013. It shouldn’t be hard to guess the years.

Thanks to Barry Adamson, who is currently on tour with Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds; to my lovely mum for allowing me to share this studio portrait of her with me (the gormless one); and to my maternal great grandmother, Olive Bevis, who I never met but who loved a good read.

Enjoy.