Posts Tagged ‘family photographs

17
Jul
19

Exhibition: ‘Every Past Is My Past’ (photographs from the Fortepan digital photo archives) at the Hungarian National Gallery (MNG), Budapest

Exhibition dates: 16th April – 25th August 2019

Curator of the exhibition: István Virágvölgyi
Co-curator: Miklós Tamási
Curatorial assistant: Mária Madár

The catalog is a richly illustrated catalog in Hungarian and English.

 

 

Unknown photographer. 'Untitled' 1948

 

Unknown photographer
Untitled
1948
Fortepan / Capital of Budapest Archives

 

 

In seeking to understand the past, present and future of a people and a country, the importance of analysing the pictures stored within a historical photographic archive cannot be underestimated. The photographs in an archive such as the Hungarian Fortepan digital photo archive are a form of cultural memory, a collective consciousness, in pictures, of the numerous lifelines of the people of that country, its history, it triumphs, its trials and tribulations. Jean-Paul Sartre observes, “Time … is everywhere a self-transcendence and a referring of the before to the after and of the after to the before…” Photographs do this very well, as the future beyond the click of the shutter, becomes past time; that very time is then transcended back into present time, the past into the present embracing the future, when someone looks at an “old” photograph. The old is young again.

The Fortepan digital photo archive usually de/pics anonymous people taken by unknown photographers in sometimes known, sometimes unknown settings. It represents “Hungary’s 20th century history, the images focusing on the lives of ordinary people and their experiences, as conveyed by private photographers.” These vernacular photographs act as a tabula rasa,1 a touchstone for hidden stories and histories. The prima materia, the base material of chaos, forms a clean slate (tabula rasa) on which is written the order of the image. Out of light emerges darkness, the inversion that is the negative, which is then made positive again during printing. The etching of light onto the negative builds up a story first seen in the mind’s eye – that knowledge then decoded (or not) through experience and perception: how do you interpret a photograph? What language does it speak? Do you understand what it is saying? The before to the after and the after to the before…

And then we see. Images of happy human beings hanging from a crossbar; a young boy with amputation looking quizzically at the camera while a doctor and nurses pose stiffly, sullenly; and the horrors of war and an uprising that failed. The bits and pieces of lives and people and places and things and events and wars and death and youth and happiness and fun. A palimpsest. The past presently emerging, the present being constantly overwritten, the future embedded in the past. We are but a speck, an infinitesimal speck in the cosmos, not even a micron of a grain of sand in the fluidity of space/time.

“Even our experience of time and space, argues Jameson, has been transformed under postmodernism. Time has collapsed into a perpetual present, in which everything from the past has been severed from its historical context in order to circulate anew in the present, devoid of its original meanings but contributing to the cluttered texture of our commodified surroundings. The result, he writes, is historical amnesia, a lack of knowledge about the past that, in its pathological form, resembles the schizophrenic’s inability to remember anything and consequent inability to sustain a coherent identity.”2

What the photographs of the Fortepan archive let us achieve is to compile an incomplete, an in/coherent but valid identity from a certain perspective (and that is very important). As with any system of classification, it all depends who is looking and from what point of view. They also let us meditate on our brief existence in order to say, we were/are/will be here. And it mattered.

I look forward to hopefully meeting my friends Tamás Németh and Miklós Tamási when I am in Budapest soon.

Dr Marcus Bunyan

 

  1. Tabula rasa is the theory that individuals are born without built-in mental content and that therefore all knowledge comes from experience or perception.
  2. Jameson, Frederic. Postmodernism, or, The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism. Duke University Press, Durham, N.C., 1991, p. 419 quoted in Springer, Claudia. Electronic Eros: Bodies and Desire in the Postindustrial Age. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1996, p. 40

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Many thankx to the Hungarian National Gallery, Tamás Németh, Ákos Szepessy and the Fortepan digital photo archives for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

 

 

“Time … is everywhere a self-transcendence and a referring of the before to the after and of the after to the before … If time is considered by itself, it immediately dissolves into an absolute multiplicity of instants which considered separately lose all temporal nature and are reduced pure and simply to the total a-temporality of the this.”

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Satre, Jean-Paul. Being and Nothingness. (trans. Hazel Barnes). London: Methuen, 1966, p. 215.

 

“Fortepan is a collective effort at “codebreaking” the assembled scanned negatives, to decipher what is there before us in the image. Fortepan has become a public resource of the Hungarian audio-visual culture.”

“In a word, Fortepan perhaps helps to make the 20th century, with all its turns and twists, a little more understandable, bearable and emotionally fathomable.”

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Miklós Tamási, Founder of Fortepan

 

“The archive is one that is free, high resolution, and operates based on Creative Commons 3. This means that it can be used free of charge even for commercial purposes. Even in such cases, people don’t owe us anything.”

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András Török, Cultural Manager of Fortepan

 

 

 

 

VIRTUAL TOUR OF THE EXHIBITION

 

 

Unknown photographer. 'Untitled (amputation)' 1916

 

Unknown photographer
Untitled (amputation)
1916
Fortepan / Capital of Budapest Archives

 

Unknown photographer. 'Hungary, Slovakia, Esztergom the Castle Hill and the Basilica from the Maria-Valeria Bridge' 1900

 

Unknown photographer
Hungary, Slovakia, Esztergom the Castle Hill and the Basilica from the Maria-Valeria Bridge
1900
Fortepan / Capital of Budapest Archives

 

 

Unknown photographer. 'Hungary, Balaton, Siofok' 1920

 

Unknown photographer
Hungary, Balaton, Siofok
1920
Fortepan / Capital of Budapest Archives

 

Unknown photographer. 'Hungary, Rácalmás opposite the Catholic Church (demolished in 1969)' 1920

 

Unknown photographer
Hungary, Rácalmás opposite the Catholic Church (demolished in 1969)
1920
Fortepan / Capital of Budapest Archives

 

Unknown photographer. 'Hungary, Budapest III., Óbuda Óbuda Shipyard, Danube branch next to Hajógyári Island, BL floating crane and two DDSG barge' 1920

 

Unknown photographer
Hungary, Budapest III., Óbuda Óbuda Shipyard, Danube branch next to Hajógyári Island, BL floating crane and two DDSG barge
1920
Fortepan / Capital of Budapest Archives

 

 

From the material of the popular Fortepan digital photo archive, a selection of more than three hundred pieces at the Hungarian National Gallery is presented. The exhibited pictures are closely related to Hungary’s 20th century history. The age in which they were made is manifested in many different ways in these images, but the emphasis is on the view and life events of the average person through the private photographs that provide the backbone of the collection.

Representing Hungary’s 20th century history, the images focus on the lives of ordinary people and their experiences, as conveyed by private photographers.

The founders of the collection, two high school classmates Miklós Tamási and Ákos Szepessy, began to collect the photographs in the digital Fortepan archives back in the 1980s. They launched an online site with 5,000 digitised images in 2010. Today the collection numbers 110,000 photos.

Each photograph in the exhibition tells a story. In some cases these stories can be reconstructed, but in most others the people in the pictures are no longer known, and neither are the circumstances in which the photo was taken, allowing visitors to use their imagination and invent their own stories linked to the images.

 

Unknown photographer. 'Untitled (woman and boy)' 1935

 

Unknown photographer
Untitled (woman and boy)
1935
Fortepan / Capital of Budapest Archives

 

Unknown photographer. 'Romania, Transylvania, Strait of Békés' 1935

 

Unknown photographer
Romania, Transylvania, Strait of Békés
1935
Fortepan / Capital of Budapest Archives

 

Unknown photographer. 'Slovakia, Three Revuca highway between Veľký Šturec pass and village, opposite Čierny Kameň' 1935

 

Unknown photographer
Slovakia, Three Revuca highway between Veľký Šturec pass and village, opposite Čierny Kameň
1935
Fortepan / Capital of Budapest Archives

 

Unknown photographer. 'Hungary, Szentes St. Imre street, opposite number 5' 1936

 

Unknown photographer
Hungary, Szentes St. Imre street, opposite number 5
1936
Fortepan / Capital of Budapest Archives

 

 

Unknown photographer. 'Hungary, Budapest VIII. Tavaszmező utca 1, Gartner Károly, writer of sipotei Golgotha' 1942

 

Unknown photographer
Hungary, Budapest VIII. Tavaszmező utca 1, Gartner Károly, writer of sipotei Golgotha
1942
Fortepan / Capital of Budapest Archives

 

 

Gartner Károly (author) Gyula Komjáti (graphics). A Sipotei Golgotha: Romániai Rabmagyarok Története (A Sipotei Golgotha: The history of the Romanian prisoners of Hungarians). G. Z. Hartrampf I, 1932

The name of Șipotele, even for those interested in history, is mostly unknown. One of the most inhumane prisoners of war prisons in the First World War was established near this Romanian settlement, and most of the prisoners were Hungarian. Șipotele was located near the Romanian-Russian border at the time, eight kilometres from the Prut River and 40 kilometers south of lași.

 

Gartner Károly. 'A Sipotei Golgotha: Romániai Rabmagyarok Története' 1932 book cover

 

Gartner Károly (1908-1972) (author)
Gyula Komjáti (1894-1958) (graphics)
G. Z. Hartrampf I (publisher)
A Sipotei Golgotha: Romániai Rabmagyarok Története
Golgotha ​​Sipotei: The history of the Romanian prisoners of Hungarians
1932
Book cover

 

 

Gartner Károly (1908-1972) was born in Transylvania and married Irén Weigand, an officer of the Waterworks in Székesfehérvár, in 1936. Károly Gartner was mentioned in his thirties and forties as a result of his reminiscences of Golgotha, which depicts the death of fourteen thousand Hungarian prisoners of war from the experiences of the First World War. Together with his wife he also wrote a Hungarian song titled Cherry Blossom, was former director of the Phoenix Chocolate Shop, was the national director of the Bethlen István National Unity Party, and from 1938 he was the head of the Municipal Food Plant in Budapest.

Gyula Komjáti (1894-1958) was a Hungarian graphic artist, painter and teacher. He studied at Olgyai Viktors at the College of Fine Arts in Budapest. He was captured in World War I; it has become known through the graphics and etchings of the Sipotei prison camp. In 1926 he won the Ernst Prize and the Zichy Prize. Between 1927 and 1929 he spent a longer time in London with a state scholarship. He also captured World War II in drawings. From 1953 he was a teacher at the Budapest School of Fine Arts and Applied Arts.

 

Gyula Komjáti (1894-1958) 'Csendélet Sipotén' 1917

 

Gyula Komjáti (1894-1958)
Csendélet Sipotén
1917
Drawing for the book Golgotha Sipotei

 

Unknown photographer. 'Untitled' 1942

 

Unknown photographer
Untitled
1942
Fortepan / Capital of Budapest Archives

 

Unknown photographer. 'Hungary, Budapest XIV., City Park, Budapest International Fair showing captured Soviet I-15 Csajka fighter wreck' 1942

 

Unknown photographer
Hungary, Budapest XIV., City Park, Budapest International Fair showing captured Soviet I-15 Csajka fighter wreck
1942
Fortepan / Capital of Budapest Archives

 

 

Polikarpov I-15

The Polikarpov I-15 (Russian: И-15) was a Soviet biplane fighter aircraft of the 1930s. Nicknamed Chaika (Russian: Чайка, “Seagull”) because of its gulled upper wings, it was operated in large numbers by the Soviet Air Force, and together with the Polikarpov I-16 monoplane, was one of the standard fighters of the Spanish Republicans during the Spanish Civil War, where it was called Chato (snub-nose).

More than 1,000 I-15bis fighters were still in Soviet use during the German invasion when the biplane was employed in the ground attack role. By late 1942, all I-15s and I-15bis’ were relegated to second line duties.

Text from the Wikipedia website

 

Kogo. 'Polikarpov I-15bis 'Bort 19' (Aviarestoration)' 2005

 

Kogo
Polikarpov I-15bis ‘Bort 19’ (Aviarestoration)
2005
CC 2.0

 

Unknown photographer. 'Untitled' 1943

 

Unknown photographer
Untitled
1943
Fortepan / Capital of Budapest Archives

 

 

More than 110,000 photographs of Fortepan’s digital collection were collected by two high school classmates, Miklós Tamási and Ákos Szepessy in the 1980s. After the regular, but possibly collecting, amateur photos and negatives appearing on the out of stock markets, they launched their Internet site in 2010 with the publication of 5,000 digitised photos. Soon, many private individuals and public institutions have joined the donating circle of 600 people, whose images are expanding monthly with the archive.

The two most important features of Fortepan’s archive (named after the most popular amateur film by amateur photographers of the former Vác Forte) are free and common. Shared because it is made up of our pictures and is about our world. Shared because it is based on volunteers. Shared because anyone can help identify individual locations and people. Free because it is freely available to anyone without any restrictions, and images can be used without royalty.

It belongs to all the photos in the exhibition, it was a story. In the fortunate case, this story can be recalled, but in most cases it is no longer known what the individuals in the photos are, the history of the individual images – so the visitor’s imagination is left to see the story behind the photo.  Today’s background stories provide an insight into the misery of the world champion, who is modelled on the figure on the back of the old twenty-pound banknote, or the rescue of a burnt photo archive. In addition to this, the exhibition is strongly summoned by the ruined Budapest destroyed during World War II; visitors can walk through an imaginary capital street with pictures taken over decades and in different places, placed in the position of Fortepan editors and picking pictures of a legacy; or read into the many readers’ letters written to Fortepan.

In the exhibition, as well as in a large, common family photo album, along the paths of human life, photographs taken before the 1990s are followed by a total of about 200 pieces. For the first time in this exhibition, the main characters are children, then young people, adults and finally the elderly. In addition, we present more than 150 photos, of which sixteen well-described stories are drawn. Including the 2 World War II fronts – as a war correspondent saw; the idyll of rural life with the eyes of a photographic painter; barely photographed history of the Hungarian Holocaust; life in Transylvania during the dictatorship of the 1980s or everyday life of a First World War Prisoner in Siberia. The pictures of Budapest, destroyed by war, or youth sports with the defence content of the Cold War years form a separate story. But there is more unity in the last years of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy, pictures of the Stalin statue in 1956, photographs of the rebellious youth of the 1970s and 1980s, or banned photos of commuters from 1964. The sixteen stories, with their associated photos and their complementary items, appear in a separate installation at the exhibition.

In our centuries-old common history, the exhibition updates our memory of the memories that are directly and directly linked to us, just as Zsuzsa Rakovszky puts it in his poem Fortepan: “Every past is my past”.

Text from the Hungarian National Gallery website [Online] Cited 29/06/2019

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Every Past Is My Past' at the Hungarian National Gallery (MNG), Budapest

Installation view of the exhibition 'Every Past Is My Past' at the Hungarian National Gallery (MNG), Budapest

Installation view of the exhibition 'Every Past Is My Past' at the Hungarian National Gallery (MNG), Budapest

Installation view of the exhibition 'Every Past Is My Past' at the Hungarian National Gallery (MNG), Budapest

Installation view of the exhibition 'Every Past Is My Past' at the Hungarian National Gallery (MNG), Budapest

Installation view of the exhibition 'Every Past Is My Past' at the Hungarian National Gallery (MNG), Budapest

Installation view of the exhibition 'Every Past Is My Past' at the Hungarian National Gallery (MNG), Budapest

Installation view of the exhibition 'Every Past Is My Past' at the Hungarian National Gallery (MNG), Budapest

Installation view of the exhibition 'Every Past Is My Past' at the Hungarian National Gallery (MNG), Budapest

Installation view of the exhibition 'Every Past Is My Past' at the Hungarian National Gallery (MNG), Budapest

Installation view of the exhibition 'Every Past Is My Past' at the Hungarian National Gallery (MNG), Budapest

Installation view of the exhibition 'Every Past Is My Past' at the Hungarian National Gallery (MNG), Budapest

Installation view of the exhibition 'Every Past Is My Past' at the Hungarian National Gallery (MNG), Budapest

Installation view of the exhibition 'Every Past Is My Past' at the Hungarian National Gallery (MNG), Budapest

Installation view of the exhibition 'Every Past Is My Past' at the Hungarian National Gallery (MNG), Budapest

Installation view of the exhibition 'Every Past Is My Past' at the Hungarian National Gallery (MNG), Budapest

Installation view of the exhibition 'Every Past Is My Past' at the Hungarian National Gallery (MNG), Budapest

Installation view of the exhibition 'Every Past Is My Past' at the Hungarian National Gallery (MNG), Budapest

Installation view of the exhibition 'Every Past Is My Past' at the Hungarian National Gallery (MNG), Budapest

Installation view of the exhibition 'Every Past Is My Past' at the Hungarian National Gallery (MNG), Budapest

Installation view of the exhibition 'Every Past Is My Past' at the Hungarian National Gallery (MNG), Budapest

Installation view of the exhibition 'Every Past Is My Past' at the Hungarian National Gallery (MNG), Budapest

Installation view of the exhibition 'Every Past Is My Past' at the Hungarian National Gallery (MNG), Budapest

Installation view of the exhibition 'Every Past Is My Past' at the Hungarian National Gallery (MNG), Budapest

 

Installation views of the exhibition Every Past Is My Past at the Hungarian National Gallery (MNG), Budapest

 

 

About Fortepan

Fortepan is a copyright-free and community-based photo archive with over 100,000 photographs available for anyone to browse and download in high-resolution, free of charge. The images are free to share with the appropriate credit given as FORTEPAN / NAME OF DONOR. Please do provide the full credit at all times as it is a tribute to the selfless contribution of the donor.

This website was launched in 2010 by Ákos Szepessy and Miklós Tamási and it initially contained photographs found randomly in the streets of Budapest. The archive has expanded since then through donations from families, amateur and professional photographers, along with public collections. The images on the website are selected by editors. The descriptions attached to the images are compiled and edited by volunteers, utilising information contributed at the Fortepan Forum. We gladly offer to process your photographs and negatives as well, you can contact us at fortepan@gmail.com.

Fortepan’s collaborators are: László Gál, Luca Jávor, László Lajtai, Pál Négyesi, Tamás Németh, András Pálfi, Zsolt Pálinkás, Gábor Péter, Dávid Sándor, Gyula Simon, Miklós Tamási, András Török, János Varga, János F. Varga. Fortepan’s work is supported by Arcanum, Blinken OSA Archivum, Archive of Modern Conflict and Forum Hungaricum Nonprofit Kft. Administrative management is provided by Summa Artium Nonprofit Kft.

Text from the Fortepan website

 

Unknown photographer. 'Hungary, Uzsa (at that time part of the Lesenceistvánd settlement), Liget utca' 1950

 

Unknown photographer
Hungary, Uzsa (at that time part of the Lesenceistvánd settlement), Liget utca
1950
Fortepan / Capital of Budapest Archives

 

Unknown photographer. 'Hungary on 8126 from Söréd and Csákberény towards Csákberény. To the right is the Bodajk-Gánt railway' 1950s

 

Unknown photographer
Hungary on 8126 from Söréd and Csákberény towards Csákberény. To the right is the Bodajk-Gánt railway
1950s
Fortepan / Capital of Budapest Archives

 

Unknown photographer. 'Hungary, Budapest VII. Elizabeth (Lenin) road from New York Palace to Blaha Lujza Square' 1956

 

Unknown photographer
Hungary, Budapest VII. Elizabeth (Lenin) road from New York Palace to Blaha Lujza Square
1956
Fortepan / Capital of Budapest Archives

 

Unknown photographer. 'Hungary, Budapest V. South of Kossuth Lajos Square, underground construction area' 1956

 

Unknown photographer
Hungary, Budapest V. South of Kossuth Lajos Square, underground construction area
1956
Fortepan / Capital of Budapest Archives

 

Unknown photographer. 'Hungary, Budapest VIII. II. Pope John Paul (Republic) Square, main entrance of the Erkel Theater' 1956

 

Unknown photographer
Hungary, Budapest VIII. II. Pope John Paul (Republic) Square, main entrance of the Erkel Theater
1956
Fortepan / Capital of Budapest Archives

 

 

Unknown photographer. 'Untitled' 1957

 

Unknown photographer
Untitled
1957
Fortepan / Capital of Budapest Archives

 

Unknown photographer. 'Untitled' 1957

 

Unknown photographer
Untitled
1957
Fortepan / Capital of Budapest Archives

 

Unknown photographer. 'Untitled' 1957

 

Unknown photographer
Untitled
1957
Fortepan / Capital of Budapest Archives

 

Unknown photographer. 'Untitled' 1969

 

Unknown photographer
Untitled
1969
Fortepan / Capital of Budapest Archives

 

Unknown photographer. 'Untitled' 1969

 

Unknown photographer
Untitled
1969
Fortepan / Capital of Budapest Archives

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Every Past Is My Past' at the Hungarian National Gallery (MNG), Budapest

Installation view of the exhibition 'Every Past Is My Past' at the Hungarian National Gallery (MNG), Budapest

Installation view of the exhibition 'Every Past Is My Past' at the Hungarian National Gallery (MNG), Budapest

Installation view of the exhibition 'Every Past Is My Past' at the Hungarian National Gallery (MNG), Budapest

Installation view of the exhibition 'Every Past Is My Past' at the Hungarian National Gallery (MNG), Budapest

Installation view of the exhibition 'Every Past Is My Past' at the Hungarian National Gallery (MNG), Budapest

Installation view of the exhibition 'Every Past Is My Past' at the Hungarian National Gallery (MNG), Budapest

Installation view of the exhibition 'Every Past Is My Past' at the Hungarian National Gallery (MNG), Budapest

 

Installation views of the exhibition Every Past Is My Past at the Hungarian National Gallery (MNG), Budapest

 

 

Hungarian National Gallery
1014 Budapest, Szent György Square 2
Central Telephone: +361 201 9082

Opening hours
Tuesday to Sunday 10.00 to 18.00
Monday closed

Fortepan website

Hungarian National Gallery website

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08
Jul
12

Review: Lost & Found: Family Photos Swept away by the 3.11 East Japan Tsunami’ at the Centre for Contemporary Photography (CCP), Fitzroy, Melbourne

Exhibition dates: 1st June – 15th July 2012

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Opening of the Lost & Found exhibition at the CCP

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This is an profound exhibition of photographs that have been lost then found. Too damaged to be returned to the families of their missing owners after the 3.11 East Japan Tsunami they have been cleaned, dried, digitally catalogued and put on display. As remnants of disaster they have taken on an ethereal, abstract expressionist beauty.

Like Atget’s photographs (his “documents for artists”) they were never meant to be “art”, but through morphogenesis these snapshots of places, family and friends reveal their inherent form. This beginning of form has been exposed through displacement, washing and erasure. Through this process of erasure these anonymous images reveal their underlying structure with its link to alchemy, as the image dis/appears from view; they have become unfixed (as in the fixer that stabilises the image in the analogue darkroom) from reality. In this process they have become art.

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The images are incredibly beautiful.

They hid secrets (of ownership, names, families and places, of time and space).

Something (energy, spirit?) emerges when you least expect it.

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Photographs are coded, but usually so as to appear uncoded but here the link to the indexicality of the image – the idea of the visible as evidence of truth – has been broken. These photographs, taken out of their original context, have lost their specific use value in the particular time and place of their consumption. The fragmentation of this use value, together with the dissolution of their formal characteristics, means that they are freed of the conditions that limit and determine their meaning.1 As Annette Kuhn has written in The Power of the Image“Meanings do not reside in images, then: they are circulated between representation, spectator and social function.”2 And in these images all three things have changed.

Further, the link between the image and its referent, the photograph and the thing being photographed has been irreversibly broken. As the French critic Maurice Blanchot has written, “The image has nothing to do with signification, meaning, as implied by the existence of the world, the effort of truth, the law and the brightness of the day. Not only is the image of an object not the meaning of that object and of no help in comprehending it, but it tends to withdraw it from its meaning by maintaining it in the immobility of a resemblance that it has nothing to resemble.”3 In other words (and especially in these photographs) it is this severance of meaning and its object, this resemblance of nothing.

But think about this idea:

THINK ABOUT THE IDEA OF RE(AS)SEMBLANCE!
DOES THE PHOTOGRAPH REASSEMBLE A SIGNIFICATION, A MEANING WHOLLY ITS OWN, OR IS THAT RE(AS)SEMBLANCE PART OF THE ORIGINAL MEANING OF THE OBJECT PHOTOGRAPHED?

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In these photographs there is an obfuscation of reality in which the usually coded photographs now appear to be uncoded in some visceral sense. In fact there is a double obfuscation, a double effacement, as the images are displayed on the wall like a series of bathroom tiles in plastic sleeves, here not at one remove but at two (the clouding of the image and the clouding through the plastic). What emerges from this alchemical miasma is the ghost of the meaning of the object, where we acknowledge that the essence of these people did really exist. The recognition of their presence, this partial reassemblance of the context and meaning of the object originally photographed, is the strength of these images: our acknowledgment of some form of existence in the trace of the photograph, where seeing is subconsciously believing.

What we are left with in these images are vestiges of presence, remnants or traces of people that have passed on. In a kind of divine intervention, these photographs ask the viewer questions about the one fact that we cannot avoid in our lives, our own mortality, and what remains after we pass on. We can never know these people and places, just as we can never know the place and time of our death – when our “time” is up – but these photographs awaken in us a subconscious remembering: that we may be found (in life), then lost (through death), then found again in the gaze of the viewer looking at the photographs in the future present. We are (dis)continuous beings.

There is no one single reading of these photographs for “there are only competing narratives and interpretations of a world that cannot be wholly, accurately described.”4 These indescribable photographs impinge on our consciousness calling on us to remember even as the speed of contemporary life asks us to forget. This ethical act of looking, of mourning and remembering, of paying homage to presence acknowledges that we choose not to let pass into the dark night of the soul these traces of our forebears, for each emanation is deeply embedded within individual and cultural memory.

These photographs are a contemporary form of Western ‘dreaming’ in which we feel a link to the collective human experience. In this reification, we bear witness to the (re)assemblance of life, the abstract made (subconsciously) concrete, as material thing. These images of absent presence certainly reached out and touched my soul. Vividly, I choose to remember rather than to forget.

Dr Marcus Bunyan

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Many thankx to Munemasa Takahashi, Kristian Haggblom and Karra Rees for their help and the CCP for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs to view a larger version of the image.

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“Lost & Found is a profoundly moving exhibition of collected photographs recovered from the devastation following the earthquake and tsunami and subsequent nuclear catastrophe that took place in the Tohoku region in 2011. 

The tsunami not only swept the harbour away, but also houses, cars, trains; and many people lost their lives. Although no longer in the media, people in this region are still in great need. These photographs remind us of their presence and make us aware of their silent voices. The exhibition also gives us an opportunity to think about the relationship people have with their photographs.

The Lost & Found project is attempting to return pictures from the collection to their owners by cleaning, cataloguing and creating a digital database of the photographs. Many images were too badly damaged and can not be returned; rather than discard them, the project team decided to exhibit the imagery and give people the opportunity to see these photographs in the belief that they carry powerful messages. 

This project was initiated by Munemasa Takahashi and Hiroshi Hatate in Japan and Kristian Haggblom from Wallflower Photomedia Gallery in Australia. Funds raised will go directly to the people of Yamamoto-cho.”

Text from the CCP website

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All photographs are from the exhibition Lost & Found

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1. Kuhn, Annette. The Power of the Image: Essays on Representation and Sexuality. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1985, p.6.

2. Ibid.,

3. Blanchot, Maurice. The Gaze of Orpheus. New York: Barrytown, 1981, p.85.

4. Townsend, Chris. Vile Bodies: Photography and the Crisis of Looking. Munich: Prestel, 1998, p.10.

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Centre for Contemporary Photography
404 George St, Fitzroy
Victoria 3065, Australia
T: + 61 3 9417 1549

Opening Hours:
Wednesday – Saturday, 11am – 6pm
Sunday, 1pm – 5pm

Centre for Contemporary Photography website

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06
May
10

Exhibition: ‘Playing with Pictures: The Art of Victorian Photocollage’ at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Exhibition dates: 2nd February – 9th May 2010

 

Many thankx to the Metropolitan Museum of Art for allowing me to publish the images in this posting. Please click on the photographs for more information about the images from the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Dr Marcus Bunyan

 

 

Kate Edith Gough (English, 1856-1948) 'Untitled page from the Gough Album' late 1870s

 

Kate Edith Gough (English, 1856-1948)
Untitled page from the Gough Album
Late 1870s
Collage of watercolour and albumen silver prints
14 5/8 x 11 5/8 in. (37 x 29.5 cm)
V&A Images / Victoria and Albert Museum, London

 

Frances Elizabeth, Viscountess Jocelyn (English, 1820-1880) 'Diamond Shape with Nine Studio Portraits of the Palmerston Family and a Painted Cherry Blossom Surround from the 'Jocelyn Album'' 1860s

 

Frances Elizabeth, Viscountess Jocelyn (English, 1820-1880)
Diamond Shape with Nine Studio Portraits of the Palmerston Family and a Painted Cherry Blossom Surround from the Jocelyn Album
1860s
Collage of watercolour and albumen silver prints
11 x 9 1/8 in. (28 x 23.2 cm)
National Gallery of Australia, Canberra

 

Maria Harriet Elizabeth Cator (English, d. 1881) 'Untitled page from the 'Cator' Album' late 1860s/70s

 

Maria Harriet Elizabeth Cator (English, d. 1881)
Untitled page from the Cator Album
Late 1860s/70s
Collage of watercolour and albumen silver prints
10 7/8 x 8 1/2 in. (27.7 x 21.7 cm)
Hans P. Kraus, Jr., New York

 

Viscount Jocelyn (Great Britain, 1820-1880) attributed to. 'Circular design containing five male studio portraits and two ships' c. 1860

 

Viscount Jocelyn (Great Britain, 1820-1880) attributed to
Circular design containing five male studio portraits and two ships
c. 1860
Leaf 3 from an Untitled Album
Collage (albumen silver photographs, water colour, pencil)
Printed image
28.0 h x 23.2 w cm
Purchased 1985
National Gallery of Canberra

 

Eva Macdonald (English, 1846/50-?) "What Are Trumps?," from the 'Westmorland Album' 1869 Collage of watercolour and albumen prints The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles

 

Eva Macdonald (English, 1846/50-?)
“What Are Trumps?,” from the Westmorland Album
1869
Collage of watercolour and albumen prints
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles

 

Elizabeth Pleydell-Bouverie (English, died 1889) and Jane Pleydell-Bouverie (English, died 1903) or Ellen Pleydell-Bouverie (English, 1849-?) and Janet Pleydell-Bouverie (English, 1850-1906) Untitled page from the 'Bouverie Album' 1872/77

 

Elizabeth Pleydell-Bouverie (English, died 1889) and Jane Pleydell-Bouverie (English, died 1903) or Ellen Pleydell-Bouverie (English, 1849-?) and Janet Pleydell-Bouverie (English, 1850-1906)
Untitled page from the Bouverie Album
1872/77
Collage of watercolour and albumen prints
Courtesy of George Eastman House, International Museum of Photography and Film

 

 

In the 1860s and 1870s, long before the embrace of collage techniques by avant-garde artists of the early 20th century, aristocratic Victorian women were experimenting with photocollage. Playing with Pictures: The Art of Victorian Photocollage, on view at The Metropolitan Museum of Art February 2 – May 9, 2010, is the first exhibition to comprehensively examine this little-known phenomenon. Whimsical and fantastical Victorian photocollages, created using a combination of watercolour drawings and cut-and-pasted photographs, reveal the educated minds as well as accomplished hands of their makers. With subjects as varied as new theories of evolution, the changing role of photography, and the strict conventions of aristocratic society, the photocollages frequently debunked stuffy Victorian clichés with surreal, subversive, and funny images. Featuring 48 works from public and private collections – including many that have rarely or never been exhibited before – Playing with Pictures will provide a fascinating window into the creative possibilities of photography in the 19th century.

“In other recent exhibitions at the Metropolitan, we’ve shown masterpieces of 19th-century British photography by the period’s most prominent professionals and serious amateurs (almost always men), whose works were often displayed at the annual salons of the photographic societies and sold by printsellers throughout England and Europe,” commented Malcolm Daniel, Curator in Charge of the Department of Photographs. “What is so exciting about this exhibition is that we see a different type of artist – almost exclusively aristocratic women – using photography in highly imaginative ways, and creating pictures meant for private pleasure rather than public consumption. It is an aspect of photography’s history that has rarely been seen or written about.”

In England in the 1850s and 1860s, photography became remarkably popular and accessible as people posed for studio portraits and exchanged these pictures on a vast scale. The craze for cartes de visite – photographic portraits the size of a visiting card – led to the widespread hobby of collecting small photographs of family, friends, acquaintances, and celebrities in scrapbooks. Rather than simply gathering such portraits in the standard albums manufactured to hold cartes de visite, the amateur women artists who made the photocollages displayed in Playing with Pictures cut up these photographic portraits and placed them in elaborate watercolour designs in their personal albums.

With sharp wit and dramatic shifts of scale akin to those Alice experienced in Wonderland, Victorian photocollages stand the rather serious conventions of early photography on their heads. Often, the combination of photographs with painted settings inspired dreamlike and even bizarre results: placing human heads on animal bodies; situating people in imaginary landscapes; and morphing faces into common household objects and fashionable accessories. Such albums advertised the artistic accomplishments of the aristocratic women who made them, while also serving as a form of parlour entertainment and an opportunity for conversation and flirtation with the opposite sex.

Playing with Pictures showcases the best Victorian photocollage albums and loose pages of the 1860s and 1870s, on loan from collections across the United States, Europe, and Australia, including the Princess Alexandra Album lent by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. Thirty-four photocollage album pages will be shown in frames on the wall and 11 separate albums will be displayed in cases, open to a single page. These works will be accompanied by “virtual albums” on computer monitors that allow visitors to see the full contents of the albums displayed nearby. As an introduction, the exhibition also includes two carte-de-visite albums of the period and a rare uncut sheet of carte-de-visite portraits from 1859.

Playing with Pictures: The Art of Victorian Photocollage is curated by Elizabeth Siegel, Associate Curator of Photography at The Art Institute of Chicago. The exhibition is organised at the Metropolitan Museum by Malcolm Daniel.”

Press release from the Metropolitan Museum of Art website [Online] Cited 05/06/2010

 

Marie-Blanche-Hennelle Fournier (French, 1831-1906) Untitled page from the 'Madame B Album' 1870s

 

Marie-Blanche-Hennelle Fournier (French, 1831-1906)
Untitled page from the Madame B Album
1870s
Collage of watercolour, ink, and albumen silver prints
11 1/2 x 16 1/2 in. (29.2 x 41.9 cm)
The Art Institute of Chicago, Mary and Leigh Block Endowment

 

Georgina Berkeley (English, 1831-1919) Untitled page from the 'Berkeley Album' 1867/71

 

Georgina Berkeley (English, 1831-1919)
Untitled page from the Berkeley Album
1867/71
Collage of watercolour and albumen silver prints
10 x 12 5/8 in. (25.5 x 32 cm)
Musée d’Orsay, Paris
Photo credit: Réunion des Musées Nationaux / Art Resource, NY

 

Georgina Berkeley (English, 1831-1919) Untitled page from the 'Berkeley Album' 1867/71

 

Georgina Berkeley (English, 1831-1919)
Untitled page from the Berkeley Album
1867/71
Collage of watercolour and albumen silver prints
10 x 12 5/8 in. (25.5 x 32 cm)
Musée d’Orsay, Paris
Photo credit: Réunion des Musées Nationaux / Art Resource, NY

 

Mary Georgiana Caroline, Lady Filmer (English, 1838-1903) Untitled loose page from the 'Filmer Album' mid-1860s

 

Mary Georgiana Caroline, Lady Filmer (English, 1838-1903)
Untitled loose page from the Filmer Album
mid-1860s
Collage of watercolour and albumen silver prints
8 3/4 x 11 1/4 in. (22.2 x 28.6 cm)
Paul F. Walter

 

Constance Sackville-West (English, 1846-1929) or Amy Augusta Frederica Annabella Cochrane Baillie (English, 1853-1913) Untitled page from the 'Sackville-West Album' 1867/73

 

Constance Sackville-West (English, 1846-1929) or Amy Augusta Frederica Annabella Cochrane Baillie (English, 1853-1913)
Untitled page from the Sackville-West Album
1867/73
Collage of watercolour and albumen silver prints
9 5/8 x 11 13/16 in. (24.5 x 30 cm)
Courtesy of George Eastman House, International Museum of Photography and Film

 

 

Metropolitan Museum of Art
1000 Fifth Avenue at 82nd Street
New York, New York 10028-0198
Information: 212-535-7710

Opening hours:
Sunday – Thursday 10.00 am – 5.30pm
Friday and Saturday 10.00am – 9.00pm
Open Seven Days a Week

Metropolitan Museum of Art website

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26
May
09

Exhibition: ‘Inheritance’ at the Australian Centre for Photography, Sydney

Exhibition dates: 1st May – 6th June 2009

Artists: Bindi Cole, Tamara Dean, Lee Grant, June Indrefjord, Bronek Kozka, Ka-Yin Kwok, Tracey Moffatt, Fiona Morris, Aaron Seeto, Martin Smith and Toni Wilkinson

Installation photographs of the exhibition can be found on the Lee Grant – Photography blog website

.
Many thankx to the ACP for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on some of the photographs for a larger version of the image.

 

 

June Indrefjord. 'Piano' from the series Landaas 2005

 

June Indrefjord
Piano
2005
From the series Landaas

 

Aaron Seeto. 'Oblivion' 2006

 

Aaron Seeto
Oblivion
2006
From the series Oblivion
Daguerreotype

 

 

Aaron Seeto makes alternate historical positions and experiences visible through an exploration of archives, family photo albums and photographic records. In recent bodies of work Fortress and Oblivion, Seeto has utilised the daguerreotype, one of the earliest and most primitive photographic techniques, to highlight the malleability of narratives within archive records. Not only is the chemical process itself highly toxic and temperamental but the daguerreotype’s mirrored surface means the image appears as both positive and negative, depending on the angle of view. For Seeto, this mutability captures the essence of our experience of history and memory, reflecting how images degrade, how stories are formed and privileged, how knowledge and history are written. …

For his ongoing series Oblivion Seeto sourced details from images of the Cronulla riots – beachside riots around race and territory – of 2005 found on the internet. In reproducing these as daguerrotypes he seeks less to represent the incident than to look at how it was reported, understood and remembered. The instability of the virtual information found online is echoed in the photographic process.

Text from the Stills Gallery website [Online] Cited 14/02/2019

 

Tracey Moffatt. 'Useless 1974' 1994

 

Tracey Moffatt
Useless 1974
1994
From the series Scarred for Life

 

 

Useless, 1974 is a photo-lithograph by the Australian artist Tracey Moffatt. The work shows a girl stooping down to wash a car, with one hand wiping a headlight with a sponge and the other resting on the bonnet. She looks towards the camera rather than at the car, her face bearing a serious and potentially hurt or angry expression. The caption accompanying the photograph explains that ‘Her father’s nickname for her was “useless”‘. Despite this, it seems that in this picture she is being put to use, and perhaps the car she washes is her father’s. The caption, her expression and the direction of her gaze may suggest that the viewer occupies the position of the girl’s father looking down on and supervising his daughter while she carries out her chore. …

The work’s title is a reference to the cruel nickname given to the girl in the photograph, and the date in the title, 1974, suggests the year according to which the photograph has been styled by Moffatt, who employs actors and constructed scenes to create her photographs. Curator Filippo Maggia has compared Moffatt’s photographic method to that of a film director, stating that she ‘often does not take the photographs herself but directs a sort of bona fide movie set that she organises and controls after having pictured it in her mind again and again, meticulously decomposing and recomposing it’ (Maggia 2006, p.12). As the artist has stated, ‘I often use technicians when I make my pictures. I more or less direct them. I stand back and call the shots.’ (Quoted in Maggia 2006, p.12.)

Moffatt’s photographic series often deal with themes such as race, gender and the politics of identity. Drawing on memories from the artist’s childhood, the Scarred for Life series mimics photo spreads from the American magazine Life, with their explanatory captions and focus on the family environment. The captions’ terse descriptions hint at the traumatic stories behind the images. Moffatt has commented: ‘a person can make a passing comment to you when you are young and this can change you forever. You can be “scarred for life” but it isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The photographs can be read as both tragic and comic – there is a thin line between both.’ (Quoted in display caption, Tracey Moffatt, Birth Certificate 1994, Tate P78101, accessed 28 August 2015.) Furthermore, Maggia has argued that the Scarred for Life series ‘gives us life as it is, the harshness and aridity of human relations, adolescence with its fears of not being accepted’ (Maggia 2006, p.13).

Louise Hughes
August 2015

Filippo Maggia, Tracey Moffatt: Between Dreams and Reality, exhibition catalogue, Spazio Oberdan, Milan 2006, p. 13, reproduced p. 117.

Extract from Louise Hughes. “Useless, 1974,” on the Tate website [Online] Cited 14/02/2019

 

Lee Grant. 'The Day Meg Wore a Dress '2007

 

Lee Grant
The Day Meg Wore a Dress from the series Brothers and Sisters
2007

 

 

“You can choose your friends, but you can’t choose your family.”

 

From the tight nuclear unit to the multi-generational extended family, from refuges for the homeless to middle class suburbia, Inheritance examines the way our families shape the person we become; for better or for worse.

Taking Tracey Moffatt’s acclaimed series Scarred for Life as a starting point, the exhibition includes the work of eleven Australian artists who explore the modern family through a range of photographic disciplines, including documentary, portraiture and video. Sometimes serious and sometimes satirical, Inheritance is a family album that celebrates the skeletons and the psychodramas alongside the newborns and the nuptials.

Text from the Australian Centre for Photography website [Online] Cited 20/05/2009

 

Bindi Cole Wathaurung Mob 2008

 

Bindi Cole
Wathaurung Mob
2008
From the series Not really Aboriginal
Pigment print on rag paper
1035 x 1235cm

 

 

Our Past Is Our Strength – Culture and Identity

I’ve always been told that l was Aboriginal. I never questioned it because of the colour of my skin or where I lived. My Nan, one of the Stolen Generation, was staunchly proud and strong. She made me feel the same way. My traditional land takes in Ballarat, Geelong and Werribee and extends west past Cressy to Derrinallum. I’m from Victoria and I’ve always known this. All the descendants of traditional Victorian Aboriginal people are now of mixed heritage. I’m not black. I’m not from a remote community. Does that mean I’m not really Aboriginal? Or do Aboriginal people come in all shapes, sizes and colours and live in all areas of Australia, remote and urban?

Bindi Cole Wathaurung text from the Culture Victoria website [Online] Cited 14/02/2019

 

“Wathaurung Mob is a group portrait depicting members of Cole’s family sitting in their lounge room, their faces blackened with minstrel paint, and wearing red headbands traditionally worn by indigenous elders. The controversial practice of “blackfacing” refers to the populist minstrel shows of the 19th and 20th centuries in which a white actor put on blackface, then performed a racist caricature.

As we stand before the work, Alessi says he finds it confronting and uncomfortable. “Wathaurung Mob is quite powerful because what stands out are the eyes of each sitter; they look directly at the viewer, so you can’t help but feel challenged by that,” he says.

“There is also something quite uncomfortable about the work because, in some ways, you are being implicated in Andrew Bolt’s view, as white Australians having to own up to the broader history of the relationship between white and indigenous Australia.

“And more broadly it is about coming to grips with what is still a major issue in Australia around reconciliation and the way that we treat indigenous people. In one single frame this photograph captures 200 years of history, and I think it is an area that people like Bindi Cole are really courageous to navigate through because they have been open to criticism by people like Andrew Bolt, which is completely unfounded.””

Extract from Bronwyn Watson. “Facing up to the stereotypes,” on The Australian website November 16, 2013 [Online] Cited 14/02/2019

 

Fiona Morris. 'Sean and Jade, Wesley Mission' 2006

 

Fiona Morris
Sean and Jade, Wesley Mission
2006

 

Tamara Dean. 'Alex and Maeve' 2006

 

Tamara Dean
Alex and Maeve
2006

 

 

Australian Centre for Photography
ACP Project Space Gallery,
21 Foley St, Darlinghurst NSW 2010

Gallery Hours:
Tue-Fri 10.00am – 5.00pm
Sat 11.00am – 4.00pm

Australian Centre for Photography website

Lee Grant website

Tracey Moffatt on the Rosyln Oxley9 Gallery website

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Dr Marcus Bunyan

Dr Marcus Bunyan is an Australian artist and writer. His art work explores the boundaries of identity and place. He writes Art Blart, a photographic archive and form of cultural memory, which posts mainly photography exhibitions from around the world. He holds a Dr of Philosophy from RMIT University, Melbourne, a Master of Arts (Fine Art Photography) from RMIT University, and a Master of Art Curatorship from the University of Melbourne.

Marcus Bunyan black and white archive: ‘Mask’ 1994

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