Posts Tagged ‘Photographs of Women

07
Jun
11

Review: ‘Time Machine: Sue Ford’ at Monash Gallery of Art, Wheelers Hill, Victoria

Exhibition dates: 7th April – 19th June 2011

 

Sue Ford (1943-2009) 'Self-portrait' 1968

 

Sue Ford (Australian, 1943-2009)
Self-portrait 1968
1968, printed 2011
From the series Self-portrait with camera (1960-2006)
Selenium toned gelatin silver
22.8 x 24 cm
Courtesy Sue Ford Archive

 

 

“Choosing to photograph oneself, one’s life and one’s time exemplified the now well-worn slogan ‘the person is political’. Ford’s self-examination across the decades is unflinching and exacting. As Janine Burke wrote in 1980, her ‘psychological history [is] etched in her face for everyone to see’. Burke concluded that Ford’s self-portraits are ‘as honest as one can ever be about oneself’.”

.
Helen Ennis. Faces are Maps: Sue Ford and Portraiture.1

 

“The search for the self is a journey into a mental labyrinth that takes random courses and ultimately ends at impasses. The memory fragments recovered along the way cannot provide us with a basis for interpreting the overall meaning of the journey. The meanings that we derive from our memories are only partial truths, and their value is ephemeral. For Foucault, the psyche is not an archive but only a mirror. To search the psyche for the truth about ourselves is a futile task because the psyche can only reflect the images we have conjured up to describe ourselves. Looking into the psyche, therefore, is like looking into the mirror image of a mirror. One sees oneself reflected in an image of infinite regress. Our gaze is led not toward the substance of our beginnings but rather into the meaninglessness of previously discarded images of the self.”

.
Patrick Hutton. Foucault, Freud, and the Technologies of the Self.2

 

 

This is a solid exhibition of the work of beloved Australian photographer Sue Ford, essential looking for anyone wanting to have an overview of Australian photography.

The beautifully hung exhibition flows like music, interweaving up and down, the photographs framed in thin, black wood frames. It features examples of Ford’s black and white fashion and street photography; a selection of work from the famous black and white Time series (being bought for their collection by the Art Gallery of New South Wales) – small, snapshot size double portraits, the first portraits taken during the 1960’s, the second around 1974, formalist portraits in which the sitter is closely cropped around head and shoulders with the photographer using the camera as objectively as possible, the double portrait used to display changes in identity over time; a selection of Photographs of Women – modern prints from the Sue Ford archive that are wonderfully composed photographs with deep blacks that portray strong, independent, vulnerable, joyous women (see last four photographs below); and the most interesting work in the exhibition, the posthumous new series Self-portrait with camera (1960-2006) that evidence, through a 47 part investigation using colour prints from Polaroids, silver gelatin prints printed by the artist, prints made from original negatives and prints from scanned images where there was no negative available, a self-portrait of the artist in the process of ageing (see the two photographs above and below this review).

One of my favourite photographs in the exhibition was Margaret with Emma, Redcliffs, Queensland, 1971. The black and white photograph features a grandmother with her granddaughter, close to each other, both wearing floral dresses of different pattern, both staring intently out of the image at what is possibly a television with a weatherboard backdrop. A dark form hovers at the upper left of the photograph adding a disturbing note to the image but it is the look on the grandmother’s face – a look of shock, enthralment, blankness with eyes wide, that is matched by the intensity on the granddaughter’s face as she stares intently – that transcends the distance between photograph and viewer, between grandmother and granddaughter across time and space. The process of looking and ageing captured by the ‘time machine’, the camera, in one single image. The viewer understands this photograph for we all experience the evidence of our bodies, our mortality. We relate intimately to how the photograph reanimates in the present this moment from the past, the momenti mori of the photograph, the little death becoming our future death.

This notion is particularly poignant in the series Self-portrait with camera (1960-2006), a work that Sue Ford was actively engaged with before her death. Smaller colour prints from negatives and Polaroids are here interspersed with black and white photographs up to about 8″ x 10″ in size: the series contains 12 chromogenic photographs, 7 silver gelatin photographs, 6 dye fusion photographs and 22 selenium-toned photographs (printed 2011). In dark, contrasty prints the artist has photographed herself looking down into the camera shooting into a mirror, looking directly into the mirror with camera, with the camera on a timer, with the camera in/visible, being shot by other people with the camera pointed directly at her, with the camera perpendicular to the artist shot by someone else, with Ford behind a movie camera, with multiple refractions in mirrors. Sometimes Ford even becomes the camera (as in the 1986 self-portrait below: I am the camera, the camera is me).

Ford becomes the “one who looks” knowingly at herself, sometimes the author of that observation, sometimes oblivious to it (until later when she has collected these images). As Burke and Ennis note, these photographs of self-examination across the decades are as honest as one can ever be about oneself. This a deeply political but also deeply psychoanalytical investigation: not to “take care of yourself” as a form of knowing as in Greco-Roman antiquity but “knowing yourself” as the fundamental principle of understanding yourself: a procedure of objectification and subjection in which the photograph ‘marks’ our status and the passage of time, that makes us who we are – photographs as vital techniques in the constitution of the self as subject.3

The mirror is frequently used in these photographs to portray the self. While it is true that these are strong, intimate, unflinching and exacting images, in the use of the mirror the im(pose)tures of life are singled / doubled / tripled – a reflection of the psyche that lead to discarded images of the self that are of little use in understanding the substance of our beginnings … or the overall interpretation of the journey. What they do offer is cumulative evidence of a deep, personal conviction into the inquiry: who am I?

Rembrandt famously painted, drew and etched himself hundreds of times in the process of ageing; Ford has likewise done the same. If, as Victor Burgin observes, “An identity implies not only a location but a duration, a history,”4 then the nature of photography (including Ford’s self-reflexive project), concerned as it is with space and time, becomes the mirror in a search for identity. Photography as a mirror on the world constantly repeats moments of illumination in a re/vision of eternal recurrence, a performance that is a hybrid site: both a homogenous (the same “I”) and heterogenous (a different “I”) site of self-representation, different every time we look. To that end I would like you to look at the self-portrait from 1976 (below). The artist is completely absent, her silhouette, her dark shadow swallowed whole by the blank photographic plate on the left hand side of the image as though Ford, the camera and an image of infinite regress have become one, eternally engulfed by space-time but open to re/view at any time.

Whether looking down, looking toward or looking inward these fantastic photographs show a strong, independent women with a vital mind, an élan vital, a critical self-organisation and an understanding of the morphogenesis of things that will engage us for years to come. Essential looking.

Dr Marcus Bunyan

 

  1. Burke, Janine. Self-portrait/self-image 1980-1981. Melbourne: Australian Directors’ Council, 1981. p. 4 quoted in Ennis, Helen. “Faces are Maps: Sue Ford and Portraiture,” in Lakin, Shaune (ed.,). Sue Ford: Self-portrait with camera (1960-2006). Melbourne: Monash Gallery of Art, 2011, np.
  2. Hutton, Patrick. “Foucault, Freud, and the Technologies of the Self,” in Martin, Luther and Gutman, Huck and Hutton, Patrick (eds.,). Technologies of the Self: A Seminar with Michel Foucault. London: Tavistock Publications, 1988, p. 139
  3. Foucault, Michel. Discipline and Punish, quoted in Gutman, Huck. “Rousseau’s Confessions: A Technology of the Self,” in Martin, Luther and Gutman, Huck and Hutton, Patrick (eds.,). Technologies of the Self: A Seminar with Michel Foucault. London: Tavistock Publications, 1988, p. 99
  4. Burgin, Victor. In/Different Spaces: Place and Memory in Visual Culture. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995, p. 36

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Many thankx to Mark Hislop for his help and the Monash Gallery of Art for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

 

Sue Ford. 'Self-portrait 1986' 1986

 

Sue Ford (Australian, 1943-2009)
Self-portrait 1986
1986
From the series Self-portrait with camera (1960-2006)
Gelatin silver print, printed 2011
8.4 x 6.5 cm
Courtesy Sue Ford Archive

 

Sue Ford. 'Self-portrait 1976' 1976

 

Sue Ford (Australian, 1943-2009)
Self-portrait 1976
1976, printed 2011
From the series Self-portrait with camera (1960-2006)
Selenium toned gelatin silver print
24 x 18 cm
Courtesy Sue Ford Archive

 

Sue Ford (1943–2009) 'Self-portrait 1974' 1974

 

Sue Ford (Australian, 1943-2009)
Self-portrait 1974
1974, printed 2011
From the series Self-portrait with camera (1960-2006)
Selenium toned gelatin silver print
19.9 x 18 cm
Courtesy Sue Ford Archive

 

 

On 16 April 2011, the first major exhibition of the work of the late Sue Ford for two decades will open at Monash Gallery of Art.

Sue Ford (1943-2010) was one of Australia’s most important photographers and filmmakers. Ford studied photography at RMIT and in 1974 was the first Australian photographer to be given a solo exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria.

Ford passed away in 2009. Before her death, she was working with Monash Gallery of Art on an exhibition of her work which would feature her final major project Self-portrait with camera (1960-2006). This series of 47 photographs has never been shown before, and presents a compelling self-portrait of an artist. It underscores the central role the camera played in Ford’s life. Self-portrait with camera will be shown alongside a survey of Ford’s black-and-white photographs from the 1960s and 70s and examples of her most iconic work, Time series (1960s-1970s).

The exhibition describes a period when photography was charged with political and personal meaning. As photographic historian and contributor to the publication accompanying the exhibition Helen Ennis states: “Ford’s approach to art making has always been straightforward … She does not cultivate a mysterious artistic persona [since] … her art practice is purposeful; it is the outcome of her view of art as a political activity that is democratic, liberating and relevant to contemporary society.”

As MGA Director and curator of the exhibition Shaune Lakin states: “This exhibition provides a great opportunity for Australian audiences to reassess the work of this important photographer, whose work was always at once political, beautiful and elegiac. In an era when the photograph has become a highly disposable thing, it is important to acknowledge its role as an agent of change and memory.”

Press release from the Monash Gallery of Art

 

Sue Ford (1943-2009) 'Lynne and Carol' 1962

 

Sue Ford (Australian, 1943-2009)
Lynne and Carol
1962, printed 2011
Selenium toned gelatin silver print
38.0 x 38.0 cm
Courtesy Sue Ford Archive

 

Sue Ford (1943-2009) 'Carol, Little Collins St studio' 1962

 

Sue Ford (Australian, 1943-2009)
Carol, Little Collins St studio
1962, printed 2011
Selenium toned gelatin silver print
37.9 x 38.1 cm
Courtesy Sue Ford Archive

 

Sue Ford (1943-2009) 'St Kilda' 1963

 

Sue Ford (Australian, 1943-2009)
St Kilda
1963, printed 2011
Selenium toned gelatin silver print
38.0 x 38.0 cm
Courtesy Sue Ford Archive

 

Sue Ford (1943-2009) 'Untitled [Bliss at Yellow House, King's Cross, Sydney]' c. 1972–3

 

Sue Ford (Australian, 1943-2009)
Untitled [Bliss at Yellow House, King’s Cross, Sydney]
c. 1972-3, printed 2011
Selenium toned gelatin silver print
47.9 x 34.2 cm
Courtesy Sue Ford Archive

 

 

Monash Gallery of Art
860 Ferntree Gully Road, Wheelers Hill
Victoria 3150 Australia
phone: + 61 3 8544 0500

Opening hours:
Tue – Fri 10 am – 5 pm
Sat – Sun 12 pm – 5 pm
Mon/public holidays closed

Monash Gallery of Art website

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23
May
10

Exhibition: ‘Miroslav Tichý’ at Michael Hoppen Gallery, London

Exhibition dates: 28th April – 29th May 2010

 

A camera of Miroslav Tichy

 

A camera of Miroslav Tichý

 

 

Wow – these are fantastic!!
Tichy’s camera is such an amazing construction (click on the image above to see a larger version).

Many thankx to Jim Edwards and the Michael Hoppen Gallery for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting.

 

 

“Women are just a motif to me. The figure – standing, bending, or sitting. The movement, walking. Nothing else Interests me. The erotic is just a dream anyway. The world is only an illusion, our illusion.”

“Everything is decided by the earth, which is turning. You can only live as long as the earth keeps turning. That is predetermined.

.
Miroslav Tichý

 

 

Miroslav Tichý (Czech, 1926-2011) 'Untitled' c. 1960s

 

Miroslav Tichý (Czech, 1926-2011)
Untitled
c. 1960s
Unique Silver gelatin print
Courtesy Michael Hoppen Gallery
© Miroslav Tichy

 

Miroslav Tichý (Czech, 1926-2011) 'Untitled' c. 1960s

 

Miroslav Tichý (Czech, 1926-2011)
Untitled
c. 1960s
Unique Silver gelatin print
Courtesy Michael Hoppen Gallery
© Miroslav Tichy

 

Miroslav Tichý (Czech, 1926-2011) 'Untitled' c. 1960s

 

Miroslav Tichý (Czech, 1926-2011)
Untitled
c. 1960s
Unique Silver gelatin print
Courtesy Michael Hoppen Gallery
© Miroslav Tichy

 

 

“The recently unknown photographic work of Czech artist Miroslav Tichý has become a noteworthy presence in the worlds of photography and contemporary art over the last few years. Timeless and uncategorisable, Tichý’s work captures the women of Kijov, from the artist’s native city in Moravia. On 28 April 2010, the Michael Hoppen Gallery will bring together unique photographs, previously unseen in the UK, created in the 1960’s by Tichý with his makeshift cameras and enlargers.

Marginal and exceptionally voyeuristic, in his methods Tichý could be described as an “art brut photographer” yet he is marked by many classical influences. Though his images are produced with poor-quality equipment and carelessly shot, they offer an idiosyncratic and almost hallucinatory vision of a fantastical, eroticised reality. With his endless return to the same subject and the volume and regularity of his production, Tichý’s work draws many parallels to certain practices of conceptual art during the same period.

For thirty years Tichý took up to one hundred photographs each day, pursuing his artistic obsession with the female form. Dressed in rags and using a homemade camera, Tichy captured the universe of the people in the small town of Brno in the Czech Republic. This discovery of photography saved him from madness and the claustrophobia of political dictatorship. Though his work today is widely exhibited, Tichý worked for years as an unknown artist in complete isolation on the periphery of the art world.

A student at the Academy of Arts in Prague, Tichý left following the communist overthrow of 1948. Unwilling to subordinate to the political system he spent some eight years in prison and psychiatric wards for no reason, other than he was ‘different’ and considered subversive. Upon his release he became an outsider, occupying his time by obsessively taking photographs of the women of his home town, using homemade cameras constructed from tin cans, children’s spectacle lenses, rubber bands, scotch tape and other junk found on the streets.

He captured images of their ankles, faces and torsos whilst out strolling or sunbathing, shop-girls behind the counter, mothers pushing prams, and any others who caught his eye, sometimes finding himself in trouble with the police. These small objects of obsession, which might appear to the casual viewer to be simply voyeurism, are simultaneously melancholic and poetic.

Tichý’s work surfaced in July 2005, when he won the ‘New Discovery Award’ at Arles. Within a year he had already been featured in two solo museum exhibitions, at the Wintertaur in Zurich and the Rudolfinum, Prague, and his work has been purchased by the Victoria & Albert Museum here in London. Tichý has now exhibited in museums from Holland to Canada, Finland to Ireland and Tokyo. In 2009, a seminal show was held at the Centre Pompidou in Paris where it received rave reviews. Since then, Tichý’s work has recently been on show at ICP in New York where The New York Times reviewed his work as …’intensely fascinating’. American artist Richard Prince wrote an essay for the catalogue. In his signature smart-aleck, red-blooded-male persona, Prince links Tichý to Bettie Page, Swanson’s TV dinners and the short stories of John Cheever.
 Tichý’s work will also appear at Tate Modern later this year as part of their Voyerism, Surveillance and Camera exhibition in May 2010.

Press release from the Michael Hoppen Gallery website [Online] Cited 21/05/2010 no longer available online

 

Miroslav Tichý (Czech, 1926-2011) 'Untitled' c. 1960s

 

Miroslav Tichý (Czech, 1926-2011)
Untitled
c. 1960s
Unique Silver gelatin print
Courtesy Michael Hoppen Gallery
© Miroslav Tichy

 

Miroslav Tichý (Czech, 1926-2011) 'Untitled' c. 1960s

 

Miroslav Tichý (Czech, 1926-2011)
Untitled
c. 1960s
Unique Silver gelatin print
Courtesy Michael Hoppen Gallery
© Miroslav Tichy

 

Miroslav Tichý (Czech, 1926-2011) 'Untitled' c. 1960s

 

Miroslav Tichý (Czech, 1926-2011)
Untitled
c. 1960s
Unique Silver gelatin print
Courtesy Michael Hoppen Gallery
© Miroslav Tichy

 

 

Miroslav Tichý

Miroslav Tichý (Czech, November 20, 1926 – April 12, 2011) was a photographer who from the 1960s until 1985 took thousands of surreptitious pictures of women in his hometown of Kyjov in the Czech Republic, using homemade cameras constructed of cardboard tubes, tin cans and other at-hand materials. Most of his subjects were unaware that they were being photographed. A few struck beauty-pageant poses when they sighted Tichý, perhaps not realising that the parody of a camera he carried was real.

His soft focus, fleeting glimpses of the women of Kyjov are skewed, spotted and badly printed – flawed by the limitations of his primitive equipment and a series of deliberate processing mistakes meant to add poetic imperfections. Of his technical methods, Tichý has said, “First of all, you have to have a bad camera”, and, “If you want to be famous, you must do something more badly than anybody in the entire world.”

During the Communist regime in Czechoslovakia, Tichý was considered a dissident and was badly treated by the government. His photographs remained largely unknown until an exhibition was held for him in 2004. Tichý did not attend exhibitions, and lived a life of self-sufficiency and freedom from the standards of society. Tichý died on April 12, 2011 in Kyjov, Czech Republic. …

An essay in Artforum International describes Tichý as “practically reinventing photography from scratch”, rehabilitating the soft focus, manipulated pictorial photography of the late 1800s,

“…not as a distortion of the medium but as something like its essence. What counts for him is not only the image – just one moment in the photographic process – but also the chemical activity of the materials, which is never entirely stable or complete, and the delimitation of the results via cropping and framing.”

Director Radek Horacek of the Brno House of Art, which held an exhibition of Tichý’s photographs in 2006, describes them thus:

“They are all very careful observations of women from Kyjov and of everyday trivial activities. But soon you realise that these trivial situations such as someone sitting on a bench, women waiting for a bus, someone taking a T-shirt off at a swimming pool, are somehow extraordinary. Tichý managed to give this banality a feeling of exceptionality and rarity. Just part of a female body in his pictures can look very esoteric. There are so many magazines that offer much more nudity than Tichý but his photographs are different. A woman’s tights between a knee and a skirt or a swimming costume in his pictures look somehow mysterious.”

Text from the Wikipedia website

 

 

Miroslav Tichy – “Tarzan Retired”

 

Miroslav Tichý (Czech, 1926-2011) 'Untitled' c. 1960s

 

Miroslav Tichý (Czech, 1926-2011)
Untitled
c. 1960s
Unique Silver gelatin print
Courtesy Michael Hoppen Gallery
© Miroslav Tichy

 

Miroslav Tichý (Czech, 1926-2011) 'Untitled' c. 1960s

 

Miroslav Tichý (Czech, 1926-2011)
Untitled
c. 1960s
Unique Silver gelatin print
Courtesy Michael Hoppen Gallery
© Miroslav Tichy

 

Miroslav Tichý (Czech, 1926-2011) 'Untitled' c. 1960s

 

Miroslav Tichý (Czech, 1926-2011)
Untitled
c. 1960s
Unique Silver gelatin print
Courtesy Michael Hoppen Gallery
© Miroslav Tichy

 

Miroslav Tichý (Czech, 1926-2011) 'Untitled' c. 1960s

 

Miroslav Tichý (Czech, 1926-2011)
Untitled
c. 1960s
Unique Silver gelatin print
Courtesy Michael Hoppen Gallery
© Miroslav Tichy

 

 

Michael Hoppen Gallery
3 Jubilee Place, London SW3 3TD
Phone: +44 (0)20 7352 3649

Opening hours:
Monday – Friday: 12.30 – 6pm
Saturday and Sunday: Closed

Michael Hoppen 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.

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