The golden age of albanian photography; three Brazilian photographers whose work was displayed at the fifth edition of FotoRio (Rogerio Reis, Edu Simoes, Fernanda Magalhaes); Rome photographed by William Klein; a series by Magnum's photographer Martine Franck; 25 modern gelatin-silver prints by Brazilian photographer Jose' Medeiros; Vincenzo Castella was given carte blanche to produce an artwork devoted to the city of Turin and the National Automobile Museum.
The golden age of albanian photography
Curated by Loïc Chauvin and Christian Raby
5 October 2011 - 8 January 2012
Although Albania does not loom large in the history of world photography, it has a photographic heritage that is unique in the Balkans.
This exhibition presents a century of outstanding and evocative pictures from a European country that has been exposed by the winds of history to eastern influences from the Ottoman empire. It features portraits of heroes or unnamed figures, studio compositions, landscapes, Christian and Muslim funerals, and scenes of daily life.
Albania, one of the toughest totalitarian regimes for almost half a century, is also the historic home of the aoidos or bards, wandering storytellers with inexhaustible memories whose origin goes back to the time of Homer. Worthy successors of these poets, the first Albanian photographers, rhapsodists of light, use pictures to tell the story of a world where history jostles with legend.
The history of Albanian photography begins with an Italian, Pietro Marubi, a supporter of Garibaldi who fled the repressive regime and took refuge in Albania. He moved to Shkodra where he opened the country's first photographic studio in 1858. Three generations followed: the so-called 'Marubi dynasty'. All of Albanian society came to pose in their studio in front of painted backdrops: beggars, craftsmen, intellectuals, politicans, even members of King Zog's court. Over a period of about a century, the Marubis accumulated some 120,000 negatives.
But Albanian photography cannot be reduced to this family of photographers alone. Dozens of other artists worked in Albania in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The photographic collections they built up show the political, cultural, social and religious diversity of the country as it reached a crucial turning point in its history, with the Ottoman empire ending and hard-won independance beginning. Of particular note in a country where three religions coexist are the pictures of funerals, reflecting the existence of a true photographic ritual.
As a favoured art form and medium in the industrial age, photography brought about new social rituals. It reflects what modern western Man wishes to record, and the image of himself he wishes to project. Did the role of photography in the history of Albania at the dawn of its independance indicate a break with Istanbul, or was it the result of a modernization process that was already present in the heart of Ottoman civilization? One thing is sure: in Albania, the feeling of national identity and the development of photography both informed and enlightened each other.
The sixty or so prints selected for this exhibition are the result of several years' research. They have made it possible to dig out several thousand photographs from public and private Albanian collections, some well-known, others less so. The Golden Age of Albanian photography was followed by an iron age. Today, after half a century of totalitarianism, Albania is rediscovering an important part of its memory and heritage thanks to this exhibition.
Exhibition organized in collaboration with the Albanian Embassy in Paris and with support from the groupe d'amitié France-Albanie at the French Senate.
Rogério Reis, Edu Simões, Fernanda Magalhães
Cuated by Milton Guran, with Cristianne Rodrigues
This exhibition features three Brazilian photographers whose work was displayed at the fifth edition of FotoRio. This festival, founded by Milton Guran, presents vintage and contemporary photographs from public and private collections and seeks to stimulate informed debate about Brazilian and international photography. This year, FotoRio presented 150 cultural events including exhibitions, in situ events, workshops, round tables, discussions and conferences in some sixty museums, cultural centres and art galleries in Rio.
The artist and photographer Fernanda Magalhães, who lectures at Londrina University and holds a doctorate from Campinas University, was awarded the Marc Ferrez photography award for her project "The representation of the fat naked woman in photography".
"The representation of the fat naked woman in photography", Fernanda Magalhães, 1995
This series is made up of 28 pieces created in 1995. They consist of collages of photographs and newspaper and magazine clippings, to which have been added written texts, colours, lines and forms, printed on plastic sheets. The images are based not only on self-portraits, but also on photographs of other bodies raising questions of sexuality, food, appearance, maternity, and the taboos surrounding the construction of identity among overweight women, whose bodies are subject to denial and social invisibility.
Self-taught photojournalist Eduardo Simões began his career in 1976. Three years later he became a founder member of the F4 agency. From 1988 to 1992, he was chief photo editor for Goodyear magazine. He then worked as a freelancer until 1997, when he became chief photo editor for the magazines Bravo and República. Since 1996, he has produced a series of very sensitive photographic essays on the work of great Brazilian writers such as João Cabral de Melo Neto, Raduan Nassar, Jorge Amado and Rachel de Queiroz. He was awarded the 'Vladimir Herzog de Direitos Humanos' prize in 1980, the 'Aberje de Fotografia' prize in 1989, and the 'Abril de Ensaio Fotográfico' prize in 1995.
Edu Simões, "Gastronomy For a Hard Day's Work", 2004
In 2004, I visited a few building sites in São Paulo and asked labourers for permission to take photographs of their lunchpails. It was lunchtime and, although they were really hungry, most of them agreed. As usual in Brazil, each worker leaves his house while it is still dark carrying his lunchpail, generally prepared by their wives or other family members. It is well known that there is a 'hierarchy of content' in each lunchpail, and that the basic staple is beans and rice. When a worker opens his lunchpail in front of the others and there's meat on top of the beans and rice, it immediately shows that he is doing well in life. If it contains chicken giblets or pork offal, it means he's muddling through. But if there's only an egg spread between the rice and beans, the famous ovo frito, it's a sign that poverty is not far off. The way the lunchpails are put together reflects the hope that this little container can 'kill' its owner's hunger. It also reflects the certainty that a new day of hard work is about to begin'.
Rogério Reis' first encounter with photography was in the workshops of the Museum of Modern Art (MAM) in the mid seventies. In 1977, he began doing photoreportage work, photographing cultural and political events and daily life in Rio and elsewhere, for major newspapers and magazines in Brazil (Jornal do Brasil, O Globo, Veja) and abroad (L'Express, El Pais, Newsweek, German GEO, etc). For three years (1985-1987) he was in charge of the publicity campaign for Brazilian racing driver Ayrton Senna, and in 1999 his black and white portraits taken at the Rio carnival were awarded the FUNARTE (National Art Foundation) Prize for photography. Since 1996, Reis has been the director of Tyba, voted top Brazilian photo agency by Photo Magazine in 2005. His work provided the inspiration for the main character in the film City of God.
Rogério Reis, "Nobody Belongs to Anybody", 2010
In Brazil, individual freedom begins where the freedom of others ends. Rogério Reis deals with the question of image ownership with humour and sensuality, covering the faces of couples on the beaches of Rio with coloured bands.
'I wanted to take photographs from close quarters, without hindrance and without taking the risk of being sued, like people used to do in the old days. These bands made it possible for me to take photographs in a way that is usually impossible without prior authorization from the people involved. It's the solution I've found to explore the way images are used and controlled in today's world'. Rogério Reis.
Rome + Klein
Curated by Alessandra Mauro
"Rome is a movie, and Klein made it" Federico Fellini
A talented young American who grew up on the streets of New York finds himself with a camera in a city like Rome. What better could one hope for? This is what William Klein must have thought when he arrived in Rome in 1958.
The pretext was that he was to meet Federico Fellini, to whom Klein introduced himself with the daring of youth, ready to ask him for an audience. Klein himself tells the story:
Rome is my lucky city. In 1956, I published my book of photos on New York under the influence of an entire generation of photographers. At that time, I was mainly an abstract painter, but painting as I practised it, conceptual and geometric, did not allow me to find an original form of expression. That's how I started experimenting with photography. After the book on New York, I had the feeling I knew all about photography, and my goal became the cinema. I was a big fan of Fellini and I managed to set up a meeting with him in Paris: I wanted to give him a copy of my book. He said: "I already have one, it's on my bedside table. Why don't you come to Rome and be my assistant?" I was about twenty years old and that is quite simply how I arrived in Rome.
But things didn't go the way he had planned. As well as already having many assistants, Fellini was not ready to begin filming, as is often the case with productions that lack money. Casting was underway (a thrilling time for the young American!) but other problems slowed down the work and threatened the project. What could Klein do ? Nothing. or perhaps everything.
Of course, Federico already had a crowd of assistants but I still worked with him on casting for "Nights of Cabiria", documenting an army of prostitutes and pimps and scouting for locations. But the film was postponed and I said to myself "well, I did a book about New York, why not do another one about Rome?"
And 1950s Rome, welcoming and festive, opened its arms to him with a mixture of bonhomie and sarcasm. At the time the narrow streets and ruins were home to artists, writers and filmmakers from all over the world. The tradition of the Grand Tour, which for centuries had been a formative experience for generations of young European and American artists, was reborn in Klein as he discovered Rome. On his "Roman walks" he was guided by some outstanding personalities: Pier Paolo Pasolini, Ennio Flaiano, Alberto Moravia, Giangiacomo Feltrinelli. They gave him the keys to a city that was ostensibly easy to live in, scintillating and happy, but was in reality much more complex. He would meet them at the Café Rosati on Piazza del Popolo, walk around the suburbs and new neighbourhoods, spend Sundays on the beach at Ostia under the stares and mocking smiles of the children Pasolini was so fond of, stroll through the Forum among groups of soldiers on leave, or across St Peter's square among ecstatic nuns.
Klein decided to take on one of his favourite subjects: how to tell the story of an unknown city in pictures, how to capture its soul and its power by observing its inhabitants and the spirit that unites them. Whereas New York had been the abrupt, quick-fire visual journal of a son returning home, Rome was something else, a language to be learned, a city to be deciphered and discovered. He had to understand how people lived, to grasp the source of the slight irony that enables it to support the uncomfortable weight of its past, all emperors and popes. How was it possible to move forward, between the ancient squares and the modern cars, faced with an uncertain future but full of hope following the dark post-war years. He had to measure the weight of a city that was still a great spiritual centre, where the Vatican dictated not only the times for prayers but the country's domestic policy.
This was Rome in the 1950s, and this is what Klein, with enthusiasm, intelligence, tenderness and irony, shows in his photographs. He sharpened a method he had experimented with in Tokyo, Moscow, or more recently Paris, the city he has chosen to live in for fifty years.
To enter Klein's Rome, we must be ready to discover, with no sense of hierarchy, graffiti on walls and portraits of famous filmmakers, shop signs, billboards and grandiose views of the Roman Forum. Inspired by diversity, Klein photographed both the bosses and the extras at Cinecittà, where, for the first time, he took fashion into the streets, getting elegantly dressed models to pose in ordinary everyday scenes. In his photos, as in the book now being republished, everything converges at an accelerated, chaotic pace. He depicts the breathless life of an entire city: everything is Rome, nothing is left out.
Member of the Magnum agency since 1983 and president of the Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson, Martine Franck began a series of portraits of artists in 1965. Focusing on artists 'from elsewhere' living in Paris since 1945, this series constitutes an illustrated encyclopedia of modern and contemporary art. The show features over sixty prints of painters and sculptors in their studios, from Pierre Alechinsky to Zao Wou Ki. These photographs reveal the vitality of the French art scene and the way Paris continues to attract artists.
This exhibition was commissioned by the Maison Européenne de la Photographie, as part of the series "Étranges Étrangers".
From a text by Germain Viatte in Venus d'ailleurs, peintres et sculpteurs à Paris depuis 1945, Imprimerie nationale éditions, 2011
Like a collector striving to go beyond his own commitments and get closer to the exhaustivity of a museum, Martine Franck has risen above the sphere of friendly complicity, personal taste, encounters and commissions, towards a broader constellation: that of artists from a variety of backgrounds who have settled in Paris since the Second World War, lured by an irrepressibly magical attraction which is most often spurred by an almost unconscious impulse, sometimes as a result of chance detours, meandering paths, or suspended approaches.
Franck's approach is not far removed from that of a traveller eager to explore an archipelago of countless islands, fascinatingly diverse even though the same water laps their shores. Although it is intended to be deliberate, it nevertheless remains instinctive, arising as it does from shared intuitions. Martine Franck cannot claim to produce an inventory, for the protagonists are almost innumerable: even today their number is still growing. Neither can her project be thought of as a hall of fame or a systematic piece of research based on the classifications of history or criticism. Instead, she adopts an approach that is powerful enough to act as a testimonial.
The only thing these artists have in common is that one day they desired Paris, decided to work there, and, in one way or another, remained deeply attached to the city. The characters Martine Franck visits are people of great conviction and long experience. Their appearence might seem ordinary if they were not completely inhabited by the project that inspires their lives. The photographer has been able to capture what, for each of them, acts as a meaningful sign: the look in their eyes, the language of their hands betraying their anxiety, the subtle interplay that is at the heart of all artworks.
Curated by Sérgio Burgi, conservator and coordinator of the technical and photographic departments at the Moreira Salles Institute (Brazil) and Élise Jasmin, historian and freelance curator.
This exhibition features a series of 25 modern gelatin-silver prints by Brazilian photographer José Medeiros, part of an outstanding feature article on initiation ceremonies in the Afro-Brazilian religion candomblé in the city of Bahia. Entitled As Noivas dos deuses sanguinarios (Brides of the Bloodthirsty Gods), the feature was made in 1951 for the magazine O Cruzeiro.
In 1951, the newspaper A Tarde had reproduced a feature on candomblé published in Paris Match on 12 May. Entitled "Les possédées de Bahia" (Women Possessed in Bahia) and illustrated with fourteen photographs by filmmaker Henri Georges Clouzot, the article caused an immediate furore and was met with indignation in some circles. It was criticized for being sensationalist and prejudiced against the Afro-Brazilian religion, which is very popular in the Nordeste region. It was nonetheless remarkable for the quality of its images and the originality of its subject matter.
O Cruzeiro responded by commissioning a feature on candomblé which would look at the subject from a different angle: a Brazilian perspective on an often hidden aspect of the nation's own culture. It sent its star photographer, José Medeiros, to Bahia, along with journalist Arlindo Silva. They set off in search of a terreiro - a candomblé community - that would agree to having journalists present during ceremonies and photographing adepts. They initially met with strong reluctance on the part of the Afro-Brazilian community, which was eager to preserve the secrets of its rituals and saw photography as a potential source of danger. Thanks to a go-between, however, they gained acceptance in a secondary terreiro in the outskirts of Bahia which was preparing to induct three novices (Iyaôs) that evening.
The feature published in September 1951 is illustrated with 38 photographs by José Medeiros showing the various different stages of the initiation ceremony: the reclusion of the novices, the dances, the incisions made in the scalp and on the arms, the animal sacrifices, etc. It met with strong disapproval from large numbers of candomblé followers in Bahia, who saw it as a violation of their secrets and a profanation of sacred places. Despite this, it was hugely successful and became a well-known reference.
Six years later, in 1957, José Medeiros published a book entitled "Candomblé", illustrated with sixty-five photographs, including about twenty previously unpublished images. Whereas the 1951 feature was tinged with sensationalism - particularly Arlindo Silva's article - the book has a more anthropological slant and the images play a more central role, fully revealing their evocative power.
Despite the controversy, the photographs of José Medeiros remain some of the most important ever taken on this subject, and are now considered landmarks in Brazilian photography.
In 2005, the 20,000 negatives and photographs by José Medeiros were added to the iconographic collections of the Moreira Salles Institute. Fifty-two years after the book Candomblé was first published, this important Brazilian cultural institution has taken the initiative of republishing an augmented version.
Exhibition organized in partnership with the Moreira Salles Institute, as part of Photoquai.
5 octobre - 13 novembre 2011
This exhibition, organized by Agarttha Arte, forms part of the project entitled "Piedmont: a definition" which grows as pictures commissioned from major photographers are added to it. Vincenzo Castella was given carte blanche to produce an artwork devoted to the city of Turin and the National Automobile Museum.
The National Automobile Museum in Turin is unusual in terms of its design and layout, which introduce movement and make use of light, sound and images. The visitor is immersed in a synesthetic world. Taken on a virtual journey, he is invited to relive the extraordinary odyssey of one of the most important inventions of the last century: the motor car.
Somewhat paradoxically, a photographer who specializes in cityscapes, Vincenzo Castella, has been given the formidable honour of recording in pictures the specificities of this new museum and of showing the many facets of its collection.
For twelve years, Castella has documented major European cities with almost surgical precision. Preferring high observation points, he makes quasi-panoramic views in colour that suggest the autonomous nature of buildings.
For Castella, the city escapes all attempts at planning, spreading out freely, unbeknown even to its inhabitants. In this perspective, he has brought a fresh approach to architectural photography, looking at the city as an urban fabric which, like a living material, reproduces itself according to its own laws over which man seems to have little control.
Naturally, this kind of freedom cannot be found in the Automobile Museum, whose architectural design is highly controlled. To deal with this, the artist changed his approach. Using vintage lenses, he approached the collection in an unexpected way and, with a kind of lyrical abstraction, revisited the identity of the objects he found there. The outline of the car, its streamlining, and its most dazzling features dissolve into coloured shapes that seem to belong more to dreams and imagination.
Vincenzo Castella's work at the National Automobile Museum highlights the twofold viewpoint that emerges each time a new cultural venue springs up in a city. This dual viewpoint , a way of looking out from, as well as looking at, the museum, makes up the basic structure of a narrative that embraces the history of the museum from its creation to its latest modifications. The new space, whose shape, materials and colours make it stand out from its setting, serves as a landmark both for visitors arriving from the early twentieth century working class districts, and those coming from the area dedicated to the birth of the Republic, Italia'61.
The River Pô, at the foot of the hill, gives the museum a further horizon. It is in this constant interplay of associations and substitutions of frames that we find the different identities of Turin. While the working class houses directly recall life around the factory, a key feature of a city whose development has been closely bound up with that of industry, the river and the green spaces laid out in the celebration area reflect lasting transformations which, today more than ever, show how the city has risen to its challenges. The creation of a space such as the National Automobile Museum, an extraordinary conjunction of memory and progress, was surely one such challenge.
Inside the museum, adopting oblique viewpoints, Castella uses his camera to link the new architectural design with parts of cars and engines. When a cultural initiative takes the past into account and transforms the present into the future, a dialogue can develop between interior and exterior, old and new, creating areas of meaningful contact.
Adele Re Rebaudengo & Jean-Luc Monterosso
Exhibition organized with support from the Piedmont Region Piémont, Fondazione CRT, Comera di commercio industria artigianato e agricoltura di Torino, Pba Spa.
Image: (c) William Klein
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