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Marsden Hartley


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Marsden Hartley


MARSDEN HARTLEY´S
Maine

 


My own education [began] in my native hills, going with me—these hills wherever I went, looking never more wonderful than they did to me in Paris, Berlin, or Provence.—Marsden Hartley, “On the Subject of Nativeness—A Tribute to Maine,” 1937  

American painter and poet Marsden Hartley (1877–1943) was born and died in Maine, and his personal and aesthetic engagement with the state shaped his art. Hartley embarked on his artistic career in the early 1900s by painting the western Maine mountains, eventually becoming a member of the circle of artists promoted by the gallerist and photographer Alfred Stieglitz. 

Marsden Hartley (American, 1877-1943) Madawaska—Acadian Light-Heavy 1940 Oil on hardboard (masonite) 40 x 30 in. (101.6 x 76.2 cm) The Art Institute of Chicago, Bequest of A. James Speyer

Marsden Hartley (American, 1877-1943)
Madawaska—Acadian Light-Heavy
1940
Oil on hardboard (masonite)
40 x 30 in. (101.6 x 76.2 cm)
The Art Institute of Chicago, Bequest of A. James Speyer

" Hartley produced abstract paintings that placed him at the forefront of the international artistic avant-garde. "

Beginning in 1912, he adopted a peripatetic life, traveling throughout Europe and North America and returning to his native state on short, infrequent trips. While living in Berlin from 1913 to 1915, Hartley produced abstract paintings that placed him at the forefront of the international artistic avant-garde. Eventually his itinerant lifestyle took an emotional toll. At midlife he confided to Stieglitz, “I want so earnestly a ‘place’ to be.” Hartley repatriated to his native state in his later years and, in 1937, began transforming his identity from urbane sophisticate to “the painter from Maine.” 

This exhibition examines Maine as place and the place of Maine in Hartley’s art. It illuminates the artist’s wide-ranging representations of the state throughout his career, from early lush, Post-Impressionist mountain landscapes to glass paintings done at the Ogunquit art colony to canvases painted from memory while abroad to late, roughly rendered images of the rugged coastline, magisterial Mount Katahdin, and hardy people. It also includes works from The Met collection by other artists who shaped Hartley’s vision. Maine served as a slate on which Hartley manifested his ideas over time. It was an enduring source of inspiration defined by his personal history, cultural milieu, and desire to create a regional expression of American modernism. 

The exhibition is made possible by the Barrie A. and Deedee Wigmore Foundation, the Henry Luce Foundation, the William Randolph Hearst Foundation, and the Jane and Robert Carroll Fund.

Hartley was born in 1877 in Lewiston, Maine, a center of the state’s powerful textile industry. His English immigrant parents, who were drawn to the area by the mills, named their son Edmund. When Hartley was eight his mother died; he later attributed his lifelong loneliness to this early loss. His father remarried, and the family resettled in Ohio, where Hartley studied at the Cleveland School of Art until a local patron offered him a stipend to continue his training in New York. A teacher gave the aspiring artist a book by Ralph Waldo Emerson, igniting the interest in Transcendentalism that would contribute to the expressive tenor of his early landscapes.

In the spring of 1900, Hartley returned to Maine in search of inspiration. The state’s western border with New Hampshire, where the White Mountains preside, became the first place he claimed for his art. Over the next decade he moved between New York, Boston, and the cluster of small towns near the village of Lovell, Maine, establishing the itinerancy that would shape his life. Intimations of Hartley’s homosexuality entered his letters, and literature, especially the poems of Walt Whitman, provided an anchor for his emerging artistic identity. In 1906 Hartley changed his first name to Marsden, his stepmother’s surname. During these exploratory years he focused on Maine’s dramatic western mountains and the locale’s rural culture. His longest stay in the region, from 1908 to 1909, generated an extraordinary group of paintings and drawings. Returning to New York, Hartley secured the exhibition at Alfred Stieglitz’s gallery, 291, that launched his career. 

Marsden Hartley (American, 1877-1943) Canuck Yankee Lumberjack at Old Orchard Beach, Maine, 1940–41 Oil on Masonite-type hardboard, 40 1/8 x 30 in. (101.9 x 76.2 cm) Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution.

Marsden Hartley (American, 1877-1943)
Canuck Yankee Lumberjack at Old Orchard Beach, Maine, 1940–41
Oil on Masonite-type hardboard, 40 1/8 x 30 in. (101.9 x 76.2 cm)
Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution.

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Kostas Murkudis


Kostas Murkudis


AN INTERVIEW WITH KOSTAS MURKUDIS
Das Berliner Atelier

written by Annika Hatje
 


Through a movement of any kind, different approaches, shapes and stories develop to last yet aim at modifying again. In lieu of such fast-framed processes, today’s change seems to appear just a little bit faster than it did yesterday. To catch up with this dynamic, the individual needs to think inventive, adapt quickly, be aware of the situation finding oneself in and evolve upon such – Annika Hatje visited Kostas Murkudis in his atelier in Berlin and talked with him about his current collection, the inspiration resources and paradigms in fashion. 

Kostas Murkudis SS2017 LE MILE Magazine Alban E. Smajli

Entering his spacy atelier, illuminated by fluorescent tubes and warm wooden flooring, Kostas refines an environment that allows functionality and casualty, balancing a vigorous working atmosphere together with its homely attributes.
Going through the collection’s room, further towards the green garden with its prospering fauna, one enters the winter garden. It is silent and peaceful; reminding one of the spot you’d always dream off, to finally take a deep breath and loosen the strings attached to time. Here, architec
- ture and design objects are in fact a con- clusion of the interaction with shapes and colors. Versatile yet determent constitute characterizing attributes of a design object that acquires a status as such. Clothing can be such object, when inheriting the ability to master both attributes, created by Kostas Murkudis. 

" No boundaries, but eyes wide open towards the future implying the creation of face, guaranteeing for price challenges, production aims and freedom in creation "

Ambitiously inspired by his past collections, Kostas has been reconditioning his signature above what dictates trends, shapes and colors. Dedication - The artists mind is about stories to be told, transmitted through his unique aesthetics, following today’s function of body movements and lifestyles. It’s up to each individual to discover the clothes’ details, instead of discriminating one for its misuse. The collection in general stands out with its well applied haptic, it’s soft colored garment design (by Nadine Goepfert) and emphasizes a certain feeling of development within our society and its individuals. It’s a silent and smart fight, an innovative statement that embodies the progressive metropolitan wardrobe, where everything makes sense, every little stitch, pocket and detail, rein- forces the process of creation as a circle that nurtures itself and therefore continues infinitely. This in its core, functions as the catalyst, creating the desire to communicate. No boundaries, but eyes wide open towards the future implying the creation of face, guaranteeing for price challenges, production aims and freedom in creation. By skillfully reinterpreting the rules of beauty and norms of society, Kostas develops a certain distance to the pressure of today’s fashion industry dictate. Over the years, there had been developed a gentle, yet strong character that defines him as a person, influencing his collections. 

LE MILE Magazine by Alban E. Smajli presenting Kostas Murkudis SS2017 by Annika Hatje

" Within our postmodern environment we always tend to find appreciation of beauty. With creating a playful thought, defining freedom and detaching it from given codes, we get to question what is reality after all? "

Paris in particular has been crucial to his individual process towards being a designer, maintaining competitiveness, as this city constitutes creative freedom and acceptance of such within a society that evolves from the same impulses and desires. In its core values though, his creations do function on an artistic level, creating the basis of understanding, how to approach such in its holistic attempt.

Radiant youth, a human’s body and its attraction; the collection’s touch and playful features are characterizing his designs, keeping our senses and mind active, by allowing us to construe his composition in our own way. Accompanied by such freedom, it is actually the certain fondness on simplicity that’s creating space for complexity.

Within our postmodern environment we always tend to find appreciation of beauty. With creating a playful thought, defining freedom and detaching it from given codes, we get to question what is reality after all? Illusion and reflection hereby create a certain hyperreality, forming a context to evolve from. Regarding that, it is questioned whether there are actual scales that define beauty, limiting it to only an essence, or if the current development of limitation has been pushed boundaries. The essence is no longer an entity, as it now is rather used as an illustration of the various facets of beauty, manifested within major topics like gender, comfort, hierarchies and attraction. After all, contemporary aesthetics define its creator, deciding upon the placement of relevance: Being able to bend the idea of beauty, to manifest an object’s power in being visually appealing and raising awareness towards the importance of a long-lasting imagery, elucidates the current aesthetical dynamics in the creative industry.

Furthermore, and such is the initial indicator of successful designing, there is a given mindset that fashion continuous to be a consistent and independent platform, functioning as an expression of taste within the scope of cultural understanding. But most importantly it raises awareness on the relevance of innovation in an industry which mostly functions through consumption and reproduction Film though, well-functions as another projector for the idea of his collections.

It resembles another voice, channeling the garments from another angle and allows being playful, as well as challenging at the same time. It changes the way we develop a thought about certain aesthetics. Sequences of film almost seem like a puzzle, where its pieces are made out of various attributes that’s been put together. As an artist, Kostas Murkudis uses such platform to inspire but also question certain paradigms of several disciplines. His film collection’s aim is accompanied by a clear message, a regulatory parameter that is more or less visible, but reconciling its sequences. Moreover, he mentions in our talk that film in general is today’s way to communicate to a broad variety of generations. It is the bonding that we keep to our origin, and which made Kostas coming back to Berlin after such a long voyage within the fashion industry. Travelling professionally roots from curiosity and self-realization, but also from today’s natural understanding of being available at any time, worldwide. From designing his own line, to taking over the creative direction of other labels, as well as exhibiting certain pieces of his at the MMK Frankfurt and finally creating the costume design for the opera of Luzern, as well as their stage setting, one receives a profound idea of the scope of his work that in itself is tremendous and comprises major disciplines. His journey thus proves that there are no boundaries in creation Memories vanish, as experience continues to prosper. Going further, it creates confidence, a vital network and a team that contributes to facilitate and inspire. Gathering a strong set of creativity around oneself, attributes as craftsmans- hip, honest narratives and brilliant mastered compositions of fabric and design, develop naturally.
‘There had been so much happening in my life, I can’t remember everything’ – but somehow it all comes together when reviewing his works – most resonant, there is someone sitting in front of me who is kind-hearted, keeping a certain youth naivety and reveals his standing and thoughts only partly - always keeping a smooth tempo to it. I would even argue that such is one of the most desired skills of today’s open world: Keeping things to yourself and taking time to tell. 

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Ann Kuen


Ann Kuen


AN INTERVIEW WITH ANN KUEN
About a Muse 

written by Grenadine R.


Inspiration. Stimulation of the mind. Arising creativity. Blessed by the muse. There is always this very origin of a piece of art. Very seldomly it only develops from an inner self, from a core. There is always some kind of influence, a question that has been raised through society or environment. Or even a muse. The myths of muses have often been linked to divinity - there wasn’t a genius without the influence of a god, as Greek mythology says. But do we have to see a muse that extraordinary? 

Ann Kuen LE MILE Magazine by Thomas Sing

What does it mean to be a muse in this modern, fast world? What spirit is still needed, what spirit is still left? Ann Kuen, since recently the new muse of international artist Anselm Kiefer, working with him in his Atelier close to Paris, is herself artist, model and muse in one person.
I talk to her on a very late evening about being a muse and artist at the same time and the threshold between art and fashion. It is the simplicity, her down-to- earth attitude, maybe also her vigorous
Austrian German that makes her a very authentic individual, who seems to reflect sensibly on life, providing a feeling of why she is so inspiring to people. 

" I think I bring inspiration to the people - maybe that’s my task in life. "

It was last year that she started to work with Kiefer. Studying arts back then in Vienna but traveling a lot and working full time as a model, she thought it would be a good idea to leave the premises and work with the artist for a while. The job of a model and muse are closely connected to each other but still there are things that make big differences. Even more difficult is switching from being the object to being the creator. Both, being a model and a muse, but also being a muse and an artist can become a balancing act. We talk about the feeling to stand, sometimes even naked, in front of ano- ther person, who is creating an image of oneself. „It makes you strong, it keeps up a kind of aloofness." s a live model Ann is often stylized to a sculpture, raised to something special. Still there remains a passive part, where she is an active being but at the same time doesn’t create anything. In contrast, when switching the role, transforming to the other side, she can become the active part that is creating.

" It’s intimidating being portrayed, being eternalized through his [Kiefers] art. Its surreal to see yourself painted, clearly recognizable but in colours in which you would never see yourself. "

For her, it’s not easy to leave the state of passiveness, turning into the creator - taking the spirit only for herself.
„It’s not as easy as it seems, after being taken away from yourself, coming back to your inner core, to return to the person you really are, to find the place in your inner self where you are yourself.“
Her work „spletenija“ describes this conflict. She lived in London back then and her landlady had loads of packaging material. Almost by incident, very intuitively, she started experimenting with it, exploring what forms could develop out of it and started to shoot herself whilst working. Only later, producing the he- liogravures for an exhibition, she found out about the meaning of this work. „Iam a sculpture, fashioned and figured by others” - in this case she became her own muse. It is rather stimulation than inspiration what she gets from Kiefer, mostly regarding his attitude. Having preserved the child within him, he wants to fathom the things of the world and he is not afraid to fail - it’s even more so an important part in his works. Her adaption is an intuitive way of working. Where the piece of art will lead her is part of the process. To start with something simple, probably so- mething that appears to be meaningless will help raising fundamental questions. That’s why she likes to observe people. Spending time at airports a lot, she finds many people mostly controlled by basic instincts - sleeping, eating, going to the toilet. From observing to being observed she finds it often a schizophrenic act of being a personality and then becoming some object used for projection of the artist or the photographer. Fashion often lacks a respectful way of dealing with models, Ann reflects. Size, hair, leg length - categories are things that matter. Rarely it’s the character or the personality. The question arises if models are still the source for inspiration. It becomes in fact a tool for projection. As in Ann’s case, being a muse for artists, she feels much more respect for her very Self, for her personality and for the spirit she brings.
Becoming a muse is definitely something that one doesn’t chose to be. Still Ann thinks that its got do with certain skills, like a handcraft. „Knowing who you are, knowing your way, knowing what you love and being disciplined about it.“ It’s
a consciousness or a particular attention she receives through or pays to her surroundings, that shapes her, what she releases then again. Like a medium. This shape, often described as the energy or the spirit a person brings, is the veil of the muse.


Ann Kuen in her Atelier, photographed by Thomas Sing.

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Broomberg + Chanarin


Broomberg + Chanarin


BROOMBERG + CHANARIN
Hijacking Brecht

written by Andreas Hübner
 

“We still believe firmly that human suffering needs to be reported and documented,” says photographer Adam Broomberg, referring to the omniscient presence of war, violence, terror, murder, and genocide in modern-day society and imagery. Along with his partner in crime, Oliver Chanarin, Broomberg has recently finalized two highly acclaimed projects, War Primer 2 and Divine Violence. Both projects, in a rather ‘parasitic’ manner, reconsider the multiplicity of war imagery in the digital age, appropriating earlier works of Bertolt Brecht, such as the Kriegsfibel, and the playwright’s very own copy of the Bible. Devoid of shame, the photographic duo has chosen to follow Brecht’s lead, to explore the documentation, dissemination, and currency of war images in media and to ask why history coagulates around certain images. Refraining from the pure consumption of photographs, Broomberg and Chanarin acknowledge the blinkered neutrality of photojournalism and seek to conceive how an image becomes the image: “Our lives are so consumed by images that it’s important to understand the way they work: emotionally, politically, culturally, economically.”

" For War Primer 2, Broomberg and Chanarin appropriated Brecht’s 1955 Kriegsfibel. The duo purchased 100 copies of the 1998 English Kriegsfibel edition "

War Primer 2 and Divine Violence have spoken to each other from the very beginning. When researching for War Primer 2 in Berlin’s Brecht Archives, Broomberg and Chanarin stumbled across the playwright’s personal copy of the Holy Bible that had a photograph of a racing car glued to its cover. In many ways, the ‘cannibalized’ bible represented Brecht’s efforts to decode photographs, which he called hieroglyphs. To Broomberg and Chanarin, the bible as well as the Kriegsfibel encapsulated Brecht’s concern about the use of photographs in media: Both seemed to comment on the changing implications of photojournalism and to discuss the discursive relationship between image, caption, and context.

Curator Ann-Christin Bertrand of C/O Berlin has now decided to enter this multilayered discourse and to design an exhibition bringing together Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin’s War Primer 2 and Divine Violence at Amerika Haus Berlin. Opening on September 30th, Don’t Start With The Good Old Things But The Bad New Ones will feature approximately 90 images from both projects and allow spectators to experience the kind of alienation and estrangement that are characteristic to the artist duo’s and to Bertolt Brecht’s works alike. 

" Sometimes disturbing, War Timer 2 and Divine Violence create a personal, intimate, sensual, almost sexual, occasionally sad but always deceptive atmosphere "

Inspired by Heiner Müller’s dictum to never use Brecht without changing him, Broomberg and Chanarin drew from the Brechtian concept of the photo-epigram to develop their very own montage technique. In Kriegsfibel, the great poet and playwright had added four-line rhyming epigrams or short poems to images from mass-circulation magazines, most often from Life. Meant to expose the brutal workings of capitalism, the photo-epigrams transformed a classical Greek form of poetry into a brief interpretative caption, undermining and reframing the meaning of the original news. In a quite didactic sense, the photo-epigrams were intended to trigger critical thinking and to aid “critical remembrance.” 

Over the years, Broomberg and Chanarin have not only earned a reputation as photographers, they have also been successful in positioning themselves among the critical thinkers and the avant-garde of contemporary photography. Their works have been widely exhibited around the world, including Tate Modern, The Museum of Modern Art, Victoria & Albert Museum, International Center of Photography, Musée de l’Elysée, and the Stedelijk Museum. For War Primer 2, they were awarded the Deutsche Börse Photography Prize in 2013, and the Infinity Award from the International Center of Photography in 2014, allowing them to build their own studio in London and to take academic positions at the Hochschule für bildende Künste (HFBK) in Hamburg, Germany, and the KABK in The Hague. 

For War Primer 2, Broomberg and Chanarin appropriated Brecht’s 1955 Kriegsfibel. The duo purchased 100 copies of the 1998 English Kriegsfibel edition. They then gathered photographs and video-stills from the internet, concentrating on images of the so-called “War on Terror.” These images, of course, had gone through many editing processes: They had been digitally compressed, ripped, reformatted and often disconnected from their former authorship. These somewhat ‘corrupted’ images were montaged, or more precisely, mounted by hand in the pages of Kriegsfibel, forcing them into a dialogue with Brecht’s photo-epigrams. Early on, the artists had envisioned coming forth with their own poetry, but, in the course of project, they abandoned the idea and decided to stick with the original photo-epigrams, unveiling photography’s ongoing occupation with war and catastrophe.

Discovering Brecht’s bible in the archives, Broomberg and Chanarin felt that their project was not yet finished, that it needed further investigation. Guided by an essay of Adi Ophir, they became aware of the entanglements between war, catastrophe, God and modern systems of governance: “Right from the start, almost every appearance he [God] made was catastrophic. Catastrophe is his means of operation, and his central instrument of governance.” Ophir’s argument provided a philosophical and political map for the Divine Violence project. The artists adapted Ophir’s reading of “the Bible as a parable for the growth of the modern state and the blurring between God and State leading to us blindly and naively accepting the radical punishment the State is able to meter out.” Hence, they began reading the bible, underlining passages abundant of violence and calamity. Simultaneously, they mined the Archive of Modern Conflict in London to produce images that could possibly question the stereotypes at play within the visual representation of conflict. In a very organic way, it all came together, war imagery and the holy scripture. This time appropriating a reproduction of the King James Bible, the duo set in to collage and keep collaging, generating layer over layer, blending images of conflict and biblical text, to eventually design an alternative form of the Holy Bible.

Sometimes disturbing, War Timer 2 and Divine Violence create a personal, intimate, sensual, almost sexual, occasionally sad but always deceptive atmosphere. Hijacking Brecht’s “distancing effect,” texts and images step outside their inhabited roles and force those into dialogue who came to passively ‘entertain the illusion’: the audience that is now left to reflect the use and abuse of photography.

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David Goldblatt


David Goldblatt


DAVID GOLDBLATT
The Transported of KwaNdebele:
A South African Odyssey, 1983 – 1984
Ex-Offenders at the Scene of Crime, 2008 – 2015 


 

New York, August 17, 2016 – Pace/MacGill Gallery is honored to inaugurate its U.S. representation of acclaimed South African photographer David Goldblatt with an exhibition of photographs from two series, The Transported of KwaNdebele: A South African Odyssey, 1983–1984 and Ex- Offenders at the Scene of Crime, 2008–2015. The exhibition opens on September 14 with a reception for the artist from 5:30 to 7:30 pm and will be on view through October 29, 2016. 

" Goldblatt’s photographic essay on homeland transport, The Transported of KwaNdebele, 1983-1984, illuminates the oppressive geographic displacement imposed by apartheid "

For over 60 years, David Goldblatt has documented the social and political developments of his native South Africa with a critical yet compassionate eye. Drawn “to the quiet and commonplace, where nothing ‘happened’ and yet all was contained and immanent...,” Goldblatt photographs the complexities of everyday life to reveal the far-reaching effects of apartheid and the post-apartheid conditions that continue to impact the country’s social fabric to this day. As Ingrid Sischy writes in her introduction to Kith, Kin and Khaya: South African Photographs, "David Goldblatt is a true misfit in the history of photography. A stand-out whose commitment to the medium is epic. He is one of a kind, and his images of South Africa, taken from the 1940s and still going, will only be more reverberative as time goes on."

" Affected by the ubiquity of violence and fundamental lawlessness in South Africa, where crime rates are among the highest in the world, Goldblatt  sought to look past statistics and expose the humanity of perpetrators in his series Ex-Offenders at the Scene of Crime, "

 

Goldblatt’s photographic essay on homeland transport, The Transported of KwaNdebele, 19831984, illuminates the oppressive geographic displacement imposed by apartheid. Commissioned for the Second Carnegie Inquiry into Poverty and Development in Southern Africa, these photographs depict the commuting workers of KwaNdebele, who spend between 3 1⁄2 and 8 hours each day traveling to and from their jobs in the metropolitan city of Pretoria. As apartheid policy required the segregation of black South Africans in tribal Bantustans or homelands, millions were forcibly relocated to remote, rural settlement camps that lacked employment opportunities. Heavily subsidized bus and rail services were established to facilitate the movement of workers between these camps and their workplaces in the country’s white economic centers. Goldblatt’s images follow KwaNdebele’s nightriders through their daily ritual of interminable, overcrowded commutes on dusty, rutted roads and render visible their physical and psychological experiences of alienation and dislocation. The bus ride alone speaks powerfully to the abhorrent conditions which so profoundly concern Goldblatt.Affected by the ubiquity of violence and fundamentallawlessness in South Africa, where crime rates are among the highest in the world, Goldblatt sought to look past statistics and expose the humanity of perpetrators in his series Ex-Offenders at the Scene of Crime, 20082015. Through prisoner rehabilitation organizations, he approached former criminals or ex-offenders on parole and photographed them at the life-changing sites where their crimes occurred. The gripping portraits are accompanied by personal narratives, summarized from interviews with the artist, which recount the subjects’ stories and felonies. As Goldblatt explains, his pictures contain no social agenda: “My interest in ex-offenders arises from a wish to know who are the people who are doing the crimes and to get a sense of their life and how they came to crime. Could these people be my children? Could they be you? Or me?” In 2012, at the invitation of the West Bromwich based community arts center, Multistory, Goldblatt expanded his project to include ex-offenders in England’s Black Country. 

David Goldblatt (b. 1930, Randfontein, South Africa) began working as a full-time photographer in the early 1960s. He has published numerous monographs of his work and is the recipient of the Infinity Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Center of Photography (2013), the Henri Cartier- Bresson Award (2009), and the Hasselblad Foundation International Award in Photography (2006), among other distinctions. In 1989, Goldblatt founded the Market Photography Workshop in Johannesburg to provide further education in visual literacy and photographic practice to disadvantaged learners during the apartheid regime. 

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Eva Stenram


Eva Stenram


EVA STENRAM
DRAPE

written by Julia Ahtijainen

 

Oliviero Toscani put it simply, he said that an artist is someone who is who he is and does what he does. Eva Stenram is a Swedish artist who works with photographs. To be exact, she is manipulating between nostalgic imagery and covered sexuality, sending her messages through objectification of a female body and disrupted body language. Stenram’s latest series named “Drape” takes under the loop female leg postures. This collection of photographic images is a mixture of black and white, and color images of women who had been photographed in front of an interior curtain, in other words, in front of the drape.

" We often speak about Italian hand gestures and their meaning, but why not legs? "

Certain poses play an important role in this collection, and while viewing it one has to consider the aesthetics of female legs in vintage photography. We often speak about Italian hand gestures and their meaning, but why not legs? For example, Drape (Centerfold II), 2012, the whole meaning of the image is behind the risen leg. Like in tango, the leg here is a beautifully sensual distraction. Tango is an incredibly sexy and courageous dance, a sultry game. And Eva Stenram knows how to play it. How to play within flat photography, digital cut photo, blending, physical disruption and hidden spots. Imagination runs free behind these drapped and undraped places.

“I was interested in blocking out the main areas of interest in the image – making the local point of the image disappear and instead make the background engulf the foreground,“ explained Stenram. With that being said, Eva Stenram redefines the role of the gaze. The phrase ‘male gaze’ was first defined by feminist film critic Laura Mulvey in 1975. In her book “Visual and Other Pleasures” she wrote that pleasure in looking has been split between active male and passive female gaze. The determining male gaze projects always its fantasy on to the female form, which is styled accordingly. And in Stenram’s work one can recognize a disruption of styling by cutting and hiding body parts in another possible way, in comparison to the traditional exhibitionist role, where women are simultaneously looked at and displayed, and their appearance being coded for strong visual and erotic impact. Or as Laura Mulvey puts it: “So that they can be said to connote to-be-looked-at-ness”. “Drape” is a representation of a world ordered by sexual imbalance, given it a certain dose of nostalgia and rebellion. Just like Albert Camus thought, that every act of rebellion expresses a nostalgia for innocence and an appeal to the essence of being, so is the collection “Drape” is rebelling and expressing at the same time the essence of being in today’s culture.

" It is a way for us to find peace in this neverending information flow of new meanings and connections. The feeling of nostalgia is a bridge between uncertainties of today and good old fundamental past "

Nostalgia here is a necessary thing. It is a way for us to find peace in this neverending information flow of new meanings and connections. The feeling of nostalgia is a bridge between uncertainties of today and good old fundamental past. Eva Stenram’s images evoke a certain amount of positive and healthy nostalgia. Which is more about the alteration of the pin-up body language, humoristic eroticism and the clichés of feminine posture. The ideals of materialistic femininity of the past. Here I would quote Mauritian visionary, painter and writer Malcolm de Chazal, who once said: “The idealist walks on tiptoe, the materialist on his heels.”

What is the ideal female? Or where is the female ideal? Is it she, who is hiding behind this drape? Flirting with us in her heels and sultry leg postures. Or is just a projection of idea of a female? Eva gives the viewer bits and pieces to think about that. And isn’t it strange how we still hold on to the pieces of the past while we long for our bright future?

 

 

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Gordon Parks


Gordon Parks


GORDON PARKS
Weapon of Choice

written by Andreas Hübner

october 2016
 

“Nothing came easy,” Gordon Parks, remarked in his 1990 autobiography, Voice in the Mirror, looking back a long and winding road that had turned the High School drop-out at age fifteen into an accomplished photographer, writer, and film director by the 1970s. Never one to disappoint, Parks had cleared the ranks, playing the piano in brothels, trying on a semi-professional sports career with the touring “House of David” basketball team, cleaning up after alcoholics in a flophouse: “I was just born with a need to explore every tool shop of my mind, and with long searching and hard work. I became devoted to my restlessness.”

That restlessness was to be condensed in the mid-1930s when Parks discovered the power of the camera. Taking a railroad job, he started reading the magazines discarded on the trains and incidentally ran into a remarkable group of photographers: Arthur Rothstein, Russell Lee, Carl Mydans, Walker Evans, and Dorothea Lange. Pushed into a new perspective on visual practice, Parks began visiting the Art Institute on Michigan Avenue during layovers in Chicago, gently wandering about the paintings of Claude Monet, Auguste Renoir, and Edouard Manet, only to frequent the boisterous movie houses afterwards. Here the newsreel caught his attention, and, inspired by the bravery and dedication of the cameramen, he became determined to take upon photography. Not before long, Parks left a pawnshop. For $12.50, he had purchased his weapon of choice: a Voightlander Brilliant.

" Encompassing the period in between 1942 and 1978, the curators have decided to not just concentrate on the photographic oeuvre of Parks, they also consider his expertise as a writer and filmmaker "

Opening on September 9, C/O Berlin is presenting the exhibition I Am You at Amerika Haus Berlin, highlighting the works of Gordon Parks. Staged in cooperation with The Gordon Parks Foundation, the exhibition will be on display until December 15, 2016, and then travel to FOAM in Amsterdam and the Kunstfoyer in Munich. Encompassing the period in between 1942 and 1978, the curators have decided to not just concentrate on the photographic oeuvre of Parks, they also consider his expertise as a writer and filmmaker. Altogether some 150 works are shown, vintage prints, contact sheets, magazines, and films. Parks is represented as both a protagonist of the Civil Rights Movement and a respected chronicler of celebrated figures. Profiling agents of change such as Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr. and Muhammad Ali, as well as popular darlings such as Duke Ellington, Ingrid Bergmann und Alberto Giacometti, his photographic endeavors would eventually bring together the worlds of politics, art and fashion. 

Born on November 30, 1912, in Fort Scott, a remote Kansas prairie town, African American Gordon Parks was not meant to become one of his country’s favorites. Amid poverty and racial segregation, he was distressed by the early death of his mother. The then fourteen year old mourned her sudden passing and, at the same time, feared his very own end. Slowly that restlessness would kick in. Sent away to live with relatives, he learnt to rely on himself, taking on odd jobs, eventually picking up photography. In the 1930s, with the camera at his hands, Parks made his ways into Chicago’s sprawling impoverished South Side. He sensed that even though a cheap apparatus, the Voightlander would empower him to make serious comments on the human condition. A new way of seeing and feeling opened up to him, one acknowledged by the Julius Rosenwald Fund: By 1941, Parks was awarded a fellowship and to serve a term with the Farm Security Administration in Washington, DC. He moved to the capital in January 1942, only to recognize that “racism was busy with its dirty work” in the city. Parks began to portray the bigotry of the American Way of Life and a society deeply entrenched in racism, segregation, injustice, violence, and poverty. 

" Sent away to live with relatives, he learnt to rely on himself, taking on odd jobs, eventually picking up photography "

I Am You includes perhaps Parks’ most famous image of the DC days: The “American Gothic, Washington D.C.” (1942). Shot during the year of the Rosenwald fellowship, it poses a strong juxtaposition to Grant Wood’s painting of the same title. Moving the scene from rural Iowa to the capital, the photograph features a single African American cleaning woman, Ella Watson, positioned in front of the star-spangled banner with a broom and a mop. “American Gothic” challenges racism head-on and unfolds Parks’ profound approach to photography. Self-taught, he did not just develop a unique style and versatility that transcended professional stereotypes, he also added to the conceptual transformation of photography. Parks developed the concept of image sequence, displaying human behavior or societal conditions as recurring processes. Hence, through photography, he explored innovative ways of narrative structure, placing him among the pioneers of the social documentary tradition.

After leaving the Farm Security Administration, Parks continued to portray people from all walks of life. In 1948, a photographic essay on a young Harlem gang leader, Red Jackson, earned Parks a staff job as a photographer and writer with Life magazine. The watershed had come, engagements with Condé Nast, Vogue, and other renowned fashion magazines were to follow. But Parks never got off focus; he managed to explore the spheres of art and fashion without becoming limited to glamour photography. A photojournalist by heart, he was able to produce that rare intimacy between photographer and subject and to transcend sheer voyeurism, creating moments of subtle mastery. In this sense, Park’s photographs of Ingrid Bergman represent his most iconic images. Exhibited at C/O Berlin, these photographs reveal Bergman’s vulnerability and, at once, resemble Parks’ take on the profession of the photographer: “I wound up being an objective reporter with a subjective heart.”

All the while, Parks rose to become an acclaimed filmmaker and writer. In the 1970s, he directed two Shaft movies, Shaft and Shaft’s Big Score, thereby introducing the Blaxpoitation genre to movie houses, confronting the audience with America’s poor urban neighborhoods. Parks later described the movies as noisy, but necessary films: “People come up and ask me if we really need this image of Shaft the black superman. Hell, yes, there’s a place for John Shaft.” Even earlier, Parks had become Hollywood’s first African American to direct a major film, when he had taken over the production of The Learning Tree, a drama adaptation of his 1964 semi-autobiographical novel of the same title. For the shooting of the film, he returned to his hometown Fort Scott after more than two decades. The atmosphere was tense, as essayist S. Pearl Sharp noted, for Fort Scott wasn’t too sure it wanted Parks and those Hollywood folks filming, putting a spotlight on their souls, telling a story about race and righteousness. Yet, Parks was not willing to let the opportunity slip away, he was willing to take upon the chance and to shed light on America’s troubled past and presence. He was to act as the American Renaissance man that we now experience at C/O Berlin and that still speaks to us today: “One hundred miles from Kansas City, Missouri, as the crow flies southward is my birthplace, Fort Scott Kansas. I went back this spring for the first time in twenty-three years. I rode into town on the tail of hard blowing storm; it was high noon but Main Street was dark as night.”