Lucas Foglia‘s photographs from ‘Frontcountry’ explore a mining boom along one of the last domestic frontiers in some of the least populated areas of America; Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas and Wyoming. They are places of immense beauty, pictures of a landscape that has seeped into our consciousness, through film, art and photography, over the past 150 years but is now being dramatically changed due to a mining boom over the past decade.
Konstancja Nowina Konopka‘s photographs from ‘A Thousand and One Evil Deeds’ bring us into the world of a gang of friends who roam the parks, playgrounds and derelict houses – in an industrial town in Southern Poland called Zabrze – creating havoc and mayhem wherever they go.
Joy Munt‘s paintings are big, physical, solid pictures that take us onto the docks and into industrial wastelands of the city, her surfaces textured with a physicality that creates its own time, as if she’s intent on showing us the bare structure, the very process out of which they are born.
Thomas Kast‘s paintings are dark parables, each picture an attempt to articulate the contemporary human condition through symbols and metaphors, allegorical scenarios that seek a truth, a key to unlock the mystery of our existence.
John Lusk Hathaway‘s photographs from ‘Lost State Of Franklin’ is a continuation of his exploration of the relationship between society and the natural world and more particularly the way in which we shape or are shaped by the environment around us.
Panos Kokkinias photographs from ‘Leave Your Myth In Greece’ ruminate on the social, economic and political ramifications of the collapse of the Greek state in 2008. A crisis that also deeply affected my country, Ireland, and has had long term effects on the people and the culture of the Greek nation.
Michael Covello‘s paintings are dense pictures that on first viewing appear to be one thing and then another, geometric abstraction that struggles to make its mark in a maelstrom of urban chaos, a clash of materials and colours, textures and surfaces.
Dongwook Lee‘s photographs from ‘Sense Of Guilt’ take Barbie and Ken out of their strange material world of innocence and into an alternative reality that is lonely, violent, banal and sexually charged. A brutal world in which anything can happen to anyone at anytime. A place far removed from Barbie and Kens idyll, their dream of a perfect America that transcends social, economic and political boundaries. In these pictures their naivety and innocence is exposed, their all american stereotypeS trounced by the realities of the free market capitalism that they were born out of.
My five year old daughter adores Barbie. She loves the dolls, the cartoons and the magazines. Barbie represents the modern day fairy tale, she’s a projection of a capitalist dream, an American heaven in which conspicuous consumption and innocence can cure all ills, is the template for modern living. While Ken, her partner in this façade, is the good guy, the healing hand, the loving sidekick This dynamic smiling couple have insidiously crept into our culture over the last 50 years and despite the mocking and the denigration, they’re stronger than ever, are still popular, have adapted, moved with the fashion of the times. They re-appropriate everything in their wake. They are invincible.
Yet in these pictures Lee attempts to readdress the balance. He forces them to witness the ugly banality, the terrible reality of living in a consumer world. In their world. And through his careful compositions and and cinematic aesthetic he makes us voyeurs. Allows us to grimace as we watch Ken and Barbie struggle to survive in a brave new world.
They’re also a lot of fun. Lee must of got a great kick out of making these photographs. They’re like a riff on film noir, cheap porn and crass advertisements. They capture the dirtiness of a capitalist culture and the idiocy of Barbie and Ken. They have me thinking about my daughter and her affection for them. As he says himself:
There have been numerous controversies on Barbie doll owing to its inborn duplicity and abnormal figure. Despite these critics, Barbie doll is still an idol for many children and women. Besides it’s been a long time to appear black Barbie dolls by a lot of disputes and there is discrimination between white and black Barbie
dolls like the real world. People’s dual aspect and mentality towards Barbie doll became the motive of choosing Barbie doll as a main material for my work.
Those like the fleeting moment before a traffic accident, murder, or voyeurism actually do exist, but to the most people who are lucky enough not to experience any of these, they are just some other people’s business. Depending on the viewer’s subconsciousness and experience, a piece of photo can evoke completely different kinds of inspirations.
I made the new familiar time and space that looks like a real world where Barbie dolls actually live. I express brutality of human nature with distorted love of bobby and ken.
Sayed Asif Mahmud‘s photographs from ‘The Outsider’ do not tell the tale of existential crisis. Rather they’re a searing document of the poverty stricken homeless people who live around Howrah Bridge in Kolkata – previously called Calcutta and once the capital of India – struggling to survive in a city that is the economic powerhouse of East and North-East India. A place known for its literary, artistic and revolutionary heritage and for being the birthplace of modern Indian literary and artistic thought.
Olivia Bee‘s photographs from ‘Everyday’ have been seen before. You’ve seen them everywhere. Perhaps not these specific pictures but similar ones. Images of the beautiful crowd, of teenagers hanging out, swimming, falling in love, doing stuff, being stuff, figuring stuff out. What makes Bee different is that her photographs have come to represent this new aesthetic, a snapshot, instagram candidness that has elevated her from unknown Portland kid to toast of New York advertising executives in two years. And she’s still only 20 years old. Extraordinary. Yep that’s right, 20 years old and she’s already worked for Hermès, Levi’s, Aritzia, Converse, Fiat, The New York Times, Der Speigel, Harper Collins and Little Brown.
There is nothing contrived about these pictures. They’re simply born out of a digital age that has created a self aware generation who document and share every single second of their lives on the internet. They are pictures of her friends being kids yet are wonderfully natural, disarming, Bee’s intuitive understanding of light and speed incredible. Her trippy, colour saturated images symptomatic of her peers. No one does it better.
For what we see here is a riff on the instantaneous snap of the polaroid, the groundbreaking documentary work of Nan Goldin and the grunge scene of the late 1980’s early 1990’s which was itself a re-marketing of punk and DIY. This distillation of art, design, fashion and music – through a sophisticated marketing machine – has blurred the boundaries between what is real and what is manufactured. There is now no difference. We live in an age of the individual as product with a look all of its own. A style that’s self perpetuating, that lives the lie of momentary existence. Of a live well lived.
This is not a criticism. I love Bee’s work. She is an artist. Lives off her emotional connection to people. Her success is secured. Her career will move on grow, develop. However I can’t help thinking of Guy Debord and the Situationists when I see her work. The spectacle of life.
In these photographs we are made aware of how manufactured the world we live in is. They are real pictures of real people yet they represent a fallacy, they are an image, an aspiration. They are art as marketing. Yet for all of that enjoy Bee’s ability to create an image as she says herself about photography:
It lends itself to memory; it’s magical. I want to evoke nostalgia in everyone, and to take photos you can relate to, regardless of your situation, your gender, race, where you grew up, whether you’re a teenager…
and about her own work she has this to say:
I strive to capture the ordinary, in an extraordinary way. Life is beautiful, perfect, and cinematic, if you look at the right moments. It’s not always an accurate summary of life in general, but it is those specific moments that make it worth living anyway.
Clare Price‘s paintings are a cyber punk explosion out of carefully structured compositions, her pictures a dance of neon electric colours, acid hues and metallic silver in an abstract landscape of expressionist markings.