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Mari Katayama Japanese Photographer at the Venice Bienale May 27, 2019

Posted by bohdan.warchomij in : Artsy, Metaphor Online , comments closed
A dreamy, cinematic glamour pervades Japanese photographer Mari Katayama’s frames. She stages her self-portraits on the beach or in snow white bedding, among flowery fabrics, and in front of a glimmering painting. She wears her hair in a fashionable black bob. Her skin and red lipstick are pristine. It takes a moment for viewers to realize that her body diverges from those in the pin-up or fashion shots to which we’ve become accustomed—Katayama’s legs have been amputated, and she has a cleft left hand.It’s a surprise, but it shouldn’t be: While the media is expanding its conception of beauty, the concept is too often limited to the able-bodied.
Yet the young artist’s oeuvre is about much more than the condition—tibial hemimelia—which led to her to decide to amputate her legs at age 9, while she was growing up in Gunma prefecture. The photographs are celebrations of glittery, girlish making, and of traditional craft objects. They’re lush vehicles for all of Katayama’s creations: painting, sculpture, and of course, her own self-presentation. She creates a theatrical world in which she’s simultaneously the author, director, and star. The pictures’ confidence, and Katayama’s inclusion in the 58th edition of the Venice Biennale, augur an exciting career and a receptive international audience.
In one of the pictures on view in the Biennale’s central exhibition, “May You Live in Interesting Times,” at the Arsenale, Bystander #02 (2016), Katayama sits tall on a burgundy sofa with a floral pattern, flanked by pillows she sewed herself. The backdrop is sparkling, textured teal—part of one of her paintings. Stuffed, sewn arms studded with pearls wrap around her like a shawl. They feature lifelike fingers: She prints hands directly onto the material. Katayama appears like a queen from a fairy tale of her own making.
As a child, Katayama had to wear specially tailored clothes that her mother and grandmother sewed for her. She picked up the skill, as well as other creative outlets, to distract herself from her school, where bullies targeted her. She drew and played in a band. A fashion student named Tatsuya Shimada noticed her unique aesthetic when she was 16, and she became a model in his graduate catwalk show. Over the next decade, she continued making work and attended the Tokyo Art Institute.
A recent trip to Naoshima island inspired Katayama to make the stuffed appendages. There, she learned about naoshima onna bunraku, a traditional all-female style of Japanese puppet theater. She’s noted how the art form features dolls that don’t have any legs. In her series “bystander” (2016), her arms surround her while she lies on the beach, sometimes on her cellphone: She looks like a mermaid-cum-influencer, washed up from the sea.
In Venice, Katayama has found a more receptive audience than in Japan. In her home country, she struggles to communicate with viewers. “People tend to ask [me] to make [my work] crystal clear and explain too much,” she told me at the Biennale, via her translator. At the opening, she met curators and artists who appreciated the nuance in her photographs.
At the Arsenale, Katayama mounted an installation featuring the objects she uses throughout her photoshoots. Half prop closet, half three-dimensional mood board, the presentation further confirms her maximalist aesthetic. On top of a table, floral pillows commingle with beaded fabrics and stuffed legs with shells sewn into the material. Decorated boxes feature cut-out texts and pictures. One appears to be an article about Stan Douglas

—another biennale artist who similarly creates cinematic magic in his still photography. Foot braces rest at the back of the table, as does a tiny gold shoe. Katayama has mounted another self-portrait behind all these objects, featuring herself amid mannequins and mountains of materials. Blinking lights at the side offer additional radiance.

Keith Haring: How to be an Artist by Abigail Cain for Artsy December 7, 2018

Posted by bohdan.warchomij in : Artsy, Metaphor Online , comments closed
Keith Haring’s ebullient figures—the babies, the dancers, the dogs—may have been born in New York City’s subway stations in the early 1980s, but they certainly didn’t stay there. Over the span of a single decade, the American painter rocketed into the international spotlight. His distinctive style, incorporating elements of “low-brow” culture such as comics and graffiti, infiltrated the worlds of fine art, advertising, and fashion all at once. For that, he was sometimes derided as a sellout—an artist whose work was too commercial to be taken seriously.
But his journals reveal a young man thinking deeply about his role as both an artist and a public figure. Haring was 18 years old when he penned his first entry, then a high school graduate preparing to hitchhike to Minnesota to see the Grateful Dead. He continued to keep records of his thoughts and his itineraries, often written during international plane flights—rare breaks in his increasingly frenetic schedule. His final entry, from Milan, is dated September 22, 1989, five months before he died of AIDS-related complications, at age 31. Below, we highlight some takeaways from Haring’s writings.
In 1978, while living in Pittsburgh, Haring attended a lecture given by the famed artist Christo, followed by a screening of a film about his 1976 installation in California, Running Fence. The experience affected the young artist deeply. In an interview years later, he recalled watching a group of California farmers—initially resistant to Christo’s project—rising early to watch the sunrise reflected in the fence. They were “saying it was the most beautiful thing they had ever seen!” Haring said. “And seeing them affected and challenged by and inspired by a work of art! No matter how contemporary it was, and no matter how alien it was to everything they knew—somehow, that forced intervention by an artist made them see things in a whole other way.”
The film, along with the writings of artist Jean Dubuffet, were two of Haring’s earliest influences. “The thing I responded to most was their belief that art could reach all kinds of people, as opposed to the traditional view, which has art as this elitist thing,” he told Rolling Stone in 1989.

Lesson #1: Make your work accessible to the public

Lesson #2: Create an artwork in a single sitting

According to Haring, the best art is made in just one sitting. “To paint differently every day makes it impossible to paint a consistent composition over the period of more than one session,” he wrote. “It is done, but not without pain, needless changes, de-evolution, false repetition (duplication), over-working, collage (piling ideas on top of each other and calling them a ‘whole’), etc. Pure art exists only on the level of instant response to pure life.” That’s not to dismiss the quality of historical paintings created over the course of several months or years, he noted. But in the midst of the computer age, art has evolved. “A modern artist has to produce images quickly and efficiently enough to keep up with our changing world,” he continued.
Drawing in snow, he noted later, was the perfect way to reflect these concepts. Because the images melt away almost immediately, it frees the artist to make more authentic, inventive, spontaneous work. “You draw fast and you are always aware that you are creating something very temporary, very auto-destructive, very instant. It goes quickly and there is not time to worry about it,” he explained. When you know that the work you’re creating is temporary, he continued, “then you realize you are reacting instead of acting. Responding instead of contriving. Art instead of imitation. Primal response.”
Yet, he cautioned, don’t become an automaton. “The elements of chance, and magic, and spirit cannot be sacrificed in this quest” for efficiency, he said.

Lesson #3: Leave the meaning of your art open-ended

The quickest way to kill your art, according to Haring, is to rigidly define it. “There is no need for definition,” he wrote. “Definition can be the most dangerous, destructive tool the artist can use when he is making art for a society of individuals.” That’s not to say an artist can’t have certain concepts or themes in mind when creating an artwork. But the “artist’s ideas are not essential to the art as seen by the viewer.…The viewer does not have to be considered during the conception of the art, but should not be told, then, what to think or how to conceive it or what it means.”
This idea went hand in hand with his belief that artists should consider more than just the art world. “The viewer should be able to look at art and respond to it without wondering whether he ‘understands’ it. It does not aim to be understood! Who ‘understands’ any art?.…Nobody knows what the ultimate meaning of my work is because there is none.…It exists to be understood only as an individual response.”
Haring believed strongly in the power of individuality—both for the viewer and for the artist. He thought that the time for art movements was past. “I believe we have reached a point where there can be no more group mentality, no more movements, no more shared ideals,” he declared. “It is a time for self-realization.”

Lesson #4: Lower the stakes

As an art student in New York, Haring found that using expensive materials like canvas actually inhibited his artmaking. “I’m paranoid about what it will look like ’cause I spent $12.00 on the painting, and I think it should be worth something,” he wrote. “However, when I paint on paper that I have found or purchased cheaply, and use ink that is watered down, I do a whole 4’ x 9’ painting for next to nothing. I love to paint. And you can see it in the work.”
Everything Haring made, he considered a work in progress. “The paintings are not final statements,” he wrote. “They can be changed, reshaped, combined, destroyed.” In November 1978, Haring created a “painted environment” for the School of Visual Arts’s student gallery that involved altering—even destroying—older works for the sake of a new one.
“If a piece is final, that implies that it is perfect, or the purest form attainable,” he explained. “I do not believe I am capable of imitating the perfection of nature.” That mindset, he believed, kept him moving forward in his practice. “Risks are what make the difference between new ideas and re-worked old ideas,” he wrote.

Fostering the Next Generation of Photojournalists ARTSY EDITORIAL BY MOLLY GOTTSCHALK January 27, 2016

Posted by bohdan.warchomij in : Artsy, Instagram, Metaphor Online , comments closed

Technology continues its relentless march and continues to impact on photographers and photojournalists.

Zeiss is working on interchangeable lenses for iPhones. Instagram builds networks for photographers in the field.

David Guttenfelder on observing soldiers in the field made a leap into the unknown that has affected and impacted on journalism:

Interesting story from Molly Gottschalk for ARTSY Editorial:

February 13, 2010. Marjah, Afghanistan. A troop-carrying helicopter drops acclaimed American photojournalist David Guttenfelder into the front lines of the then-biggest American air assault in the war against Al Qaeda. Seeing the Marines that surround him snapping photos on their smartphones, he drops his DSLR, reaches for the iPhone 3G (his first) in the pocket of his flak jacket, and begins shooting photos, hoping to mimic the intimacy of those the soldiers were sending back home.

“They weren’t taking the kinds of pictures that I was taking, news photography; they were photographing their own life and this huge experience in their life. So I started shooting with my phone, too,” he says on the phone from the rather more peaceful “boonies of Montana,” near where he’d recently shot the Gallatin National Forest, on horseback, on a 24-day journey for National Geographic. The pictures he published in 2010 were not without backlash, with major publications (like the industry bible, Photo District News) questioning whether war shot through the lens of a point-and-shoot phone disrespected, or romanticized, its gravity. In October of that same year, Instagram was launched.

photo David Gutenfelder

When Guttenfelder picked up his phone, he broke all the rules of traditional photojournalism—and, by some accounts pushed forward a medium that has been evolving since its inception. Six years later, extemporaneous documentation for journalistic use (and via selfie) has become the norm and Guttenfelder, with 854,000 followers on Instagram—the mobile image- and video-sharing app that has swelled to over 400 million users—is something of a new-tech godfather in the field. But having spent 20 years covering conflict overseas for the Associated Press, in the beginning carrying chemicals on his back, developing film in the field, and hanging it to dry on clotheslines, the photojournalist knows well the history of his craft.

During World War II, photographers carried weighty 4×5 cameras and hitchhiked to rush-deliver unseen film; in Vietnam, film from Leicas and Nikons was wrapped in condoms to keep it safe from the swamps; and at the onset of Operation Iraqi Freedom, still-nascent digital photography invited massive logistics operations that used body bags to transport hundreds of pounds of gear. Now, a smartphone paired with Instagram—both a camera and a publishing platform—has freed up photographer time and stamina, and marked a shifting paradigm for documentary photography, forging new opportunities for photographers of all ilk, all over the world.

Photo Devlin Allen

“Often when disaster strikes, the first witnesses will be amateurs,” says Olivier Laurent, Editor of TIME’s photoblog LightBox. “[Traditionally] you have to get a third-party photographer that is not embedded in a community to show up when something bad happens.” But with a new band of iPhone-wielding locals, the opportunities for capturing those crucial first moments of any news story have expanded exponentially.

In April of last year, 26-year-old Baltimore native Devin Allen began using Instagram to document the protests that sprang up following the death of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old black man, while in police custody. Later that month, his heart-rending portrait of a young black man being chased by a trail of armed policemen was featured on the cover of TIME. “Devin was an amatuer just documenting his own city,” says Laurent, who interviewed Allen when the images began to go viral. “Suddenly TIME was promoting the work of a guy that lives in the story; he was part of the story. He found himself in the middle of these protests because he was part of that community.” Allen quickly became a voice of the movement and is now a full-time photographer whose work has been featured in The New York Times and New York Magazine, as well as museums.


Allen’s rise from documenting his community on social media to the highest heights of photojournalism is by no means unique. 20-year-old Chilean American Pablo Unzueta  was earning minimum wage working as a short-order cook at a bar when TIME featured his images documenting poverty in the surrounding streets of Los Angeles, photos he shot in response to a call for pictures of veterans via the hashtag #vetsrising. (Unzuenta continues to work at the bar to pay the bills, a situation that highlights one of the core critiques of citizen photojournalism via social media: Notoriety and impact is difficult to translate into consistent paid assignments.) Matt Black began photographing rural poverty in his hometown in the central valley of California, using census data and geolocation to put names and faces to what were otherwise only statistics around poverty. His dark-horse project was picked up by MSNBC—and soon enough he won the W. Eugene Smith Grant (photography’s Nobel Prize for humanitarian work) and was inducted as a nominee member of Magnum, the world’s most highly respected photo agency.

“I look at my Instagram feed and it’s a network; I’m seeing through the eyes of people around the world,” says the image-sharing app’s Teru Kuwayama. Following two decades as a noted photojournalist, covering war and humanitarian crises in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Kashmir, the TED Senior Fellow now works on the community team at Instagram, specifically with photojournalists and the wider photo community. “So many eyes and so many minds are coming online and being harnessed to this grid,” he says. For Kuwayama, this collective network and its unprecedented audience serves as the greatest draw for his involvement. “It’s unlocked a totally different spectrum of reporting,” he says.