Tuesday, 11 June 2013

ALIVE: In the face of death

Today we had a field trip exercise at college, the majority of us attended and I was excited at the prospect of getting more inspiration from others and their work.

So being based in Liverpool, we decided to attend three separate exhibitions; the first was a look at Open Eye Gallery and the works of Charles Fréger I found these fascinating a series of images concentrated on the Haka. The Haka is a traditional ancestral war cry, dance or challenge from the Māori people of New Zealand. The series was set against adolescent males wearing school uniform, and performing the Haka.

The aspect of the school uniform intrigued me as uniformity within the battle field, as in a soldiers uniform, not only that but the colours used were red, blue and grey, stark contrasting colours which seemed to highlight the tribal markings on these young men, they looked poised ready for battle.

The sequence makes interesting viewing.

The other aspect was they were shot against the backdrop of a green field, I say field but it seemed more like a sports field which had been neglected of a lawn mower, perhaps this was a battlefield?

The shots were shot remarkably well, the lighting natural against the blue sky with the odd cloud, very significant too, with the other series Wilder Man this was a highlight for me, as it seemed to portray man and his wild side, perhaps an older version of the self?

The images are put together extremely well and one ponders to ask oneself who are we, where did we come from? I could certainly relate to several shots, which seemed to portray characters the starwars series of films. Where these portraits of a wild self-based on said characters? Some had similes of characteristics from the films certainly one that appeared to be a pose from the sandman of starwars, when he holds aloft his weapon before striking Luke Skywalker.

Another seemed to be the old Germanic interpretation of the Bear, it was a very thought provoking image and one that I could relate to. It seemed the more I looked the more I got into the thought process and I liked where it was leading...it seemed to relate to old folklore stories associated with legends and times past, in all a truly inspiring exhibition.

The upper gallery held the incredible works of Eva Stenram I found these equally inspiring especially the series that focused on 'Drape' these pieces were shot and put together with Photoshop software placing the nude form behind a veil, the veil of course forces the perspective of time and space, interestingly it leaves you wondering what does the veil hold? The nude form is only partial and not truly provocative in the erotic sense, it is absolutely the opposite it is the veil that eludes you into thinking that hidden behind its very curtain is mystery beyond the veil, yet the veil is the mystery itself carefully placed as though it were fragile, upon the strong partial nude form.


The Open Eye Gallery is set in the new Mann Island Complex, and has an e-store for you to purchase goodies from your visit. Which now brings me to the other venue for our outing today, Liverpool's creative hub the bluecoat. The bluecoat is set against the busy backdrop of a busy city centre, unlike Mann Island which is situated near the Albert Dock.

A collection of photographs from August Sander (1876-1964) and Weegee Arthur Fellig (1899-1968), two heavy weights from the early twentieth century, renowned for their individual style. The day was getting better, a truly great day out for a photographer, who along the way between venues finds time to shoot some social documentary style street photography. 
 

It was an awesome day, so to Sander despite his precise methods, Sander created extraordinarily sensitive portraits of German society in the 1920s and 30s. Prolific newspaper photographer Arthur Fellig, nicknamed Weegee, is known for photographs of 1930s and 40s New York.

A stark counterpoint to the American Dream, his work had a formative influence on the nation's image of itself.
 

Though in true Bluecoat style, a lot more was on offer for the aspiring photojournalist. 



The works were remarkable and on reflection a real eye opener for some of my peers, who had probably never viewed a copy of Magnum photographers works before were taken a back from some of the images on display. It brought a sense of realisation of the Arab world and its nations and those photographers who are without question in the heat of the moment, your own life gets a sense of perspective, of being and a sense of realisation you are born. 

Okay we do have our political protests and unfortunately people get killed on the street, we do not see the hardship every day, perhaps it is hidden from view by the 'veil' of time and space and resulting in the ambiguity of eye candy in the form of electronic gadgets, and sugar coated materials, that sparkle and make you look shinier or Barbie like. 

However in the Arab world setting Dubai aside the harsh truth is there for all to see if it were not for the censorship that exists today,which celebrated Syrian photographer Issa Touma points out,
‘Everything in the Middle East can be political if you have censorship. They do not like the freedom I have, but they also do not have much choice. I exist in some way. They cannot cancel me, so they need to accept me’

So our time at the Bluecoat was much more provocative, and indeed inspiring. Would our next venue the Walker Art Gallery offer the same degree of photographic art, well in fact it offered a little more closer to home. Renowned photographer Rankin and his current exhibition ALIVE: In the face of death. The work is poignant and the subject matter the ultimate taboo, death. It is the most talked about subject behind closed doors and it touches everyone in different guises, though the majority of the subjects are inextricable linked by the term 'terminal illness', a phrase you would normally associate with traveling as in airport or bus, but not normally yourself. 

Each and every one of the subjects had a connection with Rankin, and I can only imagine how professional he was in the face of so many who had truly known the definition of the word 'hardship'. 

Rankin has collated a collection of touching portraits that will test even the strongest of nerve to hold back the tears in the face of adversity, in the face of death.

 



‘Everything in the Middle East can be political if you have censorship. They do not like the freedom I have, but they also do not have much choice. I exist in some way. They cannot cancel me, so they need to accept me’. - See more at: http://www.thebluecoat.org.uk/events/view/exhibitions/1633#sthash.xDKCa7dg.dpuf

Despite his precise methods, Sander created extraordinarily sensitive portraits of German society in the 1920s and 30s. Prolific newspaper photographer Arthur Fellig, nicknamed Weegee, is known for photographs of 1930s and 40s New York. A stark counterpoint to the American Dream, his work had a formative influence on the nation's image of itself. - See more at: http://www.thebluecoat.org.uk/events/view/events/1579#sthash.WLrH60Vm.dpuf
Despite his precise methods, Sander created extraordinarily sensitive portraits of German society in the 1920s and 30s. Prolific newspaper photographer Arthur Fellig, nicknamed Weegee, is known for photographs of 1930s and 40s New York. A stark counterpoint to the American Dream, his work had a formative influence on the nation's image of itself. - See more at: http://www.thebluecoat.org.uk/events/view/events/1579#sthash.WLrH60Vm.dpuf

(1876-1964) and Weegee (1899-1968),
(1876-1964) and Weegee (1899-1968),
(1876-1964) and Weegee (1899-1968),