Personal utopias

In just a few days’ time, all eyes in the photography world will be fixed on Paris for the 20th edition of the world’s biggest photography fair; but ahead of Paris Photo, which runs from 13 to 16 November 2014, an exhibition in Berlin kicks off with work by three photographers around the theme of ‘personal utopias’, which serves as a pleasant appetiser ahead of next week’s photography feast.

Bubble & Scrape – Contours of Personal Utopias, organised by German online magazine Actual Colors May Vary (ACMV), features images by photographers Ed Alcock, Jenny Fitz and Tom Griggs, who have been invited to take part in the exhibition as part of the first Monat der Fotografie-OFF – Berlin’s homage to Paris Photo’s Mois de la Photo-OFF.


British photographer Ed Alcock, who is based in Paris, will be showing images from his acclaimed series Hobbledehoy, a highly personal body of work that explores the relationship between his wife and their son, over a period of three summers. Themes such as the passing of time, the fleetingness of childhood, and a nostalgia for times past resonate throughout. “When he was six, my son was glued to his mother,” the MYOP collective member tells BJP. “I had no recollection of being like that; it was a case of, ‘was I like that too when I was a little boy?’ Through the images, the boy moves from this fusional relationship towards some sort of desire for independence.” Alcock published Hobbledehoy as a book in 2013, and exhibited the work to much acclaim as part of the MYOP group show at this year’s Les Rencontres d’Arles festival. “I think in terms of telling stories, but not like a photojournalist tells stories,” he says. “For me, it’s more a case of being free to allow in the idea of fiction, and giving people space to add their own interpretation of the work. In that way, my work lies in the grey area between documentary and fiction.”

Meanwhile, German photographer Jenny Fitz is showing images from The Other Side, a series that “explores the clash of ideals and everyday life, and the resulting absurdity on a farm in New Zealand,” say the organisers.

American Tom Griggs contributes a selection of images from City of Eternal Spring in which he asks if immigration can be a utopian ideal; the images were shot in his wife’s hometown of Medellín, Colombia, where he emigrated four years ago.

“What connects the works shown in Bubble & Scrape is the curiousity of the photographers to explore the space between the strange and the familiar,” says Oliver Schneider, co-founder of ACMV. “Can everyday life meet the expectations and images that we have in our heads? Utopia should be a place where we can find an ideal way of living together, where we are able to overcome the barriers in our minds that are defined by differences in culture, religion, state, race, sexuality or social standing.”

Bubble & Scrape – Contours of Personal Utopias runs from 07 to 20 November 2014 at Das Gift in Berlin. Alcock and Fitz will be at tonight’s official opening (07 November), with Alcock signing copies of Hobbledehoy, published by Terre Bleue.

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