“Photography enables us to observe [our] world and the effects of our existence in it. But can it also function as a catalyst for alternative ways of engaging with our environment?” This is the question at the heart of On Earth – Imaging, Technology and the Natural World, an exhibition first seen at last year’s Les Rencontres d’Arles photo festival, and which now comes home to Foam museum, Amsterdam, who conceived of, and originally curated, the show. The exhibition explores the often troubled relationship between man, nature and technology, bringing together 25 artists that reflect on changes to how we perceive and experience the natural world. But more than that, On Earth is a barometer of photography itself, showcasing the many varied approaches and practices employed by contemporary artists.
Aesthetica Art Prize
The annual prize celebrates its 13th edition this spring, with a group exhibition at York Art Gallery, the opening of which coincides with Aesthetica’s Future Now Symposium (12 to 13 March) featuring Martin Parr, Cornelia Parker and Nadav Kander as headline speakers. American photographer Andres Orozco is one of 18 shortlisted artists who will exhibit work that deals with what it means to be human today in an increasingly digitised world. His series, Raw, explores the authenticity of our built environment, transforming mundane, functional architecture into an otherworldly set employing colour-play and light. “This connects the work to the critical dialogue around photography by pointing to the relationship between the medium and human perception,” he explains. The winner will receive a fund of £6000, alongside inclusion in the exhibition.
Museum in the Camera
Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) has long been earmarked for renovation. Following the approval of a Peter Zumthor design for the new building, Vera Lutter was commissioned to take up residence at the Wilshire Boulevard site and make new work in response to the campus architecture and galleries. Lutter has worked with photography since the mid-1990s, turning rooms into camera obscuras and employing a pinhole technique to fix the projected images onto paper. The New York-based German artist spent nearly two years on and off at LACMA, shifting her huge makeshift cameras around the space by crane and creating exposures that lasted up to two days. In addition to capturing exterior and interior scenes, she set about photographing artworks within the collection (such as Ludovico Mazzanti’s The Death of Lucretia) employing a combination of smaller camera obscuras mounted on tripods, and room-sized cameras specially adapted for working with 2D objects. This was a first for Lutter, and it was a hugely disruptive and ambitious residency, the results of which are on show at LACMA.
“Anger detracts from her beauty,” is a common saying in Poland, and refers to the traditional expectation that women and girls should control and suppress any feelings of frustration, as it can be perceived as hysterical or ugly. While this outdated etiquette is increasingly being held to account, there is still some way to go to change attitudes completely. It is an issue that the Polish photographer, Weronika Perłowska, explores in her project, named after the aforementioned saying. She exhibits her images in the Photographic Explorations section of this year’s Circulation(s) Festival of Young European Photography. Taking place in Paris, this will be the 10th edition of the event, which prides itself on providing a platform for young, contemporary artists, with a focus on the experimentation of new photographic methods. Directed by Audrey Hoareau, the 2020 festival is divided into five thematic sections, each dedicated to exploring different expressions of the social, political and cultural contexts of tomorrow’s world.
“We are living in an age of rapid technology. We need to know that virtuality has changed the way reality works,” says the Chinese multimedia artist, Cao Fei. In her first large-scale UK exhibition, Blueprints, Fei employs film, photography, digital media and installation, to create a playful virtual world that unpacks her research into the urban transformation of Beijing’s Jiuxianqiao district, where she lives and works.
This year, FotoFest Biennial in Houston presents an exhibition curated by Mark Sealy of Autograph ABP. African Cosmologies – Photography, Time, and the Other, will feature the work of over 30 artists from Africa and the diaspora. The presentation will endeavour to tackle a number of perspectives, considering African history and colonialism alongside contemporary creatives and modernism, and the complex role of photography in documenting and representing it. “Photography for those locked out of the means of image production becomes an impossible barrier to the right to full and equal human recognition,” says Sealy. “Especially if existence alone is an act of survival.”
Dan Hall: Eternal Youth
After setting up a GoFundMe campaign, and with the help of social media, 17-year-old photographer Dan Hall makes his debut with a solo show at J/M Gallery in West London. Focusing on subjects at the opposite ends of adulthood, Eternal Youth is centered around themes of self-reflection, standards of beauty, and loneliness. The series, shot on 35mm film, intends to document the nuances in subtle moments of everyday life. The profits from sales of Hall’s book and prints will be donated to mental health charities Age UK and YoungMinds.
Another Eye: Women Refugee Photographers in Britain after 1933
When Adolf Hitler came into power in 1933, around 70,000 Jewish refugees fled German-occupied Europe and settled in the UK. Among them was a group of women photographers, who brought fresh, modernist perspectives, which opened up British photography in the decades that followed. Faced with the traumas of exile, these photographers overcame personal struggles to build new lives in Britain. Many re-established their studios, producing portraits of prominent cultural figures, and some became photojournalists, publishing their work for magazines like Picture Post and Lilliput. Another Eye explores how the unique experiences of these women photographers played a significant role in representing post-war Britain; it is accompanied by a series of talks, as well as events that explore work by women photographers from migrant and displaced backgrounds.