Photography’s rules are made to be broken. Having become frustrated with the medium’s conventions, five artists discuss how sculpture, activism and X-rays keep photography alive in their work. Next up: Alix Marie
Succeeding the museum’s founding director, Jean-Luc Monterosso, Simon Baker plans to open up both its collection and its programme to audiences, carving out a space for emerging artists, fashion photography, ideas on geography, and newer names to the city’s rich artistic ecosystem. “We have to think about what isn’t being done in the photographic landscape in France,” he explains. “We really want to support younger artists – particularly with solo shows. While there are amazing fairs and group shows, that’s something that’s been missing.”
What better way to start, then, than with a solo exhibition by Coco Capitán? Since she graduated from the Royal College of Art in London in 2016, the 26-year-old Spanish artist has become a never-predictable presence. Her work is always dynamic and often playful, but underpinned by a precision and a poignancy too – whether created for, and thanks to fashion, such as her ongoing artistic collaboration with Gucci creative director Alessandro Michele, or her diverse self-initiated series comprising text and paint along with traditional photography.
“I see the bastard countryside everywhere I go,” says Robin Friend, pointing out of the window of his studio in East London, where an ivy plant has climbed up a nearby wall and is wrapping its vines around a rusting CCTV camera. “I ran with this idea of city and countryside splattering into each other, creating this hybrid nature,” explains Friend, who has been producing photographs for his book, unknowingly at first, for 15 years since he started started his BA in Brighton, where he studied under Jem Southam.
“Bastard countryside” is a phrase coined by Victor Hugo in his novel Les Miserables, in which he describes the city of Paris as an “amphibian”, stretching out into the countryside and devouring everything in its path. It is a zone in which the urban and rural mix, the manmade and the natural, clashing and colliding to create a strange form of beauty and ugliness.
Fashion photography is changing – as Holly Hay and Shonagh Marshall, co-curators of a new three-part project entitled Posturing: Photographing the Body in Fashion, will attest. In November 2017, the pair held a London exhibition which placed 42 framed photographs and six magazine shoots in a west London space. It called into question both the function of this branch of contemporary image-making and the changing role of the figure in fashion imagery, placing work by Johnny Dufort, Marton Perlaki, Charlie Engman, Brianna Capozzi and others side by side. The show was followed by a specially commissioned film by artist Coco Capitán, Learning to Transcend the Physical Barrier That Owning a Body Implies, examining the respective practices of a choreographer, an artist and the founder of a traditional film-based darkroom, interrogating physical selfhood in all of its guises. This month, they launch the third part – a book created with Self Publish, Be Happy, in which photographers, stylists, editors and set designers respond to ideas about the body in fashion.
“In this series, I dissolve images and fragments of time,” says French photographer David Infante. The monochrome ‘portraits’ that make up Mirror without a memory certainly feel as if they are unfixed, spanning time as they shift and melt under a fragmented surface. Triggered by a period of solitude in London, he resurrected images from his archive, reprocessing his memories by selecting photographs, cutting them up and combining snippets to give them new forms. For Infante, slowing down time or wrestling many layers of it into one frame takes us into what he calls “parallel worlds”: a space to reflect and search for new meanings beyond the surface of the everyday. The photographer, who has just completed an MA at the Royal College of Art in London and is based in southern Portugal, ascribes his meditative approach to his early experience with analogue photography. “It brought me concentration and contemplation,” he explains.
“I want people to think about what is being presented to them, and to ask…