Max Colson: Tales

Photojournalism MA student at the LCC

Posts Tagged ‘america

Messing around with perspective: historical and otherwise.

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Firstly my congratulations to Irina Werning for winning Burn’s emerging photographer award 2011. She is so cool. Here are some of her wonderful photographs from her series Back to the Future:

20_lali-web irina werning

LALI IN 1978 & 2010, Buenos Aires [photograph by Irina Werning]

MARITA & COTY IN 1977 & 2010, Bueno irina werning

MARITA & COTY IN 1977 & 2010, Bueno [photograph by Irina Werning]

IAN IN 1984 & 2010 Irina Werning

IAN IN 1984 & 2010, London [photograph by Irina Werning]

PANCHO IN 1983 & 2010 Irina Werning

PANCHO IN 1983 & 2010, Buenos Aires [photograph by Irina Werning]

She is obviously very wicked.

There is another talented artist who also produces work which playfully deals with how the photograph can be used to visualise a sense of ‘history-ness’ and create nostalgia. His name is Michael Paul Smith*. Michael Paul Smith is a model maker whose mind is full of mid-20th century Americana. Using his considerable model making skills he has been creating small scale sets of an imaginary American town called Elgin Park that he cannot get out of his mind (it is reportedly located somewhere near Pittsburgh where he was born). After making the sets he then sources locations in the real-world which provide the background to photograph them against. These late naughties photographs of the 1960s look bloody REAL. Here are some examples of his work. Fantastic stuff:

MIchael Paul Smith - Elgin Park

 My Childhood Home [photograph by Michael Paul Smith]

Newspaper photo - Corliss Dink's '37 Studebaker - Michael Paul Smith

Newspaper photo: Corliss Dink’s ’37 Studebaker [photograph by Michael Paul Smith]

Edge of Town - Michael Paul Smith

 Edge of Town [photograph by Michael Paul Smith]

Michael Paul Smith

Michael Paul Smith with one of his sets and a background behind him

The NY Times wrote an article about him and there’s a paragraph that I think summarises the attempt of his work very nicely:

Driving Mr. Smith’s creation of Elgin Park were his memories of Sewickley, Pa., a real steel-mill town a few miles north of Pittsburgh. He spent his first 17 years there, and it still holds his heart. “Elgin Park is not an exact re-creation of Sewickley,” he explained, “but it does capture the mood of my memories.”

*My very talented illustrator friend Phoebe Dickerson told me about Michael Paul Smith. If you want some visual inspiration check out her very cool, and very funny, Tumblr blog.

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Simon Norfolk at the Tate Modern (a Tate video)

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Bullet-scarred outdoor cinema at the Palace of Culture in the Karte Char district of Kabul - Simon Norfolk

Bullet-scarred outdoor cinema at the Palace of Culture in the Karte Char district of Kabul, 2002, Simon Norfolk

“I’m trying to photograph my disappointment. When I came [to Afghanistan] in 2001 I was angry with what the Americans had done, I thought it was a mistake…Ten sorry miserable years have gone by, half a trillion dollars have been spent on this country and it looks worse than it was…It’s a disappointment of ten years of warfare. Tens of thousands of Afghans murdered. Lots of Americans and Europeans killed as well. Billions wasted and nothing achieved: nothing, nothing, nothing achieved…” – Simon Norfolk

If you’re reading this in the UK you may have seen that the Guardian did a big feature on Simon Norfolk’s new Afghanistan photographs and their relation to John Burke’s Afghanistan photography in the Weekend magazine a couple of weeks ago. Personally I think Simon Norfolk is easily one of the most important photographers around right now (and if you don’t agree with that then you must agree regarding photojournalism at least).

Here is a 17 minute video produced by the Tate in advance of his exhibition of new work at the Tate Modern which is entitled, Burke + Norfolk: Photographs From The War In Afghanistan. Working on the understanding that Afghanistan has been the location of an imperalist intrusion for many decades Norfolk has produced a collection of photographs which link the current war with those from its past and asks the powerful question (amongst others): What has changed?

Narrated by the artist himself this video explains the work, puts the current Afghanistan war in the context of the country’s war torn history, and likens  the “billion pictures per hour” photojournalism that is pouring out of the country right now to a “sewer pipe with a crack in the side of it”. He also  comments that “beauty is a useful tool.” He then says lots more.

This is rational, conscious, and incisively critical photography of the highest order. Really, really worth watching.