Thursday, 7 August 2014

Rosaline Shahnavaz

Diaristic photography has been popular since photography itself was invented. Intimate portraits of friends and family classed as diaristic were pioneered by photographers such as Corrine Day and Wolfgang Tillmans in the early-mid 90s. It is a style that i find so many young, emerging photographers warming to. Even if their work is predominantly commercial, there is often a body of work that is diaristic - their 'visual diary'.

What makes the photographer so drawn to this style? Or more importantly, after years of reproductive works, what makes the viewer so continually open to and fond of a photographers diary?

Photographer Rosaline Shahnavaz has just graduated from BA Photography at London College of Communication. She has a vast body of work including commercial, editorial and fashion. However, it's her diaristic images and intimate portraits that continually capture me.

Photography has the ability to highlight aspects of ones mundane life and present them as something beautiful, something that the viewer can also relate to. Images that fill the gaps of the Facebook photographs where everyone's always doing something and having a great time. Rosaline captures these moments in her work and presents little bits of intimacy between herself, her partner and her friends. One aspect of her work that I really enjoy is the self-portraits (inc. one below). Self-portraits show a close relationship with the photographer and the camera, the result allows the viewer to see the photographer essentially through their own eyes, but also in a private manner.

We expect the truth from photography, and when the photographer endorses this, it is a comfort to the viewer.

Below are just a few images of Rosaline's that I have selected. To see her tumblr click here and for her website just here

Women + Feminism

Just a few words on:

"Women Against Feminism"

The title itself feels like a oxymoron. A movement devised especially to represent women is now being rejected by women.

The irony is women are not a minority, so why have we been treated as one?

In Britain where there are laws in place to ensure equal treatment of men and women it can be difficult to scratch beneath the surface and notice the existing inequalities that women still face. The @EverydaySexism campaign was a wonderful way of bringing to light some of the language that make women feel uncomfortable and discriminated against because of their sex. However, the backlash of this campaign was a sense of moaning and over sensitivity from those who could not relate to the comments.

Often I am confronted with people who think feminism is an over exaggeration, that inequality between men and women doesn't exist. I wonder if these same people think that racism is now irrelevant? Or that homophobia is past? People who fail to see beyond their own experiences and who do not recognise the discrimination and prejudice that exists within institutions.

As I mentioned before, just because things are seemingly resolved on the surface, does not mean that the core of the discrimination has filtered out of society and one's minds and mentality toward others. How many news articles, statistics, research findings and personal voices does it take to illustrate that women are still not treated equally to men in this society, by Britain's institutions? All this is regardless of the troubles women face worldwide in countries that don't even implicate laws to protect women from basic injustices such as rape.

Alright so maybe feminism does need a rebrand in order to move on from the negative connotations build through first wave feminism in the 60s. However, as writer Laurie Penny rightly explained in a discussion at Bethnal Green Working Mens club, why should feminism rebrand? Should people not just open their minds and allow for change? (these were not her exact words it was a while ago…)

As with all political movements there will always be opposition, backlash and harsh criticism. I just can't think of anything more detrimental to women's rights than women themselves expressing its irrelevance.

Friday, 4 July 2014

"Your Love Is Killing Me"

Example one as to why Sharon Van Etten's new album 'Are We There' is a collection of amazing poems as song;

"It's understood
You'll be a man by the time I see you
We've been through better days
And you've tasted all my pain

Break my legs so I won't walk to you
Cut my tongue so I can't talk to you
Burn my skin so I can't feel you
Stab my eyes so I can't see
You like it when I let you walk over me
You tell me that you like it
Your love is killing me

Try to tell you this when I'm sober, how I feel about loving you
Try to remember all the turn of events
Being led by our own fantasies, fantasies

Break my legs so I won't walk to you
Cut my tongue so I can't talk to you
Burn my skin so I can't feel you
Stab my eyes so I can't see
You like it when I let you walk over me
You tell me that you like it
When our minds become diseased

There he let it go, his temper, standing there
See her with his gun and he, steals love so he can feel alive
Everyone's knees knockin' at the fear of love
Taste blood
Everybody needs to feel

Break my legs so I won't run to you
Steal my soul so I am one with you
From a distance I am on to you
But I'll stab my eyes out so I can't see
You like it
When I let you walk over me
You tell me that you like it
You love me as you torture me
You told me that you liked it
But I won't let you see
All that I can do is what I can
With this pain you've given me
With this pain you've given me
Your love is killing me
Yes all your pain is killing me"

Perhaps a little depressing but I'm astounded at how beautiful this song is, listen here.


And maybe try not to cry...

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

They can't find a good word for you, but I can…TWAT

John Cooper Clarke is an absolute legend.

Already knowing who he was but little about the poet, I watched a great BBC Four (obvs) documentary which laid bare his influence and position in performance, poetry and Punk.

At the moment i'm reading his collection of poems entitled "Ten Years in an Open Necked Shirt" and have fallen in love with this love poem:

I Wanna Be Yours 
John Cooper Clarke 

let me be your vacuum cleaner 
breathing in your dust 
let me be your ford cortina 
i will never rust 
if you like your coffee hot 
let me be your coffee pot 
you call the shots 
i wanna be yours 

let me be your raincoat 
for those frequent rainy days 
let me be your dreamboat 
when you wanna sail away 
let me be your teddy bear 
take me with you anywhere 
i don’t care 
i wanna be yours 

let me be your electric meter 
i will not run out 
let me be the electric heater 
you get cold without 
let me be your setting lotion 
hold your hair with deep devotion 
deep as the deep atlantic ocean 
that’s how deep is my emotion 
deep deep deep deep de deep deep 
i don’t wanna be hers 
i wanna be yours

Desperately Romantic, I can hear Cooper Clarke saying the words as I read them. However, not all his poetry is within this theme. And for days where I hate everything and feel angry (which is becoming increasingly often thanks to my job in retail) this poem is seemingly relevant and satisfyingly horrible. Enjoy.

Saturday, 21 June 2014

It's Foucault Again

At university I had a tutor who was pretty much obsessed with Foucault, always referencing his works, rarely criticising his stance and just generally going on about Foucault all the time. He insisted on pronouncing his name with the correct French pronunciation which, regrettably, unavoidably always sounds pretentious. It left my friends and I expressing the pun, fuck you Fucou (that's sort of how Foucault is pronounced). Having Foucault rammed down your throat by a person who you sort of don't like is rather annoying. My tutor was openly very right-wing in his politics, very much a capitalist and had no shame in expressing his wish for others to agree with him and liked to wind people up. This really pissed me off, so Foucault began to piss me off.

However, despite this Foucault wrote some bloody good things especially on the subject of criticality, and here is another:

“A critique is not a matter of saying that things are not right as they are. It is a matter of pointing out on what kinds of assumptions, what kinds of familiar, unchallenged, unconsidered modes of thought the practices that we accept rest.”

 -Michel Foucault

I'm a big believer in the importance of critical thinking. I find it hard to digest when I hear others say "All critics should die" or "criticism is cancer" (see earlier blog post). Because I feel that criticality, awareness and introspection are fundamental is allowing development and growth within oneself and the subjects surrounding. Criticality moves things forward and helps develop progressive thoughts and behaviour. The quote above seems particularly relevant to political thought and practice...

So Foucault, you rule.

Sunday, 1 June 2014



So this year saw the release of Lars Von Triers films ‘Nymphomaniac Volumes 1 & 2’. I first saw the trailer for the film around November 2013 thinking the film was going to come a month later only to find out it wasn’t going to be in cinema’s until MARCH! I hadn’t yet seen a Triers film but knew about him as a director, I kept researching bits of the film desperate to see the whole thing and bit by bit clips from chapters would be uploaded onto the official website wetting my appetite…

A long with Triers deciding not to do any media coverage for the film the whole build up was like one big conceptual stunt and I was basically really excited to see it. I love how both volumes were aired for one night only with a live Q&A is selected cinema’s like some kind of art piece.

Finally, I watched the whole thing last week (I’ve needed a week to ponder it) and I was so disappointed. So I’ve weighed up the pros and cons and here is my slightly incomprehensible review of Nymphomaniac Volumes I & II:

Triers is known for making films either about sex or with lots of sex, S&M and raw nudity. Nymphomania (sex addiction) is a psychological disorder that  can control people’s lives so whether you like it or not- there are social and political connotations. Triers seems to ignore these aside from the very basic prejudice against sex addicts (“Oh she’s such a slut…”) His intentions feel very self indulgent, a sexual person making a film about sex that perhaps fulfils some of his own desires. For a creative piece of work I don’t dislike self-indulgence but it can feel gluttonous and alienating to an audience. I feel that Nymphomaniac lacks a depth that I was expecting considering the sophistication of the build up to the film so by the end of the film I was left thinking “alright, so what…”

Following this one of my main criticism is the casting/chemistry of the protagonist and the character she tells her story to. Jo is found by Seligman in an ally after being beaten up, he takes her to his home, nurses her and she unravels the story of the nymphomaniac.
Volume I is the first half of the story played by Stacey Martin (who’s amazing) and Volume II is the latter half of the nymphomaniac’s life played by Charlotte Gainsburgh (who features in a number of Triers’ films.)

Seligman and Jo at his home

After trying to see the connection between Jo and Seligman and coming to the conclusion that he is an effective listener to allow for the story to come a live. I was disappointed, confused and let down when at the end he basically rapes Jo in her sleep and she then shoots him. So…why? Well no one really knows because then it ends and the loud, shouty music starts playing again. It felt like a cop out of Trier’s behalf. An easy ending with attempted impact to end a tragic story.
I wanted more from Nymphomaniac than what was offered. I wanted more anger, more compassion and more politics and less pretentiousness…

In the same way that pretentious art feels empty and lacking depth, Nymphomaniac is a piece of pretentious artwork. On the surface it is a good film, cleverly produced and moments of beautiful cinematography. Conceptually strong due to the breakdown and themes of the chapters however, it leaves no lasting effect- I saw it once and that’s enough.

Good to look at but quickly forgotten.

(I think this poster is trying too hard…)

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Deutsche Börse Photography Prize 2014

What is the Deutsche Borse Photography Prize?

"Since being established in 1996, each year the Prize has celebrated the best in photography, whether a publication or exhibition. It is one of the largest art prizes in the UK, proving a pivotal point in many photographers’ careers."

Out of the four winners, two stood out to me particularly: one that I loved, and another that I really disliked...

Like: Richard Mosse, The Enclave 2013
I first saw this piece of work at the Venice Biennale 2013 show cased in the Irish Pavillion. Stunning pieces of photographic work, totally original and not lacking in content. Mosse has photographed and challenged perceptions of war throughout his career. He uses infrared colour film which as explained in the exhibition was previously used by the military to identify camouflaged targets by revealing infrared light reflected from green foliage in bright shades of pink. Mosse has used something that allowed the military to effectively destroy something [a target] to produce gentle and peaceful images of soldiers at war. In a way, this undermines the process providing a critique on violence in war.
Below is my favourite image in the collection:

Dislike: Alberto Garcia- Alix, Retrospective
Almost in opposition to Mosse's work, Garcia's is unoriginal and therefore very obvious. The collection spans over 40 years of self portraits by the artist and a video of photographic stills narrated by his own poetry.
Some of the images include pornography, nudity, crying and a very messy kitchen. It feels as though the images are trying to shock, trying to be controversial but sadly just seeming pretentious. Among some of the great photographers who produced similar work such as Corrine Day and Nan Goldin, Garcia's images don't stand a chance. It's been done before- which naturally is hard to avoid in creative industries, however, not all recycled concepts are lacking, they just need to offer a slightly different perspective- a tiny abstraction. The only difference about Garcia's work is that it is about him which quite frankly did not hold my interest.
Below is the strongest image in the collection entitled "My Feminine Side, 2001". Really?

The exhibition is currently in at The Photographer's Gallery until June 22nd.