Laurie’s website here
How To Be is a series of exercises that revisit and reimagine early 19th century primers for “young ladies.”
I stumbled upon these manuals while researching 19th century etiquette books. Most include etiquette but only as part of a more comprehensive course of education. They were intended for upper-class girls and women who had few opportunities for formal schooling. Instead, girls took their lessons from these books, serials and pamphlets and from their mothers or older sisters at home. The manuals include subjects ranging from etiquette and fashion to archery and riding, from botany, entomology and mineralogy to painting, dancing and embroidery. Each was meant to help a young woman navigate society and to keep her occupied, to battle the boredom that could lead to rebellion or other transgressions.
How To Be uses these young ladies’ manuals to address themes of gender, class, and the dialogue between personal and political histories, identity and space. I methodically select and execute lessons from the primers, consider them in their historical context, then reconsider and reconceive them in the context of my own history. The first three exercises in the series are currently on exhibition at O’Born Contemporary. Lesson I: Ablutions, Lesson II: Moral Deportment, and Lesson III: The Cabinet Council, introduce central themes of the project.
Lesson I: Ablutions (9 works)
Ablutions takes as its starting point early 19th century instructions for developing a sense of “style.” I have paired self-portrait photographs with illustrations of period hair arrangements and headdresses taken from one of the young ladies’ manuals.
Lesson III: The Cabinet Council (9 works)
The cabinet is “a secret receptacle, a repository… a small private chamber or room… a room devoted to the display of works of art; a gallery” or “the council-chamber in which the inner circle of government meet.” A bedroom can be all of these things, a microcosm of the home and a safe, autonomous space.
In this exercise I have captured images of girls’ bedrooms from television shows that I watched as an adolescent; shows that purported to guide their audience toward specific ways of being. I have removed the figures from each of the stills and inserted images of objects that form my own private spaces.
more of Caitlin’s work here
© Sara Rahbar, Trapped in Dark Night with Nowhere to Run, I Have Died a Million Times Every Night in this Bed (left) + Kurdistan Flag #5 (right), from the series Flags, mixed media + textiles, 2005-2010
Rahbar seems to meditate on the flag like a monk would stare at an icon. “It represents my father and so many, many promises and hopes of tomorrow … It represents endless possibilities, escapes, and mirages … it’s a very loaded image for me,” Rahbar explained. “Years and years of memories, experiences and attachments, and what is the work but a direct reflection of my life? What I’m focusing on, and what is boiling, twisting and turning inside of me.”
“And I remember how I worked on one of my first flags. I was traveling from Tehran to Kurdistan with Hossein a very dear friend of mine. He was going to work as a soundman for a film and I was going to photograph Kurdistan and try to figure out my next project and what to do with the rest of my life.”
“We lived in Kurdistan together for months, I would write, take photographs and gather random found objects and textiles that were used for donkeys and horses and sew them onto my flag. I would sit somewhere, sew for a bit, roll up the flag, put it in my backpack, and continue to take photographs, everything was on the go and very natural and in the moment. I worked to work out the turbulence that existed within me; I was healing myself and at the same time communicating an immense pain as I always am with my work. The work is a byproduct of me; emotionally and mentally, it keeps me together. I take care of it and it takes care of me.” excerpt of article by Hrag Vartanian, in Hyperallergic. continue reading here.
More of Sara’s work here
“The photographs grew out of the scrapbooks, also. I began collecting photos to put in them, and quickly became obsessed with all the different depictions of the same thing. Soon, I had hundreds of snowmen pictures. I began collecting many more snapshots, other peoples pictures, and soon borrowed lots of my family’s own pictures. I began to think about them and in my mind’s eye I saw pictures, photographs with the appearance of photographs, that I didn’t actually possess. As you might have a dream which combines several otherwise incompatible aspects of your waking life, I saw photographs that were combinatorial and wove together things from different times and spaces.
I set out to make these photographs which were in my head. I sought the advice of many technical experts and created a way to make silver gelatin prints “actual photographs” of something that never happened.” Jane’s statement, 2007
More of Jane’s amazing body of work here
“…Dada had long operated according to the principle of instability, blurring distinctions between art and mass media (in photomontage), art and mass production (in the readymade), and intention and reception (in public provocations and spectacles). In 1921, Roman Jakobson characterized the movement as “transrational”—an indulgence in sheer relativity and paradox—citing Tristan Tzara as support: “I am against all systems, the most acceptable system is to have no system at all.” Framed by flou, Man Ray’s equivocations—photography is not art/photography can be art/art is not photography—strike one as a form of discursive repurposing that recalls the readymade, or at the very least, a cultivation of irrationality commensurate with automatic writing. What appears at first to be a show of dogmatic inconsistency is in fact an instance of Dada blur and flux, activated by a form of crit ical recycling that would later come to be called détournement—not a negation, precisely, but an intervention or interleaving of new forms into old that is put in play to expose conventional demarcations as redundant. “And yet you still paint?” “Yes . . . to persuade me of its inanity.”
The photographic medium further underscores the references to mass media: like the newspaper, it is itself a form of technological reproduction, and like the news, it is valued for its immediacy. Instantly obsolescent, all bear the double intimation of a frozen present, simultaneously past. Likewise, photographs prove to be the perfect analog to the automatic text in its relation to unconscious processes: inclusive of all that appears in the camera’s viewfinder, mechanically made “memory-records” constituted by visual residue. Deserved or not, photography’s reputation is still that of being an unmediated print—a myth that is foregrounded by the relative directness of the photogram process. The absent camera is replaced by mechanical actions: picking up trash at random on the street, drawing newspaper fragments from a bag . . . or, in Man Ray’s case, absent-mindedly misplacing objects in a developing tray.” excerpt from the article Flou: Rayographs and the Dada Automatic, by Susan Laxton, published in OCTOBER 127, Winter 2009, pp. 25–48.
more of Bohnert‘s work here
More of Maya’s work here
If Melinda Gibson’s photomontages look familiar, don’t be surprised. A flash of Ed Burtynsky here, a slice of Juergen Teller there, they are all made up of elements of some of the major works of the 1990s and 2000s, culled from the pages of The Photograph As Contemporary Art. Written and edited by Charlotte Cotton (former curator at the V&A and LACMA, and now creative director of the UK’s National Media Museum), it is one of the key texts for students starting out in photographic education. Which is precisely why the 26-year-old, who graduated from London College of Communication in 2006 and is now a visiting lecturer herself, chose to use it.
“I wanted to produce a body of work that was original – unique pieces unable to be reproduced – which in turn commented on the availability of photography in our heightened digitalised age. I also wanted to provoke questions about copyright and ownership through the re-appropriation of imagery. What is important to me is questioning the medium and the conventions that surround it, examining these and suggesting other ways to view them.”
Using just a scalpel, an adhesive and “a lot of patience”, she took the book apart (…)
But, as she has already hinted, there’s another, more critical purpose to the work, in particular the way such books serve to canonise particular photographers and images. “What I find frustrating is that the same images appear and re-appear every year at [educational] institutions. As you wonder through the different degree shows, you feel as though you have seen it all before – just modern takes on Martin Parr, Stephen Shore or Nan Goldin. What crossed my mind was whether these institutions are to blame for this, or whether it is truly impossible to produce something new. In my view, the canonisation of such sources acts as a hindrance to creativity, where people feel they have to produce something similar to be accepted or understood.”
in British Journal of Photography. Continue reading
Melinda’s blog here
“The loss of, or manipulation of, the human face is the most disturbing and fascinating aspect of Cockburn’s work. These faceless or masked portraits me of John Baldessari’s manipulated mass-media images. He often used colored dots, or other means, to cover faces, interrupting the viewer and de-personalizing the image. But Cockburn’s photographs seem to have the opposite effect. She often embroiders or cuts out shapes into a complex pattern, and this record of tedious physical labor draws me into her images. Furthermore, whereas Baldessari begins with mass media, Cockburn often begins with a portrait, or something that appears to come from a personal photo album. Still the manipulating work that Cockburn does on the photograph creates a barrier between myself and the subject, but this barrier is no greater than the history that already divides me from this image of yesteryear.
Her work strikes me as, metaphorically, having something to do with memory. Her “hand crafted” photographs point towards the intensely personal and perspectival nature of our memories. As we process and understand our experiences, does memory obliterate reality or is memory itself an act of discovery? It seems significant that many of her chosen photographs include women. This intensifies both the manipulative and hand-crafted nature of her work. Is memory — is history — gendered, and what control do those who are remembered have over those who are remembering?”
source: Transpositions, excerpt from text by Jim Watkins
More of Tim’s work here
“Luuk Wilmering‘s latest series, Bird Needs Shelter, was largely created during his work period in the Holsboer studio in the Cité des Arts, Paris, in 2010/2011.
Bird Needs Shelter is concerned with the duplicitous character of man‘s dealings with nature. In this four-part series, birds and our relationship with them form the central subject. The series shows how man, through ‗abuse of power‘, causes the extinction of certain species, how birds are hunted and how they should be properly served and eaten. However, the series also shows the possibilities of escape: the ‗egghouses‘ and the birds that disappear into nature and are cut out and doubled by the artist.
The structure of the work is defined by four imaginary personages, each of whom stands for a certain mentality: the gastronome, the scientist, the hunter and the artist. Around these characters, Wilmering has spent two years making four installations, which connect and refer to each other.
For this series, which is not yet completed, Wilmering has realized more than a hundred drawings, coloured-in photos, designs and collages, and has made hundreds of photos, including many taken in the Musée d‘Histoire Naturelle. A selection from this recent work is presented in the exhibition Une histoire naturelle.”
source: Institut Neerlandais
Luuk’s website here with a couple of very interesting projects