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the photograph that defines the city for me

the photograph that defines the city for me

the photograph that defines the city for me
May 16
11:15 2018

Dafna Talmor

“To the river!” exclaimed a tourist to his friends at Tate Modern, as he pointed towards the Thames on the day I was shooting my FT commission. Traversing the river with my camera downstream from Somerset House to Southwark Bridge, where the FT has its offices, offered an obvious choice of subject and an ideal way to impose the necessary constraints. The winding river, which Londoners often cite as the north-south divide that defines their urban identity, marks a border I find both deeply meaningful and yet take for granted on a regular basis. 

Untitled (LO – TH – 181818181818-1), 2018 (C-type handprint made from 6 negatives)

Landscape, and its often clichéd pictorial conventions, is at the core of my series Constructed Landscapes. The Thames, serving as it does as an ideal backdrop for tourist shots, picture postcards and professional photographers alike, seemed a fitting way to respond to the idea of My London, and to extend this body of work.

Produced by collaging and seaming multiple negatives taken in close succession at the same location, the source images are reconfigured and abstracted beyond recognition. Any obviously man-made structures and living beings are obliterated, while human presence is reasserted through manual intervention — gaps (voids), overlaps and marks — allowing the work to mimic and form new elements of landscape. By disrupting composition and distorting perspective, these landscapes point to the constructed nature of the photographic image and, beyond the frame, to a more complex version of reality.

All my work is driven by an aspiration for greater universality: in a sense, this could be any river, an imaginary place rooted in reality. Despite its obvious construction, I hope it remains believable on some level. Ultimately, I like the thought that what may initially be perceived as divisive is what can also bring us together. 

Untitled (LO – TH – 181818-1), 2018 (C-type handprint made from 3 negatives) © Dafna Talmor

“Constructed Landscapes” has been shortlisted for the MACK First Book Award 2018 and will be shown at Somerset House during Photo London, May 17–20. Works from the series will also be included in “My London”, an exhibition curated by Emma Bowkett, photography director of FT Weekend Magazine, at Peckham 24, May 18–20; Special thanks to Artful Dodgers Imaging for their bespoke hand-printing and scanning services

Gillian Wearing

I love the idea of revisiting the past, of recording changes. It is difficult to do with yourself, however. 

I never cherished the experience of dancing without music in a Peckham shopping centre, which I did for my artwork video in 1994. I did a lot of practising with music before dancing for 25 minutes unaided by any musical device. 

‘24 Years Later’: a self-portrait by Gillian Wearing at Aylesham shopping centre, Peckham, south London © Gillian Wearing

Now, 24 years later, I didn’t do a try-out, as I imagined I could just go there and regress — and, to a certain extent, I did. The first few minutes were hard, trying not to smile at the comments from passers-by. One shouted out, “It’s the Sixties, isn’t it?”, making my dance moves feel very dated. After a while, though, I got back into it and it was actually more enjoyable than in 1994, dancing in an incongruous non-dancing place in broad daylight. 

But, of course, we’ve all moved on from the early 1990s, when recording yourself was a really rare, almost non-existent occurrence: no selfies and definitely no taking videos of oneself in a shopping mall. 

Gillian Wearing’s bronze statue of the suffragist Millicent Fawcett, the first statue of a woman to be erected in Parliament Square, was unveiled in London last month. Her exhibition “Life: Gillian Wearing” is at the Cincinnati Art Museum, October 5–December 30. For more on Wearing’s work go to

Campbell Addy

London, like any other capital, is a mixing bowl of cultures, talent and creativity. Thanks to social media, we are more connected than we’ve ever been but people are still marginalised, minorities are still unrepresented and the result is a huge disconnect in modern society that we still don’t face up to. 

When everything is so shared and accessible it often baffles me why my world is never portrayed accurately within the media. I mean the world I inhabit day to day, from the creative circles I’m part of to the nightlife I enjoy. When I go out, 

My World

I meet an array of people from all walks of life — non-binary, transgender and people of colour, we try not to discriminate against others be it because of their gender, age or race. What ties these scenarios together is that my world is a safe space for all those things/people to coexist. 

For this project, I have shot a series of portraits that represent the kind of fashions and personalities I have come across since living in central London. Growing up in Croydon, we had an array of characters on offer, but they were nothing compared with what you find in the abyss we call the centre, so I wanted to portray my experiences with people within my community. 

When I began working as a photographer a couple of years ago, I found it hard to surf the usual channels for talent because the diversity of models was so minimal and so obvious. So I started an agency that would represent models of colour in an honest and sincere manner. 

I think it’s imperative to be inclusive, there’s no excuse not to be. My London — my world — is a place that allows for inclusivity and diversity at all times and I hope my images allow you to catch a glimpse of what I see. 

Campbell Addy’s work will be included in “My London” at Peckham 24, May 18-20; A new issue of Niijournal magazine will be out at the end of the summer;

Jonny Briggs

I often see art-making as a self-psychoanalysis. Beyond being an interest, it’s an interest in my interests. Why am I interested in the things I am? Why do I do the things I do? What is my mind telling me? Both psychoanalysis and art-making provide a means to say the unsayable and provoke conversations with ourselves. I made this series at the Freud Museum in Hampstead, the house where Sigmund Freud, who died in 1939, spent the last year of his life. The interior is heavy, dark, subdued and cluttered with objects, books and artefacts, as if home to an ethnographer. Contemporary art installations infiltrate the rooms. An array of mind-feeding events take place upstairs and in the garden. 

The Silent Image (My ear poking through a photograph of Freud’s garden) © Jonny Briggs

There is an ear that listens, yet the image is silent. In “The Silent Image”, two different ways of seeing are juxtaposed: black and white and colour. Each time I have visited Freud’s garden, I’ve found it a quiet place of contemplation where I can hear myself through the nature. Gardens strike me as the peripheries between the tamed and the wild; the interior home and the outside world.

“Lucem Demonstrat Umbra”: this Latin phrase, sometimes found on sundials, translates as “the shadow shows the light”. I cut a circle in a photograph of Freud’s study, shifted it slightly and rephotographed it with a flash behind the print so that the light flares through the lunate hole. This creates an opposite shadow, where the paper overlaps. The piece reminds me of the tarot card The Moon, which represents the unconscious, dreams, uncertainty and the negotiation between the wild and the tamed.

Lucem Demonstrat Umbra (Sigmund Freud’s study) © Jonny Briggs

My mother grew up in Shoreditch, east London. Now she is in her seventies, and her new home in Hampshire is reflected in the glossy surface of “Dummy”. Held tenderly within my teeth, the photograph becomes a mask. Dummy can refer to the pacifier, connecting with the mother through the mouth during infancy. It can also refer to a surrogate human body (as can a photograph), as well as to a ventriloquist’s dummy: the work of art, like the dummy, can be an opportunity to speak through an object, as the mother can speak through the child. 

Dummy (a snapshot of my mother as a child in Richmond, rephotographed by my mother as an adult)

Jonny Briggs’ work is included in “My London” at Peckham 24, May 18–20; He is one of the four artists selected for the 2018 Studio4 summer residency at Chisenhale Artplace, July 23–August 19; 

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