Objektiv #10

In this issue, Charlotte Cotton and Bjarne Bare use the term ‘Post-photo- graphy’ when talking about the new picture generation, and the legendary Nan Goldin claims that with the advance of the digital, photography is dead. These comments beg the question: is the time for magazines like Objektiv over?

In #10 we investigate the context within which photography positions itself – the medium-specific galleries, fairs and magazines like our own. Do these contribute to a ‘photo ghetto’, as photo historian Mette Sandbye and curator Jens Erdmann Rasmussen term it in these pages, or are they necessary for a true understanding of photography?

This need to re-evaluate happens every so often in the life of this young medium: in our five-year existence we have witnessed several similar reconsiderations. Two years ago, Aperture’s new editor-in-chief Michael Famighetti relaunched the magazine in order to keep it fresh and to reflect how much had changed in both photography and publishing over the last decade. In this issue, Famighetti makes a strong argument for maintaining these medium-specific places: “Photography occupies a very large, generous tent and touches on so many other fields; it occupies a place in daily life that other art forms, like painting, don’t.”

The festivals are also changing. Several large art galleries like Gagosian have begun to exhibit at the famous Paris Photo, narrowing the gap between art and photography, and Rencontres d’Arles has appointed a new director, Sam Stourdzé, who takes on the job after five years as the director of another photo institution, Musée d’Elyseé. In our interview, he tells me that he believes he can bring the magic back to Arles. He intends to bring other media into the festival in order to create a wider dialogue, something we are seeing in many of the special galleries for lens-based art. 

What responsibility do the specialist photo galleries have today, and how can they open up the debate on the medium? This summer, I saw The Pale Fox by Camille Henrot at Charlottenborg in Copenhagen, now showing in Paris, and it was refreshing to experience such a well-con- sidered show. We are happy to include an interview with Henrot in this issue, where she talks about her use of the space with an installation that tells multiple narratives at once, mixes different genres and gives such a complete experience that it makes one optimistic for the medium’s future. It’s interesting that Henrot’s show was in a kunsthalle and not in a photo gallery, and the exhibition demonstrates how curators of me- dium-specific galleries need to open their minds to new ways of telling a story within the white cube. The time for beautiful photos, mounted democratically in a line on the gallery wall has passed. If photo galleries can’t give us such mind-blowing experiences, perhaps their time is up.

And maybe our time has passed too. But there are signs that this is not the case. When we launched the very first issue of Objektiv five years ago, our mission was to act like a time-capsule, documenting where contem- porary lens-based art is today. We adopted a gallery-in-a-journal format, where we could show, discuss and challenge photography, film and video art. Since the beginning we have asked artists to reflect on the medium in conversations with other artists, and for every issue we have invited an artist to make an exhibition within the magazine. Morten Andenæs, was the very first to be featured in these pages, and we have invited him back for this edition to talk about photography together with the American photographer Lucas Blalock. They offer their thoughts on the status of photography, calling it a ‘pubescent’ medium. This gives us hope that the medium is nowhere near ‘Post-photography’ and that there is much to come in the future, and still much to discuss.

As I write these words, the art-book store Printed Matter has just finished its annual book fair at MoMAPS1, this year with a focus on Norway and drawing over 30,000 people. Many collectors come back year after year to buy books, zines and magazines like ours, assuring us that such materials are essential platforms for the photographer. It was a fantastic celebration for printed art, and in many ways a confirmation of the importance of Objektiv’s continued existence.

Nina Strand

Founder / Editor-in-chief 

 

Photoparty

Nina Strand from Landskrona Photofestival. 

This text can also be found in Debris Fanzine issue # 2 : Photographic documentary: observation and time. Out now!

Sara Skorgan Teigen,  Fractal State of Being, 2014, Journal

Sara Skorgan Teigen,  Fractal State of Being, 2014, Journal

Friday

There are photos everywhere, on the ground, at the beach, hanging on the wall near my hotel. I am overwhelmed as I arrive at the dinner held in the big party tent, having missed the talks by Lesley A. Martin, editor of Aperture, Kim Knoppers, curator at Foam Museum, and Christian  Caujolle from Vu. I am seated next to curator Ann-Christin Bertrand from C/o Berlin, who will give the opening speech a little later. She is given a disposable camera by the curators of the festival, Thomas H. Jonhsson and JH Engström, to hand on to one of the festival’s main exhibitors, Rinko Kawauchi, who will take two images with it and then pass it on to one of the other artists. There is an announcement that the winner of the Lewenhaupt-grant 2014 is 18-year-old Sander Broström, whose work will be shown at Landskrona Museum. There’s a storm outside, the tent shakes, and we’re worried that the chandeliers will fall down. Broström nevertheless takes the stage and says he’s extremely happy, and we all applaud and move over to Landskrona Konsthall for the grand opening. This year the main exhibition is all female, featuring work by Nan Goldin, Bertien van Manen, Rinko Kawauchi and Eva Klausson.

In her speech, Bertrand informs us that Landskrona will open a museum of photographic history next year, and then she goes on to talk about the iphone/selfie generation while several audience members document her speech with their ipads. Kawauchi is given her camera and we all move inside the gallery to see the works on show. I sit through Goldin’s slideshow The Ballad of Sexual Dependency twice and have New York City on my mind for the rest of the evening. I can't watch Moment agency’s incredible slideshow later without comparing it to the hardships endured by Goldin and her friends.

Saturday

In the morning at the hotel I meet the Norwegian artist Sara Skorgan Teigen and see her book Fractal State of Being for the first time. Teigen, together with her publisher Gösta Flemming from Journal, as well as Knut Egil Wang and Ken Grant, will show slides from their brand new books and talk with Engström later in the evening. First on the program is Kawauchi, who greets a full house in the main theatre and talks about her longing for the old magic in the darkroom. Where did it go? Next door to the stage 18 hopeful photographers meet for their portfolio review and outside, the small book tents are slowly opening.

I stroll down the gallery street and see art in seven small pop-up galleries. In gallery number 7 publisher Christian Tunge from Heavy Books has curated his first exhibition, a group show with the Norwegian artists Marthe Elise Stramrud, Geir Moseid, Andrea Johns and Sara Larsen Stiansen. Tunge will also be on stage during the weekend to review photobook dummies, but now I must run to Landskrona Museum to give a lecture myself about how to run a journal like Objektiv. I am given 45 minutes, and my spot is after Van Manen's presentation and just before Goldin’s talk, so I know people will want me to be quick. I rush through 61 slides in 40 minutes and then we all run to get a good seat in the theatre. Goldin is 20 minutes late (time is just an illusion, she says when she arrives) and is greeted like a rock star when she takes the stage. She says photography is dead as a medium, it’s just a video game, and then everyone wants to take her picture.

Afterwards, she spends two hours in the small book tents, listening and talking to all the independent publishers while we eat another lovely dinner and applaud the winner of the portfolio review, Swedish photographer Johan Österholm. And then Goldin and Engström invite me to her hotel to hear more about their thoughts on photography and I hope I’ll remember everything for the next issue of Objektiv.

Sunday

On the last day, Gallery Breadfield and Tommy Arvidson invite us all to ‘Photobook Sunday’. Editor Jenny Morelli guides participants through presentations of their book dummies before a jury of Christian Tunge, Matilda Plöjel (Sailor Press) and Damien Poulain (OODEE). Plöjel and Poulain will later engage in a conversation on the books together with Anna Strand and Marie Andersson. And finally Greger Ulf Nilson will give a lecture on how to publish a book, ‘generously sharing what he has learned through trial and error’, the program states. Unfortunately, my flight departs too early to attend this, but as I leave the hotel, helping Knut Egil Wang carrying his heavy box containing 18 copies of his brand new book Southbound, I feel very optimistic about photography’s future in general, and the photobook in particular.

Nan Goldin photographed by her friend JH Engström   

Nan Goldin photographed by her friend JH Engström