All posts tagged: London

Jacques Henri Lartigue: ‘Bibi’ @ Photographers Gallery

Clad in a white fur coat and an elegant dress, her boat drifting toward the harbour of Cannes, Madeleine Messager is in the photographer’s undivided centre of attention. With her tilted head and shadowy eyes she glances mysteriously at her husband behind the lens. It’s the work of influential photographer Jacques Henri Lartigue and only one of many snapshots depicting his beloved first wife ‘Bibi’ in the 1920s. Actually, Lartigue was a gifted collector. A collector of moments, if you will: « Photography to me is catching a moment which is passing, and which is true. » Since the early age of 8, when his technophile father gave him his first camera, he captured and eventually eternalised his impressions on film. Almost 10,000 photographs and 7,000 diary pages bear witness to an incredible photographic timeline, spanning over eight decades of his lively journey: Moments of joy and adventure, expressions of friendship and love as well as manifestations of desire and sorrow. For its current major exhibition, ‘The Photographers’ Gallery’ draws its attention back to Lartigue’s early works and documents …

‘i = u’ festival @ Guest Projects

At heart, everything we do in life is in a way a form of improvisation. Not knowing what will happen next, we approach certain actions in rather spontaneous, intuitive ways that determine the roles we play in society. Alas, this free thought and behaviour is, as we all know, too often regulated by a growing cluster of rules and conventions – even so in creative fields. Departing from the precast, arranged and stiff concepts that subliminally mark today’s music-making and live performing, the wonderful ‘i = u festival’ (12th – 21st September) dared to celebrate the inspiring dialogue of musical improvisation with dance, art, theatre and film in all its glorious diversity: ‘The idea behind i = u is simple: to present a series of events that emphasize a balanced interaction between performers, and also, between performers and audience members. The series is founded on an ideal of equality between us, where we actually aim to listen to one another.’ As a non-profit venture, the festival is per se a great showcase for project improvisation: Curated …

Gallery Launch: The Unit London

Well, as a downright enthusiast of fresh, inspiring art, it comes in handy to live so close to East London’s creative powerhouses Shoreditch, Hoxton or Hackney Wick. However pleasant it may be to roam these neighbourhoods on the hunt for new ideas and artists on a regular basis, the creative-self craves for variation – both of conceptual and geographic nature – every once in a while. So, where to turn to? Shush, »Chiswick« is the magic word. Trust me, there is a real stroke of luck that radiates the organic-libertine spirit of East End galleries, far from the prevailing elitist and highly exclusive art circuit of West London: ‘The Unit’. In many respects, it is not the average gallery start-up you’d expect these days. And the rather unusual location – clearly not an epicentre of the capital’s art sphere – is only one reason, why the artist-run project of Jonny Burt and Joe Kennedy sets itself apart from the mass. Unwilling to bow to the rules and methods of traditional art businesses, the collective advocates a more inclusive …

Hey Studio’s ‘Oh my God’ @ Kemistry Gallery

Other than comic book superheroes like Superman, Batman or Thor, the ancient gods of Greek mythology have nearly vanished from our present-day cultural consciousness. Nonetheless, the Spanish design collective ‘Hey Studio’ playfully tries to reinstate the old order of Zeus, Heracles or Hades with its most recent series ‘Oh my God’ at Kemistry Gallery: “In ancient Greece they had something better than superheroes. They had gods – each with their own powers, weaknesses, history and followers. Jupiter and Mars came, Jesus and Mohammed, Buddha and Elvis. 2,500 years later, they return to claim their place and remind us that there is nothing more dangerous than believed immortality.” However, the legendary characters and creatures of ancient scholarly books are not unleashed in their dusty, cryptic and impalpable form of Homer’s or Dante’s narrative, but approach the observer with a slightly updated, simplistic comic-style, sparkling with cheekiness. Welcome to Mt. Olympus 2.0! True, compared to the images of the flashy Clark Kent, the gadget-lover Bruce Wayne or the hammer-swinging son of Odin, our exhibited Greek gods appear rather innocent, tame and somewhat cute. Well, …

Spot On: Justin Welch @ Brick Lane Gallery

For just a brief period of time – from 1st to 11th August 2013 – Brick Lane Gallery hosts a wonderful group exhibition called ‘Photography NOW’ including works of David Neve, Hersilia Alvarez, James Burns, Justin Welch, Nazanin Moradi, Sylvie Varnier, Sue O’Meara, Sian Hallam-Davis, Tatjana Glomm and Milly Coley. The small art space on Sclater Street showcases a great selection of vibrant ideas, styles and techniques of contemporary photography, but there’s one artist I’d like to highlight in particular: Spot on for Justin Welch and his ‘abandoned’-series. Essentially, the title says it all. For his project, the London/Paris-based artist went on a road trip to the US to capture the many decaying faces of abandoned buildings in the margins of 21st century American civilization. The photographic output is indeed intriguing, both individually and as a whole. It’s not only the hidden message that fascinates me about Welch’s works – it’s the way he evokes a cinematic déjà-vu that draws the observer into a neo-Western setting: The time seems to stand still in this long forgotten …

‘Stranger – An exhibition of self portraits’ @ Flowers Gallery

The word ‘stranger’ always implies a somehow dark, shady and yet mystifying connotation. In this regard, I caught myself wondering about the underlying conception of artist and œuvre in ‘Stranger – An exhibition of self-portraits’, which is currently on display at Flowers Gallery on Kingsland Road. Well, the key here is not to bother with the effect of the art piece on the audience, but to behold the intimate conversation between artist and canvas. Ever since, the art of self-portraiture has been perceived both as a medium of artistic self-exploration as well as a method to unveil and grasp the “true” persona of the yet anonymous artist. Regardless of educational, provocative or illusionary approaches to the subject, the self-portrayal can only capture a limited segment of a person’s life with all its emotions, experiences and mysteries. Thus, the artist’s observation of his “painted doppelgänger” might feel like the daily look into the mirror or scrutinizing an old photograph: Sometimes you discover a part of yourself that has been long forgotten or you are not able …

© LLSB

Let the Good Times Roll: ‘Long Live South Bank’

Growing up in an urbanized region of Germany, I eventually started skateboarding with a few friends in the early-2000’s. Magazines and skate videos allowed us to think out of the box, although media has been very focused on what was happening in the US-‘motherland’. Every now and then, a rad concrete skate spot in London appeared on a magazine’s photo or in a split-second video sequence: The ‘Undercroft’. From my callow continental perspective, it was the spot of the capital. Quite so! Soon after local skateboarders adopted the spot at the forefront of the Thames for their own means in the mid-70s, the foremost neglected ‘Undercroft’ evolved as an iconic part of London’s Southbank. Gradually, the secret birthplace of British skateboarding grew organically and generated a lively scene of like-minded. Apart from skateboarders, the concrete spot attracted generations of BMXers, photographers, directors and graffiti artists throughout its almost 40 years of existence. The Undercroft has become a symbol of a vivid cultural heritage for young people, for creative minds as well as an attraction for those, who …