Short Cuts 09 presents my 4 favorite picks of 2019 from my second blog Bilderwald. It starts with Coco Capitán and concludes with Cloud Service.
(1) Coco Capitán: Busy Living (Loose Joints, 2019)
Busy Living accompanies Spanish artist Coco Capitán’s first major museum exhibition in Europe at MEP, Paris, a comprehensive survey of her last six years of image making.
Coco Capitán is already an accomplished artist, one of the most prolific of her generation, combining photography, painting and performance with written material made up of slogans and aphorisms. She became involved in the world of fashion at an early stage of her career, and quickly earned international renown as a fashion photographer.
Despite Capitán’s young age, Busy Living contains a kaleidoscope of styles, with an openness and freedom beyond her years. Ranging from playful setups pushing against the conventions of fashion and commercial photography, through to statuesque studies of Olympic swimmers and personal memoirs told through trips across America and China, Busy Living shows Capitán doing exactly what her title proposes: experiencing, absorbing, and reflecting a fast-paced modern world.
(2) Alex Majoli: Scene (Mack Books & Le Bal, 2019)
Alex Majoli (born 1971) is an Italian photographer known for his documentation of war and conflict. He is a member of Magnum Photos.
Majoli graduated from art school in 1991. Three years later, he made an intimate portrayal of the closing of an asylum for the insane on the island of Leros, Greece, a project that became the subject of his first book, Leros.
After becoming a full member of Magnum Photos in 2001, Majoli covered the fall of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, and two years later the invasion of Iraq. He continues to document various conflicts worldwide for Newsweek, The New York Times Magazine, Granta and National Geographic.
For eight years and across several continents, Alex Majoli has been photographing events and non-events. Political demonstrations, humanitarian emergencies, and quiet moments of everyday life. What holds all these images together is a sense of theatre. A sense that we are all actors, all playing the parts that history and circumstance demand of us. Majoli’s photographs result from his own performance. Entering a situation, he and his assistants slowly go about setting up a camera and lights. This activity is a kind of spectacle in itself, observed by those who will eventually be photographed. Majoli begins to shoot, offering no direction to the people before his camera. This might happen over twenty minutes. It might be an hour or so.
We never really see people or places: we see the light they reflect. And the quality of that light affects how we understand them.
(3) Arian Christiaens: Xenia (Art Paper Editions, 2019)
Arian Christiaens has been working as a photographer and photography teacher since graduating as a Master at KASK (Ghent) in 2004.
Xenia is a combination of recent and past portraits that Arian Christiaens made of her sister, who she grew up with as her brother. Christiaens uses the act of making portraits as an attempt to communicate and understand her sister’s personality. ‘Xenia’ handles the search for identity and how people struggle with fitting in society. Next to this search for identity, Christiaens also addresses the limitations of portraiture and the inability of photography to tell the truth. What is constructed and what is real? Who is Xenia as a character and what does she express?
(4) Batia Suter: Cloud Service (Printed Matter + Roma Publications, 2019)
Published on the occasion of Batia Suter’s exhibition at Printed Matter in New York (February 21 – April 21 2019), Cloud Service is a monographic index of clouds and cloud-suggestive forms, both vast and microscopic in scale. Swiss-born, Amsterdam-based artist Batia Suter (b. 1967) studied at the art academies of Zürich and Arnhem (NL), and was also trained at the Werkplaats Typografie. Suter produces monumental prints of digitally manipulated images for specific locations, and works on photo-animations, image sequences and collages, often using found pictures.
Video: Batia Suter Interview: Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize 2018 Nominee (Youtube)
Drawing from her vast personal library of natural history reference books, encyclopedias, and other flea market finds, Suter assembles an enthralling mix of ‘non-art’ images which she then adapts and reorients in intuitive and often profound ways.
The set of appropriated images that makes up Cloud Service is a monographic index of clouds and cloud-suggestive forms, both vast and microscopic in scale. Sweeping aerial shots, volcanic plumes and skyscapes are interwoven with coral, cauliflowers, and bighorn sheep. Placed in the right sequence, these images resonate in new and complex ways, manipulate each other, and — with a sort of synaptic leap — take on new depths of meaning.