ITALIAN INDUSTRY IN 120 VOLUMES SAVINA PALMIERI COLLECTION

FROM ALBUMS TO PHOTOBOOKS

ITALIAN INDUSTRY IN 120 VOLUMES SAVINA PALMIERI COLLECTION

First came the album, then the booklet and later the book. For over a century, industry has introduced new ways of using prining in its communications: showpiece albums, advertising brochures, anniversary books, and so on. Companies’ 50th, 100th and 150th anniversaries were often celebrated with lavishly printed and bound self-portraits. Words and pictures combined to represent past achievements and the company’s prosperity. The exhibition uses 120 volumes from Italian industry to trace the development of photography books. It is also a stroll through Italian industrial photography and the history of Italian enterprises. A number of video projections make it possible to follow the page sequence. All the books come from the Savina Palmieri collection, Milan. The show is accompanied by a critical introduction by Cesare Colombo.

01 – Impresa Umberto Girola, 1933 XI – 1939 XVII – Fotografo: Antonio Paoletti
02 – Milano Ritratti di Fabbriche, SugarCo, Como, 1981 – Fotografo: Gabriele Basilico

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MARC ROIG BLESA, RAPHAËL DALLAPORTA, MADHUBAN MITRA & MANAS BHATTACHARYA

GD4PHOTOART COMPETITION FINALISTS, WINNER ÓSCAR MONZÓN

MARC ROIG BLESA, RAPHAËL DALLAPORTA, MADHUBAN MITRA & MANAS BHATTACHARYA

Joan Fontcuberta for Óscar Monzón, winner

Óscar Monzón came into the international limelight with his project Karma, in which he turned his gaze to automobile culture with the eyes of a paparazzo and an advertising agent. His works emphasized the spell cast by a form of technology that acted as an object of desire, a fetish, a symbol of power, and at the same time a container for identity and experience.

In Maya, Monzón continues to pursue his own visual sociology, once again exploring advertising and identity as artificial backdrops that distort our life experience. But in this case, Monzón shifts his critical references towards scenes typical of film and science fiction: that science fiction that dreams up dystopian worlds populated by lonely multitudes under the control of all-seeing eyes.

Transient beings, almost like androids frozen in time, one by one, they heed the call of commercial enticements: advertisements are the loudspeakers of consumerism, which shapes attitudes and behaviours, and between the lines they spread the diseases of capitalist mythology: mercantilism,
alienation and inhumanity.

The French thinker Michel Serres cynically writes that we must love advertising, even though it «spreads falsehoods, exaggerates, fills up space with a mediocre din and ugly images, passes off abominable things for the nectar of the gods, multiplies the same way an epidemic does, intoxicates, and always lies». Yes, we must love it, because advertising is a promise of happiness, like religion or politics; the difference is that it does not hide its intent to persuade, putting its
cards on the table. The cards it reveals, and above all their evident effects, are the point at which Maya pours salt on the wound.

If we examine the context of the photographic works, we find no will to act as a mirror, but rather as an X-ray and a scalpel. Starting with entirely real urban scenes, Monzón draws out tension and unease, shaping a new version of street photography that goes to the opposite extreme of the untamed documentarism of Garry Winogrand, but that also transcends the theatricalized forms of Philip-Lorca di Corcia or Jeff Wall. Vertigo and nightmares imbue this introspective journey into the “dark side” of the shining world of appearances. A scene formed by dense atmospheres and dramatic lights frames these snapshots of a “happy world” where happiness is dehumanized and, as Monzón shows us, is one with the apocalypse.

 

Lars Willumeit for Marc Roig Blesa

Since its early days, photography has been used not only in art and science but also enlisted in socio-political struggles in order to document circumstances and events.

This photography with a humanist slant often had the impetus of bringing social reform from above, by privileged actors such as the photographer Lewis Hine, rather than resistance and revolt from below.

However recent research into worker photography movements, an until recently hidden chapter in the history of photography, has demonstrated clearly for the early twentieth century that alternative subaltern photographic practices existed widely across Europe and beyond.

The theme of photography in relation to labour and visibility/invisibility and on how to find contemporary forms of visual activism in the post-Fordist era is at the centre of the artistic practice of Werker Magazine, an art collective consisting of Marc Roig Blesa and Rogier Delfos (with Werker referring to worker in Dutch).

Their radical praxis of photography based on self-representation, self-publishing and image critique is inspired, though not nostalgically, by the international worker photography movements of the 1920s and 30s. Werker Magazine develops and explores strategies of interaction and collaboration that enable and empower collective practices of self-representation within different geographies (it is currently preparing workshops in Spain, France and Morocco),
institutional networks and social strata.

The project Werker 10 – Community Darkroom has a three part structure that adapts to the specifics of the local language and historical context: 1) 10 Minute photography course 2) Library 3) The eye of the worker. The project creates a situation in which the exhibition space becomes an educational area rather than a contemplative one. Here a form of collaborative constellation is created in which the passive viewer of the white cube gallery space takes an active role not only in processes of image production but also in re-editing and critiquing snapshots as a form of collective learning.

In this instantiation the theme for the workshop is the notion of “invisible work” in that, ahead of the workshop, it serves as a guiding principle for the participants in order to create their own photographs of “invisible work” activities such as domestic work, informal work, voluntary work, care work and reproductive work. But it will also be a thinking tool for the collective editing and layout process during the workshop.

 

Francis Hodgson for Raphaël Dallaporta

Raphaël Dallaporta first came to my notice with a series of pictures of antipersonnel mines. Coolly photographed in the style of commercial product-shots, they were accompanied by quiet texts that placed these horrific instruments wholly within the commercial realm. Mines were cheap, effective, and had plenty of variety to suit customers’ needs. Dallaporta had produced a new kind of indictment by catalogue, and in so doing he had established the main lines of his interest: finding evidence in small or relatively small units of the large-scale and specialized industrial activities that mark our time.

Gradually his range expanded. He turned his eye to archaeology, using remote-controlled drones more usually used for warfare. He showed some of the many kinds of knowledge deployed in the construction of a railway. Now, in a project that started as a commission from the Cnes, the French Space Studies Centre, he has made a series on the Symphony project, the joint Franco-German satellite programme.

Dating from soon after the Second War (development was active since the early 1960s), the Symphony programme was a way for the two former rival nations to look determinedly forward together in the spirit of the Treaty of Rome. Symphony was a communications satellite system, the first one in Europe. It has considerable importance of its own: the forerunner of gps and other systems, precursor of the mobile communications revolution, ancestor of the Ariane
space launcher… For Dallaporta it has metaphorical weight, too: if the two nations could develop a comms system then they were surely developing actual communication between themselves at the same time.

But the particularities of the Symphony story catch Dallaporta’s attention. It was a marriage of giant industrial corporations, and although the satellites were never to carry commercial traffic, the benefits to the participant companies were enormous. Dallaporta’s views of the remaining satellite antennae are fractured. They underline how time has begun to dismantle our memory of these giant projects, controversial yet beneficial, public-spirited and privately advantageous.
Between two of them, he recovers archival evidence of the early work going on: a lifetime away by now, ancient history. Symphony lives on in the little communications systems in the pockets of all of us: technology has become normal. It seems democratic. But it wasn’t always obvious that it was to be so. It may yet turn out not to be so in the end.

 

Devika Daulet-Singh for Madhuban Mitra and Manas Bhattacharya

Xerox machines arrived in India in early 1970s. For generations of students thereafter, the “photocopy” was a coveted piece of paper. In pre-digital India, it was an economical and more often than not, the only way to access reference books available in libraries. Running a Xerox machine was and still is a cottage industry across India. An amalgamation of two words; “photo” and “copy”, the ubiquitous photocopy left nothing in doubt about its intention. It almost always infringed on the intellectual rights of authors – scant attention, if any, was paid to the copyright notice inscribed inside books. College campuses were notorious consumers of photocopied books and class notes.

The artist couple, Madhuban Mitra and Manas Bhattacharya belong to a generation for whom the photocopy was more than a reproduction of a piece of paper, it was access to knowledge at a very small price. Their previous interest in obsolescence, in particular of the camera making industry, is extended to the obsolete models of Xerox machines imported to India.

Their photographs imagine a relationship between the photocopy and the photographic image on two levels. Both are produced from mechanical machines using light and both are reproductions.

The differences lie in their constitution: the photocopy doesn’t desire permanence like the photographic image, nor can it be a true likeness. It resides in a penumbral space of its own making and keeps its reader company for a finite period of time.

Using a quasi-documentary approach, Mitra and Bhattacharya create an ensemble of photographs that describe the experience inside and around Xerox shops. Using single photographs, diptychs and triptychs, the cramped and dingy Xerox shops come alive as theatres of monotony. In these mute photographs, one can hear the drone of the machine working at its own rhythm while its operator has perfected the art of making photocopies with military precision and speed. To inject humour into the mundane scenes, the artists sometimes create a Doppelgänger to accentuate their banal existence.

There is another set of photographs where the relationship between the photocopy and the photographic image merge and become one. In the course of visiting Xerox shops, the artists collected rejected photocopies, which were re-photographed, enlarged and presented as photographic images. It’s no surprise these artifacts reflect on photography and are about photography.

01 – Marc Roig Blesa – Educazione collettiva, Corso di fotografia in 10 minuti, – Werker Magazine 2014/2015, parte di una serie di 10 serigrafie
02 – Marc Roig Blesa – Lavoro invisibile, Corso di fotografia in 10 minuti, – Werker Magazine 2014/2015, parte di una serie di 10 serigrafie

03 – Raphaël Dallaporta – Reliques Avant-Gardes, 2014 – Installazione fotografica – Prodotta in collaborazione con l’Observatoire de l’Espace du Cnes
04 – Raphaël Dallaporta – Reliques Avant-Gardes, 2014 – Installazione fotografica – Prodotta in collaborazione con l’Observatoire de l’Espace du Cnes

05 – Madhuban Mitra e Manas Bhattacharya – Senza titolo, dalla serie Copy Shop, 2014-15
06 – Madhuban Mitra e Manas Bhattacharya – Senza titolo, dalla serie Copy Shop, 2014-15

07 – óscar Monzón – Senza titolo, dalla serie MAYA, 2015
08 – óscar Monzón – Senza titolo, dalla serie MAYA, 2015

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ILLUMINATIONS, PARIS, 1925 SOCIÉTÉ FRANÇAISE DE PHOTOGRAPHIE

Léon Gimpel

ILLUMINATIONS, PARIS, 1925 SOCIÉTÉ FRANÇAISE DE PHOTOGRAPHIE

Writing with light: nocturnal photography by Léon Gimpel. Paris, December 1921. Christmas Eve, an elephant takes up water from a waterfall and sprays a crowd of monkeys hidden in some palm trees. The scene is in Paris, rue de Rivoli. Made from coloured neon lighting, it was the work of the Florentine engineer, Jacopozzi. He helped transform the Paris of the twenties into “the city of light”, and gained renown with his lighting project to create the “False Paris” ordered by the French military high command during the First World War. The lighting experiments performed by this “light magician” fascinated the French photographer Léon Gimpel.

Mesmerised by illumination, Gimpel used the autochrome technique, the first colour process marketed by the Lumière Brothers. His technique consisted in overlaying two shots, one taken at dusk, and the other after nightfall, in order to capture the scene and night lighting to a maximum.

From coloured signs to decorative advertising, the lighting entertainment industry was the result of research carried out by the French chemist Georges Claude, who invented the high voltage luminescent tube (neon) in 1910.

Léon Gimpel also illustrated the impressive advertising marketing operation started by Jacopozzi. At the request of the industrialist Citroën, he transformed the Eiffel Tower, «a plain and inert dark pinnacle» into «the most wonderful magical electric theatre ever created anywhere in the world». This exceptional project was followed by the lighting of the big department stores in Paris, like the Grands Magasins du Louvre, Galeries Lafayette, Samaritaine, Bazar de l’Hôtel
de Ville, Bon Marché and even the replicas of the Angkor temples for Paris Colonial Exposition of la Porte Dorée: an amazing display of new luminous written signs for the Paris by night.

Léon Gimpel

An exhibition proposed by: La Société française de photographie
Curator: Luce Lebart

01 – Léon Gimpel – La luce del mondo, dettaglio, Nizza, 4 febbraio 1931 – Courtesy of the Collection Société française de photographie (SFP)
02 – Léon Gimpel – Luminarie delle Galeries Lafayette, Parigi, 1 dicembre 1933 – Courtesy of the Collection Société française de photographie (SFP)

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NEW OBJECTIVITY AND INDUSTRY COLLECTION REGARD

Hein Gorny

NEW OBJECTIVITY AND INDUSTRY COLLECTION REGARD

Products and Image Design 1920s-1930s in Germany.
Hein Gorny was a much sought-after industrial and commercial photographer in Germany. Many of his industrial commissioners, such as Pelikan (producer of stationary, founded in 1839), Bahlsen (industrial biscuit bakery, founded in 1889) and Rogo (manufacturer of hosiery and nylons, founded in 1886), attached high value to modernity, aesthetics and design, not only in terms of their architecture, production structures and products, but also in terms of their visual representation.

Gorny’s imagery draws on the photographic tendencies propagated in association with the theories of the Bauhaus and the Deutscher Werkbund. As the precursor of the well-known Bauhaus, the latter had been promoting “the good form” in art, industry and craftsmanship since 1907 with a view to positive retroactive effects on the living environment. In 1929, the Werkbund introduced avant-garde photographic positions to the public in the broad travelling
exhibition Film und Foto. Whereas New Vision explored the outer limits of the visible with an experimental approach to light and materials, in New Objectivity the specific qualities innate to photography were considered essential to an objective representation of the world. Gorny managed to reconcile the qualities of both photographic approaches with the economic interests of his clients by toning down extreme perspectives and abstracted compositions and hence
developing a commercial style.

What these new tendencies in photography had fostered – a new way of looking at and depicting the industrialized world – is shown most clearly in a number of experiments that he produced on his own or peripherally to commissions. Macro photographs and repeating, serial arrangements foregrounded the workmanship and form of the depicted items and at the same time created compositions verging on the abstract.

How these principles of design were applied is particularly evident in the product photography. In these compositions Gorny intentionally employs dynamic structures but maintains the legibility of the image as a primary focus. Ultimately, standardized forms of representation were intended to underline their objectivity and to enable the viewer to quickly grasp the depicted products in terms of purpose and quality.

Another important motif was the production process itself. Such images highlighted working conditions alongside modern architecture and ultimately served the purpose of illustrating the forward-looking and socially responsible orientation of the companies. Regularly published in company magazines or in the painstakingly designed anniversary publications, these images were a key aspect of both internally and externally oriented communication strategies
and, moreover, bear witness of how photography increasingly played a role in the design of printed matter.

In his timeless image design Gorny brought together the objectivity and drive for progress, with which these firms confronted the demands of the era. He integrated the formal vocabulary and experimental spirit of New Photography into everyday practice and thus became a master of this applied style.

Laura Benz

Exhibition co-produced by Collection Regard and Foto/Industria 2015
Curators: Antonio Panetta and François Hébel

01 – Hein Gorny – Calze Rogo,1935 ca. – © Hein Gorny Collection Regard
02 – Hein Gorny – Senza titolo (Biscotti Leibniz),1934 – 1938 ca. – © Hein Gorny Collection Regard

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BIOGRAPHY OF CANCER

Jason Sangik Noh

BIOGRAPHY OF CANCER

Jason Sangik Noh is a surgeon specialized in cancer treatment. He operates in Seoul but also works in missions abroad, especially in Vietnam. This work, a mixture of hand-written diagnoses, analysis results, graphs and photos, combines a scientific approach to patients with a sensitive awareness of their humanity, with glimpses of their daily life and interests. The collection is presented in the form of visual compositions in an unprecedented genre, a true practitioner’s
notebook combining scientific detachment with warm-hearted empathy.

The violence of the disease is not evacuated, but the doctor’s consideration of the human aspect being just as important as the case file, is immediately discernible.

«In 2008, about 8 million humans around the world died of cancer. With this sobering statistic, I started this work, Biography of Cancer, one of the most complicated diseases humans have lived with. It’s about encounter with cancer, dramatic treatments, euphoric success, tragic failure, deaths and the relentless battle by doctors, researchers, patients and concerned people.

It is also a meditation on illness, medical ethics and the complex, intertwining lives of concerned people.

Concerning the structure of this work, I borrowed that of a medical article; it is made of five parts: Introduction/Materials and Methods/Results/Conclusions/Discussion.»

Jason Sangik Noh is not a photographer by profession, but he has revealed his talent for photography alongside his career as a surgeon.

This project, presented for the first time in Europe, recently won an award by the Ilwoo Foundation in Korea, which led to the publishing of a book by Hatje Cantz.

François Hébel

01 – Jason Sangik Noh – Pancreas e milza, 2009 – © Jason Sangik Noh, courtesy of the VHS-MC Board of Ethics
02 – Jason Sangik Noh – Sig. Yoo, anni 65, Donam-dong, C49.4 Sarcoma osteogenico extrascheletrico, 2012 – © Jason Sangik Noh, courtesy of the VHS-MC Board of Ethics

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