Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Removal of material from blog

In my previous blog post, I quoted from correspondence relating to and following on from a 'debate' at Le Pub concerning the 'Dead Pan Aesthetic' work of Tim Sayer.  In response to a request from the other party, and in compliance with copyright law (I checked this on t'internet this morning), I am going to edit the aforementioned post.

Anyone not sure about the law regarding letters (I am assuming that Facebook messages sent privately will fit here) and who is interested, please read on:

"The property in a letter in terms of its ownership belongs to the recipient, being the party to whom it is addressed. The recipient can, if he wishes, destroy the letter and, if it passes out of his possession, sue for its recovery. However, this does not mean he can do what he likes with the letter or its contents, as to which there are two main qualifications.

The first is that copyright in the letter belongs to the writer, so that the recipient may not copy or publish it without the writer's consent but, as with any other copyright work, information contained in the document, though not its precise words, may be communicated to a third party without the writer's consent, unless - which leads me to the second qualification - such information is of a private and confidential nature or unless, where the writer himself has published the letter to a third party, the recipient also needs to publish it in order to refute an attack on his character or reputation contained in it.
Marking a letter with words to the effect that it is intended as 'private and confidential' does not necessarily make it so, although it is evidence of the writer's intention and, as such, has a persuasive effect. An obvious example where such a designation would not be effective is where the contents of the letter relate to matters or events which are in the public domain. Whether or not information contained in a letter is to be regarded in law as private and confidential is a matter of fact in each case and, interestingly, there is a section in the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 which expressly stipulates that nothing in the relevant part of the Act affects the operation of any rule of equity relating to breaches of trust or confidence. The same applies to any rule of law preventing or restricting enforcement of copyright on grounds of public interest or otherwise...
Copying can be licensed and any confidentiality can be waived by the writer (or other copyright owner) of a letter if he is so inclined."

Monday, 12 December 2011

A Night to Remember - Le Pub, Tuesday December 6th

This is an edited version of my original post.  I have removed half of the correspondence as per the request of the writer.

For those who had to sit through the 'argument' at the end of the Le Pub session and who were interested to know the outcome:

Wednesday 7th December:  Facebook mail from me to the other party.
Dear ....
I thought might be interesting to arrange for a coffee and a discussion at some point - so that we can talk about the points raised at Le Pub. The 'debate' got a bit confused, and it would be good to have the opportunity to talk about the issues raised by Tim's work without shouting across a crowded room!

When I got home, I couldn't work out if you were angry with him because of the 'Genocide' photograph itself, or because of his argument that all deaths are basically the same. You seemed to be telling him that he shouldn't make the work/have this opinion as it was abhorrent and wrong. You seemed to think that he was belittling the experiences of the millions who have died at the hands of tyrants (in particular those killed during WWII) and whilst the work could certainly be read in that way, personally I don't believe that to be his intention, nor the effect of it. 

Perhaps it is partly a cultural response to the work, we British are famous for our 'black humour': there is a real tendency to make jokes about very dark situations and as Jason suggested, it could be a 'coping' mechanism: if you can't do anything about it, laugh about it.

Anyway, when you said that Tim SHOULDN'T make the work./make a joke about such things/say that dying in a gas chamber was the same as dying in your own bed surrounded by family and that both types of death have the same value - I challenged you to say that you could CHOOSE to not look/disagree, but you were not in a position to tell him what to think, or what to do... If you had let me finished, I would have gone on to say that of course, you have the 'right' to respond in whatever way you deem appropriate to anything you see/read/hear experience, but you can't tell other people what they should and should not do... The power you have is to try to persuade/change minds by reasoned debate... Unfortunately, you did not allow me to finish my argument as you were so angry!

What is interesting is that the work has the potential to provoke strong and intelligent debate. Last night, I felt (and you may disagree) - it was all a bit emotive. If you would like to meet up and have a conversation about it, I would be happy to get together.

Maybe have a coffee in uni sometime? We can always agree to disagree, but do so after good and proper intellectual debate, rather than a shouting match.

Best wishes to you,


Reply - Sunday 11th December:  Without the permission of the writer, I am unable to reprint their words.  Therefore, at this present time, I have had to delete their side of the argument.  Apologies for the gaps...

Sunday 11th December
Facebook mail from Denise to fellow audience member:

Many thanks for your mail.

Like you, I also think that natural death is right and any form of murder is absolutely wrong. Like you, I believe that genocide is totally abhorrent and I am very grateful and glad that I have not had to live through this happening in my own country. Whenever I think of the horrors that other peoples have had to face, I feel angry and upset that human nature can be so debased to bring about such occurences.

You are right - the British did invent the concentration camps in the Boer war, but thank goodness they did not develop the concept into extermination camps. I am not proud of this aspect of my history.

I am also grateful that I have not had to live under any form of occupation, nor had to experience the curtailing of any freedoms.

Whilst I know in my heart that dying would feel very different if one was experiencing it lying in one's bed, surrounded by a loving family, compared to being beaten, brutalised, starved or gassed, I do get Tim's argument that the death itself, the actual finishing point when you no longer feel anything is the same. It is the dying that is what we experience.

 I am glad that you took the time to explain things further. Unfortunately, your argument was not very clear at Le Pub.

Best wishes to you,


Sunday, 13 November 2011

Le Pub - November 8th 2011 - A little review-ette.

With only four photographers on the bill at this month's Le Pub photo event, and many of the regulars in The Netherlands for Network Week, the night could have been a bit quiet...  But actually,  packed out by enthusiastic Newport students from all three year groups, it was really rather lovely. 

First up was Photo Art's Harry Rose.  Moving from experimental work made during his foundation studies through to images from the first brief at Newport, Rose clearly showed that he has an eye for the beautiful.  Bodies become sculptural studies of shape and form and for me, the most successful images are those shaped by Rose's intuition, rather than deliberately staged and constructed.  (My favourite was the intimate portrait of braces against naked flesh. My absolute LEAST FAVOURITE pic of the whole night was the 'bum shot' - an example of over working an idea...)

At present, Rose works predominantly with (strikingly handsome) gay models and admits that he finds straight men too 'stiff' and 'awkward' to photograph successfully.  I guess there is a choice to be made here: does he want to be defined by his own sexuality and that of his models, or does he want to explore the human body in all its forms?  Does he want to be an artist, or a gay artist?  To align himself so closely to one community could either increase his power as he develops, or limit his progression.  It will be interesting to see what happens.

On stage next was Doc Phot's Johan Peter Jønsson with his rather brilliant and accomplished photo book, 'Don't Spoil Pleasure'.  Made during the periods when he 'didn't know what to photograph', the work is comprised of portraits and studies of his friends.  Shot with harsh flash and captured in a grainy black and white (surprising to find they are digital images) the work caused a real buzz of excitement around the room.  

Images capture the hedonism of youth, the unselfconscious joy that is possible before responsibility and the pressures of adulthood really kick in.  It's easy for  Jønsson to get up close to his subjects and the intimacy of the relationships vibrates from every page.  He is not afraid to experiment with his strategy, shooting from above or in confined spaces, or into the sunlight.  He is inches away, or at a distance.  He plays with composition and framing: at times filling every inch of the frame with action and at others leaving space to imagine the breath of the wind, the feel of the sun on the skin of the subjects.  The variety works: it reflects a pace and an explosive energy in the lives of this group of friends.

The big question for me, apart from – How can I get a copy of the book – was, “If this is the work he makes when he doesn't know what to shoot, what is his work like when he is inspired?”  Methinks it will be extraordinary!

The final photographer of the night was Thijs Jagers and if Harry Rose was celebrating gay culture and Johan Peter Jønsson was celebrating friendship and youth, Jagers was celebrating life itself.

Found images were manipulated for strange and comic effect in his early work and I particularly liked his photograph of the young girl in knee high socks and dinky shoes, accompanied by a woman wearing a basque and a cardboard box on her head.  (It's driving me crazy trying to work out what this image reminds me of.  The box has something of the Arbus about it – the slightly surreal and eccentric; but that isn't it!  Answers on a postcard please...)  Other work re-interprets the ordinary object and makes beautiful (the egg shell becomes a delicate fabergé type flower.)

Jagers clearly has an open mind when it comes to making images and is ready to play with and explore the different conventions required to fulfil the Fashion and Advertising course briefs.  He is confident and creative enough to make even semi-disasters work in his favour – the accidental distressing of negatives (through carrying them around in his bag for a couple of weeks) turned his 'ordinary' fashion shots into something much more enigmatic and intriguing.  Less impressive though was his more 'political' work: personally, I would like to see him bringing some of his own energy to these images.  I'm sure that in time, he will.

At the beginning of this 'review', I mentioned four photographers.  The one missing from this piece is Denise Fotheringham (aka yours truly: the writer of this piece.)  I figure that I will leave any review of my work and presentation to someone else...  If anyone wants to check out what I  have been up to, then have a look at my other blog.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Sergey Chilikov: Missing the Spot.

I am a big fan of the Third Floor Gallery in Cardiff.  Run by volunteers and powered by three energetic and passionate trustees, it is a space dedicated to showcasing photography and widening participation for makers and audiences alike.  In the past they have brought us a varied programme that has included David Hurn, Rob Hornstra, Peter Dench and Lara El-Tantawy.  Work has been grounded in a documentary tradition which has offered visitors to the gallery the opportunity to consider the lives of others and the world around us.  The show Arab Revolutions (30 July – 4 September 2011) couldn't have been much more up to date, and marked the gallery as being at the forefront of contemporary practice.

What then is going on with the latest show, 'Sergey Chilikov: Selected Works'?  The image used on the gallery's advertising and the cover of the newly released book seems to be an homage to the 'saucy seaside postcard ' tradition of Donald McGill and tempts the visitor with the suggestion of semi-nudity and naughty humour.  It seems to promise an escape from the depressions of the recession and a little bit of photographic sunshine...  It says, 'come to the gallery and have a laugh...' Unfortunately for the visitor unfamiliar with Chilikov's work, the reality is totally different.  If there is any humour in the work, this viewer didn't get the joke.  The walls are covered with prints of naked cavorting Russians.  The staged images include an in-the-buff axe wielding boy child posing next to a naked young woman in an awkward pseudo-erotic pose.  Why?  This is what I kept asking myself.

Why did these people take off their clothes?  Was it to escape a really dreary poverty-bound existence in some out of the way rural community (the delapidated buildings in the background would suggest this context at least?)  Were their uncomfortable body positions chosen by Chilikov, or evidence of their insecurities about involvement in the project?  What is that Chilikov is trying to say, or is he just having fun getting other people to get naked.  Who knows?  Who cares?  I sure don't.

Visitors who have travelled extensively in Russia and who know something of Eastern European culture have assured me that the work is both political (referring back to the days when to make nude images of subjects was illegal) and humorous (although they couldn't quite explain the joke.)  The Russians have a 'different attitude to nudity': oh yes, based on this work, I would say that they do...  Seemingly, when viewed in countries once part of the former USSR, Chilikov reads very differently.  And, there's the rub: great art, be it poetry, painting, drama or photography should be able to travel.  Work that has meaning can speak to us, whatever our nationality or cultural background.  We may not always get the exact message, but we come away with our own understanding.

Roll on the next Third Floor exhibition...

Yes, it's a rubbish photo of the print: but I was trying to avoid the reflection of the light!

Spot the homage to Nan Goldin?  (4th from the left...)

Naked flesh also comes in black and white...

A little bit of Donald McGill!

Some Links that might be of interest to you:

Another side to Chilikov (one you get to see a little of at Third Floor:)

Scroll through Schilt Publishing's offerings to find Chilikov's book (you can buy a copy from Third Floor for £25.00:)

Q and A with Chilikov at the BJP:

The show - featured in Hungry Eye (see the postcard pic here!):

Buy your own Chilikov:

Russian Art that I do get:

Surely one of the finest plays ever written?

Icon of the Mother of God, Tikhvinskaya: British Museum Collection



I'll come clean straight away: I love Daniel Meadows.  However, before the gossip starts, I need to let you know that this is not the silly schoolgirl blushing kind of love, but one that is based on the following irrefutable statements:
  • He is a genuinely nice guy.
  • He has enough energy and enthusiasm to power a small village, should the technology be designed to harness it...
  • He can talk for hours about all things photographic without hesitation nor repetition and remain interesting...
  • He is a damned fine photographer – even though he no longer makes work.
  • He doesn't know how good he is.

So, taking all of this into consideration, I am DELIGHTED that Daniel Meadows is actually getting the attention he deserves.  With a major exhibition in Bradford, a new book by Val Williams and serious coverage in the BJP (he's on the bill with Joachim Schmid on November 18th at BJP's VISION '11 in London), a new generation can see and enjoy the work he made in the 1970s.  Strong black and white portraits from Greame Street (1972) and the Free Photographic Omnibus ('73 - '74) show that Daniel was ahead of his time.  Subjects look straight into the camera and then into the viewer's eyes; we connect with the individuals across the 40 years' distance and feel the privileged and trusting relationship that existed between the strangers and the photographer all of those years ago.  For this is work made with an open mind and an open heart; there is no cynicism nor exploitation here.

Meadows paid for the Greame Street studio and all of the prints using his university grant money (those were the days!) and the Photobus project was made possible because of his tireless fundraising.  No-one ever paid Meadows for their portrait and to see the fruits of those non-capitalist exchanges celebrated on gallery wall and in print after all of these years is a marvellous thing.

And this is why I love Daniel:  his photography really is a gift.

The 'Archive Wall', National Media Museum, Bradford.

Opening night at The National Media Museum, Bradford.

© Daniel Meadows

© Daniel Meadows

Waiting to get my copy signed!

Check out Daniel's website: 

The exhibition:

The book: 

Daniel, due to speak at BJP's Vision '11:

Val Williams and The Archive:

Pete James and Birmingham City Library: Collecting Meadows