Sean McDonnell has turned his collection of photographs taken during lockdown around the streets of Ealing into a zine to raise money for Ealing Foodbank.
The images document a moment in time when the world turned upside down.
Adverts for holidays became a distant dream. TFL promoted riding bikes, not taking the tube. Supermarkets asked us if we really needed to buy more. People's garden walls became display shelves for belongings to give away. Chalk made a comeback for games. Everywhere social distance circles appeared on pavements. Some shops came back to life, others did not.
Post Production was the theme of October's session, interpreted by Sean McDonnell and Ray Higginbottom in two distinctive ways.
Sean took Chris Dorley-Brown's work The Corners as a starting point to look at photo manipulation, its motivations and consequences, Taking examples from the origins of photography to the present, Sean raised questions about the use of post production in documentary photography and photojournalism.
Ray took us on a personal journey, showing the group the evolution of his work from darkroom montages to triptychs and intricate digital post production techniques. He discussed the early influences of Gilbert Garcin and Robert Tuschman and also referenced the work of Maggie Taylor. To round off a fascinating talk Ray gave a live Photoshop tutorial showing how he combined a landscape at Dungeness with other photographs and textures drawn from his archive to create a unique final image.
Frankie McAllister then shared some of her atmospheric images created during lockdown.
We'd set the theme at the start of the year for our July meeting as Travel. Like most things the context of that decision had now radically changed and, like a lot of things nowadays, it gave an opportunity to reconsider some fundamental assumptions.
Presentations and discussion
Frankie McAllister and Angelika Berndt led the session with two presentations on, respectively, the variations in the genre of travel photography as a consequence of the different perspective of the traveller/photographer and the ethics of representation with particular reference to photo tourism. Both accounts were full of personal insight, referring to their own practice and reflecting on the motivations for making work in environments and cultures outside the UK.
Frankie drew upon her experiences in the former Soviet republics to explore the subtle distinction of documenting staged events for tourists and of uncovering everyday situations. She skillfully highlighted the challenges of looking for meaning in these, what kind of authenticity they represent and the influence of cultural perspective
The exchange that happens between photographer and photographed, who is in control of the situation and the outcomes for both parties, was a great introduction to Angelika's presentation. She highlighted the impact of photo tourism on the local culture and people using her own experience of a road trip across Northern Ethiopia. She discussed the dilemma often arising when photographing people in countries whose economy depends on tourism. Experienced in working with NGOs and indigenous peoples Angelika spoke of acknowledging an individual's circumstances, accepting photography has a price and engaging with people to represent their lives with integrity.
She then invited the group to reflect on these themes which developed into an interesting, informed discussion considering the practice of ethics within as well as outside the UK.
Three members of the group Robin Segulem, Arun Misra and Ray Higginbottom then showed their own photographs.
Robin ingeniously presented his images as a travel quiz. One for future reference!
Arun showed new work about the Gateway of India in Mumbai which echoed Jonny's recent work on monuments.
We were also pleased to see a fascinating project from Ray using the tintype process.
Making Strange presentation to Ealing LIP group by Arun Misra and Fabrizio Quagliuso
Fabrizio and I gave a presentation on 1stJuly 2020 on the short lived but highly influential art and photography movement called Making Strange. Making Strange, which is also known as ‘De-familiarisation’ was situated within the broader context of the Russian Futurism movement at the beginning of the 20thCentury.
We talked about some of the really big early 20thC events and how these affected society, culture and art and that there seems to be a parallel with times we are living through now. The first 20 years of the last century saw World War 1, Russian Revolution, rise in fascism, recognition of women’s’ rights to equality, the beginning of the end of the British Empire, Spanish Flu, Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity that led to a fundamental change in our outlook of the Universe. The supposedly rational World order was broken and distrusted, and in culture there was a move away from Romantic ideals and beliefs towards new forms of artistic experimentation and expressions.
New, anti-sense, irrational, reverential art movements came about including Dada, Futurism, Surrealism all of which foreshadowed modern arts such as abstract, expressionist and conceptual arts.
Out of all this, in Russia, grew Russian Futurism and Making Strange – a concept developed by Viktor Shklovsky. He expressed the idea of de-familiarisation as:
Art exists to help us to recover the sensation of life, to make the stone, stony. The end of art is to give a sensation of the object as seen, not recognised. The technique of art is to make things ‘unfamiliar’, to make forms obscure, so as to increase the difficulty and the duration of perception. The act of perception in art is an end in itself and must be prolonged. In art, it is our experience of the process of construction that counts, not the finished product
Russian Futurismis not easily defined. It was an ideological umbrella that was intentionally flexible, accommodating diverse artists and practices. Russian futurists believed that Romantic ideas of pure vision and Karl Marx’s idea of false consciousness about the ways in which we see and represent the world could also help to change it and art had a role to play in this. Russian Futurists shared a passion for exploring new modes of expression in poetry, visual art, music, and performance. They wanted their art to help change and create a new and better society.
The concept of False Consciousness refers to the systematic mis-representation of dominant social relations in the consciousness of subordinate classes such as workers. Subordinate classes, according to Marx, suffer from false consciousness in that their mental representations of the social structures and relations around them systematically conceal or obscure the realities of subordination, exploitation and domination by others. This belief led to a radically new emphasis on the ways in which culture legitimates particular forms of society, and may in turn be used to disclose and de-mystify them.
So as a group we adopted a working definition of Making Strange with which to experiment and create our own works. Making strange is the artistic technique of:
- presenting common things
- in an unfamiliar or strange way
- in order to enhance perception of the familiar.
The group looked at works by leading Russian Futurist such as Velimir Khlebnikov (poet), Kazimir Malevich (Black Square), El Lissitzky (The Announcer), Aleksander Rodchenko (various paintings and photographs), and Natalia Goncharova (The Cyclist).
Russian Futurism and Making Strange had a powerful impact on the imagination of a generation of legendary European and American photographers. Amongst them Andre Kertez, Cartier-Bresson, Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, Man Ray and Franz Roh who experimented with new perspectives, angles, lighting and shadows to show their unique insights, and through de-familiarisation, ‘prolonged the duration of perception’.
Making Strange possessed an ideology that implied that social contradictions could be made immediately accessible to the eye, simply by means of visual surprise. This is now thought to have been flawed. But in the end Making Strange was assimilated into mainstream European photography giving rise to a new type of pictorialism.
As part of the session members contributed their photographs taken with making strange ideas in mind. Fabrizio presented a slideshow which led to a lively and exciting discussion and a strong feeling that we should continue with this kind of work. Everybody’s images were critiqued and the group provided interesting and varied feedback.
The group considered how we should take this forward and the consensus was that we should produce an exhibition or a Zine to reflect the strange times we are experiencing.
Please give your thoughts on how we could harness the energy and enthusiasm of the evening.
Here are a few of the group's images that were shown:
Award winning photographer and Ealing LIP member Edward Terakopian is happy to announce a new project with OPEN Ealing. He’ll be doing a series of eight workshops over several weekends on various photographic and video topics. All bookings can be made via the links below.
The series starts with a talk about Edmond's career and how he has been documenting the COVID 19 lockdown. To see more details and book your spot, either for the limited seating (20 places) or online stream (200 places), see 31 Years Of Photography; Photojournalism and Beyond.
Click on the links below to book for any of the workshops. They are in person with social distancing so are limited to 10 places for each.
PHOTOGRAPHY: A MARRIAGE OF THE TECHNICAL AND THE ARTISTIC. Sunday 12 July, 2020.
DAILY LIFE AND STREET PHOTOGRAPHY. Saturday 18 July, 2020.
TRAVEL AND LANDSCAPE PHOTOGRAPHY. Sunday July 19, 2020.
IMAGE EDITING AND PROCESSING. Saturday 25 July, 2020.
IPHONEOGRAPHY; PHOTOGRAPHY WITH SMARTPHONES. Sunday 26 July, 2020.
PHOTOJOURNALISM. Saturday 1 August, 2020.
SHOOTING VIDEO WITH MIRRORLESS CAMERAS AND DSLRS. Sunday 2 August, 2020.
STILL LIFE. Saturday 8 August, 2020.
For the popular Borough of Ealing Art Trail (BEAT) exhibition, Ealing LIP photographers created a collection of work entitled Oblique Strategies (taking inspiration from Brian Eno) back in 2018.
One of our group, Ali Moosavi, donated his print from the BEAT exhibition to the OPEN Ealing gallery earlier this year, and worked with them to find a charity based in Ealing to benefit from the sale,
OPEN Ealing released an update on their website last week:
The sale of Ali Moosavi’s photograph, Make a blank valuable by putting it in an exquisite frame, this week has benefitted Ealing based charity BEfriend. The charity matches friendly and reliable volunteers with people who have become lonely and socially isolated. Volunteers provide company and companionship and help those they befriend feel engaged with the world again, either through bringing hope and warmth in with them or by helping people get out. During recent months their services have been even more important and they have extra pressures in delivering the required help in a safe way.
Rachel Hill, Director, commented that all the money raised from the sale of Ali’s photograph will go towards sustaining the service.
Jonny Baker switched form discussing interventions in the current Covid19 crisis to a reflection on three interventions he had reflected on during a visit earlier in the year to New Zealand.
The first intervention was colonialism and the way that had exported almost a total environment to recreate England. The parks in Christchurch for example look like a park in Ealing and to find the indogenous trees you need to visit the New Zealand section of the botanical gardens! He has blogged about that here - am I in England?
The second intervention was about street art and contrasting the statues of the English settlers and their coloinial swagger with the street art that often included Maori women and indigenous birds. We discussed this before the current wave of protests about statues of slave traders but it now seems very prescient! There is blog post here - smug statues and street art saints
And then lastly by way of dramatic intervention Christchurch had an earthquake which is a pretty serious intervention. And nine years on there is a combination of new growth and building buit also plenty of visiuble signs of the earthquake inlcuding whole areas of the city which are like a ghost town - the red zone where the ground level has lowered so it's no loner habitable but there are garden plots and streetlights of neighbourhoods that are now a trace. Jonny suggested an intervention like that whilst being terrible does create some opportunity for change and newness and used the cathedral as an example - see his blog post when church collapses.
[ see post 1 life in lockdown ]
Photos: ©Edmond Terakopian / 2020
At the Urban Interventions evening Edmond Terakopian showed a set of photographs that were still being put in order as we began the meeting - they were that live. He has documented the intervention clap for carers which took place every Thurs night from 23 March to 28 May 2020 showing appreciation for those in the NHS on the frontline. These are a selection of the images. He reflected on the denial of access to photographers inside hospitals keeping from view the real impact and cost of Covid19 contrasting it with other countries like Italy where images have been in the public domain with significant impact.
We set the themes for group meetings for most of the year in January over a coffee. One of those themes was "urban interventions". This is inspired by the book Urban Interventions - see a review and several images here - of artists playfuly intervening in the landscape whether through graffiti or installations or often subtle rearrangements of signage. Some of them are poignant and some simply good fun! We looked at a few such as making a car parking space into a lawn with deckchairs and sun loungers, or turning a skip into a skateboard quarter pipe.
At the time we had no idea that interventions would become such a big theme in all of our lives through coronavirus. This made for a brilliant evening with lots of members showing photographs and three presentations. Rather than pack everything into one long post I will post a short series.
First up group members photos are here. This is a page we have created each month as an easy way to share photographs on the evening without continual switching of screen sharing. I have picked three examples below from Frankie, Richard and Richard but do go and have a look at the page.
Then the first presentation was from Sean McDonnell. He loves street photography in the West End but in life during lockdown has found his attention drawn to streets closer to home. Taking his phone on a daily run he shared a compelling record of scenes that we all recognise but will be the kind of thing we look back on years from now and reflect how strange this time has been. Sean has blogged about it here and includes some of his photographs. I have added three below and you can see the album of photos on flickr. The project is ongoing and no doubt will end up as a book or something.