Making Strange

Makingstrange

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.

Arun Misra

Here are a few of the group's images that were shown:

ArunMisra_1.jpg

Arun Misra

Dorota.Boisot-03

Dorita Boisot

FabrizioQuagliuso

Fabrizio Quagliuso

Frankie_mcallister-2

Frankie McAllister

Richardm-4

Richard Moseley

Thumbnail_AliMoosavi2

Ali Moosavi

ArunMisra_3.jpg

Arun Misra


Workshops for July and August in Ealing

terakopian daily life

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 TALK
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.

THE WORKSHOPS

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.

EdmondT


Make a blank valuable

Ali Moosavi - BEAT submission
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.

Urban Interventions 3: colonialism, street art and earthquakes

[ see post 1 life in lockdown | post 2 clap for carers ]

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. 

hagley park

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?

english swagger

huia

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

red zone

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.

There is a flickr album of NZ photos here and of Christchurch street art here


Urban Interventions 2: clap for carers

[ 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.

Do visit his web site, flickr photos, and blog. There is recent interview with him on the as yet unnamed podcast


Urban Interventions 1: life during lockdown

urban interventionsWe 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.

2020-05-20_07-28-16

2020-05-24_10-26-39

<p2020-05-28_07-26-23


New Europe zine and group abstracts

New Europe zine final edit from Sean McDonnell on Vimeo.

Following last month's inspirational talk on zines the theme continued in May's online meeting as Sean McDonnell showed a video of a zine he has been working on New Europe. He says more about it on his blog here. Can't wait until we meet again to see it in print...

We also explored the theme of abstract photography and took as our launch point the wonderfully curated London Independent Photography's Instagram account's stories which are really well curated collections of LIP members photos. There are five sets of abstracts (so far) - scroll along the top. For example this is the first set

 

 

Various group members showed and talked about some of their abstract photos. Here are a few by way of example from Jonny, Richard, Dorota, Frankie and Ray.

monks

And members showed a few other things they were working on in lockdown. Jonny showed some of his photos from a trip to New Zealand just before lockdown - see flickr album here


Zooming in on zines

Ed_zoomAprilmeeting

For the forseeable future unsurprisingly the group will not be meeting together physically because of Coronavirus. But we will meet online for our monthly gathering still. Information about that goes out on the group email list. If you are not on it get in touch.

Last night was the first and nineteen group members showed up. Using zoom technology worked really well. It was great to connect. Fabrizio and Angelika hosted the evening with a wonderful presentation on zines and books. The idea was to spark peoples imagination to have a go at producing one. It was certainly inspiring. 


Group meeting visit to Photographers Gallery

Ealing LIP in biohazard suits at PG

This month due to not being able to use our regular venue we went to visit the Photographers' Gallery on Thursday night despite the rain, train delays and other reasons not to come into central London! We almost had the place to ourselves so it was nice to be able to take some time to look at the work of the four nominees for the Deutsche Börse prize.

We agreed they covered an interesting range of styles and ideas from the traditional documentary work of Mark Neville, the more innovative Mohamed Bourouissa making use of augmented reality, Anton Kuster's powerful and quietly emotional Blue Skies project and an intriguing concept by Clare Strand which had some of us thinking about our next group exhibition (watch this space)!

We did well to find a quiet place nearby to pick out the themes of the show which lead us to a really interesting discussion on women and power in photography, a great topic for a meeting in itself. Looking forward to next month's meeting on zines and putting a book project together. 

[posted by Sean]


Next meeting Thurs 5 March

Please note that the next group meeting is not the usual time and place. This is due to us not being able to book the venue for this month. 

So we are now meeting on Thursday March 5. We had discussed using this month to go to an exhibition and reflect on it. So we will meet at the Photographers Gallery. It is open Thursday evening until 8pm. So try and get there by 6pm if you can, take a look at the two exhibitions and then rendezvous in the cafe.