Round Up Week of May 5

The Producer’s picks for this week’s news relevant to the photography, art, design and production industries:

1) Bold, Ironic and Camp: Met Show Explores Exuberant Expression in Fashion

Installation view of Camp: Notes on Fashion, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 9 May- 8 September Helen Stoilas

Installation view of Camp: Notes on Fashion, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 9 May- 8 September Helen Stoilas

Camp “used to be a gay sub-culture and a private language”, says Andrew Bolton, the curator in charge of the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York—until it was “mainstreamed” by Susan Sontag’s groundbreaking 1964 essay, Notes on Camp. Sontag’s aesthetic analysis, citing components like artifice, theatricality, pastiche and humour, underpins the Costume Institute’s spring exhibition, Camp: Notes on Fashion, organised by Bolton with the associate curator Karen Van Godtsenhove.

The show will mark another pivotal moment for camp if it is as popular as last year’s Costume Institute blockbuster Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination, which topped The Art Newspaper’s 2018 annual attendance survey with 10,900 visitors a day.

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2) Palm* Photo Prize 2019 Announces its Shortlist

© Kent Andreasen

© Kent Andreasen

London-based photography publisher Palm* Studios has announced the 100 artists shortlisted for its 2019 Palm* Photo Prize. Selected from almost 4,000 entries, the shortlisted mages will be  exhibited at theprintspace gallery in east London between 14 and 17 May as a satellite event to this year’s Photo London fair.

On the opening night of the exhibition, the public are invited to vote for the photograph they think is most deserving of winning the prize. The photographer with the highest number of votes will go on to win the People’s Choice award. First and second place awards will be presented to two photographers selected by a judging panel that comprises Karen McQuaid, senior curator at The Photographers’ Gallery; Sarah Allen, assistant curator at Tate Modern; Jessica Lopez, photo editor at Polaroid Originals; and writer and curator David Campany.

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3) Carrie Mae Weems Creates Space for Contemplation

All the Boys (Blocked 2). 2016 (printed 2019). © Carrie Mae Weems, courtesy the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York, NY

All the Boys (Blocked 2). 2016 (printed 2019). © Carrie Mae Weems, courtesy the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York, NY

In an interview with BJP-online Weems reflects on her work on show at Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival – the strategies she employs and the subjects she explores

Carrie Mae Weems invites us to look; she does not tell us what to see. Regarded as one of the most influential American artists of our time, her work could have easily become didactic. And yet she continues to interrogate complex social and political issues in a manner that remains reflective. “I cannot lead you to anything but I hope that [my work] provokes critical enquiry,” she explains in an interview with BJP-online ahead of her headlining Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival, which will take place this May 2019 across Toronto, Canada. “If my work encourages you to ask ‘what is that and what does it mean?’ Then, I think I have done my job.” 

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4) At a Frida Kahlo Show in Brooklyn, the Personal Is Commercial (and Sponsored by Revlon)

Nickolas Muray, “Frida on Bench” (1939), carbon print, 18 x 14 inches (image courtesy Nickolas Muray Photo Archives, © Nickolas Muray Photo Archives)

Nickolas Muray, “Frida on Bench” (1939), carbon print, 18 x 14 inches (image courtesy Nickolas Muray Photo Archives, © Nickolas Muray Photo Archives)

Zeitgeisty is perhaps the best word to describe the Brooklyn Museum’s popular exhibition Frida Kahlo: Appearances Can Be Deceiving. The show taps into the variety of ways that celebrities and everyday people alike have been ruminating on and self-fashioning their identities. Kahlo’s various life experiences as a woman, the Indigenous Other, a Communist, a bisexual, a polyamorous wife, and a person with disabilities proffer a series of fascinating facets of her life from which to consider her work. By cultivating a rarified persona from this complex web of intersections, she prefigured the curated images that are currently populating Instagram feeds everywhere. The show leans heavily on Kahlo’s wardrobe to tell its story, channeling the popularity of recent fashion-centric shows such as the Metropolitan Museum’s blockbuster hits Savage Beauty (2011) and Heavenly Bodies (2018). This approach offers an enticingly direct relationship to the artist by rendering her life experience tangible — as in the display of Kahlo’s famous “Self-Portrait as Tehuana: Diego On My Mind” (1943) alongside the lace headdress that inspired it. It is a retrospective of sorts — not of Frida Kahlo’s paintings, but of her persona.

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5) Is the Photography Market Sleepy—Or Just Getting Started?

Ansel Adams,  Clearing Winter Storm, Yosemite National Park, California  (1938).  Image courtesy of Christie's Images Ltd. 2017.

Ansel Adams, Clearing Winter Storm, Yosemite National Park, California (1938).

Image courtesy of Christie's Images Ltd. 2017.

While KAWS and Zao Wou-Ki’s dual $14.8 million sales in Hong Kong were monopolizing many auction observers’ attention in early April, a more specialized affair was taking place in New York.

There, houses including Christie’s, Sotheby’s, Phillips, and Bonhams hosted their annual spring photography sales. And while several buyers and sellers undoubtedly left happy, the post-sale press releases—if they arrived at all—were decidedly subdued, absent the typical hyperbole describing results as “triumphant” or “exceptional.”

To get a better sense of the genre’s overall status, we sifted through data on the past decade’s photography auctions worldwide. (2009 marked the first year of the major New York photo sales.) What emerged are three trends that will help collectors better understand the state of the shutter trade today and into the future.

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6) How Photography and Jazz Merged to Forge the “Black Is Beautiful” Movement

Kwame Brathwaite. Black Is Beautiful poster, circa 1970. Designed by Bob Gumbs. (Courtesy of the artist and Philip Martin Gallery, Los Angeles)

Kwame Brathwaite. Black Is Beautiful poster, circa 1970. Designed by Bob Gumbs. (Courtesy of the artist and Philip Martin Gallery, Los Angeles)

Black is beautiful.

It’s a catalyzing phrase that radically instilled pride among African Americans and redefined beauty standards around the world. The iconic slogan is also the title of Kwame Brathwaite’s first major museum exhibition at the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles.

Black is Beautiful: The Photography of Kwame Brathwaite explores the origins of the phrase through the visual imagery he created to promote natural beauty and the cultural flashpoints he captured on film that sparked the Black is Beautiful movement of the 1960s and 1970s.

Brathwaite’s work, which is rooted in jazz and photography, fuses the two mediums into a powerful tool used to shape and promote social change. Among the 40+ images on display, his work not only preserves seminal musical moments, but it also pushed the boundaries of beauty that would transform how we define Blackness for generations to come.

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