Fiona Banner 1909-2011, 2010 97 Jane’s All the World’s Aircraft books
When I was a kid I’d always be checking these enormous books out of the library. Mum thought it was so stupid and hated the whole thing, not quite as much as the books on crossbows, but still there was a lot of sighing/eye rolling. Maybe she’d have changed her tune if she knew I was on the road to some blockbuster installation art fame and all the babes that would have gone along with it.
As I missed it at MIFF, tonight I’m finally catching up on Susanne Rostock’s documentary on Harry Belafonte, Sing Your Song.Up until tonight the only thing I knew about this guy is that he did this killer song and the ship in The Life Aquatic is named after him. I’m only half way through and it’s pretty amazing, the narration by Belefonte himself is a standout.
Gerhard Richter Painting a 2011 documentary film by Corinna Belz. I’ve not heard to much about this chap, but my third favourite word is smear, so I think we’re going to get on.
Since there is no such thing as absolute rightness and truth, we always pursue the artificial, leading, human truth. We judge and make a truth that excludes other truths. Art plays a formative part in this manufacture of truth. —Gerhard Richter
Max Goldberg at Fandor tales a look at this and Patience (After Sebold), which looks pretty interesting albeit bloody tough looking…
The hurricane in New York left many galleries and artists with damaged or destroyed artwork. My piece Standing On The Moon was destroyed over at Marlborough Gallery. Decided to do a print of it to help Printed Matter who lost over $200,000 in inventory. Signed and numbered edition of 100 for $250. All profits go to Printed Matter. Go to Exhibition A and help out…it’s a great cause.
Alex Webb Tehuantepec, Mexico, 1985 Digital Type C print, 71 x 47 cm
I take complex photographs because I experience the world — particularly more and more as I get older — as a very complicated and ultimately inexplicable place. My experiences in the world, my travels as a photographer, lead me to believe that there are no simple solutions, no easy answers, just a lot of difficult and perhaps unanswerable questions.
My most basic process as a photographer is to wander, allowing the camera and my experiences to lead me where they will. I try to arrive initially in a situation, or a place, with as few rational preconceptions as possible. Of course, that is ultimately impossible; we all are conditioned by our culture, our education, our experiences — what makes us who we are. Nonetheless, I make an effort to be as open as possible to alternative possibilities, possibilities that may contradict what I rationally might expect.
The words “planning and forethought” imply a level of rationality. Instead, I sense the possibility of a picture. It might be a group of people, it might be the look of a corner, I can’t say what it might be until I see it. It’s all about having a feel for the street.
My photography at its purest is about response, about visual exploration, about discovery. On one level, if I knew what it was I wanted in advance, I’m not sure I would choose photography as a medium. Part of what excites me about photography is its very uncertainty, the fact that it is not just the photographer, but the vagaries of the world that result in the photograph. If I had a greater inkling of just what I wanted in advance, why not choose a medium where there is much greater imaginative control, like painting? —Alex Webb
The West is worried about the rise of Islamism in Africa. There are two big fears - one is that there is a new international terror network that will come and attack Europe and America. The other is that sneaky Islamist groups like the Muslim Brotherhood will get themselves elected - and then promptly abolish democracy.
But behind these fears is an incredibly simplified - almost fictional - vision of the world. It possesses the minds of many western politicians, journalists and associated think tank “experts”. And at its heart is a kind of filter that wipes away anything complex about power and the struggles for power in African countries - and replaces that with a simple picture of the world as divided between goodies (us in the west) and dangerous frightening baddies who are out to destroy us.
It’s both blind and arrogant. And it’s terribly dangerous.
To try and bring it into focus I want to go back twenty years and tell two dramatic stories. In them lie many of the roots of today’s western fears - but also, in the details of both stories are keys to understanding two crucial things that we ignore today at our peril. One is the complex local power struggles that have helped the rise of Islamism in Africa, and the second is the way past western interventions have fuelled a hatred and distrust of Europe and America - that has in turn massively helped the Islamist cause.
One is the story of what happened in Somalia between 1990 and 1993 - the real events that led to Black Hawk Down or, to give it its proper name, “Operation Gothic Serpent”. The second is the story of the weird and horrific events that happened in Algeria between 1992 and 1996 after the Islamist party called FIS was stopped from winning an election by an armed coup. A coup that had the implicit backing of the west.
Read on. It’s a tough slog to get through it all, but it’s rewarding. If you’re in a hurry or just a lazy wretch you can just watch the videos.