Friday, July 9, 2010

The New Mood/ Contrived vs Personal

For many years I have been following the Photographic work of American, Nan Goldin, Also German born, Juergen Teller and Wolfgang Tillman’s in particular. I have watched how they integrated into their photography a truthful and non-conformist view of people’s lives and the interiors they inhabit.

Nan Goldin who has been working since the late 1960’s from the age of 15, I felt was one of the first to photograph as she saw it, no matter what the circumstances. For me not only were her subjects hauntingly captured on film but also the personal rooms in which they were photographed in, said as much about them.
I liken this approach to another well known American Photographer Diane Arbus, 1923-71, of whom Novelist, Norman Mailer was quoted in 1971 as saying "Giving a camera to Diane Arbus is like putting a live grenade in the hands of a child." I see some parallels with Arbus and many contemporary Photographers who seem more intent on capturing reality rather than something set up.

Some critics in particular have accused Nan Goldin of making “heroin-use” appear glamorous, and of pioneering a grunge style that later became popularized by English youth fashion magazines such as The Face and I-D. However, in a 2002 interview with The Observer, Goldin herself called the use of "heroin chic" to sell clothes and perfumes "reprehensible and evil", of which we saw much evidence of this in the late 1990’s in many Fashion Magazines and Advertising campaigns.

Juergan Teller, It could be said was one such photographer that pushed the limits in this medium, Teller has shot major Advertising campaigns for Comme Des Garçons, Marc Jacobs, Helmut Lang, Hugo Boss, Yves St. Laurent, Calvin Klein and Louis Vuitton, amongst others. His approach maybe seen more as commercial but he definitely has a more liberal and unexpected approach to Fashion Photography, I again am fascinated with the locations chosen to shoot, often nouveau riche or slightly shabby.

Wolfgang Tillman’s seminal portraits of friends and other youths who are photographed in their immediate surrounding often accompany beautiful still lives that really capture an everyday but edgy quality, Tillman’s puts it like this: “I take pictures, in order to see the world.”

It leads me to explore this concept in terms of Interiors Magazines and even some Interior catalogues being produced lately that have chosen to capture the way people live in a way that seems more real. A lot of people in my industry are talking about the clever blog: and the way it sends up a more contrived approach to producing catalogues for mass consumption. I think some titles and companies are responding to this sort of indirect feedback and producing work that is less “Styled” or contrived. I am not talking my way out of my job, but coming from Australia, the land of “relaxed”,This more natural approach to Styling is something that excites me and when appropriate is a big part of my personal work. West Elm’s latest catalogue definitely takes on a more relaxed aesthetic, you can see evidence in this with images shown here, there is much talk about the new team responsible for this new look and it is generating a lot of buzz in a great way.

Magazine Arpartamento from Spain is the best example of the “new mood”, As they say on their website, Arpartamento is a international editorial project dedicated to the world of interiors, born to tell the story of personal experiences and lives through the spaces where we live and work. Everyday stories, seen without the usual masks of look-a-like interiors perfect to the millimeter, because in real life variables are infinite and unpredictable since every environment has got its own dynamics and peculiarities that make it special, Apartamento has been created by Nacho Alegre, photographer, Omar Sosa and Albert Folch from Albert Folch Studio in Barcelona, and Marco Velardi, an independent writer and curator based in Milan. Check it out at
The selected images here are as follows, Apartamento Magazine, work by Nan Goldin, Work by Wolfgang Tillsman, Work by Jeurgan Teller and the latest exciting West Elm images.

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