My over all view on this course was that it was ‘Vague’.
I wish it had been more to the point in the coursework, my tutor kept on saying research , research , research but in the coursework they were only a few requests to look at the photographers stated in the texts.
So if you didn’t follow other students blogs and just followed the coursework to the letter and also by being an international student with a lack of study group participation you will come up short.
I wish that it was stated,
‘ Do more work than what is in here ‘, research everything that is mentioned and then some.
It should state the minimum amount of exhibitions you should see.
As stated before on a previous post, I also wish that the book that was sent with the coursework folder was ‘How to write about Contemporary Art’ instead of ‘The photograph as contemporary art’. This would of been more useful because it gives you clear instructions on what you have to write when it comes to reviews and research. It helps with the process.
The students that are studying photography obviously have a passion for photography otherwise they would not be paying for the module and even though we are all at different levels of education it is obvious to me that we all need guidance on the ‘Artistic side’ of photography. Some times I got the concept that we were asked to research other times I was disconnected and at a total loss at what to write about. Who do you talk to then about it ? Do I honestly want to announce on the OCA facebook page/ online chatroom that I just don’t get it? Do I email my tutor with every concern ? No I muddled through by myself.
What I take away from this course is that I need to make more of an effort interacting online with other students but I am genuinely worried about sharing my opinion with people online and how opinions come across, things can be misconstrued. People ask for honest opinions about images but rarely are they given. I would love it if we were assigned a OCA student rep that actually critiqued images and progress on the blogs themselves. Pointing out blurred images, Framing and cropping issues and highlighting the short comings not negatively but constructively, asking the student questions and engaging with them one to one.
Overall, I have increased my knowledge about art and historic photographers but I am still so unsure of myself and my work and where I am heading photographically speaking. I feel that I started off being confident with my photography and then I lost my way by assignment 3. I tried too hard to be ‘arty’ with my ideas, when all I needed to do was trust myself and carry on doing what I was doing.
I booked to go on an art walk round Dubai’s art cluster in Al Quoz called Alskeral Avenue.
I decided I was not going to research what was being exhibited but to go with a fresh pair of eyes, take pictures of what I liked and then come home and research the artist.
Al Quoz is made up of three areas numbered 1,2 and 3 predominately an industrial area Alskeral Avenue is situated on 8th street in area Al Quoz 2. The whole art area is made up of warehouses which have been split up to make galleries and cafes. It reminds me of the mini industrial units you see on industrial estates back in the U.K. There where a few outdoor art installations in open spaces in between warehouses. Each warehouse was labelled with numbers but still lots of us booked on the walk got lost trying to find the initial start up point. This ‘broke the ice’ between the group as we noticed each other asking the security guard the same question. “where is warehouse 90?”
Everyone walked from gallery to gallery listening to the tour guide. I didn’t catch her name but it was obvious she was French and an expert in Art History.
First stop was Warehouse 45 which is occupied by Jean-Paul Najar Foundation.
The exhibition on show was Christian Bonnefoi: Double Take, November 13,2016-February28,2017. Curated by Sylvie Turpin.
I looked at all the mixed media pictures. There was mixed paper with tissue and other delicate materials to make a collages. These pictures reminded me of the fashion in the 80’s abstract I know, but I couldn’t shake the sense of MFI furniture with red and yellow handles and I half expected to see a person in a blue shell suit as I wondered round the gallery. It was bizarre how my mind worked when I was staring into the chaotic pencil marks on the paper. I found one image that had a different vibe I took a photo using my phone so I could note the contrast between the majority of the artworks and this one piece. This piece to me was the end of the series of work. Unfortunately it got deleted off my phone so I am going to go back before the exhibition finishes to get another image.
Carbon 12 was the next gallery. The gallery space was all white and deceptively small, the exhibition that was on was
Olaf Breuning : The Good Old Revolution, 13th November 2016-10 January 2017
Olaf Breuning born 1970 in Switzerland is New- York Based and he is a multi-disciplinary Artist. The exhibition consisted of several black and white penned drawings framed and hung on the walls while the twelve mini sculptures were displayed on stands around the gallery.
I picked up the Press Release and deciphered the following
‘observations of the human experience with absurdist drawings serving as the starting point alongside a new series of miniature ceramic sculpture’s’
His monochromatic line drawings are delightfully cheeky in layers of context, reference and interpretation with which he engages.
He addresses cultural and political issues and infuses his art with the realness of a world dominated by media, pop-culture and globalization…
Constituting of humorous art without ridiculing art.
Carbon 12 Press Release – Katrina Kufer October 2016
This guy’s work did make me smirk as I was walking round. It reminded me of the doodles you draw when your stuck in a boring meeting. I really wanted to buy number 21. We are so Violent for my Kitchen. So my kids can see it everyday and ask questions about it. His artwork raises questions and I liked the simplicity of them.
Ayyam Gallery in contrast to Carbon 12 was a very large gallery and in two locations in Askeral Avenue. One part for was used just for large art installations the other for walled displays.
Mouteea Murad : Thresholds 13 November 2016-7 January 2017, curated by Murtaza Vali
Again deciphering that press releases I pieced the following together
Mouteea is a Sharjah based painter
The artists experiments with the use of Mathematics and geometric abstractions, an approach to non-objective art that he developed over the course of a decade.
He has returned to Dubai with large scale works that use the Fibonacci number sequence as a starting point for his large scale compositions.
Murad applies the Fibonacci series to grid- like patterns that partially conceal the interactions of polygons and lines, thus creating an illusion of depth.
The mural Rainbow – rain and light and love (2016), the artist uses uniform bands that seem to decrease in width towards the centre of the composition. The painting is divided into seven distinct planes that are organized according to similar hues and contain intersecting lines. Here colour relativity also plays a central role in creating a vast space.
I asked the lady behind the desk in the gallery what the price was of the mural, 90,000 aeds. It took a month to make. I must say it was quite impressive and I stood and looked at it from afar and then up close. I examined the corners and how fine the divisions were between each colour. I love hearing and seeing blends of science and art. This mural could easily be placed in a boardroom or a large hotel reception area. The effect worked best from afar and if you didn’t know that the artist had used the Fibonacci series as a starting reference you could easily say a child could do that with masking tape, a ruler and paint but you would be wrong.
Second location for the Ayyam Gallery
Khaled Jarrar : Castles built from Sand will Fall 13 November 2016- 7 January 2017
Castles built from sand will Fall provides a condensed over view of Jarrar’s focus on this issue with a range of work in different media. Featuring installation, photography, video, sculpture and art objects, the exhibitionoffers a look into the various strands of his creative practice.
We were told before we went in the gallery about the artist Khaled Jarrar. He was born in Jenin in 1976 and lives and works in Ramallah, Palestine.
His art installations and documentary work has won him several awards and accolades (see link) He broaches difficult subjects where he asks the viewer to rethink the intersections of life, politics and visual culture.
I don’t know why but I couldn’t help but hearing Don Mclean lyrics from the song ‘Castles in the air’ which was totally inappropriate for the exhibition content.
Past the through the wall was a video installation, Journey 110 documents a hidden 110 metre passageway beneath the massive wall in the West bank.
I think the artist wanted to show the absurdity of the situation when partitions and segregation are involved. Highlighting the depravity of the situation in Palestine
Student pop up exhibition from Sheik Zayed University
This exhibition was interesting. The student Asma Khoory had done portraits of construction workers and taken audio samples as well as the GPS coordinates of the construction sites the workers worked in Dubai. The audio stories were made for the benefit of the workers families back in their respective countries.
I noticed that all the workers where from the same company but different sites. They were also at different levels of management within the company. Now I know, because I have tried that you are not allowed to photograph workers and display the images without permission from their sponsor. I hope Asma Khoory got permission.
Anyway the images reminded me straight away of the Open for Business Exhibition. I seen it in July 2014 at the National Railway Museum, York UK. Particularly the Bruce Gilden images. ( see link )
The walk was well organized and information was readily available. It was ok, I wasn’t enthused by the area and some galleries weren’t open. I actually feel you can’t enclose art to just one area in a city. It should be seen everywhere. I will definitely book another art walk as the experience overall was interesting.
Living in the UAE I rarely get to see graffiti and street art, so wandering round Melbourne was quite refreshing. Here are some images of the street art and graffiti from Melbourne and Bondi Beach. My favourite image from Melbourne is the black and white Buddha’s head.
Near the Yarra river and Sealife Centre,
Bench by Flinders Station.
Down an alleyway
Block arcade alleyway
This was mesmerizing
Graffiti alley ways full of tourists
Bondi street art
These images where taken along the boardwalk at Bondi beach, NSW Sydney. My favourite is Bondi madness, I’ve had to crop some of the images due to license plates being visible.
Six months since I last posted and the time has passed by so quickly. Life and illness just got in the way. As usual I put the needs of others before my own satisfaction and with a smidge of time mismanagement I find myself 6 months behind.
My camera laid dormant for three months in it’s bag, my desk piled high with articles, books and papers I had collected over the summer. Friends asking why I hadn’t entered certain photo competitions and what was going on with my photography lately. The guilt and the excuses poured out.
When things started to get better and time seemed my own I picked up my camera and started again, taking notice.
I have to return to where I stopped and finish this course.
I’m so glad that this course is a long distance ‘take your time’ course as I have just got back from a holiday in the UK and have lots to write up about.
I had an amazing time and took over a thousand photos using three cameras. Downloading the images now I can see I have some good and some bad ones. I continued to shoot in manual through out the holiday which helped me get over my dependence on the aperture priority setting and slowed my thought process down.
Manchester, which is one of my favourite places was the first city we stayed in then we went onto Liverpool. From there we went to Newcastle spending three days exploring the city and Northumbrian coastline.
Onwards to Glasgow through the Peebles then we travelled upwards to the Isle of Mull. We spent a week with friends discovering how beautiful the island of Mull is. We were lucky with the weather as the sun shone virtually everyday. We were there for the Salen country Show. It was fun to see and I had a go of trying to mimic a ‘Martin Parr’ style of photography especially around the highland bulls and the ice cream van.
We left Mull and came back to England via Glen Coe which is one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. It has waterfalls, lakes, mountains and snow. If you are into Landscape photography you should visit there. It has everything.
After a long drive we stopped in Carlisle for a look around before heading down to Cheshire to stay on a farm for a week.
I visited at least one art gallery in every place and seen a couple of photography exhibitions through out my holiday. My review and opinions will be written up on my Blog as soon as I get all my holiday laundry done. Here are just a couple of my favourite images which make me smile with holiday memories.
So I decided today to go out and take some images for exercise 4.2 . I was supposed to get up for dawn but I slept in.
Managing to get in the car for 8.30am, I drove for 20mins out of Dubai past the E611. My aim was to find some clean high dunes with ripples of sands.
Remembering Edward Weston’s images of ‘the Dunes of Oceano’ and ‘Sand fence near Keller’ by Ansel Adams I decided I would like to do some of my own dune images. Using the desert dunes for exercise 4.2 I was hoping that I would be able to highlight the properties of daylight because of the shape, colour and texture of the dunes as well as show the difference between daylight and artificial light.
The spot I first chose ( photospot 1) had a few bushes in, which is typical of the desert in Dubai. Its not like the movies with dunes and dunes of orange sand and a bright blue sky ( you have to drive past Sharjah or out towards the empty quarter for movie style dunes) . Its concrete dust and a hazy grey sky. That is why converting to black and white is a good idea, the sky is grey anyway!
I took a few images at 9-10 am then went off, planning to come back at midday to the same spot. I didn’t make it back till 1:30pm. I had sunscreen on and a sunhat but I stupidly wore sandals.
I climbed over the road barrier ok and made it past the camel fence ( these fences are to stop the camels getting onto the road and causing havoc). I only managed to walk 3 metres and I had to turn back as my feet were burning with the heat off the sand. I was shaking and I nearly started crying because it was so hot on my poor feet !
I went home and regrouped, changed my sandals to sturdy boots and brought an assistant with the promise to her of ice-cream for after’s. I visited all three of my photospots I had in mind and collected the images for the exercise 4.2. After looking through my images I realised I need to revisit the photospots for dawn images, hopefully the sky will be better for them.
Being out in the desert I noticed it is teaming with live. Not as obvious as a rainforest but definitely more than what you would expect. Insects, birds, cats and foxes there were lots of track prints everywhere.
Here are some black and white conversions I have done for my written log.
Well its been a while and I’ve been busy with life. I have been relying more on my written learning log than typing up my notes straight away and now I’m landed with lots of work to do !
Dubai holds a photography festival every year in March. March is the ‘Art’ month in Dubai so to speak. I purchased tickets for PhotoFriday at the Dubai Conference centre in Knowledge village. PhotoFriday is organized by GPP and is a day filled with seminars, talks and panel discussions by some of the worlds top photographers. Then the following week is full of workshops and events. It is very well organized. I have just posted my thoughts for a more in depth view please visit the photographers individual websites
Ed Kashi, his seminar was titled ‘ A Life in Candid Intimacy’
My first seminar was Ed Kashi’s A life in Candid Intimacy’. I was really looking forward to this because I enjoy images with a story to tell. Ed Kashi does long form social documentary, he has branched out from photography into film and showed several 10 minute films about social causes from Children in Syria to Climate change in America.
At the Q&A section I asked him who influenced him throughout his career. His said at this point he admires other photographers but no one influences him at the moment. In the past when he was learning, he was influenced by several great photographers, he went to list them all but I only managed to write a few of the names down. Henri Cartier-Breeson was mentioned and I had noticed earlier in his presentation there was an image which was a replication of Henri Cartier-Breeson man stepping over a puddle but Ed’s image a man was jumping over a fire in Northern Ireland during a street riot. I was impressed with myself for spotting that. The main point I learnt from this seminar is get excited about what you are photographing and then it will just come easily to you because you are eager to seek it out.
David Hobby seminar ‘The Trip Comes First: How to balance Travel with Photography’
David Hobby was next. I chose his seminar because I love to travel and go new places. His seminar mainly focused on ‘how not to look like a jerk,by carrying around lots of camera gear’. How to manage with less gear and how to have a family holiday and get to take photos as well. This guy was funny and very knowledgeable. He understood about family life and how it is a constant balancing act trying to fit photography round the kids and spouse. He had some brilliant tips and funny stories which made the time go quickly. I managed to take 3 pages of notes and do some sketches. The main point I learnt from David Hobby was ‘prepare beforehand and take as little as possible’. David uses a Fuji, I have been thinking about buying a Fuji x100S. Hopefully by the summer I can afford one, the more he spoke about his camera the more I could see that my DSLR is too bulky for travel photography.
Panel Discussion: Straight Talk: Evaluating the Middle East Photography Scene.
My Final seminar of the day was a Panel Discussion. Straight Talk- Evaluating the Middle Eastern Photography Scene.
This discussion was popular because the Secretary General of Hipa was one of the Panelists. Everyone was introduced and the first thing to be discussed was a scathing review from The Telegraph about an Arab art exhibition. Everyone was very polite and disagreed with the Telegraph. Then Copyright laws were mentioned as apparently there is a big problem with companies stealing images in the GCC region. Education and Funding was discussed, as well as photographers day rates. Regulation of photography clubs, courses and photographers was suggested to stop people being financially ripped off and that was dismissed. ‘Restricted expression’ was mentioned and the panel suggested it was cultural and that a photographer needs to respect the culture of the region. On the back of that question I asked if they thought that photography was allowed to push the boundaries in Art like in the West. I was just told ‘Yes’ then they went on about how much money is spent on art projects in the Middle East. They missed my point I didn’t push it.
Since I have been researching photographers, artists and art critics I can see what is lacking here and I do find it frustrating. I came away from this discussion wanting to go home to England for the ‘Freedom of expression’, resources that are free and widely available to everyone and public libraries with a good selection of books. The panel stated that things will change but they will take time. I can only hope that they will.
I have to say I am not good at expressing my thoughts and opinions, so completing my first ever learning log was a journey. The first pages were ranting and over explaining, scientifically documenting camera settings and exact locations. Research notes were brief and my noted opinions briefer.
I was not using this provided book for its true intention I thought. Purchasing ‘Photographers’ Sketchbooks’ and reading it cover to cover gave me much needed inspiration to show what was going on in my head, which helped to slow down my thoughts and my ideas. I found my old polaroid camera and started using it to try and introduce a different medium. After researching Ansel Adams I am trying to become more organized with visualization and sketching my ideas. Towards the end of the book I can see that the pages become less writing and more visual. There are more thoughts and ideas highlighted and less ‘ranting’s of a mad woman’.
My ideas which sometimes come too fast at times are highlighted in ‘cloud shapes’ which I use to represent a thought , then I attach the relevant sketches. I’m using coloured pens to reference certain subjects, this makes it easier for me to find relevant things as my writing can be appalling sometimes when I’m in a rush.
During my research on Gianluca Cosci I discovered a post on his Contextual Studies blog with regards to ‘Critical essay writing’ and ‘Harvard referencing’. I found this very useful and informative and refer to it when ‘I’m losing my way forward’.
I’ve only scanned in a couple of pages just as verification that I am doing the work and writing it up. This book will be posted with my prints from my assignments to my tutor. Where he can attempt to read my writing.
I have managed to find a website that delivers to the UAE from the UK. Its called ‘The book depository’
So I bought myself more books just in time for Christmas these were recommended by OCA students on the Facebook Group. They took two weeks to get here but it was worth the wait.
The Photographers Sketchbooksby Stephen McLaren and Bryan Formhals
So far a very inspirational book, this book offers a rare glimpse of the sketchbooks and working methods of 43 photographers. My written learning log has been a lot of note-taking and sticking but I hope to improve and I hope this book is the going to help me.
How to Read a Photograph by Ian Jeffrey
I struggle with the written word when critiquing my photographs so I am hoping this book will offer guidance. In this book Ian Jeffrey discusses the major advances and the social and cultural settings that have influenced photography as an art form.
Photographically Speaking by David duChemin
I started reading this book and I’m half way through it already I’m finding it good reading. The guy was a comedian before becoming a photographer so his analogies are humorous, he doesn’t take himself seriously which is what I like in an author. He gives credit to other photographers and recommends several different books throughout his creative exercises which I have never seen before in photography books.