The first class of photography of Bernd and Hilla Becher defined photography as a form of art. Without it, today there would be literally no photography in a fine art museum. It was the foundation of the Düsseldorfer Schule (Duesseldorf School). The class was composed by Volker Döhne, Andreas Gursky, Candida Höfer, Axel Hütte, Tata Ronkholz, Thomas Ruff, Jörg Sasse, Thomas Struth and Petra Wunderlich. A selection of their work is exhibited in the Städel Museum in Frankfurt Main under the title: Fotografien werden Bilder (Photographies become pictures). The exhibition is on until August 13th. I really liked it and I spent three hours there, taking a lot of ideas with me - some of them related to photography, and others on how such a class brought it into not just mastering, but shaping a new dimension in arts.
Sascha passed away on the 9th of April, 2015, aged 40. We last met a year earlier to his final day in Beijing, during his residency in the Three Shadows in Chaochangdi. The Fotografie Forum Frankfurt shows some of what remains: his photos. The exhibition will be still on until January 29th. As Sascha has put it before: "The perfect moment has to vanish. Otherwise we would just stay". Sascha was a romantic traveller with a camera.
Following the advise not to do physical exercise after receiving my influenza vaccination (colloquially also known as flu shot or even "jab" for those who prefer to speak reduced vocabulary), I decided to instead visit the University Museum and Art Gallery of The University of Hong Kong. This is one of the few cultural stepping stones, you may set foot on when walking the territory, and not wanting to dip into shopping malls and crowds. I was attracted this time by the photo exhibition featuring the pictures of the Hungarian the surgeon Dr. Dezső Bozóky, taken during his travels in East Asia 1907-1909, and illustrating his impressions by quotes from his diary. As we all know, it was a very different Hong Kong back then.
I liked the exhibition a lot (which will be on until January 8th), and also I spent quite some time with studying the catalogue which is a documentation of views and thoughts by the visiting photographer from a different time. It is available for 150 HK$ (about 18 Euros) in the museum's tea house, which is also recommended, and one of the places I like to hang out when I am here. The rest of the museum is either redecorating or lost a few of its exhibits from the accessible areas. But it is still a nice place with a long gone Hong Kong spirit.
Just installed a new desktop computer running on Windows 10. Unfortunately, the Codec does not support by default the RAW formats of my Fuji cameras, namely Fujifilm X-E2 and Fujifilm Finepix X-100. For example, it does not generate thumbnails in the file explorer. There might be different ways to fix this, but I decided to install a copy of the Codec of www.fastpictureviewer.com. I already ran this on my Windows 10 laptop and it works perfectly with my camera formats. The current Codec is version 126.96.36.199 (click here to download and purchase a license code). Fully recommend it.
How often over the years, did I run into an officer, a teacher, or priest who turned out to be an excellent anthropologist, archeologist, zoologist or photographer? And this list of professions and fields of expertise is far from being complete. To my surprise very often these people are English, Welsh or Irish. This might have to do with the places I went and a correlation to the parts of the world they explored historically. But I gained the impression, that there is something in anglo-saxon culture and history which appreciates the development of excellent amateurs with wide fields of interest and amazing skills in some fields. If you don't know what I mean, join an English bird watching society.
Today I ran into another one of these gifted "amateurs" by accident. I wanted to drop into the Natural History Museums Coral Reef exhibition in London before my lunch break from the Royal Geographic Society. But the waiting line was so long, that I found it much easier to have another look myself when I go diving at the Great Barrier Reef next time, than standing in the queue with school kids and tourists. So, as these days I commonly have the soup of the day in the Victoria & Albert Museum for lunch, and it was still a bit early for that, I dropped over to the other side of the road and bumped into another one of these people. This time a historic figure, and officer and in service of the Eastern India Company: Captain Linnaeus Tripe. The rather small exhibition of his photography in India and Burma kept me for 2 hours enjoying every photo shown. It spans from his beginning of picking up photography in England after his return from a first period of military service, until the end of his career which was the result of a budget downsizing in the Eastern India Company. It is a small, but very enjoyable exhibition and still on until October 11th. The photos are both: a record of Burma and India of that time, and also excellent pieces of fine art photography.
What I found most striking, is that the impression of many scenes, monuments and landscapes on his photos remain exactly the same until recent times. You often feel, he is just standing there today and takes the photo.
In a busy city like London, you need to know your islands of solitude. For me, one of them is the Royal Geographic Society (RGS) in Kensington, of which I am a lifetime fellow. It has everything I need: an excellent collection, a good creative spirit living in the walls, quiet corners, and of course interesting fellows to talk to. Until September 5th, there is also the Travel Photographer of the Year 2015 Exhibition on show. Admission is free. The exhibition has attracted nearly 130 thousand visitors in the last three years. It is an interesting setting, because beside the excellent photographic work on parade, also the way of making this partly a rainproof outdoor exhibition in the Society's garden, is quite creative. From the desk I sit during the days, I can observe the visitors walking through the courtyard. There are always nice scenes in front of me, when I take my eyes up from the texts and maps in front of me and refocus. The photos are excellent. The submissions are from photographers all over the world. Also, the way the competition is structured, is very interesting. Perhaps some of you want to enter next year?
The exhibition of Nick Brandt in the Fotografiska Museum Stockholm is absolutely magic. I walked in with "wildlife photography" in my mind. But this is far beyond just that. The exhibition is on until September 13th, and if you are interested in photography and have the chance to see this, you must go. I have been to these places. But the way he took it, is really humbling for anybody who holds a camera looking at the same scenes.
The Fotografiska Museum in Stockholm is a very fine place. I also liked Inez & Vinoodh's "Pretty Much Everything 2015", even though fashion photography is not my thing. But I liked the take on it: "At its best, fashion makes it possible for a wider audience to discover what contemporary art and design is all about". Nice also to see the exhibition of photos by Andreas Zorn, of whom I was only aware of his watercolors, but not that he also was a keen photographer.
Yesterday I visited the 2015 Wildlife Photographer of the Year Exhibition at the Natural History Museum in London. Amazing pictures. Wildlife photography today is far more than "only" documentary. On the lawn of the museum, they installed a butterfly house, which reminded me of the one in the making at Dundee Park, Mission Beach (Australia). This is the forth time, I came across butterflies. First of course, like every boy in the countryside, I had a little collection of species which I caught back in the fields in the Westerwald and pinned them to a wall. Then I got quite interest in tropical butterflies, when living on Lamma Island in the South China Sea (see the photo gallery below). Earlier this year, we helped a bit our friends Thomas and Lina Baur in Dundee Park with moving earth inside their butterfly house under construction. It was amazing for me to learn, how picky butterflies are on plants for feeding and breeding, and I realized how important floral diversity really is for them. I was frequently told by Chinese silk producers that this is a big problem on the Chinese part of the Silk Road, where the mulberry trees are cut down and there is a shortage of feed for silk worms now. Instead the farmers grow nuts.
The few butterfly shots below are taken on Lamma Island in 2008 - 2011.
Yesterday, August 16th, was the opening of Jean-Claude Mougin's photo exhibition le jour / la nuit in the 798 Art District Beijing. It was the first time for me, that I had a close look at palladium process photo prints. They are really beautiful. Most of his photos exhibited are 18 cm x 18 cm, and some are larger portrait formats. I very much like his pictures taken in Kairouan (Tunesia). Some are available on Jean-Claude's website.
"Die Grosse Chance" is a solo photo exhibition of the German poet Dieter M. Gräf in the Three Shadows Photography Art Centre in Caochangdi, Beijing. It will be shown from August 09th until September 5th and represents a series of pictures, taken by the poet while (re-) exploring his parent's house after both's death. The hanging shows the ups and downs, like walking though the house. The location is a village near Mannheim (Germany) and I can quite well relate to these pictures. What surprised my technically, was that they are all taken with an iPhone, and still come out quite well in large print. The exhibition is curated by Nina Zlonicky who, as an architect, reanimated house's building layout on the gallery walls. Beside the artist's work, there have been many people involved in technically turning a USB-stick into a fully fletched photo exhibition in just a few days. It was supported by the Goethe Institute Beijing and what made it special for us, was not just the nice collaboration of many professionals, but that Feibai got an insight into the process by being part of the team.