Contemporary Photography, Spring 2016

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RPS Contemporary Group Journal

Text of Contemporary Photography, Spring 2016

  • Number 63 Spring 2016

    Contemporary Photography

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    View from the Chair

    Text should be in Microsoft Word and images are preferred in TIFF format, 300 dpi, file size guideline 10-20Mb. Images are also acceptable as high quality JPEGs, file size guideline 3-6 Mb. For other formats, please contact the Editor. Large image files may be supplied on disc or by use of on-line large file transfer facilities. Unless requested, discs will not be returned.DEADLINE for the Summer 2016 issue 30 June 2016

    The copyright of photographs and text in this issue belongs to the author of the article of which they form part, unless otherwise indicated.If you wish to submit articles for the Journal, please send all copy and images on disc to:Patricia Ann Ruddle, 28 Malvern Avenue, York, YO26 5SG.

    ISSN 0959-6704

    Cover: Oksana Yushko, from the series Toilers by the Sea.Journal fonts: general, Avenir Lt Std: author name, Letter Gothic Std

    I am delighted that Sean Goodhart LRPS has joined us as Contemporary Group Webmaster. With Christine Pinnington LRPS as Editor of Concept, the online newsletter, and Duncan Unsworth organising the Postal Portfolios we have a stronger committee with fresh ideas.

    The East Anglia Contemporary Group will be holding their first exhibition associated with their on-going Ipswich Waterfront project, entitled Contradictions. It will show the work of three members interpretations of the main theme. The exhibition is timed to coincide with the launch of the new PhotoEast Festival, located at the Beyond the Image Photographers Gallery at Thornham Magna, 27 May - 19 June.

    The Contemporary Group runs two Facebook pages, both of which are open Groups. The RPSContemporary one encourages inputs which promote the ethos of the RPS Contemporary Group. The RPSPhotobooks Facebook group is about exchange of views and ideas on photobook design and creation, and also promotes the Royal Photographic Society 2016 Open International Photobook Exhibition. Their growing memberships are encouraged to contribute to discussions, post images and projects for comment and review. Links to exhibitions, photographers profiles, books and magazines about contemporary photography are always welcome. Some members live in the far flung regions of the UK and around the world. We think that our Facebook pages provide the benefit of an on-line community sans frontires and, like the Group Journal, attract readers and inputs from non-members of the RPS.

    The third venue for the RPS International Photobook Exhibition 2016 has been confirmed; it will be held 29 -30 October 2016, in conjunction with Fotonow, at St. Saviours Hall, Barbican, Plymouth.

    Those of you who may be interested please note that Photo London 2016 will take place at Somerset House 19 - 22 May. Photobook Bristol will take place 10 - 13 June and is included as an event on the the Group pages of the RPS website.

    Plans are going ahead for a joint venture between the Historical Group and the Contemporary Group to view the Paul Strand Exhibition on a Friday evening (date to be announced) with a talk by Martin Barnes prior to the visit.

    Best wishes,


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    Contemporary Group ethos - Photography that conveys ideas, stimulates thought and encourages interpretation; photographs about rather than of.

    Number 63 Spring 2016

    View from the Chair Avril Harris ARPS 2

    Editorial Patricia Ann Ruddle ARPS 4

    Toilers by the sea Oksana Yushko 5

    Alien Resident: searching for San Diego

    Julia Garca Hernndez and Stephen Clarke


    A narrative of complexities Simon Gomery ARPS 16

    Heroes of Byron Mrmol Sverine Grosjean 20

    Wasteful Art? Rob Kershaw ARPS 24

    Reactive Portraits Jeff Hutchinson 28

    Look, Savour, Remember Gus Wylie Hon FRPS 30

    Easter Mike Shanahan 36

    Some Thing means Everything to Somebody by Peter Mitchell

    Book Review by Brian Steptoe FRPS


    Group Events 39

    Committee 39

    Duval, from the series Syrcas Maud Sulter 40

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    I fell in love with the process of taking pictures; with wandering around finding things. To me it feels like a kind of performance. The picture is a document of that performance.*

    So said Alec Soth in an 2004 interview with the American photographer Aaron Schuman. An expressive sentiment and one with which I identify. On the prowl, anticipating the picture, then snap the stimulating sound of the shutter. Got it. Captured forever, at one time on transparency or negative, now on memory card. After downloading to disk, not even uploading to computer, into drawers the disks go, cheek by jowl with their predecessors - the slide boxes and negative sheets. Job done. Performance over.

    But now theres the popularity and accessibility of the photobook. Independently published photobooks are flourishing, whether by small fine art publishers, handmade artists books and the use of the many on-demand printing services. Book fairs abound. Self-publishing is no longer a vanity. No longer are we at the mercy of the big trade publishers who are not willing to take risks on unknown photographers.

    I had the good fortune to borrow a copy of Alec Soths Gathered Leaves. Its a book thats also a box thats also a catalogue of his touring exhibition: a gem of a container that brings together four of his works Sleeping by the Mississippi (2004), Niagara (2008), Broken Manual (2010) and Songbook (2015). (The first three are now out-of-print.) The books are presented in miniature facsimiles along with 29 large format postcards with quotes on reverse.

    Perhaps my photographs will see the light of day yet. I fell in love with the photobook.

    Patricia Ann Ruddle, MA, ARPSEditor

    *Soth, Alec (Introduction Kate Bush; Essays Aaron Schuman). Gathered Leaves. London: Mack, 2015.Note: The Gathered Leaves exhibition is at the National Media Museum, Bradford, until 26 June 2016. Also, Alec Soths publishing company has appealing information:

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    Toilers by the seaOksana Yushko

    No, we are not on vacation. How to explain? No, we will not go swimming. We will not sunbathe. We try to earn a living. Does the government look after us? No, its not enough. What should we do? Do you see all of these people? They are vacationers. But what about us? We are the toilers by the sea. What will we do? We will offer many services to them. Miscellaneous ones. Every day. The whole summer. Then when all of them leave, we will go too. Next summer we will return again. To the sea.

    Every year trains and buses bring vacationers with the first warm sun, and every year toilers by the sea appear just in time and busily begin their simple activities. They have no work, or they lack money because of scanty pensions or maybe something else has happened.

    What with the political violence that has ravaged Ukraine recently, our image of the country is bloody. But with my Russian mother and Ukrainian father, I spent peaceful summers here when I was a child at the Fedotov Spit, a sand strip about 45 kilometres on the northern shore of the Sea of Azov, a popular beach resort that is home to small villages and summer hotels. Locals tend to be fishermen or farmers. The sea, sandy beaches and cool winds during the summer heat attract many people to come for vacations and weekends without having to spend lots of money. Because of the current political situation, I think that many Ukrainians who used to vacation in the Crimea now come to the Fedotov Spit.

    I talked with people and tried to get their personal stories, but also tried to stay invisible to capture as honest an image as possible. However, there is no one truth. But I hope that my photography will be seen in the context of Ukraines upheaval and that it will give viewers a different perspective on the country.

    Ed. note: Oksana Yushko is a freelance photographer based in Moscow. See her website for more photographs of the Toilers by the Sea and her other award-winning projects.

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    Alien Resident: Searching for San DiegoJulia Garca Hernndez and Stephen Clarke

    In 2015 the independent photobook publisher The Velvet Cell released two volumes of Stephen Clarkes photographs of Southern Californias marts, drive-ins and eateries under the title California Shopfronts. Dominated by signage and the automobile, the suns heat is palpable in this small selection of black and white images where people-less sidewalks point to a non-pedestrian culture.(1)

    When Clarke arrived on the West Coast in the mid-1980s in the weeks immediately following his degree, he had expected to feel a familiarity with its landscape. Like other British children of his generation growing up in the 1960s and 70s he had absorbed a version of California by watching popular American detective shows. The backdrop to the weekly drama on Charlies Angels or Columbo was the bright, blue-skied Sunny State in close up. Onto his childhood picture of California, Clarke had mapped the work of the photo-artists who now informed his practice: Ed Ruscha, John Baldessari and Lewis Baltz. In Clarkes portfolio were the markets, arcades and chip shops of the seaside promenade that he had been photographing continuously across Britain in the four years before visiting the USA. The imagery de