Image: Chelsie Southern

If you are looking for last minute gift ideas or inspiration to kick start the year ahead, the Redeye team and colleagues have got you covered as we reflect on some personal favourites among photo books and exhibitions of 2016.

Multitude, Solitude: The Photographs of Dave Heath

                                                                                      

© Dave Heath

Paul Herrmann - Director of Redeye, The Photography Network.

One book from late 2015 knocked me sideways this year - Multitude, Solitude: The Photographs of Dave Heath. Heath, who died in mid-2016, was abandoned by his parents and raised in an orphanage. His life’s project was a sustained photographic meditation on loneliness, rejection, and the possibility of connection. Each photograph, most of which show one or two people, seems to be a window into the mind of a stranger. Tone and shadow add to the visual narrative - Heath was as much concerned with the printing as he was with the image content; he also played endlessly with the sequencing and layout of the work. Robert Frank described his work as 'late Friday afternoon in the Universe.' Street photography does not get more quietly intense than this.

 

Cosmic Surgery By Alma Haser

Cosmic Surgery © Alma Heser

Charlie Booth - Programme Coordinator at Redeye.

Every year I am forced by my mother to take part in a family photograph – a seated portrait around October for the past thirty-two years documenting the ageing of my parents, my three siblings and myself. I love the photo-book Cosmic Surgery by Alma Haser not only for the unique inclusion of two art forms that I enjoy - origami and portrait photography - but for the transformation of simple portraits into odd otherworldly creatures. Bow-tied gentlemen and vintage tattooed women photographed in flattering soft lighting are turned into many-eyed aliens. 

What’s also great about this photo-book and Alma’s general attitude to image making is that she is truly accessible, including in the book a how to create your own origami portrait. Encouraging your audience to repeat the element in your work that sets you apart is something I have not regularly come across in the year or so I have worked for Redeye, and it is beautifully refreshing.

 

The Meadow by Barbara Bosworth and Margot Anne Kelly. Radius Books

The Meadow © Barbara Bosworth 

John Darwell - Photographer and mentor on Redeye Lightbox.

Taking what could initially be regarded as a potentially banal subject matter this book becomes a beautifully realised treatise on the nature of life and photographic seeing. The large scale and quite exquisite images explore the everyday detail of one area of meadow (in many ways a similar methodology to Joel Sternfeld's  'Oxbow Archive' series) to become far more than the initial sum of its parts.  The images portray the differing moods and details of this ground that is then combined, through the numerous page inserts, with philosophical musings, historical references on the nature of the place that further become scientific reflections on the emotions of seeing that develop into diaristic fragments on the nature of being and occupying said space. This is a beautiful (and weighty. it's a big book!) and multifaceted publication, and it is difficult to fully grasp its scope at first glance.  Initially, you are seduced by the images and then intrigued by the text in a thoughtful and scholarly (in a good way) manner that I have no doubt will continue to reward the reader revisiting its pages.
 

The Theatre of Apparitions by Roger Ballen

Waif. 2012 © Roger Ballen 

Katrina Houghton - Marketing and Communications Coordinator at Redeye.

The beastly creatures of Roger Ballen’s black and white monograph The Theatre of Apparitions left an eerie impact on my 2016. Ballen, best known for his portraits of those living on the margins of society in South Africa, has evolved his unique aesthetic into a ghoulish mix of mediums that sit on the peripheries of photography. Inspired by the sight of hand drawn figures onto the blacked out windows of an abandoned women’s prison, Ballen sprayed paint onto glass before drawing into the paint with a sharp object and photographing the result. Like sharp fingernails down a chalkboard - that thought alone made me shudder. The preface describes the images as “pictographs made into photographs: They are born out of the unbearable, the unacceptable and even the unthinkable”.

Over the seven chapters or “acts” defined by names such as Melancholy and Transmuted, waif-life figures creep and claw their way across the dark pages, illuminating the upside-down world of your subconscious. The book really comes alive in a short film Ballen released under the same name. Together, they arouse the unsettling atmosphere of a David Firth animation crossed with the uncanny surrealism of the classic Bunuel and Dali film Un Chien Andalou. The Theatre of Apparitions awoke a sixth sense that left me unnerved, excited and unable to look away.

You can watch the film The Theatre of Apparitions here

 

Hans Peter Feldmann at C/O Berlin

100 JAHRE © Hans Peter Feldmann

Bryan Beresford - Research Assistant at Redeye.

A show that I really enjoyed this year was Hans Peter Feldmann at C/O Berlin. The show celebrated his 75th birthday with an overview of his conceptual photographic works. On display was the series “100 JAHRE” which shows 101 people aged between 8 weeks and 100. Each person is a family member or friend of Feldmann. The images were displayed in a continuous line around the room. As you pass the images each individual represents an age, defining each moment in time. Passing the images I became more intrigued as I approached my own age reflecting on the years before and after this time. The way it presents the idea of passing time and the relationships between the individuals fascinated me as you travel on this journey across the images.

 

The Prospect of Immortality by Murray Ballard

Patient Care Bay (Bigfoot dewar being filled with liquid nitrogen), Alcor Life Extension Foundation, Scottsdale, Arizona, USA. October 2006. © Murray Ballard

Nicola Shipley - Director of Grain Photography Hub and mentor on Redeye Lightbox.

One of my favourite photo books of this year is Murray Ballard’s The Prospect of Immortality. I made the purchase at the wonderful OffPrint, part of the photo book mania of Paris Photo. Ballard’s book was on the First Photo Book Shortlist and he was there, with his publishers Gost, to sign copies.

I had seen the extraordinary work from this project, at Impressions Gallery and then again in smaller numbers at Format International Photography Festival, Derby, and so my expectations were high. The photo book did not disappoint and is so mesmerising it definitely matched seeing the work exhibited.  I responded more from seeing the work in this format, to have a more intimate and one-to-one connection with the work and to revisit it again and again.

The outside appearance of the book is appropriately timeless and has the weight and texture of a serious antiquarian textbook. Opening the cover of dark green linen with the gold embossed lettering you find front-end papers, which appear as marbled patters, like those great collectable books of the 60s and 70s. Then on reading the text you find that they are Ettinger’s micrographs, dating from the 1970's when he was conducting experiments into cryogenic processes. This is a reference to Robert C W Ettinger, who in 1962 published ‘The Prospect of Immortality’ as an academic, medical text that is largely credited with launching the cryogenics movement. This is an extensive photographic investigation of landscapes, portraits and still lives - an impressive body of work that sits well on my book shelves.

Guests by Krzysztof Wodiczko at FACT Liverpool, Liverpool Biennial

Guests 2011 at FACT during Liverpool Biennial 2016 © Krzystof Wodiczko 

Helena Lee  - Administrator at Redeye.

An exhibition that has stuck with me from this year is Krzystof Wodiczko’s work at FACT during the Liverpool Biennial 2016.  The exhibition was presented in two parts; you first enter a room of exhibits representing his collaborations from the past 40 years with migrant and marginalised communities from all over the world.  What struck me was the range of individuals and groups that he has worked with and the genuine involvement of the artist and participants; this was not a phoney exercise in community engagement and no sense of voyeurism or observation of ‘the other’.  These pieces felt like sketches which fed into the second room which housed his installation 'Guests (2011)'.  The installation is a rectangular room with video projections on three walls that look to me like the arches of a public building with an external corridor.  In each arch is the shadow of a person or two chatting, reading a paper, waiting.  There is a soundtrack of conversations in different languages and subtitled English texts which transcribe the discussions to be opinions and experiences about migrants from different perspectives.  Again, the discussions are diverse; encompassing different nationalities, negative/ positive/ neutral experiences.  I especially appreciate the work because it is very complete; it is beautiful and thought provoking as a result of the thorough research that was evident in the first room.

The Heavens by Paolo Woods and Gabriele Galimberti. Dewi Lewis Publishing

The Heavens © Paolo Woods and Gabriele Galimberti

Rachel Burns - Volunteer at Redeye

My exhibition of the year is The Heavens, by Paolo Woods and Gabriele Galimberti, which I saw as part of the 2016 edition of Cortona on The Move Festival in Italy. The show was held in the old hospital, which proved to be a perfectly clinical setting for The Heavens LLC to base their headquarters. Woods and Galimberti incorporated The Heavens in Delaware before travelling to key sites around the world associated with offshore banking. The resulting series provides a frank and surprisingly witty look into the inherently secretive world of tax havens.

 

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