Germany: Cologne

Good monday everyone! I hope everyone's had a brilliant weekend - maybe some of you even managed to go see the UNSEEN Photo Fair in Amsterdam? As I had borrowed my mum's car for the weekend to bring a pile of stuff to Germany (I want to start on alternative printing) Sean and I planned to go visit a castle. When we hit the road on Sunday we never anticipated traffic being as bad as it was. After being stuck in traffic for about an hour, we gave up and went into Cologne instead. The cathedral had been on my to-see list for a while now so this provided us with a good oppertunity. And I was not disappointed! Such a magnificent historical place - even though the 'Smuck Madonna' would not normally have caught my eye, or the 'pixelated' glass stained window that seemed to have been spat out by a computer (Window of the South Transept, by Gerhard Richter)- the classic ceiling structure and mozaik flooring were beautiful, and the light was magnificent. Should you want to visit the Cologne Cathedral, it's located right next to Cologne central station, and the admission is free. There are guided tours pretty much every day, and for an additional fee you can visit the treasury or climb the tower. There are a few hotels and cafe's around the Cathedral, offering seating outside and brilliant views on this grand structure.  

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Amsterdam: UNSEEN photo fair

A few hours ago, I got back from the Unseen Photo Fair in Amsterdam. I got on the train this morning from Dusseldorf to arrive at the gates when they opened up at 12:00 and wouldn't leave till 18:00. My feet ache and my back is killing me (I really need to stop buying books!) but man - It was AMAZING! Seriously - if you have a chance to visit the fair tomorrow or over the weekend - DO SO! If not: keep on reading as I'll attempt to share some of the best work the fair has to offer this year:   I started off at the 'fair grounds' end of the whole thing, as I came walking down from Central station. The Photo Fair is housed over several buildings at the Westergasfabriek and passing the Kallenbach Gallery I couldn't stop myself from wandering in. Their current display has been curated to fit the photography theme and the works of Patrick Cooper, Bram Spaan and Francisco Reina really caught my eye. Since I had made the first stop already, I decided I might as well pay a short visit to Gallery 33 a couple of doors down the road. Here, the art was a little more illustration-inclined, although with definate photographic influences. The works by Atelier Olschinsky (both the cities and metamorphosen works) and Dan Matutina proved to have the biggest pull on me.  

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  Next, I passed the book hall. Never one to refuse looking at books, let alone looking at art books, let alone looking at PHOTOGRAPHY art books, I went in. The book hall itself is not very big, but the selected seller here have some good material. Most, if not all of it is new as there are many publishers present, and a few photographers are selling their own made / published wares. I particulary liked the stands of Basboek, run by Bas Fontein, who finds new and humerous ways to interpret the things most of us mortals would call failure. The stand of Geirmundur Klein was special for the man's obvious love of his photography, and the way he chose to express it in his handcrafted limited edition sets of polaroids. Apart from that, his image sets of crematoriums caught my attention - I'm always game for a slight bout of morbidity - the clean lines, perfectly accentuating the depressing architecture are enough to send anyone into a swift downward spiral.  

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  After looking at the books I took a little break a queued up to have my photo taken at the Inside Out photo project. The little trailer-like contraption spits the image out in a mere minute or so and I have to admit I was quite impressed by the picture quality. The images are then pasted to floors and walls (some folks took them home) to become part of the on-going project.
"The INSIDE OUT project has travelled from Ecuador to Nepal, from Mexico to Palestine to New York and is next headed to Amsterdam. Visitors are invited to have their portrait taken in a mobile photo booth and instantly printed on poster-scale format to then become a part of the exhibition and an ever-growing, global artwork. You will become the artwork, your face the statement."
 

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  Then, finally, it was time for the main event: the galleries and their display of yet-to be discovered photographic talent or works of known photographers that had not been displayed before. Just a little part of me was hoping for a slightly rubbish show so this part would not have to be this long, but (thanks goodness) - I had no such 'luck'.   At Peter Lav Gallery (Copenhagen, Denmark) I spotted the black and white works of Adam Jepessen. I was actually surprised to learn that the 3 smaller images were not made by an alternative printing technique, but by photocopying and oil paints. The larger work was fully built up with photocopies and pins. Regardless, the looming dark tones set the sombre mood fantastically. At Galerie Conrads (Dusseldorf, Germany) the slightly hidden works of Sascha Weidner, pigment prints on paper are beautiful in their coloration and execution, even if I might not find the subject matter amazingly powerful or surprising. At Galerie Bart (Nijmegen, the Netherlands) I found myself surprisingly interested in the works of both artists on display, Yvonne Lacet and Femke Dekkers. I normally won't go for anything too cubistic or abstract, but these images seemed well-conceived and perfectly executed. I later heard that the white paper shapes used by Yvonne are actually tiny! At Seelevel Gallery (Amsterdam, the Netherlands) I spotted the three cubist nudes by Koen Hauser and had to look at them twice to be able to fully admire the clean lighting and editing done on them. At Pobeda Gallery (Moskow, Russia) I really liked the polaroid-like images by Anna Skladmann, frivolous and casual in their nature, reminding me (and I am sure a lot of other people) of the joyfulness of childhood and of days gone by in general. At L A Noble Gallery (London, UK) I had the best time with two lovely ladies who showed me the works of Anne Leigniel, even letting me have a look at some more of her fascinating works on their computer (thanks again!). Anne's photographs are deceptively simple, photographing used artists' cloths on a single nail and the images being greatly enlarged. The cloth, and the degree to which it has been used, varies per person, just as the way it is offered to the photographer (somtimes, even washed and folded!) presenting us with an indirect portrait of the original owner. Correct me if I'm wrong, but these images do work best in a set or series, and they had four up for this fair. At Galerie Alexs Daniels Reflex (Amsterdam, the Netherlands) there were a few amazing images on display by Hisaji Hara, the operating table in the display box being my personal favourite, possibly of the whole fair. At G/P Gallery (Tokyo, Japan) I was impressed with most work on diplay. There. I have said it. I must have a weakness for Japanese artists for I usually find most of what they produce in the visual arts more than interesting. Daisuke Yokota, Taisuke Koyama and Takashi Kawashima all had stunning work on display, be it all different. In spite of myself (normally favouring Black and white images) I would have to say that the colourful rainbow images by Taisuke Koyama were my favorite this time round. At Michael Hoppen Contemporary (London, UK) I saw the works of Alberto Villar, which, if I remember correct, were part of the advertisement campaign for the fair. The works are great up close, good sharpness and contrast, without losing the same sort of icky clouding sensation when looking at some good ol' taxidermy on formaldehyde. Again, a little morbid, and therefore right up my street. At VU la Galerie (Paris, France) I was treated to a good bit of grey. I never shy away from a good bit of grey, and certainly not if it's been made by Ester Vonplon. Please don't snigger, I mean it. The textures within the images themselves reminded me of the wet collodion process - and the lack of contrast, combined with the bleak imagery, made me think of purgatory. At Martin Asbaek gallery (Copenhagen, Denmark) The dreamy images of Astrid Kruse Jensen would not have been misplaced in a fashion magazine, the subdues, slightly darkened tones setting a mildly depression tone. At Galerie Esther Woerdehoff (Paris, France) we are offered bleak, snow-capped mountains, a shimmering of the black rock in the distance. An acute sharpness to these images by Michael Schnabel really makes them radiate! At Flowers Gallery (London, UK) I spotted a couple of images by Esther Teichmann, from the series Mythologies and again, it were the subtle tones that attracted me. The soft, feminine images might have helped a bit too. The image 'Channon' by Mona Kuhn was simply stunning. A fine art nude in subdued tones and shadowplay. What more can you ask for? At Galerie Wouter van Leeuwen (Amsterdam, the Netherlands) I loved the dye sublimation prints by Michael Wolf, and truth be told, they were pulling quite a crowd - in as far as that was possible in the fairly narrow display booths. From the subtle tones to the recognisable but slightly absurd scenes - beautiful! At NextLevel Galerie (Paris, France) it was 'On her skin #1', by Asako Shimizu, with its beautiful colors and serene setting that really caught my eye. At Gun Gallery (Stockholm, Sweden) they seemed a little unprepared as when I asked for their details, they could not provide me with a flyer, card or businesscard, but offered to write me their details on a little note. Don't let in deter you to check out the work of their artist Julia Hetta though! At Gallery Taik Persons (Berlin, Germany) the recent paperworks of Maija Savolainen are a beauty to behold. As thoughtful creations that challenge the way we percieve photography as a medium of representative truth they are not actually horizons or sunsets, but pieces of transparent paper photographed in folds on angle. Simple yet stunning. At Kahmann Gallery (Amsterdam, the Netherlands) the four works of Schilte and Portielje were doing remarkably well, with apparently 3 out of 4 sold already by the time I visited them. The works are stunning, though not very large and very painterly in execution. At Galerie Les Filles Du Calvaire (Paris, France) the inverted images labelled 'black screen' were quite interesting, although I would have liked to know who made them! At Aando Fine Art (Berlin, Germany) I first noticed the haunting landscape images of Kim Boske, before admiring the grand images of nature that Bae Bien-U produced. Both artists manage to convey an image of nature with a power of it's own, one that man would do good to either fear or respect. At Kuckei + Kuckei (Berlin, Germany) the finely detailed scenes by Guillermo Srodek-Hart were nice, but the image of the Town Barber was definately the best for me. I love the way the focus seems to be on the chair and the shop, but then you see the barber standing behind the chair, in the mirror. Not quite there, but not quite absent.   Also there (no image included in the gallery - sorry!) was Sipke Visser. He is working on a photography project that includes mailing out images to random strangers, and (sometimes) receiving mail back from them. He collected his works so far into a book - and is currently still going on it, taking images at the fair as well.  

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  Lastly, I'd like to share two final initiatives from the photo fair. Have fun if you're going and share your thoughts!   'Visually impaired' is a series of touch-sensitive photography of blind or children with poor eyesight. Upon touching the image, it becomes visible, but only temporarily. The Tintype studio (Arjen Went and Manon Navarro) with Alex Timmermans: Alchemist. The man, the legend! He is making tintypes and ambrotypes for fun and profit - go and have your image taken in this antique craft. But beware! The process will take some time, and it might get busy so book yourself in to avoid dissapointment.

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making a glass negative storage box

IMG_9358   So far, I've made a few storage boxes, in different sizes. This time, I'll show you how to make one for yourself, step by step. It's easy! I don't even have table to work on and I can do it! I'll provide the measurements to make a loose lidded storage box for plates sized 16,5 x 21,5 cm (full plate) but obviously you'll need to adapt these if your plates are bigger or smaller.  

I used the following materials:

 
  • grey bookbinders board of 3 mm thick
  • a large sheet of paper to cover the box and lid once assembled
  • standard white wood glue (PVA glue)
  • a stiff haired brush
  • a small paint roller + tray
  • scissors
  • a ruler
  • pencil
  • a box cutter knife
  • a cutting mat
  • (optional) a bone folder (folding bone)
  • (optional) a metal/ wooden square, a little thicker than the glass plate
  • (optional) small amount of water, to dilute the glue

 

 1. Measure and mark the parts you need onto the bookbinders board, cut them out.

Start with the bottom: 18 x 13 cm The width of your plate + spacing + 0.6 cm for the side boards = 16.5 + 0.9 + 0.6 = 18 cm. the depth can be whatever you want it to be, I chose to make it 13 cm, so it would fit a minimum of 10 plates. Then the front/ back: 18 x 23 cm The width is equal to the bottom plate. The height is your plate height + spacing, so anything over 21,6 cm would have been fine. Next, the sides: 12,4 x 23 cm The sides are sandwiched in between the front and the back, so substract (2 x 0.3 cm) from the width. The height remains equal to the front/ back. Now, the lid, starting with the top: 18.6 x 13.6 cm The lid is the size of the bottom + a little bit of space for the paper and movement (0.2 cm, increase this if you are using thick paper or fabrics) + board thickness x2 (0.6) and the lid sides: The front / back of the lid are the lid width x however deep you want to make the lid = 18,6 cm x 3,5 cm The sides of the lid are the lid depth - 2x board thickness (0.6 cm) x lid depth = 13 x 3,5 cm Finally, you'll need a lot of spacers: 19 x 1 cm The size of the spacers is not really important. Just mind that you do not make them too wide (too much contact with the plate is not necessary and could damage the image) or too narrow (if you put too much spacing in the width of the box, the plate could slide past the spacer and bump into another plate). Lengthwise I would suggest covering half the plate or more, leaving a couple of cm at the top so that plates can be taken out easier. I used about 36 spacers in total.  

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2. Assemble the sides with the spacers.

To assemble the box, start with placing the spacers. I had a lot of help using a carpenters'  square, but anything else which is straight and flat (and a little bit thicker than your glass negatives) will do. Start with the sides, paste 2 spacers together and glue them at the very end of the side. All the ends should meet up exactly on the lower edge as you'll paste this to the bottom later. Now place your square or other tool to help you place your spacers and work your way across, gluing them neatly in their spots. Finish with another double spacer at the end.  

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3. Assemble the box and lid

Now, glue the sides to the front/ back and to the bottom. Again, a carpenter's square may help, but you can always use another square, a corner, floor-wall etc. The sides should be sandwiched in between the front and back and the bottom placed underneath, turn it over, make sure it's square and weigh it down whilst it dries. Assemble the lid, and test carefully if it fits the box. You can cheat a little with the placing of the sides to the top of the lid to make it a tiny bit bigger if need be. Then set aside and weigh it down to dry.  

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4. Covering the box with paper

I've covered my boxes from 1 sheet of paper per box. It might have been easier to use several little scraps, but hey - it looks nice! For this one in particular I have used a sheet of acid-free paper I still had, which is a bonus since I want the box to be as archival safe as possible. Covering the box is a lot like wrapping a gift. Make sure that the paper fits all the way around your box, both in length and width. Glue the bottom onto the center, using either a brush or a roller. Make sure to flatten out the paper with your hands, or a folding bone before the glue sets or it'll be all wrinkly. Fold the paper up and around where it needs to be, cutting away any excess. Since this paper was long enough, but not wide enough to cover the box in the most simple manner, I've cut it slightly differently. Glue the sides, with help of the roller/ brush and the bone folder, then clip the paper in at the top and fold the paper over the edges, gluing it in place. Cover the lid in the same manner and you're done! Good luck with making your own storage box 🙂  

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Dusseldorf: Secondhand Shopping (2)

In this second part on Dusseldorf Secondhand, I'd like to pick out another market and secondhand shop. Last time, we had a look at the Radschlagermarkte and the Humanet Shop.  

Trödelmarkt Düsseldorf OBI

We came first to this flea market a few months ago, via the previously mentioned marktcom.de website. It was dribbling with rain and we had taken the effort of taking as tram and walking to the site, only to find that the not-so-spacious parking lot was half-empty. Bummer! We tried again last week, and even though the weather was certainly a lot better, the stands were not. There is a mix between dealers and individuals, the former greatly outnumbering the latter - driving prices up. There is not a lot second-hand to be gotten at this market, most stands deal in new wares or food. The second-hand items we did see were mainly a re-hash from our last visit. The same dealers, the same items. Yawn! That being said, it is a great place if you're looking for (not-just) nearly-outdated chocolates, candy, coffee, cookies, sausages, yoghurt or cheese. Location: Königsberger Straße 87 in Dusseldorf Date: Every Sunday, from 11:00 - 18:00  

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Rash und Raus, Kaiserswerther Straße

The Cash und Raus stores might all have the same name, but they are not actually all the same shop as what they offer varies widely. This one in particular has friendly and helpful staff and carry large volumes of books and records, which are reasonably priced. They have some bric-a-brac displayed in various cabinets but most of it seems - especially compared to charity shops in the UK - quite expensive. A few paintings and illustrations are dotted around the shop, there is only a tiny selection of clothing (usually 10 items or less) and a couple of items that are actually not for sale. Kept as display objects, they torture me, as they are usually the best things in the whole shop! Location: Kaiserswerther Straße 33, Dusseldorf Opening hours: Mon - Fri 10:00 - 18:00, Sat 10:00 - 14:00  

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Dusseldorf: Kunstpunkte

This last weekend and the weekend prior, Dusseldorf's artists opened the doors to their galleries and work spaces to the general public. Navigating the site and selecting a few favorites from the 250+ people and locations participating was not an easy task, but I managed to bring it down to a list of around 12 locations/ artists I wanted to see, with the option to drop some of those if needed. To make matters worse (or more interesting, depending on your disposition) I had a few art galleries I wanted to visit that were participating in the dc-open last weekend.   I started near the Altstadt in the RitterstraBe to visit photographic artist Takato Shigeru. He is the only one to occupy this space and it looked very clean, almost clinical. Definitely not what I expected to see judging from the hand-pulled prints and cyanotypes on display! I especially loved his 'the Moon' images and the segmented display he chose for them. If you like his 'Television Studios' series, there is an exhibition opening this week.  

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  Following, I stopped at the CitadellstraBe 15, at the Horst Schuler Gallery, which currently hosts a display by MAGMA, dye transfer editions - a project by Roman Schramm and Egbert Haneke, which contains "Dye Transfer Editions by Timur Si-Qin, Thea Djordjadze, Josephine Pryde, Jochen Lempert, Dan Graham, F.C. Gundlach, Leonore Mau, Erwin Blumenfeld, Gabi Steinhauser and Susanne M. Winterling." I had never really looked into this process but I have to say the colors on these prints are magnificent! a simple grey concrete wall turns into a delightful display of colorations, which, as a digital print would have fallen very flat indeed. Reds are truly red, and blacks run as deep as night. The exhibition runs till the 12th of October if you care to go and see it.  

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  Next stop on the list was the BKK-Kunstforum on the BirkenstraBe 47 where supposedly 19 artists have their workshop. The size of the workspace would have made it a good contrast against the lonely photographer in his own space, but I found nothing of the sort. The two sections I found opened contained a smaller space where a few of the artists were selling some of their works (for very reasonable prices I might add) and the other section contained 3 pieces of video art and a bar. I expected to see a little more than that to be honest! FlurstraBe 57 proved to be more interesting. The gallery, Cosar HMT, was unfortunately not open, but on the first floor I found the most beautiful workspace a photographer could have wished for, occupied by ... a photographer: Thea Weires. There were some impressive images (the sheer size of them alone!) and props around the place and the kids seemed to be having a good time to the music that was playing.  

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  The last stop I would make was at the HoffeldstraBe 42, to see the work of photographic artist Hiroko Inoue. I was very impressed by her 'Mori' images on display and asked to take a photo for this blog. Lucky for me she was actually present and we had a lovely chat about Germany, the presence of images in a physical space and coping with the lack of workspace.  

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  It was the perfect ending to my little tour of Dusseldorf's art scene, let's do it again next year!

Large Format Photography – Day 22 & 23 in the Netherlands

On the Thursday and Friday the weather was fine and warm, without a single cloud in the sky. Since I could be sure all my materials were now in working condition, I set to testing my collodion speed and creating some images. I started with something simple: flowers. I picked up a bunch a bright yellow ones, the cores being a deep brown. After a few small test plates, it seemed my collodion was not by far as slow as I thought it would be and I got a couple of fairly clear images. After having finished the plates, fixing, rinsing and drying – I did however notice some strange elements on my plates. The first one (apart from being just a slight underexposed) had a bright grey line going across. The other was more seriously affected. Initially I considered it was over fixed, but I am now leaning more towards ‘having been stuck against the dipping tank side’. Thank goodness I thought the plates were a little dull in any case but I would be more careful on the next ones.  

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  On my last visit, I had collected a small branch with some good looking chestnuts. I didn’t get to shoot them at that point, so I figured now would be a perfect time. The chestnuts had browned a little and opened op halfway, making for an interesting subject. I tied them to a stepladder, placed them in front of the lens and used about ¾ of my roughly 2m bellows extension.  

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  When photographing the little seahorse, I used the same stepladder to tie a piece of bright white lace-like cloth to. I figured it would make a nice contrasting background to the dark brown taxidermy seahorse which was gifted to me by a German charity shop (seeing they can’t legally sell them). Lucky for me, this specific seahorse was once made into a brooch and still had enough metalwork on the back to secure it to the lace fabric. In the late afternoon sun, I used a gold reflector to light up the stripes on the flanks of the seahorse and about 2/3 of my bellows extension.  

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  The knife and ‘fork’ I had bought at a medieval festival, and I had waited to photograph them until a nice bright day would come along. The icy cold steel came out well in the sunlight, and the shadow of the hand hovering over the handles gives the images a nice cinematographic touch. I find it interesting to see what the dark brown stain on the background does for the depth of the shadow. This image is a little more conceptual than what I have shown so far – and I hope to start doing more of it!  

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Large Format Photography – Day 19, 20, 21 in the Netherlands

This time round, I travelled to the Netherlands on the Monday morning - not my favorite time as it takes away half of your day to actually do something. I set to work on the dark box, the maintenance of the silver bath, creating the silver tank holders and refining the plate holder. At the end of the Tuesday I was near enough finished, early enough to run a few tests, but too late to run all of them. The first signs were not good. Every plate I pulled was fogged. Not the fog what wipes off either (which would mean it was chemically induced) but the light leak kind of fog. I set to plug every little hole I could find, but to no avail. I tested the dipping tank both inside the dark box and hanging into the slotted groove I made for it. No difference. Then, before I knew, it was Wednesday morning and Angela would come over to mine to shoot a few plates. I ran a few quick tests but the results seemed inconsistent as 10 and 30 seconds were very much fogged, but 20 seconds was not too bad. We shot a few plates together and even though some of them showed some form of image - the result was far from what I had hoped for. Again! (Sorry Angela! Three times a charm, right?) After she left, I tested and tested. I started with blocking out all the light completely, working in the dark (which went remarkably easy) to rule out any chemical imbalance. And that was it! The plate came out a nice even blank, so I was sure it had to do with the light in the dark box. I covered up one of the windows to reduce light by half. No result. I doubled up on the red plexiglass window. No result. I had to resort to sticking on the remaining leftover bits of Rubylith foil to make the dark box safe to work in. The silver bath fared a little better. It started off as a minty green cloudy mess after it had fallen over on the last session and got partially mixed up with some developer. After sunning for 4 days (the first 2 being very cloudy), it is currently a light sky blue, with a lot of slush on the bottom, so I'll give it some extra time on my next visit. The hotplate I got at a local charity shop to boil it should need arise, will take around 3 hours to nearly boil half a liter of water, so let's hope I won't need that.   blue 2    

Dusseldorf: Secondhand shopping (1)

  In a few upcoming blogs I would like to highlight some of the secondhand shopping locations in Dusseldorf. One of the things I absolutely adored in the UK were the charity shops and carboot sales. I quickly had a few favorites to visit on a weekly or monthly basis - and even though Germany is not quite the same when it comes to secondhand (for one thing, I don't have a car out here so my travel distances are limited) I'd like to share some of the places around town. There are a few websites around, providing addresses for secondhand shops - but not all are listed by far. The local flea markets (Flohmarkt, Trodelmarkt) seem to receive better coverage on www.marktcom.de, but even they miss out a few here and then. Like the Radschlägermärkte.  

Radschlägermärkte

This monthly market is huge - a day's entertainment worth - where there are traders and individuals selling their wares (roughly a 50/50 division) and where you can find all sorts of weird and wonderful stuff. There are toilets, food stands, and practically 100% used goods for sale. There is plenty of clothing, furniture, taxidermy, games, books, hardware, vintage and antique items and lots of other curiosities for sale. Some of the dealers are a bit pricey, but you might have better luck at the next table as prices vary widely. Several tram and bus lines stop right in front of the gates (Stop: GroBmarkt). Entry is free for buyers. Website: Radschlägermärkte. Location: Ulmenstraße 275, Düsseldorf. Date: The next one is on the 8th of September and I will be there! Will you?  
Last Haul

Last Month's Finds

Humanet

This sweet little charity shop near Gangelplatz would be very easy to miss - if it wasn't for our trusty online guides. The shop inside is very small and barely has enough room for the items, let alone for the friendly Japanese staff and the ever-pouring in of happy customers. The shop sell mostly clothing, but also has shoes, toys, bags and household goods. The prices are more than reasonable and I ended up leaving with a full bag of clothing and shoes! The only downside to this shop are the irregular opening hours due to staff shortage, and a calendar with the opening times will be posted on their door for the month. They seem to be closed most often on Sundays, Mondays and Wednesdays. Website: http://de.humanet.tk/ (German) / http://www.info-now.net/humanet/ (Japanese) Location: Oberbilker Allee 238, Düsseldorf. Opening hours: Irregular, from 10.00 - 13.00  

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