The Body Politic: Contemporary photography from Austria

According to the publicity material:

The Body Politic highlights the strength and diversity of contemporary photography in Austria. The work reflects the concerns of five established and emerging photographic talents

This exhibition is taking place in the Photography Gallery, Meting House Square, Dublin.

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I had not heard of any of the five photographers. Three were exhibiting on the first floor and two on the second. I did not read the publicity material about the artists before I viewed the exhibition. I did not want to know which of the artists were established and which were the emerging photographers.

Ulrike Lienbacher asked models, both male and female, to pose in, what she described as typical model poses. The catch was that they were dressed in normal outfits. I thought this was incredibly effective as one would not have given a second glance at these images in a glossy magazine. Is it true that “the clothes maketh the man“?

My first impression of the three photographers exhibiting on the first floor was that the images were ‘ordinary’. I needed to read what they were ‘about’.

I was drawn to a collage of works by Ulrike Lienbacher. The blurb says the work was spurred by her interest in feminism. She used models, both male and female, and asked them to adopt typical poses that they would use in professional photo shoots. The difference was that they were wearing ‘normal’ clothes. The collage she created was interesting.

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The title of Erwin Polnac’s series of images is “8820 +/-“ which at first reading is a little confusing until one realises it is the postcode for the village. Neumarkt in Austria, where Polnac grew up. The + and – represent the neighbouring villages which are also becoming de-populated. Polnac said Neumarky was a difficult place to grow up, difficult to find oneself is how he expressed it. He did not want to depict touristic images of his native village so he “worked his way into the village by the back door”. He certainly achieved his purpose. The images are fairly stark. However I did not get the feeling of desolation or indeed of de-population. For this I would have expected abandoned houses or schools.

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Christopher Mavric entitled his collection “Wildfriend (Totally Strangers). I do not know why but I had no lasting impression of these images. They made no impact on me. I am really interested in Street Photography but despite the blub saying his images were ‘live and unstaged’. These people were not doing anything nor were they behaving in an interesting way. His images could have been of his aunts..

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Stephanie Moshammer’s work entitled “Young Gods” was, for me, the most appealing of the five photographers. Her subjects, on the cusp of adulthood, were bursting with energy.

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I missed the fifth photographer altogether.

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The National Print Museum, Dublin

I have wanted to visit this museum for a very long time for personal reasons. My grandfather was a printer as were several of his five brothers. I had not known this until, during family research, I found his death certificate where his profession was marked as printer. From there I extended the family research and discovered that several other members of the family had been printers. I knew my fathers brother was a printer before he gave it up to be a full time actor. I wanted to know, if possible, where they had worked in Dublin. The family was an inner city family so I assumed they must have worked somewhere in the city centre. I have put in a request to the museum to try to establish more information.

My recent reading of Type & Topogralhy by Phil Baines and Andrew Haslam has opened up so many areas which were completely new to me. In the museum the history of printing was clearly displayed and they had many machines including one of the original Gutenberg wooden printing press machine.The whole mechanism of linotype became clear when I saw the linotype machine. The very slow developments in the world of printing amazed me although I already knew this to be the case. Was this because the process of manually typesetting was pleasurable for those involved. I like to think of my ancestors enjoying their compositing. It appeared to me that only two major developments took place in about three hundred years. The ability to make lines of type ready for printing and being able to feed paper on rolls.

This was until the arrival of the computer which has changed the printing industry utterly. We are all now our own printers.

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The terminology for the different steps in the printing process also became clear.

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The machine on which the Irish proclamation was printed is also on display in the museum.

7_print-printing-press-for-proclamationThe guide pointed out some errors in the proclamation because of the haste in which it was set and printed.

Several sets of letter types are also held in the museum including a set of the old Gaelic script which I learned as a child. It was a great shame that this was discontinued  because of the cost of special keyboards and printing.

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Alec Soth: Hypnagogia

Hypnagogia comes from the greek words “sleep” and “guide”. It is described as that in-between state between sleep and wakefulness. So what is going on in this state:

Scientists have observed the presence of both alpha brain waves — which are the dominant brain wave mode when we are conscious but relaxed, for instance when daydreaming or meditating — and theta brain waves, which are associated with restorative sleep, during hypnagogia. Typically, these brain waves occur only separately, and it may be the unique combination that gives rise to unusual visions and sensations.  (1)

Artists, including Dali found this state useful for the creation of art works. It is a route to the subconscious. Sometimes the images which arise in this state are extremely vivid.

Soth’s exhibition, at The Douglas Hyde Gallery in Trinity College Dublin, carries the title Hypnagogia. I had not researched the term before I visited the exhibition but the information online explained the term so I was expecting really interesting images. I was deeply disappointed.

The Douglas Hyde gallery is a fairly challenging space but given the title of the exhibition I thought this would add to the inventiveness of the images. From the image below it can be seen that hardly any two images are the same size. This, I felt, was a good start. I stood in the middle of the gallery and tried to see how and why this particular set of images were collected under the title Hypnagogia. I am afraid I failed completely. So I decided to examine each one individually to see how it could be the result of or a depiction of this “in-between” state of sleep and wakefulness.

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Californian Condor

 

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Tunnel

This I felt could be a depiction of that state of entering a tunnel when sleep is overtaking one. This image resamples the oft described state in a “near death experience. Persons experiencing this often describe moving towards a lighted tunnel. I loved this image for its own sake.

kaaterskill_falls
kaaatrskill falls

I am not sure if the impossible position of the man in the image indicates a sort of hallucinatory state in which this image was conceived. I feel it si possible.

Most of the other images left me totally perplexed. I did not enjoy this exhibition.

 

  1. The Huffington Post. 2016. Hypnagogia, The State Between Sleep And Wakefulness, Is Key To Creativity | Huffington Post. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/hypnogogia-dreams-creativity_us_56c5d16ce4b0c3c55053de38. [Accessed 17 September 2016].