Sunday, 21 April 2013

oporto, portugal

i have to say, i've been extremely lucky to visit a few wonderful european cities over the past few months. i feel like i'm getting to the end of my sporadic travel adventures for now (never say never), and although i probably shouldn't pick a 'favourite' trip, maybe this would be it. although that could be seen as an equivalent to picking a favourite child... all my trips have been great.

last weekend i travelled to portugal's 2nd city, porto, for a short stay with my oldest & best friends. my friend A is studying abroad there so we had a lovely place to stay, as long as we were ok with 3 of us sharing a bed. at first, i was overwhelmed by the stunning architecture, which i feel porto's character is built around. every building looked like a work of art. it was sad to see so many vacant structures, and i spent far too much time daydreaming about what i would do if i had access to such amazing spaces. studio space, mainly...

back to the weekend itself --- it was such a treat. trips to the beach, lots of amazing portuguese food, an introduction to caipirinhas and an enormous erasmus party in a 25 person house that was formerly a primary school. all of the people i met were warm, welcoming, gracious, witty and most of all, determined to have a great time. the more i write, the more i am convinced my words won't do my wonderful experience in this city any justice. i'm not sure my photos will be able to do that either.

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

jim naughten's costume and conflict

i feel like i've been slacking majorly on going to photography exhibitions recently, which is a shame as they tend to provide me with the most inspiration for my own work. jim naughten's costume and conflict at london's margaret street gallery is one i'm definitely a little upset to be missing. i've noticed nothing but great reviews all over social media sites, and i have to admit, i cursed everything when i realised i probably won't get a chance to see it in person.

costume and conflict is a series of striking portraits based around a tribe called the herero, based in the southern african nation of namibia. think beautiful outfits from the victorian era with the backdrop of the vast and expansive african desert and you're definitely along the right lines. i have to admit, i was surprised that the thing that struck me the most about these portraits were the intense expressions of the subjects. the significance of these outfits harks back to the time of colonization in namibia (around the 1800s), with the herero tribe embracing the clothing and culture of german missionaries who came to settle on their land.
These portraits are not intended to serve as a conventional documentary of Herero culture. They do not capture the subject in a snapshot of everyday life nor with objects typical of routine or social station. Subjects are removed from their home and intentionally suspended in a confrontational posture. As such, their identity as Herero tribe members is reified in their garments and their gaze, a colour and vibrancy brought into acute focus by the contrasting setting. 
the exhibtion sadly ends on the 13th of this month (this saturday!) so i would definitely advise going and checking it out on my behalf (or yours) - my only consolation is that a book on the series has been released which will take pride of place on my bookshelf very soon. jim naughten's interview with image source is also worth a look, if only to get an insight into the painstaking work that can go into commissions such as these.

all images by jim naughten