Blog | Peter Nitsch

Swapping Photographs: Australia - Germany

Photograph from the series Function Follows Form by Peter Nitsch.

Swapping Photographs: Australia - Germany

Cosmic Walk (study 4), solarised silver gelatin print (photogram) with toner, 25.4 x 20.3 cm, 2013 by Kate Robertson.

Kate Robertson and myself (Peter Nitsch) had the idea of exchanging our physical art photographs and to document the process along the way. The result is the finished international art swap, where our images went around the globe as well as our documented personal observations on photography. To save costs, we shipped artworks without framing and left this part to each other. This was exciting to see how each of us would interpret the other’s photo with its own framing part.

There has been much written on the changing role and definition of photography since the introduction of digital forms and proliferation of images. Increasingly, a considerable amount of these writings discuss the new worlds in which the photographic artist now has to navigate and contribute within.

“Over the last few months I’ve reflected on the more positive aspects of image saturation, specifically found on the Internet. I’ve come to realise the escalation of images has enabled me the opportunity to connect into and network within the global photographic community. As a photographic artist living in Australia, this is vital as I live far outside the more established photographic hubs of Europe and America,” says Kate Robertson.

Social media platforms, blogs and online journals have opened up relentless opportunities to explore, engage and discuss photography. New peers from around the world have been formed and friends have been made. Most surprisingly though has been an international art swap.

Most importantly, the art swap highlighted our ongoing appreciation for the materiality of photography. The photographic paper quality and surface, inks / darkroom chemicals, the final size of photograph – it all forms how we view a photograph as both image and object.

Swapping Photographs: Australia - Germany

Peter Nitsch’s artwork ready for posting to Melbourne, Australia (photograph emailed to Kate 16 September 2013).

Swapping Photographs: Australia - Germany

Kate Robertson’s artwork ready for posting to Munich, Germany.

Swapping Photographs: Australia - Germany

Kate’ Robertson’s photograph framed, Munich, Germany (photograph emailed to Kate 11 November 2013).

Swapping Photographs: Australia - Germany

Peter Nitsch’s photograph framed, Melbourne, Australia.

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Contemporary Photography In Thailand
I’m going to be guest blogger at Hatje Cantz for a month. I’m going to write about contemporary photography in Thailand. You can follow the stream here.

Thailand, a constitutional monarchy since 1932, is often described in the international press as the “land of smiles”—a stereotype heavily fostered by the country’s tourism industry. And Buddhism, sometimes only referred to a “laughing Buddha”—and thereof reduced to an “decorative” icon. My posts about contemporary photography in Thailand want to shine a different light on Siam, as the country was formerly called.

Besides royal portraiture (around 1850) it all started in the years following WWII, as photography became available to ordinary people. One of the first known photographers was Chitt Chongmankhong (1922-2009), who was born in Bangkok to a poor Cantonese family. And in the 1960s Thailand’s forgotten photography master Pornsak Sakdaenprai transformed young farmers of Northern Thailand into glamourous Luke Toong (country music) gods and goddesses that once shaped the identity of lower-class Thais and most rural people.

Today, in the hands of contemporary Thai photo-artists and Foreign photographers, the medium has been used to examine their different areas of interest. As curator Zhuang Wubin puts it: “They have given parity to the unheard voices in Thailand, examined the erasure of histories, deconstructed the visual representation of power.” And they have given a new perspective upon Thailand.

As you will see these days are quite an exciting time for photography within the arts in Thailand.

If you want to keep in touch with other writings about photography, please visit my photography category on get addicted to … here or follow my Contemporary Photography in Thailand project here.

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Hinterland by Peter Dixie Hinterland by Peter Dixie Hinterland by Peter Dixie

“Before coming to Shanghai I had heard that at one point 50% of the world’s construction cranes were employed here. This had a certain fascination.” – Peter Dixie

Peter Dixie‘s Hinterland series is a photographic exploration of the changing landscape at the outer limits of Shanghai’s Metro network. Dixie studies the outskirts, or Hinterland, of Shanghai. In his statement, he describes his methodical way of working, “in which each image there is some centrally placed object, a space being constructed around this, and by drawing an ordinary object out of the landscape, and elevating its status compositionally, it is given a significance that in passing perhaps it would not have. As an identified and preserved object, it is enshrined, withdrawn from its mundane original context, and recreated as an object of contemplation.  Hence each image presents a site of contemplation.

The series deals with one city, Shanghai, but has relevance to the idea of the city in general, as event, as a complete historical entity with a finite life, a bounded space. As with any event, its existence is discreet. This does not mean that limits exist in a clear sense. The boundaries of an event shift and break upon examination. This series looks beyond the city at what will be city, the becoming-city, the future-city.” Dixie is working on this extended project while also shooting full-time as an architectural photographer in Shanghai.

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Early Memories – When Only The Memory RemainsEarly Memories – When Only The Memory Remains

I have just finished this short series entitled Early Memories for Unless You Will Magazine: Back in the days of analog photography the term “instant” meant to get a photo within a few minutes. That waiting time got way shortened by digital photography and gadgets like mobile phones and digital cameras. Nowadays digital photography is instant photography. Even if the digital photo can be saved, uploaded and published within a glance, does a real picture truly exist? Picture in a sense of “always in mind” for the case this photo gets lost for some reason. Today pictures are deleted without much thought or vanish in the depths of a hard drive; as a result they get squeezed out of focus and slowly but surely erased from our memory. Without having left any permanent impression on the cortex of our brain they’re witnesses of a digital amnesia.

It’s completely different with analog photo albums from our parents’ generation before 1980, where every missing picture is forever saved in mind as chronological and topical memory. Even if some moments haven’t been witnessed personally, the associated pictures are still completely familiar through recurrent examination and tons of vivid stories. “I want to revive mentally exactly those experienced and narrated events.”

It’s an exciting situation that a missing picture from a photo album is shown and specified on a Polaroid, in order to restore the memories that are connected with the missing photo. The result is a photo without a photo with a story. “Some person on those missing photos is not with us anymore and will only live on through the memories that we’re still keeping in our minds. Under these circumstances the beholder might create its very own picture in mind that is also connected to his personal memories, but might differ from my own conception.”  This phenomenon of the personal conception and interpretation of a non-experienced situation can be stimulated by the fact that the bigger picture is shown on some Polaroid. This link allows a conclusion on the missing picture and helps to store it in mind without ever having experienced the situation.

The inventor of the Polaroid Edwin H. Land explained 1948 in the book “Polaroid, Images of America”, “The aesthetic purpose of the new camera is to make available a new medium of expression to those who have an artistic interest in the world around them …” and continued “Ideally – all that should be necessary to get a good picture, is to take a good picture.” All shot Polaroid of remembrance have been digitalized and destroyed afterwards in order that all that remains from the memory is only the memory.

The soundtrack comes with friendly support by GLOBO. Acoustic electronic music by Brombaer & Phole (Three Sixty Records – Thanks Graham!)
threesixtyrecords.net/WP/brombaer-and-phole

Get the EP on Amazon here: bit.ly/globoep or on iTunes here: bit.ly/globoepitunes

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Swissair Souvenirs Photo Archive

Flight Attendants in front of Swissair, 1972.

Swissair Souvenirs Photo Archive

Alfred Hitchcock (left) at the Zurich-Kloten Airport, in the background a Sud-Aviation SE-210 Caravelle, 1966.

Swissair Souvenirs Photo Archive

Head pilot Ernst Nyffenegger in the cockpit of a DC-3 at the airfield Dubendorf, ca. 1938.

Swissair Souvenirs (Scheidegger & Spiess, ISBN 978-3-85881-359-6, $65) is a wonderful book for airplane enthusiasts and design lovers showcasing pictorial worlds from the Image Archive of the ETH-Bibliothek. Edited and compiled by Ruedi Weidmann, Michael Gasser and Nicole Graf this book about Switzerland’s former national airline is both a nostalgic overview of a bygone era of air travel and a unique lens through which to view the history of photography.

For many years, Swissair, Switzerland’s former national airline, was an icon of luxurious international air travel. Loved by passengers from all over the world and recommended by travel agencies for its outstanding service, Swissair was an object of national pride. Yet the company came to a sad end after the disaster of flight SR111 off Canada’s Atlantic coast in 1998, followed by the grounding of the entire fleet due to cash flow problems in 2001.

What remains of Swissair, besides the countless memories of its employees and passengers, is the vast photographic archive of the company, now held at ETH-Bibliothek in Zurich. This beautifully illustrated book collects 270 of the archive’s best images, arranged by formal and thematic aspects, and supplemented with an informative introductory essay and concise captions. Photographs document every aspect of flight, from the lives of pilots, flight attendants, and other staffers, to airfields both in Switzerland and abroad. The images range from stunning stills of aircraft in operation to carefully styled photographs of in-flight meals.

Photographs from the Image archive, ETH-Bibliothek, volume 2.

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Roy Ethridge Le Luxe Second EditionRoy Ethridge Le Luxe Second EditionRoy Ethridge Le Luxe Second Edition

American artist Roe Ethridge’s latest book Le Luxe (Mack Books, ISBN 978-1-907946-08-0, $55) comes in a second printing of the now out-of-print first-edition with improved reprographics, new linen and end papers. It takes its title from the French “C’est pas du luxe”, an ironic phrase which alludes to the superfluous nature of luxury whilst proclaiming how essential it is to existence. Such paradoxes are fluently woven through Ethridge’s oeuvre and Le Luxe encompasses his practice from the past decade, without ever slipping into the moribund gravitas of a retrospective.

Plumbing his diverse image inventories, from personal images and magazine commissions to an archive of online screen shots, the book continues his exploration of picture-making that disavows the potential for creating a finished work. Ethridge para-phrases Eggleston when he states that he is “at war with the finished” in an era of digital photography straining towards idealisation. The pristine conditions of photography are undermined in the book’s design and riff on Henri Matisse’s apposite aphorism “exactitude is not truth” (Matisse titled two of his paintings Le Luxe).

Composed in three parts, Le Luxe contains an unusual backdrop, the everyday of the artist, who worked from November 2005 to January 2010 on one commission documenting a building in downtown Manhattan on a site adjacent to the World Trade Centre. This narrative offers an uneasy balance to the fissures between analogue and digital and Ethridge’s consistent undermining of his own certainties.

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