The Nature of Photography
What is it that keeps us looking, imaging, clicking and scrolling.
In a world full of images, amongst the millions of photographs being created and shared each day, we take in visual content and form at the speed of light, never growing tired of the sheer mass of scenes, viewpoints and snippets we've consumed in the endless pursuit of that unknown moment that we instantly recognize.
Is there an end to this persistent, peculiar and seemingly instinctual quest for the rare visual delight that tickles deep in the belly and cuts like a knife. What creates the compulsion to put our experiences and visions into tiny compartments and then share with another. When will we have seen enough or pictured it all?
As we continue to satisfy our insatiable desire for photographs, seeing pieces of our world through many different eyes - we can ask ourselves if we've ever really seen it all. And so, with a renewed sense of wonder and curiosity; we begin to contemplate again -
the nature of photography.
(IM)MATERIALITY (Lisbon, Portugal)
We were delighted to have three of our artists, Remofiloe Mayisela, Sidonie Hadoux and Nadia Rates selected for this show by curator, Diogo Bento
When looking at artistic practices through the scope of the pairing concepts of materiality and immateriality, a central and reconciling notion emerges, that of plastics or plastikos in ancient Greek. If the word refers primarily to the physics of materials or to their inherentproperties, it also refers to the transformative action applied to any concrete material such as the technique of modelling wax or clay, of carving stone, wood or bones, or painting a white canvas…
But beyond the reality of the physical matter, of its presence and it’s becoming, plastics or plastikos additionally refers to the creative and performative imagination which operates in the formation of ideas, mental images or feelings. Plastikos is what gives ideas and forms a visual, a material existence, an aesthetics, but it is equally what gives potential forms and ideas an existence at all. Thus, plastics evokes the questions of the malleability and adaptability and therefore concerns both the realm of the physical with its tangibility and sensuality and that of the spiritual and the emotional, which include various interconnected immaterial dimensions such as culture, identity and memory. The evolution towards less substance and more disembodiment via new technologies reveals on theone hand an active emphasis on a purely ethereal visuality and, on the other hand, a strategic focus on the flexibility of the mind and the brain with the sciences of psychological, behavioural and neurological plasticity.
In 1945, Barnett Newman distinguished plastic and plasmic images. According to Newman, while the first reflects the primacy of form, colours and spatial arrangements, the latter favours thought and dreams. Therefore, by digging into the unconscious and by exploring the mysteries of the world, plasmic images directly act on the human psyche. In that perspective, immateriality in arts would not only concern the nature or the absence of a media (performance, installation, conceptual and digital arts, music, film, literature or poetry), but any artistic process that springs from and transforms the invisible essences of life.
We have long been aware that images constantly affect and alter the human body through desire and a wide range of emotions. The emerging field of quantum physics scientifically shows that what we call nature, the physical environment, the body, all palpable mattersand objects are interweaved dimensions of a whole system of varying spectra of energetic vibrations. What is an idea or an emotion other than a vibrational frequency that manifests itself materially via the human body and its diversified external expressions? Aspirations, drives and desires continually create and shape our material reality. Thus, the conceptual division between materiality and immateriality seems somehow an abstraction or a shared illusion.
The current gathering of the selected artistic inputs from a wide variety of cultural backgrounds including Portugal, Angola, Mozambique, South Africa, RDC, Zimbabwe, São Tomé, Burkina Faso, Namibia, Holland, Germany and Brazil, aims at expanding our awareness and deepening our perception of the living, vibrant and rhythmic substantial world.
of blood sweat and data/
On People, Place and Photography
Studio Nxumalo in collaboration with Through The Lens Collective presents an exhibition of contemporary documentary photography by established and new voices, who engage the city, its people, and diverse social structure through the mode of Portraiture.
As a cosmopolitan city built largely on labour migration, a wealth of unknown stories and realities continue to unfold within this diverse and complex city, inspiring new generations of photographers, driven by a deep sense of curiosity about their own surroundings - to portray the people who co-inhabit this unique space.
This exhibition approaches portraiture as a complex act of representation, social interest and artistic vision - qualities which embody the unique and diverse character of Johannesburg and its people. Here, we broadly consider the social significance of documentary portrait photography – and its power to shift perceptions through the simple, and yet layered act of seeing and portraying each other.
The enduring socio-political impact of ‘witnessing’ is evidenced by the immense historical value of documentary photography in South Africa. The views of the photographers presented here serve as vital contributions to an ongoing visual engagement with the city, placing these intimate considerations of each other within a larger web of social activism.
Simphiwe Majozi uses the photographic medium to bring vision to his unseen experience of home. His work considers the immense spiritual value of those precious items left behind by those who have passed on, while acknowledging the significance of those who remain and become both remnants of and successors to; the lives and dreams of their ancestors.
Many photographers, past and present, have documented South African cultural and spiritual traditions and practices, in attempt to evoke the spirited connection between earthly and metaphysical bodies. Majozi’s work brings a personal and contemporary vision to cultural tradition, reflecting on the experiences of those who are left behind - as inheritors of familial bonds and ancestral legacies. His body of work explores the role that both photography, and these inherited belongings play in our attempts to cherish and hold on to memory.
The Image is Our Voice
Katlisho Kat Tleane
Through the Lens Collective (TTLC) is a strong educational programme and support system for emerging photographers in the early stages of their careers. Bringing together TTLC’s talented photographers and Berman Contemporary’s resources and curatorial expertise, the selected artists are given the platform to showcase their work and gain access to a wider audience.
The exhibition showcases a group of artists, all with their own visual narratives that reflect a specific place, community or idea within SouthAfrica. It’s clear that this group bears a strong identity that is deeply rooted in their environment, which they transform and renew. Ranging in style and technique the artists use photography as their artistic medium with a depth and sensitivity towards their chosen visual domain giving them each a unique voice which makes them stand out amongst the immensely saturated field.
THE IMAGE IS OUR VOICE reflects Berman Contemporary’s mission to create a synergistic network between South African artists and their global contemporaries while expanding with a more socially aware and inquisitive audience.
CURATED BY ELS VAN MOURIK