Farewell

by Heather on July 6, 2012

Though I’ve flirted with it in the past, it is truly now time to officially shutter HMAb. Thanks in no little part to all of you, the blog has served me well- it has brought me opportunity, if not wealth, and loads of inspiration, knowledge and even friends around the globe.

Living in Canada, I’ve reached as high as I can as an Art Buyer, I’ve had some tremendous Art Buying challenges but my love for that sort of work is mostly gone. Instead, I’m going back to school to get my MA at McMaster University in their Communication and New Media Program and I am teaching in Sheridan’s Bachelor of Applied Arts program: this fall I have the pleasure of introducing first year students to “Conceptual Processes” and in the winter I will teach a course that doesn’t exist anywhere else and which I’m developing right now: The History of Advertising Photography. Fun!

Education is something that has always interested me- my entire immediate family are teachers and most of my extended family is too- including those who’ve married in. So I’m excited about this next chapter. Questions about the need to foist more photography students onto the world definitely plays on my mind but I am confident that Sheridan provides a unique and rich University experience- from the importance of concepting, through history, technique, work placements and business courses, I’m thrilled to be part of a committed and vibrant faculty.

So, carry on brave shooters and I hope you’ve enjoyed the information here as much as I’ve enjoyed bringing it to you.

All the best,
hm

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More on YOUTH: Natasha V’s Preservation

by Heather on June 8, 2012

Tonight’s the night! Big opening night bash for HMA6: YOUTH at PIKTO starts around 6pm. As my first foray into curation, it’s been such an interesting experience- I’m totally in love with the show but I can’t wait to hear what y’all think.

Natasha V’s photography is such an interesting addition to this show. As a still life shooter, she had perhaps the hardest task for this exhibit. But, I’ve always been a fan of her photography and her work ethic and I knew she would be able to crack this one. From the outset I had her pegged for the back wall of PIKTO and indeed, her huge print (60″x90″) looks fantastic. Here’s a detail from the larger work:

About her work Natasha says:

At first, this “Youth” concept was a challenge for me. My, and I think your, first thought was to pull some items from my own youth and photograph them. I came to Canada in 1994, from Sarajevo (Bosnia), where my whole life up to that time was left behind, including all personal items. You know, as hard as that is, in some ways it’s a liberating thing to come to a new place and start over. It’s like moving from a bachelor apartment to a house! But still, I get very nostalgic at times about things I used to love very much, and wanted to keep “forever”. A friend from Sarajevo brought me his old suitcase with things he brought with him to Canada, and there they were, organized in small bags, all the memories! That’s how I keep things too, I like putting them in zip-loc bags! So, the idea of Preserving Youth was born. The one or two objects (and some people have boxes of them) that are your Youth. The Icons! I wished for the first time I had a video camera for this project – I absolutely loved hearing the stories about these objects, and the laughs!

And me, I am feeling a bit like a magpie, enjoying all those beautiful things on my set, that somehow, almost all, look like they are from my zip-loc bags.

And, just to add some more eye candy to this post, Natasha (along with two others from HMA6: YOUTH: Derek Shapton and Lee Towndrow) was nominated for two National Magazine Awards last night. Here’s one of the beautiful shots that landed her the nod:

The colour! The light! The shadow! Natasha has always had a dramatic and strong aesthetic approach to her work. I’m so glad to have her in this show.

Don’t forget- HMA6 Curates: Youth opens TONIGHT at PIKTO in the Distillery. Feel free to RSVP on Facebook here so I can look forward to seeing you there.

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More on YOUTH: Derek Shapton’s Memories

by Heather on June 7, 2012

So the show is up, the catalogue has been printed, the beer is being chilled, the little red stickers are standing by- and after a bunch of hard work from the artists and the good folks at PITKO, HMA6: YOUTH is set to open tomorrow night! According to FB, we’ve got over 140 stopping by. Hope you’re one of them.

As I see the show hung finally at PIKTO, I’m so pleased with the diversity of work that we’ve pulled together. If you’re a people shooter, investigating youth can be straightforward enough (although all of my photographers are bringing something very different to this show- a testament to how broad the category of “people shooting” really is). But the last two photographers I’m going to profile, are showing Landscape and Still Life work- yes, curious indeed.

In Derek Shapton case, he’s showing landscape images that have special significance from his youth. I’ve actually blogged about this series in the past. To read the interview go here. Or… you could watch this video in which Derek revisits the sites of his landscape shots:

This series is about 4 years old now and I thought it would be interesting for Derek to update us on how his thoughts about the work have evolved. My question to him:

You shot this series several years ago- since it has to do with memory and watching your own children experience the world, I’m curious about how your perception of the series has changed since first shooting it.

Since shooting the series, we’ve actually had a third child, and I think if anything that the images have become even more meaningful. We have a couple of them hanging in our house, and the kids are utterly fascinated by them. They’ve seen the whole series, of course, and ask me about the pictures all the time, even making up stories about them to each other and to their friends.They seem particularly fascinated by the idea of me as a child – it’s hard for me to imagine my dad as a kid, and I have the benefit of an adult’s perspective, so it must be even harder for them.

Seeing this happen — watching images of my memories taking on a new life as elements in my children’s memories — is incredibly gratifying, and feels weirdly profound in a way I hadn’t envisioned a few years ago.

And, if you’re not reading Derek’s fantastic blog: Planet Shapton, you should be. Check it out and subscribe here.

Don’t forget- HMA6 Curates: Youth opens tomorrow at PIKTO in the Distillery. Feel free to RSVP on Facebook here so I can look forward to seeing you there.

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Johan Hallberg-Campbell is not a Doctor but he plays one at the PIKTO Art Gallery. Here he is hanging HMA6: YOUTH last week:

© Rodrigo Daguerre

But truthfully Johan does have a role to play in health care. He has had a long working relationship with the Canadian Red Cross and in the middle of hanging the show last Friday he got a call that he was to be on a plane by 5pm, heading to Thunder Bay to cover the flooding. Ever the professional, he somehow managed to finish hanging the show prior to the flight. Here are some of images from his time in Thunder Bay:

And it was the Red Cross that brought Johan to Attawapiskat last fall. While he was there, Johan stole some quiet moments with a few young people and from that body of work, he’s chosen 4 pieces to show in HMA6: YOUTH.

There is a tremendous amount of sensitivity that any shooter needs to bring to these types of assignments. What struck me about Johan’s Attawapiskat work was how particular and human it looked. Rather than just showing a tragedy or iconizing a community marginalized and in crisis, Johan was able to cut through the cliche and show us the person behind the events. Indeed, here is how Johan’s practice is described:

His documentary work focuses on capturing the visual manifestation of the latent concept of “place”. Exploring what it means to belong to a community and have traditions rooted in heritage, and alternatively what happens when one’s “place” is altered, removed, distorted and shifted.

Johan’s a busy guy. His solo show Coastal is on display at the Harbourfront Gallery until mid July and he’s set to open as part of an outdoor group show, also at Harbourfront called Uncharted Waters. It opens on June 21 and runs for a year.

Here’s a shot from Attawapiskat. Come to the show to see the rest.

Don’t forget- HMA6 Curates: Youth opens on the 8th at PIKTO in the Distillery. Feel free to RSVP on Facebook here so I can look forward to seeing you there.

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One of my favourite things about this show is that it includes so much variety. Subject matter, technique and of course style- the show is a lovely mixture. Plus, it represents photographers in very different places in their careers. Established shooters like Lee Towndrow are showing fantastic work that warrants more attention. But it’s also thrilling to be include new shooters like Rodrigo Daguerre.

Rodrigo’s work caught my attention during my visits to Sheridan last year and I mentioned him in a blog post here (in that blog post I also mentioned Rebecca Baran’s great Assistant Workshop. She’s running it again this weekend- if you want to get assisting work, this should be a pre-requisit. Go here for more info). So let’s get some back story on Rodrigo, but first, I love the simplicity of this photograph:

I asked Rodrigo some questions:

Where are you from and how did you end up in Toronto?

I was born in Buenos Aires, the capital city of Argentina. A few years ago I decided to study photography. I was looking for schools around the world and Sheridan was a good option for me. I arrived in 2009 and fell in love with Toronto and Canadians.

I love the series you did during your last year at Sheridan. You’ve been out of school now for a year- how has your practice and interest in photography evolved? What’s next for you in terms of personal projects?

Thank you, that series was inspired by many things and situations really close to me. I always felt out of place in Buenos Aires, that’s the reason I traveled so much. In that series I tried to express the inability to change surroundings, being stuck in a place where you can’t escape. These characters are unable to move or alter their circumstances, surrounded by cold environments.

Today I am trying to shift my perspective and explore new ideas for my photography. I haven’t done much still life, I think it would be a good exercise to do in order to get me out of my comfort zone.

What’s your take on Youth culture? In my blog post last week about Mark Peckmezian, he referred to the vanity and superficiality of this young generation. The formality and beauty of your portraits seems to play with this idea a bit. And, it stands in contrast to a lot of photography of young people we see now- work that is raw, snapshot, grabbed. What are your thoughts?

It’s quite interesting for me cause I have already lived my teens and twenties and going back to College and being surrounded by younger people has given me an opportunity to re-discover and somehow experience youth again in today’s culture. I don’t think there has a been a more powerful moment for photography like there is now. There is a need to be beautiful, we want to hear it and read it – we need to post our experiences, we want to share them. We need to look good, be beautiful, handsome and receive confirmation, comments and “likes”. The medium is new but the story is the same; the exterior is more relevant than the human condition.

I think I want to give an air of mystery in my portraits and I can’t escape the collective imagination about beauty; I have a need to make people look interesting and beautiful but balance this notion with dark intense shadows, cool tones and locations. A good example is one of the images in the show, a reflecting glass that not only shows the exterior but what lies inside.

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Intrigued? You’ll have to come by PIKTO to see his work in person but in the meantime, here are some past work of Rodrigo’s:

And, lest I forget, the crazy good image on the poster is Rodrigo’s as well. Don’t forget- HMA6 Curates: Youth opens on the 8th at PIKTO in the Distillery. Feel free to RSVP on Facebook here so I can look forward to seeing you there.

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More on YOUTH: Lee Towndrow’s Anachronisms

May 28, 2012

I’m a big Lee Towndrow fan. He was on my list for this show from Day One and the series that he’s contributing helped cement the theme. I’m not going to show it to you here but Lee’s adding a theatrical re-imagining of youth set in Mexico City that to me, embodies the best that [...]

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More on YOUTH: Mark Peckmezian’s Approach

May 22, 2012

So it’s just over a week until HMA6 Curates: Youth hangs at PIKTO gallery. As you’ll recall, we’ve got a fantastic line up of shooters showing work that’s loosely connected to the theme: Youth. One of the artists who’s long been associated (and I’m defining “long” as the 2 years since he burst on the [...]

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HMA6: Curates!

April 26, 2012

What? That’s right- HMAb is entering the world of curation with a show at PIKTO in June. Check out the lovely poster designed by uber talented Katina Constantinou featuring a wicked shot by Rodrigo Daguerre: I’m super excited that PIKTO has invited me to curate a show in their gallery space. This is a completely [...]

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South African Photographers-Turned-Music-Video-Directors Smack Down!

March 14, 2012

Roger Ballen’s 2012 work for Die Antwoord vs. Pieter Hugo’s 2011 work for Spoek Mathambo. I’m torn. I like both videos. Photographically speaking though I’ll take Hugo over Ballen but not by too much. My husband is voting for the Hugo video. You? I’m sure you’ve seen the Ballen but may have missed the Hugo [...]

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HMAb: The Fundraiser Recap

February 13, 2012

Well last weekend’s HMAb: The Fundraiser was a blast. The Gladstone was packed with a delightful mix of photographers, agency folks and friends; all of us framed by fantastic artwork. Plus, the talks were amazing: Brett Gundlock, Naomi Harris and Daniel Ehrenworth really outdid themselves, showing great work and letting us in on the whys [...]

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