Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Photobooth Pictures in Art and Abroad

Anyone who knows me knows of my passion/ obsession with photobooths. I’ve been collecting non-digital photobooth pictures for seven years now and have thousands of pictures. Taking and collecting photos is primarily a hobby but I have also used them in my artwork. I store my photos in archival plastic sheets and have divided them into four categories; Found Photos, Donated Photos, Film Stills (more on this later) and Self Portraits. I own almost all the published books on the subject matter and I’m especially interested in their history. This summer when I travelled to Australia I was happy to hunt for the remaining non-digital booths in Sydney for’s Locator feature on their website. I was curious about what I would be able to find in Europe. At one time the continent’s train stations and streets were rampant with “Photoautomats” but today they have been almost entirely replaced with easier to maintain digital booths. In Paris I visited a few booths that are owned by businesses committed to preserving these iconic machines but it was only in Berlin that I found the occasional classic black & white “dip’n’dunk” booth in the streets.

Nevertheless, Paris was a real photobooth highlight for me because the Centre de Georges Pompidou had a very thoroughly curated exhibition titled “La Subversion des Images” or “The Subversion of Images” which featured Surrealist photography and film. The exhibition had original photobooth pictures by famous Surrealists such as Paul Eluard, André Breton, Louis Aragon, René Magritte, Yves Tanguy, Luis Brunel, Salivador Dali and others, taken for both fun and to use in their artwork.

Top photo is of the Fotoautomat in the Palais de Tokyo in Paris. Bottom picture is of René Magritte's "Je ne vois pas la [femme] cachée dans la forêt", 1929.

Back from Europe and overflowing with inspiration

I feel a little bad for a leaving my blog unattended for so long, but I had good reason; I was overseas taking in some culture! First on my list was France, where I stayed with an artist friend in Paris before I headed south to Provence, the Alps and the Mediterranean. I returned to Paris for another week and then headed for Berlin where I stayed with a musician friend. The gray skies and freezing temperatures were pretty dismal compared to the sun in Southern France. I was in for more of the same when I flew to London to stay with some actor/improviser friends. I created a bit of a homebase there and took small trips to Glasgow, Edinburgh and Totnes (a small village in Devon). I returned to London for a few last splendid days and flew to Toronto from there... more about that later.

As you might imagine I saw a lot of art in that time, I visited approximately two galleries/museums everyday for two months. There is a point when you just can’t absorb anymore visual stimuli, (I hit it a few times), though there were still a few stellar exhibitions that managed to resonate with me. Since I’ve been back a lot of people have been asking me about the best shows I saw, so here’s a list of the best temporary exhibitions I visited while I was abroad (in order that I saw them):

-Chasing Napoleon at the Palais de Tokyo, Paris
-La Subversion des Images at the Centre Pompidou, Paris
-La Biennale de Lyon hosted primarily at La Sucriere, Lyon
-Né dans la Rue at Fondation Cartier, Paris
-Elles at the Centre Pomipdou, Paris
-Thomas Demand (retrospective) at the Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin
-Kiosk – Modes of Multiplication, presented by Christoph Keller at the Kunstbibliothek, Berlin
-Anish Kapoor (retrospective) at the Royal Academy of Arts, London
-Jill Magid: Authority to Remove at the Tate Modern, London
-The End of the Line: Attitudes in Drawing at the Fruit Market Gallery, Edinburgh
-Sophie Calle: Talking to Strangers at the White Chapel Gallery, London

Photos are of 2/3 of Barry McGee's installation, titled "Installation" at the Biennale de Lyon.