I’ve always looked for the beauty in dereliction. Decaying, abandoned buildings, peeling walls, rusted artifacts and long discarded objects all hold a visual fascination for me. I spend time searching out and photographing these places – both in their own right and as a backdrop for my environmental portraits.
Recently I stumbled across an old abandoned ‘finca’ with an amazing series of graffiti artworks decorating its walls and inhabiting its spaces. It was a gallery of work – years in the making, that nobody had ever seen. Through each room you could see the development of the artist as they fueled the need to paint these crumbling walls. I was intrigued by this ‘unknown’ artist and what inspired them to paint a building that would soon be demolished. Most of all I was overwhelmed by the respect the ‘unknown’ artist showed this devastated house and how the graffiti complimented, rather than detracted from, its environment.
I posted a photo of the ‘artwork by unknown artist’ on Instagram but nobody knew more of this mystery creator.
I was left with nothing but questions. What drives an artist to produce art that may never be seen, let alone bought, by anyone? When the building is demolished and the artwork reduced to dust – where does that leave the artist?
I can relate to the physical need to make images – to take photos or paint pictures, because it is compulsion, obsession, vocation and from the day I left the ‘finca’ I was determined to find this fellow artist.
I did that yesterday. His name is Mangüe López. He’s just 17 years old. If he had a website to link to I would but he’s an original talent and he’s not doing it for the fame or the gain – he’s just doing it because he is.
I find the photographs of Roger Ballen both fascinating and disturbing.
Like the work of Diane Arbus before him it is a contradiction in terms – both compelling and compulsive to look at yet focused on subject matter we all too often want to look away from.
Merging the boundaries between art house and documentary photojournalism he continues to inspires and inform and his ongoing collaboration with Die Antwoord has bought him a new army of followers.
The collaboration is a masterful achievement – more so because it flies in the face of current trends to partner young trendy groups with young, trendy image makers.
Aged 63, Ballen himself says…
“Because photography is such an easy medium to master technically, especially with today’s cameras, people don’t realize that it’s not just being able to pick up a camera.
When I lift that camera up to take a picture, I’ve gone through thousands of steps to get to that point.
That’s what you’re really seeing; it’s a complex view of the world, through my imagination and through my experiences.”
Long may he continue in his search for the photographic truth….
a musical collaboration between filmmaker John Hicks and musician Mark Baynes of Lady Winwoods Maggot
The Short Film Showcase has packed its Suitcase and moved to the Heart of Brick Lane.
This Wednesday 8th of February – 93 Feet East, 150 Brick lane will be hosting a night of the best short film and animation from around the world.
ENTRY IS FREE ALL NIGHT
Doors Open at 5pm – Films start at 7:45pm
Once again I’ve been lucky enough to get ‘The Hardest Fight’ on the big screen so please make sure you head down and support independent film makers.
Hope to see you there….