«Garden was a way to experiment and making a pdf book was a way to edit and make a selection. It didn’t need to be in traditional book form or on the website. Garden doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s just photos of gardens, some of them are and some not. Nature, parks etc. could be looked at, as our collective garden too.»
Garden comes as a free pdf book optimized for iPad (iBooks). 1024 x 768 px, 14 pages, 12 photos. Also available in an edition of 15 laser printed as it is on watermarked 100 g A4 archival paper and stapled.
The Moscow Museum of Modern Art and the Esquire magazine present the exhibition Dust and Scratches. The project curated by Maxim Nikanorov, the art director of the Esquire magazine, will bring together the works of the leading world photographers of today. The majority of the authors in question have never been exhibited in Moscow as yet.
The title of the show evokes the eponymous web project — the “Dust and Scratches” gallery offers its visitors the opportunity to acquire the best samples of contemporary art photography at a poster price. Thanks to the collaboration of the Esquire magazine, hundreds of leading world photographers, including the winners of the World Press Photo Award and other prestigious competitions, agreed to show and sell their works at the “Dust and Scratches” gallery. Maxim Nikanorov has personally selected each piece among thousands of photos the gallery presents.
The exhibition features the works by such art photographers as Piero Martinello, Steven Barritt, Jack Redcliffe, Amy Touchette, Brian Sorg, Martin Brink (above image), Jeroen Hofman, Keliy Anderson-Staley, Erick Refner, Adam Panczuk et al.
From the grand formal layouts of the Palace of Versailles on the outskirts of Paris, to the humble urban space or window box, the garden has formed an important part of our social history for centuries. Be it the Japanese rock garden so associated with Zen Buddhism, in which one finds space and time to enter into a meditative state, or the traditional English Rose garden, these physical spaces offer and maintain man’s connection with the natural world.
In his latest body of work, Garden, Martin Brink constructs his own vision of a garden through a series of twelve images taken in not one, but a variety of gardens. Whose gardens these maybe, is largely unimportant, as what Brink presents is a personal interpretation of a garden, that in size and scale the vast majority of us can relate to on a daily basis.
Here in his black-and-white images, with their restrained tonal range of greys, we enter Brink’s secret garden through a small wooden gate, shielded from the outside world by tall evergreen trees and shrubs; we glimpse the apex of a rooftop through the sun speckled leaves of a garden shrub; and a goose half asleep, one eye on the photographer, resting in a secluded and shady corner.
As we enjoy our own gardens and those of friends, or explore the magnificent formal gardens of grand country houses, they each reveal much to the casual glance, yet they yield even higher rewards to those that take the time to look deeper and longer at their natural grandeur so often overlooked or hidden, Brink’s gentle and sensitive monochromatic photographs only reveal their inner meditative state to the viewer prepared to give them time, exploring their depth and quality.
The Garden is self-published as a free PDF format book optimized for the iPad, and as a limited edition of 15 copies, each signed and numbered with an A5-sized C-print.
1. First, let’s talk about your predilection for black and white. How this attitude is reflected in your photography?
It just happened gradually and now I’m stuck. It’s not that I’ve never shot color photos, but the color has never grown into a series (yet). What interests me about photography is the transformation process to fiction and to me it’s so much more evident in black and white photography. So I don’t consider black and white to be more true or better in a documentary sense, probably the opposite. I also love that time is less evident and the graphical qualities in black and white.
2. “Unlimited” is configured as an open collection of special glances. How much desire to stitch together personal memories or how much willing to depict single episodes here and there?
«To be honest there’s not that much thought behind that collection of photos. I created it simply to have a place for good singles, photos from short projects or whatever. I didn’t want to impose any rules (crops, orientation, camera types…) or anything of that kind. I want it to be free and just see what happens with it. Maybe it’s gone a year from now or maybe it has grown. What I like about it is that I can find a three year old photo and add it or I can remove a new photo that I maybe added to quickly. That’s what’s good about a website, no need for everything to be static.»
3. The portraits of single and common objects. An objective realism that drives us to meditate not too seriously on the daily lifetime. We find them in the series “Objects”, “31 Kr”, and somehow in “Titled”. Tell us about these projects.
«What these projects have in common is that I’ve been drawn to certain objects and then I’ve just photographed them and put them in a series. It’s really not a lot more complicated than that. In “Objects” which is quite an old series I wanted to distort the objects and make them into something more than just objects. I did that by using quite a lot of wide angle and flash and of course by the selection of objects. “Titled” was more about typography and the words I found interesting or funny and could take out of context from the books. “31 kr” is quite different as it’s things I decided to buy at a second hand shop and take home and photograph. The title “31 kr” was the total I paid for them (31 swedish kr or SEK). So, I basically was editing as I was selecting the things to purchase and maybe in the end everything didn’t come out perfectly because of that, but I decided to include everything I bought.»
4. In the project “Mailboxes” there is an instinctive or involuntary intent to document a landscape. Mailboxes appear as pretexts for the photographer; yet to the observer they become key references in a geography of nowhere…
«Mailboxes isn’t really about the mailboxes at all. I just let them decide where and what I would photograph. It was random snapshots shot by chance of where I would find them. How will I photograph a given scene? What will be in the frame once I’m there? Can photos be created anywhere at any time? These were some of the questions I was asking myself. So in a way it was conceptual snapshots. I shot it with a point & shoot and probably spent a maximum of two minutes at any location I came to. I didn’t want it to be all set up and perfect. I wanted it to be by chance of what I would find there and then. I think photographs can be created anywhere at any time. As long as anyone can press the shutter button they obviously can, but of course it can’t be applied to all projects. So either geography is important or it’s the opposite, either it adds or detracts. In my case the latter. What’s in the photograph and what it looks like is what I care about. If we’re going back to Mailboxes I chose them because there are many of them at varied locations, which means I could get varied content. Subjectively I want to show a little of the human geography, but objectively I’m not that interested.»
5. You have produce a book about the series “The Daily Round”. As a young photographer living in the digital era, how do you see the photographic publishing scenario?
«I wanted that book to reflect the project with a sort of everyday feel to it, almost like a book dummy. Before I did the book I talked to some independent publishers about publishing it. There was a little interest, but in the end it didn’t happen and then I thought why not do it myself? I wanted to produce and get something out there and that’s what I did. That’s what I think is great about todays photographic publishing scenario - everybody can make a book and in many cases the more personal and less quantity the better. This is all great, but what I think is more important is that we don’t forget about digital publishing and figure out a way to market and sell there as well. It would be fantastic with more cheap independent e-books on the smartphones and tablet computers. A purchase is never far away.»
6. Photography started with black and white. What photographic inspirations, artistic or literary influenced you as a photographer?
«Well, I’ve always been a bit inspired by Garry Winogrand’s thoughts and quotes on photography. No fuzz and no pretension. I look at and appreciate so many photographers out there that it’s hard to just name a few. From Sweden I really like the work of Gerry Johansson and Lars Tunbjörk and internationally there’s so many: William Eggleston, Stephen Shore, Bruce Gilden, Alex Majoli, John Davies, Martin Parr, Roger Ballen, Masao Yamamoto, Christian Patterson and I can keep going. I'm not in to a certain category or type of photography, I appreciate all or at least most kinds of photography.»
Martin Brink has just released his series Walks as PDF e-book that you can download for free over here. I recommend that you do so. There is a quiet subtlety to Martin’s work that appeals to me. You can also read an article on this series by Wayne Ford from back in June over here.
‘To me, the things that are beautiful and interesting in real life might not be the most interesting to photograph so I’m drawn to subjects that might often be overlooked,’ says Swedish artist Martin Brink, who is known for his series that include: Walks, The Daily Round and Pontiac Street View, which largely focus on the unremarkable urban landscape around him. But in his singular images — which he collectively titles, Single Works — we see a departure from the now familiar imagery with his focus being transferred to the banality of everyday life in the marco; in the form of gentle yet powerful abstract monochrome images.
In Lens Cap, a disc of pale grey sits upon a sea of darkness, bringing to mind the works of the Russian suprematist painter Kazimir Malevich. In Alu, the shallow depth of focus peels away at the extremities of Brink’s photographic composition, hinting at an object cylindrical in form, whilst specs of microscopic dust appear like some vast uncharted and distant universe in Dust, and in Noise Collection, a grid of television screens pulsate with static noise. ‘Many of these works are very graphical,’ says Brink, ‘and my intention for Noise Collection, Lens Cap and the others, is for them to be something to simply look at and focus on. It’s about the detail, noise, shapes, tones…’
Further readingMartin Brink has recently launched a blog reviewing the emerging format of The Digital Photobook, which is highly recommended.
Fototazo has asked a group of 50 curators, gallery owners, blog writers, photographers, academics and others actively engaged in photography to pick two photographers that they believe deserve more recognition, greater appreciation, or simply select some personal favourites. You can view my selection of Swedish photographer Martin Brink and American Darcy Padilla here.
‘To me, the things that are beautiful and interesting in real life might not be the most interesting to photograph so I’m drawn to subjects that might often be overlooked,’ remarks Swedish photographer Martin Brink, who documents what many of us take for granted in his series,The Daily Round.
These black-and-white images are marked by a graphical quality as Brink focuses upon the objects of his daily life. Opening with an image of freshly washed sheets drying in the early morning sun, the narrative expands as Brink explores suburbia, taking in the familiar such as an old refrigerator abandoned on a tree lined road; a discard daily newspaper in an underpass; a dog, patiently waiting in the back of a parked car for its owner to return from the supermarket; a bottle of liquid soap in a washroom; and a parked limousine caught in the late afternoon sun, awaiting silently for its occupants who may party the night away.
Throughout these images, physical presence can be felt everywhere, yet people feature rarely in this work, and when they do, Brink presents them as objects, in the same way that he responds to burnt out cars, and discarded banana skins; two indistinct, and small figures are caught in a misty street scene; the arm of a kitchen worker breaks into the frames which captures the industrial quality of restaurant kitchen; and a mere glimpse of the photographer himself is reflected in a window, hidden within the the layers of reflections.
These subtle images combine, not to present a dramatic look at modern life, but a memorable look at the everyday that we so often take for granted and barely register in our hectic daily schedules, but which in many ways is more powerful and interesting than the beautiful and picturesque.
The first edition of the The Daily Round was self-published in 2009. A second edition is published via Blurb.
In his seminal 1985 work The Pond (Aperture) American John Gossage presents a visual narrative of a walk in which the viewer accompanies the photographer from the beginning of his journey, through a series of way points and stops, before finally arriving at the small unnamed pond. This work comes to mind as I look at the latest body of work from Swedish photographer Martin Brink, not because he chooses to approach his subject in a narrative form, but because of the very subject itself, the walk.
In Walks, Brink does not show us a collection of connected images, but a series of individual monochrome images — marked with the same graphic quality that we have encountered in his earlier works — each of which presents a single moment and a single viewpoint in separate, and varied walks. These walks are not through dramatic landscapes, or represent any grandiose vistas, but as with his earlier work, The Daily Round, Brink focuses on the everyday, as he wanders along numerous urban and suburban streets and paths, and rather unremarkable country lanes, and tracks.
Whilst Gossage presents us with a complete narrative in The Pond, Brink captures the single moment, leaving the viewer to construct their own imaginary narrative around each image. As we look at a rock strewn track cutting through a thicket, we find ourselves asking questions of this journey, is this a shortcut to some other place, or a longer, more dramatic Sunday afternoon ramble? As we venture down a suburban street with Brink, we think of our own brief walks, performed during our daily chores, as we venture out to purchase a carton of milk, or mail a birthday card; and a tree lined path that leads to who knows where, brings to mind those periods of solitude with time to think, or maybe it is a far more romantic and tender moment?
This work, like that of Gossage, has an intellectual depth that will only reveal itself through considered thought and observation on the part of the viewer, to merely glance at these photographs is to experience them on the simplest of levels, but if one gives them time, they will reveal their many and varied levels, each in turn rewarding the viewer more than the last.
Walks, a PDF format book is available to download for free here.
The publication of Gerry Johansson’sPontiac (Mack) in 2011, marked the culmination of an 18 year project that had began in 1993, when the Swedish photographer visited America. Returning the following year, and once again in 1996, he documented one small town after the other on his travels. These collected works received critical acclaim when the where published as Amerika (Johansson & Jansson, 1998), and lead Johansson to narrow ‘his camera’s eye’ to make Kvidinge (Johansson & Jansson, 2007), a portrait of a small Swedish town; with the final chapter in this work being made when he returned to America in 2010, travelling to Pontiac, Michigan.
Having started to use Google’s Street View in early 2012 as part of his research into future projects, Martin Brink says he ‘came to think of Pontiac.‘ As his thought processes developed, Pontiac appeared to offer a stepping off point, whereby he would utilise Johansson’s book as a form of guide to explore the small American town online.
In reducing the screen images to monotone in Pontiac Street View, these collected images are rendered in the gentle grey tones now so familiar of Brinks work and shared with that of Johansson. Here in these letterbox-format photographs we encounter various aspects of life in Pontiac; a young man pushes his bicycle along the sidewalk caught in the long shadows of evening light; filling the foreground of another image, a road is marked and scarred by the passing of time, a grass verge separating it from the tracht housing beyond, whilst telegraph lines hang above; on another road we follow a truck as it transports gleaming new muscle cars — an icon of America culture — from factory to showroom.
In Johansson’s naming of his works simply by the name of the street or area were they where made, Brink used the book as a ‘travel guide while exploring Pontiac,’ with these clues aiding and narrowing his search criteria, ‘essential when using Street View,’ he says. It should also be noted that Google’s images where made in 2008-09, and therefore predate Johansson’s own images by two years; but more importantly they where taken at a time when the American automotive industry with its strong connections to Pontiac was hit hardest by the global economic downturn.
Whilst Johansson’s photographs are largely devoid of physical presence, in Brinks images we encounter a greater sense of being — although still limited. A young mother pushes a stroller along the sidewalk in one of the towns leafy suburbs; whilst a pickup truck passes down one of Pontiac’s suburban streets and a lone driver is seen on a sun dappled highway as he heads out of town. In Brink’s work, we don not encounter the odd moments captured by Google’s car-mounted cameras, that is so frequently an attraction, but the everyday of small town living, and we therefore, in this new body of work see the connection to Brink’s earlier bodies of work, The Daily Round, Garden and Walks.