martedì 23 dicembre 2014

"Scènes et Types"

Photographs during the colonial period can be divided into two main categories. "Private" photographs are those taken for private use - souvenirs, mementos, family portraits. "Public" photographs instead were marketed and sold to the consumers, who purchase them in form of picture postcards and that grew in popularity especially in the late 19th century with its growing interest in orientalism. The most favorite regions where African and Oriental countries, especially Maghreb countries Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Egypt. These colonial postcards can be further divided into these following genres - buildings, streets, monuments, general views and "Scènes et Types"

"Scènes et Types" genre was a generic representation of certain kinds of people (Arab, Berbers, Bedouins,etc) practicing certain kinds of occupations (shoeshine, fabrics vendor, mendicants), participating certain kind of activities (making bread or couscous, serving tea or smoking hookah) and in many type depicted in certain kind of environments far from reality with the intent to create an exotic and erotic pictures for a "colonial voyeurism" public (such as unveiled women with ornate jewelry as a symbol of European colonial domination or in erotic/nude motifs) with the intent to emphasize the ethnic and exotic nature of these women. The models on the "Scènes et Types" postcards were usually categorized like "Type de Mauresque", "Type de Marocaine","Bedouine", "Femme Kabyle", "Femme du sud", "Femme arabe", "La danse", "La sieste", or sometimes having specific names like "Fathma", "Aisha" or "La Belle Zinâ"

Although the Oriental Postcards have acquired a quite negative reputation in the 20th century, a several books about Oriental postcards showing the beauty of photos taken by photographers like Rudolf Lehnert or Jean Geiser have been published in the last decades.

mercoledì 10 dicembre 2014

Abdullah Frères: Ottoman court photographers

The Armenian community played a principal role in the flourishing of various crafts and trades in the Ottoman Empire; this involvement continued even after the fall of the Ottomans. As a response to political persecution and genocide, Armenian crafts and trades spread to refugee areas in the Eastern Arabic regions of the Levant, Iraq, and Egypt, as well as to Iran and Middle Asia.

The spread of photography, at the forefront of those trades where Armenians played a leading role, was met with puritanical religious opposition. Because photographers were labeled ‘unbelievers’ by some religious puritans put off by the creation of human images, only specific groups of ‘Ottoman citizens’ – Armenians, Syrian Christians and other minorities – pursued the craft. From the last decade of the nineteenth century, these minority groups owned photographic studios in most cities in the Ottoman Empire and in Egypt.

The existence of so many Europeans in Istanbul, increasing numbers of European tourists to the East and especially Egypt, and the growing numbers of pilgrims to the Holy Land all created a demand for previously unheard-of services and crafts (like photography). Official tourists to Istanbul, for example, proceeded directly to ‘Abdullah Brothers photography studio to record their visit with a snapshot. Among the studio patrons were British Prince Albert Edward in 1869, Emperor Napoleon III and his wife Eugénie de Montijo, and the Emperor of Austria Franz Joseph.

The Ottoman Armenian brothers Vhichen (1820–1902), Hovsep (1830–1908) and Kevork Abdullah (1839–1918) operated a famed photographic studio in Istanbul from 1858 to 1900, when they sold the firm to Jean Sébah and Policarpe Joaillier. Known by their French name Abdullah frères (Abdullah brothers), they became official royal photographers to the Ottoman Sultan in 1863, and had the right to use the royal monogram. Between 1866 and 1895, they also had a branch studio in Cairo.

lunedì 1 dicembre 2014

Women image and embroidery in Palestine Posters Archive

In early August, the nomination of a major collection of posters from the Palestine Poster Project Archives was accepted for formal review by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization’s Memory of the World program. Palestine posters created by artists at the time of the first Intifada such as Ismail Shammout, Kamal Boullata, Sliman Mansour, Abdel Rahman Al Muzain, Burhan Karkoutly and  etc, provide a unique lens through which today’s audiences can gain insight into the attitudes and aspirations of people directly involved in the resistance as it emerged.

Women struggle and resistance throughout the years influenced a lot Palestinian artists and was apparent in many Palestinian posters. The main woman symbol taken for resistance was embroidery "Tatreez".

Tatreez (Palestinian embroidery) is a hidden form of resistance to Israeli attempts at economic, social and political subjugation. Women’s embroidery is one of few means of economic independence, neither dependent on Israeli contractors or its market. Embroidery is also a powerful means of expressing identity and making a connection with the Palestinian past prior to expulsion.

Thus this expression resistance it couldn't have been missed in the poster tradition is an exceptional element of Palestinian cultural heritage, and the posters themselves are important repositories of primary data. The  Women image in Palestine Poster Project Archives contain 278 posters in its “Palestinian women's traditional garments/embroidery/tatreez” Special Collection . Below is a selection of twelve posters from around the first year of the Intifada that provide a representative history of women struggle in traditional garments.

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venerdì 21 novembre 2014

Tancrède Dumas and his damascus women portrait

Tancrède Dumas (1830-1905) was an Italian of French origin. His parents were fervent Bonapartists who had emigrated to Milan and it was there that the young Tancrède began his working life as a banker. It seems that he learnt photography in Florence at the studio of the Alinari Brothers.

Towards the middle of the 1860’s he founded a studio in Constantinople, in association with some others. The existence of this studio is attested to by the survival of a few rare cartes-de-visite, the backplate of which mentions T.R.Dumas & Cie., photographes de vues et costumes, près du Jardin des Fleurs, Grande rude Pera 232. Dumas’ activity in Constantinople must have been of short duration, because by 1866 he was installed in a studio on the seafront in Beirut in the consulate quarter. His publicity reveals a variety of occupations – apart from photography, he was also agent for the Rostan bank, and even offered pianos to hire or to buy!

Apart from portraits, Dumas took several views of Beirut and Damascus towards the end of the 1860’s, which are also sometimes found signed by Félix Bonfils. In 1872 Dumas published a catalogue, printed in Milan, comprising 260 views of various countries between Upper Egypt and India, including Palestine, Baalbeck, Damascus, Greece and Mesopotamia. One of his advertisements announced Vente, achat et échange des plaques negatives de tous les pays so it would appear that even if Dumas himself, he acquired negatives from a photographer who had, a common practice at the time.

In another piece of publicity published in France in the bilingual review The Bee / An-Nahla and dated 14 July 1878, Dumas announced the sale by subscription of four albums of photographs of the most celebrated sites of Egypt, Palestine, Syria, Palmyra, Anatolia, Greece and Constantinople. These albums, each of which contained 100 views, were to be of three different sizes. It is unclear if the larger of these was intended to be an album or a portfoliao, since an album in the largest size mentioned has yet to be found.

Dumas also accompanied the Grand Duke of Mecklenburg on his voyage to the Orient, earning the right to advertise as Photographer to the Imperial and Royal Court of Prussia.

On 9 August 1875 a mission of the American Palestine Exploration Society (A.P.E.S.) arrived in Beirut. A contract had already been signed with the photographer Henri Rombau to accompany an expedition of “at least thirty and no more than seventy-five days” but at the last moment Rombau declined and the contract fell to Dumas. The ninety-nine photographs that he took were published in a large album, accompanied by relevant commentaries.

At the same time that Dumas was operating as a photographer, he was also following a parallel career as a banker, From 1900 to 1904 Le Bottin mentions the establish T.R. Dumas et Fils, rue Lafitte, Paris under the heading Banquiers et Commissionnaires.

giovedì 6 novembre 2014

Dovima the Divine

''She was the last of the great elegant, aristocratic beauties,'' said Mr. Avedon

It could be said that Dovima made a name for herself – literally. Born Dorothy Virginia Margaret Juba in 1927 in New York City, half-Polish, half-Irish, she was raised in Jackson Heights, Queens. To combat her loneliness during childhood, the little girl took up painting and had an imaginary friend, whom she called Dovima- using the first two letters of each of her given names.

Dovima was discovered by a Vogue editor while waiting for a friend in Manhattan. Deeply impressed by her willowy frame, the editor took her to the Vogue offices on the spot for some test shots. The very next day she did her first shoot with Irving Penn. Dovima perfectly embodied the new woman of the Fifties: sophisticated, elegant, poised and immaculately dressed. Her career took off quickly, and soon she was the highest paid model in the business, appearing on the covers of all the fashion magazines and working with every major photographer of the day.

Richard Avedon, her favourite photographer, and “mental Siamese twin” would take the most famous photos of her. Together they created her Fifties haute couture look that was all about glossy red lips, arched brows, strong eyeliner and endless limbs. Under the tutelage of Richard Avedon, the pair created some of the most iconic fashion images of the century. She had a particular passion for comic books and was renowned for travelling to location shoots with a large trunk of them. She left modelling in 1962, saying “I don’t want to wait until the camera turned cruel.”

venerdì 31 ottobre 2014

Issei Suda, a Master of Japanese Photography

Issei Suda was born in Tokyo in 1940 and graduated from the Tokyo College of Photography in 1962. He worked as a freelance photographer from 1971 and taught for many years at the Osaka University of Arts.

“My shooting method was once compared to an ancient sword trick in which one slashes his enemy at the same time as he removes the sword from his sheath,” Mr. Suda, 74, said in an interview translated by Miyako Yoshinaga, who has recently curated “Issei Suda: Life In Flower, 1971-1977.” 

He has had over 75 solo exhibitions, mainly in Japan, and his work is featured in numerous major museum collections around the world, including SFMoMA, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston and The J. Paul Getty Museum. His publications include the monographs Fushi Kaden (1978), My Tokyo 100 (1979), Human Memory (1996) and Minyou Sanga (2007).

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