Saturday, September 28, 2013

Oct.1st 2013 - An Evolutionary Look into Vancouver Street Photography at the MUSEUM OF VANCOUVER

Lincoln Clarkes, Brian Howell, Angela Fama and John Goldsmith
Curated by Julie Lee & Katie Huisman

Curated Talk & Tour with Katie Huisman 
Oct. 3th - 7:00pm @ MOV

Panel discussion with the artists and curators
Oct. 5th - 1pm - 3:00pm @ MOV

An Evolutionary Look into Vancouver Street Photography: Foncie Pulice to the 21st Century

Sontag writes that the convenience of modern photography has created  an overabundance of visual material, and "just about everything has been photographed". This has altered our expectations of what we have the right to view, want to view or should view. "In teaching us a new visual code, photographs alter and enlarge our notion of what is worth looking at and what we have the right to observe" and has changed our "viewing ethics".

Street photography is traditionally part of the “straight photography” movement, priding itself in the unaltered photograph that, without bias, documents real life.

 Street photography has continued to fascinate us for more than a century, capturing people with absolute candor in public places and providing a clear view of humanity.  The practice of street photography has become even more popular in the 21st century–favouring society’s increasing need to document, capture, and share everyday life snapshot by snapshot.

Foncie Pulice, with his silver camera made of war surplus materials, could be found on the corner of Robson and Granville Street from mid­ 1930’s through 1979. He took thousands of photographs–capturing families, couples, and friends happily strutting through downtown Vancouver. A strong sense of wanderlust permeates Foncie’s Vancouver Portraits. The excitement and energy captured in the faces of Foncie’s public are at odds with the face society would put forward to the 21st century photographer – a public now highly sensitized to photography, privacy­ obsessed, and acutely aware of the disjunction between public and private realms.

As our personal space in public areas decrease in all cities we continue to have an increasing need & expectation of privacy.  It is a violation of our Charter rights in Canada to stop anybody from photographing or filming in a public place and in a private space where public is admitted, the photographer has full legal right to publish those pictures & films.  A police officer doesn't even have the legal right to confiscate or delete any photographic material for any reason unless the person is breaking the law and the images are relevant to the situation.  Social media and self profiling have become the norm; and through our own awareness of self-image we have a need to control how we are represented and identified in order to feel secure.  The online personal profiles that we create often overlap our personal, professional and social worlds, we have a hyper-awareness of ourselves virtually which creates a physical disconnect with our environment and each other.  

Four contemporary photographers, Lincoln Clarkes, Brian Howell, Angela Fama, and John Goldsmith–have been invited to examine and respond to Foncie Pulice and his body of work.

Lincoln Clarkes, directly influenced by Pulice, exhibits both a romantic and reverent orientation towards his subjects. His photographs, voyeuristic and unposed, capture the experience of an ordinary public and the myriad of social forces that shape their existence.  Clarkes' voyeuristic and romantic approach to street photography allows us to observe the candid expression between us and the street. "Clarkes views this series of photographs as “sexed-up, environmentalistic, fashionesque portraiture, which is a subtle protest against the petro-chemical and automobile industries.” An overdose of advertising has been glamorizing cars for decades, convincing us of their must-have status, but this attitude feels tiresome and outdated in the light of the environmental situation that engulfs our planet today. These mundane vehicles and the false freedoms they seductively promote have led us to a dead end. By contrast, there is a new wave of cycling that is of tsunami proportions, not just for leisure and pleasure, but for the need to be able to travel in a civilized and sensible way in the modern world."  Judith Tansley, May 2013

Brian Howell’s sociological examination of our technological co­dependence points towards a cultural obsession with smartphones and casts a light on the changing nature of street photography in
an iPhone­addicted landscape.

John Goldsmith’s work examines the social aspects of people inhabiting the built environment; his photographs combine a theatrical mood with the aesthetic and cadence of contemporary street photography.

Fostering a collaboration with each subject on the street is the basis of Angela Fama's response to Foncie, her subject's insecurities seem to slip away and they are able to become open to the experience with some sense of control and understanding.  The willing collaborators only agree to become a part of the project when they feel like they understand that the experience will be safe.  Angela Fama’s work investigates themes of memory, meaning, emotion and change.  

When the subject on the street is involved in the photograph and feels like they are in the know they are more likely to become a willing participant.   Foncie Pulice would photograph his subject(s) and then hand them a ticket so that they could then collect the photograph if they wanted to, this gave control to the subject and they did not feel exploited or concerned for their privacy because they were given permission and information they need to followup.  Over decades Foncie created a close bond with his public so that they eventually knew what to expect from him allowing them to genuinely engage with the photographer.   Human connection is a powerful tool for a photographer.

Katie Huisman & Julie Lee

*Part of Capture Photography Festival