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Revelations from back home


Last week I joined 12 students who attended Alan Whetton’s photography study visit to Bradford. For me the highlight of the afternoon was the curator talk about From Back Home, the work of Anders Petersen and JH Engström their joint project to photograph the Värmland, the central western area of Sweden from which they both came. The insights came thick and fast – from the detail – the girls above in Petersen’s image are searching for wildflowers, tradition having it that if their garlands contain five particular species they will marry the man of their dreams – to the contested and contestable – the reasons why Engström’s images of the quotidian are different from the plethora of images on flickr and should be considered fine art. However undoubted the most interesting piece of the talk was on the role of Petersen in an alternative Euro-centric history of photography which highlights the role of Ed van der Elsken’s Love on the Left Bank and Petersen’s Cafe Liebnitz as developments from the work of Brassai and Cartier-Bresson.
The exhibition runs to 27 March at the National Media Museum and is well worth a visit. The Museum is hosting an ‘in conversation’ event with Petersen and Engström in the afternoon of 22 Marach and we have eight tickets available free for students, first come first served by emailing enquiries@oca-uk.com


Posted by author: Genevieve Sioka
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10 thoughts on “Revelations from back home

  • I wish I could have been there for the curator talk on Engström quotidian and fine art as I find that one a difficult concept to grasp sometimes and not just with Engström… Hopefully there will be similar insight at the “in conversation” event in March.

  • Firstly, an endorsement from me of the value of seeing this exhibition; but then some additional info – Petersen & Engstrom will be ‘In Conversation’ at the NMM on 22nd March 1pm-3pm. Tickets are £5 vithe box office (I have reserved mine!).

  • Cross-commented with Rob, but, Gareth, do you think the reply we got from the curator to your question about Engstrom in the context of fine art would actually provide Rob with an insight??

  • Thanks Stan – post updated to include ‘in conversation’ information
    I think that the response, which one could cynically precis as ‘it’s fine art because there is a market for it’ might help Rob but I think that it is something we can explore in a bit more detail at the event and profitably (no pun intended) return to on WeAreOCA

  • Wish i could have been there as well. Hope to get there
    before the end of the exhibition. Sure looks worth the visit.

  • I too went to on the Study Visit. What I also found interesting was the way that the exhibition was hung and how the different images were put together to make you think. Peterson and Engström’s images being totally different with Peterson’s monochrome images unmounted, completely filling the black frames, hung side by side, yet coming together.
    Fay Godwin ought to get a mention too as her black and white darkroom landscape images were exceptional. The curator informed us that there were a couple of figures in one image and we managed to find them
    Joy Gregory also came to talk about her Exhibition in the Impressions Gallery in Insight and we saw some of the archives including salt pictures, and polaroids.

  • I was there and now it’s been mentioned I thoroughly enjoyed the work of Fay Godwin and with Petersen and Engstrom. I also listened with great interest to the curator telling us about “From back home” and the works of both Petersen and Engström.
    The words “Fine art” were mentioned and whether or not one agrees that either photographer fits that title has to be open to interpretation. Peterson was certainly thought povoking and yes there is a similarity with Nan Goldin. The trouble is to title an artists work as “fine art” is similar to the story of the Emperors new clothes! Who could ever tell them if they disagreed. Just a thought.

  • This event was a useful opportunity to study the different approaches in the work of three photographers. There was much to be gained from each and it was interesting to talk to many who attended to listen to their imopressions of the work on show. There were a number of very practical lessons to be learned from the comparisons. A study of the life of an artist or photographer often explains how their work has developed. This is true of Fay Godwin and the short video sequences provided some useful background to her work.
    I believe that the study of art and photography can be made more interesting and sustained by the reading of the backgrounds of the originators and visits to exhibitions of their work.
    The museum staff and I were pleased with the attendance and the interest shown and I will be keeping a lookout for more interesting visits to the Museum and the Impressions Gallery in the future. If you want to be sure of inclusion on any future visits please email me at the above adddress

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