Herman Rahman | British Journal of Photography

Tracing the collective history of North Korea

Théâtre de la Cruauté (trans. Theatre of Cruelty) | Series: Han

Théâtre de la Cruauté (trans. Theatre of Cruelty) | Series: Han

Using a combination of original shots, archival imagery, and found text, Herman Rahman traces the limits of both a secretive state and photography

“There is a term to describe the cultural ache that Koreans go through: Han. A complex intermingling of historical, collective and personal sorrow, acceptance of a bitter present, and a hope of a better future.” Introduced to the term by a North Korean defector, Herman Rahman decided to adopt it as the framing concept for his project of the same name.

Han traces the collective history of the notoriously closed regime of the Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea, relying largely on archival imagery and found text to probe at the borders of a near-impenetrable subject. The work is an interrogation, not only of the secrecy of the North Korean state, but also of the nature of photography itself.

The impetus for the project came from the 24-year-old’s reflections on image-sharing, and the way that pictures can circulate internationally without restriction – in most of the world. “Where in the world does this image-reliant, postmodernist network we have created for ourselves not reach into? North Korea,” Rahman concluded.

A series of images of binoculars shot on a trip to the Korean Demilitarised Zone, the strip of land between North and South Korea, became a personal turning point. “Binoculars are known as a tool for sight and clarity, but there is no sense of clarity when it comes to North Korea because we have not constructed that sort of narrative yet,” he says. “We don’t see much, and we don’t know much.”

Rahman decided against entering North Korea to take photographs, though, as he didn’t want to sumbit to the strict control image-making is put under there. “The spectator, the tourist, then becomes an actor within the laws of the state,” he says.

Rahman, who recently graduated from the London College of Communication, continues in the tradition of research-led, conceptual image-making which makes heavy use of text, citing Taryn Simon, Alfredo Jaar and two years spent assisting Broomberg & Chanarin as formative influences. “Most of the artists that I’m drawn towards are politically affiliated,” he insists. “They are investigating structures and modes of power, and power’s ability to inflict violence and suffering on a large scale.”

Having grown up in conservative Singapore, Rahman realised that the DPRK presented him with an opportunity to experiment with ways of visualising freedom and its curtailment. Despite its inherent difficulties and already extensive scope, the work is ongoing: “This might all be futile, but if not for the betterment of my own self- understanding, perhaps people might leave seeing the work having learned something.”

Full Article: https://www.bjp-online.com/2018/08/herman-rahman/

Fiona Struengmann | ArtPress

I Was Lying in the Woods and Was Searching for the Sun ,. 2017, 70 x 140 cm. Colour pencil and needle drawings on paper

I Was Lying in the Woods and Was Searching for the Sun,. 2017, 70 x 140 cm. Colour pencil and needle drawings on paper

Practising photography and drawing, Fiona Struengmann is not simply content to collect amateur images. In order to give them new life, the young German artist isn’t slow to rework them, or even destroy them.

‘Take it all, or leave it all behind.’This is how Fiona Struengmann, fortuitously coming across an old lady at a flea market, acquired an archive of some 7,000 photographs.

Amassed over the last fifty years, the collect or had only one requirement in exchange for the gift of these thousands of amateur snapshots: to pass them on in their entirety. The German artist, born in 1986, then found her-self exhuming pictures from shoe boxes and family albums dating from early 20th-century Germany. Fiona Struengmann interprets this experience as an immersion into both the history of photography and the history of those men and women she refers to as ‘the first citizen photographers: the first generation who documented their environment and their daily life in the world with the help of this medium.’They consist of ‘moments people wanted to document and keep as a silent memory,’ she explains. Fashioning this material into a personal work infused with poetry, the series Just LikeYou, But Diferent is ‘a conversation from the past held in the present. The question asked is where we come from and what shaped us to form what we are today.’

A graduate in art and photography from Par-sons New School of Design in New York, Fiona Struengmann admits to having been somewhat lost, exploring various directions after graduation. She found herself collabor-ating on the feature film Red Knot (2014), shot on a research ship bound for Antarctica. On board, she was encouraged to experi-ment and began to draw and photograph continuously. She made her first large-format drawings, South Pole, methodically pricking tiny holes in a simple sheet of white paper. Landscapes in relief began to take shape, nu-anced by subtle shades of grey. She also produced the series of photographic land-scapes titled Articulated Silence. In the artist’s own words: ‘The trip was like a colour I had never seen before and gave me a better understanding of the correlation to our nat-ural world.’

Fiona Struengmann’s artistic practice is therefore twofold. Drawing is the draft of mental images that she translates onto paper and photography is envisaged as a means of transmitting a story based on ma-terials and places. Emphasizing in particular photography’s materiality, this German artist’s practice focuses on the unique char-acter of the medium rather than its repro-ducibility. This is seen in her two series, Needleview and Dialogue, produced using a pinhole camera she made herself. She explains her approach: ‘I had a vision in my head. I wanted to translate the idea of seeing only through a tiny little needle pin-hole. … As it was so much more about an emotion, a feeling to translate onto paper. You start seeing differently. It is all about the light, shapes and the contrast of objects.’ By means of a camera, a pen or a needle, the experimental research carried out by the artist is guided by the exploration of a reality capable of transporting viewers to an elsewhere.

While editing the vernacular photographs of the Just Like You, But Different series, Fiona Struengmann’s attention was involun-tarily drawn to the silhouettes, gestures and landscapes often seen in the background: motifs, unconsciously familiar to the artist, but drowned in an overloaded environment. ‘A photograph is a memory of a lived experi-ence, but if it also allows you to become something else, it opens up a conversation and evokes emotions … It becomes a new way of seeing,’ the artist explains. For this specific project, everything took place in the darkroom where Struengmann experi-mented with various technical processes and chemical solutions allowing her to iso-late elements from the images. In concrete terms, this meant protecting the elements to be preserved or on the contrary, dissolv-ing other parts of the image. ‘It is almost like the normal darkroom process in reverse, which I found very beautiful as a metaphor,’ she says. From these ‘silent memories’ only fragments then remain: the joined hands of women, bodies without faces, the subtle outline of silhouettes. Each motif, isolated and individualized, converges the gaze, be-coming the work’s focal point. Occasionally the artist adds material, partially drawing on the image with a needle and oil paint. The slope of a mountain landscape is adorned with splinters of yellow, while a young boy, walking in the forest discovers a cloud tinged with red.

These photographs, which come from the past, have an aesthetic force all the more vivid because the image that was originally taken for primarily personal reasons, is lib-erated. Not only does Fiona Struengmann give a new readability to these amateur im-ages but she also provides them with the po-tential for a new use. By manip-ulating—altering, rubbing out and erasing some of what they contain—she provides them with a second life. Similar and yet other, these photographs reappear in new spheres.

Full Article In French and English Here

Translation: Emma Lingwood

Haffendi Anuar | Richard Kohn Fine Art Exhibition



Richard Koh Fine Art (RKFA – SG) is pleased to announce Haffendi Anuar first solo exhibition in Singapore, Midday Stanza, scheduled to run from 23 Jan – 16 Feb 2019 at Richard Koh Fine Art (Singapore) Blk 47 Malan Road, 01-26 Gillman Barrack, Singapore 109444. The artist will be showing an installation, consisting a diverse language of objects and materials, from wall sculptures to floor pieces that resemble architectural fragments. This show is an extension of Anuar’s 3-month residency programme at Acme Studios, London, in 2018. The residency is a programme under Khazanah Residency programme (KAAR), and initiative by Khazanah Nasional Berhad.

In Anuar’s latest body of work, the artist creates a surrogate landscape within the gallery space. A landscape that is in a way a reflection of the artist’s capital city, Kuala Lumpur, with its distinctive urban fabric, vernacular architecture and seductive “shiny image” within localized popular culture. In this exhibition, Anuar looks at the city in a different perspective, viewing at how the structures and monuments around the city centre suggest a sense of position and prestige, as well as reflecting on the political paradigm shift of late.

Midday Stanza acts as a metaphorical cityscape which is a composite of bits and pieces of the city, from its shimmering exteriors to interiors. Its aesthetics could be reinterpreted into a sculptural language of power and seduction. The installation consists of a diverse language of objects and materials, from sculptures that cling to walls and inspired by the human vertebrae, to floor pieces that resemble architectural fragments. Anuar invites the audience to explore and understand the work experientially, by navigating their body in the gallery space in relation to the objects, similar to a tourist discovering a novel setting. Within this exploration, the audience is confronted with an image and a tactile quality simultaneously, and the combination of both creates unique ways of reading. In addition, traditional support structures such as frames and pedestals are activated as dynamic components of the installation, alluding to the luxury apartments found in upscale districts and architectural profiles.

Anuar’s practice is renowned for its fluidity as it is constantly responding to the times and context of locality. As Malaysia experiences sweeping changes – politically and socially – Anuar reacts to the new value system and freedom of expression that has arisen. The artist states, “What I hope is that this work would represent this moment of uncertainty and hope in Malaysia and with Kuala Lumpur being the centre of the country, it is in a way, serves as her ‘heart’, and in this shifting times, the heart should be the most sensitive to changing sentiments.


Weixin Quek Chong | Blouin ArtInfo

“sft crsh ctrl,” Weixin Quek Chong Installation view, Singapore Art Museum  (Courtesy of Singapore Art Museum)

“sft crsh ctrl,” Weixin Quek Chong Installation view, Singapore Art Museum

(Courtesy of Singapore Art Museum)

Weixin Quek Chong wins SAM’s President’s Young Talents 2018 Grand Prize

Singapore Art Museum announced the winners of 2018’s President’s Young Talents, with Weixin Quek Chong winning the Grand Prize for her artwork titled “sft crsh ctrl,” while Yanyun Chen’s “The scars that write us” clinched the People‘s Choice Award. An exhibition of their works is on view through January 27, 2019.

Inaugurated in 2001 by SAM, the President’s Young Talents is Singapore’s only mentoring, commissioning and award program for emerging Singaporean artists aged 35 and under. The President’s Young Talents program has over the years developed exceptional contemporary art works in and beyond Singapore.

In a joint statement, the jury panel consisting of renowned artists and art educators said, “What a privilege it was to experience groundbreaking installations by five young Singaporean artists at a national institution. The decision was not an easy one as each work had strengths that were recognized across the judging panel. After much deliberation, Weixin Quek Chong‘s installation, ‘sft crsh ctrl,’ stood out for its command of space and material, and the fluidity with which she executed her concept. We also recognize Weixin‘s work contains elements of risk integral to contemporary practice.”

Chong’s ‘sft crsh ctrl’ is an installation comprising draped materials ― from sheets of latex to faux fur, and objects that evade traditional inquiry, which challenges viewers to disengage from their instinct to rationalize the artwork, and in doing so, reveals the complexity of being dependent on logic.

On winning the Grand Prize, Chong said, “The President’s Young Talents has been a formative experience for me, and the opportunity to develop my work for the commission really pushed me to try things I had only imagined previously. It was great having so much understanding and encouragement from my mentor and the Singapore Art Museum, as well as all the combined efforts to realize the installation. It was already amazing to be able to be part of this edition's President’s Young Talents, and this is really more than I had expected; I’m so grateful for this support to further my work.”

“Since the Singapore Art Museum inaugurated the President’s Young Talents program 17 years ago, the museum remains dedicated in its support of local artists who continually push the boundaries of the definitions and expressions of Contemporary Art. We are grateful for the generous support of this edition of the President’s Young Talents by the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth and Ascendas-Singbridge Gives Foundation, and the time and effort put in by the members of the curator-mentors and jury panel,” said Edmund Cheng, Chairman of SAM. “While this is the last exhibition to be held at SAM’s premises before its major building revamp, SAM will continue to present Contemporary Art from Singapore and the region at partner venues and off-site locations during this period.”

The Grand Prize and People‘s Choice Award are worth SG$20,000 (USD14,609) and SG$5,000 respectively, and will go towards the development of their artistic practices.

The exhibition will be on view through January 27, 2019, at the Singapore Art Museum, 71 Bras Basah Road, Singapore 188555.


WeiXin Chong | The Straits Times Singapore


Visual artist Weixin Quek Chong, 30, received the $20,000 Grand Prize from President Halimah Yacob at the President's Young Talents awards yesterday at the Singapore Art Museum (SAM) at 8Q.

She was one of five finalists for the seventh edition of the prize, Singapore's only mentoring, commissioning and award programme for emerging Singaporean artists aged 35 and below.

Her installation, titled sft crsh ctrl, makes use of materials such as silk twill, latex sheets and faux fur. It is being exhibited, together with the works by the other finalists, at the museum until Jan 27.

Fiona Struengmann | Lensculture emerging talent 2018 award

Fiona Struengmann is amongst 50 international photographers who are winners of the LensCulture Emerging Talent Awards 2018.

“These photographers are all making remarkable, inspiring work right now while working in cultures all over the world. An international jury of photography experts reviewed hundreds of truly excellent submissions from more than 150 countries — and these 50 photographers rose to the top. They are creating truly amazing work that covers a wide range of subject matter and creative approaches — it’s fresh, inventive, meaningful and memorable.

Be sure to take time to look through each of the winning projects. We hope you will discover some great new work that will delight and inspire you.

These are the ones to watch. The best emerging talents of 2018. Enjoy!”


Just Like You, But Different

Just Like You, But Different

WeiXin Chong | Molten Capital Residency

Artist Residency with Molten Capital in Santiago, Chile

WeiXin Chong. Installation view at MAC group exhibition in conjunction with Molten Capital Residency. Courtesy of Taller Creativo Buenamano

WeiXin Chong. Installation view at MAC group exhibition in conjunction with Molten Capital Residency. Courtesy of Taller Creativo Buenamano

Artist WeiXin Chong (b.1988, Singapore) together with two other artists recently completed a three-week residency (30 November - 20 December 2017) which culminated in an exhibition at MAC (Museo de Arte Contemporaneo Facultad de Artes Universidad de Chile).

WeiXin Chong,  flores nativias  .1, 2017. courtesy the artist & A.I. Gallery

WeiXin Chong, flores nativias .1, 2017. courtesy the artist & A.I. Gallery

Flotsam, Jetsam, Lagan & Derelict | Wall Street International Magazine

A.I. is pleased to present Flotsam, Jetsam Lagan & Derelict, an exhibition focusing on different strategies of constructing archives of encountered territories. A selection of works by three artists, Haffendi Anuar (b.1985, Malaysia), WeiXin Chong (b.1988, Singapore) & artist collective without appeal (b.2016, London), in the form of table-top sculptures and prints examine the versatile and paradoxical power of the flâneur.

Haffendi Anuar’s table-top sculptures entitled Migratory Objects trace the contemporary mutations that occur in cultural symbols as a result of displacement, digitalisation and commodification. Through the current velocity of digital dispersion and pixelation of traditional designs and patterns, these resulting objects become pseudo-artefacts. Their existence, inspired by kitsch decorative pieces and cultural debris, question their potential to enter Western economic exchange markets.

The series Toute La Nuit by WeiXin Chong developed in response to exploring the urban environment whilst on a residency in Paris. Utilising natural and man-made ephemera found at site-specific locations, for example: Bois de Boulogne and the resting place of French writer, Simone de Beauvoir (whose grave she shares with her lifelong partner- the famed existential philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre) -these re-compositions evoke narrative associations simultaneously alongside its flash, frozen-in-flight aesthetic.

without appeal are premiering two bodies of work: a paperback self-publication titled Enthusiasm Is Blasting Out of All of My Holes is the result of a six-month long project which took place between Hunedoara, Warsaw, Venice and Paris. With roots in Guy Debord’s ideas on psychogeography and cultivating a new awareness of our environment, the publication documents a subjective engagement with these spaces and explores personal micro-narratives interwoven in each location.

The series Everything that is Man-Made Requires Maintenance is a response to rising nationalist delimitations and a growing appeal for singular identities and restrictive borders. The hybrid landscapes metaphorically eliminate distances and arbitrary delimitations set between the urban, institutional and natural environments. The resulting fictional territories hold the promise of open access and multiplicity, while they speculate on the possibilities of collaboration and community.

Migratory Objects 4 , 201 - Haffendi Anuar   

Migratory Objects 4, 201 - Haffendi Anuar


No Security of Tenure, 2017 - without appeal 

No Security of Tenure, 2017 - without appeal 

Ionesco (Series: Toute La Nuit), 2015 - Chong Weixin

Ionesco (Series: Toute La Nuit), 2015 - Chong Weixin

Fiona Struengmann | ArtNet News

7 Young Artists Making a Big Impression at Photo London

Fiona Struengmann. Series: Just Like You, But Different (Untitled - 14), 2017. Archive photograph. Courtesy the artist & A.I. Gallery

Fiona Struengmann. Series: Just Like You, But Different (Untitled - 14), 2017. Archive photograph. Courtesy the artist & A.I. Gallery

Classic images by the big beasts of photography are on show—and sale—at Photo London, the fourth edition of which opens to the public today, May 17, at Somerset House. The fair offers exhibitions of works by its 2018 Master of Photography, Edward Burtynsky, and one of the founding fathers of the medium, William Henry Fox Talbot, plus classic images by the likes of Brassaï and Bill Brandt, among many others. At the same time, collectors are sure to find fresh talent as well. 

Here’s our pick of seven young artists who are stretching the medium, giving its traditions a fresh twist and attracting the interest of collectors and curators. One of them, Tania Franco-Klein, has already added a new prize to her burgeoning resume, winning the Photo London Artproof Schliemann Award 2018, which was announced last night. Something of a double whammy, the young Mexican artist who studied in London gets two residencies, one in Arles funded by Joana and Henrik Schliemann and the second in Tallinn at the Artproof workshop, which comes with a €10,000 ($12,000) production budget to create new works. 

Fiona Struengmann, “Just Like You, But Different” (2017-18)
A.I. Gallery, London

The Munich-based artist Fiona Struengmann, who is a graduate of Parsons, has been mining an archive of around 7,000 found photographs and producing her own manipulated images. She transforms the snapshots of ordinary life in Germany from the 1920s to the 1950s by honing in on telling details, drawing attention to the way a woman is seated or a hand gesture, then blanking out the background, sometimes adding tiny drops of gold paint. Each is unique and at first glance the delicate monochrome images look like drawings.

“I was in a flea market and a woman came up to me and said ‘I have something for you,’” she explains of the source material. The artist kept some untouched but the rest form the basis of her series “Just Like You, But Different.”

She tells artnet News that she has discovered another trove, this time in France, this one “about slavery and colonialism.” Once again, a collector wants her to mine his archive.

Unique works at Photo London range from £800 to £1,350 ($1,000 to $1,820).