United Visual Artists: Momentum


The sound of eerie.
a slice of light cutting through the fog,
then black again.

The shadow of the person standing somewhere in front of you,
the hollow shuffle of the group behind,
then lost again to the black that fills the Curve.

Welcome to Momentum, one of the latest works by the acclaimed United Visual Artists at the Barbican’s The Curve gallery. Combining light, sound and the movement of the visitors, this is a work like we’ve never experienced before. Being thrust into a darkness that alternates between pitch black and smoky shadows, depending on where you stand, is not something we’re used to. And the smoke is not exactly smoke we think, just the way the light feels….
Where’s Health & Safety when you need it?

Rest assured the maximum damage this work can cause you is knocking into the wall. Or bumping into the person in front/behind you.
But we guarantee that if you do take the first step into the darkened abyss that Momentum has transformed the Curve into, you won’t come away disappointed. And with many images in your head that no camera can capture, or no two people can witness.


United Visual Artists is a collective of London based ‘visual orators’ as they call themselves. With over ten years of work behind them including an intervention at Sou Fujimoto’s summer pavilion at London’s Serpentine Gallery in 2013, Volume at the Victoria & Albert Museum garden in 2006, and numerous projects for the band Massive Attack alongside re-designing the main stage for Coachella in 2011, we’re always in awe of their projects and the way they make us feel and see ourselves in space.

United Visual Artists: Momentum
Up to 1 June 2014


Jurgen Schadeberg’s London


We couldn’t take our eyes off this photograph taken by Jurgen Schadeberg of his friend the acrobat Hans Prignitz balancing over the city of Hamburg.
So much so that we had to dig deeper and do a feature on him.

Hans Prignitz’s handstand on the St. Michaelis Church, Hamburg, 1948


Schadeberg was born in Berlin in 1931 but moved to South Africa to start afresh and leave the war behind him in 1950. But in his own words, this move was like out of the frying pan and into the fire given the tetchy situation in South Africa when he arrived.

After living there for close to fourteen years and photographing everything from politics (his series of images on Nelson Mandela and ANC are outstanding) to jazz, he returned to Europe in 1964 where he continued to work and teach.

Schadeberg spent quite a bit of time in Britain and here are some of the images he took of our beloved London. The grittiness of the city might not be the same as it was in the 60’s and the 70’s, but looks like we haven’t lost our impish charm yet.

A washing line in Maida Vale, London, 1978


Waitress Break, London City Hall, 1979


A young audience at a concert in Regent’s Park, London, 1976


Thames Walk


A boy jumps down the street under the Westway in Edgware Road, London, 1972


Lovers in a London Pub, 1982


Three boys


Young smokers visit a flea market in the East End of London, 1978


Hackney Corner, 1979


London Playground, 1968


A miscellaneous stall in Hackney Market, London, 1979


A shoemaker at work in his Soho shop, 1970


A Punch and Judy man delights a group of children in London, 1977


Two boys build a bonfire on a disused section of a railway line at London Docks, 1974



William Forsythe: Nowhere and Everywhere at the Same Time


William Forsythe the renowned choreographer and artist has always had a fascination for the choreographic object. He believes that choreography, though maddeningly unmanageable, elusive and agile both as a word and process, is a channel for the desire to dance. And here’s what happens in his acclaimed piece Nowhere and Everywhere at the Same Time, when it is external objects and not solely the presence of music, that compel us to dance.


Forsythe borrowed this title from a phrase used by blind resistance fighter Jacques Lusseyran, who when speaking about his inner sense of vision described it as being like a boundless canvas or screen that existed ‘nowhere and everywhere at the same time.’ It is this inner vision that Forsythe calls us to use when moving through this installation, that is currently on view at the Circus Street Market as part of the Brighton Festival till 25 May 2014.

This work consists of more than 400 moving pendulums that hang from automated grids, and sweep in synchronised arcs as visitors walk across the space. Originally created for a solo dancer as the video above depicts, this second edition is more an examination of how a free, unchoreographed, unpredictable audience reacts to the work, while making their own attempts to navigate the space and avoid these choreographed objects.

Versions of this work have also been installed in an abandoned building on New York’s historic High Line, the Turbine Hall at Tate Modern and the Arsenale of the Venice Biennale as seen below.



Museums and Collecting


Recently we’ve been taking a closer look at why we go to museums – do we visit them solely to absorb the sense of grandeur, nationalism and conquest they proffer? Or is it because they genuinely give us the opportunity to learn more about a time gone by, a different kind of people, and a way of life? Or further still, from living in London, are some of the museums preferred for an aesthetically appealing foyer, or the delicate chandeliered lights and buttered scones in their cafes, or even the massive gift shop that stocks interesting books we’d like to own?

Either which way we can’t help but agree with the author Orhan Pahmuk, who firmly believes that museums are more effective when they are decluttered, focused, and telling the stories of individuals rather than of nations.

Pamuk roots like he did in this article, for museums made out of the homes and studio’s of creative people, that towards the final years of their lives have been opened up to the public.
He hails the hidden away spaces that are dedicated to personal stories and the passage of time, as conveyed through objects.

We’ve talked about Pamuk’s Manifesto for Museums in the past, and now as we turn the last pages of his Museum of Innocence and the accompanying Innocence of Objects, we delve into his hypothesis on collectors and collections that he arrived at after visits to countless museums, both the glorified and the forgotten.

From Museum of Innocence, Chapter 82, Collectors (as narrated by the protagonist Kemal)

‘This is what I observed while travelling the world, and wandering through Istanbul. There are two types of collectors:

  1. The Proud Ones, those pleased to show their collections to the world (they predominate in the West).
  2. The Bashful Ones, who hide away all they have accumulated (an unmodern disposition).

The Proud regard a museum as a natural ultimate destination for their collections. They maintain that whatever a collection’s original purpose, it is, in the end, an enterprise intended for proud display in a museum. This view was common in the official histories of small, private American museums: For example, the brochure for the Museum of Beverage Containers and Advertising describes how the collector Tom picked up his first soda can on the way home from school. Then he picked up another, and a third, keeping what he found until after a time his ambition was to “collect them all” and exhibit them in a museum.

But the Bashful collect purely for the sake of collection. Like the Proud, they begin in pursuit of an answer, a consolation, even a palliative for a pain, a resolution of difficulty, or simply out of a dark compulsion. But living in societies where collecting is not a reputable act that contributes to learning or knowledge, the Bashful regard their compulsion as an embarrassment that must be hidden. Because in the lands of the Bashful, collections point not to a bit of useful information but rather to a wound the bashful collector bears.’

Maybe we could learn a lot more about humanity from the collections of the Bashful than those of the Proud. But does that then depend on who tells the story better? Or who has greater resources and more visibility?

As we read through Museum of Innocence, we were also struck by how Pamuk’s protagonist Kemal goes on to describe how it was the museum guards who taught him about the central place of pride in a museum. Kemal elaborates saying, “the guards’ job is not, as is commonly thought, to hush noisy visitors, protect the objects on display, and issue warnings to kissing couples and people chewing gum; their job is to make visitors feel that they are in a place of worship that, like a mosque, should awaken in them feelings of humility, respect and reverence.”

And we cannot agree more with this. In all our years of going to museums and galleries both popular and obscure, for all the guards and gallery assistants who have made our visits more interesting with anecdotes far beyond any guide book or Wikipedia entry, to even those who have brusquely stopped us from taking photographs or getting too close to a painting, it is true that our experience of great works of art is made all the more intense and memorable under their watchful eyes.

Philip-Lorca diCorcia: Nothing is for Free?


‘Nothing is for Free?’
The first line in Philip-Lorca diCorcia‘s postscript to his Hustler monograph.

diCorcia then goes on to explain how in the late 80’s when the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment – the Freedom of Speech was being repressed, he was given funding from the National Endowment for the Arts with the condition that he not ‘transgress’ American values. He therefore decided to give them their money’s worth.

diCorcia used the money to photograph ‘hustlers’ or male prostitutes that he picked up from the Santa Monica Boulevard.
He paid them the same amount of money they would have been paid for sex, and he used this time to photograph them in motels, in parking lots, on the street.

diCorcia titled each and every one of these sixty nine images or so with the name, age, hometown and the price he paid each hustler.
A record of money well spent?

Todd M. Brooks, 22 Years Old, Denver, Colorado, $40

His modus operandi was to first pick a location for the shot. He would then set up his tripod and the rest of his equipment, leaving everything ready for when he brought a hustler back.
They often asked him if he was a cop? Why didn’t he want the sex?
But once back on set, they posed patiently.
Often giving him the exact image he had planned for.
Sometimes something unpredictable.

Tim Morgan Jr., 21 Years Old, Los Angeles, California, $25, and Joe Egure, 18 Years Old, Los Angeles, California, $25


Made in a time when the U.S. Government had condemned homosexuality, AIDS was rampant,  and diCorica lost his own brother to the disease, this project is filled with pathos and make-believe.

As diCorica says, ‘You’re supposed to have all the freedom that our Constitution allows, except the freedom to choose your freedom. None of those guys (the hustlers) were free – they charged for their services, for a faked’ sense of what passes for intimacy in the realm they left behind. They barely found a place to sleep or get high afterwards, but they accomplished the most sublime trade, their artistry: Nothing for Nothing.
That’s what was so perfect for me. It summed it all up.’

Chris., 28 Years Old, Los Angeles, California, $30


Marilyn, 28 Years Old, Las Vegas, Nevada, $30

Ralph Smith, 21 Years Old, Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, $25


Roy, ‘In His 20s,’ from Los Angeles, California, $50


‘Sparky’ Anderson, 47 Years Old, Detroit, Michigan, $25

Sophie Gamand: Wet Dog!


Its a Friday before a much-needed Bank Holiday, and we can’t resist sharing some soapy, adorable wet dog pictures with you.

So here’s Sophie Gamand’s Wet Dog series. Having tried to photograph a few dogs in the recent past, we know how hard these are to take.

Have a great weekend. Write to us if you’ve seen some inspiring art or have some photographs you’d like to feature on Beanstories!


Amanda Harman: For the love of play


When was the last time you saw children playing in the street?
Not organised sport, but the boisterous, noisy, made-up games that almost every person our generation and older has played.

When was the last time you saw a child ambling through a park, unaccompanied?
Exploring, we used to call it….made all the more exciting because we climbed out through the window without Mum knowing.
And no, she didn’t call the police because she knew we would be back for lunch.

While the growing absence of a child in unsupervised, unstructured leisure might be a first world problem, it doesn’t change the fact that as more of our lives and relationships go virtual, we’re losing out on time in the grass and in the sun.

Here’s Amanda Harman’s series Child’s Play, taken in the 80’s and 90’s that depicts play in ‘unstructured’ outdoor environments;
an ode to a time where there was always plenty of time.

Amanda Harman was awarded the 2014 Sony World Photography Award today in the Still Life category. We nearly grabbed the newspaper out of a fellow commuter’s hands to get a better look at one of her award winning pictures from the Garden Stories, Hidden Labours series.

All images borrowed with thanks (c) Amanda Harman

En Plein Air


With Brazil on everyone’s minds in the coming months, today we look to Rio de Janeiro and the inspiring series En Plein Air by Gabriele Galimberti & Edoardo Delille. With images taken from up high, this series is an ode to a country where sport is so much more than something to be watched….it is to be lived!

And like we saw in the series by Christopher Pillitz who captures the obsession with football that most Brazilians embody, the all embracing ‘have-space-will-make-it-fit’ attitude towards sport in even the most crowded neighbourhood, is both inspiring and refreshing.

Skateboarding is a common sport in Rio, and all sorts of teenagers do it, from the rich kids from Leblon to the poorest kids from the favelas in the northern part of the city.


A group of children are posing on the biggest playing field in the Favela Vidigal….From the top of the favela, the view of Ipanema is amazing.


In the Parque do Flamengo, there are many different playing fields, courts and other areas dedicated to different sports…The one with the red shorts is Andrè Klun, a former professional player (he played for 2 years on the Italian Virtus Roma team). He’s now the coach of the Flamengo basketball team.


At the Ipanema beach, people do many different sports, but one of the most common is definitely stand up paddle surfing. There are also a number of schools that teach it, especially in the area close to the Arpoador Rock. In this picture, teacher and beginners are posing together.
Elivelton is 22 years old. He was born and raised in Rio de Janeiro and he’s a soldier in the Brazilian Army. In this picture, he is posing inside the Parkour training center, a public space specifically designed and built for parkour. This is a new sport in Rio de Janeiro and only a few people practice it. Nonetheless, the municipality decided to build a space in the Catete neighbourhood dedicated to this sport


The Clube de Regatas do Flamengo is one of the biggest sports clubs in the city…. Four of the club’s many tennis teachers are posing in this picture.


Beach tennis is a new sport in Rio. The first courts for playing it were built by an Italian, who came to Rio 8 years ago from Romagna (Italy), the place where this sport was first invented, with the idea of exporting beach tennis to Brazil.


A soccer field in Parque do Flamengo


The Flamengo synchronized swimming team is the current champion of Brazil. The girls on the team go to train at the Clube de Regatas do Flamengo. This picture was taken there on one of their training days.


In addition to these images Galimberti has some other series that come highly recommended –
Local Celebrities where he photographs individuals who have made a big difference to the communities they live in,
Delicatessen with love that features what grandmothers do best – compete with rest of the world to feed us,
Mirrors and Windows that gives us a peek into the bedrooms of girls across the world,
and Toy Stories where he has kids posing with their favourite toys.

We don’t normally repeat photographers on Beanstories but Galimberti might be someone we return to in the not so distant future.

We leave you with our favourite from his Toy Stories series.

Maudy was born in a hut in a small village close to Kalulushi, in Zambia. She grew up playing in the street with the other children in the village, who all attend the same school, where students ages 3 to 10 years old are in the same class. The village has no shops, restaurants or hotels, and just a few children are lucky enough to have toys. Maudy and her friends found a box full of sunglasses on the street, which quickly became their favorite toys.


Simon Roberts: The Last Moment


Here’s an unusual series of photographs from Simon Roberts called The Last Moment. We’re not saying any more than that.

“Recently, photography has become almost as widely practiced an amusement as sex and dancing.” 
Susan Sontag, Writer, 1973

Olympic Crowd-pleasers

A quick burn to the top


“We set out to solve the main problem with taking pictures on a mobile phone, which is that they are often blurry or poorly composed. We fixed that.” 
Kevin Systrom, Founder and Chief Executive, Instagram, 2012

Jubilee river pagent

Spot the Queen


“10% of all photos ever taken were shot in 2011.” 
Fortune magazine, 2012

Royal wedding revelers

Standing start for Aung Sunn Kyi


“We’ve looked at the impact of user-generated content and social media. Consumer and pro-sumer technologies are simpler and more accessible. Small cameras are now high broadcast quality. More of this technology is in the hands of more people. After completing this analysis, CNN determined that some photojournalists will be departing the company.” 
Jack Womack, Senior VP, CNN, 2011

Death of a dictator

The revolution will be televised

Do we ever let a happy or a newsworthy moment go by without taking an image of it?
No, not really.
And not if we could help it!
…food for Friday thought!

All images and text borrowed with thanks (c) Simon Roberts

Luke Stephenson: Foyer Fauna


We like photographers who make us do a double take on the things we take for granted, for the most part of our life.
And Luke Stephenson falls into just this very category.

A London based Martin Parresque photographer who cites ‘life in Britain’ and ‘the British psyche’ to be at the core of all his work, we’re fascinated by the range of projects he’s turned his lens to – from The Incomplete Dictionary of Show Birds and Balloon Animals, to the World Beard and Moustache Championships and Santa in his Grotto.

But the one we found the most canny is Foyer Fauna.
A plant makes all the difference…till we forget about it of course.











In addition to these projects, Stephenson is currently raising money to publish his next book 99x99s, an ode to the humble British 99p Flake ice cream that has graced many a summer holiday and beach walk. His fascination with ice cream earlier manifested in his series Mind That Child, but 99x99s takes this to a whole new level.

So whether you are inspired by his earnest desire to preserve bits of Britishness, whether you chuckle at him or roll your eyeballs, he’s definitely got us thinking as much about our last flake, as he has about the forgotten potted plant in our living room.


All images (c)Luke Stephenson
Also available on Twitter, Facebook and Flickr.