The Political Lens of Dorothea Lange and Vanessa Winship – Dorothea Lange与Vanessa Winship的政治镜像

Opinion - 25 Jul 2018

The Political Lens of Dorothea Lange and Vanessa Winship

At the Barbican, a double bill of two great photographers reveals radically different approaches to social documentary 

By Shelley Klein

Stark as a ribcage stripped of flesh. Sculpted, knuckled and fierce. The images on the walls don’t wash over you, so much as punch you in the face. It’s astonishing to think that ‘Dorothea Lange: The Politics of Seeing’ is the first UK retrospective of one of the world’s most influential photojournalists (and, in 1952, co-founder of the magazine Aperture). 

Best known for her work during the Great Depression of the 1930s, Lange’s iconic portrait Migrant Mother (Nipomo, California) (1936) – singled out from a series of seven other photographs of the destitute field labourer Florence Owens Thompson and her children, that are given their own room in this exhibition – stands as a microcosm of her body of work, which spans 46 years. The dignity and power of Owens Thompson is the same dignity and power Lange afforded all of her subjects, from the hungry and unemployed migrant workers of the Dust Bowl, to the labourers of the Deep South and the Japanese Americans who were interned at Manzanar, California during World War II. 


The Political Lens of Dorothea Lange and Vanessa Winship - Dorothea Lange与Vanessa Winship的政治镜像

Dorothea Lange, Migrant Mother, 1936. Courtesy: The Oakland Museum of California, Oakland

Armed with her medium format camera (not the easiest object to wield, considering its heft and weight) Lange – who was born in 1895 – began her career in 1919, taking studio portraits of San Francisco’s well-heeled. Fourteen years later, she took to the streets to shoot the increasing numbers of disenfranchised men and women she saw drifting past her window. White Angel Breadline, San Francisco (1933), for example, is a study of a single man hunched up against a barrier at a soup kitchen, empty tin cup balanced in front of him, his back turned against the crowd; Lange has captured not only the appalling realities of loss and social isolation, but also the psychological estrangement of such a predicament.

Other photographs in the exhibition – which compromises 15 series of work from early studio portraits beginning in 1919 to ‘Death of a Valley’ (1956–57) chronicling the US Bureau of Reclamation’s flooding of California’s Berryessa Valley to create the Monticello Dam – are equally forceful, be they of eroded landscapes or the exhausted processions of people moving across them, their worldly possessions strapped to the rooves and boots of clapped out cars and trucks. Lange, who was employed intermittently during the 1930s by the Resettlement Administration (later to become known as the Farm Security Administration or FSA) made it a priority to record and thereby campaign for the ‘Okies’ – a derogative name for refugees from the Midwest – who were often seen as idle wasters. As such, Lange’s was a new documentary sensibility, one that put people living at the very edge of existence, slap-bang centre stage. An empty shack is stranded in the middle of a dirt field in Tractored OutChildress County, Texas (1938) while Woman of the High Plains(Nettie Featherston), Texas Panhandle (1938) evokes the gaunt angularity of a portrait by Amedeo Modigliani. One of Featherston’s emaciated arms juts outwards as she places her hand on her forehead, while the other points down, as hard as an arrowhead. ‘How can we go when we ain’t got no place to go to?’ reads the caption beneath a photograph of a dust-ridden man and his young child. ‘We’re getting along as good as us draggin’ around people can expect – if you call it a livin’ reads another taken from the same series, ‘An American Exodus’ (1934–39).


The Political Lens of Dorothea Lange and Vanessa Winship - Dorothea Lange与Vanessa Winship的政治镜像

Dorothea Lange, White Angel Breadline, 1933. Courtesy: The Oakland Museum of California, Oakland

‘The photograph tells the story,’ Lange says in Dorothea Lange: Grab a Hunk of Lightening (2014), a documentary made by her granddaughter. ‘But,’ she continues, ‘the captions extend and enrich the story.’ It is this intense dedication to the minutiae of each of her subjects’ living and working conditions that makes this body of work so devastating.

By contrast, the contemporary British photographer Vanessa Winship’s ‘And Time Folds’ – the artist’s first major solo exhibition in the UK – takes a radically different approach to documenting geopolitical landscapes. (Both exhibitions, which run concurrently, are part of the Barbican’s ‘The Art of Change’ season, which explores how artists ‘respond to, reflect and potentially effect change in the social and political landscape’.) On view are around 150 photographs from the past 20 or so years, including a new, eponymous series. Winship – who lived and worked for over a decade in the Balkans, Turkey and the Causacus, and who has also shot photos in the Midwest of the US – won the Henri Cartier-Bresson award for photography in 2011; she is, like Lange, drawn towards people on the edge – of geographical, political, physical or mental states. Here, however, the edges are more oblique. This is underscored in two separate bodies of work: ‘Black Sea: Between Chronicle and Fiction’ (2002–06) and ‘Imagined States and Desires: A Balkan Journey’ (1999–2003) in which the photographs, far from the pounding reality of Lange, reflect strange, nowhere lands.  


The Political Lens of Dorothea Lange and Vanessa Winship - Dorothea Lange与Vanessa Winship的政治镜像

Vanessa Winship, Untitled (from the series Sweet Nothings School Girls of Eastern Anatolia) 2007. Courtesy: Vanessa Winship

At its best, this produces some beguiling photographs that echo the mood of films by Krzysztof Kieślowskiand Andrei Tarkovsky. But it can also result in work that is both distant and distancing. It’s here that the influence of the left-wing artist and theorist Victor Burgin – Winship’s former teacher at the Polytechnic of Central London – runs like a doctrine through her work. Burgin, whose book Thinking Photography (1982) prompted debate about the veracity of the photographer’s lens, distrusts conventional commentaries, which suggest that only one truth is at play. It’s a legitimate claim, but its opposite, as revealed by Winship – who rarely titles a photograph, often preferring to use excerpts from literature that add a passionate lyricism to her war-torn landscapes and melancholy portraits – also has its pitfalls. 

For example, an untitled, undated photograph of a young boy riding a donkey inside a derelict building features walls that have been sprayed with graffiti: one from the Kosovo Liberation Army, one the opposing Serbian Chetnik nationalist symbol in Serbian Cyrillic. But, were it not for the Barbican’s introductory piece on Winship that helpfully translates these obscure acronyms, the in-between spaces – and the political realities – Winship immerses herself in are difficult to access.


The Political Lens of Dorothea Lange and Vanessa Winship - Dorothea Lange与Vanessa Winship的政治镜像

Vanessa Winship, Untitled (from the series Black Sea: Between Chronicle and Fiction), 2002–06. Courtesy: Vanessa Winship

Elsewhere – in photographs of ripples on water, an empty pier, burnt out cars and abandoned gravestones – Winship’s work veers towards cliché. The exception to this is an extraordinary series ‘Sweet Nothings’ (2007). The artist photographed, with almost prison-like regularity, Turkish girls in their school uniforms: their legs set a few inches apart, their arms by their sides. But Winship’s focus on the ways in which each of the girls has modified her uniform – either by embroidering it with flowers or by pinning small objects to it – reveals not only a wonderful individuality, but also a deeply affecting commonality. 

However, given that the title of Winship’s exhibition is ‘And Time Folds’, it’s perhaps ironic that the idea is best served by Lange, whose images of the disenfranchised and alienated recall the images coming out of Trump’s America and the dire situation of refugees around the globe. In this context Lange is the blast, Winship the echo.

‘Dorothea Lange / Vanessa Winship: A Photography Double Bill’ is on view at The Barbican, London, until 2 September. 

Main image: Dorothea Lange, Flag of allegiance pledge at Raphael Weill Public School, Geary and Buchanan Streets. Courtesy: Dorothea Lange

Shelley Klein

Shelley Klein is a writer based in London, UK

Vanessa Winship
Dorothea Lange
The Barbican
Shelley Klein
Social History

意见- 25六月2018 Dorothea Lange和Vanessa Winship在巴比肯的政治镜头,两张伟大摄影师的双账单揭示Shelley Klein社会纪录片的根本不同的方法。像一个被肉剥下来的肋骨。雕琢的,有关节的,凶猛的墙壁上的图像不会冲刷你,就像打在你脸上一样。令人惊讶的是,Dorothea Lange:《看政治》是世界上最具影响力的摄影记者之一的第一个英国回顾(1952,《口径》杂志的共同创办人)。最著名的是她在20世纪30年代大萧条时期的作品《兰格的I》。圆锥形肖像“移民母亲”(Nipomo,加利福尼亚)(1936)——从一系列的七张其他照片中选出,这些照片是在这场展览中被赋予自己的房间的贫瘠的田野工人Florence Owens Thompson和她的孩子们的,这是她工作的缩影。46年。Owens Thompson的尊严和权力是兰格赋予她所有臣民的尊严和权力,从尘土中饥饿和失业的农民工到二战期间在加利福尼亚曼扎纳实习的南部和日裔美国人。1、O.DoothaaLangeYang-EnthoOxMyNyoMooLoCalmiaa191936TyoOkand Lead Mulumia of C.加利福尼亚。JPG The Political Lens of Dorothea Lange and Vanessa Winship - Dorothea Lange与Vanessa Winship的政治镜像多萝西兰格,移徙母亲,1936。礼貌:奥克兰的加利福尼亚博物馆,奥克兰,她的中等格式相机(不是最简单的对象,考虑其重量和重量)兰格-谁出生于1895 -开始她的职业生涯在1919,拍摄工作室的肖像三藩的高跟鞋。十四年后,她走上街头拍摄越来越多的被剥夺权利的男人和女人,她看到她从窗户上飘过。比如说,《白色天使线》,三藩(1933),是一个关于一个人在一个汤锅、空锡杯巴兰的一个障碍物上蜷缩起来的研究。在他面前,兰格背弃了人群,不仅俘虏了令人震惊的损失和社会孤立的现实,而且也抓住了这种困境的心理隔阂。在展览中的其他照片——它将15个系列的作品从1919年初的早期工作室肖像变成了“山谷之死”(1956—57),它记载了美国垦荒局对加利福尼亚的伯里萨山谷的洪水造成了蒙蒂塞洛大坝的修建。它们是被侵蚀的风景,或是人们走过的疲惫的游行队伍,它们的世俗财产绑在被拍打的汽车和卡车的靴子和靴子上。兰格在1930年代被移民管理局断断续续地雇用(后来被称为农场安全管理局或FSA),这是记录和竞选“OKIS”的一个优先事项。被视为闲置浪费。因此,兰格是一个新的纪录片感性,一个让人们生活在存在的边缘,砰砰的中心舞台。一个空荡荡的棚屋被困在一个污秽的田地中间,在柴尔德里斯县,德克萨斯(1938),而高平原的女人(NETTY FESTOSTON),德克萨斯潘德尔(1938)唤起了阿梅代奥·莫迪里阿尼肖像的憔悴棱角。一只Featherston瘦弱的手臂向外伸出,她把手放在额头上,而另一只手臂向下,像箭头一样坚硬。当我们没有地方可去时,我们怎么去?在一个尘封的男人和他的小孩的照片下面阅读字幕。“我们和周围的人相处得很好,如果你把它称为Livin”,读到另一个系列,“美国出埃及记”(1934—39)。2、O.DoothaaLangeWieLeang-EngulaStulyLangShan-FrasistoC19193To.Okaland Mulumia of C.加利福尼亚。JPG The Political Lens of Dorothea Lange and Vanessa Winship - Dorothea Lange与Vanessa Winship的政治镜像多萝西兰格,White Angel Breadline,1933。礼貌:奥克兰加利福尼亚奥克兰博物馆的照片讲述了这个故事,”兰格在《Dorothea Lange》中说:“抓拍一个闪电”(2014),一个由她的孙女制作的纪录片。“但是,”她继续说,“字幕延伸并丰富了故事。”这是她对每个受试者的生活和工作条件的细节的强烈奉献,使这部作品如此毁灭性。相比之下,当代英国摄影师Vanessa Winship的《时间折叠》是艺术家第一次在英国举办的大型个人展览,它以一种完全不同的方式来记录地缘政治景观。这两个展览同时运行,是巴比肯《变革艺术》的一部分,它探讨艺术家如何回应、反映和潜在地影响社会和政治景观的变化)。从过去20年左右的时间来看,大约有150张照片。一个新的同名系列。WiStand在Balkans、土耳其和达加克斯生活和工作了十年,在美国中西部拍摄了照片,2011赢得了亨利·卡地亚布列松摄影奖;她像兰格一样被边缘、地理、政治、哲学界的人吸引。生理或精神状态。然而,在这里,边缘更加倾斜。在两个独立的作品中强调这一点:“黑海:编年史与虚构之间(2002—06)”和“想象的状态和欲望:巴尔干之旅”(1999—2003),其中的照片,远离兰格的轰轰烈烈的现实,反映了奇怪、无处的土地。(5)V.NavaSaWiStang.NoTytLeNo.S.SythSaleSuthoNo.S.J.P.J.P.W.JPG WPAP602602IMG,凡妮莎WunBeod,未命名(来自安东托利亚东部的甜言蜜语学校女生)2007。礼貌:Vanessa Winship在其最好的,这产生一些诱人的照片,反映了电影的心情由克日什托夫Ki'Losiki和安德列塔可夫斯基。但是,它也可以导致工作,这是遥远和疏远。正是在这里,左翼艺术家和理论家Victor Burgin——温斯顿在伦敦中部理工学院的前老师的影响,通过她的作品来运作。布尔金的书《思考摄影》(1982)引起了对摄影师镜头准确性的争论,不相信传统评论,这表明只有一个真相在起作用。这是一个合理的说法,但它的反面,如温特尔所揭示的,很少给一张照片题名,往往喜欢使用那些对她饱受战争蹂躏的风景和忧郁的肖像加上热情的抒情性的文学作品的摘录,也有它的陷阱。一个小男孩骑着驴子在一个废弃的建筑里,画着被涂鸦涂鸦的墙:一个来自科索沃解放军,一个是塞尔维亚塞尔尼克民族主义符号在塞尔维亚西里尔语中。但是,如果不是巴比肯在《温船》上的介绍性文章能帮助翻译这些晦涩的首字母缩略词,那么中间的空间——以及政治现实——温船沉浸在自己的内心深处是很难接近的。10、V.NaveSaWiStang-WiStaseNototLeDyOf.TythSerixBlack SeaLi介于SnimeLeLeLi和OxFrimeTo.22-2006,凡妮莎VPAP6024602IMG,Win Stand,UnStand(来自黑海系列:编年史和小说之间),2002—06。礼貌:Vanessa Winship在其他地方-在水上荡漾的照片,空码头,烧毁的汽车和遗弃墓碑-温船的工作转向克丽希。例外的是一个非凡的系列“甜Nothes”(2007)。这名艺术家拍摄的照片几乎像监狱一样整齐,土耳其女孩穿着校服,两条腿相距几英寸,两臂并排。但温特尔关注的是每一个女孩都修改了自己的制服的方式——无论是用鲜花刺绣,还是用小物件钉在它身上——不仅展现出一种奇妙的个性,而且还带来了深刻的共同影响。展览是“和时间折叠”,这也许是讽刺的是,这个想法是最好的服务兰格,他的形象被剥夺和疏离回忆的图像来自特朗普的美国和可怕的情况下,难民在全球各地。在这一背景下,兰格是爆炸,扬起回声。“Dorothea Lange / Vanessa Winship:摄影双账单”是在伦敦巴比肯的视野,直到9月2日。主要形象:Dorothea Lange,效忠旗帜在拉斐尔威尔公立学校,Grayy和Buchanan Streets。礼貌:多萝西兰格雪莱克莱因雪莱克莱因是一个作家在伦敦,英国凡妮莎WangStand Lang-Lange巴比肯雪莱克莱因社会史摄影


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