This week on Photojournalism Now: Friday Round Up – Tobias Titz‘ Polaroids 1998 – 2018 at the Fox Darkroom and Gallery (Melbourne), and the London exhibition marking the tenth anniversary of the death of Magnum photographer Philip Jones Griffiths. Plus this weekend the Melbourne Art Book Fair 2018 presents a three-day program of ideas, discussions and book launches including some awesome new photobooks at the National Gallery of Victoria.
Tobias Titz – Polaroids 1998 – 2018
It’s exciting to see an artist commit to a long term investigation using a particular aesthetic. In Polaroids 1998-2018 Tobias Titz shows how his collaborative approach is as relevant today as it was when he began, bringing a depth of intimacy and knowledge to the image through the participation of the subject in the creation of the art.
Over the past 20 years, the German-born photographer has worked on his unique award winning series using a 5″x4” monorail Polaroid camera with Type 665 film, which delivers both an instant print and a negative.
The twist here is that after Titz has taken the portrait he then takes a picture of the scene sans person and invites the subject to draw or write on this negative which he then displays next to their portrait, combining the two images in Photoshop. It is this collaboration with the sitter that enriches the experience for the viewer (and I assume the sitter and photographer also in a shared exchange).
Titz says, “Usually the subject in a portrait has no possibility to interact with the photo. The subject can relate to the photographer as the shoot progresses, but once the shutter has fired, that’s it. I thought I would give them the opportunity to comment or contribute to the image itself. Normally a portrait is just a single image, but I thought I would extend the process by giving the subject the chance to have a direct input to the finished piece.”
“When you ask people to have an input – to leave a mark, it gives them an active role not a passive role. They have the opportunity to do whatever they want. I don’t tell them what to write at all, or even if it has to be words. They can draw or design anything they like on the space.”
“Some people don’t initially know what to do, and I say, ‘Do whatever comes into your mind.’ Some people are very spontaneous and some take a long time to decide what to write. But, it’s always interesting to see what people come up with. No one has ever been unable to come up with something to say. In the beginning, I decided to call these images ‘scratchies’, because to make a mark like this on a negative, the person actually scratches off the wet photographic emulsion. This means that whatever they write or draw comes out as black lines on the final photographic print, and appears as text or graphics which seems to float above, or in front of, the out of focus image of the background.”
Titz says he enjoys the slower process of shooting large format film. “There is much more attention to detail with the very slow and deliberate way you use a large-format camera on a tripod,” he says. “Also the subject sees, as the shoot progresses, that this is not a casual snapshot. They see that I am putting a lot of thought and effort into making the picture, and when the time comes for them to make their input, they write in a way that reflects and complements that very considered and careful approach”.
Tobias Titz Polaroids 1998 – 2018
17 March – 8 April, 2018
Fox Darkroom & Gallery 08 Elizabeth Street (via laneway) Kensington (Melbourne)
(C) All images Tobias Titz
PJGX – Philip Jones Griffiths
A new exhibition, PJGX, marks the tenth anniversary of the death of renowned Magnum photographer Philip Jones Griffiths. Showcasing two of his most significant bodies of work – photographs from the Vietnam War and his images of Britain in the 1950s -1970s – the exhibition is presented by TJ Boulting and Trolley books, in conjunction with the Philip Jones Griffiths Foundation and Magnum Photos.
Philip Jones Griffiths – Ten Year Anniversary Exhibition
19 March – 21 April 2018
TJ Boulting Gallery, 59 Riding House Street, London, W1W 7EG