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Nepal-based photographer Navesh Chitrakar documents almost all the country’s religious festivals. In this interview, Navesh discusses the art of photography and reflects on the state of the nation’s festivals.

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Photo: Nadege Meriau

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At first glance Nadege Meriau‘s photographs appear to be microscopic images, at second glance, apocalyptic landscapes. But in reality they are assembled out of food: fruits, vegetables, bones, meat and more.

The lighting is haunting and carefully constructed with a muted color palette. When studying her images, one starts forming an exit strategy. There is a paradox in them, between pain and pleasure.

Meriau is a Tunisian-born artist who is currently based in London. She received her masters from the Royal College of Art in 2011 and has exhibited her photographs in Europe since 2005. Most recently she was nominated for the Discovery Prize at Les Rencontres d’Arles. In her interview with Raw File below, Meriau discusses her process, intentions and negotiating art versus commercial work.

Wired: Would you say that science is an influence on your work? If so, could you explain how?

Meriau: Yes, the natural sciences, especially biology, are a strong influence. One of the main starting points for this project was my reading of Darwin’s The Formation of Vegetable Mould through the Action of Worms, with Observations on their Habits. I am also very interested in biomimicry, especially when it comes to architecture.

Wired: Do you consider your images to be abstract or do you want your audience to immediately understand what you are building? Could you explain the importance of working with food?

Meriau: I want to disorientate the viewer, at least initially, so hopefully the images are not immediately understandable. I’m drawn to edible materials because of their complex textures and colors but also because they are alive and unpredictable as they change with time and temperature.

The transformative, alchemical aspect of growing and cooking food is interesting to me, perhaps because it is akin to the creative process. I also like the idea of exploring everyday edible objects such as a piece of bread or a potato.

Wired: I see that you shoot commercial photography as well as fine art and that you are represented by Wyatt Clarke and Jones. How do you feel about making your work for strictly commercial purposes?

Meriau: I don’t see myself as a commercial photographer but more as an artist who takes on commissions and works collaboratively with art directors, designers and picture editors.

Wyatt Clarke and Jones are known for representing people who didn’t set out to be commercial photographers. They have an understanding of fine art and documentary photography, which makes it possible for me and other photographers to work with them.

I see my art and commercial practices as separate yet entwined: One is research based and the driving force behind everything I do, the other is more indexical and about working collaboratively on a brief. I enjoy both and I see them as feeding of one another as if part of an ecosystem.

Wired: In many of the structures from your current work, the viewer has a sense they are trapped inside these caves. Is this your intention in terms of narrative?

Meriau: My intention is to envelop or draw the viewer into these spaces, not to trap him/her. If you look carefully there is always an exit point, a chance to escape.

Wired: To me your structures seem to represent dwellings, are they a comment on the nature of “Home”?

Meriau: I’m interested in the duality of the concepts of food and home and how both can be seen as safe, nurturing, life-giving or unsafe, destructive and poisonous.

Wired: Who are your artistic influences?

Meriau: Jules Verne, Stanley Kubrick, Werner Herzog, Marx Ernst, Salvador Dali, Theodore Gericault, Caspar Friedrich, William Turner, Alex Hartley, Louise Bourgeois, Anya Gallacio, Sarah Lucas … to name a few!

Wired: What is next for you? Will it involve food?

Meriau: Food is vast territory that I’m only beginning to explore. Ideas for future projects involve a mushroom-based installation and a collaboration with a beekeeper and his bees.

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We’re happy to be a part of Photo Week 2012 at the Frontline Club in London.  We’ll be moving our offices to Frontline on 23 May, for portfolio reviews and networking.  That evening, come by for a conversation with photographers Peter Dench and Tom Stoddart, and Getty Images VP of Photo Assignment Aidan Sullivan.  Please see full details here.

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I didn’t go to Glastonbury expecting a flower power love-in. I’m not an idiot, I know the politics have evaporated from Michael Eavis’ festival like bits of brain fried in midday sun and speedy ecstasy. However, I didn’t expect to see a massive fight.

I took these pictures on Sunday. For some reason the kid in the soiled Topman pants with “Australia hair” decided it would be a good idea to start beating up his girlfriend in the middle of the Stone Circle in front of about a billion people. (...)
Read the rest of GLASTONBURY BRAWL (197 words)

© Alex for Viceland.com, 2011. |
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Silhouetted in a fog, Unsound in 2009. Photo (CC-BY-ND) andrej/asebest.

“This sounds crazy. I want to see this. I think I may have to see this to understand what you mean. But I want to see this.”

David Dodson, journalist, writer, and electronic musician (“Primus Luta” and, most recently at our Handmade Music series, Concrete Sound System), has just told me he wants to cover New York’s Unsound Festival, the Polish-based electronic and “advanced” music festival.

Only he wants to cover it … fictionally.

There’s a love story. There’s drama. There a bits of review, interwoven with a story. In place of the usual omniscient narrator that we find in music journalism, delivering pronouncements about the State of Music from on high and dissecting the programming, we hear reflections on the work the way you do when you’re actually there – snippets of commentary from friends outside the venue, internal monologue in your head. But these thoughts come out of the heads of made-up protagonists, who then rub shoulders with the real characters spotted at the event. (Warning: if you were at Unsound, you might make a cameo.)

It’s trippy, disorienting, frequently comical, and for me, at least, leaves me half-guiltily aching for more.

It’s worth reading all the excerpts in order in the blog format in which we’re able to present them, but a few examples to whet your appetite (or, if I’m lucky, give you some idea what the heck I’m talking about):

There are drops of sweat on her lashes when Gisella finally opens her eyes. She looks at Lil’ Man who is smiling like a man who knows he’s done good. She smiles back licking the presperation off her upper lip only slightly suggestive. Lil’ Man notices but turns to give an nod to Chancha for keeping her there with him on the dance floor. Only two other ladies, who probably arrived with Chancha, could keep up with the cumbia influenced rhythms. It didn’t keep others from moving to the beat, but even with her eyes closed, Gisella knew they had been the center of attention.
“Let’s go get some air,” she says into his ear before leading him through the crowd.
As they walk down the corridor where people are still waiting to get in, Lilo comes behind them from the back room.
“Oh my god,” she says. ”I don’t know who’s on now, but whoever was doing the last set in the back room just made my night.” There are more people outside waiting to get in and small groups gathered in nicotine circles. ”You missed him playing Madonna.”
“No way,” Gisella replies as they walk toward the curb where she recognizes Praveen and Sougwen.
“But did you see Dave Q voguing behind his laptop?” Praveen asks over hearing Lilo’s enthusiasm. The guy standing next to him responds by striking a pose.
“Do you know Dave?” Sougwen asks Gisella.
“Only by reputation,” Lilo says extending her hand.

…or…

Morton Subotnick at work in 2011. Photo: David Dodson.

“While I don’t feel cheated,” Lilo says between sips of wine, “I do feel like I missed something. I mean it was Morton Subotnick, the Buchla was there, and he performed Silver Apples on the Moon, but something was missing.”
“He didn’t patch live,” Lil Man says.
“Yes, that is it isn’t it?” Lilo thinks about it taking a sip. ”It’s funny how laptops throw everything off.”
“You couldn’t really see what he was doing,” Gisella chimes in. ”You could see it all working but you couldn’t see the work.”
“He had a controller near the laptop,” Lil Man notes. ”He was doing something with that.”
“Yeah,” Lilo says after another sip. ”I mean you have to think, why wouldn’t he use a laptop? Can you imagine how hard it must have been to create Silver Apples back in the sixties, let alone perform it. Even now with the technology we have it’s an amazing achievement.”
“Most def,” Lil Man affirms.
“But I do wish he had pulled at least one patch cable,” Lilo adds before finishing the glass.
“Most def.”

…or…

The sound of an ambulance trails off behind her. Suddenly a female voice moves in only to be accompanied by at least ten different iterations of the same voice. They are all being manipulated diferently and floating around the space. Gisella closes her eyes and could see the voices sweeping, like ghosts in a haunted house. It was clearly the Pamela Z piece, but the description didn’t really do the effect of it justice. The title and even the description made it sound out of place. What did “The Star Spangled Banner” have to do with horror? But listening to Pamela Z’s deconstruction and recomposition of voice in the surround space, at this point Gisella recognizes, Pamela is the first artist to truly create a scene from a horror movie. So why was she thinking about sex?

Author David Dodson explains the project:

I’ve been thinking of moving back into fiction writing for a few years now, but fiction that deals with real historical places and events. A few years back I wrote a novella entitled “The Moshi” which placed characters in the middle of New York during the black out of 2003. When working with fictional characters it’s always interesting to think about how they respond to ‘real life’ situations.

For “Above the Threshold” I wanted to really embrace that. Rather
than create a world in which the characters can do whatever I saw fit, I decided to create the characters and place them in our world to see what they’d do. I started out with a very simple premise – a female lead working in the music industry attends the 2011 Unsound festival. I then attended the festival myself and ‘observed’ how my characters acted within the settings that the festival presented.

During the course of the festival I penned over 50k words of this
storyline, and in essence watched the plot unfold. It will be some
time before the full piece is ready to go to print, but I’m offering
up some excerpts from it on the CDM partner Noisepages site. These excerpts may or may not end up in the final draft, but will give some glimpses of the characters, the festival and how the two came together.

I only wish fictional characters could inhabit all the events we attend. I suppose, in fact, they could.

The full work, emerging in blog form:

Above the Threshold

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