Beauty in the lens of the beholder | Evening Standard, 13-02-2007

By Sue Steward

"A fashion picture is a portrait just as a portrait is a fashion picture," said legendary style photographer Irving Penn.

This intriguing show, featuring original work from five photographers - some unpublished, some seen in magazines from Vanity Fair to Pop, The Face to Harper's Bazaar - explores the links between the two fields.

The uninspiring opening section by Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott is redeemed by the jewel-like Doll, featuring the porcelain face of Tanya Dziahileva, Kate Moss's recent Dietrich spoof, "Dior Boy" and the implied violence of Christina Ricci's smudged lipstick.

In the main gallery, Mario Sorrenti's large, classy, commercial portraits prove how success hinges on the subjects' involvement in the shoot: Catherine Deneuve lies in furs in a park; a New York performance artist is bound in elastic; the boy DiCaprio plays monsters.

His famous Obsession ad, featuring a naked Kate Moss, leads us to Corinne Day's landmark sessions in which the symbiosis between subject and photographer was paramount.

Day's teenaged Moss, with braids and freckles, exhibits the unadorned beauty that led to the contrived anti-glamour of Day's later Vogue shoot - where Moss wears skimpy knickers and vest - which launched the now incredible criticisms of "heroin chic".

Steven Klein's 21st-century tableaux involving A-list stars are the antithesis of Day's intimate honesty. His collaboration with Madonna (a crinolined Queen Elizabeth and corseted dancer, from her last tour) led to more interesting cinematic games with Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie which resemble film stills: the noir intrigue of Pitt carrying a limp Jolie into a room; an epic mystery with Jolie on a bed and Pitt drinking beer outside.

Symbolically outside of the exhibition (and outside of fashion), Corinne Day's recent monochrome headshots of Kate Moss are again stirring controversy: now for unmasking the effects of time and lifestyle on the perfect model. It will be the most talked-about, least fashion-based exhibit.

• Until 28 May. St Martins Place, WC2.

'Tipsy' Kate Moss on camera | ITN News, 05-02-2007

Kate Moss is said to look a little tipsy in a new official portrait commissioned for the National Portrait Gallery.

The supermodel is shown immersed in a serious discussion in nine black-and-white frames, assembled together as one portrait by Corinne Day.

The images make the 33-year-old look extremely animated and in some cases the worse for wear. They were taken at her home two months ago.

A spokesman for the National Portrait Gallery in London said: "Forming one large work, each element of the portrait reveals a different expression, at times facing the camera head-on, at others in conversation or in quiet contemplation.

"Taken by Corinne Day in December 2006, the portrait brings something new to our perception of the enigma that is Kate Moss, among the most photographed women in the world today."

Day was one of the first to work with Moss after she was discovered at the age of 14. Their first collaboration in Vogue magazine in 1993 featured the model in a council flat in dreary underwear.

Portraying Kate Moss, a study in conversation | The Guardian, 05-02-2007

By Maev Kennedy

Nearly two decades after their first collaboration launched a 14-year-old Kate Moss into fashion super stardom, Corrine Day's challenge was to present a fresh portrait of one of the world's most photographed women. The commission, by the National Portrait Gallery, was never going to be easy. "To be honest, I wasn't sure it would work," said the gallery's director Sandy Nairn.

"I wasn't completely convinced there was anything new to be got out of the subject." But he called the finished work "extraordinary".

"I think when you see it on the wall, even if you had no idea who Kate Moss is or what she's doing there, it draws you in and sets you off on a process of inquiry." Day said the photos were taken while talking. "I suggested to Kate that we have a conversation about a serious subject. The subject she chose to talk about revealed her true feelings and in turn defined her character."

Neo-classical endogenous growth theory? The carbon footprint of a globe trotting supermodel? What to do about Pete Doherty's spots? We do not know.

"I think in a way that's part of its quality," Mr Nairn said.

"It's almost like one of those Victorian scientific studies of the emotions - in some of them she looks as if she is about to speak, or has just finished speaking -but we don't know what she would say."

The gallery already has conventionally glossy gorgeous images of Moss by fashion photographer Mario Testino. The idea of commissioning Day came because she was already working with the gallery on the Face of Fashion exhibition - for which Moss is the poster girl - opening later this month.

The two have worked together for years. Day was herself a model, before becoming a self taught photographer, who has developed friendships with many of her subjects.

She was one of the first to work with Moss , and shot the cover for The Face magazine in 1989 which made her famous. The exhibition will include another unpublished image from that shoot, as well as the work of other fashion photographers, and models including Madonna and Brad Pitt.

The portrait will go on display later this month, to coincide with the exhibition. And Moss's opinion of the finished product? She apparently looked at the images - nine separate close-up shots framed together as one work - and saw "crooked teeth and a wonky nose".

· Face of Fashion, National Portrait Gallery, February 15 - May 28.

Kate and Kylie exhibits dismay cultural critics | The Independent, 05-02-2007

By By Arifa Akbar and Louise Jury

Kylie Minogue and Kate Moss are to be honoured by two of Britain's leading cultural galleries this month in a move that is likely to delight Heat magazine readers as much as it offends some traditional art lovers.

The Victoria and Albert Museum's show Kylie - the Exhibition, which opens on Thursday, will chart the exotic wardrobe changes of the pop star over her 20-year career.

Face of Fashion, opening a week later at the National Portrait Gallery, will feature nine new photographic portraits of Moss to illustrate the "relationship between fashion and celebrity".

The shows are expected to draw a new generation to the galleries, but some more staid exhibition-goers are dismayed that pop culture has invaded space usually reserved for the more refined variety.

Critics question whether Moss and Minogue are appropriate subjects for such heavily subsidised institutions. Some have cited the huge success of recent exhibitions featuring the Spanish court painter Velázquez - which drew record numbers at the National Gallery - and David Hockney's portraits at the National Portrait Gallery, as testimony to the enduring attraction of traditional art shows.

The V&A exhibition captures sartorial highlights of Minogue's career, including photographs of the pop star in gold hotpants and feathered head-dresses, as well as album covers, accessories, photographs and videos. The museum, which specialises in applied and decorative arts, has responded robustly to suggestions that it should not have given space to an exhibition about a pop figure.

"We hope this exhibition will attract students of fashion and stage costume design," said a spokeswoman.

Stephen Bayley, the art and design critic, said he could not approve of the decision. "I am conflicted about this. If they are going to put Kylie's dresses in the chamber of horrors that is one thing, but if it is to be a mute celebration of the life of a celebrity, then it is not such a worthy thing."

The National Portrait Gallery, meanwhile, traces Moss's career from the 1993 Vogue portrait of the waif-like model which sparked the "heroin chic" debate. She features in nine portraits captured by one of her longest-standing collaborators, Corinne Day, a former model and self-taught photographer who brought a hard-edged documentary look described as grunge, to fashion shoots in the 1990s. Day first worked with the Croydon-born model shortly after she was discovered, aged 14, in 1988.

Sandy Nairne, the gallery director, said that although a model might not have been considered worthy of inclusion in the past, "categories of achievement that we think about have become much broader".

The Face of Fashion exhibition will include images by Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott, Steven Klein, Paolo Roversi, Mario Sorrenti as well as Day, with images of Madonna, Catherine Deneuve and Drew Barrymore alongside Moss.

'Tipsy' Moss caught on camera | The Metro, 04-02-2007

Supermodel Kate Moss looks a little tipsy in a new official portrait commissioned for the National Portrait Gallery.

Moss has reunited with Corinne Day, whose "heroin chic" images in the Nineties famously helped propel the Croydon model into stardom.

The 33-year-old was immersed in a serious discussion in the nine black-and-white frames, assembled together as one portrait.

Day will not go into detail about the afternoon or reveal what got the supermodel so animated at the three-hour photo-shoot at the model's north London home two months ago.

But some would be forgiven for thinking that in a couple of the snapshots, her subject looks a little worse for wear.

Moss, one of the most photographed women in the world, is wearing no make-up, although her eyelashes were curled for the commission.

A spokesman for the National Portrait Gallery in London, which is displaying the image in its permanent collection, said: "Forming one large work, each element of the portrait reveals a different expression, at times facing the camera head-on, at others in conversation or in quiet contemplation.

"Taken by Corinne Day in December 2006, the portrait brings something new to our perception of the enigma that is Kate Moss, among the most photographed women in the world today."

The model, in an on-off relationship with singer and drug addict Pete Doherty, looks alternatively angry, melancholic and pulls a face in the pictures.

British photographer Day was one of the first to work with Moss after she was discovered by Sarah Doukas at Storm at the age of 14.

Their infamous first collaboration in Vogue magazine in 1993 featured the waif-like model in what appeared to be a council flat in dreary underwear.

Day says of the new commission: "I suggested to Kate that we have a conversation about a serious subject. The subject she chose to talk about revealed her true feelings and in turn defined her character."

In a separate interview for the March issue of Vogue magazine, she adds: "I wanted the shots to be genuine, so that when people look at them, each picture will say something different.

"I try to capture something from my subjects that's real. It's the eyes that tell that.

"It's a cross-section of her personality ... she was a little girl before and now she's a woman. Obviously there's life experience in her face, but she's still beautiful."

Moss said that she had not changed much since she first worked with Day.

"I've got crooked teeth, bow legs, a wonky nose," she says.

A former model and self-taught photographer, Day is renowned for bringing a hard-edged documentary look to fashion image-making.

She forms close relationships with many of her sitters, resulting in candid and intimate portraits.

The commission will go on display on February 12 and its unveiling coincides with the National Portrait Gallery's Face of Fashion exhibition on portraiture in fashion photography, which opens on February 15.

The exhibition features the work of acclaimed photographers such as Day, Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott, Steven Klein, Paolo Roversi and Mario Sorrenti.

The art of the fashionable | The Telegraph, 27-01-2007

Money, photography and models are a combustible and increasingly interesting mix, as Drusilla Beyfus reports

Fashion photography can make or break a publishing venture, create a fortune for a brand or a face, persuade us to pay silly prices for a handbag, but is it art?

This question has long divided opinion. In general, the fine-art arena has turned a stony face towards the notion that fashion photographers are true artists. Fashion stuff is too commercial. It lacks a serious cultural history. It's all about selling product and is little more than ephemera. That's the nub of the case against.

Of course, these reservations don't apply to vintage or blue-chip prints whose reputation is reflected in sale room prices. Records have been set by Irving Penn, Richard Avedon and Helmut Newton, among others.

However, a change of heart about the cultural standing of fashion photography, a shift that has in any case been happening in the capital, is gathering pace.

The National Portrait Gallery's forthcoming Face of Fashion exhibition presents six influential photographers whose work appears in the glossiest of pages: Corinne Day, Steven Klein, Paolo Roversi, the duo Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott, and Mario Sorrenti.

At the Victoria and Albert Museum, the pop diva Kylie Minogue's showbusiness wardrobe mingles with the immortals in the decorative arts, and is displayed in photography and for real. And Michael Hoppen gallery has rounded up a collection of classic late 20th-century style shots to mark the opening of London Fashion Week.

It is interesting to see how these venerable arts institutions have all approached the fashion side. The celebrity aspect has come to the rescue.

The NPG has focused on the concept of the "fashion portrait", pinning its premise to Irving Penn's observation that, "A fashion picture is a portrait just as a portrait is a fashion picture."

The V & A has presented Kylie as a patron of leading designers such as John Galliano (corsets for the Showgirls tour in 2004), Dolce & Gabbana (white hooded jumpsuit for the video Can't Get You Out of My Head, 2001) and shoes by Manolo Blahnik, as well as presenting her own efforts in the field. She is photographed wearing a wonderfully narcissistic creation, a silk-screen printed show-stopper with reproductions of pages from magazines covered in her face, frocks and name.

Michael Hoppen displays '60s luminaries such as Twiggy by Ronald Traeger as she appeared in Vogue's Young Idea feature and Penelope Tree sporting exotic jewellery as seen by Jacques Henri Lartigue.

Hoppen distances himself from the art debate. "It was not in the brief of these photographers to produce something artistic, rather to produce what their editorial or advertising assignment dictated," he says.

All of which suggests a less wholehearted approach to fashion photography in its own right than is demonstrated in the US. The Museum of Modern Art in New York held a show, Fashioning Fiction, in 2004, devoted exclusively to the genre.

Sarah Bright, curator of the NPG exhibition, grasps the nettle firmly in her catalogue essay. "The fashion system which demands that portraiture is more often about performance and posing, and commerce than concept, produces images that could arguably reveal nothing of the sitter… yet viewed in a different context many of these fashion portraits do indeed reveal much of their sitters, their personalities, personas and the society in which they live"

That is true, in my view, only up to a point. The pictures fall into two categories: those in which the character of the sitter jumps out of the print and in which the fashion illustration element appears to take second place, and those in which one's first and last reaction is to notice what the model is wearing.

Corinne Day's well-known picture of Kate Moss is essentially a portrait of a friendship. An atmosphere of trust between sitter and photographer infuses the picture. Published in British Vogue in 1993, the model is depicted as a grungey waif posed in a loop of coloured fairy lights at her flat. The deep-scooped pink vest and lacy black briefs in which she is styled seem almost incidental.

Day has said: "When a relationship forms between the subject and the photographer, a natural interaction takes place making the images more intimate."

Intimacy is the last thing Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott have in mind with their study of Alexander McQueen's graphic design. The model is cast as a votive offering to high fashion. Her pose, her cool way with a cigarette, the mask-like make-up, and the exaggerated composition can be read as a portrait of a fashion, but the individual has slipped from view.

Sometimes it's fair to wonder exactly who you are looking at. Fashion photography is a highly interventionist art.

Paolo Roversi, for example, is shown to play with the gender of his sitters. For his advertising campaign for Yohji Yamamoto in the '90s, he portrays his sitter, Guinevere, as an androgynous figure styled in asexual clothes in one shoot, and in another for the same series she is characterised as all-female, an enigmatic figure in chic tweeds, cuddling a pet dog.

Digital technology has introduced new opportunities for fashion photographers. Polaroid images and the endless rolls of film that would have been part of the process in many of the pictures at Michael Hoppen have been replaced, for example, in Mario Sorrenti's images by digital means.

Sorrenti explains that during a shoot commissioned by W magazine in 2004 with the actress Julianne Moore, he and the star were able to follow the progress of the sitting on screen. They viewed the shots together and discussed them.

Susan Bright points out that digital technology can mean that fewer shots are needed: "Far from being the end of great fashion portraiture, this is just a different way of working and one that produces different kinds of images."

This marks, in a way, a step away from the personal – a trend that is reflected in many aspects of both editorial and advertising photography. The size of the crew involved in a major fashion shoot has grown to a point that is comparable to a small film production. Editorial budgets on these junkets can run to £20,000. If the shoot is for an international advertising campaign, leading photographers are in a position to claim very high fees.

The investment can pay off in aesthetic, as well as commercial, terms. The mix of money and imagination in advertising photography has produced some commanding images – such as those for campaigns promoting Louis Vuitton, Versace and Marc Jacobs – that can hold their own against the editorial shots in the NPG show.

The face of fashion has rarely looked in better shape than in the highly edited displays on view. The theme of a cross-over of fashion and celebrity seems natural for a society gripped by what Bright describes as "surfaces and effects".

None the less, away from the curatorial eye and back at the camp where real-life fashion pages are produced, practical priorities don't seem to have changed much over the years. In 1955, Audrey Withers, then editor of Vogue, wrote a memorable memo to Cecil Beaton: "I have unpleasant news for you. We have been forced to kill every picture you took for our April lead. We found these pictures unpublishable since they did not in any way embody or put over our theme which is What to Wear with What."

Anna Wintour, current editor-in-chief of American Vogue, has expressed her view that the magazine's needs "are simple". They want a shot of a pretty girl in a dress. But: "Photographers want to do art."

The jury is still out.

'Face of Fashion' is at the National Portrait Gallery, London WC2 (020 7312 2463), from Feb 15. 'Kylie: The Exhibition' is at the V & A, London SW7 (020 7942 2000), from Feb 8. 'Fashion' is at Michael Hoppen Gallery, London SW3 (020 7352 3649), from Feb 6.

Photograph that inspired 'heroin chic' is selected for ultimate fashion show | The Independent, 09-11-2006

By Arifa Akbar

The image features a waif-like Kate Moss posing suggestively against some fairy lights and it sparked a "heroin chic" movement of which the iconic model became a leading light.

The now infamous Vogue fashion shoot of 1993, which was denounced by some as a celebration of a model who appeared "paedophilic and almost like a junkie", will be part of a new exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery, telling the story of contemporary fashion photography through seminal portraits of the world's top models and Hollywood celebrities, taken by the fashion photographers Corinne Day, Mario Sorrenti, Steven Klein, Paolo Roversi and Mert Alas & Marcus Piggott.

The show, Face of Fashion, running from 15 February until 23 May next year, aims to examine and subvert the idea of glamour, beginning with a portrait of a young Moss in one of her first shows for Face magazine in 1990. Other photographs will include an image of Lauren Hutton taken by Sorrenti with her leg in a contortion, a gothic pose of Nina Ricci by Mert & Marcus, with lipstick smeared on her cheek, a close-up of an ageing Catherine Deneuve and a picture of the pop star Justin Timberlake, with shaved hair and a nose bleed.

The architect David Adjaye, one of this year's Stirling Prize nominees, will be designing a "surprise installation" for the show.

Many of the 120 portraits include those originally produced for fashion houses, while some were commissioned for magazines such as Vanity Fair and Pop.

But others reveal intriguing insights into the inner life of the glamorous sitters. An intimate portrait by Klein of Angelina Jolie features the actress stretched languorously on a bed with Brad Pitt standing nearby, while another captures the unguarded facial expression of a model who is leaning against a wall during a break in a fashion shoot.

Susan Bright, the curator of the exhibition, said the work followed a tradition of portraiture in magazines by the likes of David Bailey and Helmut Newton.

"This is a look at the way we see things by taking these images out of the context of magazines and putting them in a gallery," she said. "Some describe the cross-over of glamour and anti-glamour. The five photographers work very differently... three of the five have taken pictures of Kate Moss and it is interesting to look at the different way she is presented. Corinne Day, for example, has a very beautiful, intimate approach to portraiture; she almost falls in love with her sitters, and you see these moments of friendship in the main body of her work."

Sandy Nairne, the director of the NPG, said following the success of the solo exhibition showing the works of the fashion photographer,Mario Testino a few years ago, this exhibition was the first of its kind to fully examine the "innovation and diversity" of current fashion portraiture.

"We have extracted the works of five fantastic photographers. Fashion surrounds us... its place in our society is undeniable. There have been many other exhibitions about the fashion field but this is the first time the focus is on portraiture," he said.

Mr Nairne also referred to changes within the stipulations for next year's BP Portrait Award, previously only open to younger artists, but now extended to those of any age.

Fashion shots: Moss photos in exhibition | The Guardian, 09-11-2006

By Charlotte Higgins, arts correspondent

A major exhibition will examine how the glamorous, sometimes transgressive world of fashion photography has contributed to portraiture. It will include nine images of Kate Moss at all stages of her career, from fragile-looking teenager to the enigmatic, beautiful-but-tarnished icon of today. The National Portrait Gallery exhibition, which opens in February, will draw together more than 100 photographs dating from 1990 to the present, by five photographers chosen to represent the broadest possible range of fashion portraiture.

Highlights of Face of Fashion will include Corinne Day's work with Moss, including an image from their infamous first collaboration for Vogue magazine in 1993, in which the model, emaciated and waif-like, posed in what appeared to be a down-at-heel council flat clad in dreary underwear.

The story took grunge into the mainstream, and became notorious for apparently promoting what was dubbed "heroin chic".

Another work by Day, made in 1990, sees a delicate, vulnerable, almost impossibly young-looking Moss shot tight against a wall, frowning into the sun - part of a shoot for the Face that did not make the editorial cut at the time.

Mario Sorrenti's playful, often subversive photographs of stars such as Catherine Deneuve, Sharon Stone and Lauren Hutton in glamorous Hollywood-diva poses or with bodies awkwardly torqued and twisted will be shown, as will Paolo Roversi's elegant, romantic portraits of actors such as Tilda Swinton and Charlotte Gainsbourg. Steven Klein - "the most subversive of all the photographers in the show", according to curator Susan Bright - will be represented via a startling image of Justin Timberlake, snarling and bloody-nosed.

"At the time the photograph was taken," said Ms Bright, "he was leaving Back Street Boys, his image was very asexual and the average age of his fans was about 12. This image helped him turn visibly into a man." Klein's work with Brad Pitt performed a similar task - transforming the star into a shaven-headed, dangerous hardman around the time of his starring role in David Fincher's 1999 film Fight Club.

Finally, there will be a selection of Mert and Marcus's highly stylised, artificial pictures, "which use the body almost like a stage set" according to Sandy Nairne, director of the National Portrait Gallery.

"The debate about the size and shape of models goes on," he added. "I'm sure the range of images in this exhibition will add to that discussion."

Kate Moss joins our national treasures | The Telegraph, 09-11-2006

By By Nigel Reynolds, Arts Correspondent

It is the pantheon that boasts portraits of almost every king, queen and prime minister in English history.

Next year, they will be joined in the National Portrait Gallery by the more ephemeral figure of Kate Moss, model, alleged cocaine snorter and, to this generation, a figure who is very possibly more interesting than great statesmen. In an attempt to tap into the "yoof" market — and mount a serious money-spinner — the gallery unveiled plans yesterday for what it said would be the first exhibition by a major museum in this country of portraiture in fashion photography.

More than 100 images of Moss, Madonna, Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, Justin Timberlake, Sharon Stone and a host of models will be displayed in an attempt to prove the gallery's new thesis — that fashion photographs are the new portraiture.

The images, by six of the world's top fashion photographers — Corinne Day, Steven Klein, Paolo Roversi, Mario Sorrenti and Mert Alas & Marcus Piggott — were all taken for magazines such as Vogue, Pop, The Face and W since 1990.

One of the earliest, a shot of Moss by Day, shows her in a grungy pose in T-shirt and underpants surrounded by fairy lights in what became known as "heroin chic", when fashion turned anti-glamour and started to use matchstick-thin models.

Sandy Nairne, director of the gallery, said yesterday: "Fashion surrounds us. It may sometimes irritate us but it has an influence which is undeniable.

"This is the first time there has been a concentration on it as portraiture."

The gallery hopes that the Face of Fashion will also make the tills ring. In 2002, an exhibition of celebrity pictures by Mario Testino attracted almost 170,000 visitors and was the gallery's most successful paying exhibition.

Susan Bright, the curator of Face of Fashion, said the exhibition was more than an exercise in glamour.

All were exceptional portraits and many of the images were consciously "anti-glamour".

The Photographic Diary of Corinne Day | Marco Bohr, 01-01-2002

The photographic Diary of Corinne Day: An extensive study on her visual practice with reference to Laura Marks and Nan Goldin.

By Marco Bohr

The Dark Room The Observer Magazine 6th of January 2002 By Sheryl Garratt

In regards to a recent exhibition at the Centre Pompidou in Paris, Sheryl Garratt for the Observer interviewed the widely acknowledged and celebrated photographer Nan Goldin. For over thirty years now, Nan Goldin documents the life of her friends and the relationships she shares with them. Inevitably that also means that she documents her own life. In sometimes very intimate images she proved that a camera could record physical but also emotional bareness. Confronted with her work, the viewer realises that these personal extracts of life are in a broader sense the truth of relationships we have with others and ourselves. Growing up as the youngest of four children, Nan Goldin (born 1953 in Maryland) unexpectedly became closest to the eldest of her siblings. When she was eleven years old her 18-year-old sister Barbara committed suicide. Without a doubt, this incident had a life long effect on her, even though Nan knew it was going to happen since her sister told her years before. An upcoming installation in her new hometown of Paris is supposed to be about her sister’s death and mental illness. The obsessive need to record memories and her particular interest in women’s sexuality are also symptoms instigated by her sister’s death. After being kicked out of school and running away from home she ended up in a commune with the age of 14. Through a friend she discovered photography as a tool of communication and started to explore Boston’s gay scene. Another turning point in Nan Goldin’s life was at 18 when she started to photograph what she calls the third gender. Her photography become more sophisticated with her series on drag queens - parallel to that she also started to use Heroin. After living in London for five months she moved back to New York where she exhibited her work in underground venues as slide shows. The Ballad of Sexual Dependency originates from that time period and is until today her most famous body of work. The photographs, and in particular her self-portraits, are proof to very rough periods in her life full of drugs and violence but also love and compassion. In one incident her boyfriend battered her so badly that not only she almost lost her eyesight, but even might have lost her life. After years of self-destruction she finally went into rehab where she wanted to turn her back to drugs and where she was forced to turn her back to photography. After rehab Nan Goldin started a more settled life style by moving into a halfway house and neglecting the myth that the source of inspiration is found in drugs. It was in this time of self-reflection that she started to learn about natural light and its effects in her documentary style imagery. Having that in mind the scenes she photographed also changed. The photographs of underground clubs, run down hotel rooms and squatting communes tended to be introverted, even claustrophobic. Her more recent works are photographs of her friends bathed in sunlight in places such as the Riviera or Sicily. Nan Goldin’s concern is also how the camera effects her immediate environment, whereas the ambiguity of the camera certainly adds to the complexity of her relationships. Along with a subtle change of photographic style, her tribe or family as one might want to call it, also transformed. A lot of the people she photographed in the 70’s and eighties died of AIDS - the virus was discovered only a few years after she got off Heroin in 1973. Nearly every drag queen Nan Goldin ever lived with died and many faces of The Ballad also vanished. Ironically her newest slideshow is called Heartbeat and it features a more positive take on life. Babies and children presented in this piece are symbols of renewal, whereas she rules out that there is any deeper meaning to it. In either case, Nan Goldin has gone full cycle by sharing stories of life, death, love, hate, illness and happiness – and she leaves it up to us to see and reason.

The Skin of the Film Intercultural Cinema, Embodiment, and the Senses By Laura U. Marks

In her book The Skin of the Film, Laura Marks states that the roots of what she calls intercultural cinema lie in the immigration to Western metropolitan centres. The artists within this movement are minorities that produce their work in the cultural apartheid of a predominantly white Euro-American West. Intercultural films deal with the exile and displacement of many different minorities and therefore also draw from different cultural traditions and memories. The experience of Diaspora (in this case not only referring to a Jewish but to a general phenomenon of exile) expressed in film and video has lead artists to use various ‘languages’ that represent their world. Laura Marks argues that the cultural differences mixed with individual memories perpetuated on film, appeal to non-visual senses such as touch, smell and taste. She extends this argument in saying that certain imagery appeals to a haptic visuality that invites the viewer to respond in an intimate, embodied way. Film and video in general, and for that reason not only intercultural cinema, can represent non-visual sense experiences that can also be combined. The increase of multicultural debates, the availability of governmental funding and the disintegration of minorities meant that the movement of intercultural cinema was its strongest from 1985 to 1995. The general popularity of what then became a genre also had the consequence that a lot of films fell into he grey area of commercial and non-commercial. Artists from a visual minority were sometimes supported because of a multicultural policy in the public fund. However, since governmental subsidies for art declines, it becomes more difficult especially for artists of colour to get supported. With a lot of filmmakers turning to other private investors, their works changed from exploring their cultural homelessness to the commercialisation of multiculturalism. Nevertheless, many films continue to be produced that contemplate on the emptiness of displacement and disintegration. In rediscovering his/her own past the filmmaker is sometimes forced to deconstruct the dominant history in order to create space for stories of intimacy and proximity. Such films sustain with very little words (short films are often preferred to the feature length), and parallel to that they are emotionally rich. The term ‘intercultural cinema’ implies that there is a dynamic relationship between the host and the minority culture. The genre emphasizes on the cultural differences that continuously transform a nation from within, leaving it open for discussion if terms such as ‘fixed cultural identity’ are possibly outdated. This shows that cultural Diaspora is both, productive and deconstructive. It forces cultural minorities to question issues of heritage and identity, but it also led them to express their ideas which can only be understood as an asset to society. In doing so the individual searches for a language to express their cultural memory that inevitably leads to absence. By digging out old photographs and film footage (artefacts of culture that are usually held on to) the artist will soon realise that cultural memory is in the gaps of such imagery. The suspicion that conventional imagery cannot hold whatever the individual artist interprets as cultural memory led them to what Marks calls “new forms of expression” (Marks, p. 21). This form of expression also involves senses other than seeing and hearing. In order to evoke a cultural knowledge the filmmaker might appeal to our sense of touch to embody a memory that cannot be seen but only felt. Therefore if vision can understood to be embodied, Marks argues “other senses necessarily play a part in vision.” (p. 22) A film engages with our own memory by stipulating all senses in the viewing experience. The new form of expression is that non-visual cultural experiences can be represented with a haptic visuality that can be learned and cultivated. Introduction In regards to a body of work that challenges dominant cultural theory, I would like to discuss Corinne Day’s photography. She only recently gained recognition as a documentary photographer with the publication of her book called Diary in 2000. Over a period of nearly a decade she captured her friends lives, in what turned out to be an extensive project containing over one hundred images. By viewing her book, one soon realizes that Corinne Day’s work is strikingly analogous to that of Larry Clark and in particular Nan Goldin. In addition to that, the biography of Day and Goldin also read alike which inevitably leads to the question if similar experiences lead to similar forms of expression. Their lifestyle on the edge of existence has transformed their immediate environment into minority groups that struggle with their identity and their placement within society. In a broader sense, Day and Goldin’s squatting, drug taking and hospitalising experiences are cultural differences most others do not share with them. In a dramatic directness, both photographers have recorded these experiences, ignoring most barriers of political correctness. As Laura Marks argues in The Skin of the Film (and certainly this is also applicable to photography), these images of individual memories mixed with their cultural difference appeal to a ‘haptic visuality’. It is open for discussion if imagery such as Day’s or Goldin’s is more likely to deliver a viewing experience that leads to an embodied response with other, non-visual senses involved.

Nan Goldin, self-portrait, 1999 Picture Analysis

In order to fully comprehend how Day’s photography challenges the viewer and society, it is important to analyse her work as single images, but furthermore also as a book format. The title Diary is self-explanatory in regards to the very personal and intimate pictures of friends and herself. As Michael Bracewell writes for Creative Camera, a dairy is “a simple juxtaposition of an individual and their circumstances” (CC, No. 351, p. 20). However, Corinne Day’s Dairy is more than that, it is the “juxtaposition of personal and generational trauma” (p. 20). As oppose to chronological entries into a diary, Day chose to produce a body of work that reads like a poem rather than a strict enumeration of experiences. For that reason it is almost impossible to chose a key image because they all read as one piece. One of the greatest accomplishments proven in Diary is the editing and sequencing by Michael Mack. Diary truly reads like a book with several chapters with a proper beginning and an end. Every single image finds its proper place to a story that came before or after it. For that reason, not only images across from each other but also back to back relate and intensify their meaning.

Tara at home Stokenewington squat 1998

Book cover of Tulsa, 1971 On the book cover we see the face of a girl with Ketamin snot up her nose. Right from the beginning on the pace is set for the pages to follow. Later, the viewer finds out that Tara - a single mom from North London - is the main figure in Diary. It is mostly her who tells stories of poverty, drugs and unfulfilled dreams. In one image we see pregnant Tara looking at her belly through a mirror. The viewer can hardly identify her since the backlight from a window reveals only her silhouette. It is only in the mirrors reflection that we can see her bruised and tattooed body. As a single image it might be interpreted as one of happiness since new life was created. But within the context of the book it is an image that is troublesome and makes the viewer worry for the child’s health. It is a similar image in Larry Clark’s Tulsa that puts a friend into the same context of ambiguity. In an almost pictorialist fashion Clark photographed a pregnant woman sitting on a chair in front of a window. The optimism is soon to be destroyed with a photograph of a three-foot coffin. With out a doubt it is the coffin for the newborn of Clark’s friend who was a notorious heroin shooter. In Diary though, the take on life and birth of life is different. The viewer identifies Tara as an inopportune individual who is forced to live a life at the edge of society. Nevertheless, she also seems to be a loving and caring mother in pictures where she bathes or feeds her baby. Another very powerful form of expression in Diary is the layout of the diptych. Here the editor chose to juxtapose images that relate to each other, either literally or visually. For example we see an image of a giant size gun across to a photograph of someone shooting up. The needle and the gun point into the same direction, but furthermore on the page spread it seems as if they are an extension of each other. It almost seems as if Day wants to say that one inevitably leads to the other. The gun as well is a reminder of days in Tulsa. In another very blunt exemplar of a diptych, there is a house that has been blown down opposite to a friend lying stoned on the ground with her eyes half open. The tones of the sky melodramatically repeated in the blue tapestry in Tara’s apartment. One of the most striking combinations of photographs is almost exactly at the end of the book. By then the viewer assumes to know what Tara’s, Corinne’s and their friends’ life is all about. But where does it go from there? At first sight a photograph of a leafless tree that caught some cellophane in the wind only adds confusion rather than resolving any questions. Next to that it is Tara in a hospital. The shape, colour and texture of the swirling cellophane is gently repeated with the bandage she happily takes of her hand.

Tree and cellophane Soho 1992 Tara in hospital 1999 Her smile changes the whole mood of a winter night photograph showing a skeleton like tree. The trees leaves are going to grow and overshadow the garbage it was caught up with. As much as spring leaves winter behind, the viewer hopes that Tara leaves the hospital and therefore also her self-destructive lifestyle behind. The following and also last photograph of a trashed beach shows that bliss does exist, but it would take time to heal the wounds of the past. Source Analysis Obviously my major source is the work Corinne Day is best known for. However, Diary can only be looked at as a visual source that leaves a lot of space for interpretation. The only coherent sentence written in the whole book is following one:

Good friends make you face the truth about yourself and you do the same for them, as painful, or as pleasurable, as the truth may be.

for Tara

In many ways these words are the essence of Diary. It shows that although Tara is the main figure Diary is as much a portrait of Corinne Day. In some cases these are portraits the artist was comfortable with. In others she shows apprehensiveness towards her own image – referring to both, a photograph and a character projected to the public. In photographs from hospital before and after a brain tumour was removed she refers to herself as ‘me’. In pictures where she is smoking up or is stoned the caption reads ‘Corinne’. It is the painful truth, she refers to in the sentence above, that she made herself and others face. It seems as if the “visual diary is about the photographer’s desire to sabotage her own identity” (CC, No. 351, p. 20). Another source were the numerous photo shoots and articles dating back when she was renown for her photography contributions to The Face, Ray Gun, Vogue or even Penthouse. In a page spread for the June 1993 issue of Vogue she photographed then unknown Kate Moss – a friendship that dates back to Day’s six-year modelling carrier. The photographs show the model very sparsely dressed in what seems to be a boring day at home. The images were so controversial that the New York Times was even “suggesting possible child pornography” (BJP, No. 140, p. 17). Plausibly, these comments actually boosted Moss’ and Day’s carrier instead of doing the opposite. The rather prude British Journal of Photography wittingly or unwittingly predicted Day’s massive ascendancies in photography. In an article published a month after the legendary Vogue spread they write: “It is important, however, not to lose sight of Day’s work. The essence of reality her images hold reflects the time and friendship she puts into each shoot.” (p. 17). By stating the restrictions of the magazine format and the obvious advantages of the book format, Day herself makes a substantial prediction in that same article. Interestingly enough, seven years later it is again the British Journal of Photography that runs a comment with the title “Crisis is genuine and widespread” (BJP, No. 7304, p. 3) in reference to Diary that was exhibited in The Photographers’ Gallery that year. It is said that Day’s photographs caused a crisis in documentary photography by confronting the viewer with images such of “menstruation-bloodied knickers, three explicit images of drug use and a dog pulling at the hair of a doll.” (p. 3) The Journal goes on by declaring, “that Day’s drug taking images glamorise their subjects given the context.” (p. 3) In a book called Imperfect Beauty a few photographs from Diary were also published. Along with other peoples fashion photography is an essay Day wrote herself. In it she describes how she met all the people who ended up in Diary, which led to odd sentences such as these: “I met Susie through Pusherman – Susie used to go out with Andy. Susie and I worked together.” (Cotton, p. 60) Nonetheless, the essay expressed very clearly how these people and others influenced her visual practice. Besides bringing up Larry Clark she also mentions the purchase of Nan Goldin’s The Ballad of Sexual Independency as a major liberation for her own photography. Influences and Methodology By reading Nan Goldin’s and Corinne Day’s biographies one realises very soon that their lives have been similarly accompanied by poverty, drugs and friendships that are comparable to family - probably because of these circumstances. The main difference is that Goldin’s photographs are of sexual identity whereas Day’s work is more likely about the identity of a whole class. Nevertheless, both Goldin and Day lived their lives in this class that is marginalized and usually behind closed doors. With sixteen years of age, Day was only two years older than Goldin when she left school. Their family history is similarly convoluted whereas Day moved to her Grandmother - who is also included in Diary - when she was five. This might have to do with the fact that her father was, as she herself says, a “professional bank robber” (Cotton, p. 60). The questionable relationship with her parents is also depicted in her book with a picture of family members darkened down to an extent that the viewer can only identify Tara. Day’s introduction to the model scene and Goldin’s experiences in gay and drag queen subculture lead to drug habits that were shared with friends and fellow users. It was also a lifestyle in squats, claustrophobic apartments in ever changing localities. The list of cities Diary was shot in (London, New York etc.) reads almost exactly the same to places where Goldin also lived major parts of her life. Apart from their background, Day and Goldin share the love for blunt directness with photographs of sexual intercourse or remains of violence. Clearly, these images have been a challenge to a society that tries not to acknowledge the existence of people on the far end of it. The paradox is, although Day’s work is so highly controversial and unaccepted by a large population, it is parallel to that very successful in delivering a paradigm. Day’s ‘Dirty Realism’, also comparable to Richard Billingham’s or Boris Mikhailov’s work, is highly successful in presenting us stories that can only be written by life itself. By “discarding any aesthetic or journalistic safety net” (BJP, No. 7299, p.25) she is aware of the risk that Diary bears, and more importantly produces images that leave little space for interpretation apart from pure reality. That this reality is dirty, or intense as others call it, is less a matter of a photographic style – it is a way of life the image-maker chose to live long before even thinking of recording it. Without praise, it is this particular lifestyle that can be accredited for Day’s, and of course also Goldin’s body of work. Not only the subject matter but also their approach to photography is very similar. With having no formal education in photography, their imagery is spontaneous, unconventional and challenging. Both prefer the small format since its more flexible and allows more freedom whilst shooting. Technically Day and Goldin aren’t always on top of things, which in many cases add to the strength of the image. Some parts can be severely underexposed, blurred or out of focus. Because both of them tend to shoot indoors they use pretty fast films that makes the prints grainy and full of contrast. Mixed light conditions also mean that in some cases the pictures come out red, green or yellow. All these are attributes that might lean towards a literal understanding of ‘Dirty Realism’.

Richard Billingham, 1995

Boris Mikhailov, 1999 Since their background and their photographic style is strikingly similar the question appears if there is a commonality in personal history and forms of expression. Photography for Day and Goldin certainly was a way of dealing with their lives at times when its future was unpredictable. It gave them the chance to reflect on their lives as much it is sometimes helpful to write about it. It is no news that the camera can have therapeutic effects especially on someone who struggles with memories of loss. In Goldin’s case that certainly was the death of her eldest sister. In Day’s case that is a general love for nostalgia that led her to regret periods in her life that “have gone unphotographed” (BJP, No. 140, p. 16). Conclusion Weather it is based on the love for nostalgia or a general consensus with loss and ultimately death, Day’s realism has invited the viewer to do much more than just to look. The very intimate photographs of her friends and herself are an homage to life, despite all its life derogating depictions. It is Day’s reality of living that enables the viewer to respond to her photographs almost as if they are windows into an unknown world. As much as some of us might be appalled, the invitation is honest and genuine. One has to ask himself if it is more appalling to know that someone photographs reality, than it is to know that this reality indeed exists. In effect, Day has broken a pattern that put up a mirror in three directions: her friends, her self and the viewer. The most challenging aspect of Day’s work is that the viewer commences to identify with people from assumingly a lower class and a lower acceptance. We recognize aspects of humanity that go across any definition of class: happiness, depression, love, hate, existence and absence. These intimate moments Day has captured lead the viewer to respond to them much differently then to a conventional photograph from a magazine or catalogue. Indeed this phenomenon can be called ‘haptic visuality’ as Laura Marks describes it. In the photograph of pregnant Tara standing naked in front of a mirror, Day has managed to dig into the deepest layers of human instincts. If man or woman, the viewer cannot help but develop a motherly instinct and feel goodwill for the expected baby.

Canned beach 1994 This embodied respond to an image can lead to tears, laughter, aggression and shame. Certainly, this cannot fully be accredited to Corinne Day, but more likely to the subject matter she chose to photograph. It shows that the realism in Day’s photographs is as much a necessity as it is an efficiency that invites the viewer to look through that window in order to feel and hopefully also to understand.

Marco Bohr, 2002


• Horsburgh, Lesley. Seize the Day. British Journal of Photography, No. 140, July 8 1993.

• Corinne Day: Diary. British Journal of Photography, No. 7299, Oct. 25 2000.

• Crisis is genuine and widespread. British Journal of Photography, No. 7304, Nov. 29 2000.

• Bracewell, Michael. Corinne Day: Diary. Creative Camera, No. 351, Apr/May 1998.

• Cotton, Charlotte. Imperfect Beauty. London: V&A Publications, 2000.

• Charlesworth, JJ. Art Monthly, No. 247, June 2001.

• Marks, Laura. The Skin of the Film. Durham: Duke University Press, 2000.

• Garrat, Sheryl. The Dark Room. Observer Magazine, Jan 6 2001.