Dig the New Breed, ON|OFF @ Rankin’s Annroy Gallery

Head off of the somewhat beaten track to Kentish Town and witness the delights of Rankin and model wife Tuuli’s ‘Dig the New Breed’ Exhibition. The exhibition is a collaboration with ON|OFF at the photographer’s Annroy Gallery to coincide with London Fashion Week. This is the third consecutive season in which the photographer and model have ran this event which acts as a competition for new fashion film talent to have their work exhibited to the fashion elite.

Since 2003, On|Off has encouraged and supported multimedia cross referencing and pioneered this way of showcasing during London and now Paris Fashion Week. On|Off presents fashion film as a vehicle to promote directors as well as designers’ collections in exciting ways. On show are male models throwing each other around a room, the freaks and weirdos from club night ‘This is Circus’ as well as beautiful set pieces in fields full of colour. Not only do the visuals captivate but the soundtracks also grab your attention.

The beauty of these films is further emphasised by the fact that their stills could be used as astounding images in high fashion editorials. Away from the films, stills have been pulled and exhibited in the main exhibition area.

To coincide with this exhibition Rankin and Tuuli have produced a fanzine which will feature some of these talents giving the directors an opportunity to reach a wider audience. From this exhibition it is clear that these directors and the subjects in their films will be sticking around. Keep an eye out for them.

Florence Welch

Highlights included Tabitha Denhom’s film which humorously explored mental health in a 1960s style. The film features Florence Welch as compulsive hoarder who writhes upon piles of clothes in a state of ecstasy. Thomas Giddings’ film ‘Lavender’ featured models in beautiful fields wearing colourful prints that call for your attention. Whilst Joost Vandebrug and Alex Noble’s film features a model dancing for a man in a seedy environment, its dark, twisted and sexy all at the same time.

This is just a small selection from the great films on display, make sure you head down to the Annroy Gallery and catch these films for yourself, or catch them online right now.

The Other Wave: Contemporary Chinese Photography @ Ben Brown Fine Arts

Head down the hidden and somewhat secluded Brook’s Mews in London’s West End and you will find the delightfully understated Ben Brown Fine Arts Gallery, hidden in a quant basement below street level. On display are contemporary works by Chinese photographers including Chen Wei, Cheng Ran, Jiang Pengyi and Ye Linghan with their pieces taking on various styles and trends of photography and video art.

In the 1980s in China the term ‘The New Wave’ was coined to describe an avant-garde art movement in which documentary photography played a central role, now, in the present day, contemporary art in China is being dominated by photography and video art more than ever. This domination however seems to have been missed and overlooked by the Western World making this exhibition the perfect time for the art public to acquaint itself with the imagery that these photographers are creating right now. These photographers are demanding to be heard in the wake of their high profile painting peers who have in recent years shattered auction results.

Archival ink jet print 120 x 150 cm; (47 1/4 x 59 1/8 in.)

The exhibition collects together four photographers whose work range in subject matter. Images range from the bleak, isolated and abandoned to heady, crowded areas that are both fun to look at yet alienating at the same time. Chen Wei’s work depicts elaborate scenes constructed of found materials choreographed into a surreal studio setting. Tackling isolating and abandoned scenes that reek of dystopia, Wei presents imagery that is challenging and uncomfortable. In his File Clerk photograph a man walks alone along a concrete walkway in the middle of an expanse of dark water and mist, in another piece, Anonymous Station  he highlights his taste for abandoned, forgotten and eerie spaces which seems to be a recurring theme within his imagery. Other pieces by the photographer highlight alienation in a city setting, in the photograph titled Countless Unpredictable Stand No. 1, a male stands alone above a city landscape creating a sense of wonder and loneliness at once within this dense concrete environment where no one else can be seen except for one solitary character.

Archival ink jet print 100 x 150 cm; (39 3/8 x 59 1/8 in.)

Ye Linghan photographs and video based works link the past to collective histories. Linghan’s work on display defies focus to the individual and instead makes the scene and setting prominent. Blurring details with the haze of memory, the viewer projects their own thoughts, feelings and memories on to the piece.

C-print 5 panels; 60 x 80 cm; (23 5/8 x 31 1/2 in.) each

Third artist on display, Cheng Ran dramatically stages his work which creates a romantic feeling within his pieces. Collected from different bodies of work, his pieces act as a short retrospective of the young photographer’s work. His work is rich in cinematic quality with a strong narrative running throughout, particularly the barren and destitute images of Hollywood. These images highlight how Hollywood has played such a key role in the shaping of American as well as the rest of the Western World’s identity and how it all seems a bit empty. These images are stark and fascinating due to the editing of the photographs which questions the physical beauty of Hollywood. This questioning is further highlighted by his piece The Still of Unknown Film where a hundred dollar bill is lit, perhaps this is where Western obsession with money and Hollywood is heading, up in smoke.

Luster ink print 104.5 x 178 cm; (41 1/8 x 70 1/8 in.)

Last but not least is photographer Jiang Pengyi who highlights the destructive force of rapid urbanization, redevelopment and demolition that has overwhelmed Beijing. In his photographs he creates imagined miniature cityscapes and skyscrapers within real decaying domestic spaces, highlighting beautifully the destructive power that massive urbanization is having on the lived environments of the Chinese people. These photographs were my personal favourite due to their incredible detail but also due to the issues that they highlight. The images up close are astounding.

Ultra Giclée print 90 x 125.4 cm; (35 3/8 x 49 3/8 in.)

This show, whilst small, is a definite must see. It highlights all too well the stark realizations of our urbanized consumer based culture and how it is both destructive and alienating to our lived environments and to our personal lives. If this show is anything to go by, I predict that these photographers will be enjoying the same levels of success as their painting peers very soon.

The Other Wave: Contemporary Chinese Photography @ Ben Brown Fine Arts – runs until 29th January 2012