Aesthetica Magazine Issue 89

June / July 2019

I’m fascinated by trends. How do they start and when they become the norm? When does a consumer product turn into an essential item? How do we move from wanting something to needing something? I am not a materialistic person. I never have been. I used to find great joy in going to vintage and second-hand stores, upscaling clothing and items to create something that was entirely unique. Being the type of person that was not following trends in the consumer sense, I never developed that urge to constantly “upgrade.” However, what really interests me is how entire societies can shift their desires – from gadgets, clothing and interiors to ideas, concepts and thoughts. Why do trends have so much power over us?

This issue looks at change, longevity, sustainability and impact. This year’s Rencontres d’Arles celebrates its 50th anniversary. Given the ubiquity of photography today – due to accessible platforms and changes in communication from written to visual – it’s remarkable that in 1969 this festival was launched. Photography was still fighting for its place in the artistic landscape; in 2019 it is firmly placed. The festival considers the environmental crisis at a point of global awakening. The UN has just reported that one million species may go extinct; Greta Thunberg is inspiring nations through her speeches. In architecture, we survey white as a design choice. It’s a tone that can be either a void – hostile and clinical – or a space for imagination. The feature explores how minimalism has endured. Meanwhile, Magnum Photos is synonymous with photojournalism, but the next generation of photographers is redefining genre, moving into editorial collaborations and using documentary techniques to change the way that fashion is perceived in the present day.

In photography subtlety is key – using shapes, light and colour to encourage self-reflection. Vishal Marapon, Lydia Whitmore, Andrea Torres Balaguer, Clemens Ascher, Beate Sonnenberg, Letizia Le Fur and Sanja Marušić present a range of images exploring both personal and universal narratives. Finally, we speak with Paul Moorhouse, Curator at the National Portrait Gallery, about a Cindy Sherman retrospective.

Inquisitive Photography

Lydia Whitmore is a master of still-life photography, producing bright, seamless commissions and clean-cut editorials for a range of clients.

Decoding the Metropolis

Connecting to changing cities through the lens of gentrification, Vishal Marapon’s images are both aesthetically pleasing and intensely hyperreal.

Complex Sequences

Clemens Ascher has a distinct style. His photographs are graphically reduced, with soft, pleasing colours that act like sweets in a window.

Beyond Expectations

The legendary agency, Magnum Photos, is breaking the boundaries of genre, taking fashion out of the studio and into the real world.

Playful Abstraction

Refraction and reflection have long been a source of interest for artists. Sonnenberg touches upon these, bringing them into the contemporary sphere.

Layered Portraiture

Muted settings enhance the purity and simplicity of Torres Balaguer’s compositions; figures emerge from the darkness through clean, silvery light.

Limitless Imagination

Installations that clear the air, light waves that reflect upon rising sea levels, a net that cleans up space junk: this is the work of Daan Roosegaarde.

Exploring Geopolitics

The effects of ecological disaster loom large in the festival’s 50th edition, looking at the power of photography to alter perspectives and incite change.

Reflective Architecture

Minimalism is timeless. It offers simplicity and stripped-back aesthetics; new buildings draw attention to design as a blank page full of possibility.

Painterly Aesthetics

Letizia Le Fur translates painting methods into photography, balancing light and dark through a distinctly soft and inviting aesthetic.

Human Encounters

Sanja Marušić creates worlds of irrationality and juxtaposition, drawing upon surrealist concepts and playful storytelling.