Lecture Two: Mishka Henner

Mishka Henner is an artist who is helping redefine the role of photography in the digital age and has cultural and geo-political interests. His process as an artist includes extensive documentary research combined with the meticulous construction of imagery from materials sourced online.

He takes photographs from the network, not really photographs. When he thinks of photographs he thinks of chemicals on light sensitive paper – not what he’s working with.
Uses amalgamation  of intelligence gathering data aggregation, image making and packaging.
He felt photography was a performance (when using medium format). Using film in the digital age is ignoring the computer screen and ignoring the very foundation on which so much of culture is based.

(All information sourced from http://cargocollective.com/mishkahenner/filter/works)

The earliest work Henner created was Winning Mentality (2010) in which he photoshopped his passport photograph onto winners heads.

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Canadian Nationals Best Female in Show
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Division C Winner, Junior Welsh Open
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Mr Natural Philadelphia Novice Men’s Winner

These images were originally posted onto Facebook as his profile pictures, just as a joke but became so popular he made a book out of them.

One of the first pieces of his work Henner spoke about during our talk was Dutch Landscapes, 2011.

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Paleis Noordeinde, Den Haag
mh-dutchlandscapes-staphorst-ammunition-depot_3_o
Staphorst Ammunition Depot
mh-dutchlandscapes-willem-lodewijk-van-nassau-kazerne_2_o
Willem Lodewijk van Nassau Kazerne

This work was created using Google Earth, when Google first introduced this feature governments were worried about their security, not wanting secret locations to be found, or any hints to be given as to what they’re doing at their sights. Most countries were very subtle with how they disguised their buildings, whereas what interested Henner about the Dutch landscapes was with how colourful and pixellated they had made their own.

Another aspect of this work which was discussed was how much of this work is his, and what is Google’s. To this he explained that it is his own choice which areas he picks, the orientation etc, so to this extent the work is his as he has made these decisions.

No Man’s Land (2011 – 2013) was one of Henner’s most controversial pieces which was spread online and had mixed reviews.

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Carretera de Rubí, Terrassa, Spain
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Calle de Iplacea, Alcala de Henares, Madrid, Spain
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Contrada Vallecupa, Colonnella, Abruzzi, Italy

The project was based on sex workers mainly in Spain and Italy. Henner again used Google, this time street view to find women who have been interpreted to be sex workers. Google blurs the faces of people found on the sight to protect peoples identities. When talking about this work in the public eye Henner would not label these women as sex workers, but just isolated women on their own.

When this work was circulated online, a women who herself works in the sex industry wrote a review on No Man’s Land which stated that she liked it and wasn’t offended by how the women were being portrayed. However, a feminist group thought Henner was exploiting the women in the images and tried to get the work banned and production of the print on demand books stopped. This didn’t work, and due to it’s success Henner brought out a second volume.

Another piece of work spoken about was Feedlots (2013).

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Coronado Feeders, Dalhart, Texas (2013).
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Coronado Feeders, Dalhart, Texas
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Randall County Feedyard, Amarillo, Texas (2013)

Feedlots are where cows are fed and kept before slaughtering in America. The owners of these feedlots are very protective and do not allow them to be photographed as they do not want the public to see the living conditions of the cows, but to think of them surrounded by green grass. George Steinmetz on assignment with National Geographic tried to take pictures of a feedlot and was arrested. The owners of the feedlots however did not think about Google Earth and the fact that they can be found and widely spread.

The last piece Mishka Henner showed us was I’m not the only one (2015) for this piece Henner found several videos on YouTube of people singing ‘I’m not the only one’ by Sam Smith, who were using the same or similar backing track and layered them on top on one another.

 

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