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Talk: Mathieu Asselin "Monsanto: A Photographic Investigation"

  • Sunday, March 18, 2018
  • 16:00  16:45
  • Auditorium Boverie

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TALK Photographer's Gallery

SAT 12 MAY 2018 Artist Talk: Mathieu Asselin 14.00

Mathieu Asselin talks about Monsanto: A Photographic Investigation, his meticulous investigation into the long history of the global biotechnology corporation, which won the Paris Photo-Aperture Foundation First PhotoBook Award 2017. Asselin is also joined in conversation about the project by artist, writer and curator Sunil Shah.

About Monsanto: A Photographic Investigation

Mathieu Asselin’s searing photographic interrogation of global biotech giant Monsanto brings together hundreds of documents and photographs depicting the devastating human, ecological and economical impact of the company’s long and reckless story of growth, and their cynical efforts to change their negative public image.

Over five years Asselin conducted extensive research and travelled through Vietnam and the United States of America to find the people and places dramatically affected by Monsanto’s past and current practices. His determined approach resulted in an overwhelming depiction that also aims to portray what Monsanto’s near future might look like.

Monsanto: A Photographic Investigation is shortlisted for the Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize 2018.

£8/£5 members & concessions.

Book now


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Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize 2018

"Year on year, the Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize at The Photographers’ Gallery expands the remit of what photography is, what it can do, and who can be nominated.” - The Art Newspaper

The four artists shortlisted for the Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize 2018 are Mathieu Asselin, Rafal Milach, Batia Suter and Luke Willis Thompson. 

Curated by TPG’s Anna Dannemann, the 2018 shortlist showcases diverse and innovative photographic practices, which recognise and celebrate the many developments within the medium, while also challenging its boundaries. All of the projects share a deep concern with the representation of knowledge through images, where facts can be manipulated and meanings can shift. Presented across the 4th and 5th floors of the Gallery, the exhibition features a searing photographic interrogation of global biotech giant, Monsanto by Mathieu Asselin; an expansive portrayal of the ubiquitous tactics of government control and propaganda from Rafal Milach; an encyclopaedic collection of visual taxonomies that expose the shifting and relative meanings of printed images depending on their context by Batia Suter; and Luke WillisThompson’s deeply affecting filmic study of grief that reflects the personal stakes of visual representation. Collectively and individually, the four projects drive forward an artistic enquiry into the mechanics of visibility and concealment and interrogate the status and position of the image in contemporary culture.

Mathieu Asselin’s project Monsanto: A Photographic Investigation (Actes Sud, 2017) will be presented on the 5th floor of the Gallery. In a meticulous 5-year investigation, supported by archival documentation, court files, personal letters company memorabilia and photographs, Asselin presents the reckless history of growth of the global biotechnology corporation Monsanto. Best known as the leading manufacturer of insecticides DDT, PCBs, Agent Orange and genetically engineered seeds, Monsanto’s practices and products have caused devastating human, ecological and economic impacts throughout the company’s long history. Asselin conducted extensive research, travelling through Vietnam and the United States of America to find the people and places dramatically affected by the products manufactured and sold by Monsanto. In this hard-hitting documentation, Asselin exposes the global company’s practices and their cynical efforts to change their negative public image through children’s TV shows and marketing campaigns. Bayer AG.   For his presentation at TPG, Mathieu wanted to evidence the next chapter of the Monsanto saga, something he was not able to include in the book. This new element focuses on the corporation's merger with pharmaceutical giant, Bayer AG and its connection to and influence on the stocks and shares of each company.  Mathieu has included an additional text, which is displayed on the gallery wall alongside two android tablets displaying live stock market information on Bayer AG and Monsanto from the Frankfurt stock exchange using the Deutsche Borse app. 

By linking the German stock exchange, Monsanto and Bayer AG in this way, Mathieu adds another layer to his exploration of power, control and currency.  

Acclaimed writer Michael Saur has written an essay for the accompanying exhibition catalogue.

The 5th floor of the gallery will showcase Luke Willis Thompson’s project autoportrait (exhibited at Chisenhale Gallery, London 23 June – 27 August 2017). Displayed in a special projection space, Thompson will present a silent portrait of Diamond Reynolds. In July 2016, Reynolds broadcast, via Facebook Live, the moments immediately after the fatal shooting of her partner Philando Castile, by a police officer during a traffic-stop in Minnesota, United States. Reynolds’ video circulated widely online and amassed over six million views. In November 2016, Thompson established a conversation with Reynolds and her lawyer, and invited Reynolds to work with him on an aesthetic response to her video broadcast. Acting as a ‘sister-image’ the artwork would break with the well-known image of Reynolds, caught in a moment of violence and distributed within a constant flow of news. Shot on 35mm, black and white film and presented in the gallery as a single screen work, autoportait continues to reopen questions of the agency of Reynolds’ recording within, outside of, and beyond the conditions of predetermined racial power structures. For the exhibition catalogue, writer and Professor at Tufts University, Christina Sharpe has contributed an essay on the artist.

Nominated for her publication Parallel Encyclopedia #2 (Roma, 2016), Batia Suter’s immersive installation is presented on the 4th floor of the gallery. With large, unframed photographic prints, the artist will reinvent her substantial publication, and exercise the iconification of images by placing them in new and varying contexts exposing the possibilities of visual editing. Suter’s artistic approach is personal and intuitive, selecting a large number of images, which ultimately present how visual formats affect and manipulate meaning, depending on where and how they are placed.In her installations, Suter establishes subjective associations that offer visual dialogues and new categorisations that demonstrate how our understanding of nature and the physical world, as well as different cultures and places are affected by their context of representation. The found images, which will fill the Gallery wall space, are sourced and reproduced from roughly 1000 diverse publications collected by the artist. Diane Dufour, Director of the prestigious photography institution Le Bal in Paris, has written a piece focusing on Suter’s work for the exhibition publication.

Nominated for his exhibition Refusal (Atlas Sztuki Gallery, Lodz, Poland 12 May – 18 June 2017), Rafal Milach’s project focuses on the applied sociotechnical systems of governmental control and the ideological manipulations of belief and consciousness. Focusing on post-Soviet countries such as Belarus, Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Poland, Milach traces the mechanisms of propaganda and their visual representation in architecture, urban projects and objects. The exhibition features a variety of different material and visual layers that ultimately represent these systems of control and manipulation. These include photographs of handmade objects found in governmental centres and chess schools that produce optical illusions and whose innocent disposition is fundamentally changed as they exemplify how the human mind can be influenced and controlled. As well, there will be screenings of Soviet television programmes showing social experiments, various state-run competitions and more recent propaganda raps about social moral and national pride. These further exemplify the universal processes employed to format and shift meanings that serve governmental objectives. Award-winning photographer and winner of the 2013 Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize Adam Broomberg has written the accompanying exhibition catalogue text.

The winner of the £30,000 prize will be announced during the exhibition run at an evening award ceremony in May.

The exhibition tours to the MMK Museum für Moderne Kunst in Frankfurt, Germany from 22 June until 9 September 2018.

The Prize

The Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize is an annual award established by The Photographers’ Gallery, London, in 1997 and in partnership with the Deutsche Börse Group since 2005 to identify and support talent, excellence and innovation. In 2016 the prize was renamed to reflect its new position within the Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation, a specifically established non-profit organisation focused on the collecting, exhibiting and promoting of contemporary photography. The £30,000 prize rewards a living photographer, of any nationality, for a specific body of work in an exhibition or publication format in Europe felt to have significantly contributed to the medium of photography between 1 October 2016 and 30 September 2017.

2018 marks the twenty-first year of the Prize and reaffirms its commitment to showcasing photographers and works of all genres and approaches, which exemplify exceptional viewpoints and bold practice.

The 2018 Jury

The members of the Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize 2018 jury are: Anne-Marie Beckmann, Director, Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation; Duncan Forbes, Curator and visiting research Fellow at the Westminster University; Gordon MacDonald, Artist, Curator and Editor; Penelope Umbrico, Artist and Brett Rogers, Director, The Photographers’ Gallery as the non-voting chair.


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First Book of the Year.

Mathieu Asselin
Monsanto: A Photographic Investigation 
Publisher: Verlag Kettler/Acte Sud, Dortmund, Germany, 2017
Designed by Ricardo Báez

“Asselin’s Monsanto is a courageous, investigative project that connects evidence-driven photography and visual research to the democratization of knowledge; it’s important that this book exists in physical form, as a document, and not just the virtual world.”—Christiano Rainondo




More info


Aperture First Book of the Year Shorlistes




Aperture Book Awards shortlist 2017 BJP online



Internazionale July 2017


Àtravers son enquête photographique sur Monsanto, Mathieu Asselin nous explique comment une entreprise peut engendrer des conséquences écologiques, humaines et économiques désastreuses. Le photographe expose du 3 juillet au 24 septembre à la 48e édition des Rencontres photographiques d’Arles sous le thème "Désordres du monde". Mathieu Asselin tente de photographier l’invisible et utilise son art comme une preuve face aux bouleversements politiques contemporains, aux problèmes climatiques et aux luttes environnementales et sociales.

Ce soir, le photographe Mathieu Asselin sera présent sur le plateau de 28’.

Exposition Monsanto, une Enquête Photographique, publiée aux éditions Actes Sud.

 

 



The US chemical company's environmental, health and business record goes under the French-Venezuelan photographer's lens “On s’engage, on va le faire” – that is, “We’re in, we’ll do it”. The New York-based, French-Venezuelan photographer Mathieu Asselin goes back and forth from Spanish to English to French as he recalls how Sam Stourdzé, the director of the Rencontres d’Arles, enthusiastically agreed to exhibit his five-year long, research-intensive project about the US chemical corporation Monsanto. It happened a week before last year’s festival, and Asselin was then showing the dummy of his photobook, Monsanto®. A Photographic Investigation. This year the project is being shown at the Magasin Électrique at Arles, and the book has been published in French by Actes Sud, and in English by the Dortmund-based Verlag Kettler....FULL ARTICLE


MATHIEU ASSELIN

Je photographie les désastres causés par Monsanto.

Né en 1973 à Aix-en Provence, Mathieu Asselin commence travailler à 16 ans au Vénézuela dans des productions cinématographiques. Il s’installe à New-York en 2005, et devient photographe à plein temps. Ces photographies sont régulièrement publiées par de nombreux journaux et magazines à travers le monde : The New Yorker Magazine, GEO, Freitag, Paris Match, El Pais, Altair, Gente, Razor Magazine, Le Monde… Son travail personnel est régulièrement exposé et récompensé. Depuis 2011 il mène une enquête aux etats-Unis et au Vietnam sur les populations atteintes par les produits nocifs de Monsanto. Ce projet lui vaut de remporter en 2016 le Dummy Award Kassel pour son livre « Monsanto : a photographic investigation » .

Cette enquête photographique est le résultat d'une indignation née de longues heures de voyages et de rencontres sincères. C'est un recueil de témoignages visuels d'individus et de paysages profondément affectés par l'entreprise Monsanto.

La photo choisie par Mathieu Asselin

  • David Baker, 65 ans, devant la tombe de son frère Terry. Terry Baker est mort à 16 ans d’une tumeur du cerveau et d’un cancer des poumons causés par l’exposition aux PCB. À Anniston, le niveau moyen de PCB est vingt-sept fois supérieur au niveau moyen du pays. Cimetière d’Edgemont, West Anniston, Alabama, 2012.

David Baker, 65 ans, devant la tombe de son frère Terry Baker est mort à 16 ans d’une tumeur du cerveau © Mathieu Asselin Rencontres Arles

EXPO

Parmi les sites américains les plus hautement contaminés, des dizaines ont été pollués par le géant Monsanto. Ces sites affectent plusieurs centaines de communautés et leur environnement. Or Monsanto a conservé des liens étroits avec le gouvernement américain, et a pour alliés nombres d’acteurs politiques et économiques dans le monde entier. Et tandis que Monsanto poursuit l'expansion de nouvelles technologies et de nouveaux produits, des scientifiques, des organisations environnementales et de défense des droits de l'homme tirent la sonnette d'alarme, préoccupés par la santé publique, la sécurité de l'alimentation et la durabilité écologique, autant d'enjeux déterminants pour notre avenir sur cette planète. La situation est particulièrement préoccupante depuis que Monsanto a créé et commercialisé il y a maintenant vingt ans les OGM au mépris de notre environnement. Explorant le passé et le présent, cette enquête s'emploie à donner un visage à ce que pourrait bien être le futur aux côtés de Monsanto.

Publication :


Rencontres d'Arles : l'enquête du photographe Mathieu Asselin sur les ravages causés par Monsanto

Tout le monde connait "Monsanto", son maïs transgénique ou le très controversé Roundup, le pesticide  le plus vendu dans le monde. Voilà maintenant 20 ans que le géant de l'agrochimie commercialise les OGM sans tenir compte des risques sur l'environnement ou la santé. Mathieu Asselin va plus loin, à l'occasion des Rencontres de la Photographie d'Arles. Le photographe qui a enquêté pendant 5 ans sur les pratiques de la firme américaine, dévoile le fruit de son travail. 


  • April 19 2017. Liberation



Propaganda, the manipulation of political opinion by means of carefully selected information or disinformation, is common to all eras. But rarely was the playing field so ambiguous and the players so hard to identify. Even at the highest political level, facts that appeared incontrovertible now seem to be ruthlessly parried by people wielding ‘alternative facts’.

In an age defined by the alarming rise of Post-Truth politics, it is of the greatest importance to take a closer look at the nature and provenance of information, especially visual material. Historical examples aside, the portfolios featured in this issue come primarily from contemporary artists. These artists share a critical attitude to propagandist media strategies and the visual imagery deployed within them.

Art has the capacity to expose power, and where possible show its true face. That is more valuable now than ever.
 

CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS AND ARTISTS
Christopher Anderson, Mathieu Asselin, Roger Ballen, Wafaa Bilal, Asger Carlsen, Simone Donati, David Favrod, Osservatorio Fotografico, Thomas Mailaender, Sarah Maple, Simon Menner, Rico & Michael, Sabine Mirlesse, Jaya Pelupessy, Márton Perlaki, Ivor Prickett, Robert Rauschenberg, Émilie Régnier, Maya Rochat, Harit Srikhao


CONTRIBUTING WRITERS
David Campany, Jörg Colberg, Marcel Feil, Hinde Haest, Helen Hsu, Kim Knoppers, Mirjam Kooiman, Stanley Wolukau-Wanambwa



  • INTERVIEW Lens Culture 2017. 

Monsanto: A Photographic Investigation Hard-hitting documentation of the countless communities dramatically affected by the unscrupulous policies of Monsanto®—this reportage reveals the toxic legacy of one of America’s most controversial corporations.

Video interview with Mathieu Asselin