Thursday, 25 December 2014

We are all subordinate.

Christmas Day Letter to IZOLYATSIA Foundation

Dearest all,

my joy at seeing everyone from IZO in Paris last week was tempered by the reminder of why we were all gathered. I was particularly moved by the subtitles on the video screens flashing up the tragic and small minded archetypes of subversion shared by both fascists and Communists thoughout history, opinions and passions expressed from the mouths of these very dangerous mental children. How easy it is to become so lost from reality in the construction of our own worlds.

As I listened to your story (I feel like saying ‘our’ story) and as I spoke to all your collaborators about the personal affect this is having on their lives, I could sense the widening fracture in Ukrainian minds; the delineation of two intractable ideas; a further widening of the two halves that make up the whole personality through the recidivistic pressures of external vested interests. A schizophrenia only leading to self harm. Can we be ambivalent and above the raging masses and empathise with the whole, both natures within the same personality? I have always been fascinated by this complexity of character reflected in a nationalism; that which is tearing us apart is the instrument of our strength as it is with myself and how I found great peace and inspiration in the development of works in 2011.

Everyone is being so brave I feel very connected to you all and I am proud to be part of your organisation through engagement and continued support.

To those of you who celebrate Christmas I send warm greetings and here’s to something greater appearing from the chaos in 2015.

kindest regards, love and best wishes,

Richard Ansett

'We are all subordinate' © Richard Ansett 2014
'Ethical uncertainty in the righteous' © Richard Ansett 2014

'This is not art and it cannot be art' © Richard Ansett 2014

Thursday, 18 December 2014

The Death of the Artist

Pop artist Anton Skorybsky Kandynsky's heart stopped beating on January 10, 2014.

Kandynsky argued that if art could be equated with life why wouldn't we also assume that art was equated with death. Because life and death are two sides of the same coin.

So he came up with the idea of the ultimate performance; he would blow himself up with a bomb - not as a part of spontaneous suicide but as a carefully planned and prepared procedure, with witnesses, an audience who would observe the ultimate performance at a safe distance with all the correct paperwork and permits.

There were lawyers working on the case to assist Anton with permission to conduct his ultimate performance. Was this some kind of symbolic demonstration of what "ultimate" art can be, a way to give a finger to the bureaucratic systems that regulates everything in our lives. Why not regulate suicide and call it art?

When asked, if he would ever consider acting on his manifesto, he said "why not leave this stage with a last huge splash, the whole art world would talk about you".

He died of a heart failure at his studio in Manhattan. At the age of 53, with the paperwork for the "ultimate" performance never processed.

Death is continually present; mortality and legacy are driving forces. Suicidal plans do not equate to the fantasy of death for arts sake. The narcissism of the concept diminishes the complexity of the feelings that lead to the ultimate act against self. Suicide (in my experience) is most often the final act of desperation and only (seemingly) possible escape from the unbearable hell of being in the world. Whilst it has been proven to be a posthumous aid to an artist's career, the instinct to live is so strong it is not possible to escape the gravitational pull of life without an incredible force to drive us to that end. It would be like trying to drown yourself in a bucket, impossible. Suicide glamorously misrepresented as performance undermines the true terrible relationship to the world experienced by many.

I am considering art as misplaced paternalism, a subconscious primal thread that demands we leave behind a genetic marker. But what if the mark goes unnoticed, like chewing gum at a bus stop? 

But that mark does not have to be so tangible and legacy should not be the sole driving force behind its creation. Hubris is the treasure buried with us like the Egyptian Pharaohs. An endowment of more value is the state in which we leave the living world through engagement. A much more valuable death bed audit. Anton Skorybsky Kandynsky could not kill himself for art. Art, (vital as it is) will always be a facsimile, an impression; life is more precious.

This is a wonderful and joy filled time of year for many but there is an inevitable Newtonian equal and opposite emotional state. What is happiness for one, is despair for another. 

Dead Magpie with Pearl, Polaroid, from series One for Sorrow © Richard Ansett

Monday, 24 November 2014

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Image_2229 Security Guard, Ukraine

Image_2229, Security Guard, Ukraine / IZOLYATSIA Foundation © Richard Ansett 2011

Monday, 17 November 2014

Tuesday, 11 November 2014


On Thursday 13 November to 20 P H others expect to each and everyone in the art gallery Serendipia on street of Infante 3 in the neighborhood of the letters in the heart of Madrid for the opening of ' impermeables '.

An exhibition of collective comisariada by Abell azcona that counts with the artists of the fourteen countries are different. A vision, in relation to The inability to feel. Love, Sexuality, fear, abandonment, abuse, child or happiness. Memories and experiences in skin that make raincoat it itself and to the very otherness.

Artists of Guatemala, the United States, China, Russia, Hungary, the United Kingdom, Slovakia, Spain, Holland, Israel, Germany, Italy, Colombia and Panama gathered around the impermeabilidad, The PsycHopathy, fear and the inaccesibilidad show us a means of the Photograph, performance art, the installation and videoarte his vision inviting the audience to penetrate the staff and what is prohibited.

Showing an image from the FAT series (below).
Image_EPV00116, Woman with Sofa and House Plant, from series FAT
© Richard Ansett 2014

Thursday, 6 November 2014


The imagined perception of a pattern or meaning where it does not actually exist, as in considering the moon to have human features or Jesus in a potato chip.

My new piece, a 1.6 meter blown up section taken from the series 'Doll’s House' will be exhibited with the original image_4605 (see below) and presented with a free limited edition postcard at the Uncertain States exhibition at The Bank Gallery.

“This is not an arsehole. It is a photographic facsimile, of a rubber facsimile, of an arsehole.”

More work in progress images and statement here: Richard Ansett Editions

It should be a great night celebrating UCS's 5 years of supporting and collaborating with some very interesting artists, many of whom will be there. Photography is unique as an art form; exhibitions almost invariably are FREE. Free exhibit, free wine and meet the artists?! Why would you not come!


Private View: Thursday 13th November 6:30 – 9:00pm

The Bank Gallery, Central House, 59-63 Whitechapel High Street, London, E1 7PF

RSVP to:

Image_4605, from series Doll's House © Richard Ansett 2013
Viewing vinyl test © Tim Bennett 2014

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Reflected Glory

Meet art handlers Matt, Neil and Danny from the National Portrait Gallery, they're installing the portrait of Grayson Perry, Starr Auditorium, Tate Modern' acquired for the permanent collection.

It is the only photograph in Room 32 Contemporary Portraits, otherwise entirely devoted to paintings by Lucian Freud, Andy Warhol, Howard Hodgkin, R.B.Kitaj and many more.

Grayson Perry installation, National Portrait Gallery © NPG 2014

Grayson Perry installation, National Portrait Gallery © NPG 2014

Grayson Perry installation, National Portrait Gallery © NPG 2014

Grayson Perry, Room 32,  National Portrait Gallery, London © Richard Ansett 2014

Ladies First

This is the third time I have worked with Grayson Perry (or fourth if you count him in a hard hat, which was not overly flattering; we don't talk about that).

We set up a studio in his studio to shoot an enormous amount of material for CH4's new documentary 'Who are You? in conjunction with Perry's new display at the National Portrait Gallery (private view tonight, hot ticket!)

Perry's studio is deliberately devoid of artworks; he explained that he was easily influenced in the moment of creation so kept the space very clear, except one image of him as 'Claire' taken at the BAFTAs. Most of the images of him as Claire are bombastic and playful but this is serene and she looks rather pretty. I asked him about it and he said 'it was important to feel beautiful'. I am uncertain if I was the right person to make that dream come true for him! ;)

Our portrait was recently pushed off the cover of the Radio Times by the upstart Sir David Attenborough; I never really liked him.

My first image of him at the Reith lectures in 2013 shot for the BBC, has recently been hung in the National Portrait Gallery, Contemporary Portraits Room 32, check it out.

Grayson Perry & Richard Ansett at Perry's London Studio, 2014 © Leon Foggitt (assistant)

Monday, 20 October 2014

Inside Cronenberg's Mouth

Meme (def.)
1. A unit of cultural information, such as a cultural practice or idea, that is transmitted verbally or by repeated action from one mind to another.
2. (Psychology) an idea or element of social behaviour passed on through generations in a culture by imitation.
3. A cultural item that is transmitted by repetition in a manner analogous to the biological transmission of genes.

Photographing David Cronenberg (Telegraph Magazine, 1999)

I knew I had a very narrow window of time. Before the sitting I was invited to a preview of his new film 'ExistenZ' and I immersed myself in Cronenberg's back catalogue.
As I watched his films, a painful, hard lump approximately 2 cm in diameter appeared under the skin on the bottom of my foot; it became increasingly sensitive until it was impossible to place any weight on it; days before the shoot I was using a crutch; I was one of JG Ballad's characters from Crash, fascinated and aroused by my disability. At the sitting, I was fully possessed with the ‘Cronenberg gene’ and asked him softly to put his fingers in his mouth and show me the inside of his mouth. He did this silently for three frames, when asked he pulled harder to expose more of his inside. In ExistenZ, the assassin’s weapon was made from his own flesh and teeth.
After the shoot, the hard oval lump disappeared and has never returned.

An extract from ‘Consumed’, David Cronenberg, (4th Estate, 2014)

'Arostigui turned to her and pulled his mouth open to one side with his index finger, the effect was grotesque. “Into the very mouth of the cannibal, don’t you want that picture?” Naomi began shooting, she changed lenses quickly; an extreme wide angle lens now and continued snapping getting very close. Arostigui played it seriously and intensely, his gums and teeth completely exposed on one side and somehow, perversely naked. The photos were very disturbing.’ – 

David Cronenberg, 1999 © Richard Ansett / National Archives of Canada

Detail from David Cronenberg, 1999 © Richard Ansett / National Archives of Canada

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Smoking Causes Ageing of the Skin

Image_004, Smoking Causes Ageing of the Skin © Richard Ansett 2014


The gay couple series 'Ron & Roger' has won the political prize at the Moscow international Foto Awards and will show at a public Moscow gallery this month, challenging the Russian anti-gay propaganda law. The images will be projected on screens at Fotoloft Gallery Contemporary Arts Centre. from 23rd October 2014.

"The expression of love and commitment regardless of gender is highly political. Prejudice of homosexual behavior is challenged by the un-extraordinary expression of a serious relationship illustrated as equal to the heterosexual. It is a subtle change to previously more confrontational messages in the fight for equality; it says, 'We are the same as you; our lives are as complicated and as mundane'. The series composition is inspired by the 15th century painting the ‘Arnolfini Wedding’ by Jan Van Eyke considered a record of a clandestine marriage". - RA

Russian translation:

Гей-пара серии 'Рон и Роджер' выиграл политическую приз на Московском международном Foto Awards и покажет на публичном московской галерее в этом месяце, бросая вызов российской анти-гей-пропаганды закон. Изображения будут проецироваться на экраны в Фотолофт Галерея современного искусства Центра. от 23 октября 2014. 

"Выражение любви и приверженности независимо от пола является в высшей степени политический. Предубеждение гомосексуального поведения оспаривается оон-экстраординарное выражение серьезных отношений проиллюстрировать равна гетеросексуальные. Это тонкое изменение в ранее более конфронтационных сообщений в борьбе за равенство; он говорит, «Мы же, как вы; наша жизнь, как сложны и, как мирской 'композиционный ряд вдохновлен 15-го века рисующего' Arnolfini Свадьба 'Яна ван Eyke считается запись подпольной брака. ». - РА

Saul & Jonathan, from series Ron & Roger © Richard Ansett

Saturday, 11 October 2014

Alison Lapper MBE

I shot Alison Lapper at the Fourth Plinth, Trafalgar Square, London before the sculpture of her 'Alison Lapper (8 months), 2000' by Marc Quinn was installed in 2005. The portrait of her alone was acquired by the National Portrait Gallery for its permanent collection surrounded by flocks of pigeons but I have always loved this image of her with her son, which was never published.

I was listening to BBC Radio 4 this morning and she was speaking inevitably about the experience as a disabled mother and artist.

When commissioned, we are sent to photograph people but very often don't have the details of the life that has brought them to this moment, deemed relevant or important enough to be recorded for posterity. I research my subjects as it does help with a silent empathy as well as an aid to developing visual metaphors in the moment but with Lapper I did not. I didn't know her son Paris would be attending and the commission did not include shots with him; I did this and others just for them (and me). In terms of my own development, this connection and Quinn's sculpture itself helped challenge so many aspects of my stupid prejudice and altered my view of the world.

Alison Lapper with son Paris, Fourth Plinth, Trafalgar Square, London © Richard Ansett 2005

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Crash Dummy

My beautiful dummies of the FAT project designed by Boris Kajmak along with the other amazing shortlisted books have been destroyed in a dramatic accident in Brazil.

Letter to the FotoBook Festival Kassel director from Madalena Workshops, São Paulo

Dear Dieter,
We are really constrained to inform you about what occurred just before the beginning of the Festival. Our truck was descending the last part of the itinerary between São Paulo and Paraty -a really curvy and steep road- when it lost the brakes and had an accident. Happily the drivers didn't suffer any serious injury, but as you can see in the pictures attached the material they were carrying -the books from our bookshop and the dummies among it- were seriously damaged also because of the heavy rain that was falling at that time. In order to preserve the image of the Award and even if at least a 30% of the dummies is in perfect conditions, we decided not to show them during the Festival.

We know the immeasurable value of the works so we are not sure about how to proceed from now on; we are quite perplexed. We thought about writing a letter to every author that had his dummy damaged 
and we are waiting for your instructions. We are sending back the dummies to you, carefully wrapped.

Best, Talita Virgínia
Estudio Madalena

© Unknown

© Unknown

© Unknown

© Unknown

Monday, 6 October 2014

Dog Shit UK

Photographers are under no obligation to be kind.

Image_066, Dog Shit, UK, 2009 © Richard Ansett

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

The Paedophile Hunter

Image_9113, from series The Paedophile Hunter © Richard Ansett

Image_9138, from series The Paedophile Hunter © Richard Ansett

Image_9184, from series The Paedophile Hunter © Richard Ansett

Image_9185, from series The Paedophile Hunter © Richard Ansett

Image_9188, from series The Paedophile Hunter © Richard Ansett

Image_9191, from series The Paedophile Hunter © Richard Ansett

Image_9192, from series The Paedophile Hunter © Richard Ansett

Image_9193, from series The Paedophile Hunter © Richard Ansett

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Shared Anxiety

These images were shared on Facebook on the same day. The explosion at a chemical factory in Donetsk, Ukraine captured by my friend Mykhailo Glubokyi and my sister's half sister Julie's images of her schizophrenic son's living conditions to highlight the failing mental health services and her deep anxiety for his wellbeing.
Explosion at chemical factory, Donetsk, Ukraine © Mykhailo Glubokyi 2014
Explosion at chemical factory, Donetsk, Ukraine © Mykhailo Glubokyi 2014

Son's Living Conditions #1© Julie Goodall

Son's Living Conditions #2© Julie Goodall

Son's Living Conditions #3 © Julie Goodall

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Participation and Observation

These repeated recreations of an historic state sponsored punishment, imply a democratic action fairly meted out to any of those that challenge the status quo. However, the unknown emotional response to the exact same action is unique in each of us; it will have an equally specific and chaotic influence on the ‘potential adult’ (both of the punished and the observer). 

These now archaic techniques designed to control the majority at the expense of the individual, which are still a memory in a significant majority, ignore the complex issues of the child, recognised and accepted now as a catalyst for potentially disruptive and self-harming behavior.

The act of forcibly removing the individual as punishment from the ‘collective’, is a different lesson for the observing society. By facing away from the group, the relative identity of the perpetrator is compromised and the group’s empathic observation becomes a constant arbiter of future behavior i.e. the memory of the punished child is a 'check' on our own potential future behaviour.

Our complicity in the humiliation of the one, is carried forward as a betrayal of self and guilt in the emotional memory. The observers' potential is more damaged than the participant.

The boys in these images were dealing with complex behavioural issues that had led to conflict and in some cases to the brink of permanent exclusion. Many thanks to the boys and their families.

“You begin to see life through the framework of exclusion. Through the negation of the child (sic), a world of possibility is shut down.” – Indra Adnan

Image_, from series © Richard Ansett 2014
Image_, from series © Richard Ansett 2014
Image_, from series © Richard Ansett 2014

Image_, from series © Richard Ansett 2014

Image_, from series © Richard Ansett 2014
Image_, from series © Richard Ansett 201