Steve Fuller: PAPKA
What do Joachim Weimann, Katy Clark, Esther Goodall, James Trevithick, Andrew Sutton, Charlie Day, Sophia Wood, Art Cohen and Monica Anderson have in common? They are all simulated photo-artists and writers, contributors of the fictive magazine PAPKA, conceived and masterfully produced by Steve Fuller, fresh graduate from Falmouth University.
Playfully exploring the ‘murky waters’ of what is considered art photography today, Fuller questions the way in which the reader’s perception is influenced, at times fooled, by the context of photography’s ‘consumption’. Evanescent like a dream, yet present like a real object, PAPKA takes us to a virtual limbo where, as Boris Vian would say, everything is true because Fuller invented it: artists, bodies of work, essays, even advertisements.
Leafing through this constructed magazine we encounter a nostalgic photographer, who used to be junkie in Berlin in the 1980s, documenting his wild life, and now portrays rebellious youth from his bourgeois, canonised gaze.
‘For those who have seen the work that made Weimann’s name, Cornucopia, in 1984, they would either expect him to be dead or an outspoken advocate of the hedonism that made him famous’. So opens the essay ‘commissioned’ by the imaginary editor-in-chief, Imogen Mercer, in response to the first featured portfolio: About The Boys, in which ‘the prodigal son of hedonism has returned but baptised under a Western cynicism that he once deemed so superfluous’.
The young man on the cover is Miles. Photo-artist Katy Clark spent three months with him. In her series Movie Script Ending she photographs her past lovers and the detritus they live behind. “Why dose she do it?’ wonders the imaginary author of the piece: ‘To define ourselves through our relationships is to inevitably surrender to the societal condition that our sexual and emotional health is dependent on those we spend our lives with’.
James Trevithick was born in 1960, a celebrated painter for nearly 40 years, and a latin lover, he has produced his first ever photographic series as a response to the death of his ex-wife. He turned to photography, a medium he had always derided, in an attempt to accept his own arrogance and immovability as part of his working through grief. His delicate black and white images of landscapes and interiors are mingled with bitter notes from his then wife, during what he calls their ‘parental cold war’.
Witty and thought provoking, PAPKA mocks the pretentiousness of some well-established art and photography magazines with extraordinary attention to details: content, design, paper… A maverick artwork in its own right, PAPKA is a visionary antidote to any uncritical attitude towards visual culture and its canons. FC
Steve Fuller is currently studying his MFA at Edinburgh University in Contemporary Art Practice. Interested in authorship and curatorial simulations, he also researches the archive and its endless repetition of visual signs. PAPKA can be purchased here.