Archives

December 2004

SELECT A MONTH:

Dec 31

I’ve long wanted to link to Irving Penn but whenever I was looking for links it turned out to be very slim pickings. In that sense, the internet can be quite deceiving: If you try to estimate popularity or importance by the number of links you can find you might be making quite a serious mistake. In any case, I fould a few more links with a small number of samples: Two brief bios/introductions, here and here; and three samples plus text for his “Nudes”.
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Dec 29

With its article Tsunamis shatter celebrity holidays, CNN easily wins this month’s Journalistic Race to the Bottom Price.
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Dec 29

“Erwin Blumenfeld’s popular reputation comes almost completely from his work as a fashion photographer in New York in the 40s, yet when he came to choose his ‘Hundred Best Photos’ in 1969 only four of them were fashion shots.” Unfortunately, I didn’t manage to find more samples of his work online. Given his contribution to fashion photography - when fashion photography did not mean to take photos of naked anorexic women - that’s fairly sad.
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Dec 21

Thomas Allen’s series “Uncovered” brings book to life. Beyond the initial visual tickle it is pretty gimmicky, though.
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Dec 20

“A document released for the first time today by the American Civil Liberties Union suggests that President Bush issued an Executive Order authorizing the use of inhumane interrogation methods against detainees in Iraq. […] The two-page e-mail that references an Executive Order states that the President directly authorized interrogation techniques including sleep deprivation, stress positions, the use of military dogs, and ‘sensory deprivation through the use of hoods, etc.’ The ACLU is urging the White House to confirm or deny the existence of such an order and immediately to release the order if it exists.” - story
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Dec 20

Lynne Cohen’s style of photography belies claims that it’s only Germans who produce this style of “deadpan” work.
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Dec 19

Contemporary photography has evolved in a way that does not always make it straightforward to categorize what one is dealing with. For example, you typically find the photography of the Bechers in art museums, even though - in principle - what they are doing is much closer to some sort of scientific documenting1. With the Becher’s very deadpan b/w surveys of buildings it’s relatively easy to argue that it’s documentary photography. But what about, for example, Candida Höfer’s work? Or, for that matter, Richard Ross’?
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Dec 17

In addition to my own list I asked some of my friends and (regular and irregular) contributors to this weblog about which photographer(s) they were most impressed with/inspired by this past year. My thanks to all of them for their responses and for their support and encouragement. Here are their responses: Stan Banos: “1) Brian Rose - Best photo book/project of the year. Lots of really good shots and not a bad one to be found. The scope of the project (historical & geographical) also lends to its accomplishment… 2) Lee Friedlander - Still pumping out primo, innovative work- in his 70’s! 3) Christian Patterson - Only like about a third of his work, but when he’s spot on, he really nails the color/form time-space-continuum— if ya know what I’m sayin’…” Tobias Hegele: “The one photographer I have to single out for myself is Joel Sternfeld and my re-discovery of the book American Prospects. Photographers that I only became familiar with within the last year and that impressed me the most are Alec Soth and Mitch Epstein.” John Perkinson: “As for photographers that I discovered either in 2003 and this year - you’ve already listed one: Alec Soth. I asked for his book for my birthday this year didn’t get it. I asked for his book for xmas this year too. If I don’t get it - then I’m buying it for sure… I also agree about Nathalie Grenzhäuser’s work - very striking. I’d kill for a print… I wasn’t sure if you meant only work done this year, but there are a couple of photographer’s work that I saw for the first time this year I enjoyed immensely… Michael Norton’s 4x5 Havana series on the Litman site and Christoph Morlinghaus.” Jennifer Shaw: “I almost don’t feel qualified to answer this question since I spent the better half of this year obsessed with politics, and haven’t paid as much attention to photography as I should. That said, my favorite new find this year was Dave Anderson, which I’m pretty sure came into my life through a link on Conscientious.” Mark Tucker: “Loretta Lux. Michael Prince is commercial, but I like his work. But overall, I’d probably vote for Alec Soth, even though it’s the easy thing to do. I like Danny Clinch too.”
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Dec 16

It might appear to be a bit early to pick the Photographers of the Year 2004. But apart from the fact that I will be leaving town over Christmas I’m also fairly busy with job applications, and I don’t expect any changes in my selection. As usual, the selection is highly subjective. So while the photographers, who are mentioned below, have reason to rejoice (I hope) all the others, who are not mentioned below, again find solid proof that I’m out of my mind and that my taste just plainly sucks. But as I said many times before, this weblog reflects my personal taste and nothing else, and it doesn’t say anything about merit, success, quality or whatever else. My Photographers of the Year 2004 are simply the people whose work has impressed or inspired me the most this past year or whose work I would buy in a heartbeat if I had the money (Santa, hear that?!). Having said this here they are (in alphabetical order): Susan Bowen’s panoramas are breathtakingly beautiful. The little anti-conformist in me also enjoys the fact immensely that she uses a cheap plastic camera to create them. Nathalie Grenzhäuser’s Omaha Beach series might be the most impressive photo series I’ve seen this year. Outstanding work. Hans-Christian Schink’s documentary series about new highways in East Germany for me combines the best of what people often attribute to the Düsseldorf school but what, in fact, is quite common in Germany. It’s this kind of stuff where you could write pages and pages to describe it. I’m not going to contribute to this largely academic exercise. Let me just say it’s what makes people say “What’s up with those German photographers?” Stefanie Schneider’s work makes excellent use of what looks like badly exposed outdated Polaroid film. Whether it actually is what it looks like is quite irrelevant. The results are very appealing. Alec Soth has been everybody’s darling lately, and even the aforementioned anti-conformiste thinks he needs to be added to the list - especially since I have been able to enjoy his book Sleeping by the Mississippi. Update (15 Dec): See, that’s what you get when you don’t wait until the end of the year. Richard Ross is a late addition to the list. His photography provides huge encouragement for part of the photography I’m working on right now (none of which I have shown anywhere so far).
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Dec 15

“The problem today is not the growth of stupefying television but the lack of cultural and institutional support for the promotion of artistic and intellectual standards. It is easy to react against the inane spectacle of reality TV. But banal entertainment is the least of our problems. We should be far more concerned with the powerful trends that work towards the dumbing down of education, academia, the arts and politics. The pressure to devalue content exercises a destructive impact on contemporary culture. That is why we need to overcome our estrangement from cultural standards, and affirm the fact that content really counts.” - Frank Furedi
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Dec 15

If you don’t know what you’re going to buy Conscientious your beloved ones for Christmas (provided you have any beloved ones who’re interested in photography) check out coincidence’s favourite photobooks of 2004.
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Dec 15

The amazing thing about Richard Ross’ website is that when you click on one of the photos under “projects” you get dozens and dozens of photos to look at - many of which are simply utterly amazing. Make sure you check out “Architecture of Authority”, “Fovea”, and “Shelters”. The latter has just been published as Waiting for the End of the World.
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Dec 15

Here’s one of my theories: Every piece of advanced technology that you own dimishes your social skills by some - sometimes vast - amount. Take for example cell phones, the pest of modern technology. Seemingly normal people get instantly transformed into utterly annoying retards once their little phones ring. The vast majority of cell phone users simply doesn’t comprehend that the (let’s be nice and call it) information they’re trying to convey (about 90% or which consists of “what?”, “oh my god” and “so I was like and he was like”) is transmitted electronically. Thus, unlike in the case of two yoghurt containers that you connect by a string to communicate with your friend, you do not have to yell. And not only that. In addition to the fact that the little cell phone will transmit normal speech perfectly, in about 99.99% of all cases the other people, who are forced to listen, are not interested in the conversation. Coudal Partners now decided to do something about it, by creating little cards that you can hand out.
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Dec 12

It’s hard to say what category Craig Kalpakjian’s photography falls into. I am very tempted to call it architectural photography even though many people might/will disagree.
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Dec 12

“Over the past ten years, I’ve worked on a series of photographs taken in state capitols titled: Statesmen - Pictures from the Fifty State Capitols, where I photographed and re-interpreted the portraits of former governors from each of the fifty states. With this project, I created a personal Hall of Governors, a collection of salesmen, matinee idols and fools, as well as respected ordinary men.” - Sybil Miller
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Dec 11

The latest edition of Digital Journalist features lots of photos from Iraq. I am very uncomfortable with what is shown on those pages - many of the images and a lot of the reporting are very close to what they used to do for the Deutsche Wochenschau. I don’t see anything heroic about flattening a city in an occupied country (apart from the fact that international law has lots of very unpleasant things to say about actions like this). So it’s quite good that two very relevant and important articles from the New York Review of Books have been made available online. Chris Hedges, one of the few war journalists who manages to escape simple propaganda consistently, discusses two books about the latest Iraq war1. And once again, Michael Massing rips into what we think is the free press.
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Dec 10

I haven’t linked to too many b/w photographers lately, which is - as everything else that’s going on around here - due to my own personal preferences. Today, I came across Debbie Fleming Caffery’s work, and I was quite amazed. I think in general I like b/w work, which makes use of a lot of white or a lot of black. There’s just no way to get more impact with b/w.
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