Archives

November 2006

SELECT A MONTH:

Nov 30

Michael Schwarzer’s portfolio contains quite a few interesting projects (don’t miss “Garde und Mariechen”).
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Nov 30

I usually do not advertise individual shows (because otherwise, I would be quite busy only doing that), but here, I am going to make an exception, because a) the exception proves the rule, b) the photographer (Brian Ulrich) is a really nice guy, and c) the work shown (Thrift) is quite dear to me (I am mildly obsessed with the mirror Universe of consumerism, thrift stores). The show is at Rhona Hoffman Gallery in Chicago IL, from December 1, 2006 – January 6, 2007, with the opening reception (go and meet Brian!) on Friday, December 1st, 5:00 – 7:30 p.m.
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Nov 29

When you email me and then read my response, you’ll find that I sign off with either “Best” or “All the best” (just like, as it turns out, überblogger Jason Kottke, who pointed me to the following). Leave it to the New York Times to publish a lengthy article (where by “lengthy” I mean “disproportionally long given the actual relevance of the topic matter”) about what to use at the end of an email. Regardless of what they say in that article (that will mercifully disappear behind their pay-for-it firewall soon enough) I’ll stick with “Best”, in the spirit of Jason, who notes “So ‘Best’ it is… don’t take it the wrong way.”
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Nov 29

In her work, Isabelle Hayeur explores North American land- and cityscapes and how one is transformed into the other. One of my favourite projects is “Destinations”.
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Nov 27

And something about music: A fine interview with Tom Waits.
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Nov 27

Seen on Metafilter: How extensively are professional modeling photos retouched? Highlights (if that’s the word to use): FluidEffect (under “portfolio”, then “before/after”), Brian Dilg’s work, Glenn Feron’s work (especially recommended for those males who still think those android women in magazines are real) and - yes, you will have nightmares tonight! - Becky Carter’s work.
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Nov 27

Olaf Otto Becker’s photography from Iceland (“Unter dem Licht des Nordens”) is really quite exquisite.
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Nov 26

Howard Henry Chen, who left Vietnam when he was three years old, has done a lot of work on documenting what the country looked like when he came back to visit. With this work he just won the Silver Eye 2006 Fellowship award. (updated entry)
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Nov 24

Anja Jensen’s work explores our notions of “security” (and our perceived lack of it).
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Nov 24

The November 30, 2006 edition of The New York Review of Books contains an article by author John Updike about Robert Polidori’s newly released After the Flood. Given my unease about the flood (no pun intended really) of fine-art photography from the region affected by Hurricane Katrina I was hoping that maybe someone like John Updike would be able to help me out a little bit. Unfortunately, I am not so sure that actually happened.
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Nov 23

Amy Stein’s portfolio contains some pretty nice projects, amongst them Domesticated, which explores “our paradoxical relationship with the ‘wild’”. Amy also maintains her own blog. (updated entry)
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Nov 23

I am quite amazed about the consistent quality and scope of The Guardian’s art section. Not only do you get exposed to a surprisingly large variety of art (covering photography regularly), you also get to see actual opinions from smart people and, often, artists themselves. What else could you ask for? Not convinced? Well, then stuff you can look at at the time of this writing. Here’s an incomplete list: Loretta Lux talks about what she thinks is her best shot, John Currin’s new work is being dissed (“The naked truth is that art-porn no longer shocks” - but it sells!), there is an article about Norman Foster’s redesign of Dresden main train station, about Damien Hirst’s art collection, and if you haven’t seen their feature about Inge Morath’s road trip, it’s about time.
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Nov 22

“The main criticism people direct at the media obsession with celebrities is that it clogs up the news with trivia. But it matters more than that today. As serious public and political life has withered, so celebrity culture has expanded to fill the gap, often with the encouragement of political leaders desperate for some celebrity cover. […] Take the fuss over Madonna. Since I criticised her high-profile attempt to adopt a Malawian toddler, irate pundits from around the world have asked how anybody could want to make that boy live in poverty in Africa […]. In fact the argument is not really about Madonna and her new trophy baby. What she is doing embodies the new ‘caring colonialismÂ’ underpinning Western attitudes towards Africa. It is based on the assumption that we know what is best for them, and the West must save Africans from themselves […]. This popular attitude effectively reduces the whole of Africa to a helpless orphan that must be carried on our backs, just as Madonna carried her chosen ‘sonÂ’ for the cameras in a native sling. And it rides roughshod over any notion of African self-determination.” - story
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Nov 22

“Celebrated as one of the most influential figurative painters of our time, Chuck Close has remained a vital presence by focusing exclusively on portraiture, a genre often under-recognized in contemporary art.” (source) Also see this page and this article.
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Nov 21

I just came across a bunch of videos by German “krautrock” band Can, among those one of my all-time favourite songs, Mother Sky. Others: Vitamin C, Paper House, Deadlock, and errrr… a version of Can Can that features dancers and - as if that wasn’t bad enough - German “comedy” (I’m not making any of this up).
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Nov 21

“Since I moved to the United States five years ago, my needs for self-expression has grown. However, my curiosity about how others deal with their identity in what is a fairly open society like America has increased.” - Shen Wei. Who says you can’t take interesting portraits any longer? Shen Wei has now been picked as one of the winners of the Hey, Hot Shots! Fall 2006. If you want to learn more about his work, check out the conversation I had with him a little while back. (updated entry)
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Nov 21

“Edgar Wallace was a prolific British crime writer, journalist and playwright, who wrote 175 novels, 24 plays, and countless articles in newspapers and journals. Over 160 films have been made of his novels, more than any other author. In the 1920s, one of Wallace’s publishers claimed that a quarter of all books read in England were written by him.” (source, with the usual caveat about the accuracy of the information) For some odd reason, Germans have always loved Edgar Wallace’s pulp fiction, and the paperbacks have been selling like the proverbial hotcakes. Add to that a series of movies in the 1960s, plus - lately - audio “books” (just to give you an idea how popular he is in Germany, while I got 87 hits on Ebay.com today, Ebay.de offered me 1,425 articles) . Since I love buying old paperbacks and since older editions of Edgar Wallace novels were designed quite beautifully, I bought some late 1950s/early 1960s on German Ebay, and I finally managed to get them to the States and scan them. Have a look. Coincidentally, Ralf Zeigermann, another German expat, just scanned his.
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Nov 20

If you’re curious who won the Hey, Hot Shot! competition this Fall, check out the list of winners here.
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Nov 20

Occasionally, I get email where someone tells me that the combination of two (or more) posts says something - and usually, I didn’t even notice that. So, for the record and to make this clear: I almost never intentionally create sets of posts that go together, simply because in the archives (or when accessed through search engines) such a connection would disappear. When I do want to make a connection, I do so by explicitly referring to another post. In other words, do not assume that the placement of the posts contains any information other than when they were created.
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Nov 20

“Abandon, by American artist Jeff Bark is a series of elaborately constructed photographs re-examining the relationship between painting and photography.” (source)
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Nov 20

Having just learned of Duane Michaels’ Foto Follies: How Photography Lost Its Virginity on the Way to the Bank, I have all kinds of thoughts going through my head. Since I haven’t seen the book, I will stay mum about what I am thinking (if anyone at Steidl is reading this, yes, I would like a review copy).
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Nov 10

The term “contemporary photography” implies we are dealing with something quite distinct from whatever was done in the past. In some sense, this is true, but only in part. Defining what contemporary photography is is not all that simple. Someone not familiar with this kind of photography once told me (after having looked at this blog) that contemporary photography was mostly “bleak, rural landscapes, hardworking portraits, or linear landscapes and interiors playing with shadows, contrasts and lighting”. Again, in some sense, that is true, just as it is true that if you were to describe contemporary literature you could say it is “lots of characters printed on paper, which describe the mostly dreadful lives of people, many of which have terrible problems.” (well, at least the kind of literature that I like to read, for example Philip Roth’s or Thomas Bernhard’s novels) Maybe I just defined what future academics will use as the benchmark definition of contemporary literature. It is quite a bit more likely, though, that my description misses so many aspects that it is quite useless - just like pointing towards “bleak landscapes” or “hardworking portraits” does not really tell us anything about what contemporary photography tries to achieve.
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Nov 10

What I find interesting about the controversy described in this article is that it teaches us a few lessons (provided we are willing to be taught one). For example, what does it tell us about the art world that so many people simply refuse to believe a painting by Jackson Pollock could be bought - with a tremendous amount of luck - at a thrift store? And what does it tell us about the art world that some people (the people at the thrift store) think the painting is worth $7, whereas others (some of the appraisers) think it’s worth about one million times more than that? And if, as Thomas Hoving claims in the article, the painting was not done by Jackson Pollock but by someone who “had a house in some sunny part of the world, Palm Beach or something, and wanted an abstract painting, maybe like a Pollock, in colours that would have fit the room”, why would that someone’s work then worth so much less than a painting by Jackson Pollock, despite the fact that the painting in question and Pollock’s paintings look as if they were done by one person?
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Nov 10

I was wondering how long it would take for someone to sue Sasha Baron Cohen, the guy behind Borat (if you have not seen the movie yet, do not miss it!), and I was wondering who that someone would be. Turns out the first are a bunch of fraternity kids: “The plaintiffs — listed as John Doe 1 and John Doe 2 — were allegedly assured the film would not be shown in the U.S. and their identities would not be revealed.” (source) Yeah right! “The plaintiffs claim they suffered ‘humiliation, mental anguish, and emotional and physical distress, loss of reputation, goodwill and standing in the community…’” Hmmm, to avoid future “mental anguish” and “loss of reputation”, maybe just don’t drink like a horse at a watering hole and then explain how minorities are exploiting America and how you want slavery back - I think that should do it.
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Nov 9

Jake Rowland’s work explores portraiture and what portraits tell us about people. His work reminds me of some of Thomas Ruff’s portraits, albeit not the ones you’re now probably thinking of. I don’t want to give away too much - lest I spoil Jake’s work for you. If you’re too impatient to find out for yourself what I’m talking about, here are a couple of those portraits: 1 and 2.
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Nov 8

Andy Sewell’s photojournalistic work is quite impressive and beautifully shot.
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Nov 7

I’ve talked about this earlier, but the topic is just not going away. On the contrary, as there is more and more photography from New Orleans emerging, it seems to me that the aftermath (or maybe more accurately aftermess) of Hurricane Katrina is slowly turning into a photographic cliché. I have the feeling that - for a large variety of reasons - that’s the last thing anyone needs (least of all those people in New Orleans whose houses are still in ruins and many of which have been permanently displaced). It would be unfair to single out anyone’s work, because on its own, most of the photographic work I’ve seen is quite amazing (and actually provides a very interesting example of how fine-art photography can supplement standard photojournalism, which - in part - has long turned ago into a cliché producing machinery itself); but the cumulative effect of looking at beautifully shot photos of destroyed houses, exterior and interior, and everything else that goes with it is making me feel a bit uneasy.
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Nov 7

I’m not the biggest fan of “fashion” photography. Having said that, some of Kurt Stallaert’s work (under “Fashionised”) is quite nice, especially the b/w stuff.
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Nov 7

Anna Bauer is one of the many young talents emerging from New York’s School of Visual Arts.
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Nov 6

While compiling my own personal set of all-time favourite tracks to put on an mp3 player (for my upcoming travels), I came across the soundtrack of the movie Pi, which gotta be one of my favourite movies (its website is a bit old, but I guess that’s what happens to movie websites long after the release dates). It’s not even that I care so much about the idea that the number Pi contains any special meaning, it’s more the way to movie is filmed and done. If you haven’t seen it, it’s shot entirely in black and white. There are basically no grey tones - they used some old film type for it. And the editing, along with the way the music is added, is quite amazing.
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Nov 6

Andreas Gefeller’s website is (still) only in German (even though he is now internationally represented). Apart from documenting Gran Canaria, he has spent the past few years creating digitally composed aerial views of spaces and places. (updated entry)
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Nov 3

Following up on one of Alec’s posts about photo books, I remembered an interview I had read (in a book) the other day. Luckily, it’s also available online: “I think there’s something aesthetically very satisfying about these books and some of that may derive from my past experience with other books. There’s the way the image sits on the page. There’s the intimacy of looking at the book. There’s simply the experience of seeing the images in a book as opposed to, say, a portfolio: it recalls past book experiences; it is a cultural object. And, in these small (short) volumes, there’s the mind’s ability to hold the whole book at once. The book becomes a single, unified work.” (Stephen Shore). And that’s really quite an important point there: “a cultural object”, and add to that the sheer tactile component.
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Nov 3

Dean Kessmann’s work sits somewhere on the boundary between photography and conceptual art.
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Nov 2

Yiftach Belsky’s work explores some aspects of life in Israel that you don’t see too often.
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Nov 1

Berim Racaj has compiled a portrait of Kosovo, using both landscapes and portraits.
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