Archives

April 2008

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Apr 30

With the fashion bit of the Hyères Festival International de Mode et de Photographie in its 23rd year, the photography part is a bit younger. For ten years now, photographers have been coming to Hyères to meet up with a jury to show and discuss their work. The masterminds behind the photography competition are Michel Mallard (pictured above) and Raphaëlle Stopin (who was so busy organizing that she managed to avoid getting caught by me for a photo).
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Apr 30

Audrey Corregan emerged as the winner of this year’s Hyères photography festival. Apart from her latest work, most of her photography (and her books) can be found online - a large variety of work, a lot quite conceptual.
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Apr 30

The vast majority of Amira Fritz’s work, winner of the second prize at the Hyères photography festival is not available online. She shoots her work at dawn or dusk to achieve a painterly effect, and having seen high-quality prints I think it’ll be extremely hard to convey the quality of the images on the web.
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Apr 29

See, this is what happens when you leave the country: You just miss the most important stories. Like this one, for example: Miley Cyrus Bare In Vanity Fair: Tells Fans She’s ‘Embarrassed’. Update: “For her photograph of the teenage celebrity, Leibovitz chose a palette strongly redolent of the dirty postcards of yesteryear, sepia embittered with black, a suggestion of eye-blue and lip-red, as if retouched by hand, with never - thank our stars - a hint of pink. […] It is Disney, after all, that is merchandising this child, and the suggestion of pimping will cling to it. Leibovitz may be cynical, is obviously cynical. She is also, as usual, justified.” (Germaine Greer; make sure to also read the final contribution, at the bottom of the page) “Never mind what a ludicrous system this is that chooses young women for their sex appeal and then expects them to act as role models for the chastity of the rest of the population. It’s the insincerity of everyone concerned that really chokes me. Not one person involved can seriously think Miley Cyrus had any kind of influence over this, or any other, image-building decision.” (Zoe Williams)
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Apr 29

I cannot think of a better way for a photography competition than having ten photographers meet ten jury members for two full days, to allow detailed discussions of the work and the kind of interaction that allows both sides to get a deeper understanding of one another. This, in a nutshell, is how the photography part of the Festival International de Mode et de Photographie in Hyères works. This year, I was fortunate enough to be a member of the jury, and I thought I’d present glimpses of the festival here. In this first of a series of posts I’ll briefly introduce the ten photographers who made it to Hyères (out of an initial field of 400+ who applied). In alphabetical order, they are…
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Apr 23

As I mentioned earlier, I was invited to be a member of the jury of this year’s Hyères Festival International de Mode & de Photographie (see the photo part here), and now I’m off to France. I will be back on Monday (28 April), and there will be no updates until then.
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Apr 22

There’s a whole bunch of nice images in Drew Kelly’s “Explorations”.
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Apr 22

I found Carlos Albala’s site via Mrs. Deane. The “Outskirts” series I like the best.
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Apr 21

Yann Orhan’s portfolio contains a whole bunch of stark, beautiful images. (Thanks, Mark!)
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Apr 21

You know those signs “No shoes, no shirt, no service”? It’s kind of like that here at Conscientious Central, when there’s an email coming in with just a line “Check out [add link here]” and nothing else. Maybe I’m extremely old-fashioned, but for me, unless you’re an old friend of mine common courtesy applies (I’m not alone with this): If you send me an email I’ll send you something back - if (and only if) there’s a “Hi” or “Dear” or any of those other little words and phrases that turn the combination of electronic signals on a computer into a small electronic letter.
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Apr 21

Popular folklore has it that German photographers have had a dominating influence on the aesthetics of contemporary photography. In this context, “German photographers” means people from Düsseldorf, with their “cool”, “detached” style and their “typologies”. Needless to say, this image is a mere caricature, and a pretty shoddily drawn one at that. In reality, German photography has become a very important part of contemporary photography, but while the Düsseldorf Art Academie has spawned quite a few well-known practitioners, there are many others whose work doesn’t conform at all to the “cool” and “unpersonal” style that is supposed to be what makes the “German” in “German photography”. To wit: Wolfgang Tillmans.
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Apr 21

There’s a lot of nice work on Matthias Stief’s website.
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Apr 21

Anuschka Blommers and Niels Schumm focus mostly on portraiture.
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Apr 21

Zoum Zoum is the latest addition to the photography blog scene, and a most welcome one: It’s from France (as part of the online presence of the newspaper Libération). Currently, most of the contents - apart from the interviews - is French language only, but hopefully, there might be short English summaries in the future.
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Apr 20

It has become somewhat of a cultural staple to regularly drag some act of art out into the open and to generate outrage about it - often with the purpose to ridicule art (or, if you’re Republican, to cut even more of the funding that goes into art). Some artists now use incorporate this process into their own art - see this recent attempt - even though most artists would be well advised to leave stuff like that to real experts like, say, The Onion.
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Apr 18

Sounds like it (via Alex Ross)
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Apr 18

For her latest project Johanna Manke talked to young women and asked them about how they felt when they had their first big crush. The resulting photos were then staged, with photographer and subject trying to recreate one of those moments. When I first heard about this, I didn’t quite expect that the photos would so effortlessly stay away from being corny. Unfortunately, there is no English-language version of the text on those two pages.
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Apr 18

I’m probably going to get a lot of flak for this, but I think every once in a while I want to talk about something that I don’t like (if this were “American Idol”, the booing would now commence). There has been a lot of fuss about Ryan McGinley’s new show (see, for example, James Danziger’s post), all the while I received quite a few emails where people told me in no uncertain terms how much they disliked the show.
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Apr 18

There’s an absolutely wonderful post over at Ed Winkleman’s blog, about artists leaving a gallery to go elsewhere and galleries who “let go” of artists (if that’s the word). One of the reasons why I like Ed’s blog so much is because he is willing to see both sides of the story, and he will be happy to talk about them openly - in a world where even the gallerinas won’t talk to you, if you look like you don’t have a lot of money.
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Apr 17

Found this by chance today. Extremely odd ending, which I don’t even want to know about.
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Apr 17

“Art major Aliza Shvarts ‘08 wants to make a statement. Beginning next Tuesday, Shvarts will be displaying her senior art project, a documentation of a nine-month process during which she artificially inseminated herself ‘as often as possible’ while periodically taking abortifacient drugs to induce miscarriages. Her exhibition will feature video recordings of these forced miscarriages as well as preserved collections of the blood from the process. The goal in creating the art exhibition, Shvarts said, was to spark conversation and debate on the relationship between art and the human body.” (story) No comment necessary. Update: I am being told it’s a hoax! How very witty! Makes me think, though - isn’t it a sad sign that we now live in a time where stuff like this (and every other headline from the satirical newspaper The Onion) could be real?
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Apr 17

Occasionally, I come across a photographer who I think I surely linked to in the past, and then I find I didn’t (which always puzzles me). Richard Barnes is one of them. I really like his work.
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Apr 16

I am a bit torn about Jeffrey Gray Brandsted’s work, but there are enough good images to make his website worth the visit.
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Apr 16

“The U.S. military released Associated Press photographer Bilal Hussein on Wednesday after holding him for more than two years without filing formal charges.” - source
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Apr 15

In spite of a “hot” photography book market, books giving an overview of contemporary photography are still fairly rare. Photo Art, edited by Uta Grosenick and Thomas Seelig and published by Aperture, is the latest and most welcome attempt to fill in the gap. Listing a whooping 112 artists, according to the editors the book is “a comprehensive survey of photography in the early 21st century”.
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Apr 15

Check out the photography of Scott Patrick Wiener.
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Apr 14

Picking up a thread from my earlier discussion, I occasionally get email telling me about a photographer who has done the same work (or something very similar) as someone featured on the blog, often with the implication that someone is ripping someone else off. For me, the issue usually is not about whether there is a rip-off going on (especially since two people, in different countries and without actual contact with each other, can easily create the same kind of work), but, instead, which of the work is more interesting. I think it might help if I gave an example.
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Apr 14

A common complaint about a photographer’s new work is that it’s a mere repetition of older work. As an illustration, I am using a photo from Gregory Crewdson’s new work, but that’s really just an arbitrary choice. I could have easily picked something from Andreas Gursky’s latest work, say - whose Chelsea show got attacked in the press for that very same reason: We’ve seen this before, we want something new.
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Apr 14

I like Jason Andrew’s “Jazzland” series.
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Apr 13

“Give Us Today Our Daily Terror, 2008 - ongoing. Exact copy of Hitchcock’s 1963 film The Birds from which all birds have been removed.” - Martijn Hendriks (via VVORK)
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Apr 11

“Giuseppe Verdi, one might think, is hard to mess up. But a theater in the eastern German city of Erfurt seems to be doing its best. In a re-interpretation of the opera ‘A Masked Ball,’ which opens on Saturday, director Johann Kresnik has hit upon a dramatic novelty: His staging has naked pensioners wearing Mickey Mouse masks, wandering around the ruins of New York’s World Trade Center.” (story) Notes the Daily Torygraph: “Rehearsals suggest that Mr Kresnik’s anti-capitalist staging is unlikely to be celebrated for its subtlety.”
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Apr 11

Matthieu Gafsou’s website has French text only, so those unable to understand the language will unfortunately be limited to looking at the images only. Those are well worth the visit, though. Update (9 Sep ‘09): There now is some English text!
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Apr 10

“Now I know interns do get all the grunt work.. but when you see the gallerina above you on a smoking break, clicking her shoes, and fondling over her blackberry, and you’re compiling the represented artists on file.. and there are 10 male artists and 2 females.. you wonder, where the hell are we?” - more over at Jane Tam’s blog. BTW, Jane is also selling some of her photography to raise money for her BFA thesis show.
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Apr 10

Check out Kathryn Parker Almanas’ work - I quite like the still lifes.
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Apr 9

Excellent news in a case I reported on earlier: “AP Photographer Bilal Hussein has been in American detention since April 2006. As the second anniversary of his captivity approaches, Bilal has achieved a major breakthrough. Yesterday in Baghdad, an Iraqi Judicial Commission reviewing his case took ten days to reach a conclusion: No basis existed for the terrorism-related charges which had been brought against him. The conclusion was a sweeping repudiation of accusations U.S. military figures have brought against him, backed by no evidence, but by a handful of strangely motivated American wingnut bloggers.” (story)
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Apr 9

I don’t know what it is with the Germans and their desire to make music out of banging on things that originally were not designed as musical instruments. When I discovered AutoAuto!, of course, I had to think of everybody’s favourite unpronouncable Einstürzende Neubauten (which one of the AutoAuto! people claims to have played with in the past). No offense to the AutoAuto! crowd, but I think I personally prefer the real thing (here even with 100 members of the audience contributing), even though the bass player (who also bangs on the big blue can on the ground) reminds me of another one of my favourite pop culture characters (no, it’s not Buddy Rich).
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Apr 9

Quite some time ago, I wanted to link to Helen Maurene Cooper’s work, but I was unable to find a website. So I was glad to come across her work the other day on Subjectify. Find some more information on her work here.
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Apr 8

I was invited to be a member of the jury of this year’s Hyères Festival International de Mode & de Photographie (see the photo part here), and of course I agreed to it. If you make it to the festival please say hi when you run into me!
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Apr 8

Given that I was looking for the most wanted photo on Flickr the other day it seems only logical to point out the ‘amateur’ winners of the Sony World Photography Awards. It is quite interesting that the chosen images are extremely similar to the usual editorial/commercial stuff…
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Apr 8

On his blog, James Danziger today discusses Kate Hutchinson’s project “Why Am I Marrying Him?”, and he publishes an email exchange between himself and Kate. Intrigued by the series, James had emailed Kate to ask about “a few biographical details, largely to do with the identity and reaction of her fiancé to the pictures and the status of their marriage plans.” Check out James’ post for Kate’s reply, with the key sentences “I wish to leave the viewer wanting more. I want them, like you, to be intrigued by this character. I hope that this intrigue will lead them to create their own fictionalized story about the character in the photos. Then they can then make it their own and relate it to their lives and the people that they know.”
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Apr 8

Heather Morton pointed out Edith Maybin’s work, noting that “part of me wants to believe that these shooters [Edith Maybin and some others] could have only been successful because they are mothers.”
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Apr 7

Duration of the ongoing war in Iraq that can be funded with the money my household owed the IRS: 0.43 seconds Number of rolls of Kodak Portra-160NC 120 Film (ISO-160) I could have bought for the money: 345 Yucky feeling lingering in this household tonight: Priceless
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Apr 7

“Women In Photography contains a simple concept: -To showcase work, news and ideas from women in the contemporary photo world. -To create a collection of strong work by women actively creating work. -To reach new audiences collectively. […] Email submissions to womeninphotography at gmail dot com” (Update 8 April): There also is Nymphoto, which “shares news & issues relating or relevant to women in photography.”
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Apr 7

Check out Eleanor Oakes’ “Cragsmoor”.
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Apr 4

After having read the article about “gallerinas” (that I got so angry about here), I talked to a couple of female friends about how the article described the role of women: Smart is good, but looks are more important. Even though my friends live on different continents - one in the US, one in Europe, they both basically wrote the same thing, namely (paraphrased) “We’ll, we women are quite used to be being treated like that.” For me, that’s unacceptable; even though one could point out that it’s easy for me to say that since I’m a man, and I don’t have to deal with it. But then sexism - just like racism - can (in fact: should) be offensive also for people who are not subjected to it. In any case, on her blog, Cara Phillips (the American friend I had talked to) just published a long discussion of this general topic - a very recommended read! Update (6 April): Check out this follow-up post!
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Apr 4

Lissa Rivera’s work covers public and private schools in the United States. Needless to say, her work reminds me of my own series Higher Education.
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Apr 3

I found Bernd Kleinheisterkamp on The Sonic Blog. Bernd’s photographic provenance is not very hard to guess when you look at Siedlung, but you also definitely don’t want to miss the Stills.
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Apr 3

I just came across Katerina Drzkova’s “Refugees” project, which I like very much.
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Apr 3

I don’t know how many people have ever heard of this, and I think it might serve as an interesting example for what people think photography can do and what it then turns out being unable to do. In 1924, German pacifist Ernst Friedrich (who had refused to participate in World War I and had gone to jail for this) published Krieg dem Kriege, which was eventually translated into 40 different languages. It contained photos taken during what people to this day call “the Great War”, with the most gruesome photos being included on purpose. The idea was that viewers would be so shocked by what they saw and that thus war would become a thing of the past. It was a noble idea.
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Apr 2

“The abuse, rising to the level of torture, of those captured and detained in the war on terror is a defining feature of the presidency of George W. Bush. Its military beginnings, however, lie not in Abu Ghraib, as is commonly thought, or in the ‘rendition’ of prisoners to other countries for questioning, but in the treatment of the very first prisoners at Guantánamo. Starting in late 2002 a detainee bearing the number 063 was tortured over a period of more than seven weeks. […] The Bush administration has always taken refuge behind a ‘trickle up’ explanation: that is, the decision was generated by military commanders and interrogators on the ground. This explanation is false. The origins lie in actions taken at the very highest levels of the administration - by some of the most senior personal advisers to the president, the vice president, and the secretary of defense. At the heart of the matter stand several political appointees - lawyers - who, it can be argued, broke their ethical codes of conduct and took themselves into a zone of international criminality, where formal investigation is now a very real option.” - story
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Apr 2

Check out this very moving photography series about the final days of terminally ill people.
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Apr 2

Ed Winkleman (himself a gallerist) pointed me to this article about gallery staff and the amount of friendliness they usually have on display (exceptions, of course, merely confirm the rule). Needless to say, I do understand some of the issues raised there: If you come into an art gallery just to take a literal or “just” a verbal piss and then get ignored or treated “rudely”, should that surprise you?
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Apr 2

Naho Kubota’s “landscapes” are a series of very nice details of urban surroundings, such as a car wash or a hospital.
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Apr 1

I know no other movie that uses music to such a devastating effect as Apocalypse Now, to unmask war as what it really is (if you haven’t seen the movie, watch the “Redux” version, which is longer and even better), and the helicopter attack on the Vietnamese village to Richard Wagner’s “Ride of the Valkyries”, perfectly edited, is a masterpiece of cinema. It’s quite interesting to see how the movie scene compares with the scene from the corresponding opera (it’s Die Walküre, at the beginning of the third act), here the Bayreuth 1976 version. The one thing that I always wondered about Apocalypse Now is why Coppola did not use the operatic version, where the singing adds an intense layer of outright creepiness over the music, which on its own is quite kitschy actually. Watch the whole thing with the singers just standing there (in a regular concert; actually it seems they really want to act it out, if you see how they move when they’re singing) - somehow, the whole piece works quite differently, doesn’t it?
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Apr 1

I’m not sure Thomas Macker’s use of thumbnails is the best approach (look at “Gardeners and Housekeepers” to see what I mean), but there is a lot of good photography to be found on his site.
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Apr 1

I just had the chance to meet Frank Tobias Müller, who just graduated from the Düsseldorf art academy, and to see prints of his new work. The photos - all a whooping 8ft by 6ft - show only extremely subtle shades of white and light grey, and the images uncannily project out from the prints - the effect doesn’t translate to the internet at all. These photos are the first of what Frank says will eventually be a “trilogy” (he just started to work on black ones - those “suck you in,” he said; and he’s still thinking about the use of red). Frank doesn’t have a website (like so many other German photographers), but there is some information about his work (unfortunately only in German) - and more samples - available here.
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