Archives

May 2008

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May 30

I updated my “blogroll” a little, so if you haven’t seen the following blogs you might want to check them out: Boston Photography Focus, Dawoud Bey’s blog, digressions, Hee Jin Kang’s blog, Nina Corvallo’s blog, photographylot, uncommons, and the we can’t paint blog.
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May 30

Over at we can’t paint I found the photography of Karly Wildenhaus whose “Interference” very beautifully expands the standard limits of photography.
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May 30

I think it was former German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt who described the Soviet Union as “Upper Volta with rockets”. It’s tempting to apply this to Australia and its big scandal about the photography of Bill Henson (see my earlier coverage and this nice overview) - “Massachusetts Bay Colony with computers”, but then that might be not that funny for all those Australians who are appalled by what’s going on (and it seems there’s a fair amount of those), plus it’s not like Australia is the only country that has recently witnessed a scandals like this one. Today, I spent a bit of time looking for what was going on in the press down there, and here’s a small selection.
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May 30

Marie Sjøvold’s website contains some nice photography, which, however, is a bit hard to see, since many of the samples are smallish.
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May 29

“Vancouver native Jeff Wall gives Marsha Lederman his personal take on five seminal photographs from a body of work that this week earned him the $30,000 Audain Prize for Lifetime Achievement in the Visual Arts” - story
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May 29

Agata Madejska’s transformation of a simple playground into a scene almost from outer space (“Kosmos”) is quite amazing. See slightly larger samples (with slightly better quality) here.
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May 28

I came across this video today, which is either performance art, some sort of comedy, or an unknown outtake from George Lucas’ abandoned project “Return of the Jawas”. From the description: “Highlight is that MALEFIC enters the Stage in a wheelchair, in excellent quality”, and indeed, that you don’t want to miss, it’s about three minutes into the clip. In case you’re wondering, this kind of stuff is called Drone Metal, or actually Drone Doom, and it’s “a subgenre of doom metal”: “Melody, and sometimes any sense of rhythm, are absent from the songs, and vocals, if present, are usually screamed.” I would have called it “Droll Metal”, but then that’s just me.
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May 28

This article, which describes the photography around a recent NY Times Magazine article (which the first commenter very fittingly described as being equal to “the sophomore page of the student newspaper at Harding High in Yokelville, Ohio.”), is noticeable because it says a lot about how editorial portraiture works. I admit that I am a bit amazed that Emily Gould, the author of the article and subject of the portraiture, answers the question on whether she felt “exploited” with “Yeah, I really don’t want to talk about it.” It’s kind of like Miley Cyrus being sorry about her photo shoot after the fact (except that here, we have an actual adult talking). Update (29 May): This Salon article discusses some of the non-photo aspects of what’s wrong with the aforementioned piece in the NY Times Mag.
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May 28

Anastasia Cazabon’s “Stories” “center around the loss of childhood innocence”.
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May 27

As mentioned earlier, the latest photographer to suffer from having a show shut down because of his photography of naked adolescents is Australian photographer Bill Henson. There is no single aspect of Bill’s case that is particularly new, but I personally find it somewhat frustrating (and, frankly, tiring) to see the same theme repeated over and over and over again, with the main problem being that there are no serious discussions about what is going on. Usually, there is some sort of investigation, and after that the conclusion is that there is no problem, and then we’re waiting for the next photographer to get harassed. Maybe this new article about the case can serve to illustrate some of the issues. Note how one of the big issues is actually mentioned by the first commenter whose assertion “The naked body is inevitably sexual in most contexts” points to the big underlying problem (which might explain why these kinds of scandals are way more common in some countries than in others). Update (28 May): The whole controversy is creating quite the stir down under: At the time of this writing, there are more than 1,000 articles about the case to be found via Google.
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May 27

This article is extremely interesting for a large variety of reasons, one of which is that it is very well and intelligently written and honest. It’s maybe the most useful and detailed discussion of comments on blogs I have seen in ages, with the money quote being “The real danger confronting criticism on the web is that, in the name of ‘anti-elitism’ and ‘the voice of the people’, real dissent (which looks elitist because it is rare) will be drowned out by posturing mobs.”
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May 27

As if the whole Guantánamo camp wasn’t enough of a travesty - a point well noted outside of the US - here’s something new: “Under the latest rules for ‘operational security,’ there’s now a three-tent rule for photos the public can see of the tents that house journalists and support staff at the expeditionary legal compound […] Broadly, the military explains the need for operational security, or OP-SEC, two different ways. First, they seek to shield from public view any details of this remote base that might help al Qaeda or other enemies of the United States stage an attack. Second, they want to shield from public view the faces of detainees because the Geneva Conventions prohibit the parade or humiliation of prisoners of war.” (source) That’s pretty rich, isn’t it? The first point is obviously ludicrous: Why would anyone want to attack the camp? For “al Qaeda or other enemies of the United States” Guantánamo is a PR gold mine. And the second one is equally absurd: The “detainees” at the camp are denied the protection of the Geneva Conventions (which is why they have to live in that legal black hole) except one: Their faces are not to be shown.
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May 27

Thomas Humery’s work mixes portraits with landscapes and stills and is well worth the visit (despite the various pop-up windows with ads).
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May 26

Via Nina Corvallo’s blog, I came across Arno Schidlowski’s portraits of animals.
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May 23

I found Maleonn’s work on Asian Photography Blog, and I quite like it. Here and there, I think I might detect similarities with or at least influences of other photographers, but the large variety makes the work very interesting.
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May 23

Cornell Capa, Founding Director of the International Center of Photography, died in New York City this morning (23 May 2008). “Capa was the younger brother of pioneering war photojournalist and Magnum founder Robert Capa, whose 1954 death shaped the younger Capa’s commitment to humanity-centered photography. […] In 1966, Capa teamed up with [Werner] Bischof’s widow, Rosellina Bischof, and [David] Seymour’s sister, Eileen Schneiderman, to establish the International Fund for Concerned Photography. The Fund sought to keep alive the work of his brother, Bischof and Seymour by promoting what Capa called ‘concerned photography’ - work committed to contributing to or understanding humanity’s well-being. The fund sponsored its first traveling exhibit in 1967. Aptly titled ‘The Concerned Photographer,’ it featured the work of Bischof, Robert Capa, Seymour, Leonard Freed, Andre Kertesz, and Dan Weiner.” (source)
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May 23

“When you look at a painting, what do you think you process first - the painting’s content or its style? According to Dorothee Augustin and colleagues it is the content of a painting that we register first, with dazzling speed - within 10 ms (less than a hundredth of a second) - while processing of a painting’s style comes later, from 50ms onwards. […] The research also shows that even people without any expertise in art are impacted early on by the artistic style of a painting. ‘If we consider style the characteristic of art,’ the researchers concluded, ‘this characteristic needs some time to unfold - but still, it unfolds quicker than you may think.’” (story)
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May 23

Bradley Peters is one of this year’s graduates at Yale. I like how his work combines a staged aesthetic (that we have come to see so much coming from Yale) with a kind of spontaneous, snapshot look.
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May 22

“The opening night of an exhibition by the photographer Bill Henson featuring images of naked children was dramatically cancelled after police visited the Paddington gallery to investigate child pornography claims.” (story)
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May 22

I recently received a couple of emails, pointing me to two online photography magazines. There is Fraction, which has just had its first issue out; and then there’s Purpose, already at issue 7. Both are well worth the visit!
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May 22

This has been posted all over the web already: “Yesterday I came across a slightly mysterious website — a collection of Polaroids, one per day, from March 31, 1979 through October 25, 1997. There’s no author listed, no contact info, and no other indication as to where these came from. […] Finally my investigation turned up the photographer as Jamie Livingston, and he did indeed take a photo every day for eighteen years, until the day he died, using a Polaroid SX-70 camera.” Here is a little update/clarification. Note that at the time of this writing, the first link loads very slowly.
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May 22

I really like Hank Willis Thomas’ work, especially “Unbranded”, which shows images taken from ads specifically addressed at African Americans, with all text and logos removed. In contrast, the “Branded” series I find a bit too obvious (not that that’s necessarily a bad thing). Hank’s work was part of Leslie Martin’s “Ubiquitous Image” at the recent NY Photo Festival; and you can also find a lot about his work over at Nina’s blog.
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May 21

“Astronomers have observed for the first time the thunderclap of x-rays that announces a star has exploded into a supernova [called “2008d”]. Researchers monitoring spiral galaxy NGC 2770 [seen in a mixed optical/UV view in the top two images], approximately 88 million light-years away, observed a brief but intense flash of x-rays [bottom right image] in early January, followed by a prolonged afterglow of visible and ultraviolet light - the hallmark of a supernova. Although the x-ray outburst lasted only seven minutes, it flashed 100 billion times brighter than the sun in that time. Based on that brightness and the duration of the flash, researchers conclude that the star (SN 2008D) was approximately 20 times the size of the sun and was blown apart by a shock wave expanding outward at 70 percent the speed of light.” (story, square-bracket comments by me)
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May 21

A friend of mine is looking for darkrooms to photograph for a personal project. If you know of any such spaces (incl. inactive home darkrooms (bathroom, basement, closet!, etc.) in the New York City, Boston or Pioneer Valley areas please email me, and I’ll put you in touch with my friend!
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May 21

I recently discovered Jeff Olson’s moody “North Woods” series.
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May 21

I found this post at No Caption Needed today, which deals with racism and especially the kind of racism that people might not be aware of. Turns out I just read this excellent article, which mentions some research done on exactly this topic. Expect to see much more of this - and hopefully more smart discussions - over the next few months, given that Barack Obama will be the Democratic nominee.
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May 20

“Congress is considering a major reform of copyright law intended to solve the problem of ‘orphan works’ — those works whose owner cannot be found. This ‘reform’ would be an amazingly onerous and inefficient change, which would unfairly and unnecessarily burden copyright holders with little return to the public.” - Lawrence Lessig
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May 20

The web doesn’t do Victoria Sambunaris’ landscapes much justice - as prints, the possess a tremendous, yet subtle beauty.
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May 19

Of all the photos from the earthquake region in China, this one stopped me in my tracks and had me stare at the screen for quite a while: A student’s hand, the dead hand still firmly gripping the pen, with the rest of the body buried in the rubble of a school (found here).
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May 19

One of the many nice side effects of attending the New York Photo Festival was to run into some people whose blogs I was very familiar with. Bloggers are often accused of being too self-referential (which might strike some as a somewhat curious accusation, given the context of the art world), but it is now a pretty simple fact that the network of bloggers has created an extremely lively (see Andrew and Michael above!), diverse, and, yes, democratic community - and I still hope that the spark will finally ignite the same kind of fire (read: passion) in those parts of the world that hasn’t quite learned what is to be gained from blogs.
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May 19

… that is the question. Or actually, it seems that to an increasing extent, it isn’t the question any longer. At the Getty portrait show that was part of the New York Photo Festival, most of the photos were presented under Diasec (for those not in the know: Diasec is basically plexiglass - a layer of plexiglass is glued on top of a photo. Or in the lingo, the photo is “face mounted using silicone sealants” - suddenly, this sounds so much cooler, doesn’t it?). The only problem with this was that for half the photos this simply did not work. Diasec quite noticeably changes the way the photo is perceived - things get very shiny - and for many photos the glossiness destroys their quiet impact. And an added complication of Diasec is that you need to make sure the show is well lit, because otherwise, the Diasec will turn the art work into mirrors (as it unfortunately did for some of the Getty show photos). So just like in the case of big prints, while Diasec seems to be all the rage, to Diasec or not to Diasec is actually not such a simple question.
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May 19

Billed as the “Future of Contemporary Photography”, the New York Photography Festival just ended, and since I had the chance to attend the festival, I thought I’d compile my own thoughts about it. You’re probably aware of the coverage at foto8, with lots of day-to-day posts and more details that I can provide here. Given the Festival also served as some sort of photo-blogger summit (albeit unofficially), you can find snippets on lots of other blogs - there are too many to list them here (and I’d probably forget to include some of them).
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May 18

It’s really just a coincidence that the man in this photo is holding his head while walking through Tim Barber’s “Various Photographs”. I could not have staged it any better, though. I think “Various Photographs” might be the worst photography show I have ever seen; and from what various photographer friends told me, there are lots of people who share this sentiment (see, for example, Robert’s post).
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May 16

Even though Samantha Contis has a lot of good portraiture on her website, I actually like her landscapes better.
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May 15

Elizabeth Fleming’s “Life is a series of small moments” is a photographic portrayal of her own family life. She also maintains a blog that can be found here.
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May 14

 

Things will quiet down here just a tiny little bit as I’m heading to New York for the Photo Festival and various other things…
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May 14

Dina Kantor’s “Finnish & Jewish” is a wonderful project.
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May 13

“Formed at the Documenta’97 exhibition, Rechenzentrum search for new processes of music/moving image production, while refining forms of presentation which create on-stage dialogue between audio and video.”
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May 13

“Robert Rauschenberg, the irrepressibly prolific American artist who time and again reshaped art in the 20th century, died Monday night. […] A painter, photographer, printmaker, choreographer, onstage performer, set designer and, in later years, even a composer, Mr. Rauschenberg defied the traditional idea that an artist stick to one medium or style. He pushed, prodded and sometimes reconceived all the mediums in which he worked.” - obituary
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May 13

Via Hippolyte Bayard I found Sirio Magnabosco’s site, which contains quite a few unexpected gems.
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May 12

I admit I am quite fascinated by the phenomenon that is Flickr - for the most part, I suspect, because of all the things that might just happen there. The other day, I decided to have a look at what people were actually commenting on (using photos that have more than 30 comments), and then I got sucked into reading the comments. I realized that there were plenty of comments that made absolutely no sense to me if I tried too hard to understand what they actually meant, but that acquired a strange kind of beauty if taken by themselves. So I decided to compile some of them (usually picking the full comment, sometimes just picking a piece): Digital Fortune Cookies or The Poetry of Flickr. Enjoy!
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May 12

“Mrs. Sendler […] smuggled 2,500 children out of the Warsaw Ghetto during the last three months before its liquidation. She found a home for each child. […] Mrs. Sendler listed the name and new identity of every rescued child on thin cigarette papers or tissue paper. She hid the list in glass jars and buried them under an apple tree in her friend’s backyard. Her hope was to reunite the children with their families after the war. Indeed, though most of their parents perished in the Warsaw Ghetto or in Treblinka, those children who had surviving relatives were returned to them after the war.” (source; also see this site)
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May 12

Via placeboKatz I found Ben Kruisdijk’s Röntgen Drawings.
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May 12

Taking collections of overlapping images and combining them into a single one is nothing new, and with digital technologies, of course, it’s very easy. However, doing these collages in such a way that the results are interesting is an entirely different game - and Iosif Kiraly’s “Reconstructions” is probably the best set of such images I’ve seen so far. His other work I find quite a bit less interesting.
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May 12

Edgar Martins’ Topologies is a product of Aperture Foundation’s “First Book Initiative”, which aims at publishing “new work by emerging artists”, and it contains what one might call photographs of landscapes. I do not know what it is that often makes artists somewhat reluctant to call such photographs what they are: landscapes. I do suspect that using the word “landscape” might maybe pre-set the viewer’s mind to something not desired. But then what effect does “topologies” achieve? After “typologies”, we now got “topologies”?
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May 9

I am extremely pleased to announce that Peter van Agtmael, one of last year’s Photographers of the Year, has been picked as one of the winners of the Critical Mass 2007 book awards. Joni Sternbach is the other winner. Congratulations to both!
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May 9

Photographing body builders isn’t necessarily a very new idea, but this presentation of photographs by Joachim Ladefoged is well worth the visit (thanks, Adrian!).
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May 9

[Strictly speaking, this isn’t really a book review, even though you can treat it like one.] One of the things that I have been always interested in is how texts from antiquity made it into modern times, and I’ve always wanted to find out more about it. I thus got very excited when I came across The Archimedes Codex, a book that talks about the discovery and deciphering of a previously unknown text by Archimedes, who is widely believed to be one of the most important scientists to ever have lived on this planet (something I personally don’t care all that much about, but that’s just my personal bias).
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May 9

There’s a lot of good portraiture on Carmen Winant’s site.
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May 8

Last night, I had the opportunity to meet Tod Gangler, the man behind Art & Soul studio. Tod produces color carbon prints, a incredibly complicated process that uses pigments, gelatine, and all other kinds of obscure materials - plus high-tech lasers to etch sets of negatives to be used (it’s a contact printing process, and it uses three separate negatives for different colour layers).
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May 8

At the Griffin Photography Museum, Jen Bekman will tonight be given the Rising Star Award as part of the museum’s 3rd Annual Focus Awards, honouring her contribution to the promotion of photography (more info). Congratulations, Jen!
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May 8

The upcoming New York Photo Festival is being widely anticipated as… well, nobody really knows, since it’s going to happen for the first time - which, of course, makes it all the more exciting. Here’s a nice introduction to the people behind the festival, plus some sample images from the different shows.
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May 8

This found over at bloggy: “Due to our previous coverage of ‘photography not allowed’ policies, blogger and artist Mark Barry forwarded an email he just received from 303 Gallery regarding 2 images on Flickr from his set from the 2006 Armory Show. […] ‘this is simon at 303 gallery. i noticed you had an image of Maureen Gallace’s work up on your flickr page - please be aware that 303 Gallery owns the copyright to the work and all public display of images, including web content. if you could kindly remove this image from your page, it would be most appreciated.’” Seems like some galleries are working very hard on making sure their artists won’t get unnecessary publicity.
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May 8

“The Robert L. Capp collection at the Hoover Institution Archives at Stanford University contains ten photographs purportedly showing the immediate aftermath of the Hiroshima bombing. Mr. Capp was assigned to the occupation forces outside Hiroshima after World War II. According to to Mr. Capp’s oral history (available along with the photographs in the Robert L. Capp collection), he found these photos among rolls of undeveloped film in a cave outside of Hiroshima. Since making these photographs publicly available, I have received reliable proof that at least two of these photos are actually of the 1923 Kanto earthquake. While I cannot speak for the entire collection, this evidence raises doubts about all of the photos and raises the strong possibility that the identification provided by the Hoover Archives is incorrect. I take full responsibility for my own failure to take additional steps to verify that the original archival designation was correct. I have removed the photographs until and unless their source can be verified by further research.” - source (updated entry)
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May 8

” In formal terms, Pertti Kekarainen’s works are characterized by the multi-interpretative nature of space. He combines his photographs with local elements of colour that sometimes appear to conform to the space presented in the piece and are sometimes contrary to it. These features create tension and a slightly surreal atmosphere.”
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May 7

“Michel Houellebecq, France’s most shocking novelist, made his name with tales of dysfunctional, estranged relationships. Now his own mother, portrayed as a sex-obsessed hippy in one of his books, has launched a devastating counter-attack in a new memoir. […] She calls her son an ‘evil, stupid little bastard’ adding that ‘this individual, who alas came from my womb, is a liar, an imposter, a parasite and above all - above all - a petit arriviste ready to do absolutely anything for money and fame.’” - story
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May 7

“A Soviet soldier heroically waves the red flag, the hammer and sickle billow above the Reichstag. Yevgeny Khaldei photographed one of the iconic images of the 20th century. But the legendary image was manipulated to conceal the fact that the Soviet soldiers on the roof had been looting.” - story
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May 7

Marian Drew’s Australiana still lifes are hauntingly beautiful and somewhat unsettling at the same time. Also see this site for slightly larger samples.
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May 6

Hee Jin Kang’s “Sandy’s Deli” is an exploration of her parents’ deli and, by extension, of her family history (her family immigrated to America when she was three years old).
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May 5

I’ve long been a fan of Bill Henson’s work; and today, Rachel showed some of his “Paris Opera” photos along with an interview. Extremely beautiful portraiture!
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May 5

I had the pleasure to meet Christophe Maout just recently, so I was able to see his work in person. I like both his series “spring” and “homelux”, the latter of which he talks about in a new interview with Zoum Zoum.
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May 5

“In recent years Wouda has photographed numerous secondary schools in the Netherlands, both in the provinces and the Randstad conurbation. He consciously avoids photographing in classes and focuses instead on places in which pupils relax between lessons and are able to be themselves.” (source)
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May 2

It’s not that I really thought something unexpected would happen as far as the photography bits of the National Magazine Awards are concerned, but… Oh boy! If you look at the photos (some of them posted by Rachel) it would seem to me that what they are actually giving awards to is not photography but entertainment.
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May 2

I’m quite interested in how digital technologies can be used to create new imagery (and by that I do not mean creating androids out of people who already wear too much make-up already to splash them on magazine covers), and a little while ago, Ed Winkleman was kind enough to introduce me to Rory Donaldson, whose work he is now showing at his gallery. If you have the chance to see the show, you should check it out, the samples available online cannot convey the effect Rory is able to achieve.
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May 2

Adi Lavy’s Camp Sundown shows the lives of children allergic to light - a condition called XP - at a Summer camp, where they can meet to interact in larger groups. Photographically, a nightmare project: There is almost no light available.
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May 1

In case you’re curious to see the fashion contestants and winners (and some of Jessica Roberts’ fashion photos), check out this post for the winners and this post for the other contestants.
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May 1

This is the final installation of my brief series of posts on Hyères 2008, with no clear focus, to give you an idea who else was there, what happened, etc.
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May 1

Of all his projects, I like Spencer Murphy’s “Relative” the best: After his parents divorced and remarried, Spencer ended up with a rather extended family structure, and “Relative” is his was of trying to portray this. Needless to say, don’t miss looking at his other work, too.
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