Archives

August 2008

SELECT A MONTH:

Aug 31

It’s a holiday weekend in the US, so here’s one of the most well-known classical music pieces, conducted by Herbert von Karajan in 1966. Karajan was able to interpret Beethoven like maybe no other conductor, and it’s well worth watching this for the camera work as well as for Karajan’s conducting (oh, and of course it sounds great).
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Aug 29

A wonderful documentary about Sally Mann that can only be recommended to anyone interested in photography (despite its horrendously soppy soundtrack and its omission of some questions that could be asked). Get the DVD, which features many extras (incl. an earlier movie about her family photographs - which, as far as I am concerned, are vastly better than the work discussed in the main documentary).
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Aug 29

Timo Stammberger’s “Underground Landscapes” depicts subway and train tunnels.
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Aug 29

It was 1991, and I went to see a whole bunch of bands at a little open air show in Cologne, incl. Dinosaur jr. and Sonic Youth, and it was probably the best concert I’ve ever been to. Nirvana were supposed to play, but they didn’t show up (or whatever - I didn’t care).
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Aug 28

With her series German Images (Looking for Evidence 1992-1994 / 2006-2008), Eva Leitolf “turns her attention to racist crimes in Germany and the ways they are discussed in society.” (for example, the caption of the above image reads “In the Saxony state elections in 2004 the fascist National Democratic Party gained 23.1 percent of the vote in Reinhardtsdorf-Schöna. According to press reports it maintains close contact with the banned SSS group (Sächsische Schweiz Skinheads), which has set itself the goal of ridding the area of foreigners.”) Coincidentally, her website is also a great example of a bilingual website.
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Aug 28

I don’t watch TV so I’m “only” following the Democratic Convention online (which in itself is probably as absurd as watching it on TV: Whereas on TV, you can only see what you get, online the tiniest morsel is presented by somebody somewhere, and you’re left out to wonder whether that tiny morsel could have any relevance - how this is preferable to TV escapes me). Needless to say, the Democratic Convention is sheer political theater, geared at people who are not like me. I’m saying this first and foremost because I did not grow up in the US, and lots of those buttons that are being pushed in Denver I simply don’t have (of course, I have other, dormant, ones, which a German party convention could easily push).
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Aug 27

… when your email address is on some mailing list, and then all the other people respond to some email, asking to be removed from the mailing list by using “reply to all” - so that instead of just one spam email you get dozens and dozens, and it won’t stop? And then people get angrier and angrier and demand to be taken off, only to add their own personal spam. Amazing. It’s like a room filled with people with someone shouting something, and then people shout back “Stop shouting!”, and they keep shouting. Or maybe in a real-life situation this wouldn’t happen - but then what is it that stops people from subjecting themselves to this kind of absurdity in real life, but that somehow doesn’t seem to work once things are dealt with online? (Thank goodness for email filters!) PS: And then as an added bonus, several hours later you get the response messages from servers as email accounts fill up and/or emails can’t be delivered.
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Aug 27

Unfortunately, it’s very hard to find much about Hiroh Kikai’s photography online. His portraiture is amazing, whereas I find his other work a bit forgettable. If you live in New York, you can still (until 7 Sept) see some of his portraits, which are part of ICP’s Heavy Light (which, for me, was by far the best photography show to see in New York this Summer).
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Aug 26

It’s hard to keep up with all the new photo blogs that have been started recently (It seems photo blogs have become a bit of a craze in the commercial/editorial photography sector now). Many of you might already know these following two, but since I haven’t mentioned them here it’s about time: My friend Mark Tucker just started his own blog, and I wish it was me egging him on for a couple of years that finally did it. But alas… In any case, I hope he’ll publish some of the observations concerning contemporary photography he has shared with me via email over the past four years. Plus, Vincent Laforet just started his blog - I’m sure you’ve all seen his photography from the Olympics in Beijing.
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Aug 26

Given all the brouhaha over self-published books (or, more accurately, books on demand) I thought I’d give it a shot myself. I have been taking Polaroids for quite a few years now, and finding them sit in some box somewhere the other day I thought I might as well take the best ones (my personal favourites that is) and compile them into a little book, just for my own entertainment and maybe to give it away to close friends. (Updated on 23 25 26 Aug 2008 - scroll all the way to the bottom for the latest update)
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Aug 26

Via Exposure Compensation I found Daniel Mirer’s work, whose “War Games” contains quite a few gems.
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Aug 25

I’m interested in learning about real self-published books, that is hand-made books (either made by you or by a bookbinder friend or someone you hired). I’m sure there are people out there who have done it (for whatever reason), and I’d like to hear about the experiences, the costs, the results, etc. - so if you could send me an email that’d be great! I want to compile a little post about this - so that all those people who might be looking for an alternative to on-demand publishing will get an idea of what they might get into.
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Aug 25

This is just an aside (even though it’s all caused by me looking into some of the recommendations about on-demand printing I’ve received via email): If you have a business one of the worst things you can do is to make it hard to see your price list. Some on-demand publishing site just told me I had to “register” to be able to see the price list. Needless to day, they’ll never see me as a customer. Behaviour like this appears to be quite symptomatic for many of those on-demand publishers. Instructions are either not given or hidden someplace (so that, technically, it’s all on the web, but, realistically, you can only find it if you invest a lot of time in it), a lot of vital information is never explained or can only be found if you sift through the “forum”. That’s another no-no for any website: If your clients can only find important information on the “forum” (aka it’s really provided by other - often disgruntled and/or semi-frustrated - customers) your service sucks. Seriously.
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Aug 25

Christian Weber’s portfolio contains a variety of work, some of which I like a lot.
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Aug 23

… when there’s pixlr. No, seriously, check it out.
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Aug 23

Jacob Weisberg’s “There, I said it”: “If it makes you feel better, you can rationalize Obama’s missing 10-point lead on the basis of Clintonite sulkiness, his slowness in responding to attacks, or the concern that Obama may be too handsome, brilliant, and cool to be elected. But let’s be honest: If you break the numbers down, the reason Obama isn’t ahead right now is that he trails badly among one group, older white voters. He does so for a simple reason: the color of his skin. Much evidence points to racial prejudice as a factor that could be large enough to cost Obama the election.”
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Aug 22

Andrew Curtis’s Cell is another variation on the theme “Portraits of people illuminated by electronic devices” - and a very nice one!
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Aug 22

This very well made documentary presents the story of The Ramones, and if you’ve never heard of The Ramones that’s an even better reason to watch it. Would you imagine the singer of a punk band to have severe OCD, or the guitar player to be a hard-core Republican, and would you imagine that those two people would not talk to each other any longer (while still playing in the same band for over 15 years) after the latter “stole” the former’s (only) girl friend (so that the former would then write a song about it: “The KKK took my baby away”)?
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Aug 21

Have a look at Joshua Lutz “Meadowlands”. (updated entry)
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Aug 20

Having finished the first series of portfolio reviews, I’m ready to do more. There currently is an empty waiting list, so if you’re interested please do get in touch!
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Aug 20

Via Mrs. Deane comes the photography of Nicolas Grospierre, with its views of crumbling Soviet era infrastructure.
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Aug 19

Erik Niedling uses archival photography (old glass plates) for some of his work.
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Aug 18

Go no further than here to find the ultimate write-up of what was and is going on in Georgia (incl. a lot of background information etc.).
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Aug 18

Night-time photography is technically very challenging. However, the mere fact that it is hard to do does not automatically translate into interesting imagery (compare what I wrote about when the medium becomes the message), which is why I rarely link to such work. When I came across Will Govus’ work I noted his creative use of light in many (but not in all) of his photographs, which lends those photographs a certain mystique and tension.
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Aug 15

While looking for something entirely different today I found an archive with unedited scans of the Hasselblad cameras used aboard the Apollo 7 till 17 mission: Go here, and then click on “Full Hasselblad Magazines.” That way, you can look at the contact sheets of the Apollo space missions.
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Aug 15

“The Exposure Project is a collection of emerging photographers taking an active approach in exposing and promoting new talent through exhibition, publication and online exposure.” You might be familiar with the group’s blog - if not you might want to check it out. The group has just published the third issue of The Exposure Project Book (featuring photography by Ben Alper, Anastasia Cazabon, Lauren Edwards, Kate Emerson, Adam Marcinek, Fran Osborn-Blaschke, Justin James Reed and Eric Watts), available via Blurb.
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Aug 15

“Neal Adams, Joe Kubert and Stan Lee have joined forces with a Holocaust expert to craft a comic that document the struggle of an Auschwitz survivor who painted watercolors to spare her mother’s life in the Nazi camp. The artist, Dina Gottliebova Babbitt, 85, created a Disney mural in the children’s barracks at Auschwitz before being tapped by Dr. Josef Mengele to paint portraits of Gypsy prisoners. Babbitt cut a deal with the Nazi madman that spared her mother’s life in exchange for the paintings.” (source) You can see the comic as a pdf here or as separate web pages here.
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Aug 15

Via The Sonic Blog comes Frauke Schumann’s Ein Stück Deutschland, photography done on a campground in Germany.
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Aug 15

Registration for PHOTONOLA (now in its third year) just opened - this year, I’m going to be one of the reviewers of the Portfolio Review.
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Aug 15

And speaking of villains, one of my Kurosawa favourites is…
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Aug 14

The fall of Communism, the disintegration of the Soviet Union, and subsequent economic “shock therapies” have resulted in drastic changes all over Eastern Europe, with some countries being hit harder than others. For example, the male life expectancy in Russia has dropped to less than 59 years. Another example is the meteoric rise of the number of people who are either HIV positive or have full-blown AIDS in the Ukraine.
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Aug 14

Check out Patrick Shanahan’s latest project A Momentary Presence. (updated entry)
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Aug 13

After reading this article about camera equipment I remembered this recent article about the internet and the brain; and I couldn’t help but wonder whether it’s the tools that change our brains, or whether it’s our brains that change themselves by deciding how to use the tools. That’s quite an important distinction, and I’d be quite happy to argue for the latter.
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Aug 13

Regularly, people ask me what I think about portfolio review events. This page has a nice summary of why one might want to attend one - read this carefully (and note that attending such an event might cost quite a bit of money).
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Aug 13

“It is personal issues that makes me do what I do, for I have been raped more than 50 times by just listening to what women who have confessed and confirmed their love for other women have been through.” - Zanele Muholi (source of quote)
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Aug 12

Alright, I can’t not post this (having resisted all day): “A giant inflatable dog turd by American artist Paul McCarthy blew away from an exhibition in the garden of a Swiss museum, bringing down a power line and breaking a greenhouse window before it landed again, the museum said Monday.” (story)
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Aug 12

For me, Days With My Father, Phillip Toledano’s moving portrayal of his father’s struggle with life with no short-term memory, easily surpasses any of Phillip’s other work. It’s interesting how this mirrors Richard Avedon’s amazing portraiture of his ailing father (which is vastly better than Avedon’s often extremely gimmicky commercial work).
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Aug 12

Andres Marroquin Winkelmann’s “Conditions” very successfully mixes portraits (some very staged) with still lifes to convey its message.
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Aug 11

This past weekend saw the Towards a Personal Vision workshop happening, organized and led by my friend Robert Lyons, an accomplished photographer and teacher, and me.
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Aug 11

“His face was a painting. Boot polish had been applied to his teased hair, with a quizzical wisp of a fringe fixed over his forehead; a thick application of make-up gave his cheeks a feverish heat. His eyes kept watch from inside asymmetrical craters, mementoes of drunken tumbles or of beatings administered by the East End bruisers with whom he consorted. His smile showed off teeth scoured with Vim, and inside his oddly circular mouth his tongue darted as if it were a lizard jabbing at its prey.” - Peter Conrad about Francis Bacon
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Aug 11

For her series “Dann” (“Then”), which deals with the uncertainties facing young people who are trying to figure out what to do with their lives, Maria Leutner takes close-up portraits (no fancy lights, no make-up, no celebrities), asking her sitters to think about what worries them. Intended to be shown as a four-by-four grid (given how this works this is more than just a nod to the Bechers), the effect is quite stunning, as very small variations in the facial expressions of the different sitters draw the viewer in.
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Aug 8

“He draws money […] He doesn’t sell his drawings. That’s rule number one. Instead he ‘spends them. That’s rule number two. So far, he’s spent about $250,000 worth of Boggs’ bills. […] Once Boggs has completed a transaction, he keeps mum about it for twenty-four hours, so the person who got the drawing has ‘time, unbothered, to think about what’s just transpired.’ That’s rule number three. After that—rule number four—Boggs will sell the receipt and change from the transaction to a collector. Via the receipt, the collector can track down the owner of the Boggs bill and negotiate a deal ‘so as to complete the work.’” (source) More here and here. (pointed out to me by Richard and Seth - thanks!)
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Aug 8

Evan Baden’s “Illuminati” takes an approach seen in some series on video-game players and successfully adapts it to a wider setting.
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Aug 7

(I almost want to make a photography-lyrics version of this…)
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Aug 7

Most people probably know Aaron Schuman as the man behind the fantastic Seesaw Magazine; his own photography might be less well known. It’s time to change that - have a look at his new series Once Upon A Time In The West, for example.
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Aug 6

There’s a very good interview with Elizabeth White over at The Girl Project.
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Aug 6

“There are hundreds of ethnic groups in Nigeria, each with its own language and traditions. Among other things which are part of these traditions are various hairstyles. These are determined by the social position of the family, and the artistic talent of the hair stylist. Among them there are special hairstyles for ceremonies such as circumcisions, a woman’s becoming an adult, or the celebration of a marriage. Today it is difficult to trace the background of certain hairstyles because various ethnic groups have mixed together, and adapted to modern culture. Many hairstyles have died out, taking their secrets to the grave with them. Since 1968 Ojeikere (b. Nigeria, 1930) has been making photographs of various hairstyles he sees on the street or at work, or at celebrations. He always asks his models where the hairstyle they are wearing comes from, what its meaning is, its name, and its history.” (source) See some of the photos here, and note the similarities in style and intent with the Bechers’ work.
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Aug 6

“Born in 1978 in Lagos, Nigeria, Andrew Oghenerukewe Esiebo first came into contact with photography through his foster father, Joseph Esiebo. He began to take photographs after he got his first camera as a gift from a friend, Jose Maria Ortuno and through consistent practice and tutelage from US-based photographer Paul Udstrand, Andrew is now one of Nigeria’s young and illustrious photojournalists, working on portraits of urban life with his country’s culture and heritage as its background.” (source) See lots of photos here, some more here, one of his articles here; and you can see images by members of his Black Box collective here.
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Aug 5

I was going to pass on the election campaign this year, but this is too good to ignore it. Enjoy.
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Aug 5

Another must-read post by gallerist/blogger Ed Winkleman.
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Aug 5

“I am a photographer using photography as an art form and a major medium of expression. My works address social issues and tends to compliment the act of humanity.” - Emeka Okereke (also have a look at the Bagamoyo blog)
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Aug 4

You’d imagine with the LHC going operational very soon people at CERN would be kind of busy, but it appears that even at such a time, there are still some people with entirely too much time on their hands (hopefully this video will make the oohing and aahing about all that technology stop - if a rap by scientists won’t I’m afraid nothing else will).
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Aug 4

It’s worthwhile to comment on this interview with Martin Parr.
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Aug 4

“Blurred and deliberately flawed, Miroslav Tichy’s snatched photographs of women capture the frustrations of desire. At its best, his work has the delicacy and poise of a smutty Vermeer” - Geoff Dyer (I find myself increasingly torn about this photography, for reasons that I might outline later)
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Aug 4

“Guy Tillim is one of South Africa’s foremost contemporary photographers. Learning his trade as photojournalist nearly two decades ago, Tillim’s oeuvre has proven to be far more than that of orthodox reportage. His photographs have become increasingly recontextualised as art object within the space of the artbook and gallery.” (source)
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Aug 1

Instead of a Friday movie recommendation, today it’s Tom Waits In Concert (2008), full length. It doesn’t get any better than that.
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Aug 1

“Faces of Evil shows the faces of the cruellest and most infamous dictators of our time, from Mao to Hitler to Mugabe. Hans Weishäupl took photographs of over 350 people in each dictator’s country and pieced particular parts of them together to create a new and alarmingly lively look for each of them.” See some large images here.
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Aug 1

It’s just a coincidence that I came across the following article today (while being engaged in presenting photography from Africa), but a very pleasant one. I do not think I am exaggerating when I say that most Western people probably think of Africa as the place with lots of wild animals, starving people, and plenty of corrupt governments and nothing else. Africa’s rich cultural heritage is mostly unknown: “Fabled Timbuktu, once the site of the world’s southernmost Islamic university, harbors thousands upon thousands of long-forgotten manuscripts. A dozen academic instutions [sic!] from around the world are now working frantically to save and evaluate the crumbling documents. […] Most of the works stem from the late Middle Ages, when Timbuktu was an important crossroads for caravans. It was home to gold merchants and scholars, and it even boasted a university with 20,000 students.” (story)
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Aug 1

“Samuel Fosso is one of Africa’s most eminent photographers. […] Fosso started taking self-portraits using up exposures on his films - to send to his mother in Nigeria, whom he had left behind as a refugee fleeing the Biafran war in the late 1960s. Although his initial aim was to show he was alive and well, his interest in exploring the genre grew steadily, and he experimented with new techniques and poses. […] His local community remains unaware of Fosso’s success, a situation Fosso is keen to maintain. He is happy to keep his costumes out of sight and continue his passport and portrait photography business. His neighbours assume he travels to Europe to take wedding photos.” (source)
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