Archives

November 2008

SELECT A MONTH:

Nov 30

“Society’s new fantasies about the artistic mind-set are part of the joke of [Jake and Dinos Chapman’s] Fucking Hell. Artists live on the edge. They dare to go ‘out there,’ to zones the rest of us don’t dare think about, but we’re intrigued when artists bring back their psychic souvenirs. These are primitive Romantic thoughts, separated from anything believable that Romanticism has to say about the connection between the inner life and Nature. But also totally untrue in terms of what the global art scene is really like now, with its population of pampered artist-pets; worthy critics and curators with obedient, suburban imaginations; and Theory high priests, with their droning theology.” - Matthew Collings
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Nov 30

“More and more I read how art is, mostly for policy makers, about creating experiences and events. Art is something that should be consumed. Art is part of an ever-expanding leisure industry, geared towards entertainment and divertissement of the public, the masses, us.” - Mrs. Deane
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Nov 29

Christian Moeller’s “Cheese is an experiment in the architecture of sincerity developed in co-production with Caltech and the Machine Perception Laboratories of the University of California, San Diego. On camera, six actresses each try to hold a smile for as long as they could, up to one and half hours. Each ongoing smile is scrutinized by a emotion recognition system and whenever the display of happiness fell below a certain threshold, an alarm alerted them to show more sincerity. Displayed in the gallery on six flat panel monitors, sequenced adjacent to each other along the wall, the piece creates a concert of alert signals within an ambience of forced friendliness and irritating melancholy telling that the performance of sincerity is hard work.” (found over at vvork)
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Nov 28

“Next week, the most important art fair in the world — “Art Basel Miami Beach” — will begin amid gloom and financial chaos. What used to be a symbol of the art market’s golden age could now help launch a global art market depression.” - source
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Nov 28

W. Eugene Smith has always been one of my favourite photojournalists, and with the LIFE photography collection hosted by Google, a large number of his images have now become easily accessible.
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Nov 28

I’m sure by now you’ve seen the NY Times “multimedia” piece of video-game players. When I watched the piece my first thought was that I had seen still photography of video-game players where each image delivered vastly more than seeing the players “in action”. I want to highlight (again) Shauna Frischkorn’s work. I’m sure lots of people will now disagree and flood my inbox, but I think despite of what many people want to believe, photography, when done well, can have a quality that moving images don’t have.
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Nov 26

The Big Picture published its ‘collection of some of the best photos of President-Elect Barack Obama over the past several months’ and what a collection of visual clichés it is! It’s quite interesting to see that once you stumble upon an image that’s very clearly different (like numbers 13 or 19) you stop for a while because there really is something to be seen. Make no mistake, I have no doubt that it is very hard to produce new images from a campaign that basically looks the same wherever you go, but still…
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Nov 26

More German editorial photography: Thomas Meyer’s work. (and kudos to Jörg for providing so many Ostkreuz links!)
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Nov 26

“Covering Photography is a web-based archive and resource for the study of the relationship between the history of photography and book cover design.” Great site, nicely designed, too!
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Nov 25

(Note what Lucian Freud says in the sentence that starts with “When something’s really convincing…”!)
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Nov 25

Espen Eichhöfer is an editorial photographer whose website contains quite a few gems.
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Nov 24

A little while ago, Alec Soth asked his Magnum colleagues what advice they would give young photographers and posted the results over at Magnum’s blog. As could be expected, the post generated a lot of excited responses, but there were also some rumblings to be found all over the web (see an example here). I admit I was a bit surprised by the discontent the Magnum post created, and it made me think about what people were actually expecting (I initiated a bit of a discussion about this here). But I also started to think about something else, namely about photography collectives and their paucity.
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Nov 24

Some new work by Patricia Piccinini, one of my favourite (non-photo) artists. It’s a bit like Duane Hanson (another favourite) meets the aliens.
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Nov 24

Two additions to the blogroll, one overdue: Hippolyte Bayard. The other one fairly new: Shooting Wide Open.
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Nov 21

Found via Mrs Deane: The (recent) photography of Farhad Bomanjee.
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Nov 21

As Mel (whose blog pointed me to this video) dryly asks: Is Flickr next?
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Nov 20

Reading this blog will make you smarter.
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Nov 20

No, seriously! This reminds me of the following - taken from the introduction of Ludwig Wittgenstein’s Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus - which could serve as one of those very useful rules of good writing: “what can be said at all can be said clearly, and what we cannot talk about we must pass over in silence.” (my emphasis)
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Nov 20

Andrea Stultiens is using found photography to create stories, such as Komm, mein Mädchen, in die Berge: “At some point they must have fallen in love - first with each other and then with the mountains. We see a couple slowly becoming old over a period of at least thirty years. Through their double portraits, taken with a self-timer, we are allowed to participate in what is arguably their greatest passion: their holidays in the Alps. Selected from a vast bequest of slides, Andrea Stultiens presents the fascinating love story of D and G, about whom we know very little, other than that they loved travel and photography.”
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Nov 19

There’s an interesting then-versus-now comparison of one of the most beautiful public spaces in the US, New York City’s Grand Central Station, here. Gone: The Coloramas, ads. Now present: Ginormous flags.
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Nov 19

I had a first go at looking through the LIFE images (hosted by Google), starting with photos by Margaret Bourke-White. Amazing what you can find! Here are the iconic Fort Peck dam photos. Her images taken in Russia in 1941. The famous photos from the Buchenwald concentration camp. And there’s so much more… It helps if you know what to look for, though. The main site is a bit bare bones.
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Nov 19

The Memphis Brooks Museum of Art is currently showing “Photographs from the Memphis World, 1949 – 1964”: “The Memphis World, an African American newspaper published from 1931 to 1973, chronicled the complexity and variety of its readers’ lives. The paper covered politics, education, religion, social organizations, the arts, civil rights, business, and sports. In marked contrast with the reporting in white newspapers, the World, like many black newspapers, celebrated the accomplishments and documented the challenges faced by the city’s diverse population.”
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Nov 19

In an attempt to add something new to the blog I decided to start a loose series of posts that I’ll call “Spotlight”. The idea is to present photography from a show or a book or some other body of work, which might not be that well known but which I think deserves to be seen more widely. I’ll have to see how this works, but hopefully, it will become a regular feature of the blog.
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Nov 18

“Search millions of photographs from the LIFE photo archive, stretching from the 1750s to today. Most were never published and are now available for the first time through the joint work of LIFE and Google.” Google is really going the extra mile: Photography all the way back to the 1750s! But seriously, this is great. If you have work to do don’t visit the site, since looking for images is highly addictive.
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Nov 18

“My photographs are not meant to tell stories – I only want to make pictures.” - Ricarda Roggan
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Nov 17

I would have missed this article if Rob hadn’t pointed it out. With copyright issues usually almost entirely centered on money and/or the law, an important read.
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Nov 17

“Pornographer Ben Westwood has been protesting outside parliament against a bill that could outlaw the kind of extreme images he makes. He tells Emine Saner why he thinks his work is worth defending and what it was like growing up as Vivienne Westwood’s son” - story (oh, and here is the same writer’s most recent piece on Vivienne Westwood)
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Nov 17

Andreas Schoettke’s Wolfsburg is a good portrait of pretty much any, especially somewhat smaller German city - first a hasty reconstruction (right after World War II), then the ravages of various periods of ever more gruesome architecture (culminating in brutalism), and now an overly generous mix of concrete and fancy (or maybe just semi-fancy) architecture makes you search in vain for the city’s soul.
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Nov 15

Alec has been working hard to create some great contents for the Magnum blog, and his latest post, Wear Good Shoes: Advice to young photographers is a must read. 35 different photographers tell you their secrets of success - there’s gotta be something for everybody…
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Nov 15

It is now not quite twenty years since the end of apartheid in South Africa, and things have not exactly played out as people had hoped. The country now has one of the highest rates of income inequality in the world, a staggering AIDS/HIV rate, and an enormous problem with crime (the reasons for all of this of course are too complex to discuss them here). Add to that what one could call “the usual problems” - those also known from other countries, such as migration from the countryside to big cities - and you end up with a volatile mix, which recently led to pogroms that left scores of migrants dead. Crime has been one of the main focus points Mikhael Subotzky (who in 2007 became a Magnum nominee) decided to look at. After working on prisons, in 2006, he decided to portray issues of incarceration and social marginalisation in a small town. He picked Beaufort West, a town of 37,000, where two-thirds of the adult population are out of work, and the homicide rate is ten times that of New York City. Most South Africans know Beaufort West only from driving through - one of the main highways cuts right through town. In fact, there’s a traffic circle, right in the center of town, in the center of which the prison is located. Most people don’t even notice while driving through.
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Nov 15

It’s a rainy Saturday morning, and you might want to waste a few hours looking at photos of unusual architecture, but you’re sick and tired of seeing the same old Gehry buildings (let’s face it: If you’ve seen one Gehry building, you’ve pretty much seen them all), so where can you go? Well, unusual-architecture.com might work for you.
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Nov 14

Pre-1995, Stereolab were just amazing. After that… Not so much any longer…
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Nov 14

There’s a lot of very good photography on Maziar Moradi’s website (I especially like “1979”), and I wish it had more information about the work.
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Nov 13

… orbiting around the star “Fomalhaut” (not show in center), about 25 light years away from us. (source)
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Nov 13

One of these people is a survivor of the genocide in Rwanda, the other one is a confessed genocidaire (who admitted to killing an old woman, his neighbour, because he “heard that those who confessed would be released”). But how can you tell which one is which?
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Nov 13

Of Matthias Zielfeld’s projects I by far like his glaciers the best.
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Nov 12

According to the artist, Symon Kliman’s “Gypsies Made Nice” is an attempt for a “completely new gypsy imagery.” I’m not an expert on this subject matter, but I have an inkling that not everybody will agree with Symon’s argument (see the page). The photography, however, makes the site well worth the visit.
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Nov 11

“The communication towers in Iceland sporadically dot the landscape, suggesting a meandering invisible line that connects one community to the next. They appear in a variety of locations, such as in the middle of a private field, nestled into the mountains, or situated proudly in the center of towns, with the basic form typically being a repetition of a hut (often green) and a tower.” - Jamie Drouin
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Nov 10

The very first record I ever bought was actually a tape (!), and my dad had to take me to the record store, since I was only 11 and somewhat clueless about how that all worked (my dad didn’t know, either, which didn’t help). At the record store, they told me they couldn’t find what I was looking for (an album by Tubeway Army that had “Are Friends Electric?” on it), but they noted that Gary Numan was pretty much the same thing. So they ordered (!) Gary Numan’s “The Pleasure Principle” for me, and about two weeks later (did I mention I grew up in the middle of nowhere?) the tape arrived. When I heard “Metal” I thought it was about the coolest thing I had ever heard (which, of course, doesn’t mean all that much when you’re only 11). I should note that Gary Numan’s amount of personal awkwardness evident from that promo video pretty much matched mine at age 11.
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Nov 10

“‘Am I crazy to feel so bad about Prop. 8 when something so great just happened?’ I asked my dear friend ‘Joseph.’ Like Obama, Joseph is in his 40s, was raised by a single white mother, had an absent black father and has worked all his adult life as a community organizer in the poorest of black neighborhoods. Unlike Obama, Joseph is a Christian minister. Also, Joseph is gay — and concerned enough about the consequences of that fact to be quoted here pseudonymously. ‘I feel exactly the same way,’ Joseph answered. ‘Sixty-seven percent of my state voted for a man who looks like me. Fifty-two percent of my state decided to deny me the right to live the life that’s natural to me. It’s really strange to believe that so many people could support me on the one hand and deny me on the other.’” - story
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Nov 9

Time to update the old blogroll again, with new additions bildwerk3 (a German blog, German language only [of course!], though), fugitive vision, american suburb x, andrew phelps’ buffet; and then there’s wassenaar, a new online photography magazine.
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Nov 7

I often think I don’t link to landscape photography as often as I should. So here’s Kate Greene’s work.
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Nov 7

Who would possibly pay $12 million for an amateurishly preserved - or rather unpreserved and thus decaying - shark in a formaldehyde tank produced by one of Britain’s leading contemporary artists? If you know think “Yeah, right, who can be so dumb?” you might be surprised to learn that somebody actually did, a person as sane as you and me. But then what is it that makes people spend that much money on something that ridiculous by someone who many people seem to think of as an utter talentless hack? Don Thompson’s The $12 Million Stuffed Shark: The Curious Economics of Contemporary Art provides the answers for such conundrums, in a way that not only is highly informative but also extremely entertaining.
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Nov 6

Amsterdam’s photography museum FOAM publishes a photography magazine, which I don’t think is very widely known, even though it clearly deserves to be. Published four times a year, FOAM (the magazine) is theme based and presents portfolios of photographers who fit into that theme, with each portfolio printed on different paper (!) to maximize the impact of the work and accompanied by an essay about the photographer. Apart from the very high quality of the image reproductions the nice thing about FOAM is that not only are you not inundated with glossy ads for camera equipment, the writing is also excellent (which, unfortunately, cannot be said for many other magazines [which shall remain unnamed here] whose articles read like contributions to obscure sociological seminars - to invert the old joke about Playboy Magazine, those you can really only buy for the pictures).
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Nov 6

I just saw a lot of images from Clare Richardson’s Beyond the Forest in a show and after ordering the book I thought I might as well check what I had written about her work on the blog, only to find nothing. “That’s strange,” I thought, because I remembered seeing her work before and looking for it online; so when I did again this morning I found why I hadn’t posted her work before: There’s almost nothing to be found online, with the exception of a feature in Seesaw Magazine and an article, also written by Aaron Schuman, for the invaluable FOAM Magazine (which is, I think, the best photography magazine in existence).
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Nov 5

I learn something new every day. Today’s nugget is German photography collector F.C. Gundlach’s claim that Germany needs a Photography Foundation because: “It’s also about recognition of German photography as a whole, which is not happening in the international context.” (quote translated from the original German, to be found in this article) This latter claim (“not happening in the international context”) makes me wonder what planet Herr Gundlach is living on. German photography not recognized in an international context?
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Nov 5

“The intense bombing of World War II left many cities in Europe clogged with piles of rubble, the remains of demolished masonry buildings. This debris needed to be cleared for post-war rebuilding efforts to begin. After intact bricks were recovered for reuse, with much of the manual labor performed by women, the waste materials were transported to distributed collection locations and piled into hills known in German as Schuttberg or Trümmerberg. The debris hills are difficult to distinguish from naturally occurring features, having been landscaped into parks with manicured grass and densly vegetated sections.” - Noah Beil
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Nov 5

How’s this for some small-town values: Obama: 83.1%, McCain 14.6% (source)
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Nov 5

(by Patrick Moberg)
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Nov 3

I set up a Google group called “Conscientious” for discussions about posts seen here and about photography in general - so if you want to comment on anything you can do it there. There are various reasons for a Google group (some of the mundanely technical). The most important one might is that I am interested in a spirited and civil discussion, and that simply excludes both anonymity and members with generic first names only (“Joe” or “Jill”) or non-names (“aphotographer”). Anyone can view the group; but if you want to post, you’ll have to ask me for an invite (simply email me). Anyone will get an invite from me - provided there’s a real full name and a valid email address - with no other restrictions. There’s no moderation of posts. So, again, email me if you want to become a member, and you’ll get the invite. As of right now, there are 54 66 76 91 members with some very discussions already happening. Oh, and I’ll also post items at the group that for whatever reason would not show up here, incl. something I’m calling “Impressions”. (Updated post)
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Nov 3

Simon Roberts, currently working on a portrayal of England is totally underwhelmed by Martin Parr’s much heralded photographic portrayal of ten British cities, and he explains why.
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Nov 3

I like Maximilian Haidacher’s series showing hotels in the (European) Alps.
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