Archives

December 2008

SELECT A MONTH:

Dec 31

At least half of our modern world’s politics deals with propaganda or, as the players would probably prefer to call it, “messaging”. It’s not what you really do, it’s what you make it look like. Paul Krugman offers a compelling and simple discussion of how staging an image twice didn’t play out the same way for George W. Bush.
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Dec 31

Another contribution, this one from Rick Olivier. If I receive further contributions, I’ll add them below this post.
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Dec 30

Chris Raecker sent some comments (emphases as in his original email): “Most are from the, ‘do as I say, not what I did’, two cent bin.”
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Dec 30

Following my earlier request, Suzanne Revy kindly sent me some comments about getting your work reviewed at a portfolio review.
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Dec 30

The New Madonnas “explores the complex relationships of mothers and their children: relationships that involve simultaneous connection and separation, intimacy and disengagement, reliance and independence.” - Niki Grangruth
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Dec 29

I used to be way more excited about piles of rocks or gravel in the past than I am now (and I never managed to find out what exactly attracted me to them in the first place), so now I’m a bit torn about Maegan Hill-Carroll photographs of “Mounds”.
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Dec 27

Brian Dettmer is turning books into three-dimensional sculptures. The results are extremely fascinating.
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Dec 24

At the end of every year, I usually spend time looking through all the entries I’ve compiled over the past 12 months, and I pick the three photographers whose work has made the strongest impression on me in that period. So in the spirit of my previous lists, without further ado here are my photographers of the year 2008 (as usual, in alphabetical order). Early in 2008, Joakim Eskildsen’s monumental The Roma Journeys was published. I talked about the work with him in one of my conversations. I picked Hiroh Kikai’s Asakusa Portraits as my favourite photography book this year, which is why I’m including him in this list. This year, I have been very focused on contemporary portraiture, and Hellen van Meene’s work has had a particular appeal for me. I talked with Hellen about here work in one of my conversations.
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Dec 23

I’m pretty sure someone will use this post to start yet another Kittens vs. Puppies Flaming War (it’s the internet, after all), but I figured I might as well post my “Holiday”/New Year wish list anyway. So here are, in no particular order, things I’d really love to see more of in 2009: 1. b/w photography that looks like it was shot in 2009 2. vernacular photography as photography 3. inter-blog discussions 4. truly self-published photography books 5. art photography posing as entertainment 6. photography that shows me something I haven’t noticed already 7. photography criticism/writing that moves beyond the usual suspects (Roland Barthes, John Szarkowski, Walter Benjamin, …) And things I’d really love to see less of in 2009: 1. b/w photography that looks like it was shot in 1975 2. vernacular photography as a freak show 3. meandering “discussions” about photography and its supposed relation to “facts” (or “realism” or [Photoshop] “manipulations”) 4. “on-demand” “self-published” photography books 5. entertainment photography posing as art 6. typologies 7. photography criticism/writing that starts of with and/or quotes excessively the usual suspects (Roland Barthes, John Szarkowski, Walter Benjamin, …)
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Dec 23

Eugen Sakhnenko’s In Praise of Shadows shows the interiors of nightclubs fully lit.
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Dec 22

Paddy is having a year-end fundraiser over at Art Fag City, so have a peek and think about contributing. As she notes “Considering how traditional media is currently gutting arts coverage, sites such as my own are not only important, but essential to the field of art criticism.”
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Dec 22

The other day, I came across Vanessa Winship’s Sweet Nothings (also see this article about the work) - there’s a wonderful little book out, which - unfortunately - appears to be only available in Europe.
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Dec 22

In a new post, Alec brings up the “if seeing too much contemporary work is problematic.” Which I want to call the photo blog scene’s strange attractor: “Does it do more harm than good to read all these blogs?”
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Dec 22

Andrew just published an interview with one of the reviewers at PhotoNOLA (Stella Kramer), which is worth the read if you’re thinking about attending a portfolio review at some stage in the future.
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Dec 19

(photo by Carmen Winant) Images of the human form have a long history in photographic practice, and with a few notable exceptions - Imogen Cunningham and Ruth Bernhard come to mind - it has predominantly been the male gaze upon the naked female body. This pattern has been preserved up until today in the form of the classic photographic nude, done in black and white.
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Dec 19

It’s no secret that I don’t believe in comments (and no, I’m not going to argue about this any longer). One of the consequences of that is that I also don’t comment anywhere. A friend just contacted me to let me know about a comment that someone else left under my name. Given the kind of stuff I’ve seen in comments, I’m not surprised about this, and I have no idea of telling how often it has happened before (and I’m sure it will happen again). In any case, if you see what looks like a comment by me on your blog it’s a fake (you can use simple internet tools to verify this, the comment left on my friend’s blog originated from Germany). If I need to comment on anything I’ll use email.
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Dec 19

I don’t think this photograph is any worse than any of the other products by the same photographer, but the description of this piece is spot on: “a pandering (unto capitulation) to empty style; excessive color which is nevertheless unattractive; […] a really woeful idea […] that nevertheless doesn’t even work; heavyhanded overproduction; no trace of irony; a blatantly fake background that doesn’t even try to match the studio-shot foreground; a baby butt, for that touch of smack-you-with-a-dead-fish cuteness; campy makeup, kitschy hair; and, to top it all off, a hilariously incongruous product placement like an embarrassing pimple.”
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Dec 18

There’s something for (almost) everybody in Gerald Edwards III’s portfolio, such as typologies of churches or the somewhat more complex and interesting Psych Securities LLC.
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Dec 18

It seems the photo book scene is changing rapidly, with both on-demand printing and truly self-published books cutting into a market previously dominated by actual book publishers. As someone who loves photo books (books in general actually) I am very excited about this development.
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Dec 17

“The bubble in contemporary art is about to pop. It has exhibited all the classic features of the South Sea bubble of 1720 or the tulip madness of the 1630s. It has been the bubble of bubbles - balancing precariously on top of other now-burst bubbles in credit, housing and commodities - and inflating more dramatically than all of them. […] In his book, Manias, Panics, and Crashes, Charles Kindleberger observed that manias typically start with a ‘displacement’ that excites speculative interest. It may come from a new object of investment or from the increased profitability of existing investments. It is followed by positive feedback as rising prices encourage less experienced investors to enter the market. Then, as the mania gets a grip, speculation becomes more diffuse and spreads to other types of asset. Fresh assets are created at an ever faster rate to take advantage of the euphoria and investors try to increase their gains by borrowing to buy assets or using derivatives. Credit ultimately becomes overextended, swindling and fraud proliferate, and the mania ends in panic as investors seek to liquidate their positions. The art market has adhered spookily to Kindleberger’s model.” - full story (via things magazine)
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Dec 17

Of course, if this device is a computer any mechanical watch or clock is, too. Calling it an astronomical clock would be more accurate. But regardless, it’s quite impressive to see the extent of ancient Greek technology.
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Dec 17

The other day, I saw Dennis Witmer’s Kotzebue in book form - the web can hardly convey the beauty of the photography.
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Dec 17

Just like the blues, zydeco is a genuinely American style of music, but unlike the blues, it never gained much of an exposure - despite the occasional hit single or the occasional brief spark of interest because of some movie. Photographer Rick Olivier portrayed many of its practitioners for a book about ten years ago, and many of his subjects have since passed on. I saw his body of work in New Orleans just a little while ago, and I’m glad he agreed to sharing some of the photos and stories.
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Dec 16

… over at A Photo Editor (part 2). This is already a few days old, but only now did I get to reading it.
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Dec 16

Mikhael Subotzky tells it like it is: “It seems like the surest way to get your photography noticed is to state the visual reference to historical painting, or the reference to Debord or Deleuze. I recently received a press-release in the mail where the photographer claimed affinity to both Wittgenstein and Foucault. Is that combination possible!? While I have nothing against intelligently and historically framed photographic content, I just start to bristle when these feel like they are what they are just for the sake of the ability to cite the reference, or because that is what everybody else is doing.”
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Dec 16

While there were many great books published this year, finding the one that I enjoyed the most was surprisingly easy this year. Despite the high quality of many books I saw in 2008, Hiroh Kikai’s Asakusa Portraits has had me coming back to it, ever since I managed to get my own copy (just as an aside, this will hopefully also silence those who claim that I don’t like b/w photography). Asakusa Portraits easily fulfills all criteria of a great book: Fantastic photography, a great interview with the photographers, and an extremely wonderful text written by the photographer.
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Dec 15

I was born in West Germany, and I lived in Germany until late 1998 when various jobs took me to Sweden, France, and - eventually - the US. Due to circumstances, all I really remember is West Germany. Even though the country got re-united in 1990, up until late 1998 it didn’t feel like anything had changed. The time from the early 1980s until the late 1990s I tend to call Germany’s Brezhnev Years, where despite the re-unification things were either in statis or actually stagnating, all of this symbolized by Chancellor Kohl, an utterly mediocre and unremarkable man.
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Dec 15

Probably tomorrow, things will be back to normal here on the blog. Yesterday, I came back from my second short trip, this one to sequence, hang, and open Bare, a photography group show I curated at Michael Mazzeo Gallery.
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Dec 12

“Make Love to the Camera (2004 – Ongoing) is an expanding collection of diagrammatic drawings found in photographic manuals and glamour/fetish photo books depicting how to photograph the female nude. Each image depicts a diagram of a naked or semi-naked woman in a studio set-ups surrounded by lights, cameras and props. Instead of following the instructions of the diagram, I photograph the diagram itself. The work denies the erotic charge that the photographic images may have, and becomes a humorous but disturbing comment on glamour photography.” - Suzanne Mooney (found via The Sonic Blog)
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Dec 11

Those of Zack Seckler’s “Fashion Week Noir” images that indeed have that black background are really quite nice (and I’m saying that as someone who is almost completely indifferent to “fashion photography”).
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Dec 10

I’m extremely happy to be able to announce Bare [link absolutely nsfw!], a group exhibition of photography that I curated, to open at Michael Mazzeo Gallery on 11 Dec, 2008 (a reception for the artists will be held at the gallery on Thursday, December 11, from 6PM to 8PM).
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Dec 10

Photographers documenting their families’ lives are not uncommon. Something I noticed is that a lot of that kind of photography is centered on showing “action” and/or what I want to call “tokens”: It’s almost as if many people think that family life isn’t happening when there’s nothing going on, or spaces need things to be arranged in unusual ways to show signs of family life. Katrina d’Autremont’s Si Dios Quiere is a welcome deviation from this, and I think hers might be the best portrayal of family life I’ve seen in a very long time.
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Dec 9

I have been thinking about photography on the internet a lot lately (what to do, how to do it, how to advance discussions, etc.), and I keep coming back to this following fact: You could write about the most innocent topic (e.g. “I love kittens”), and there would still be people who would have to publicly disagree (“I don’t. I love puppies.”).
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Dec 9

Bethany Souza’s “Sunshine State” (photography from Western Florida) still is work in progress, yet extremely promising.
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Dec 8

I just had a chance to see Sarah Wilson’s photography from a prom at the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired (Sarah was the official photographer of the prom) - an absolutely wonderful body of work.
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Dec 7

After two exhausting days filled with plenty of reviews (a total of 24) and an equal amount of fun at PhotoNOLA I’m almost on my way back home for a quick stop before heading back out again, to go to New York City. I have the feeling that portfolio reviews like the one that just ended here might offer more value for the money than bigger venues - the organizers are still trying to put their event on the map, and things are just that bit more overseeable and non-anonymous that might give you more of a chance to interact with fellow photographers and reviewers alike.
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Dec 4

“Tourists are funny creatures. They gather from distant parts of the World to form an absolutely homogenous group, that floats and reacts as a single being. Finally it dissolves as quickly as it was formed.” - Kudász Gábor (Tourists; found via Hippolyte Bayard)
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Dec 3

Jake Stangel’s Too much chocolate is new effort to create a “‘hub’ where emerging photographers can reach out to one another, have a running dialogue, ask questions, just talk, and feel some sense of collectiveness in one place. The end goal is to start a supportive photo community, where photographers can participate in living conversations with one another, that don’t die within the week like blogs comments can. Additionally, there is a rotating gallery and an interview section on the site - you can learn more on the ‘about’ page.”
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Dec 3

Tomorrow, I’ll be on my way to New Orleans for the PhotoNOLA portfolio reviews (on Saturday and Sunday). If you’re around, please come by and say hi!
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Dec 3

Sarah Maple “states that the aim of her work is: ‘to give my audience food for thought. I believe comedy is a great tool to achieve this, which is why I choose to portray my conceptual ideas through a light-hearted and tongue-in-cheek approach’.” I personally don’t know whether I really need the ‘obvious’ setting cranked all the way to 11, but it’s kind of fun art.
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Dec 2

Pictured above is Omega Centauri, a globular star cluster that orbits the Milky Way galaxy and that has millions of stars in a sphere 150 light years across (150 light years is a bit more than 34 times the distance of the Sun from the nearest star). On the left-hand side is an image taken by an amateur astronomer (source), and it’s quite typical of what you would have seen with professional telescopes many years ago. On the right-hand side is what you get if you use ESO’s “Wide Field Imager (WFI), mounted on the 2.2-metre diameter Max-Planck/ESO telescope, located at ESO’s La Silla observatory, high up in the arid mountains of the southern Atacama Desert in Chile.” (source; note that I created the little composite above by eye using Photoshop, aligning some of the bright stars; this required rotating one of the images) That’s not even such a big telescope actually.
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Dec 2

I was going to write something about this post at PDNPulse and the underlying topic, but then I thought maybe Rob would do that, and, indeed, he just did, confirming what I thought: “it’s the magazine that determines the ethics of the photography they use. It’s the magazine’s job to fact check not only the stories but also the photography. There are almost always many images to choose from a shoot and the final selection of images to run will ultimately determine the tone of how the subject is portrayed. The editors are making those final decisions.”
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Dec 1

“I wondered: how does the broken windows theory apply to online spaces? Perhaps like so:
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Dec 1

“Today we reflect on all of the people that are infected with HIV, to educate people about this disease, to inspire through the courageous leadership of others, and to honor those that have died in this horrible pandemic. I myself have been HIV+ for over twelve years now. I am what I once considered others to be a long term survivor. To deal with some of my fears and anxieties about this disease I embarked on a project a few years ago to make portraits of people living with HIV/AIDS for ten years or more called Long Term Survivors. These are just a handful of faces that have been affected by a disease that has affected millions and millions of lives but it is my intent that in these photos the viewer will see hope and promise for healthier and longer lives for all those affected by HIV.” - Richard Renaldi
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Dec 1

German editorial photographer Julian Röder has a large portfolio filled with interesting photography; with my personal favourite maybe being Berlin.
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