Archives

October 2010

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Oct 29

In our Western world we have either lost or appropriated the pagan rituals that ruled Europe before Christianity took over. In fact, those rituals are so alien to us that we do not even realize that they still exist as relics in some of the “holidays” we celebrate (just look into the pagan roots of various aspects of Christmas to get an idea what I’m talking about). Where pagan rituals managed to survive, they usually strike us as well, weird. For example, most people will be somewhat familiar with an image like this (it conveniently fits into our general visual culture), whereas something like this (here is a page explaining the background) will probably cause different reactions. I’m writing this review a few days before Halloween, but I can’t imagine someone walking around with such a Perchta mask. (more)
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Oct 28

You might remember my last post, in which I announced that the first book by Meier und Müller, the publishing business I am part of, had started to sell “Conditions,” our first book. I’m very happy to announce that there now are US copies, priced at $49, shipped directly from Northampton (MA). If you want one, go right to our store. In case you’re wondering what happened, you’ll find all the details below. (more)
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Oct 28

Gustavo Perillo’s In Between is another fine example of a photographer using the windows of trains as frames for the stages behind them.
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Oct 27

I know I’m somewhat shameless today, but here’s another workshop announcement: “[OR]EDU, an innovative online educational initiative originated in Russia and launched by Objective Reality Foundation in 2008, is now offering its workshops internationally. In the fall of 2010 [OR]EDU opened its free online workshops in photography and multimedia to applicants worldwide. [OR]EDU project aims at supporting contemporary narratives, and engaging both professional authors and the audience in navigating the wide range of social issues through visual storytelling.” (more)
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Oct 27

“Inde­pen­dently pro­duced and pub­lished photo books have gained preva­lence over the past years, and have proven them­selves to be an effec­tive way to dis­sem­i­nate pho­tog­ra­phy. How­ever, while mak­ing photo books may have become eas­ier than ever, mak­ing truly awe­some photo books is as dif­fi­cult and chal­leng­ing as it ever was. Enter Book Case Study: a three-day work­shop focussing on the art of the inde­pen­dent photo book.” (source) (more)
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Oct 27

Carina Linge’s work is very conceptual, and unfortunately, all the text (apart from the menu titles) is only in German. But check out the projects anyway, it’s an interesting mix of images.
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Oct 27

In this very cool presentation (made by Dutchdoc), Rob Hornstra talks about his work, and about the design and ideas behind his books. (found here)
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Oct 27

People ask me occasionally about photography like PL diCorcia’s Heads (which I think is one of the best series of portraiture done in whatever you call the first decade of the 21st Century) and privacy. My response typically is in line with what the artist says in this video clip. I usually add one more point: If you’re really concerned about privacy, why go after that tiny group of artists, instead of complaining about corporations and the government, whose surveillance cameras are much more ubiquitous - and you don’t even really know what they’re doing with the images they take of you? (video found here)
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Oct 27

Fabio Severo has an interview with Yannick Bouillis, the mastermind behind Offprint, here.
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Oct 26

There’s a very interesting interview with artist Vera Lutter from a few years back, to be found here.
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Oct 26

When Philippe Spigolon emailed me to tell me he had photographed his junk mail, I wasn’t quite sure what to make of it, but of course I had to look. “I am interested in the exploration of bad taste,” he wrote, explaining that what those flyers show is clearly at odds with the general ideas people have of French cuisine.
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Oct 25

The Financial Times has an incredibly interesting article about Annie Leibovitz and the ways of the art-photo market. A must read.
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Oct 25

Rip Hopkins’ Another Country portrays British expats living in France.
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Oct 22

For some artists, posing for photographs comes with the business. We are used to seeing carefully staged and/or produced photographs of musicians on the covers of (or inside) magazines. For other artists, posing for photographs is not part of the business at all. You don’t get to see painters, sculptors or photographers that often on the covers of magazines. Or maybe it would be more accurate to say that you do see some of those artists a lot, and most of them not at all. (more)
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Oct 21

“I am working to document daily life in the world’s urban squatter communities. Recently I have photographed in several favelas in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and in the pueblos jovenes of Lima, Peru.” - Noah Addis
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Oct 20

I’m sure you will have the less than four minutes it takes to watch photographer Michael Kamber talking about the increasing censorship of images from Iraq.
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Oct 20

Mark Mattock’s website offers a large selection of contemporary landscapes, divided into different sections. The photo above is from a series on shooting ranges.
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Oct 19

Klaus Pichler’s Skeletons in the Closet isn’t the only series about taxidermied animals in collections of museums, but I think it has the best pictures of the ones I’ve seen.
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Oct 18

Ivor Prickett’s work exists in this strange zone where you don’t know whether you’re dealing with photojournalism, documentary photography, or fine-art photography. This probably points to the fact that what we should be talking about is not how to label something, but, instead, the stories that are being told. (thanks to duckrabbit’s Ben for the tip!)
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Oct 15

“More people live along the Yangtze’s banks than in the whole of the United States,” writes Nadav Kander in the notes of his new book Yangtze, The Long River, “that is one in every eighteen people on the planet. […] This extraordinary and vast river is embedded in the consciousness of the Chinese. It is much more than a waterway. It contains their history and their folklore. It runs in the blood of the people.” And later: “China is a nation that appears to be severing its roots by destroying its past. Demolition and construction were everywhere on such a scale that I was unsure if what I was seeing was being built or destroyed, destroyed or built.” We are familiar with such narratives, and we have seen aspects of the imagery in the book before. What we have not seen, however, is a single artist trying to tie things together. (more)
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Oct 15

A while back, I tried to find photography from Africa on the web, and it was a pretty frustrating experience. There is some; but most artists whose names I came across somewhere - or who were mentioned to me by friends - were impossible to track down online. I still don’t know much about African photography. (more)
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Oct 14

I wrote a little piece, trying to find out what makes the object so precious in photography. You can find it here.
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Oct 14

There is very little appealing about the buildings (built in Zanzibar in the 1960s by a group of East German architects who wanted to demonstrate an ideal socialist neighborhood) depicted in Mieke Woestenburg’s Ex Territory. The presentation of the photographs, however, lifts these buildings from their visual squalor and creates an interesting presentation. (via)
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Oct 13

Regular readers of this blog will be aware of the Photography Festival in Hyeres, France. Registration for the 2011 edition is now open!
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Oct 13

Given there’s Meier und Müller, the photobook publishing venture I’m part of, it would only seem natural that there also is a blog associated with it. It’s (tentatively) called Litfaßsäule (featuring not just one, but two crazy German characters in its name - anyone noticing a pattern here?). In case you’re wondering what a Litfaßsäule might is, here is an explanation. The blog will center on photobooks (plus the occasional Meier und Müller announcement), and just like any blog, it will probably evolve with time. There are some posts up already, so have a peek!
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Oct 13

I was leafing through the new issue of the New York Review of Books when I came across an article featuring images of two busts that struck me. One showed a pretty cool dude, wearing what looks like a ski cap, smiling confidently. The other one showed a bald man pulling his chin in and making some face. I know very little about sculpture, but those two I thought looked pretty cool. They were great studies in portraiture. I figured I might as well read the article about the artist, Franz Xaver Messerschmidt. As it turned out, what I had thought were contemporary busts had in fact been made around 1780, by an artist who might or might not have had some mental health issues. Have a look at some of the busts here (they’re on display at NYC’s Neue Galerie until early next 2011!). You can find a couple more articles about Messerschmidt here and here.
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Oct 13

Looking through Rona Chang’s website, I was struck by the images in The Retainers.
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Oct 12

“Resettlement focuses on the vernacular architecture, the transient, makeshift structures inhabited by the migratory victims of the 1930’s Great Depression. By sampling images from the Farm Security Administration catalogue […] I have deconstructed and subsequently reconstructed these buildings to form a three dimensional model of the settlement depicted in the original image.” - Julia Curtin
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Oct 11

More proof that simple ideas usually are most compelling and that the idea that everything has already been done in photography is wrong: Jason DeMarte’s work.
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Oct 11

Lydia McCarthy is one of the winners of this year’s Conscientious Portfolio Competition. About her work, juror Elisabeth Biondi wrote: “In the course of a week, a month, a year I view many many photographs & much of it good photography. I always keep my eyes peeled for a surprise, either in content or style. Portraiture is an important part of my work, or better the work that I assign. It therefore is important in what visually I pursue. These portraits are different from anything I have seen before. They are impressionistic in a contemporary way. Looking at them puts me in a reflective tender frame of mind. Perhaps this is so because we always are looking for picture that might work for the fiction we publish. We try to pair pictures to words that express a mood rather than edge features into the reader’s mind. We want to let the mind wander. This is why I like these pictures.” In this extended conversation, I talk with Lydia about her work.
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Oct 8

What I’m really interested in when I look at photography is art. A photographer might take photographs of her children to talk about her family. An artist takes photographs of her children to talk about the human condition. A photographer might take photographs of a particular region to portray it, mostly for the sake of the people living there. An artist takes photographs of a particular region to ultimately produce images of no particular region other than the one that we all share, regardless where we live. A photographer might stick to that tried, old method and produce the same photographs, using the same style, for many years. An artist will not shy away from experimentation - and the potential of astounding success, at the risk of sometimes even more astounding failure. (more)
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Oct 7

This photo is from Christopher Morris’s American Portraits. Also make sure to check out Americans.
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Oct 6

Martin Usborne’s Mute portrays dogs left to wait in cars at night - in the photographer’s words, it’s about the “fear of being alone and unheard.”
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Oct 6

Dalton Rooney is one of the winners of this year’s Conscientious Portfolio Competition. As I wrote earlier, what struck me about Outer Lands is how engaging these landscapes are if you spend time with them. Seemingly simple, they are deeper than they seem; seemingly messy, with their tangle of branches, they are clear and beautiful. They offer space for contemplation, without pushing an obvious message. Outer Lands shows the contemporary landscape - with various human traces - photographed most beautifully in a contemporary way. In this Conversation I am talking with Dalton about his work.
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Oct 5

“I see so many photographers making work that purports to show an explanation of a subject but actually is little more than graphic cliche of a situation. That, at a time of crisis for visual journalism, isn’t enough. It isn’t enough to simply point a camera at someone and say ‘how terrible’. It says much that everybody has a camera and thinks that they have a right to call themselves a journalist by photographing the nearest horror without context or understanding.” - Stuart Freedman (via)
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Oct 5

You’ve probably heard it before: Photojournalism is dead. No, it isn’t. Yes, it is. Repeat ad nauseam. It’s one of those debates that isn’t really getting anywhere. Now David Campbell chimes in, noting that “if we appreciate the difference between a mode of information and a mode of distribution, we can understand much better exactly what is supposed to have been killed.” (my emphasis)
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Oct 5

“Slow & Steady examines the contemporary movement away from mass-produced foods in a return to traditional modes of food production and preparation. Photographs depict scenes from community gardens, Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farms, and farmers markets within the greater Rochester region.” - Christin Boggs
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Oct 4

This past weekend, my wife and I went to estate sales. The early birds caught the worms, whereas the late birds - us - still came home with a trunk filled with stuff. Part of that stuff is this little book by David Douglas Duncan entitled I Protest! I had never heard of it before (*). I saw the cover of the book - it was lying on an unassuming pile of other books, and I picked it up not knowing that its author was a photographer. (more; updated below)
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Oct 4

Helen Flanagan’s No Strings Attached “aims to document an online world that revolves around sex. It looks deeper at current issues such as technology, modern human relations and sexuality by talking and photographing willing people whom use adult dating and swinging Internet websites.”
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Oct 4

Here’s a wonderful multimedia piece: Daylight Multimedia Podcast - Brighton Photo Biennial - Alec Soth & Martin Parr in conversation, produced and published by Daylight Multimedia.
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Oct 1

As someone who loves photobooks, I couldn’t be happier about Errata Editions. As is probably widely known, Errata publish reproductions of photobooks that otherwise would not be accessible to a wider audience. A truly wonderful case in point is provided by Yutaka Takanashi’s Toshi-e (Towards the City), originally published in Japan in 1974. (more)
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Oct 1

It was probably inevitable that art fairs would become the subject matter of photography. Car fairs, or rather the young women who are used as props to showcase cars, already have (c.f. Jacqueline Hassink: Car Girls). In fact, it might tell us something that it is those two types of fairs we’re seeing in photobooks, a connection made explicit by Huub Mous in an essay for Dolph Kessler’s Art Fairs. (more)
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