Archives

January 2011

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Jan 31

Find a wonderful article about John Stezaker, one of my favourite artists, here.
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Jan 31

Christine Bachmann’s Undine Geht contains portraits of women, based on a novella by Austrian writer Ingeborg Bachmann. (via)
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Jan 28

The cheap stuff we love to buy has to be made somewhere. Cheap stuff means little costs, so its production has been on a tour around the world over the past decades. We like to think of this as “globalisation,” because that just sounds better; and we usually don’t have a problem with it - as long as we can be sure there are no sweat shops involved (we might be cheap, but we have noble principles!). You can trace the evolution of this movement if you go to a thrift shop and look at where the things from the different periods of time were made. While China of course is the most well-known production site for our cheap (and plenty of our not-so cheap) stuff, there are other countries, too, Vietnam being one of them. Tessa Bunney’s Home Work explores a particular aspect of that country’s production system, the small villages around and suburbs of Hanoi. (more)
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Jan 27

I liked David Knight’s Disconnected immediately when I came across it over at Camera Obscura. Whether I see all the various themes that David outlines in his essay I don’t know.
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Jan 27

Great interview with the people behind The Archive of Modern Conflict
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Jan 26

I just came across this video of Doug Dubois talking about the history and making of his family photography. Find twelve minutes and watch it. (via)
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Jan 26

This is an image from Alex Leme’s wonderful ongoing project Small Town. (via)
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Jan 26

I was going to write more on crowdfunding using Tomas van Houtryve’s post as a starting point. In the meantime, David Campbell added his voice, which is like pretty much everything David writes something you want to read. Between these two posts you get a pretty good idea about the shortcomings of some of the various proposals that recently have generated some attention. What is entirely missing, however, is recognition of the fact that crowfunding isn’t quite as new as it is made out to be. In particular, how about talking about The Sochi Project? (more)
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Jan 25

This looks like a painting, but is in fact a digital collage made by Alex Fischer.
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Jan 25

“For years now, I’ve been thinking (on a Woody Allen level of obsession) what it means to be an artist.” writes Phil Toledano in his statement for his new body of work Kim Jong Phil. The solution: an “eye-popping cocktail of delusion and narcissism.” Head right over and check out the masterpieces Phil had produced. For more, there’s the microsite.
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Jan 24

David Campbell has published a must-read article about the seemingly ubiquitous labeling of photography as ‘porn’. I agree with David about most of his points, especially the ones in his very last paragraph (c.f. this post I wrote earlier). I also agree that labeling every kind of photography as ‘porn’ is not so helpful. That said, I do think David misses one of the crucial aspects that motivates why people talk about “ruin porn” (or whatever else). In his list of what the term “pornography” has come to mean, what seems missing is what I see as the main reason why people talk about “ruin porn”. (more)
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Jan 24

Guess what, you can now go to an art fair without leaving your own house. In case you haven’t heard about it this is because of the VIP Art Fair, where “VIP stands for - you guessed it! - “viewing in private.” Given the fact that art fairs tend to be affairs straight out of Dante’s Inferno (Level 3 obviously, with the rain and Cerebus replaced by their contemporary equivalents), in principle this is a most welcome development. Needless to say, with most art bloggers being happy to find problems with about everything (you could give them $1,000, and they’ll complain about it not being $2,000, what’s with the old bills?, and somehow they’ll also be able to find a way to bicker about Jerry Saltz) there have been complaints, some justified, others not so much. The site has at times been pretty slow I heard. I played around with the site and looked at some stuff - for photography, this format doesn’t seem like such a bad idea. It’ll be interesting to see when/if galleries will start to add parts of the fair to their websites (the zooming in, for example).
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Jan 24

Phil Defer’s images are produced using source imagery and a knife (plus some glue). Simple and beautiful. Found here.
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Jan 21

When I first saw How to Hunt by Trine Søndergaard and Nicolai Howalt, on the walls of their gallery in New York, I wasn’t very impressed at all. The fact that I have no respect whatsoever for hunters and their activities aside, I thought the prints were way too big. Of course, the standard narrative behind big prints is that there is a big negative, so you need a big print to showcase all the details. I don’t subscribe to that point of view. It creates a mindless fetish out of a big print, and it completely ignores the fact that some images don’t work when printed too big (all the details won’t save your photo in that case). (more)
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Jan 20

“I talk to people all the time, particularly when I go and talk to students, and it’s amazing to me how many kids and people feel that they have to create work… they’ll look at the market and create work that fits for that market, and I think that’s a terrible, terrible mistake. And what happens then is what you just said, hundreds of thousands of people lose their job. Because what happens is they’re not being original thinkers, they’re just providing content that already exists in a slightly different form.” - Phil Toledano in a must-read interview
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Jan 20

Tatiana Grigorenko’s The Disappeared is “an anti-portrait of a missing protagonist. inspired by soviet-era images that were manipulated to make individuals ‘disappear’ from history.” (via)
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Jan 20

Here is an interesting interview with Katy Grannan, which - unfortunately - doesn’t address some of the questions I would have had.
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Jan 19

Sometimes, things snowball, and with a little bit of luck it might happen to the right people, to good stories. This is what happened to Dalia Khamissy who caught the attention of Benjamin Chesterton, who happens to be an integral part of duckrabbit (I’m sure you know their blog), producing documentaries for the BBC. You can now listen to the story that originated from Dalia’s photography, and there’s a short movie about it, too, to be seen here.
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Jan 19

Jacob Krupnick took photos when the circus… pardon, the art fair was over.
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Jan 19

Designer Hans Gremmen is actively involved in creating some of the most cutting-edge Dutch photobooks. I wanted to find out what it is they put into the water that makes those books so different, so I approached him to ask him a few questions about photobook making in The Netherlands. Find the piece here.
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Jan 18

Very sad news: Milton Rogovin died today.
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Jan 18

“So much ruin photography and ruin film aestheticizes poverty without inquiring of its origins, dramatizes spaces but never seeks out the people that inhabit and transform them, and romanticizes isolated acts of resistance without acknowledging the massive political and social forces aligned against the real transformation, and not just stubborn survival, of the city. […] As a purely aesthetic object, even with the best intentions, ruin photography cannot help but exploit a city’s misery; but as political documents on their own, they have little new to tell us.” - John Patrick Leary
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Jan 18

“What really dismays me […] is how three major organizations could send out three of the best photographers in the business and, within the space of just over two weeks, proudly publish nearly the same photo-story.” writes Michael Shaw. There are quite a few interesting points to be made here, maybe I’ll be able to untangle the ones I see. (more)
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Jan 18

A while ago, I had a conversation via email with Colin Pantall about portraiture of children. If memory serves me right, all we could agree on was that it was hard to do. So here’s more of it, Ina R. Devik’s work, which, I think, is tremendously successful.
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Jan 17

The slightly gossipy interludes aside, this is a fantastic article about Cindy Sherman, one of my all-time favourite artists. I’ve never thought of any of her photographs as being autobiographical or self-portraits, which, in part, is what makes the work so interesting for me.
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Jan 17

This is an image from Leo Postma’s laconic This was the future. I’ve walked by scenes like these so many times…
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Jan 14

Late last year, I had the opportunity to teach a class on the contemporary photobook with Alice Rose George, as part of the Hartford Art School Photography MFA Program. Even outside the classroom, Alice and I spent a lot of time talking about photobooks, where things were, where they are now, and where they’re going. As an independent photography editor and curator, who has worked extensively with private and corporate collections, book publishers and magazines, Alice’s knowledge of the photobook publishing world is almost limitless. Among the publications she worked on/was involved in are Hope Photographs, 25 and Under (whose exhibition she also curated), Andrew Moore’s Detroit Disassembled, Adam Bartos’ Yard Sale Photographs, and many more. As one of the four founders of Here Is New York: A Democracy of Photographs, she has helped to create one of the most remarkable tributes to the people and events of September 11, 2001. Alice also served as the Director of Magnum New York and the Publisher of Granta in England. Find the conversation I had with her about Here Is New York, photobooks in general, and ebooks here.
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Jan 13

If you’re a photographer, you want to have a good website. But what exactly does that mean, a “good” website? When I came across Stefanie Grätz’s I thought “OK, now this is a good website.” To show those photos all at once, but stacked and with different sizes (the above is part of Groninger, visit the site to see what the presentation really looks like) - sometimes, things can be so simple and so effective at the same time. Oh, and I like the photography.
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Jan 13

This image is from Kenneth O’Halloran’s Fair Trade, a body of work on fairs in Ireland. Also don’t miss Life After Death.
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Jan 12

You might remember the kerfuffle around Shepard Fairey and his use of that Obama photo for the “Hope” poster. Well, it’s all over now: As Nieman put it, “the big copyright case ends with a juicy little irony that you can read generously (‘work together’) or more cynically (‘merchandise’).”
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Jan 12

Blake has an interview with John Maloof, who found the Vivian Maier negatives. If you’re curious about the background, head right over and read all about it.
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Jan 12

This is an image from Ross McDonnell’s The Afghans. Make sure to check out his other projects, too - lots of good images to look at (tough having to pick one!).
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Jan 11

I rarely link to photography like Thomas Devaux’s, but I might as well feature this work. It’s a tad too decorative for me, but interesting nevertheless.
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Jan 10

Those interested in attending a portfolio review might want to check out this handy list of such events. It gives you a price per review number for most events, plus the number of participants. While these are simply numbers, they’re very useful to have when making a decision on whether or not to attend a particular event.
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Jan 10

This image is from Alberto Lizaralde’s Frail, which, according to the photographer, “is about those everyday moments when everything collapses.”
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Jan 7

A little while ago, I read an article about Germany’s postwar reconstruction. I learned that the ruins of what had been the Third Reich had been literally piled up in many cities, to form artificial hills. Given the amount of destruction, many of them are impressive affairs: “In West Germany alone, some 400 million cubic meters (14 billion cubic feet) of rubble was piled up after the war.” (quoted from the article; just as an aside, it was up to German women to clean up the mess after the war, don’t miss this gallery of Trümmerfrauen) Only a few days later, I came across Teufelsberg by Marie Sommer, a book about one such hill in Berlin, called - you guessed it - Teufelsberg (devil’s mountain). (more)
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Jan 7

Occasionally, someone will ask me how I would define what makes a good portrait, and of course there is no good answers for that. But there’s one thing that helps: An interesting face. Needless to say, and interesting face will no guarantee a good portrait, but it really helps. This might sound slightly flippant, but once you look at all the portraits done by photographer X or by photographer Y you realize that X and Y pick a certain “kind” of people. It’s hard to say what it is, but typically, you will easily be able to say that some portrait looks like it was taken by X and not by Y, in part of because of the subject her/himself. Many portrait photographers are drawn towards certain types of characters, and often it does have something to do with the face. You could use Koos Breukel’s Fair Face as a good example (not because it has the word “face” in its title, though). (more)
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Jan 7

If you truly can’t get enough of “best of 2010” lists, here is what you could call the mother of all best photobooks 2010 lists, featuring book selected by 27 different contributors, an impressively diverse group featuring photographers, writers, bloggers, publishers. It’s interesting to see that the books most frequently selected were in fact picked by a rather small fraction of people. The book topping the list, Broken Manual by Alec Soth, was picked by 6 contributors (or 22%). (more)
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Jan 6

Talking about the war in Afghanistan, David Campbell writes: “Covering such a long-running conflict, the dynamics of which have not altered greatly in its nine years, necessarily produces a certain uniformity to the subjects conveyed. In Boston.com’s Big Picture gallery for November 2010 we see 43 high quality images that detail allied forces, Afghan civilians, Taliban casualties and American military families. There is also an inevitable regularity to the look of these images. […] I think we should ask hard questions about how to represent a war that has gone on for so long. I don’t think, though, that those questions are best pursued by a concern over the technologies of representation or the anxiety about aesthetics.”
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Jan 6

“Artists and institutions are increasingly using law as a weapon to protect free speech. But they are beginning to realize that this action is actually contributing to the demise of art. As in the Büchel case, these suits are affirming more and more that art has to be considered property in matters of free speech, and this moves the idea of art away from philosophical or moral principles. (In both cases, the rulings were based on property rights). This brings the realization that the law cannot resolve this alone. So instead, artists should call for the art institution (museum, gallery, periodical) to rethink its relationship to the arts and to artists, and they should do this for philosophical/ethical reasons and not for what is permitted by law. They should pledge a commitment to the idea of art, and consider when censoring speech the damage this would do.” - Charles Gaines
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Jan 6

Of the images on David Benjamin Sherry’s website, I prefer the ones not containing any (body-painted) people.
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Jan 5

There are lots of portraits of children in Natalie Obermaier’s portfolio, a lot of them very well done, plus photographic gems like this one.
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Jan 4

“Philippine police investigating the New Year’s Eve shooting death of a local councilman did not have to look further than the last photograph the victim took. That photo led to the arrest of two suspects.” - story
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Jan 4

It’s official, art is a foreign city. The makers of a series of books that includes, for example, Hedonist’s Guide To Beirut now present A Hedonist’s Guide to Art. And it is true, except for the slightly less eccentric dress code, the art world could be easily compared to Vatican City. But still I’m sure people would have expected that it’s more like a foreign country. (more)
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Jan 4

“Rented rooms in motels, hotels, and inns were used as the settings for the photographs, as they function as temporary homes. Subjects were given a few hours to inhabit their rooms, and encouraged to draw inspiration from their environments for a character to depict.” - Steven Beckly in his statement about Single Rooms
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Jan 4

Darren Campion: “Where Martin Schoeller seems to excel is in the disclosure of reptilian celebrity, the hollow, endless need. It remains difficult to tell though if this is genuinely a facet of his work or a value of that uniquely modern state, which allows whole identities to become volatile, something merely to be traded upon, so that the supposed ‘disclosure’ we see in this work, the firm impression of presence, is in itself just another part of the ruse.” Read the rest here.
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Jan 3

Originally an online magazines, Romka can now be had as an actually printed object. At five Euros it’s a steal!
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Jan 3

I never look much at what’s going on at auction houses, so I was more than just slightly surprised to see the following, in a post over at DLK: “Across the photography auction market for the entire year, the total sale proceeds taken together were $136,948,680, up by more than 83% from last year’s total of $74,612,997.” That’s some serious money!
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Jan 3

Andy McMillan’s PTL pictures of what remains of former televangelists Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker’s Christian community.
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