Archives

April 2011

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Apr 29

Collage art has a long history, but is it really that interesting? Are people still doing it? What are people doing? There isn’t all that much literature about it, even though once you start poking around the net, you’ll run into quite a few artists working on collages. So in case the various examples of collage art I’ve featured on this blog have made you want to see much more, the recently released Cutting Edges: Contemporary Collage provides a great overview of contemporary collage. (more)
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Apr 28

Let’s face it: Photographers are a pretty conservative bunch of people. While we all know that photographer X might have taken thousands of images, what do we get to see? The same old well-known ones. While we all know that the archive of agency/foundation/… Y contains thousands and thousands of images, what do we get to see? The same old well-known stuff. It gets even more depressing when you look at photobooks. Some publishers have been working with photographers, reissuing older work, but what do we get? Well, we either get an exact reissue, or we get one of those compilations of ten volumes in a limited-edition box for only $500 that I made fun of on April 1st (there are a few exception, of course). This is a huge lost opportunity, both for the artists/archives and for people who love looking at photography. (more)
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Apr 28

It’s a few weeks after the latest Richard Prince brouhaha, and as expected things haven’t changed. The art world has come down on the side of Richard Prince, with the argument basically being that it’s a terrible ruling for appropriation art because it’s a terrible ruling for appropriation art. I might be missing something, but in none of the articles I’ve read any of the defenders of Richard Prince has given an actual explanation of why this particular case is a valid case of appropriation art other than “He took that other guy’s stuff, and that’s what appropriation artists do.” Or “obviously it is fair use/transformative.” Well, if it’s so obvious why not explain it properly? (more)
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Apr 28

Many of Adriean Koleric’s collages are done digitally, which doesn’t really take away much of the fun.
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Apr 27

“The point I am making is that we need to consider our subject matter more carefully. […] But if we think of what is going on in our world, there seems to be many subjects which are avoided, because we all need that echo of familiarity to help us have the confidence to make a body of work. We want to emulate the impact that these images had on us, and this can be as restricting as it can be liberating.” - Martin Parr
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Apr 27

Alejandra Villasmil mixes collages with other techniques, so you’ll have to look around on her site to find them. It’s slightly hit or miss, but definitely worth your time.
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Apr 27

Nowness invited me to produce a little feature inspired by the Deutsche Börse Prize, so I came up with a look at conceptual photography (with overlaps with all kinds of other types of photography).
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Apr 26

As you probably heard already, Foam are celebrating their tenth anniversary looking forward (instead of back), asking What’s Next? The website is a collaborative effort, with the idea being to crowd-source (to use the lingo) the discussion and invite everybody to contribute. Part of the site is a suite of questions (you can also submit your own), to hopefully shed light on different aspects of photography: what might we expect to see next, or at least where might things be going? Over the next few months, I want to tackle some of the questions here, as a way to bring them into the blogosphere, a medium ideal for this kind of approach. (more)
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Apr 26

Gordon Magnin’s collages are cleverly destroyed and then re-assembled images, often resulting in disturbing imagery.
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Apr 25

Sébastien Erome’s Light & Transient features a lot of good photography, taken all across the US.
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Apr 25

Go and visit The International Center for Fictional Photography, “the brain - or demon - child of a determined group of young artists intent on no good.” There’s tremendous potential to expand this, maybe (hopefully) even bringing it into the physical world (even “just” a book would be great).
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Apr 25

Anthony Zinonos’ collages are often little more than visual interventions, reducing a larger image down to a few basic elements of meaning.
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Apr 25

I’m going to be on the road for parts of this week, so posting might get slightly patchy. I figured it would be fun to feature some more collage art.
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Apr 23

When LIFE.com contacted me to ask whether I would be interested in being a guest editor of a photo gallery of course I was, especially since I was given the freedom to pick the theme, and I had full control over the edit. LIFE’s photography archive is huge, containing some very important photography, and I had always thought about creating new contents from older archives. After a bit of thinking and looking I decided to do a set of images called Portraits of Power, which is now up. The basic idea is to show how people project power in photographs, using powerful - and now mostly obscure - people from about seventy years ago. Read the text along the images to see what I am after.
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Apr 22

Andreas Gefeller has been well known for meticulously constructed images of the surfaces we walk on. For each of those images, he walks around with a digital cameras elevated with some contraption, taking the many source images that are then assembled on a computer. The results, visual surveys of small pieces of our world, often are startling and strange (see my review of a book filled with such images). Of course, I’ve been wondering where he would go from there, hoping he wouldn’t turn what has been very successful into something that would merely become a shtick (as the person not producing those images, of course, it’s easy for me to say that). (more)
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Apr 22

Our sheltered and rather comfortable Western life styles come at a price: We are stressed, overworked and - except for the lucky few - underpaid. And now we also have to worry about all those illegal immigrants who want to come and take our jobs. OK, I am not worried about that, but in this society a great many people are. In fact, people are so worried that they built a fence, hundreds of miles of it, along the Mexican border. Everybody is welcome to admire us for our freedoms and our life style, but please do not come and try to join us. (more)
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Apr 21

At first, it seems a bit strange that Nicole Hametner’s Le Sapin (pdf download) references woodcuts, but the more you look, the more it makes sense. (via)
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Apr 20

Terrible news from Libya: Today, photojournalist Tim Hetherington was killed while covering the fighting in Libya. Three other photographers reportedly were wounded, one of them very severely. PDN has an obituary, including a slide show of some of Hetherington’s work. (more)
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Apr 20

Nina Röder’s Teresia photographically reconstructs scenes from the photographer’s grandmother’s life (who had been expelled from her home at the end of World War II).
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Apr 19

There are quite a few interesting projects in Antonia Zennaro’s portfolio, such as one about a hip-hop group in Medellin or Hamburg’s red-light district.
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Apr 19

On September 11, 2001, Artist Laurel Nakadate put on a Girl Scouts uniform and took photographs of herself while the World Trade Center towers were burning and then collapsing in the background. The resulting photographs (I can’t find the one where she is saluting) are not particularly profound or interesting. But neither is taking a crucifix, submerging in your own urine (any yellow liquid will probably do as long as you call it “piss”), and then taking a photograph of it. All it takes to take the latter into an important piece of art, while the former still languishes in the kind of obscurity it probably deserves, is… no, not an art critic. It take an American Senator. In the case of Piss Christ, the photograph of the submerged crucifix, it was ultraconservative Senator Jesse Helms who used Andres Serrano, the maker of Piss Christ, as an example of what’s supposedly wrong with using tax payer dollars to support artists. Needless to say, Serrano’s work immediately became important art, because that’s part of the art business works. (more)
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Apr 18

Five years ago, a huge debate erupted in the US over a photograph taken on September 11, 2001, by Thomas Hoepker. The photograph showed five people relaxing on a sunny Summer day, the Manhattan skyline with a gigantic plume of smoke from the fallen World Trade Center towers as a backdrop. You can find the photo, with the photographer’s point of view here (there are also links to various other pieces, including an email one of the photograph’s subjects sent in). I had to think of that photo and the reaction it caused when I came across the photo above (the image above is cropped, the original can be found here, and it comes via). In the background, you can see the smoke from fires in San Francisco, which had just been hit by an enormous earthquake, on April 18, 1906. In the foreground, you see, well, people lounging, and there are two women turned towards the camera. They are a bit blurry, but one is very clearly smiling - her camera smile, one must assume. One might wonder why these observers are all so relaxed, just like the ones in Hoepker’s photograph. Needless to say, a picture tells a story, but it might just be the story we want to hear or see. But whatever it is, there is something in photography that can make us do all kinds of things, which includes smiling for the camera even when we’re standing in front of a city on fire. I don’t think this means we’re callous, I’m tempted to think that we are being seduced in ways that we might regret later. That also is the power of photography. Update (25 April 2011): A reader email me and reminded me of this Weegee photo, which has the drowned man’s (supposed) girlfriend smiling at the camera. Regardless of who the woman is her smile feels very much out of place (and look at the spectators in the back - what are they looking at?).
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Apr 18

If you’re interested in videos of photographers talking about or doing their work there’s a blog for that, it’s called Shooting Gallery.
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Apr 18

This is an image from Kristoffer Axén’s How We Evolved From Water, which per se is not necessarily representative of the series as a whole, at least not at first glance.
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Apr 16

For those who are still in need of a great read for the weekend, there is Rob’s interview with Dan Winters. It comes in three parts: part 1, part 2, and part 3.
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Apr 15

If you’re looking for actual photobook shops, the folks at Photo Book Club have been compiling a Google map with locations of photobook stores. If there’s anything missing send them an email and they’ll add it. A great resource!
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Apr 14

I quite like the photographs on the first page of Tilby Vattard’s photography portfolio.
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Apr 13

This is an image from a new, untitled series by Ross Rawlings exploring “the boundaries within a relationship between two young lovers.” (see the blog post about the series)
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Apr 12

M. Scott Brauer posted an interesting story about the dissemination of photography, using Russell Watkins’ photos of spiderweb-covered trees in the aftermath of flooding in Pakistan as an example. Apparently, those photos have been very widely featured, unlike, it seems, the underlying - actual - story. Watkins writes in a blog post “But how many of the people that have seen these images are being pulled in by them enough to stop and think about the far bigger problem that the images are just a symbol of? Of course its hard to say. […] I wrote in my previous post about how photography can be said to explain everything and yet reveal nothing. And now I find myself realising that I may have taken some photographs that illustrate precisely that characteristic.” (more)
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Apr 12

These are two photographs from one of Elise Boularan projects that just seem to work too well together to present them as singles. The projects are slightly hit or miss, but the gems make looking through this website worth your while. (via)
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Apr 11

I used to be a scientist. I don’t do that any longer. I never felt like talking about it much, because I never thought it was a particularly interesting topic to talk about. Just like every “cool” job, being an astrophysicist (astronomer) sounds much better if you’re not in the middle of it. I specialized in computational cosmology, aka running very large computer simulations of the evolution of model universes. You don’t actually get real universes inside your computer. The models are all rather simple, and at least in the ones I was involved in there are no stars whatsoever. There weren’t even any galaxies (the visible matter is only a small fraction of all matter in the Universe, so you an run things without it and it still comes out fine). One of the challenges for the simulations was always how to visualize what you got, and that was something I tremendously enjoyed doing. (more)
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Apr 11

“I love taking pictures of people between their childhood and their age of maturity.” - Margo Ovcharenko
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Apr 8

Paul Kooiker is on a mission. I don’t know what kind of mission it is, but if you look at the books he has produced you realize he’s on a mission alright. After Crush or Room Service, there now is Sunday, a book of nudes, or maybe more accurately photographs of a nude woman, balancing precariously on a wooden table in a rather unattractive backyard of sorts. (more)
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Apr 8

Bruce Haley spent a few years (1994-2002) wandering around some of the backwaters of the former Soviet Union to take photographs. The Soviet Union is “long” gone. It is mostly remembered as a prop, as a cypher, as a stand-in for the other side in debates that rarely involve any actual information about what really happened. In that sense, talking about the Soviet Union is pointless. I don’t see Sunder, the newly released book that shows Haley’s work, as centering on the Soviet Union. Instead, it’s a book about us, about our human follies and dreams. (more)
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Apr 8

Aperture has long been a - maybe the - beacon of American photobook publishing. It’s pretty much impossible to talk about photobooks without at some stage running into a book that was done by Aperture. Lesley Martin, Publisher of the Aperture Book Program, has worked on a huge number of those books, often pushing the envelope in unexpected directions. A few weeks ago, I sat down with Lesley to talk about Aperture and about the history and future of photobooks. Find the piece here.
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Apr 7

By now you might have heard of Sean O’Hagan raising a ruckus about the Deutsche Börse Prize and the Photographers’ Gallery. Apparently, there has been some debate about the gallery, which I haven’t followed. If what I see is correct, it’s about whether or not the gallery’s curators are doing a good enough job picking photography. O’Hagan uses this as a backdrop to complain about the Deutsche Börse Prize: “I have already written on this subject with regards to the Photographers’ Gallery, and stand by my conclusion that it should rebrand the Deutsche Börse as a conceptual photography prize.” (more)
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Apr 6

Ellie Davies’ photography might trigger questions like “Yeah, but is it photography?” from the orthodox crowd. I personally am not so interested in these kinds of debates, since they tend to get in the way of what photography has to offer, when it is used in creative ways.
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Apr 6

Colin Pantall has a convincing answer: “that is the mark of any great photography - it escapes the photography ghetto and becomes relevant to the wider world.”
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Apr 5

Make sure to find some time to read David Bailey in conversation with Andrew Graham-Dixon.
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Apr 5

This is an image from Anna Beeke’s excellent (and grim) Amsterdam, NY.
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Apr 5

I know I should let Mrs. Deane discuss home-made cameras since they know so much more about it then I do. But I couldn’t “walk” past Cary Norton’s Legotron. (via)
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Apr 4

This article about “Photojournalism in the Age of New Media” is well worth the read, since it delves into the actual journalism aspect of things, in other words the need to verify information. Key quote: “the high velocity of social networks that makes verification so problematic means that conflict imagery is often left open to misinterpretation and, subsequently, reactionary violence. ‘With images, there’s a huge danger of producing false impressions or false information with bad analysis,’ said Jake Naughton, who does outreach and production at the Pulitzer Center.” I am slightly tempted to think that the article puts a slightly tilted angle on verification, though, ignoring that whoever assembles the stories - and does the verification - in essence creates the story (which might or might not be biased or outright wrong for whatever reason). I’d argue that verification needs to work both ways: Just like organizations verifying images they grab online, the resulting stories must then be subjected to verification by the general public, something which, after all, is straightforward in this age of the new media. Various recent cases seem to have shown that the organizations mentioned in the article are not so eager about the latter, though.
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Apr 4

James Gallagher’s collages often use pornographic images as their basis, but the final results - achieved with often seemingly minor modifications - tend to move into quite a different territory.
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Apr 4

“Is nature behaving correctly?” - Clemens Bechmann (via)
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Apr 1

Over the past decade, we have witnessed considerable (and still growing) interest in found or vernacular photographs. The reasons for that seem complex. Some of those photographs are incredibly charming, while others are outright strange if not simply weird. Collecting such images is one thing, but making a good photobook out of them is quite a different story. The easiest solution, of course, is to produce a simple album or collection. But it’s easy to see why this idea, as tempting as it might be, has its shortcomings: There is only so much that one can get out of charm or weirdness (or charming weirdness or weird charm). To get beyond that requires a gifted editor, an artist who can make a selection and then create a story around the images, in whatever way. Of course, Erik Kessels immediately comes to mind here. The latest photobook produced out of found images (maybe more accurately an archive of images) was just released by Little Brown Mushroom: Conductors of the Moving World by Brad Zellar. (more)
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Apr 1

It’s widely known that when Garry Winogrand died, he left behind hundreds of thousands of unedited images and more than 2,500 undeveloped rolls of film. What is less widely known, at least until now, is the plan by a consortium of some of the biggest photobook publishers to publish each and every photo ever taken by Garry Winogrand. Work on this project has so far been incredibly secretive, but first details have now leaked out. The Complete Winogrand will be a set of 75 books, each with around 1,000 pages and multiple images per page, with a grand total of around 300,000 images. The books will not be released all at the same time, instead there will be a subscription. The first book comes with a custom-made steel shelf designed to hold all 75 books (each book will weigh approximately 8 pounds, so the full set of books will be 600 pounds). There will only be a limited number of subscriptions available, so if you want to own a set, or if you are interested in more details check out the website for The Complete Winogrand.
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