Archives

October 2011

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Oct 31

No electricity at home, no internet. At least the cell-phone service is back, but this blog won’t get updated until we get power back. Hopefully, it won’t be too long.
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Oct 29

In case you’re getting snowed in (like yours truly) or even if not: Matt Johnston from the Photo Book Club talks about this book project, as well as tackling the question: ‘What is to become of books?’.
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Oct 28

There’s something toxic about television once you want to write about it. It’s almost as if the medium’s shallowness immediately rubs off. You start writing about it, and you almost inevitably produce trite stereotypes or cliches, mirroring most of what you see on TV (pointing that out of course is a stereotype!). I’ve had Simone Lueck’s Cuba TV in my “to review” pile of books for months now, and every time I wanted to get to it the thought of writing about TV gave me the chills. Oh and Cuba, that photographic stereotype of a place. How do you even write about that? Escapes me! (more)
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Oct 27

There’s a big debate over at Alec Soth’s blog about the best creative years of photographers. He writes “taken as a whole, photographic greatness seems to me to be a young person’s game” and provides evidence in the form of research/writing done by Dean Keith Simonton. Who would argue with smartly presented graphs? Well, I would but I will spare you my concerns. But even if Simonton is correct I just can’t get myself into a state of worry. I would now be in the declining phase of my creative life. Somehow I must be too busy working on many things to realize that I am not supposed to be doing that any longer. (more)
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Oct 27

I suppose it’s easiest to think of the young women who contort themselves as part of their warm-up routine in M. Schwarzer’s Garde & Mariechen as folk cheerleaders. If you want to know more about this and see some in action have a look at this video (which, I must warn you, you will not be able to unsee) or this video (basically a mix of Toddlers & Tiaras and the Can Can, start watching at 1min00 in).
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Oct 26

“Imagine an industry where seventy percent of your products lose money.”
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Oct 26

Updating the contemporary vanitas still life: Tara Sellios. I suppose “Lessons of Impermanence” might easily also be called “The Splendid Table.”
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Oct 26

Nigel Bennet is one of the winners of this year’s Conscientious Portfolio Competition. Find my conversation with him here.
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Oct 25

This is an image from Natasja Marie Fourie’s intense Time.Space.Woman.
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Oct 25

For those interested in collage art, there’s an interview with the curator of a show about collage in Brooklyn right here.
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Oct 25

Still in his mid-twenties, Matt Eich has an impressive list of achievements under his belt already. I had a general sense of curiosity about his work, and I figured the best way to learn more about it - and the person behind the camera - was to ask some questions. Find our conversation here.
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Oct 24

“Perhaps instead of setting aside money for competitions, photographers can re-distribute some of that money toward purchasing independent books and zines. It’d be great to see those niche verticals flourish and grow. It would a wise investment too because at some point I’m sure you’ll end up putting out a book and searching for an audience.” - Bryan Formhals
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Oct 24

“Commit! Buy the fucking thing and keep moving. Look, react, COMMIT! Keep breathing.” More here.
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Oct 24

Steve Eiden’s In Search of the Miraculous is a portrayal of organized Christianity in the US. Also don’t miss his project Looking Toward Fort Sumter, focusing on the American Civil War.
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Oct 24

Psychonauts by Francesca E. Harris portrays “persons who explore their minds through the use of psychoactive drugs”.
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Oct 21

New photobook presentations done over the past two weeks: Meat Cook Book (Home and Garden, 1959 and 1969 editions), A Head With Wings by Anouk Kruithof, Mona Lisas of the Suburbs by Ute & Werner Mahler.
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Oct 21

We have become more aware of what we eat, as knowledge of the consequences of a bad diet (heart problems, diabetes, etc.) has become more widely known. Knowing what to eat - and what to avoid - often goes hand in hand with trying to find out where and how what we eat (or use to prepare our food) is being produced. Amazingly enough, I only know of very little photography about this aspect of our lives. Obesity and/or consumption are obvious targets for photographers, but many (most?) other aspects of our food chain are not very often to be found in photographs. (more)
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Oct 21

It’s an old question: How do images work with text? According to what we could call photobook orthodoxy, interestingly enough established after photobooks had been very lively affairs (see Parr/Badger - The Photobook: A History, Vol. 1), there has got to be no text alongside photographs other than a page number and (maybe) the title. When well done, such books work well, but it is also rather obvious that it is pressing many photographic bodies into a formalistic straight jacket that ultimately diminishes what could be had. (more)
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Oct 20

After months of fighting in Libya, the news just arrived that Muammar Gaddafi is dead (notice the James Bond villain detail here: A golden gun). As is probably inevitable, footage of the corpse is making the rounds. If you’ve seen stills - and how could you get around it given it’s being shown almost everywhere - you might not have watched the actual “footage”: a video (or videos? I only watched one), shot with a cell-phone camera. I want to think I’m pretty good at visual pattern recognition, but it was pretty tough. It was very hard to see anything, what with the camera moving so quickly. Mind you, this is not the first time we’ve seen such imagery emerge (remember Neda?), and it had me thinking. (more)
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Oct 20

In Pablo López Luz’s Natura small human figures, enjoying themselves, are embedded in large, often almost overwhelming vistas, placing the focus not on the people but on the world they’re acting in.
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Oct 19

Find out about your rights as a photographer right here. Example: “When in public spaces where you are lawfully present you have the right to photograph anything that is in plain view.” Or: “Police officers may not generally confiscate or demand to view your photographs or video without a warrant.” (via)
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Oct 19

Family by AnaStasia Rudenko looks at domestic violence, using powerful imagery.
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Oct 18

Yaakov Israel’s The Quest for the Man on the White Donkey, complex, multi-faceted project, featuring portraits and landscapes, was my personal pick as a winner of this year’s Conscientious Portfolio Competition. For me, the project captures seemingly disjointed moments in time, offering many hints and as many red herrings. The viewer is invited to come back and re-look at these photographs, to find a slightly different world each time. New details reveal themselves, while old details change their meaning ever so slightly. Instead of pointing at something and saying “This is the way it is” the photographs ask their viewers to discover what is to be found and to ultimately come to their own conclusions. Find my conversation with the photographer about his work here.
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Oct 17

Copies of Monalisen der Vorstädte (“Mona Lisas of the Suburbs” - the book has text both in German and English), a project by Ute and Werner Mahler, have arrived in the US and can now be ordered! To order, go to the Meier & Müller store. For details about the work, see my interview with the artists.
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Oct 17

Valentina Riccardi’s And suddenly they became family is filled with great images.
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Oct 15

If you love looking at functional photographs outside of their original context, this page is probably going to entertain you for a while.
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Oct 14

It is most curious to see the strange obsessiveness that shines through so much of Diane Arbus’ work reflected in so many of the books published about the photographer post mortem. It is almost as if we think that if we managed to get as close as possible to Arbus we would finally be able to understand the work she left behind. Or maybe it’s the same idea that one would employ when taking apart a mechanical clock, laying out all the pieces on the table: That surely is going to teach us how it ticks, isn’t it? Yet photographers are quite unlike mechanical clocks. Photographers are human beings like you and me. Some are more human than others, and the occasional one is all-too-human. (more)
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Oct 14

“The roots of Hallowe’en,” the historical note at the end of Haunted Air informs us, “lie in the ancient pre-Christian Celtic festival of Samhain, or ‘Summer’s End’, a feast to mark the gathering of the harvest, the death of the old year and the birth of the new. Ancestors were remembered, cattle, sheep and pigs were slaughtered and the carcasses burned on huge hillside bonfires (‘bone fires’) in rites of purification and appeasement.” That sounds like a jolly good time, but there was more: “It was believed that on this night the veil separating the worlds of the living and the dead grew thin and ruptured, allowing spirits to pass through and walk unseen but not unheard amongst men. […] Spells of binding and protection were chanted, grotesque skull-faces were carved into turnips, lit with embers or candles and hung from trees or nailed over doorways to ward off malicious revenants.” (more)
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Oct 13

You can pre-view the entire recent (Talent) issue of FOAM Magazine online. I think that’s a brilliant idea. There is no way that leafing through the magazine online can possibly replace looking at the actual object, but if you don’t know what to expect or if you’re curious you can get an idea what the magazine looks like. (more)
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Oct 13

This is an image from Tomas Cochello’s Thirsty Roots.
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Oct 12

Mirjana Vrbaski’s Verses of Emptiness was picked by Caroline von Courten as one of the winners of this year’s Conscientious Portfolio Competition. About the work, Caroline writes “These very simple and yet dense complex photographs invite me to look more closely and to have a conversation in my mind with these photographs and the persons portrayed.” and “Here the limitation and the concentration of the photographic medium reveal themselves at once in an extraordinary way.” I talked with Mirjana about her work in a conversation that you can find here.
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Oct 11

Rob Haggart published a post today with the question Why Does Everyone Think They Need a Photo Book? Since I have been dealing with photobooks in all kinds of capacities (I review photobooks on this website, publish them, teaching classes about them, even remix them, collect them [of course!], etc.) I thought I’d offer my two cents. (more)
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Oct 11

This is an image from Paula Markert’s wonderful Die Verhältnisse, dealing with family life and relationships in ways that I’ve rarely seen. Unfortunately, there is no English translation for the quotes used throughout the piece.
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Oct 11

Whilst in conversation with a friend on the new Gerhard Richter exhibition at Tate Modern, he commentated that he believed Gerhard Richter to be the greatest living painter. Without hesitation and before I myself knew what I was saying, I began to correct him; surely he meant the greatest living artist. (more)
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Oct 10

This is an image from Anthony Hamboussi’s La Petite Ceinture, taken in Paris.
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Oct 8

We Are the 99 Percent is a Tumblr blog, where photography, social protest, and the internet have come together in an amazing way. Here is an interview with the people being the blog, this article talks about why Tumblr was used.
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Oct 8

An excellent documentary called American Juggalo by Sean Dunne, about “the often mocked and misunderstood subculture of Juggalos, hardcore Insane Clown Posse fans”. Also don’t miss The Archive and Man in Van.
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Oct 7

My friend Andrés Marroquín Winkelmann has a new book out, entitled Zapallal | Yurinaki (in North America it’s being sold via photo-eye, in Europe it is being distributed by Kominek). Photographed and produced in Peru, Zapallal | Yurinaki centers on two communities in the country that are struggling with poverty. If you want to see more of the book check out my photobook presentation.
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Oct 7

Given I published posts on What makes a great portrait? (part 2) and What makes a great photo? the next logical step would be to ask “What makes a great artist?” Maybe I’ll simply kick this off by giving my own answer. When I think about photographers (often when being prodded to name photographers I admire) I tend to come back to those who are less defined by that one masterly body of work and more by a living, complex set of bodies of work. This is not because I dislike great, masterly bodies of work - quite on the contrary. There are all kinds of problems associated with that: How do you follow up on something like that? And, inevitably, there’s always the comparison with that one famous book (let’s assume there’s a book), which, I assume, must be just crippling for an artist: How do you deal with that? (I’ve always wanted to ask that question, but I’ve always been too afraid of poking at exactly the sorest possible spot). But for me, there’s even more to the great artist than just that. (more)
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Oct 7

New photobook presentations produced over the past couple of weeks: Zapallal | Yurinaki by Andres Marroquin Winkelmann, Hans-Christian Schink, Tokyo Portraits by Hiroh Kikai, and Alles in Ordnung by Andreas Meichsner. Enjoy!
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Oct 6

Juan Margolles’ Tierra de Nadie looks at what used to be No Man’s Land between West and East Berlin.
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Oct 6

In my final post about this year’s Le Mois de la Photo à Montréal (part 1, part 2) I want to talk about their portfolio reviews. I love talking with photographers about their work. Yet I intensely dislike portfolio reviews, or, more accurately, I dislike those events where you get 20 minutes with a photographer and where you typically are treated like cattle. Of course, I’m fully aware of the fact that my complaints are extremely unlikely to change what has become an industry (which, let’s face it, is quite lucrative for some people). (more)
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Oct 5

This is an image from Irina Rozovsky’s new project In Plain Air. If you’re curious about seeing the book version of One To Nothing check out my photobook presentation.
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Oct 5

Part 2 of my coverage of Le Mois de la Photo à Montréal 2011 takes me to the exhibitions at galleries and museums across the city. Just like in part 1, this is not a complete list of works exhibited. (more)
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Oct 5

“Photographer and rioter doing their job” - that’s the one line that stuck with me in the video posted here. Make sure to watch the whole thing to see some very cliche photographs and to see how they were produced. This is related to a private project I started earlier this year: Using the war in Libya as a basis I started to investigate cliches of photojournalism, filling various folders on my computer with images. It’s extremely disheartening for me to see how easy it has been to add photographs almost on a daily basis. I don’t know what I’m going to do with this collection, I suppose at some stage there’ll be a post about photojournalistic cliche images.
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Oct 4

“Between 2004 and 2009, I photographed vacated industrial facilities in Canada and the United States, mainly asbestos refineries, steel mills and chemical plants. Their back stories are familiar to many: once booming industries unable to face the challenges of changing markets became mothballed, decommissioned, bankrupt.” - Andrew Emond
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Oct 4

This past weekend, I went to Montréal, to see the exhibitions around this year’s Le Mois de la Photo (Month of Photography) (on view until 9 October, 2011). I had never been to this particular festival, and I was curious about what made it differ from other festivals. The way it’s set up is that there is a curator - this year Anne-Marie Ninacs - who defines a theme: “Le Mois de la Photo à Montréal 2011 features artists who, in a certain way, turn their cameras towards themselves and conceive of photography as an introspective process, an opportunity for meditation, a mode of consciousness, even a means of revealing the unconscious.” As you can imagine this description leaves considerable leeway to create exhibitions around it, something which was done - I thought - rather successfully. (more)
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Oct 3

I was supposed to get back from a trip to Montreal last night, but Air Canada first cancelled my flight last night, and now the plane is broken, with delay piling upon delay. Regular posting here will resume tomorrow.
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