Archives

November 2011

SELECT A MONTH:

Nov 30

“Physical Realities of Death deals with the themes of the values of living, the masculinity role and death. These fundamental issues are intriguing but often not easy to bring into conversations. Through careful academic research and interviews with patients and healthcare workers, a collection of stories and information is being retold through the character - Toivo Laukkanen, played by Mr. Tapanai Muranen street-cast by the artist.” - Tristan Cai
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Nov 29

This might be the most poignant photograph showing the effect of cluster bombs (or land mines) I’ve seen in a long time. It was taken by Laura Boushnak as part of her work on cluster-bomb survivors in Lebanon. (related, just a few days ago, UN rejects US-backed cluster bombs regulation bid)
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Nov 28

A recent work related trip took me to San Francisco, where I saw an installation of Jim Goldberg’s Raised by Wolves at Pier 24. Earlier this year, I had already come across an installation that was part of the Deutsche Börse exhibition in Berlin. I had one big impression that I took away from these two exhibitions. Here is a photographer who is really struggling with the medium photography, trying to make it tell the story he wants to tell. To make this clear, by “struggling” I mean a very creative struggle. Maybe “wrestling” would be a better word (if a grown man could wrestle with an abstract concept): Trying to make the medium express something, by bending and twisting and augmenting it. Find the rest of the article here.
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Nov 27

“Much of our media operates within the limits of official discourse, with journalists working on the field of perception through commitments to their national frames […]. Although we still harbour a belief that journalism is indebted to the ethos of the Pentagon Papers or Watergate, fearlessly investigating government failings, much contemporary war coverage directly or indirectly supports military strategies.” - David Campbell (please note that David’s website appears to have some technical issues)
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Nov 27

This past June, Bryan Formhals of LPV Magazine fame wrote an article about All the Photobooks I’ll Never See, which lead to an interesting Twitter conversation with me about photobook meetups. A few weeks ago, I emailed Bryan about organizing one. Since we both love the idea, we emailed ideas back and forth, and we ended up approaching Noah Kalina about hosting it at his studio. Noah agreed to doing it, so it’s on. Find all the details below. (more)
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Nov 25

We don’t take photography by tourists seriously, because they’re not serious about photography. We don’t take photography by tourist information centers seriously, because they’re too serious about the photography looking a certain way. In other words, tourism and photography just don’t gel. Or so the story goes. But maybe that’s wrong. How would we find out? Well, we could simply look at a lot of tourist photographs and brochures produced for tourists. Or we could grab a bunch of serious (aka non-tourist) photographers and tell them to go to the same place to take photographs. The former is simple (and not all that original any longer), the latter is more fun. In a nutshell, that is the idea behind Sight-_Seeing, for which there also is a microsite. (more)
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Nov 24

“Outsiders have long fictionalized the narrative surrounding Appalachia. As a resident of West Virginia I have always been aware of the views others hold of my home, and they have guided me to create my own version of life in the hills. My Appalachia is a granulated depiction based on the false impressions of others, my idealizations and personal experiences.” - Aaron Blum
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Nov 23

Slab City by Claire Martin is a magnificent body of work, portraying a community of squatters in the Colorado Desert.
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Nov 23

We are all sinners. Lest you wonder, I have not had a religious epiphany. However, organized religion can offer surprising insights into the human condition. For a while now, I have been fascinated by the Catholic concept of Indulgence, in particular by abuses in the Middle Ages: People were promised they could buy themselves out of all kinds of sins if they only paid enough money. It’s a bit of a stretch, but an entertaining exercise nonetheless, to ask to what extent looking at - and buying - photography in effect is a contemporary version of just that. (more)
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Nov 22

People who have gone to art school (or have taught at one) might recognize a thing or two in Adam Pape’s Art Works Because I Do.
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Nov 21

It is Viviane Sassen’s images in Hotshoe Gallery’s latest exhibition Other I that emanate from the wall with such effervescence and sincerity one is almost blinded to the work of WassinkLundgren and Alec Soth that also adorn the walls of the gallery. (more)
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Nov 18

It’s the photographer’s nightmare: You have your luggage run through one of the x-ray security scanners at an airport, and your film gets damaged. Of course, you can always try to get your film hand inspected - provided you’re using a US airport, say, but things aren’t as easy to control when you’re in parts of the world where x-ray scanners are everywhere, and where x-ray machines might or might not date from ye olden days. This is the situation Rob Hornstra of The Sochi Project found himself in in Grozny, the capitol of Chechnya: “In the Chechen capital, these scanners are not only placed at the entrance to the airport or government buildings, but also to shops, gyms, restaurants and outside on squares.” (more)
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Nov 18

These are the most recent additions to my growing archive of video photobook presentations: Redwood Saw by Richard Rothman, Finders, Keepers by Rosamond Wolff Purcell & Stephen Jay Gould, The Chinese by Liu Zheng, Dream City by Anoek Steketee and Eefje Blankevoort. Needless to say, the only real experience of a photobook is to be had holding it, and going through it. If you like what you see in a video go and get the book - there is much more to explore than what you see in those five, ten minutes.
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Nov 17

These photographs of Americans living in poverty, a Time Magazine commission for Joakim Eskildsen, are very much worth a visit. A companion read: 57 members of Congress among wealthy 1%.
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Nov 17

“This photographic series is informed by sensory-memory retrievals from these moments of my early childhood, a time when I was afflicted by a severe visual impairment, a condition known as Exotropia. These images are an attempt to recreate the distortion as well as the feeling provided from exotropia’s out of body experience.” - John Rohrer
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Nov 16

The Burn by Jane Fulton Alt contains images of controlled prairie burns, using the process as a metaphor for creative destruction.
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Nov 15

“The making of art has very little to do with galleries. These places are, in the sense that they are commercial galleries, interested in a particular and very narrow kind of art that can be displayed within a space in a particular kind of way, they are interested in people who can produce work that galleries can show. And so people produce the kind of work that they can show, they kind of work that sells, the kind of work that wealthy people like - which is problematic. It’s a symbiotic relationship where what galleries, gallery consumers, and gallery feeders produce is intricately linked in an unbalanced but self-replicating chain.” - Colin Pantall
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Nov 15

This is an image from Zane Davis’ Chicago River.
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Nov 14

Aaron Hobson’s Cinemascapes were created using Google Street View, staying clear of both gimmicky ha-ha effects and of documentary ideas.
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Nov 13

A few thoughts on yet another auction record for a photograph.
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Nov 11

A good photobook acts very much like a vortex. It sucks you in, twirling you around, mis- and then re-orienting you, leaving you dizzy, a bit bewildered, and excited (A bad photobook just sucks). Richard Rothman’s Redwood Saw is such a vortex. (more)
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Nov 10

Photographs from the mess that is Afghanistan: François Fleury’s Afghanistan - Blast.
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Nov 9

What facial expressions do we make when we sing in the shower? asks Noel Manalili with his project Rapture.
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Nov 8

The other day, Aaron Hobson sent me an email with the subject line of this post, asking “I was wondering if art galleries, blogs, and magazines will soon only be filled with socially outgoing, marketing driven artists that also enter competitions?” If the social-media cheerleaders are to be believed the answer clearly would have to simply be “Yes.” (more)
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Nov 8

Brian Kaplan’s I’m Not On Your Vacation portrays Cape Cod as a bit of a melancholic, quiet place.
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Nov 7

Valeria Mitelman’s website is filled with images, this one’s from Circus, focusing on artists working in Belarus’ state circus.
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Nov 4

South Africa’s recent history is one of those wonderful stories. Apartheid was finally dismantled in the 1990s, and a new country, with everybody having the same rights and the same freedom, was born. At least on paper. The reality is not quite as rosy. Here is the OECD reporting on the situation: “South Africa’s high aggregate level of income inequality increased between 1993 and 2008. The same is true of inequality within each of South Africa’s four major racial groups. Income poverty has fallen slightly in the aggregate but it persists at acute levels for the African and Coloured racial groups. Poverty in urban areas has increased. There have been continual improvements in non-monetary well-being (for example, access to piped water, electricity and formal housing) over the entire post-Apartheid period up to 2008.” There’s more: “In the third quarter of 2010, 29.80% of blacks were officially unemployed, compared with 22.30% of coloureds, 8.60 of Asians and 5.10% of whites.” (source, with further reference therein) (more)
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Nov 4

When you buy a photobook do you ever look “under the hood”? Do you ever look what’s under the dust cover? I’m guessing most people don’t do that because what’s there to see? Well, as it turns out, there could be quite a lot to be seen. Here are two of the most recent examples I’ve come across. The first is Ian van Coller’s Interior Relations, published by Charles Lane Press. The second is Safety First by The Sochi Project.
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Nov 4

New photobook presentations from the past two weeks: Houseplants (Better Homes & Gardens 1959), The Works of Nobuyoshi Araki 6 - Tokyo Novel, Der Rote Bulli, Safety First by The Sochi Project.
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Nov 3

It was Tod Papageorge who said “If your pictures are not good enough, you aren’t reading enough.” (ref. via) That’s not what photographers like to hear, is it? They’ve just got used to the fact that they have to spend a lot of time on “social networking” and PR (something that clearly is taking away a lot of time from photography), and now they’re supposed to read? What’s that all about? But maybe writing has more in common with photography than one might think. Maybe looking at photographs has more in common with reading a novel than one might think. (more)
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Nov 3

For The British Watershed Line, Jason Bascombe produced beautiful landscapes near the line that divides water flowing east (towards the North Sea) and west (towards the Atlantic Ocean).
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Nov 3

“Is it really so surprising that, as we grow wealthier as a society, more and more of our young people, when the amazing resources of the modern university are put at their disposal, choose to use them learning something satisfying and enriching and not for anything except cherishing the rest of their lives? Is it really so surprising that taxpayers are not in revolt over the existence of poetry professors? […] I spent last evening reading a fine Pulitzer prize-winning novel by a graduate of a state-university creative-writing program. I appreciate everything math majors do for us. I really do. But, as far as I know, a math major has never made me cry.” - W.W. at The Economist’s Democracy in America Update (3 Nov 2011): Via Twitter, Richard Bram aptly observes: “Some math majors became financial products gurus & came up with things that crashed the system in ‘08. Many people cried.”
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Nov 2

“I’m just wondering why I didn’t hear more about how we, as artists, can use a variety of skill sets and methods to expand the reach of our work, to recruit new viewers, to communicate a message in a manner that will speak to more people, without dumbing down the art in the process.” - Jonathan Blaustein
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Nov 2

“This series of images is a reflection of the mentally ill who exist in the suburbs of Britain. Suburbia is ‘home’ for many people and yet behind closed doors a number of untold drama’s play out daily.” - Daniel Keys about his Silent Spring
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Nov 1

If you want to apply for the Hyères 2012 Photography Festival now is the time. The deadline is 15 November, 2011. It’s a fantastic opportunity for photographers - if you end up as one of the ten finalists you’re in for a total treat.
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Nov 1

Truer by Sophia Wallace is an autobiographical body of work about love and female desire.
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Nov 1

Denis Tarasov’s Zoo uses simple reflections very smartly to create an often unsettling view of animals held in captivity.
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Nov 1

I could be wrong about this but I think the internet and especially social media have come with an increased amount of self reflexiveness. I suppose if we were so inclined we could call this “navel gazing.” But clearly, there appears to be a lot of writing about social media themselves (just like debates about photography have increasingly moved towards talking about the business of photography - to the point where you can have a workshop about the business of photography without any photographers as presenters). The backlash seems inevitable: People pointing out that life without the internet and/or social media is entirely worthwhile. (more)
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