Archives

May 2012

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May 31

This is an image from Floszmann Atilla’s Stadt-Theater, photographs taken in Budapest, Hungary.
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May 30

I don’t know how convincing I find this article about Richard Prince and his antics in court. There are quite a few interesting nuggets in it, though, such as this one: “Any case where lawyers argue what is or isn’t art tends to have some kind of critical value, if only because it serves as a kind of plain-English catalog essay reduction. The Prince case goes beyond this, though, and begins to enter the realm of technical support in the artist’s bizarre refusal to defend his works on a basic level, which, regardless of Mr. Prince’s intent, makes a curious statement about them at a time when the courts have, in some instances, become a place for artistic expression.”
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May 30

Yannik Willing’s Roadside portray Norwegian landscapes along with man-made constructions (typically infrastructure) placed inside them - our contemporary experience of landscape.
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May 29

“In this project [Le Soleil moribond (2009/2012)] I want to make portraits of these women not while they are ‘selling’ their bodies on video in private, but instead when they are in a state of both intimacy and solitude, almost as if they had forgotten to be visible to an audience.” - Osvaldo Sanviti
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May 28

Photography is memory. Memory is photography. If it only were that simple! Maybe we need to be more precise. It’s never a good idea to begin an article with nitpicking, but in this case there is no other way. According to Collins English Dictionary (accessed via dictionary.com) memory, the word, can stand for somewhat different things, including “the sum of everything retained by the mind” and “a particular recollection of an event, person, etc”. Let’s focus on the latter here, the particular recollection of something. We can hope that once we’ve figured out how photographs work as such recollections, we will be able to say something about how photographs relate to the whole, the sum of everything retained in the mind. Find the rest of this essay here.
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May 27

Duckrabbit’s Benjamin Chesterton just published an article about photographs by photojournalist Ron Haviv being used for the arms industry. The ads can be found on the photographer’s website. On his own blog, Haviv responded. What are we to make of this? (more; updated below)
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May 25

It seems safe to guess that many people will just hate the 2011 reissue of Karyudo (A Hunter) by Daido Moriyama. Instead of opting for the original layout the publisher, one of Japan’s largest and - as a Japanese student of mine told me - well known for its manga comics, produced a small book, with full-bleed images across the gutter (if its any consolation, the reissue of Japan: A Photo Theater even cuts up at least one image and produces two spreads out of it). I haven’t seen the original book (a quick Ebay search taught me I could either buy a copy or pay rent for half a year), but I’m absolutely loving this new version. (more)
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May 25

Germans aren’t so eager to go to war any longer. Here’s the irony: The very same countries that after World War 2 set out to exorcise German militarism are now complaining about the country’s unwillingness to fight wars. There are German soldiers (“troops”) in various locations, though. German warships are fighting pirates off the coast of Somalia, and there are German soldiers in Afghanistan. (more)
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May 24

“Since well before the invention of the photocopier, media industries have pursued a consistent if counter-productive legal strategy of responding to disruptive technologies that decrease costs and open new markets by lobbying for extensions to copyright terms, increased penalties, and criminalizing more behaviors. Their theory—if there is one—is that technologies that make it cheaper to create and distribute content also make it cheaper to violate copyright (see Napster, et. al.). Cheaper production is ignored, while increased potential for violations requires enhanced penalties that can’t, in any case, be enforced. It’s a lose-lose-lose strategy for producers, creators, and consumers. And it’s a loop we’ve been stuck in for decades.” - full story
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May 24

“Much fanfare greeted the $388m made by Christie’s post-war and contemporary evening sale in New York earlier this month—its highest total ever. Few seemed to notice that the auction was unprecedented in another way: it had ten lots by eight women artists, amounting to a male-to-female ratio of five-to-one. (Sotheby’s evening sale offered a more typical display of male-domination with an 11-to-one ratio.) Yet proceeds on all the works by women artists in the Christie’s sale tallied up to a mere $17m—less than 5% of the total and not even half the price achieved that night by a single picture of two naked women by Yves Klein. Indeed, depictions of women often command the highest prices, whereas works by them do not.” - The Economist
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May 24

Ronan Guillou’s American Series is subdivided into six separate section, which are a bit too literal for me. That minor gripe aside, there’s some amazing photography in them - make sure to look at each section.
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May 23

These are two photographs from Bronxites, a photography project by Chantal Heijnen. The photographer writes “Through a mutual friend, a very unlikely but special friendship arose between Gilbert, who lives in the Bronx for almost 40 years and me, a young photographer from The Netherlands. In 2008 Gilbert gave me the opportunity to move to the Bronx, to share space in his apartment and pursue my long-held ambition to photograph individuals from communities rarely seen.”
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May 23

I sense a growing backlash over so-called social media in the photography community. It seems as if more and more photographers are coming to the realization that spending too much time with social media simply takes away time you could spend on more useful things (such as doing real work or maintaining actual business relationships). The latest article I’ve come across was written by David Saxe: “For any of you aspiring photographers who want to build your businesses, consider this advice: Talk to people directly. When you address someone directly in conversation, there is a good chance they may be listening to you. If you do it via social network sites, they might read you but they will rarely respond.”
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May 22

It’s hard to pick just one photograph from Miguel Proenca’s Behind the Hill, but I figured this one would do. Faith and superstition (or rather their remnants) in the modern world.
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May 21

I thought it might not hurt to address the thoughts I recently outlined in Photography and Place, using a specific location as an example. Given the photographic representation of Appalachia has been very heavily discussed over the past few weeks (c.f. the Perpetuating the Visual Myth of Appalachia posts on Roger May’s blog) I figured this particular region might provide a good jump-off point. Find the full piece here.
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May 21

These photographs are from Jiri Makovec’s Untitled ( for Jiajia ). I like them individually, but I also like how they work together.
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May 18

When I come to New York City, I stay in the area that is being portrayed in Brian Rose’s Time and Space on the Lower East Side. As a matter of fact, I realized a little while ago that when I say “New York” I really only mean Manhattan. I noticed this when I talked to someone, and they told me they lived in Brooklyn. Of course, people will never tell you they live in Brooklyn, instead they live in Greenpoint or wherever else. I have no idea where any of those areas are. People usually are nice enough to then add “Brooklyn” when they realize they’ve run into someone not in the know (which, needless to say, is the mortal sin in NY). When I come to New York I pretty much never go to Brooklyn unless I have to. I also leave the Lower East Side/East Village only when I have to (for example to go to Chelsea). (more)
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May 18

I suspect that the reasons why I am not very interested in street photography at all and why Paul Graham worked on what has now been published as The Present might be not so dissimilar. Sure, it’s fun to see a photograph of the moment when the fat lady looked at the skinny statue (or the other way around). If you feel particularly frisky you can now look for those moments without even leaving the comfort of your home, using Google’s Street View. But at the end of the day, you’re reducing what can be an amazing experience - life in the street, the hustle and bustle of the world - to a bunch of snapshots. I suppose that’s fine, but I personally don’t need to see any more of it. If I want street photography, I take a walk, and I look. (more)
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May 18

New photobook presentations: Handbook to the Stars by Peter Puklus, Metalheads by Jörg Brüggemann, and The Present by Paul Graham.
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May 17

“Beirut is a city that lives on present, and it’s in the present that it seems to project itself. It’s probably a short-term but, at the same time, very solid projection. The pursuit of immediate fullness is evident everywhere, in the uninterrupted urban growth, in the economic and cultural boosts and, of course, in the youth-life, constantly in search for emancipation, amusement, fulfillment. There is no doubt that the city (probably the most open-minded city of the Middle East) offers the possibility to satisfy all that.” - Roberto Boccaccino about On the Side
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May 17

Yesterday, I remembered an article I talked about on this blog five years ago. Back then, people were interested in “flaming” - why do people leave insanely nasty comments on other people’s websites? The answer came in the form of the “online disinhibition effect”: When you are in front of another person, some parts of your brain will prevent you from being a jerk. When you are not in front of another person, but your computer screen, those barriers fall. (more)
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May 17

“Internet artists, for all of their digital-native wisdom, should know better than to think .JPEGs are a viable commodity when they’ve seen multi-billion dollar industries like music, film, and newspapers run around like baffled idiots for the past decade trying to figure out why they can’t sell MP3s, MOVs, and PDFs like they used to in traditional media.” - Brad Troemel
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May 16

This is an image from Óscar Monzón’s Sweet Car, which has just the right mix of everything that might happen in your car. Simple, and good.
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May 15

I wasn’t really going to delve into the issue, not even with my very short post last week about the recent kerfuffle around the portrayal of Appalachia. But Colin Pantall just published some thoughts about it (scroll down, past the images of sick people). He asks “Who wants to know what Appalachia really looks like? Especially when that ‘really looks like’ is up for negotiation in the first place.” There we are, right at the source of the problem. (more)
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May 15

This is an image from Rachel Cox’s The past 8 Years, an extended portrait of the photographer’s grandmother. (via)
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May 14

Paula Winkler’s Exceptional Encounters contains portraits of men found through internet sex forums. (via)
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May 11

From January to December 1979, Japanese photographer Keizo Kitajima showed his photographs of Tokyo in a somewhat different way. Every month, there would be a new selection of photographs on display at a gallery, often with all kinds of innovative ways to show them (incl., but not limited to, creating prints onto photographic paper hanging on a wall). In addition to the show, every month there was a 16 page booklet, showcasing the work. These booklets have now been reissued, in facsimile, as Photo Express Tokyo. (more)
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May 11

A photobook is like a sentence, or a story. There is a beginning and an end. Whatever story you want to tell (provided there is one) you need to fit inside, between the covers. Per se, this format allows for an amazing range of options. But what if there is no story, or if you want images to relate to each other not as “this one comes after that one,” but as “this one relates to that one, but also to that one and that one”? You could, of course, group all of these images in a single spread, but then that spread becomes its own self-containing unit. What can you do if you want to escape from this restriction? (more)
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May 10

It’s safe to assume Appalachia doesn’t look like what CNN made it to look like (the edit on view here might be different than the original one - c.f. the article linked to below), editing a series of photographs by Stacy Kranitz. This edit caused quite the uproar. Roger May just published an article about it, in which he quotes the photographer’s reaction to the edit: “I feel ashamed and humiliated for trusting CNN. I am stunned that they would take my work out of context.” There also is an interview with the photographer here. This will not make it any better, but this story isn’t new. I’ve heard the exact same thing from photojournalists working with newspapers and magazines. I think there are two things we can learn from this. First, the internet can serve as a corrective when it comes to these kinds of events. Second, this story can also teach us a valuable lesson about stories that come from places outside of the US. It’s very important to keep the mechanisms that created the CNN story in mind when viewing, for example, photography produced in places like Africa.
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May 10

Jane Hilton’s Dead Eagle Trail portrays American cowboys, who might just be the most quintessential characters of the American West.
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May 10

Stuart Bailes’ Ruin Value carries a heavy weight. Not unlike Nietzsche’s heaviest weight it will either transform the viewer or crush them; as Bailes himself remarks, “It’s about deciding to understand or not to understand”. To understand what though? To understand infers a finitude, an end to a thought -an end of an idea. Indeed, perhaps the word ‘understand’ is not quite right, or perhaps it needs to be preceded by words such as ‘endeavouring to’: It’s about endeavouring to understand or not to understand. We arrive then at an act of sorts, something that does not have an end as such. Again, like Nietzsche’s burden, we are compelled to return eternally to the image, to the question it poses, never understanding, but forever lingering in its indeterminate proposition. (more)
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May 9

As is obvious from the title, Jacob Mooty’s Way Out West focuses on the American West, its myths, and the ideas that can be projected onto it. (via)
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May 7

This image above shows part of Peter Puklus’ Handbook to the Stars, the presentation of which I’m sure will make quite a few people unhappy. What you see in your web browser is never the full installation, instead, you need to scroll left and right, up and down to see images and groups of images. The corresponding book is already available - more on that at some other time.
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May 4

Produced at the occasion of a retrospective at the Museum Folkwang in Essen, Germany, Arbeit / Work by Chris Killip is of course that, a collection of the photographer’s work. But it is also more. It is a (timely?) reminder what a photographer working as a documentarian can do. We have tied ourselves into tight knots, arguing about truth and reality in photographs, about whether or now documentary photography has to be truthful or not. But we also have lost sight of what documentary photography can achieve when it is well done. (more)
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May 4

With the spring term essentially being over, I now have time to produce photobook presentations again. So here is the latest batch: Screendump #1, 80s SWM seeks LTR by Federico Ciamei, and Good Mother and Father by Sacha Maric. If you want to watch them as they’re being published you can simply subscribe to my YouTube channel.
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May 3

Imperial Pictures by Matt Gainer focuses on the American Southwest borderlands, tying together ideas of the American West with the topic of illegal immigration from Mexico.
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May 2

There is a presentation of Ben Lowy’s iPhone photos over at Lens blog, which includes an interview with the photographer (you can find my earlier interview with Lowy here). Jon Anderson wrote an article commenting on the Lens post, which is well worth the read. (more)
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May 2

Kourtney Roy’s Auto-Portraits combine the self portrait with the idea of the staged narrative. I personally prefer the diptychs over the single shots - given the often added visual complexity.
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May 1

Newsha Tavakolian’s “Listen” portrays six female Iranian professional singers who are subjected to severe restrictions due to the country’s Islamic laws. There also is a video installation that goes along the body of work.
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