Archives

October 2012

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Oct 31

For me, Suburban Scenes by Daniel Mayrit is by far the most interesting Google Street View work so far. Instead of looking for images, the artist artificially creates them, thus adding a whole new conceptual layer: Mayrit asks us to consider both what we see and what we expect (thus indirectly undermining many claims made by other artists working with GSV).
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Oct 30

Someone told me the other day that the art market in its current form was unsustainable. I don’t know whether that’s true. But it might as well be. A few days later, I found a piece written by Sarah Thornton entitled Top 10 reasons not to report on the art market, which you want to read. Again a few days later, the art world experienced the wrath of Dave Hickey: “Art editors and critics - people like me - have become a courtier class. All we do is wander around the palace and advise very rich people. It’s not worth my time.”
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Oct 30

I was unable to find much about Rosa Rendl other than that she has done a fair amount of fashion assignments. I’m personally not very interested in fashion photography, but Rendl’s work is one of those rare cases where something interesting seems to be happening.
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Oct 29

Ilse Frech’s Zjeitu: Document Nederland 2010 portrays the Antilles. “A matriarchal culture exists on these islands: the women work, bring up their children and pass life on from generation to generation.” (quoted from the project’s text)
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Oct 26

Before seeing the book Esther Kroon I had not heard of the photographer. Twenty years ago, at the age of 25, Kroon was shot and killed in Guatemala, leaving behind an archive of photographs of children she had taken in Barcelona and Amsterdam (for more details and images see this page). Her work has now been published by Van Zoetendal Publishers, and it deserves to be seen widely. (more)
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Oct 25

“In this book,” writes Tom Hunter in the introduction to The Way Home, “I have set out many of the bodies of work I have created over the last twenty-five years while making my journey through the streets of Hackney, trying to make sense of this urban maze and find my way home.” And: “While my subject has always been Hackney, the influences behind my art practice are found in the work of Johannes Vermeer, the Pre-Raphaelites and, latterly, a whole raft of art historical paintings.” These words set the scene for the photographs in the book, an impressive range of work.
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Oct 24

This is an image from Katrin Koenning’s multi-volume Near, an ongoing portrait of the photographer’s family.
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Oct 23

Nanna Hänninen’s latest photographs (2012) might be my favourite of all her work so far.
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Oct 22

This is an interesting story about a collector who estimates he has amassed more than 35,000 vernacular photographs: “There are a huge number of collectors who just collect one or two themes—girls with dogs, boys with bikes, snapshots from a particular year. I buy a wide range of pictures because I like the images. If I look through 50 photographs, there will be 50 different reasons why I like them.” A small part of the collection has now been compiled into Dive Dark Dream Slow by Melissa Catanese.
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Oct 21

A simple way to summarize what I talked about in part one of How to tell a story with pictures would be to say: “To tell a story with pictures you first have to understand how photographs operate.” That sounds obvious and simple, yet is not a given. By its nature, photography lends itself to simple, often literal interpretations, and such an approach can only lead to simple, if not simplistic stories. Before proceeding, I need to talk about what I actually mean when I use the word “story.” Find the full piece here.
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Oct 19

Photography derives its power not from what it shows, but from what we think it says. Seemingly very specific, photographs are anything but - which means that at least in photography, the idea of the death of the author is flawed: There never was an author in the first place. Instead, the photographer always is just the instigator, the person standing next to you who’ll whisper secrets into your ear to make you believe in certain things. With Elementary Calculus, J Carrier plays that role well, understanding what photographs do, and how they do that. Focusing on our (shared) desire to connect to one another, the book focuses on migrant workers living in Israel who have to rely on pay phones to talk to their loved ones back home.
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Oct 18

I’ll admit: I wanted to like Cary Markerink’s Memory Traces so much, especially after reading Hester Keijser’s (somewhat gushing) two-part review of it. But I just ended up being incredibly torn. It might seem slightly unfair to start a review this way, but the moment you hold the box, the object’s physicality muscles itself into the center of your attention. There are three books that come in a box, two smaller ones and a massive, oversized one. Marc Feustel, in his review, called the project “outrageously ambitious,” and if anything - that it is. But the crucial question, at least for me, is whether the content matches the size of both ambition and the main book. (more)
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Oct 17

Dany Peschl’s To the Mountains was named after a song by Norwegian death metal band Satyricon (if you must know this is it).
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Oct 16

Large parts of Iñaki Bergera’s personal work refer to parts of the history of photography, such as, for example, 26 Gas Stations.
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Oct 15

If I wanted to tell a story with pictures, just with pictures, how would I go about that? I could probably give you one photograph (see above) and tell you that’s my story. Chances are you wouldn’t take that for much of a story. And you’d probably be right, even though some photographers manage to tell stories with single pictures. But for the most part, we think of photographs as something else, not as stories, but as facts or documents. Or maybe it would be better to state that we think of photographs more as facts than as stories. This was summed up by Aaron Schuman who stated: “A photograph is only a minute fragment of an experience, but quite a precise, detailed, and telling fragment. And although it might only provide little clues, the photographer is telling us that they are very important clues.” Find the full piece here.
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Oct 15

“The anxiety associated with viewing images of naked children within the context of an art museum seems to clash with the fact that photographs of children, clothed or not, are some of the most ubiquitous in our social and familial lives. Any brief perusal of Facebook, Flickr, or an old-fashioned photo album reveals the naïve nudity of children to be common in our quotidian visual environment.” - found in a LACMA blog post about one of their shows
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Oct 15

Between Angela Merkel’s suits, sorted by colour, the girls of Berlusconi, and men who made £1bn as banks were bailed out, The Spectacle of the Tragedy (Visual Database of the European Show and its Leading Actors) pretty much has all aspects of contemporary politics in Europe covered. When’s the US version coming? (found here)
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Oct 15

There’s a wonderful essay about portrait-studio photography over at The Awl that I can only recommend to anyone interested in portraiture.
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Oct 12

I’m always wondering why the accordion/laparello format is so rarely used for photobooks. What at first might seem an awkward way to organize photography - one long, folded strip of images - after all has its advantages: You can look at an accordion book like a bound one, turning “pages,” and you can unfold parts (or the whole piece) and see more images. Peter Dekens’ Touch, the portrait of Stijn, a blind man, is a great example of how the format can be used well (order the book here). Photographed in Stijn’s apartment, during a short winter day, Touch has us enter a world filled with little light, with the book translating the photographer’s difficulties of finding his way around into a unique experience. (more)
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Oct 11

After the implosion of the Soviet Union, ethnic and religious tensions that had been held in check by Communist regimes and their ruthless application of power erupted along long-dormant fault lines. It was as if things had been frozen into place in the 1940s, and the post-Communist thaw allowed them to move again. The Balkans and Caucasus regions have since seen wars and mini-wars that most people had thought of as events of the past. The Caucasus, in particular, has proven to be a veritable mine field, with, seemingly, every village being if not at war then at least in some sort of conflict with its neighbouring village (if you think that’s hyperbole read The Sochi Project’s Empty land, Promised land, Forbidden land). Westerners for the most part have had a hard time understanding and/or following the various conflicts, and regardless, most of them seem far away and thus inconsequential (people will not easily admit this, of course).
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Oct 10

The sheer number of images in Lee Mawdsley’s archives is almost overwhelming. The Sci / Tech / Med might provide a good jump-off point. (via)
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Oct 9

“Holding Still is a collection of found travel photographs from a woman’s estate. Nothing is known about her other than that she was a resident of Vancouver, Canada. After feeling a strong affinity to her aesthetic and photographic sensibilities, I decided to scan and archive her images to share.” - Jennilee Marigomen
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Oct 8

As I mentioned earlier, I have been very actively involved in the Hartford Art School International Limited-Residency Photography MFA Program. A large part of the attraction for me is the fact that photobooks play such an integral part of the program itself. To graduate, students not only have to present their photographs in an exhibition, they also have to produce a book (hence the tables in the above photographs: That’s where the books were displayed). The first published book to emerge from the program is J Carrier’s Elementary Calculus (J did the book during the first year, and he actually graduated with a second, different book!).
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Oct 8

This image is part of Tina Hillier’s project USA - Hillier’s USA, a very interesting place.
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Oct 7

I finally found the time to watch the series of web documentaries about conceptual photography, produced by Source. To be honest, I was a bit apprehensive before watching it, because I have a love-hate relationship with this type of photography (assuming, of course, there is such a thing - at the beginning of the third installment, Oliver Chanarin dismisses the idea outright): I like (and occasionally love) conceptual photography, but I absolutely hate a lot of the talk generated around it (the kind of talk where you might as well call the thing “academic photography” - you’ll find some in the series). That aside, I find the idea of creating presentations around photography like these ones very interesting, and I hope there will be more.
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Oct 6

Earlier this year, social-media behemoth Facebook announced that every day, its user were uploading 300 million images per day. That’s a pretty impressive number, the relevance of which, I think, is debatable, though. Regardless of what you make of the number, it’s fairly obvious that photography is being widely used. It might be worthwhile to point out that the vast majority of photographs created on this planet are not being produced by artists, professionals, or academics - unlike the vast majority of writing about photography. So when I read that someone writes how people mistrust photography I always wonder why there are 300 million new photographs on Facebook every day when nobody trusts photography. That aside, Facebook and the internet as a whole appear to be a pretty spectacular archive or library of photographs. This is where it gets interesting. Find the rest of the article here.
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Oct 5

“Polish greyness has particular tones,” writes Michał Olszewski in one of the texts in Poland - In Search of Diamonds by Tomasz Wiech, “and there’s more madness in it than elsewhere, more energy, more rage and unresolved despair, so much of which has soaked into the ground that it scrambles out at every opportunity. Greyness lined with madness is an explosive mixture. Polish autumn depression is a state which doesn’t have much in common with Oblomov’s past indolence.” Elsewhere, the author writes of “smells of burning plastic, yet another of the new smells of Poland.” I have never been to Poland, but these sentences certainly seem like an apt description of the world Wiech has (re-(?))created in the book. (more)
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Oct 4

If there was one shortcoming I’d need to point out about Metsästä by Anne Golaz it’s the conversation with Nathalie Herschdorfer and Anna-Kaisa Rastenberger at the very end of the book: It’s pulling away the curtain. Once I realized this, I stopped reading straight away. If there is magic to be had - as there is - let there be magic. Don’t let the curators take it away. On her own website, the artist describes Metsästä as follows: “It is a work partly autobiographic, fictional and documentary, a story both chilling and amazing, where men are hunting missing preys, devoting themselves to magic and decadent rituals, while female carachters [sic!] become fascinating and timeless icons.” People want descriptions, people need descriptions, and this is a good one. The little essay by Golaz in the book is even better.
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Oct 3

You might have noticed that certain topics serve as strange attractors of contemporary photography discussions. They just keep going (or coming back), again and again. There is nothing particularly wrong with this per se, because there are quite a few topics we still need to figure out. But those topics aren’t the one frequently discussed. Instead, it’s Instagram and whether or not that’s helping or hurting photography, or Google Street View and whether or not that’s even photography. You get the idea. To be honest, what frustrates me about those kinds of discussions is not that I don’t want to talk about Instagram or Google Street View. I do think there are quite a few aspects that deserve to be discussed. But there are only so many articles I can take about whether or not Google Street View is photography or not, or what “curation” might mean in the digital age. How about talking about the merit of that work? (more)
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Oct 3

“There was no man that my father admired more than his father, and no one his father admired more than the man who raised him.” writes McNair Evans in the introduction of A Journal of Southern History, a wonderful project that avoids all the usual cliches and dives deep into the family’s history. “With tenderness of heart, warm humor, and deep love, my father met everyone as his equal. Working at factories and farms my family owned shaped my perception of the world in familial stability. […] Upon his death in November 2000, I was exposed to my father’s insolvency and looming debts. A series of devastating fires, bad crops, perpetual over-extension and high-interest loans were his legacy. Five generations of familial and financial stability fractured beneath me.”
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Oct 2

Some helpful tips from James Luckett on how to write/edit a statement: “You have no duty to the facts. Your loyalty is to the honesty of your ideas, emotions, dreams, desires and needs; what Werner Herzog calls the ecstatic truth.” (c.f. my version, much longer, alas)
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Oct 2

This is an image from Metsästä by Anne Golaz, a complex visual drama, imagined somewhere in Finland.
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Oct 1

Julie Cockburn works with photographs (alongside other media), by cutting them up and re-assembling them, or by embroidering on top of them.
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