Archives

December 2012

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Dec 31

I found myself at the local mall yesterday, at the book shop, to look at magazines. I live in the countryside where not much ever happens. A tornado might come through, or a strip club might explode, but those are very rare events. And regardless, they tend to happen further down south. I certainly did not expect to look up from some magazine to see a car on fire right outside of the building I was in. Find the full article here.
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Dec 28

It’s the end of another year, one that - at least for me - by far surpassed the previous one in terms of photobook making. This year, I found it much easier to pick my favourite photobooks. In fact I picked so many that it’s anything but a “top ten”. In alphabetical order, here they are.
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Dec 27

Helena Schätzle has made the book that previous generations of German photographers were unwilling or unable to deal with: Confronting the country’s past, Nazi Germany’s genocidal war. Of course, there is no way a single book, by a single artist, could possibly deal with the every facet of the horror World War 2 inflicted upon Europe, and especially upon, to use a term coined by historian Timothy Snyder, the Bloodlands. But 9645 Kilometer Erinnerung covers a whole lot (the German title notwithstanding, the book contains text both in German and English; you can order the book via your friendly online retailer - Americans might have to use the .co.uk variant).
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Dec 26

“This series focuses on several teenage girls aged between 13-16 and how they are stuck in-between childhood and adulthood. Their actions and environments show characteristics of both, desperate to grow up but retaining certain aspects of their youth. From getting ready for a party to the decoration of their rooms, this series portrays the different attributes of a typical teenage girl in Britain. The series displays a juxtaposition between the sexualisation of these girls and the surroundings that reflect upon their childhood.” - Susie Brady about She Used to be My Best Friend but She’s a Right Slut Now
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Dec 24

If there’s one thing I learned it is that it’s impossible to predict which articles on this site will be widely read and which ones won’t. In particular, there is no correlation between the articles I like the most and the ones that end up being popular. At times, I find that slightly hard to deal with, even though I am usually very good at reminding myself that such is life. With that in mind I decided to look back and to highlight my own personal favourite articles this past year (regardless of how widely read they were).
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Dec 21

What is there left to say about film photography? I suppose nothing really. At the time of this writing, it is not quite dead, yet, and it might never fully die. But with consumers having abandoned film for the convenience of digital photography, film photography has become a small niche, and that’s just the way it is. The only real question might be whether colour film will survive or not (black and white appears safe in the hands of a small number of very dedicated producers), and that’s mostly a question for that small number of photographers who still use it (me included). (more)
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Dec 20

Winter is upon us, yet again, at least in the Northern Hemisphere. This means “the holidays” (incl. Listmas, if you spend too much time online), and then the long wait for spring, as if winter itself had nothing to offer. It would seem it doesn’t. People would rather pretend they’re enjoying themselves in sweltering summer heat instead of going for a walk in the winter. I don’t know why that is. I will admit that I enjoy the seasons, and I am actually fairly suspicious of places where there are none. The seasons are life, or maybe more accurately the circle of life we’re all subject to - whether we like it or not. Dismissing or rejecting the seasons means dismissing or rejecting life, and clinging to a surreal fantasy (it’s no coincidence Hollywood is in a place that doesn’t know actual seasons). After all, winter, our winter, is going to get us all, eventually.
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Dec 19

Goseong Choi’s Meji transforms barren wastelands into oddly compelling semi-abstract imagery.
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Dec 18

Gaia Danieli’s Thoughts unsaid, then forgotten looks at the domestic lives of couples, and at how much we might really know of another person.
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Dec 17

“All I really knew when I started this project was that I wanted to photograph in my father’s town of birth. For years I had thought about documenting life in Iowa. I flew over, got a rental car and started driving around. This place, where I had been so many times since my childhood, felt different now while looking through a viewfinder.” - Kevin Mertens, introducing Hurtland
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Dec 17

Tom Griggs wrote a lengthy article, reacting to a comment I (and others) had to something he had written earlier (all the relevant information can be found in his recent piece). I thought I’d respond. (more)
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Dec 14

“In preparing the work,” writes Mikhael Subotzky at the beginning of Retinal Shift1, “I went through every photograph I had ever taken, and chose those where the process of looking, or being looked back at, was resonant.” Added to those were then scanned portraits from Who’s Who of Southern Africa, stills (plus text) from various videos, plus images taken from the photographer’s home, shot through the window with the camera’s shutter button depressed as long as the machine would take photographs. The resulting collection of images makes for a compelling, yet maybe slightly lengthy experience. (more)
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Dec 13

I got a book in the mail, a brick of a book really, which says “Deutschland / Gerry Johansson” on the spine, and it has two images on its cover, front and back1. The photograph on the cover, which you can see above, features a rather nondescript house that has what looks like a large cross lying on its side attached to it. When I’m writing that the cross is lying on its side, which in actuality it isn’t - it’s just as straight as the house, I’m referencing the Christian tradition of seeing a cross as something where the supporting beam is longer and the cross beam. Does this matter? I’m not sure. The photograph on the back features another house, just as nondescript as the one on the front, with one of those little electrical compartments so frequently found in Germany to the right of its entrance2. Just above said electrical compartment3 a large pretzel was painted, indicating a bakery might be nearby4.
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Dec 12

Lisa Fairstein’s Ultra-Static plays with the conventions and language of photography, mixing ideas from commercial and conceptual contexts.
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Dec 11

Hye-Ryoung Min is one of the winners of this year’s Conscientious Portfolio Competition, having submitted Channel 247, a body of work that combines elements of curiosity, voyeurism, and surveillance.
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Dec 10

This is an image from Sudden rain in the street by Bangladeshi photographer K. M. Asad.
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Dec 7

What you see in this photograph is what I see in it, a man that none of us have ever met. I can say that with certainty because I know just a little bit, albeit not much, more about this man. He is, or actually was, Josef Nowak, an accountant born in what is now the Czech Republic, a citizen of Germany when it was called Nazi Germany, an avid multi-instrumentalist (mostly playing the accordion, though), and, just like millions of others, a soldier, drafted to fight in World War 2. Josef Nowak was killed (“fell”) on 21 March 1942 in what was then the Soviet Union. There was not going to be another spring in his life, and for a long time there was none in his wife’s (now widow’s) who on the very day that her husband died gave birth to their fourth daughter. That fourth daughter is my mother’s youngest sister. Josef Nowak is my grandfather. Find the full piece here.
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Dec 7

What do we know about people? Not much. We might go to the post office, say, but we might never know (and how could we?) that the friendly clerk behind the counter is a barely functioning individual who lives in a cluttered, small room in his parents’ house, leaving it only to go to work. That friendly, slightly nosy man next door might be a tyrant at home, caught up in a decade-long power struggle with his passive-aggressive wife. Family secrets are family secrets, and what happens behind the closed doors of people’s homes usually stays there (even the stuff people post on Facebook usually has not much, if anything, to do with their actual lives).
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Dec 6

One of the best things about photography is that 99.99% of all photographers refuse to understand what photo theorists (and that remaining 0.01%: professional photographers) tell them. Photography is supposed to be dead or over, in any case in a bad state, and nobody believes photographs any longer. We all mistrust images. The only problem is that the 99.99% have somehow not received the memo yet: They continue taking photographs as if there were no problem, as if photography worked just fine, did its purpose just fine! How is this possible?
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Dec 5

How do you photographically explore a concept such as “democracy”? Working with Democracy is Baptiste Giroudon’s attempt to do just that.
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Dec 4

“Yaron Lapid diligently collects found photos from English family archives. He constructs and then deconstructs their meaning by using strategies of selective grouping and masking to allow or deny the viewer straight-forward observational rights into the images.” (from the intro of Partial Moments)
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Dec 3

It is time to reveal the winners of the Conscientious Portfolio Competition 2012. This year, the jury consisted of Michel Mallard (creative director/founder, Michel Mallard Studio), Robert Lyons (photographer; director, Hartford Photography MFA Program), and myself. Without further ado, the winners are…
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Dec 1

There’s a type of puzzles called connect the dots: A sheet of paper contains a set of dots that have numbers next to them, and when you connect the dots in order you get a simple line drawing. You can tell stories with pictures that way, ideally in a book: One photograph brings you to the next, which then bring you to the next etc. etc., and there is your story! Phrased this way, the connect-the-dots type of photographic storytelling sounds incredibly simple, if not outright simplistic, but usually, it’s anything but. The reason is that unlike in that puzzle what you start out with are just dots or, to stay in the picture developed in previous articles, clouds. Which one is first? Which one will come second? And how do you know that a dot or cloud has to go, in other words how do you edit? Find the rest of the piece here.
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