Archives

January 2006

SELECT A MONTH:

Jan 31

For his series about dancers (“Auf schneller Sohle”), Maximilian Haferkamp covered the whole spectrum of dancing. More samples (large ones!) from that series here.
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Jan 31

It’s oh-so inviting - especially since re-writing and/or re-defining what people used to call “the truth” or “the facts” is so popular right now: Simply edit the Wikipedia, the “Free Encyclopedia” [laughter from tape], if you don’t like what you find there. See Wikipedia Entries ‘Cleaned’ By Political Staffers; compare details about this; and if you’re able to understand German, read about it here. And now will you please excuse me, I have to add an entry to the “Free Encyclopedia” [laughter from tape] that will describe in full detail what a fantastic, nice, caring, and generally genius person I am.
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Jan 31

I added a category Contemporary Chinese Photography to the blog. I think Chinese photography is so interesting and, often, different that it makes a lot of sense to do that. I’m sure we will get to see a lot more from China over the next few years. Mark my words.
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Jan 30

Ever since the immense success of Loretta Lux people will find it hard to ignore digitally manipulated photos simply on the basis of how they were created. Ruud van Empel also works with digital manipulations, and his portfolio is quite a bit more varied. Needless to say, after this introduction people will compare his work with Loretta Lux’s - but that was probably inevitable anyway. In any case, look at, for example, this absolutely fantastic photo; also Works 5 contains lots of photos that only invite comparisons. As it turns out, that’s what people did at the latest Photo LA. (updated entry)
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Jan 30

Tom Hunter has spent a lot time on photographically re-creating (or maybe re-staging) scenes from old paintings. Some of the results are now on show at London’s National Gallery. Don’t miss this internet special, courtesy of the best English-language newspaper in the world, The Guardian. For more samples, see this page.
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Jan 29

I often get asked whether I also take photos that have people in them. I then usually say that the people are in my photos, you just can’t directly see them. You only seem what they have done. It is a little bit like doing archeology while the people that I want to study are still around.
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Jan 29

Eirik Johnson’s Borderlands show the fringes of our human habitats, where our dwellings (and mostly our trash) meet the natural landscape (whatever is left of that).
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Jan 27

Bill Henson’s twilight portraits have landed the artist in the occasional hot water because of the nudity. See many more samples here. Find a nice article about his work here.
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Jan 27

“Gilbert and George, the rude old men of British art, will lead the UK presence at the 2005 Venice Biennale.” (story from The Guardian). Here’s the Wikipedia’s entry about them; if you want it more serious (kind of un-Gilbert-and-George’ish) go here. Also don’t miss this article. Late last year, I managed to see one of their pieces in London, and I admit I wasn’t quite prepared for it: I knew the pieces are quite colourful and impressive, but I had no idea of how they actually work when you see them - they’re huge. Their latest series is called “Sonofagod” (subtitled “Was Jesus Heterosexual?”), described in an article aptly entitled We’d hate to offend. Needless to say, some people did get offended (this link for Americans who think that only in the US members of parliament have nothing better to do than to harrass artists). I do like Gilbert and George’s response to this: “the artists say that the works are not offensive. Gilbert: ‘Christians are abusive to humans - to women, to queers. They threaten us with hell.’ George: ‘That’s offensive, not us.’” They might have a point there. (updated entry)
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Jan 26

Just in case you’re one of those people who can fork out the jumbo juice for nice photography, you might want to consider going to the Houston Center for Photography’s Print Auction: Your chance to buy some nice photography from famous, not-so-famous, and completely unheard-of people (where, for the sake of being nice, in the the latter category I’m just including myself). Speaking of nudes (again??!!), that Ruth Bernhard print is shockingly beautiful.
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Jan 26

“Ignored by the establishment and derided by critics, Robert Rauschenberg may just be the most important American artist of the last century, argues Robert Hughes.” (story) For more see this American Masters page, and then there’s the big show at the Met.
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Jan 26

Speaking of nudity, Spencer Tunick might be one of the (if not the) most overrated artist of our times. If you’re really curious what he would do if he had the money click here.
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Jan 26

Curiously enough, there aren’t all that many photographers who specialize in nudes to be found here. Have you ever wondered why? Well, finding photos of naked people on the internet isn’t really all that hard. Finding photo of naked people that are well done and interesting, however, is tremendously difficult (to make this clear: unlike many other people, when I say “an interesting nude” I do not in fact speak code for “a pretty girl with big [insert your favourite expression for certain female body parts here]”). I realize, though, that my photographic taste might be out of sync with that of many other people, so if you’re interested in the photographic nude you might want to check out the blog Art Nudes, which contains lots of links to usually quite well done (if not always all that interesting) photography of (predominantly female) naked people.
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Jan 25

I’m filing this under “politics” even though it belongs into a variety of different categories. “Made in China” is a fascinating set of articles written by John Schmid and Rick Romell about China’s economic boom and interation with the West, and what that has meant so far for both the West and China (part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4 - if you’re not registered check out this page). Needless to say, there are still many details missing - if you start reading about China’s environmental problems (which, btw, are turning rapdily into the world’s), your stomach starts turning.
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Jan 25

It’s interesting to see how Danwen Xing’s portfolio has been evolving from gritty b/w photography towards computer-enhanced photos of architectural models. There’s a lot of interesting stuff to be found on her site.
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Jan 25

There “reviews” of Bernard-Henri Lévy’s American Vertigo are easily amongst the worst reviews I’ve ever come across. A foreigner (a Frenchman and intellectual - oh the horror!) comes to the US, travels around, and writes about it - following an invitation from a US magazine. I read the whole series in that magazine, and I’ve rarely come across a more refreshing view of the US: Instead of going over the same old clichés, which are so popular either in the US itself or in Europe, Bernard-Henri Lévy proves his fierce independence. The problem for our reviewers, however, is that he is not writing what they want to read (he does get some praise, though, for saying the right things, as in “I especially appreciated his debunking of the myth that Americans are fatter than Europeans.”). This kind of reviewing is really just a slightly (but only very slightly) more sophisticated version of what I call the American-Idol effect: Boo whenever anybody dares to say something that doesn’t agree with what you yourself think about yourself. After all you cannot be wrong, because you know yourself best; and if anybody dares to disagree with you, that person simply doesn’t know what s/he is talking about. PS: Oh, and the vanity, because Bernard-Henri Lévy did not spin meeting one of the authors (or is it both?) into something bigger in the book! How dare he!
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Jan 24

… one of my cats ate (or tried to eat) one of my negative strips. Shame, he managed to ruin the frame that I like the most.
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Jan 23

I’m usually reluctant to link to articles in New York Times for a large variety of reason, some of which have to do with the links themselves. First, you have to register (which I, frankly, find annoying) and second, after a while, the articles disappear in their archives, which you can only read if you pay for it (ditto). But this article about an African photographer whose work the art world turned into a hot (well, actually only somewhat warm) commodity is quite interesting and - unlike many of the Times’ other stuff - not too wordy and meandering.
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Jan 23

Les Krims produces some interesting photography. The same can also be said about his statement (“Overview”) - I admit even after having lived in the US for quite a while now I am still very amused and very bewildered when I read stuff like that.
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Jan 22

Occasionally, people put the internet to good use, like in this Prejudice Map. Apparently, the way this was compiled was to type something like “germans are known for *” into the search engine’s window and to then look through the results. If you do that for different countries you get a fine - yet incomplete! - map of stereotypes. Which only teaches us that the internet now allows us to find out in almost no time how little we’ve really learned about each other.
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Jan 20

Shawn Records contributed to the Portland Grid Project, which “spent nine years (1996-2005) systematically documenting this city”.
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Jan 20

For people who love “best of” lists - don’t we all, as cheesy as they might be? - here is C.C. Sullivan’s The World’s 12 Best New Buildings; some more images can be found at Ed Winkleman’s art blog.
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Jan 20

Derek Henderson has spent a long time working for fashion magazines. His latest project, however, The Terrible Boredom of Paradise, is quite a bit more interesting.
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Jan 18

Charlie White is one of the few photographers for whom it was easier to find interviews (here is another one; NPR has a feature here) than actual samples of his work. There are some samples at Andrea Rosen Gallery. Wired - the magazine for “cool” people - explains some of his photos. Some of his more recent work can be found here. Funny, how even normal people look somewhat creepy in his work.
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Jan 18

“What are German virtues? What do I have in common with other Germans? What does the word home mean to me? What do other nations think of us? What is typically German? When is one a German?” (link) Needless to say, it is very German to ponder that question. But I think there’s quite a bit more to it than this, for a large variety of reasons - some of which are actually potentially of interest for Americans. Because, believe it or not, many of the identity problems faced by Germans are equally shared by Americans, with the difference being that America (or I should say the US) has chosen to solve the problems by creating a narrative that better not be questioned (but that’s partly falling apart now anyway). In any case, The Art of Being a German features works done by young photographers, with many very interesting and exciting results. My personal favourites are the work of Lisa Ajtay, Oliver Döbler (who actually realized a project that I was thinking about), Daria Fleige, Nadja Gölzenleuchter (excellent!), Rico Hofmann, and Sevilay Kirmaz (excellent!). Note how the whole project also neatly shows many different facets of German (and not only German) contemporary photography (incl. the usual Becherian suspects)!
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Jan 17

Case 1: A German man kills another man, who, as it seems, consented to being killed, and eats him. (story) A photographer takes photos inside the killer’s house, and it looks like fine art. Case 2: A war has been going on for decades; a photographer, working in the country of the war, takes a photo of the corpse of a dead fighter and sells large versions of the photo to art galleries. (background/interview) Case 3: A hurricane devastates large areas of a country, killing and displacing thousands of people. A fine art photographer travels to the area and takes photos, which end up in art galleries. (see this entry) I feel a bit uneasy about each of these cases (and there are many more), for a variety of reasons. I think what bothers me most about this all is that I don’t even really know what it is that causes me being confused. It’s maybe easiest for me to tell in the case of the dead Taliban. I think putting the photo in a museum is simply obscene (in the most basic sense of this word that, unfortately, has been abused all-too-often by bigots and fundamentalists). Maybe it comes down to asking the question whether it is appropriate to make other peoples’ misfortunes our object of aesthetic admiration. Am I the only one who is somewhat confused by this? (Please note I’m not arguing that photos like these should not be taken…)
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Jan 17

I have been a big fan of Chris Jordan’s photographic studies ever since I first got to see them. There is a very interesting interview with him here. Make sure to check out his new series “Laid to Waste” - Hurricane Katrina’s aftermath.
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Jan 16

Korean photographer Nikki S. Lee (also see this page) has transformed herself into various other identities and has then taken snapshots. Given the wide range of identities (ranging from drag queen to yuppies) the results are surprisingly good. Here’s an article about all that - in case you want to know what the critics say. (updated entry)
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Jan 16

Marion Üdema’s website showcases her many cool projects - incl. the re-creations of erotic self-portraits done by amateurs to meet partners using ads.
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Jan 13

“Whether it is an awkward public interaction, unreal crisis, or moment of social disconnection, ordinary life is full of abrupt occurrences that create discomfort and isolation. […] My interest is focused on these breakdowns of everyday life and the subsequent relationship with defeat. The sad humor and vulnerability in the situations I stage allow viewers to identify with the character I portray. Although I use myself in the pictures, they are not strictly self-portraiture.” - Caitlin Atkinson
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Jan 13

Heidi Specker explores shapes and materials of contemporary architecture, partly in their relation to actual bits of nature.
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Jan 13

“Frank Breuer’s photographs document industrial buildings on the edge of desolate city or highway landscapes. Like abstract fortresses, these gigantic metal structures are located in a timeless space, divulging nothing of their actual function.” (from a source that has since its first quoting disappeared from the net) See some more images here
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Jan 12

It is a bit hard to descibe Justine Harari’s work, but the small images of actual installation views, which can be found in the “The Photographs” section, indicate that her work probably cannot easily be displayed online.
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Jan 11

Well, George Orwell was British after all: “In March, Britain will enhance its reputation as the surveillance capital of the West with a global first: recording the movements of all cars on the road and storing the data for at least two years.” (story)
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Jan 11

More German conceptual photography: Johnannes Schwartz. Also see this and this page.
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Jan 11

In the light of the beautiful Russian Pictorial Photography, shot with equipment that many people today wouldn’t even touch if you gave them one hundred bucks, the choice once again becomes clear: You can either obsess about finding the latest, greatest photographic equipment (which lens? and what latest digital gizmo?) or you can keep yourself busy trying to shoot beautiful photos.
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Jan 9

Have a look at these beautiful old Russian photographs. More samples and a bit of a background are provided here. (seen at lensculture blog)
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Jan 9

I’m a big fan of The Fall, for reasons which are not all that obivous. I got immense enjoyment out of this article, which describes how somebody tries to find all former members of the band. Excerpt: “I was worried by the fates of the disappeared. In particular, Karl Burns - who was hired and fired nine times between 1977 and 1998 - seemed to have vanished after punching Smith on stage in the New York meltdown. Several former members worried that he was dead. Some suggested he had ‘moved to the hills’ in Rossendale, Lancashire, but appeals to the area’s local papers produced nothing. Riley suggested I ‘try the prisons’, which led me to Ed Blaney, who indeed left the Fall because he was sent to prison (‘Dangerous driving,’ he says). He hadn’t seen Burns either.” Enjoy!
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Jan 9

Valérie Belin’s work offers much for fans of conceptual photography, incl. portraits of showroom dummies and robots. Also see this page.
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Jan 9

William Hannigan asks “Why is it that photography has been so tamed within mainstream magazines? When was it that risk […] became contrary to so many magazines in their understanding of what makes a magazine successful?”, to then show us a series of portraits, some of which are gimmicky but hardly risky.
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Jan 8

Andrew Moore’s portfolio contains fairly impressive series of photos from Russia, Bosnia, and Times Square in New York City. And even though Cuba has probably been overphotographed, his work there is quite exceptional, too. (updated entry)
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Jan 7

“Facing Australia is a nationally acclaimed photographic project, working to engage remote, regional and metropolitan communities & individuals through a creative community engagement process. […] Facing Australia creates composite male and female portraits based on current Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) census data. This census data is mined, establishing the proportionate age and ethnic profile of a chosen community. Individuals from that community are recruited, photographed and their images digitally layered to create a composite portrait of the census-determined male and female. […] Facing Australia is an ambitious project. It will create a series of faces representing a remote, regional and metropolitan location from each of AustraliaÂ’s states and territories.” They say “Facing Australia puts a face to the numbers, a face to the place”, but I’m really not all that convinced it adds anything to the numbers or places.
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Jan 5

Angelika Rinnhofer is another commercial photographer whose fine-art work is well worth the visit. I’ve always wanted somebody to do photographic portraits in the style of old paintings - even if they’re “just” re-creations of old paintings.
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Jan 5

“For three years I produced photographs describing the effects my father’s incarceration and eventual return had on my family. After completing this project I realized the restrictions involved in documenting my surroundings as they existed. I began to create conceptual photographs loosely based on the stories of my father’s time in prison. This untitled series portrays the loss of identity and the only distinguishable person in this work is my father.” - Carrie Levy
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Jan 5

Jill Greenberg produces the kind of commercial photography that makes me want to gouge my eyes out. Her fine-art work is… wel, the same thing really, substituting monkeys or crying babies for celebrities. For a sample, I’ll let Google do the work for me…
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Jan 4

While I do disagree with quite a few details in this article (for example, I’m not sure at all I’d agree at all with his assessment concerning “some of the world’s best photography”) the basic premise is quite correct: If you want to take a good photo you need a good eye and not a good camera.
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Jan 4

New Orleans, or what is left of it, is not deemed newsworthy any longer. The other day, I saw images from the Asian areas struck by the tsunami last year, and it struck me that poor Asian countries appear to be doing a pretty amazing job rebuilding their damage, something one might or might not be able to say about the richest nation in the world and ruined New Orleans. Check out Robert Polidori’s slide show of images taken in/around New Orleans (the photos taken in late September last year).
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Jan 3

“Photographing the artistic life after World War II in a period full of promise, Karl Bissinger took unexpected portraits of the day’s luminaries of high Bohemia—writers, dancers, musicians, painters, journalists, and celebrities for such magazines as Flair, Theatre Arts and Harper’s Bazaar. These photographs capture those lost, illustrious years of artistic and literary life in the late 1940s and 1950s, particularly in New York, but also in London, Paris, Los Angeles, and elsewhere.”
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Jan 3

“This is a picture I did not take of a train conductor who approached me and asked, ‘are you a terrorist?’ and then explained (while keeping his distance) that a few passengers were scared because they’d seen me taking a photograph of the train, and that he ‘had to check and see’ what I was up to. […] While this may not be a picture of a train conductor who was just doing his job, or of the scared Americans who believe that a man on a train platform with an antique camera and a cable release is a terrorist, it is a picture of the sad, desperate, hate-filled state of my country’s paranoia, which, with each televisable missive from that little house on the prarie of Pennsylvania Avenue, is turning its citizens into fear-based automatons that only respond to what’s on cable, (as long as it’s a station owned by Rupert Murdoch).” - Unphotographable
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Jan 3

Johannes Romppanen’s portfolio contains some very nice portraits.
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Jan 2

There are many treasures to be found on Stephen Gill’s very simply designed website. His most recent work was done with a camera worth 50 cents and was self-published. If you want it check out this page at Schaden.com - one of Germany’s finest bookstores devoted to photography and design.
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Jan 2

Robyn Twomey’s photo essays are quite interesting.
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Jan 2

When looking through Jesse Chehak’s portfolio I was struck by how unassuming and, hence, nice his landscapes are. I am usually not very interested in landscape photography because of the kind of aesthetic people are aiming for: It’s just not very interesting; even though those kinds of photos are technically quite challenging, the results typically radiate an aesthetic emptiness - it’s almost like there is a form of beauty, which is too beautiful and, thus, not interesting at all any longer (the same could be said for photographic images of the nude human body). Jesse Chehak effortlessly steers clear of this problem. Oh, and his portraits are also very nice.
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Jan 1

While I personally think there is nothing more boring and annoying (at the same time!) than watching any kinds of sports, Hans van der Meer’s “European Fields: The Landscape of Lower League Football” is quite excellent.
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