Archives

August 2006

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Aug 31

Joachim Schulz engages in mostly very minimalist, yet quite iteresting photography. See some more work (incl. some texts) here.
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Aug 31

Back in the 1950s, the United States went through a phase of immense paranoia about Communism, whipped up in large part by infamous Senator Joseph R. McCarthy. Like all carefully orchestrated political campaigns that lack substance and that are ultimately just attempts to perform a series of character assassinations, McCarthy’s came down on June 9, 1954, when Joseph Welch, a lawyer from Boston, asked McCarthy “Have you no sense of decency?” (see, for example, this short summary). If you’re interested in watching what might well be a fairly similar moment today, watch Keith Olberman comment on the latest speech by Donald Rumsfeld.
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Aug 30

“But by the end of [World War II], a joke could get you killed [in Germany]. A Berlin munitions worker, identified only as Marianne Elise K., was convicted of undermining the war effort ‘through spiteful remarks’ and executed in 1944 for telling this one: Hitler and Göring are standing on top of Berlin’s radio tower. Hitler says he wants to do something to cheer up the people of Berlin. ‘Why don’t you just jump?’ suggests Göring. A fellow worker overheard her telling the joke and reported her to the authorities.” - story
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Aug 30

Marjaana Kella investigates portraits by doing them in unconventional ways. Also see this page.
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Aug 30

I had a hard time finding good links for Jitka Hanzlová’s work.
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Aug 29

Dan Burkholder’s images of the destruction of New Orleans are a bit too overprocessed and artificial-looking for my taste. Things don’t look quite as real any longer - whereas reality is quite bleak in large parts New Orleans.
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Aug 29

I guess it’s about time I address a couple of complaints that I occasionally find in my inbox. These complaints are not all that frequent, but it’s about time I addressed them. The first complaint is that in the posts and especially in the conversations with photographers I never talk about camera equipment or technique. There’s a very simple reason for that: I find it not all that interesting. What is more, if you want to read about camera equipment, you can visit one of the literally thousands of websites devoted to just that, like, for example, photo.net or Luminous Landscape. Those sites have discussion forums and long articles about each and every detail of the latest “improvements” in camera technology. Also, if you are curious about some photographer’s work, you can always email him/her. I think you’ll probably hear back from many photographers.
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Aug 28

Matthew Kime is another winner of the Hey, Hot Shot! competition.
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Aug 25

Sara Macel is one of the winners of the Hey, Hot Shot! competion that I mentioned a few weeks ago.
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Aug 25

If you like listening to music that is a bit older than a few years, you have probably come across the phenomenon that at one stage or another, you find a “remastered” “new” version of your favourite album in stores. At the time of this writing, the latest trick is to add a DVD that contains the very same album, albeit in a different format, supposedly sounding much better, but - and this is really the only interesting bit for the record company - the whole thing costs you $20 or more. Usually, those “remastered” CDs sound just like the old stuff, maybe a bit more sterile, and typically with the volume cranked up quite a bit. Turns out that something similar has now invaded photography, too. In an article in the New York Times, Michael Kimmelman reports on the photographic equivalent of “remastered” CDs, in this case, digitally “enhanced” photos originally taken by Walker Evans. Go and read it - before they start to hide it behind their electronic firewall. Needless to say, this is one of those issues from which endless discussions can (and will) be created.
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Aug 24

Those who have been complaining about the non-photo related posts here will probably think that Mary Mattingly’s website is like Conscientious under the influence of mind-altering drugs. There certainly is a lot of text there - if you click on “images” you will get to see those, though (and they are quite interesting).
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Aug 24

Polixeni Papapetrou’s photography is mostly staged and often involves children. I guess it’s the kind of photography that would be perfect for long arguments about whether or not you need an explanation.
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Aug 23

“Southern China is the world’s leading center for mass-produced works of art. One village of artists exports about five million paintings every year — most of them copies of famous masterpieces. The fastest workers can paint up to 30 paintings a day.” - story
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Aug 23

Of Edgar Martins’ various projects, I like “The Accidental Theorist” the best.
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Aug 23

While my search for Katherine Wolkoff’s images from New Orleans (some of which you can find in Aperture’s Fall 2006 magazine [which, btw, is well worth the money] and some others of which you can see here) was mostly unsuccessful, her other work is quite interesting, too.
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Aug 23

“Israel deliberately targeted civilian infrastructure and committed war crimes during the month-long conflict in Lebanon, according to an Amnesty International report. The report said strikes on civilian buildings and structures went beyond ‘collateral damage’ and amounted to indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks under the Geneva conventions on the laws of war.” - story
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Aug 22

This page has the link for an excellent Squarepusher mix track.
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Aug 22

Over at Edward Winkleman’s blog (btw one of the finest art blogs around - if you’re not familiar with it), in one of his most recent posts, Edward discusses whether explanation destroys art. Regardless of whether you agree with him, it’s worth the read - as are probably most of the comments.
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Aug 22

If you don’t know what to make of Nazif Topçuoğlu’s work, this page tells you: “The coupling of the raw meat and the youthful girl, and the remnants of violence attached to innocence, become crisscrossing clues to decipher the underlying meaning. The associations of temptation and fear, lust and violence; danger and death hover in these photographs.” I see.
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Aug 21

Given this interesting post is written in German, let me provide some sort of summary: The dark shadow on the left-hand side of the building in this photo was cast in the 1930s, and I’m not so sure it’s a very good idea to open a burger joint in such a building. It just doesn’t look very good, what with the building being part of the large Nazi Party Rally Grounds in Nürnberg.
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Aug 21

“The Fifth Province is a study of contemporary Ireland through the eyes of the returned emigrant.” - Tadhg Devlin
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Aug 18

“A survey of 32 European countries, the US and Japan has revealed that only Turkey is less willing than the US to accept evolution as fact. Religious fundamentalism, bitter partisan politics and poor science education have all contributed to this denial of evolution in the US, says Jon Miller of Michigan State University in East Lansing, who conducted the survey with his colleagues. […] Miller thinks more genetics should be on the syllabus to reinforce the idea of evolution. American adults may be harder to reach: nearly two-thirds don’t agree that more than half of human genes are common to chimpanzees. How would these people respond when told that humans and chimps share 99 per cent of their genes?” - story
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Aug 18

Originally from Seattle, but with a family background in Lithuania, Andrew Miksys has been living and working in Vilnius for a few years now. Interesting work.
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Aug 18

As already mentioned here, German writer and Nobel laureate Günter Grass in 1944, at the age of 15 (or 17), became a member of the Waffen SS, Nazi Germany’s shock troops that were involved in the most notorious events during the war (battles and war crimes alike). My first reaction, when I heard this, was “So what?”
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Aug 18

“Hurricane Katrina deeply affected the journalists who lived through the crisis, and lifelong New Orleans resident John McCusker took the strain especially hard. McCusker, a staff photographer for The Times-Picayune, was arrested Tuesday after leading police officers on a chase and trying to get them to kill him, his newspaper reported.” (story) “New Orleans Times-Picayune photographer John McCusker was released from the hospital this week and will face four criminal charges related to his confrontation with police two weeks ago, according to his editor.” (story)
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Aug 17

Katy Grannan: “Grannan’s process is quick; each portrait is taken within the short span of three hours. She arrives at the homes with only a camera, a light and a fan. Grannan transforms the sitter’s room into a stage, pushing beds and moving tables. There is a performative element to the work, on both sides.” (source) I just had the chance to look at her book Model American, and I am quite impressed. I was also thinking of having a conversation with her, but I just found one elsewhere, posted just a few days ago. Also don’t miss this fine article about her work. (updated entry)
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Aug 17

“The Midwest Photographers Publication Project (MP3) series, produced in collaboï½­ration with the Museum of Contemporary Photography (MoCP), Chicago, presents the work of three new emerging talents: Kelli Connell, Justin Newhall, and Brian Ulrich”. (source) Information about the show at MoCP can be found here.
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Aug 17

Imagine you’re riding your bike and for whatever reason you run into a fence. It’s quite likely that the fence will not be all that impressed by the impact. It might or might not be a bit dented. A bit later, you see a car speeding down the same road, and for whatever reason that car then hits the fence. The fence gets flattened. There is nothing surprising about these events - unless you’re a conspiracy theorist. In that case, the fence was never hit by that car. Instead, the government sent an unmanned missile to hit the fence, while they also made the car disappear in a lake, never to be seen again. Sounds absurd? If it does you might be surprised that this kind of outline is actually very popular with conspiracy theorists to explain what happened on September 11, 2001.
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Aug 17

In an age of endless Photoshop gimmickry with its often oversharpened images Joerg Maxzin’s work shows that blurriness can be quite beautiful, the fascination arising from something Hollywood directors used masterfully in the past: That which you don’t see (clearly) can still have quite an impact on you. It seems an English version of Joerg Maxzin’s page is still under construction, you can find his work under arbeiten, and you can also find some examples here.
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Aug 16

Robert Ball’s portfolio contains an interesting mix of projects.
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Aug 15

Watch a new documentary at Magnum in Motion by Chris Anderson.
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Aug 15

“While the television broadcast [of the first moon landing] seen by 600 million people in July 1969 is preserved for posterity, the original tapes from which the footage was taken have been mislaid in the vast archive of the United States space agency Nasa.” (story)
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Aug 14

Find out all about Kraftwerk in this excellent radio documentary.
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Aug 14

I have the feeling that Stefan Heyne’s photography will leave many viewers somewhat puzzled. Those interested in some background might want to check out this page.
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Aug 14

“Just weeks before the publication of his autobiography, German Nobel Laureate Günter Grass admits that, between 1944-45, he was a member of Hitler’s Weapons SS. The author says the shame of his youthful naivety has long haunted him and that it will now be his ‘Scarlet Letter.’” (story) “That the revelations come on the eve of the publication of the author’s new autobiography has only added oil to the flames of the debate […] Is Grass just cynically fishing for headlines to help sell his book? Many German pundits are incensed about what they see as Grass’ bottomless hypocrisy. […] But others have defended the author, calling the timing a highly person matter.” (story) (updated entry)
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Aug 13

If you want to ignore the bizarrely weird caption, in The Guardian, David Smith discusses how Flickr user Rebekka Guðleifsdóttir became an internet photo star. Now, when browsing through her photos, have a look at how many of them have “comment” boxes (or whatever that’s called on that site) around her breasts (example).
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Aug 13

Carlos Tarrats’ fine-art portfolio contains an interesting set of photos. Find larger samples of some of them here.
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Aug 11

Too good to pass over: “For a woman apparently ill-suited to anything more taxing than standing around nightclubs in a pair of really enormous sunglasses, Paris Hilton is quite the polymath. […] You read her CV and boggle at what wildly improbable occupation she might turn her hand to next. Spot-welding? Cognitive neuropsychology? Alas, no: it’s singing. Lest one carp, Hilton has been quick to point out that singing is a vocation for which she is eminently skilled. ‘I know music,’ she reassured the Sunday Times children’s section. ‘I hear it every single day.’ While this obviously gives Hilton a massive advantage over those who have never heard any music and thus believe it to be a variety of cheese, there remains the nagging suspicion that this might not represent sufficient qualification for a career as a singer, in much the same way as knowing what a child is does not fully equip you for a career as a consultant paediatrician. […] Listening to her sing Rod Stewart’s Do Ya Think I’m Sexy, you are gripped by the fear that civilisation as we know it is doomed and that brimstone is going to start raining from the sky any minute. It doesn’t, but a sense of terrible foreboding is further stoked by the sleeve notes, which make reference to “all my albums to come”. You might call that another example of the sheer force of will that has got Hilton so far in so many improbable careers, but on the basis of the 11 tracks here, it sounds more like a threat.” (full story)
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Aug 11

“Weighed down by the unpopular war in Iraq, Bush and his aides have tried to shift the national political debate from that conflict to the broader and more popular global war on terrorism ahead of November 7 congressional elections.” (story)
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Aug 10

“A historic interview conducted by Andre Müller in 1979 with Arno Breker, Hitler’s favourite sculptor” - well worth the read.
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Aug 10

You’d imagine with me being German and with a huge and very influential contemporary photography scene in Germany I’d get lots of visitors from there and had lots of contacts. In reality, that’s not the case. I find that somewhat surprising and a bit sad. So if you read this and if you’re German and want to get in touch please do so. I promise I won’t bite, and you can email in German in case you feel uncomfortable about using English.
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Aug 10

“You never catch a whole face, sometimes nothing above the knee and, sometimes, nothing below it. Deborah Paauwe only photographs females, that much is clear, but as for their age, identity and intent, it is impossible to tell. Her models have ranged in age from nine to 39 but, through the lens of Paauwe’s camera, such detail is obscured.” (source) Nice large sample images here.
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Aug 10

Bill Sullivan engages in what he calls “Situational Photography”. The results are very appealing - and I’m sure Bill is happy that the lawsuit against Philip-Lorca diCorcia was dismissed.
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Aug 9

Ron Mueck’s artwork are photo-realistic sculptures, often quite large. This site has more examples, and this page tells you everything about one particular example. Jonathan Jones is not impressed, though.
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Aug 9

Steven B. Smith’s photography depicts the suburban American West.
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Aug 9

After losing his primary election, one of the most despicable US Senators, Joe Lieberman, channels the true Brechtian spirit: “For the sake of our state, our country and my party, I cannot and will not let that result stand,” he said (source), thus basically telling the world that voters who don’t vote for him cannot be trusted, or as Brecht put it, “Would it not be easier […] To dissolve the people and elect another?” (found here, at the bottom). He’s now running as a Republican. No wait, they already have a candidate, he’s running as a *nudge-nudge wink-wink* “independent”. No wonder Bush jr - who brought you that wonderful democracy in Iraq - just loves the guy (and vice versa).
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Aug 8

By chance, I just found this very nice feature about the life and music of Dmitri Shostakovich, with an interesting focus on the string quartets.
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Aug 8

It is no secret that a large part of the American population harbours very unhealthy ideas about guns and, by extension, about violence. As somebody who did not grow up in the US, I have a very hard time understanding this. I’ve had people tell me that guns really are not the problem - and you just have to take this a little bit further to arrive at the absurdity of “guns don’t kill people, people kill people”. In any case, Greg Stimac’s series “Recoil” depicts people at shooting ranges, and this is complemented by the “Gun Portraits”.
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Aug 8

BBC News website’s picture editor, Phil Coomes explains how they handle news photos. Lots of interesting and important points in there: “All the pictures we use are checked for any obvious editing - the easiest to spot being cloning of parts of the image [like in the Reuters example - JMC] […] To some extent the presence of a camera will alter the event, but itÂ’s up to those on the ground to work around this and present us with an objective a view as possible. Digital photography has altered the landscape of photojournalism like nothing before it, placing the photographers in total control of their output. All the news agencies have photo ethics policies, many of which are rooted in the days of film. The standard line is that photographers are allowed to use photo manipulation to reproduce that which they could do in the darkroom with conventional film. […] All this sounds fine until you look at the reality - one manÂ’s colour balancing is another’s grounds for dismissal. By definition a photograph is a crop of reality, itÂ’s what the photojournalist feels is important. But it doesn’t equate to the whole truth, and perhaps we just need to accept that.”
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Aug 7

“Reuters withdrew all 920 photographs by a freelance Lebanese photographer from its database on Monday after an urgent review of his work showed he had altered two images from the conflict between Israel and the armed group Hizbollah.” (story) I guess the first rule when “fixing” photos is to do it in such a way that you can’t see it. But isn’t this another lovely example of how images are used during wartime?
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Aug 7

OK, let’s assume someone links to an article in which you find yourself described in a somewhat unflattering manner and (kind of) gives away your identity (which is actually not obvious from the article [unlike one knows you personally]). What’s a good way to go about this? I wouldn’t know, but it seems to me that posting your name and phone number openly in the comments section of that particular entry of the blog might in fact not be the best solution (for an example go no further than here).
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Aug 7

Aline Smithson’s website contains a set of quite interesting projects.
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Aug 4

Continuing what is turning out to be some sort of thread about images and war, here are some more interesting links that deal with the mess that is the Middle East: Julian Borger reports that “Britons and Americans are watching two different wars” when viewing their respective news programmes about the destruction of Lebanon. About the same war, the Columbia Journalism Review reports on attempts to portray the images of the dead civilians in the most recent massacre in Qana as staged. And the Media Guardian reports on “trophy videos” brought home by US troops and posted on the internet.
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Aug 4

“Charlotte Observer photographer Patrick Schneider has lost his job for manipulating the colors in a photo that appeared in Thursday’s newspaper.” - story
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Aug 3

“What does a totalitarian regime expect from its artists? Jane Portal explores the role of art in North Korea.” - “A picture must be painted in such a way that the viewer can understand its meaning. If the people who see a picture cannot grasp its meaning, no matter what a talented artist may have painted it, they cannot say it is a good picture.” (Kim Jong-Il) Funny, I have heard similar comments in the West from people who criticize modern art.
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Aug 3

“In the 1960s, the United States blanketed the Mekong River delta with Agent Orange, a chemical defoliant more devastating than napalm. Thirty years after the end of the Vietnam War, the chemical is still poisoning the water and coursing through the blood of a third generation. From Ho Chi Minh City to the town of Ben Tre - and from Greensboro, North Carolina, to Hackettstown, New Jersey - the photographer James Nachtwey went in search of the ecocide’s cruelest legacy, horribly deformed children in both Vietnam and America.” - story
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Aug 3

For me, some of the most exciting photography is currently coming from China. The first photo by Liu Zheng that I came across was one of the photos from Four Beauties; and when I went out to find more I discovered the diverse style of Liu Zheng. A while back, in London, I saw some samples from his large body of work entitled The Chinese. Revolution contains some amazing work, too. I have the feeling that lots of people will complain about Under the Sun - people in general appear not to like visual remixes. (updated entry)
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Aug 3

The main reason why I was looking for Weng Peijun’s work is his series Great Family Aspirations. I find it very interesting how quite a few Chinese photographers use these staged photos to re-interpret imagery from the country’s past, be it the most recent or the more ancient one, to comment on political or sociological trends. (updated and corrected entry)
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Aug 3

Stephen Colbert (also appreciate Colbert in English) explains why the Wikipedia is bullshit. If you don’t have the time for the clip, just look at which of these Wikipedia entries I linked to contains the phrase “The neutrality of this section is disputed” and go figure.
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Aug 2

Etta Gerdes’ photography is exploring landscapes and the landscape architecture.
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Aug 2

Let me try to understand this: It’s perfectly acceptable for Mel Gibson (who, btw, in all seriousness believes his wife will go to hell since she does not believe in the same dogma he believes in - must be lovely to be marired to the guy) to make a fundamentalist, overtly anti-semitic splatter movie about the execution of Jesus Christ, but it is not acceptable for him to get drunk and to use anti-semitic insults in front of a policeman. Interesting.
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Aug 1

“JH EngströmÂ’s Trying To Dance comprises a photojournalistic ‘diaryÂ’ of his life since 1990: landscapes, still-lives, self-portraits, and snapshots of friends become loosely narrative documents, recording not only the artistÂ’s individual experiences, but a sensitive and provocative engagement with the world at large. Using photographyÂ’s ability to capture the fleeting essence of a moment, EngstromÂ’s Untitled is delicately tinted, transferring specific time and place to the unfixed reference of memory.” (source)
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Aug 1

I quite like Jennifer Loeber’s “Zeig Mal.”
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Aug 1

Every war needs it propaganda, and Israel’s bombing of Lebanon is no exception. Der Spiegel already reported in detail how Israel’s propaganda machinery works. It seems places like YouTube are now being used excessively by both sides, too - you can find some links on this page (ignore the text if you don’t understand it - the links are all red).
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