Archives

March 2007

SELECT A MONTH:

Mar 30

“A New York gallery has angered a US Catholic group with its decision to exhibit a milk chocolate sculpture of Jesus Christ.” - story Update: As reported by Ed Winkleman, the show was canceled. So how is Christianity more tolerant and open-minded again? And then: don’t feel sorry for the artist.
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Mar 30

I’m fairly used to the occasional post making the rounds a little bit, which means in the circles of people who like to look at contemporary fine-art photography. What I’m not used to is a post making a bit of a bigger splash.
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Mar 30

Jessica Roberts specializes in portraits. Beautiful work.
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Mar 29

Alright, here’s something entirely different: Meet Joseph, the beat box (he starts his routine about half a minute into the clip).
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Mar 29

Justin James Reed’s photography is a nice mix of environmental portraits and landscapes without people. I especially like the South Philadelphia series.
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Mar 29

Following up on an older post and some of the reactions it generated (I found this here): The main problem with many of these comments is not that people like macro photos of flowers or HDR photography.
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Mar 29

Andrew Glickman sent me an email about the appeal in the lawsuit against Philip-Lorca diCorcia, which had been dismissed earlier. You can find the appellate court’s decision here.
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Mar 28

“An appeals court has ruled against family members of an Oklahoma National Guard member whose open casket was photographed by Harper’s Magazine. […] ‘While it could be argued that publication of [the photo] without prior authorization was in poor taste … it does not constitute an actionable claim under any of the theories advanced by plaintiffs,’ the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on March 23 in Showler v. Harper’s Magazine.” - story
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Mar 28

I never thought I’d ever buy an issue of W magazine, but then I once bought one of “Vanity Fair” (for the articles - to use that old excuse). As you might have probably heard, the most recent issue of W contains a spread shot by Alec Soth, and you should really buy the magazine for those pages. The photography is simply exquisite. On his blog, Alec just posted answers to some of the questions about the work - an excellent example of how a blog can transform the interaction between a photographer and photo enthusiasts, or - probably more precisely - how a photographer, happy to interact with photo enthusiasts, can contribute to making the medium even more popular through his blog.
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Mar 28

Carlo Van de Roer’s personal work contains a few very nice projects, such as Pools and Swim.
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Mar 28

I’m the kind of person who’ll order the same dish at a restaurant, simply because it’s good. That, of course, makes me a very likely fan of The Fall, because, after all, their songs basically all sound the same (with minor variations - it’s extremely simple, repetitive music with an old man, who might or might not have a speech impediment and loose dentures, ranting over it): It’s the Fall Sound (this from their most recent album).
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Mar 27

“348 of the 2,914 artists in the Tate’s collection are women. That’s a mere 12%, or 7% if you count it by the proportion of actual artworks by women. But it’s hardly a failing unique to the Tate. The National Gallery owns work by just eight women artists, while there are over 400 men represented, which leaves women a measly 2% of the whole. The problem is that, due to a variety of economic and social factors, for most of history […] women have produced far less art than men. ‘Why are there no great women artists?’ the art historian Linda Nochlin famously asked in 1971, explaining carefully to both the feminists and the traditionalists that this wasn’t because female artists had been overlooked, nor because they weren’t any good. There just weren’t enough of them to have gained the visibility, the supposed ‘greatness’, with which so many men had been lauded.” - story
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Mar 27

I can’t resist linking to this. Have a look at these highlights from Britain’s old fake news show The Day Today, featuring the proto-Stephen Colbert Alan Partridge. Oh, and don’t miss this one.
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Mar 27

A little while ago, someone sent me an email and asked me whether I could tell him what made a photo great. I wrote back that I had been thinking about it (so far, so good) and that I was in the process of writing an entry about it (well…). In principle, it’s probably the easiest question to ask. We know a great photo when we see one. But then describing what it is that makes it great is an entirely different matter. And, of course, different people pick different photos. So I thought it would be quite silly if I wrote an entry about this all on my own and pretended I was some kind of authority. Instead, I emailed as many friends, fellow bloggers, and photographers as possible - looking through my ‘contacts’ - and asked them instead, the idea being that, in the end, it is probably the sum of what every single person has to say that will answer the question “What makes a photo great?” - or maybe not (which would make it all the more interesting). Find behind the fold what people wrote back. I am most grateful for each and every answer I got, and I hope you’ll get as much of a kick out of this as I did.
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Mar 26

A lot of Eric Slayton’s photography deals with animals (and how we view them), whether real ones or fake ones. Also see this page.
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Mar 23

“Celebrated US photographer of the American elite Annie Leibovitz is no stranger to glamorizing the rich and powerful, and despite a long-term relationship with Susan Sontag - one of the best theorists and intellectual minds on political art, photography, and representations of violence and suffering, Leibovitz seems bent on shirking off the criticisms of her companion even after her death. This month’s Vanity Fair cover is no exception, and in fact is one of Leibovitz’s most irresponsible and polluting pieces of art to date” - story
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Mar 23

I think you’ll have to make up your mind yourself about Jon Naiman’s work, because I can’t just decide what to make of it.
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Mar 22

I’m a big fan of Godzilla movies. As far as entertainment value goes, they’re hard to beat. So what’s so good about a Godzilla movie?
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Mar 22

Dawn Roscoe’s work is quite interesting, especially her series “Exquisite Suburbia”.
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Mar 22

Over at Sign and Sight, there’s a whole bunch of interesting articles that go beyond the “some say” diet we’re so familiar with. In The ghosts are leaving the shadows, former East German dissident Wolf Biermann discusses the movie The Life of Others and its implications. The multicultural Issue contains a whole set of articles debating how/whether to engage moderate Islam (remember there are large Islamic minorities in many European countries). Navid Kermani examines Germany: A mindset. And in The radical loser, Hans Magnus Enzensberger tries to understand what converts ordinary people into terrorists.
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Mar 21

Peng Yangjun & Chen Jiaojiao are the photographers behind Colors Magazine 70 (note that if you think you can’t see anything on that site, that’s because there’s a light-grey font on the white background).
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Mar 21

Commenting on a photo by Joel Peter Witkin, which shows a reenactment of Theodore Gericault’s La Zattera della medusa with (a fake) GW Bush and others, David Schonauer writes that “WitkinÂ’s image is one-sided and ruthless in its sarcasm.” and asks “Is it fair for an artist to take on such subjects in such a way?” Jim Johnson responds by asking “Are we supposed to believe that ‘real’ or ‘true’ artists don’t have political views (or, that they at least carefully segregate any such views they might embrace the from their ‘art’)?” And indeed, it’s very hard to see why artists should be apolitical. Artists are citizens of a country, and as citizens they have the right - and some might argue the obligation - to make political statements. If some people do not agree with that political statement that’s part of the process, that’s the essence of democracy. As is the ruffling of feathers.
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Mar 20

Painter Johannes Kahrs works where Gerhard Richter and Francis Bacon (and thus photography) meet. Find a long article (in German) about his work here.
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Mar 20

Right out of Düsseldorf, the oddly named German town that brought the world Kraftwerk and, through its art academy, some of the hottest photographers on this planet, comes the new Sonic Blog, a weblog about photography. I talked Peter, who maintains the site, into adding a brief English prefix to each post, so non-German speakers can enjoy them, too (but then the links are all in a different colour anyway).
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Mar 20

Jyrki Parantainen’s photography looks quite interesting, even though I have to admit that in the end, I don’t quite know what to make of it.
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Mar 19

The latest issue (no. 70) of Colors Magazine deserves to be check out (and it seems most of it is available online). It “is the work of two young Chinese artists, Chen Jiaojiao and Peng Yangjun. A creative duo from Fabrica, they came up with the concept, photos, design and text for the issue.” (when I first came across the new edition, the website had a bunch of problems - it looks like it’s fine now, but if it doesn’t load properly come back later - it’s worth the wait).
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Mar 19

Felix R. Cid’s portfolio contains some very interesting projects. Don’t miss “Ways of Salt”.
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Mar 19

A little while ago, I went to Holland for work-related reasons, and I met up with two Dutch friends of mine. They had both lived in the town where I stayed for a few years, and they took me to meet friends of theirs. As it turned out, their friends have been spending the past ten years restoring (or maybe more accurately de-renovating) an old house. They have been taking out all the new stuff - windows, ceilings, floors, etc. - and they have been replacing it with materials from around the time when the house was built, many hundreds of years ago. I’m quite glad that I can say that I have seen lots of quite interesting things in my life, but this particular house was quite a unique experience. How often do you get to see individually hand-crafted Dutch tiles in a kitchen that is still being used? And how often do you get to know people who dig through the layers of debris underneath the mass produced new interior of an old house to look for those old tiles? When flying back home I spent the better part of the long flight regretting that I had foolishly turned down staying at that house (they had actually offered me to host me on a bed-and-breakfast basis) instead of at the two-star hotel right next to the highway (with my only defense - “Accomodation is being paid for, and I can’t get the bed and breakfast reimbursed” - sounding sadder and sadder every minute).
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Mar 19

I’m not the biggest fan of Charlie Rose. I find it quite irritating how he often appears to be patronizing his subjects (when he’s not treating them like they are mentally somewhat challenged, which he did with Henri Cartier-Bresson). But I think this show might be of interest for many people, since it contains a segment with Taryn Simon.
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Mar 16

People with entirely too many bad tattoos, monster trucks, racing cars, cowboy hats, bad clothes, shooting ranges, unbelievably tacky eagles (spray-paint style), events that involve minimum amounts of clothes and personal dignity. That sounds just like… Switzerland (what did you think?), all that documented by Yann Gross, whose personal portfolio is filled with photo treasures.
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Mar 16

I find Simon Gallus’ award-winning series “Heiliger Boden” (“Holy Ground”) quite nice. See the same photos, but presented a bit better here (images 8 thru 12).
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Mar 16

“Slaves - Notable by their absence in films about Sparta, even though they were the bedrock of Spartan society. Presumably acknowledgment of Sparta’s large slave population would sit oddly with a portrayal of a heroic society that valued freedom.” - story
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Mar 15

Maxine Beuret, another one of PDN’s 30 2007, has been documenting various aspects of her native England. I especially like A Nation of Shopkeepers.
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Mar 14

Überblog kottke.org is 9 years old today; and we are told that “writer and professional pundit Bruce Sterling has cracked bloggers with the extinction stick, saying the plebs will crawl back into their ooze by 2017.” Because, what this here is - if you want to believe the pundit - is some sort of “tribal instincts of man passing down stories in an unregulated fashion”. Well, what do you know - I thought the whole “tribal” idea was some sort of late 1990’s fad! (And as always getretener Quark wird breit, nicht stark.)
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Mar 14

I am usually not all that interested in fashion photography. But I like Aneta Bartos’s work, which is refreshingly different. She’s also one of PDN’s 30 2007.
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Mar 14

Brad DeCecco is one of PDN’s 30 2007. Make sure to look through all the portfolios, there’s a lot of good stuff there.
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Mar 14

“Two buses arrive shortly after seven. They turn into the main driveway, turn around and slowly back up toward the doors. The hospital’s advance guard - 16 people altogether - emerges from the lobby through sliding glass doors and quickly forms a cluster around the rear doors of one of the Blue Birds. A nurse stands on tiptoe on the outside perimeter, doing her best to hold an umbrella over the bus’s double doors, which are now wide open. A stretcher is lifted from inside the bus out into the rain. It arrives in the form of a broken man, a body almost completely covered in gauze bandages, darkened in spots, and connected to various machines - he is unconscious. The chaplain at the head of the welcoming committee personally greets the new arrival, just as every new arrival at Landstuhl is greeted personally, whether he is awake, asleep or in a coma. The priest stands next to the stretcher and leans in toward the patient, almost as if he were bowing, and, addressing him by his first name: Michael, he says, ‘you are safe now. You’re in Germany.’” - story
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Mar 13

Photo District News just published their 2007 list of 30 New and Emerging Photographers to Watch (am I quite glad they removed the previously used age limit…). Congratulations especially to Brian Ulrich, whose work you will be quite familiar with if you’re a regular visitor of this blog!
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Mar 13

“Lionsgate and the Firm are partnering on a feature adaptation of Thomas Kinkade’s painting The Christmas Cottage, aiming for a holiday season release.” (source) Now get this: “Kinkade’s company asserts it’s sold $1.7 billion of artwork at retail over the past 15 years along with $2.4 billion in licensed product sales - such as greeting cards and calendars - over the past decade, resulting in Kinkade art being found in one out of every 10 U.S. households.” Yes, that’s right, that’s “billion”.
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Mar 13

“Banksy is in fact the equivalent, in our troubled times, of previous beloved popular artists from LS Lowry to Rolf Harris. His art has a quirky sense of humour along with its condemnation of capital, and a goodheartedness that makes it far warmer than the harsh conceptualism of Turner Prize art. His book Wall and Piece […] is a hit because it does make you laugh, or snigger, as well as reassuring you that you’re no Tony Blair. Put this on your coffee table and your lounge will have an edge.” - story
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Mar 13

For those wondering what it takes to shoot a good portrait, have a look at Shauna Frischkorn’s Gamers portraits (also to be seen here). So maybe for a good portrait you don’t even need any interaction between photographer and subject? Also compare Todd Deutsch’s Gamers series and Philip Toledano’s.
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Mar 12

Well, what do you know! The current (March 2007) edition of German photo magazine Photonews features a long article about photo blogs entitled “The smoky loft” (actually, it’s called “Das verrauchte Loft”), which, sadly, is not available online. So if you’re here because you saw the link in that article herzlich willkommen!
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Mar 10

On the occasion of a major retrospective at Munich’s Haus der Kunst, German art magazine Art features a long article about Andreas Gursky, available for download as a pdf file. Needless to say, it’s in German, but it’s well worth the download because of the fine selection of his latest, utterly impressive photography.
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Mar 9

After I had a discussion with my friend Dylan about whether b/w would make a return or not and/or what the future role of b/w would be, over at Tim Atherton’s blog (which you should check out if you haven’t done so already!) I found a link to an article entitled The New Color: The Return of Black-and-White. It’s quite an interesting read.
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Mar 9

Allyson Klutenkamper’s photography aims to visually represent emotional problems such as anxiety or depression - it thus does require more than casually glancing at it.
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Mar 9

Brendan Austin’s various projects contain quite a few very interesting photos. I really like “dark space”.
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Mar 9

“If 300, the new battle epic based on the graphic novel by Frank Miller and Lynn Varley, had been made in Germany in the mid-1930s, it would be studied today alongside The Eternal Jew as a textbook example of how race-baiting fantasy and nationalist myth can serve as an incitement to total war.” (story)
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Mar 8

Thingsmagazine just called the cruise ship Freedom of the Seas “quite possibly the world’s largest and most tasteless object”. Given the ship’s nauseatingly tacky name it’s hard to disagree.
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Mar 8

There has got to be a limit as to how far you can go with “typologies” - or maybe not? When I saw Andy Mattern’s remote controls I thought “Well, OK, typologies of remote controls… I haven’t seen that before, and maybe there’s a reason why”. However, his current work is quite a bit nicer and very well executed, and shooting at night adds a little extra flavour.
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Mar 7

Christoph Engel’s portfolio contains some very nice photos, even though it’s a bit uneven. In any case, he presents a somewhat chilling view of modernity in Europe.
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Mar 7

“Jean Baudrillard’s death did not take place. ‘Dying is pointless,’ he once wrote. ‘You have to know how to disappear.’” (obit) Speaking of pointless, I have to admit I only read one book by Jean Baudrillard (or actually about half of it). But when I read the book, I remembered a scene from one of the deleted scenes of the movie Waiting for Guffman, where Fred Willard, in character, goes into a convoluted recollecting of some baseball game with an ending that is entirely made up, concluding “That’s not true, but it sounds good.” Reading Baudrillard, that struck me as quite adaptable to the book: This is all crap, but it sounds good.
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Mar 6

“Arriving in America with only $40 for a short visit, a young Dane, Jacob Holdt ended up staying over five years, hitchhiking more than 100,000 miles throughout the USA. He sold blood plasma twice weekly to be able to buy film. He lived in more than 400 homes - from the poorest migrant workers to America’s wealthiest families such as the Rockefellers. They not only gave him hospitality and warmth, but their continuing friendship to this day. He joined the Indian rebellion in Wounded Knee, followed criminals in the ghettos during muggings, sneaked inside to work in Southern slave camps and infiltrated secret Ku Klux Klan meetings as well as Republican presidential campaign headquarters.” (source)
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Mar 6

Yeondoo Jung’s series “Wonderland” stages childrens’ drawings. “Bewitched” is equally nice.
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Mar 6

An-My Lê war photography shows re- or pre-enacted wars, and, it is claimed, by “bringing added resonance to the phrase ‘the theater of war,’ Lê asks us to reconsider the fictions that cloud the ways in which war is experienced, remembered, and represented.” (source) Find a podcast with the artist here.
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Mar 6

“The most successful Hitler parody on film is a short in which Adolf moans about a dishonest car salesman. It’s attracted more than half a million hits on YouTube. The two-and-a-half-minute short was made by film student Florian Wittmann […]. It marries footage of Hitler delivering a speech from Leni Riefenstahl’s Triumph of the Will with the sound of a routine by German cabaret performer Gerhard Polt. The result is a film in which the Führer appears to deliver a tirade, replete with all his characteristically hysterical gesturing, about how a car dealer swindled him into a costly leasing agreement for an auto he thought he was buying outright. An enthusiastic German crowd applauds him as he works himself up into a petty bourgeois frenzy.” (source)
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Mar 5

“It is an image of war that the [British] Ministry of Defence (MoD) never wanted to see published: an intimate family photograph of a British soldier killed in Iraq which, taken with nearly 100 others, forms the official portrait of the conflict by the Turner Prize-winning artist Steve McQueen. As the finished work, For Queen and Country, was unveiled in Manchester last night, McQueen said it had been completed in the face of two years’ opposition from the MoD, which had offered only a limited glimpse of the conflict, refused him access to the families of British casualties and asked why he could not produce ‘a landscape’ portrait instead.” - story (also see this story)
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Mar 5

(Just kidding, he’s only 50.)
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Mar 2

Anne Hardy’s work shows very unusual interiors. See more of her work here and here.
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Mar 2

To balance the anti-MAC rant from the other day, here is the report of some sucker who “updated” to Microsoft’s “Vista”.
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Mar 1

For her work, Ute Behrend uses diptychs, often achieving a somewhat startling effect (even though I sometimes didn’t quite know what I was startled about).
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