Archives

October 2008

SELECT A MONTH:

Oct 31

“Studs Terkel, the ageless master of listening and speaking, a broadcaster, activist and Pulitzer Prize-winning author whose best-selling oral histories celebrated the common people he liked to call the ‘non-celebrated,’ died Friday. He was 96.” (story; also see this story; photo taken and kindly provided by Alec Soth)
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Oct 31

… in a lengthy article by Broomberg and Chanarin, and a response by (Tim) Hetherington.
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Oct 31

I’m seriously tired after this week’s series of posts, so for today it’ll only be underground/avantgarde hip hop act Dälek. One more:
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Oct 30

I thought it would be interesting to pick up a thread from especially my latest post on the visual language of photojournalism and ask “What is photojournalism anyway?” I’m not being facetious here, I’m serious. (Updated below)
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Oct 29

My earlier post about the visual language of photojournalism needs to be clarified in many different ways, and I hope to be able to add a post here and there that will talk about some more aspects. I thought I’d start off by giving an example first.
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Oct 29

Jörg Brüggemann’s Same Same But Different portrays young Westerners backpacking in less affluent countries.
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Oct 28

A little while ago, I received an email that told me about a project photojournalist James Nachtwey had been working on, which was going to get unveiled at a later date. The email contained the request to write a post that included some piece of code, which would automatically reveal the new project on the day in question. Since I prefer to have full editorial control over this blog, I decided not to post about it. But I was also uncomfortable with how this then secret project - something supposedly very important and completely underreported - was being handled. I thought that generating a lot of suspense could easily be somewhat damaging to whatever it was Nachtwey wanted to talk about: What if on the day in question people would think “Well, this is it?”
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Oct 28

There was an article in New Yorker magazine about genius and age and their relation. The question of age is actually a very important question, and discussing it in the context of “genius” unfortunately is like trying to observe stars during the day: People are so obsessed with the concept (idea?) “genius” that everything else just fades away.
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Oct 28

Jeff Rich’s Watershed portrays the French Broad River Basin in North Carolina and Tennessee, showing both landscapes and people living along the river. If I had to choose I’d probably say I prefer the landscapes over most of the portraits, but regardless it’s a well executed project with a lot of good imagery.
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Oct 27

“I want to show a planet infested with a species in rage, in acceleration and constant motion—in that, becoming an abstract phenomenon. But I also want to show how much beauty we can find in this development we’re in, when we see it as an adventure or a challenge. My images stand for the highspeed insanity we’re facing every day.” - Martin Denker
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Oct 27

By now, everybody probably knows that Alec Soth has returned to blogging, over at Magnum’s blog. Today, he posted a conversation with Alex Webb about Alex’ work for InSight America.
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Oct 27

This past weekend, I went to New York for a panel discussion on portraiture, and I managed to attend two extremely noteworthy shows/events. First, I caught the big Gilbert & George show at the Brooklyn Museum. It’s one thing to see their art work reproduced on websites or in books and quite another to see it in person. I find it quite interesting that despite the fact that most of their art is photography based (the individual panels of the pieces are all photographic prints) the show has not been mentioned on any site of the blogosphere: Two of Britain’s leading contemporary artists come to town and nobody finds it worthwhile to talk about it (which I find particularly jarring since each and every one of Damien Hirst’s pranks stunts always gets a lots of virtual ink)? I also got to see Phillip Toledano’s America - The Gift Shop at a place called The Apartment. When I first saw the website I wondered whether all the individual pieces were real, and now I know that they are (and they’re for sale!). I did not buy an Abu Ghraib bobblehead (even though I was tempted), but they’re as real as they could possibly get: They have a “Made in China” sticker underneath (yes, I looked). As Phillip told me, he had everything custom-made in China, and it was great to see the stuff and to chat with Phil.
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Oct 22

“A new online encyclopedia of European culture, called ‘Europeana,’ is set to debut in November. It’s a rival to the Google Library Project, but also something else — the start of a vast digital backup copy of what’s in Europe’s libraries, museums and national film collections.” - story
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Oct 22

Adam Golfer’s kin is “a documentary about the land [Germany] and the young people there”. While that’s not overly descriptive, I like the images.
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Oct 21

Have a look at Sean Salyards’ wonderful portrait of his grandmother.
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Oct 21

“Who are the people of America? What are we thinking? What makes us angry and frustrated? What gives us hope? Are some of us really all blue and some all red? Or are we mostly shades of purple? What is the American Dream today? InSight America is an innovative documentary project that aims to explore these questions on the eve of one of the most important elections in American history. Calling on the talents of some of the world’s most respected photojournalists, using the Web to update their observations daily, InSight America is a collage of personal investigations and reflections that attempts to capture the things preoccupying Americans during the weeks leading to Election Day.”
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Oct 20

I am amazed by Kiritin Beyer’s quiet portrait of life in rural France.
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Oct 19

Guido Castagnoli’s photography from provincial Japan show a side of the country unknown for most Westerners.
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Oct 18

Geoff Dyer discusses war photography (or maybe more accurately: what we think war photography has to look like for us to accept it as such).
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Oct 17

We have recently witnessed a vastly increased interest in photography done in China by Westerners. At the same time, Chinese photography has gained a certain amount of exposure in the West - as part of Chinese art being the latest big trend in the art world. For the most part, though, finding Chinese photography (or art) in book form is still a challenge - a few notable exceptions, as always, proving the point. And it would seem that most Western (publishers’) attention is directed at the new and shiny and its repercussions. Photographs of the rapid growth of various Chinese cities and factories and of the growing ecological price being paid for them have now become almost another one of the many photographic clichés: Lots of shiny skyscrapers, young Chinese people with mobile phones in discos (or at car shows), factories mass-producing cheap products to be sold at Walmart - OK, we get the picture.
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Oct 17

Poppy de Villeneuve’s “The Strangers” is a portrait of inmates and the environment of America’s largest maximum-security prison: “The folly of mankind remains complicated.” Indeed.
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Oct 17

A bit of comedy, courtesy of Reeves & Mortimer. My favourite bit is their interpretation of somebody else’s song, using slightly unusual musical instruments. Another one:
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Oct 16

Henk Wittinghofer’s portfolio is a bit of a hodgepodge of imagery, but there are lots that I really like.
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Oct 15

The October 2008 issue of Modern Painters magazine has a lot of its very noteworthy contents online, such as a long interview with and Polaroids by Catherine Opie, Alec Soth’s ‘The Last Days of W.’, an article on Shepard Fairey (whose name you might not know, but whose work you will be very familiar with), and an article on Jake and Dinos Chapman’s remade ‘Hell’. Not to be missed!
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Oct 15

“As art becomes the only viable option for investors, Annie Deakin argues whether the internet is a help or a hindrance to the art market.”
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Oct 15

After seeing Michael Wolf’s Architecture of Density one of my thoughts was that the project should have been done in the United States. Granted, there is a lot of anonymous, hideous architecture, housing thousands and thousands of people, in many parts of the world. But the story of skyscrapers and huge apartment buildings, all together in small spaces, is tied to the United States - and even though I’m not an expert in the architecture of skyscrapers up until recently the list of the largest ones was mostly populated by buildings in the US.
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Oct 15

“As part of its Project 1012, an effort to ‘clean up’ the city’s famous Red Light District, Amsterdam’s city government has already teamed up with private enterprise to replace a number of bordellos with studio space for fashion designers. Now, along with the organization Kunstenaars and Co. […] the city has collaborated with real estate company De Key […] in a new project designed to accommodate sculptors, painters, and other visual artists.” (source)
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Oct 15

I find the photography on Adam Jeppesen’s website very attractive, but I can’t say that about the texts about his work.
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Oct 15

As I mentioned earlier, this past weekend, I was a reviewer at Atlanta Celebrates Photography’s portfolio reviews. Apart from seeing a lot of interesting photography, it gave me the opportunity to see lots of different kids of promotional materials handed out by the photographers.
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Oct 15

I found a good series of posts on the work of Edward Burtynsky here, here, and here.
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Oct 14

German magazine Der Spiegel has a fairly critical look at photos used in the media to illustrate the recent financial/economical problems. For example: “Ambulance. Times Square. News ticker announcing the US bailout. Get it?”
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Oct 14

Joshua Dudley Greer’s American Histories visits places that are tied to some story (all of them violent), for example the one above (quoting from his site): “Bonnie Parker first saw Clyde Barrow as he was attempting to steal her mother’s car in 1930. That same day, Bonnie watched as Clyde robbed a general store and the two drove off together. The duo soon teamed up with Clyde’s brother Buck and a number of other accomplices to form the Barrow Gang. Over the next four years, the gang robbed numerous establishments in Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri and Iowa, including this bank. In 1934, Bonnie and Clyde were ambushed by Louisiana police officers who were tipped off by an accomplice’s father. Without warning or an attempt to make an arrest, four police officers fired approximately 130 rounds into the fugitives’ car, killing both instantly. Bonnie Parker was 23 years old, Clyde Barrow was 25.”
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Oct 14

Legendary literary critic Marcel Reich-Ranicki went to the big gala where they handed out the major German TV awards and told people he was going to reject the “honorary” one awarded to him, because what they showed on TV was mostly “disgusting”. The moderator managed to somehow save face for everybody by suggesting to have a multi-channel TV show with Reich-Ranicki to talk about the issues (story; video - both unfortunately in German only; you can probably easily tell who is who in the image above). Pric/zeless!
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Oct 13

This past weekend, I went to Atlanta to be part of Atlanta Celebrates Photography’s portfolio reviews (photo above courtesy Michael David Murphy). I thought it was quite amazing what Amy Miller and Michael David Murphy had managed to come up with - how do you even go about organizing a photography festival with just two people? Given I was only in town for two days I just caught a glimpse of all the different events, with the Public Art Program being the very obvious personal favourite: A multimedia installation inside an old water tower (thus making every Becherite happy). Check out this clip, which gives you an idea of the project.
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Oct 13

There’s no shortage of recent photography of “cosplayers” or “second life” characters, which I think is a bit unfortunate, because how many of such photos can you look at before it gets tiring (my personal threshold is quite low actually, but yours might be higher)? And did you know that there are other subcultures, with equally weird (or even weirder) habits? For example, did you know that there are people who collect old vacuum cleaners and who meet up to see whose vacuum cleaner performs best under carefully controlled circumstances? I didn’t, but now I do, after having seen Brian Berman’s work on those subcultures - I really hope somebody will give him a book deal.
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Oct 9

For the most part, Tomoko Yoneda’s work is centered on history and its relations with places.
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Oct 9

It took me a long time to find some references to German photographer Simone Nieweg. There are some images here, and you can see some more of her work here. However, the latter website might contain the worst reproductions of an artist’s photography I’ve ever seen: The images for the most part are completely ruined by jpeg compression artifacts. Unbelievable! I’ve seen a print of this photo, and when you see it online you’ll probably wonder what makes me link to this work. The print looks nothing like the jpeg - it’s like the difference between a colour photo and a photocopy done on a b/w xerox machine whose toner is low. Does the gallery not care? Are they complete amateurs? I honestly cannot come up with a good explanation. If you have a bit of time, you can look at this page, which contains some (very large) press images (which loads rather slowly).
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Oct 8

After having talked about it with a blogger friend, I wager that Cute Overload is everybody’s favourite (extremely secret) guilty pleasure. So if you’re tired of that one and even of that one…
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Oct 8

Found via Hippolyte Bayard: The photography of Kalle Kataila.
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Oct 7

There appears to be fairly wide-spread consensus in the blogging community that there’s a dearth of critical discussions of photography online. You wouldn’t really know this from reading blogs, because nobody posts about it. However, the many email exchanges and conversations I’ve had with people tell me that there are lots of people who would actually like to see photography being discussed in a more critical manner. (updated below)
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Oct 7

… by my friend Richard Renaldi.
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Oct 6

I like how this simulation/visualization of air traffic over 24 hours (found over at kottke.org) looks like abstract art. And there also is
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Oct 6

I don’t speak Japanese, which, unfortunately, often makes it next to impossible for me to find information on Japanese photographers online. I just found Masataka Nakano’s book Tokyo Blackout (you can see some images here - click on the images to see the following ones), and my attempts to find more information online are quite meagre. Here’s another page with some samples.
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Oct 3

Bettina Steinacker’s Terrain Vague traces changes in the formerly heavily industrialized Ruhr area in Germany.
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Oct 3

Maybe the right stuff, after the VP debate - this only works if you play it really loud. Mogwai. And a classic:
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Oct 3

“Art for Obama is an online auction of photographs to benefit the Obama Campaign. Fifty of the country’s most prominent artists and photographers have donated their work for this cause. The auction will launch on October 1st and will run for one week. All proceeds from the auction will go to the Obama Campaign, to the Democratic National Committee and to non-profit organizations such as MoveOn.org, which are currently devoting their energy to helping the Obama campaign. Proceeds will be distributed in strict accordance with Federal Election Commmission regulations.” (source) Participating artists include Tim Davis, Larry Fink, Katy Grannan, Lisa Kereszi, David Maisel, Richard Misrach, Alec Soth, Larry Sultan, and many more (seems like some were added since I first posted this). Note (updated 3 Oct): According to the organizers (they sent out an email), “In order to abide by FEC regulations, we will not be donating our proceeds directly to Obama or the DNC . Instead, the proceeds will go to MoveOn.org; one of the most effective advocacy groups for the Obama campaign, who is also involved in respectful, and progressive issues that concern us all as Americans.”
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Oct 2

Eleanor Antin “delves into history - whether of ancient Rome, the Crimean War, the salons of nineteenth-century Europe, or her own Jewish heritage and Yiddish culture - as a way to explore the present.” (source, with lots of additional materials)
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Oct 2

In a recent post, Ofer discussed a portfolio of work by Platon done for and published in New Yorker Magazine. Rob picked up on it; and it’s actually quite an interesting topic, because, as far as I can tell, there are different aspects to it, which, when being confused with each other, might complicate things (as you can see in some of the comments under Rob’s post).
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Oct 2

Photographer Will Steacy emailed me to tell me that “I am being forced out of my apartment due to a $600 a month rent hike which I can not afford. […] I can’t afford to pay the new rent and I don’t have the money to cover the costs of a move. In hopes to raise money to support a move I am offering a special Limited Edition print sale.” Check out the photos and details here.
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Oct 1

Nathan Baker’s work is very conceptual. I like Rupture (which my brain initially misread as “Rapture”) the best.
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Oct 1

I have long been a fan of Gregory Crewdson’s work, and I recently received “Beneath the Roses” as a gift. After unpacking the book I should have waited for actual day light to look at it, but how can a new photo book be placed on my table with me not looking at it? So I decided to quickly flip through the book, kind of like a “trailer” if you will: “This is all the stuff you’ll get to enjoy tomorrow morning, when the light is good (and when you don’t have to live with the weird yellowish-green light of energy-saving bulbs).” Of course, my eye was mostly drawn towards the people in the photos, and with every image followed quickly by the next I noted that there is what looks like a somewhat narrow range of “activities” - if you want to call it an “activity” if someone stands in front of a mirror, staring at a reflection. I’m going to slightly exaggerate here, but it looks like there are lots of men staring into weird holes in their houses, and lots of women (many of them naked) who are somehow unsettled by their own selves. And that made me wish for more - sure, there is a lot of emptiness in suburbia (and in those other places depicted in the book), but emptiness and disillusionment cannot possibly all there is?! Maybe this points towards what I’d be tempted to call a Lynchian stereotyping of American life, where there are “uncanny” (you can’t write a serious photo blog and not use the word “uncanny” at least once) things going on, but they’re kind of all the same. I’m not even arguing that these human activities are all real (for all I know surburbanites could all be extremely happy campers), but I wager that if people are disillusioned or unhappy or frustrated or whatever else they might be (and I’m sure there are enough people who experience something like this) then the range of responses is probably a bit wider than what Lynch and/or Crewdson would want us to believe. But then, maybe photography and film mirror what you see in literature, where you know that when you read author XYZ you’re bound to get, for example, a neurotic character obsessed with sex, whose inner monologue you’ll find laid out across 600 pages. As a consequence you know that when you hear, for example, the name Tim Burton the movie will be Johnny Depp plus Helena Bonham Carter plus weird machinery, all way overproduced, plus an extremely annoying score by Danny Elfman. But then I could just be wrong about this all.
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