Archives

April 2009

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Apr 30

“Most women over forty are not happy with their bodies. The women in this series, who had the courage to be seen by a 4x5 camera, are no exception. Exhibitionism was not what compelled them to be photographed. […] As I was setting up my camera and lights, I asked each woman to write a page or two about how they see themselves sexually and how their sexuality has changed as they’ve grown older. […] We all have issues in our life that challenge us, and as we grow older physical issues become more important. Resistance certainly shapes form, much as the vicissitudes of age shape our sexuality.” - Sparky Campanella about his project 40 over forty (via)
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Apr 30

Evan Mirapaul has an answer: “‘Emerging’ is a term that remains mired in the same prejudice that mis-defined the perfect age for the great romantic poets. ‘Emerging’ has no causative effect in great art. It’s a financial euphemism not a creative one. As we’ve been forced to view our finances with renewed sobriety, I hope that we will view this term, too, with the scepticism it deserves.” (my emphasis)
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Apr 30

Brett Bell’s website contains quite a few very nice portraits.
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Apr 29

Anna Skladmann’s Little Adults portrays children of the ultra-rich in Russia.
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Apr 29

“Maybe we could do without even the best art about childhood. Maybe we could ask ourselves the questions art asks on our own. But child pornography law does something worse than chill artistic thought. It allows us to ignore what actually abuses children all the time. Strangely, every single one of the scandals about child pornography in art galleries has involved photographs of healthy and affluent white children. Protection of the most vulnerable children, apparently, is not what concerns advocates of child pornography law. Rational protection of real children against actual abuse is not the highest priority of those who demand censorship of pictures. I almost wonder if it is the contrary. Is a strident demand for censorship of images a decoy? Does it deflect the facts of child abuse, the fact, for instance, that the overwhelming majority of cases of child abuse occur in the home and are inflicted by fathers, step-fathers or boyfriends?” - Anne Higonnet, in a very smart article with a lot of examples (via)
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Apr 28

Linus Bill, winner of the photography prize at Hyères, explains his art to Diane Pernet (found on Diane’s blog).
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Apr 28

Sorry for this politics only post, but this is a major event in US politics: Arlen Specter Switches Parties.
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Apr 28

Those interested in full coverage of this year’s International Fashion and Photography Festival in Hyères can find a very big overview (fashion and photography alike, incl. lots of video clips) on Diane Pernet’s blog.
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Apr 28

Typologies meet Andreas Gefeller in Jürgen Chill’s “Zellen” (“prison cells”). Find an interview with Jürgen over at Prison Photography.
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Apr 25

I’m currently at the International Fashion and Photography Festival in Hyères. You can find a first report from Hyères here.
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Apr 23

“Memory City is about my personal memory of Shanghai, which is real yet also full of fantasy and becoming more faint by the day.” - Sun Ji
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Apr 22

Over at bldgblog, Geoff posted a smart defense of Twitter (go check it out, especially if you read “Maureen Dodd’s [sic!] brain-dead editorial in yesterday’s New York Times”). Speaking of which, I have been wondering whether Twitter could be used for something, so I “restored” my Twitter account (yeah, it’s true: when you try to delete/close/whatever an account, Twitter never actually deletes it - scary, eh?). I promise I won’t post links to my blog posts or what I’m eating or doing (for reasons which should be pretty obvious). Instead, I’ll post mostly quick thoughts or “rejects” (stuff that somehow didn’t make it onto the blog, for whatever reason). It’s an experiment; we’ll see how it goes.
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Apr 22

A long overdue update: Jen Davis now has her own website. Wonderful work.
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Apr 22

“Each image is like someone’ s id… and then I bring mine and put it on top of it. If it’s good artwork, it’s everybody id in some way. They’re heroes of the human id. Jess and Tessie, [the drooling twins] you see who you were a million years ago…a monkey…and you were that monkey. Subconsciously, genetically in the back your mind it’s the monkey. You’re a monkey. You see it our ancestors, that’s why the picture is so strong. Simple as that, because people relate to it. They’re brutal, they’re simple, they’re drooling but we relate to them. We see ourselves as humans deep inside them. It’s Neanderthal. Half man, half monkey.” - a quote from this fascinating interview with Roger Ballen
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Apr 22

This is just an aside: Why are we laughing about this when in fact so many of our interactions with those sorts of people (I just talked to someone at US Airways…) are exactly like that (sometimes literally: My wife told me the other day that someone had actually said “Computer says no” to her)? Oh sure, I can see how laughing about it takes away some of the rage. But aren’t companies just counting on this now, on us getting some relief by laughing about the very behaviour they subject us to?
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Apr 22

When I heard about Anna Shteynshleyger being awarded a Guggenheim, I remembered her Siberia project, thinking I had linked it already. Actually, I had not - which I noted when checking after finding Pete Brook’s recent post.
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Apr 21

From what I’ve heard one of the first things soldiers (and photojournalists) in war zones learn is which sound actually means that you better hit the ground since there is a missile or grenade (or some other lovely human invention) is “incoming”, aka going to hit close by. I could be mistaken but I think here is one of those “incoming” moments in this current recession/depression: “The Aperture Foundation, the nonprofit photography organization that publishes Aperture magazine and many well-regarded photo books, is eliminating seven of its 41 staff positions and will temporarily reduce some salaries. Aperture blames the financial downturn and says it is trying to reduce personnel costs by 20 percent. In addition, Aperture plans to publish fewer books each year.” (via)
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Apr 21

Benjamin Stern’s “Typologies” aren’t really typologies in the Becher sense. Instead, they’re variants of the kinds of “Supervisions” made popular by Andreas Gefeller. Now that this technique is a few years old, I’d really like to see it used for something other than creating decorative images, though.
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Apr 20

“When a West German photographer set off on a trip to the East German island of Rügen just after the Wall fell in the spring of 1990, he captured a world that would soon disappear forever. Twenty years after the epochal event, he looks back on his journey in a first-person account.”
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Apr 17

Thomas Ruff might be one of the most creative and certainly inventive photographers of our time. In fact, many people - especially adherents of photographic orthodoxy - will probably vehemently deny that most of Ruff’s recent work is actually photography. In general debates about whether something is photography or not, and if it’s not photography then what else, are not terribly exciting, and there is no need to get into them here. What is more interesting is to look at that work and to see what it does (call it photography, graphic design, visual art, whatever).
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Apr 17

Produced in collaboration with Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Photography comes the second installment of the Midwest Photographers Publication Project (MP3), MP3 Volume II. MP3 Volume II showcases the work of three young photographers, Curtis Mann, John Opera and Stacia Yeapanis. Just like its first version, MP3 Volume II is a set of three separate books in a slipcase, so it seems best to discuss the individual books separately.
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Apr 16

Here’s a story for people who are angry about photo book collectors who hoard books to sell them later (c.f. Jeff’s post): ” A collection of rare British-made electric guitars has been discovered in the basement of a house in Cheltenham. […] Guy Mackenzie from West Cornwall, who bought the guitars, described them as ‘the holy grail’ of his collection. ‘I don’t actually play,’ he said ‘but I just love them in the same way that people collect old paintings even though they can’t paint.’” - story
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Apr 16

“Turkey is often seen as the country that will bridge the gap between the West and the Middle East. At the moment Turkey is at a political crossroads that will define the very nature of the country. With a large, dynamic, and young population there is always hope that a truly democratic and liberal country will emerge, and that Turkey will be able to fulfill its role as a bridge between cultures and religions. My work seeks to address and question this process of modernization, urbanization, and national identity that is happening at breakneck speed against a rising tide of nationalism and religion. I have chosen to represent the changes by focusing on the quiet everyday life that most people in Turkey experience.” - George Georgiou
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Apr 15

“I have nothing against people making a living selling books. Someone has to do it and I have many friends who are sellers or dealers in one capacity or another. […] The problem I have is that commerce has become so wrapped up with photography books that it has clouded people’s own opinions and aesthetic judgments about what they like about the books themselves. Some don’t buy books because they want them for the content but for the book value alone. In some extreme cases, the content isn’t even considered, it is just pure greed as the motivator.” - here’s more (make sure to read the comments - there are quite a few interesting ones)
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Apr 15

There seems to have emerged a younger generation of photographers who are happy to bypass standard modes of social engagement to create their own. I wonderful example I just came across is Andres Marroquin Winkelman’s Zapallal/Yurinaki, a photo project done in Peru, which involved both Andres taking photos as well as the children living in the two communities portrayed doing so. Of course, there is a bit of a contrast between the two portfolios that emerged, but their juxtaposition is quite powerful.
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Apr 15

“Last week I read in the morning paper about a street here where 60 out of 66 homes were vacant or abandoned on a single block. The reporter called it a ‘ghost street.’ Yesterday I found myself in the area. Other than an errant sofa, the street was completely empty, almost peaceful. I took a photo of every house on the north side of one block and then stitched them together. If you were to compare the current international housing crisis to a black hole sucking the equity out of our homes, this one-way street near the northern border of Detroit might just be the singularity: the point where the density of the problem defies anyone’s ability to comprehend it. These homes started emptying in 2006.” - Jim Griffioen
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Apr 15

According to his website, Dietmar Busse “is currently working on his next book project, for which he asks people with great individual style to put on their best clothes and come to his Manhattan studio to have their portrait taken.”
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Apr 14

Here’s a good idea: Taking your own photo while being a nude model for other artists. Enters Mandy Corrado. (via)
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Apr 14

I have a bit of a weakness for “old-fashioned” collages (remember those? where someone with glue and scissors assembled pieces of art?), so it was a pleasure to find Sean Hillen’s photomontages: “These are scalpel-and-glue photomontages. The older ones were made between 1983 and 93, were always based on my own documentary photographs made in northern Ireland, and were somehow related to and to an extent engaged in, the northern conflict.”
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Apr 14

Daniel Cooney Fine Art is on my mental list for always offering something interesting, sometimes work new to me. Daniel’s current show pairs two portrait photographers, Francesca Romeo and Tema Stauffer, which makes for an interesting juxtaposition, because you will probably be drawn towards one or the other. How can I say this? Well, from talking about portraiture and getting responses how people react to them I have an inkling.
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Apr 13

I often get asked by photographers seeking gallery representation about where they should go. What I’ve noticed is that my standard answer doesn’t seem to satisfy most people. If you want to know what my answer is it’s basically identical to what Ed Winkleman’s blog post ‘How to Do Your Homework’. So if you’re looking for a gallery there’s a must read for you. Update (13 April): Part II is now up.
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Apr 13

I will easily admit that of all the exhibitions I saw the other day, Myuong Ho Lee’s at Yossi Milo confused me the most: Of course, I was aware of this work - having seen it on various websites. I went to the show hoping that seeing the work as actual prints on a wall would make its impact and force clear to me, since I wasn’t sure I’d believe what people wrote about it online. And then it didn’t.
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Apr 13

In 1987, East German photographer Harald Hauswald published a book called “Ost-Berlin” (East Berlin) - in West Germany. An East German artist publishing in the West had to rub the leadership of East Germany, a Communist dictatorship, the wrong way. To make matters even worse, that same year, Berlin’s 750th anniversary was to be celebrated. Kurt Hager, the minister of culture in the East German politburo, thus wrote a letter to Erich Mielke, head of the infamous Ministry of State Security (known as “Stasi” and “widely regarded as one of the most effective and repressive intelligence and secret police agencies in the world” at that time [source]), to sic the Stasi on the photographer. Harald thus became an enemy of the state.
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Apr 13

There’s an interesting article about Roger Ballen: Before, During & After Abu Ghraib over at Prison Photography.
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Apr 10

Milton Rogovin is one of those underappreciated photographers. His work could maybe be termed the photographic equivalent of Studs Terkel’s radio shows: Rogovin took photos of people who worked hard for their money and who often were very poor. Originally an optometrist with an interest in photography, in 1957 he was summoned before one of the House Committees on Un-American Activities, named “Buffalo’s No. 1 Communist.” Rogovin refused to give anything but his name and occupation, later noting how “a few of our former ‘friends’ […] testified against us in closed sessions.” Subsequently, most of his business withered away, and the family survived on his wife Anne’s salary (who had had to take a teaching job in the suburbs following her own refusal to sign Buffalo’s ‘Loyalty Oath’ for their school system). With his business mostly gone, Rogovin started to focus on photography.
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Apr 10

Photographic portrait studios have been well established as treasure troves of photography. The sheer number of yet-to-be discovered photographers who have been (or were) taking people’s photos in their portrait studios is hard to estimate. For me, the value of most of those discoveries is two-fold: First, it is amazing how many unknown photographers are (or were) in fact true masters of portraiture, often deviating quite a bit from standard practice. Second, with a larger collection of photography, the studios’ archives become a mirror of the society they are (or were) embedded in.
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Apr 9

Just like there are seven stages of grief, there have got to be seven stages of an art controversy. I’m not inventive enough to come up with those (anyone?), even though my gut feeling tells me they contain “Shock & Denial” (“Oh, no, I can’t believe he did that!” - “No, I didn’t!”), “Anger & Bargaining” (“I’ll sue the living daylight out of you!” - “How about we settle out of court?”), maybe “Depression, Reflection, Loneliness” (“Why the f*** did I become an artist and not an accountant like my dad wanted me to?”, “How dare these people question my motives?”, “I’m an artist, I can do whatever I want!”), and more. I don’t know what stage of the Shephard Fairey Hope poster controversy we’re in right now, it’s hard to tell. It does involve law suits, but since all self-respecting art controversies contain those, that’s not too helpful.
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Apr 9

In the light of all the recent shoot outs and mass killings (and then there is this - I suppose people better start reading DMZ [and not just for that reason, the series is excellent]) it’s time to re-examine the culture of violence that is so pervasive in our Western societies, which in its most extreme way, of course, manifests itself in the form of gun ownership (don’t believe me? check this out). Romain Courtemanche’s “Le Feu d’Annie” might serve as another neat view of what we’re dealing with.
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Apr 9

A friend of mine told me a little while ago that there are two kinds of photographers (I’m paraphrasing this a little bit). There are photographers who obviously are photographers and who show in photography galleries, and then there are photographers who, even though they are photographers, usually aren’t really seen that way and who show in art galleries (just so people don’t misunderstand this: galleries that show different media and not “just” photography). I would put Florian Maier-Aichen into this latter group.
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Apr 8

When Fraction Magazine asked me whether I wanted to put a show together for their site, I agreed, and it didn’t take long for me to come up with something. It took me a little bit longer to decide about not using my original idea and, instead, to do something entirely different. Something maybe a bit surprising, especially in the light of the kind of photography you typically see here. My show, just unveiled, is called The Unknown Portraitist, and it features tintype portraiture from my own collection, taken by unknown photographers.
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Apr 8

Having relocated to 24th Street, Tanyth Berkeley’s “Grace” is Danziger Projects’s first show in its new space. A good move: the new gallery space is quite an improvement over the old one.
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Apr 8

It seems like I’m finally seeing some of those visual remixes that I have been asking for for so long: Josh Poehlein’s Modern History.
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Apr 7

Tine Casper’s Parents-In-Law are self portraits with (a) parent(s) of the artist’s former partners.
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Apr 7

I decided to add exhibition reviews as a new feature to this blog. Just like all new features, it will probably remain an experiment for a while, since I have to I figure out what I want to write and how, and numerous other issues.
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Apr 6

So here’s the question: When does a shtick become a shtick? It might be easiest for me to explain this using an example. When I first saw Thomas Ruff’s jpegs I thought it was a very interesting idea, visually very intriguing, but I also had the nagging feeling that the whole series maybe didn’t contain much beyond the basic idea itself.
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Apr 6

Even though they have quite a bit of a commercial/fashion look, some of Shannon Taggart’s portraits are quite inventive and interesting.
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Apr 4

Dear Dave is one of those photo magazines that seems to be flying a bit under the radar (I seem to be establishing a theme here with my posts yesterday and today). Published thrice per year, you can find it at all better sorted magazine stands.
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Apr 3

The history of photography is filled with attempts to find better ways to get images - taken in (or sometimes to be taken in) some form - onto a carrier, usually paper. The most commonly known cases are images in the form of either negatives (glass or plastic) or digital data, which are then printed using either analog or digital means. The discussions that over the past few years have ensued from this otherwise fairly mundane situation are comparable to those audiophiles used to have maybe twenty years ago (maybe they are still ongoing, who knows?): Do LPs or CDs sound better? Do you need a tube amplifier for “real” sound experience? In the audio case, the “differences” people used to argue about were/are often inaudible, which, of course, only made/makes those discussions more heated.
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Apr 3

There appears to be a category of publication that always ends up flying under most people’s radar, for reasons that I don’t find that obvious. If people buy the Sunday edition of the New York Times for the magazine, why is The New York Review of Books not more well known? Sure, they have less photography, but they easily give the Times’ magazine a run for the money as far as quality and scope of the articles is concerned. Likewise, there is Granta Magazine, which actually looks more like a little book, more literary in form, and whose magazines are each devoted to a single topic. And then there’s dispatches, which resembles Granta Magazine in form, but its design looks more modern, and it has more photography.
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Apr 2

Colin Pantall has been posting a series called “How Not to Photograph” (recent examples: Deadpan or Playing Possum), which you might want to check out if you haven’t seen it yet, so you can either agree or disagree.
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Apr 2

“Demand is a minor academic conceptualist whose use of specially constructed sets to examine memory and to question photographic truth was long ago wrung dry.” Thus cites Greg Allen Tyler Green, and I found it hard to disagree, especially in the light of the immediately following sentence: “Ultimately Demand’s Oval Offices look like a kind of illustration — the exact sort of intentionally temporal decoration a magazine would logically commission to illustrate a story.”
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Apr 2

The Federal Republic of Germany is turning 60 years today, and German magazine Der Spiegel celebrates with a special edition of its magazine. It truly is a Deutsches Wunder (German miracle) how East Germany and its history pretty much disappear behind the new Reichstag, (West) Germany’s first Chancellor and a kitschy (West) German movie star.
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Apr 2

Twenty years ago, the Berlin Wall came down (or actually was opened), resulting in the eventual (and surprisingly quick) creation of a unified Germany, which looks and behaves like a slightly larger West Germany. Dorothee Deiss’ “As If Nothing Happened” looks for traces of the Berlin Wall - of which not much remains - by taking photographs of where it once stood and by talking to people who lived in its vicinity. Dorothee showed me the dummy of her book - for the portraits you need to be able to read what the portrayed had to say - and I hope she will be able to find a publisher for it. It’s about time we got some German Vergangenheitsbewältigung (dealing with the past) that goes beyond self-congratulatory speeches by utterly mediocre politicians.
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Apr 1

… over at Lens Culture. Not to be missed!
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Apr 1

Word on the street in Berlin has it that there’s a massive reorganization going on in Düsseldorf. Apparently, the students were required to sell all their large-format equipment and to instead use Holga toy cameras. Several people independently told me about this, and over the past few days I have been trying to get this confirmed in Düsseldorf (where I know some people). All I managed to find out is that in all of Düsseldorf, Holgas are completely sold out! Apparently, some students are trying to figure out whether using a “Colour Sampler” camera will do - I guess habits are hard to break?!
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Apr 1

The other day, a friend asked me about triptychs, and I don’t know why I did not immediately remember Lucia Ganieva’s Factory.
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