Archives

May 2009

SELECT A MONTH:

May 31

Lili Almog’s “The Other Half of the Sky”, on view at Andrea Meislin Gallery, “showcases images of women in the countryside, small cities, and villages of China, with an emphasis on the extraordinary situation of Muslim women and matriarchical societies in China”, according to the press release. “The title […] was inspired by a quote from Mao Zedong. Mao remarked, ‘women hold up half the sky,’ essentially proclaiming an end to the centuries of inequality faced by women in China. As Almog’s portraits indicate, however, women in these outer geographic and economic reaches of China have not always experienced a quality of life equal to their male counterparts.” (my emphasis)
Read more »

May 29

Over the past few years, suburbia has been a frequent news source. When the price of gasoline hit the $4 mark, there was talk that the time of suburbia was finally past, as transportation costs made life there unaffordable. Gas prices have since come down, in part because of a deep recession, which was partly triggered by a collapse of the housing bubble - now suburbia is in the news since it spots so many empty houses, many of them abandoned or not even fully built. Of course, suburbia has always been based on an unsustainable life style, but it was fun (at least for those happy to live there) while it lasted.
Read more »

May 29

On July 1, 1990, a few months before re-unification, (then West) German Chancellor Helmut Kohl addressed West and East Germans on TV and said “No one will be worse off than before - but many will be better off. […] If we work together, we will be able to turn Mecklenburg-Western Pommerania and Saxony-Anhalt, Brandenburg, Saxony, and Thuringia into blooming landscapes again, places where living and working really pays off.” It was not to be. One of the dirty secrets of the re-unification of Germany is that it was not run efficiently and well planned. A lot of money was spent, and the many infrastructure projects did create a short-lived economic boom, but a lot of money was wasted, poured into projects that nobody needed or needs; and the dismantling of East Germany’s ancient industries created large waste lands: blooming landscapes yet again, but with few people to enjoy it and a staggering rise in the number of political extremists, both to the very left (neo-Communist) and the very left (neo-Nazi).
Read more »

May 28

I had all kinds of image references going through my head when I saw these images of the German government trying to save a car company in lengthy talks at night (never mind the German text; simply click on the arrows or numbers to move between images).
Read more »

May 28

A large part of Kirill Golovchenko’s work covers the Ukraine and its changes under a market economy (the site is German language only, but straightforward to navigate).
Read more »

May 28

Over at bldgblog, there’s a brand-new interview with Richard Mosse about his new work, photographs of Saddam Hussein’s palaces.
Read more »

May 27

Find an interview with Daniel Shea about his Mountain Top Removal project here.
Read more »

May 27

Grace Kim’s Love Hotel shows unmade beds in love hotels just after the people using them left. I like how the b/w works here, btw. (via)
Read more »

May 27

There’s an interesting post over on Ian’s blog about ambition and the photographic lifestyle.
Read more »

May 26

I caught a lot of flak late last year for my post containing some thoughts on the visual language of photojournalism. Discussing some (then) new work by James Nachtwey I noted that “the photography employs the same visual language that we are incredibly familiar with and that, I wager, for that very reason doesn’t achieve its actual purpose any longer.” Today, Colin Pantall pointed us to a post with a large excerpt of a speech Stephen Mayes gave at the most recent World Press Photo event in Amsterdam, which, essentially, contained the same criticism I had leveled at photojournalism, but using stronger wording: “The overwhelming impression from the vast volume of images is that photojournalism (as a format for interpreting the world) is trying to be relevant by copying itself rather than by observing the world.”
Read more »

May 26

Via German weekly Die Zeit’s Fotoblog comes this wonderful collection of glowing landscapes.
Read more »

May 26

“A lawyer/collector friend of mine once told me that having a good business card was one of the most important statements you can make to the world that they should take you seriously. […] I know myself that after an art fair or reception, when I later empty my pockets of all the collected business cards, I do make subtle judgments about people based on their quality. Having invested in themselves (as a good card suggests they have), I’m more willing to take them seriously in the abstracted context of remembering our conversation or why I took their card in the first place.” - Ed Winkleman
Read more »

May 26

Another discovery from the recent New York Photo Festival: Venetia Dearden. See a nice presentation of “Somerset” (plus some text) here.
Read more »

May 25

Found via The Sonic Blog: Gordon Welters’ documentary photography.
Read more »

May 25

Sonnabend gallery features regular shows of some of the most well-known German photography, with what appears to be a focus on what many people would call the Düsseldorf aesthetic. You can see the Becher’s work here, Candida Höfer’s ginormous (and oddly soulless) interiors, and now Beate Gütschow’s b/w architectural work.
Read more »

May 24

“I disagree with Phillip Gourevitch about whether the Obama Administration should release what remain of the unseen photos from Abu Ghraib, but he has written this thoughtful Op-Ed in The New York Times today.” - Jim Johnson
Read more »

May 24

Boston has its fair share of unbelievably bad public art. For example, you wouldn’t be surprised to find something like Robert Shure’s Irish Famine Memorial in the former Eastern Bloc, but seeing it in downtown Boston is a bit of a shock. So when I went to Boston this past weekend and took a walk on Atlantic Ave - previously the site of the Big Dig - just after the sun had set I didn’t expect to find something like those three structures shown in the picture above. At around seven feet tall, they were pulsating with blue light, before changing colours and then emitting dry ice (I made a little movie). Well, there’s some public art I can believe in. If you’re in Boston make sure to see it, because Boston being Boston, once the mechanism is broken it won’t ever get fixed again.
Read more »

May 24

You can certainly wonder whether blogs should really be called blogs, but they are here to stay. To a large extent, this is due to the efforts of a few truly outstanding individuals whose blogs have become beacons of quality. People like Josh Marshall come to mind, or Ed Winkleman, and, of course, there is Geoff Manaugh and his blog BLDGBLOG.
Read more »

May 23

This is so simple I’m surprised it hadn’t been done extensively before: If you click on the little clapperboard image, a second window launches, in which the artist (Joel-Peter Witkin) talks about the image in question (found on James’ Twitter feed)
Read more »

May 22

Hellen van Meene’s new book Tout va disparaitre, featuring stunningly beautiful new work (some panoramic!). Hellen asked me to write the text for the book, and I was more than happy to do that.
Read more »

May 22

Roger Ballen’s work is often deemed to be disturbing. I don’t think is actually is (my idea of “disturbing” might be different from yours), but we can probably easily agree on calling him one of the most creative photographers currently producing work. Boarding House contains his most recent images, and it shows the photographer following the directions laid out in his earlier Shadow Chamber.
Read more »

May 21

I mentioned a few days ago that there will be a redesign of this blog coming up, part of which aims at making the archives more easily accessible and at making it easier to browse the list of links. The current list contains what I had before the crash and is already missing some stuff. Given the upcoming redesign I will refrain from updating it. One blog/photography site that needs to be pointed out, though, is Fabiano Busdraghi’s Camera Obscura. Fabiano wrote me that the “idea of the site is avoid simple quotation and link to other blogs or sites, but always produce original and detailed content.”
Read more »

May 21

The current issue of Visura Magazine is showing a selection of work from this past New York Photo Festival, incl. Ernst Haas’ wonderful images. I haven’t had a chance to go to the festival, here’s your chance to see some of the featured work.
Read more »

May 21

I know a lot of photography, but, thankfully, there is a lot to still be discovered, and I treasure those moments when I stumble upon something new and exciting at a gallery.
Read more »

May 21

I saw Virginie Otth’s work at this year’s New York Photo Festival, and I remember I was torn about what to think about it. I do like her willingness to explore the aesthetic of low-end digital imaging (cell phones etc.), and I’m curious where it will take her.
Read more »

May 21

By now, you’ve probably seen your fair share of reviews of the New York Photo Festival; here is another and very thoughtful one (by Tom White). Make sure to read the whole piece, since it gives you a very good idea of the many different aspects of the festival - incl. a lot of the photography.
Read more »

May 20

This blog is now also available via its Kindle edition - as is Rob’s.
Read more »

May 20

“Anna Lehmann-Brauns discovers and invents spaces in which times seems to stand still, spaces ilike islands in a society moving ever faster, forgotten by the functional dynamics of the world outside. Time standing still opens up the pictures to a sensation of both timelessness and irreality.” (source)
Read more »

May 20

“First, a little about the job of New Yorker staff writer. ‘Staff writer’ is a bit of a misnomer, as you’re not an employee, “But rather a contractor. So there’s no health insurance, no 401K, and most of all, no guarantee of a job beyond one year. “My gig was a straight dollars-for-words arrangement: 30,000 words a year for $90,000. And the contract was year-to- “Year. Every September, I was up for review. Turns out, all New Yorker writers work this way, even the bigfeet. It’s “Just the way the New Yorker chooses to behave. It shows no loyalty to its writers, yet expects full fealty in return.” - Dan Baum (via Rob)
Read more »

May 20

“The tendency to relegate Art to the distaff side of our identity […] is fully intertwined with our more mythical view of ourselves as wild west cowboys and the widely held opinion that art is for sissies.” - Ed Winkleman
Read more »

May 20

One of the reasons why I have never followed abstract photography much is because so often it is merely decorative. There’s nothing wrong with decorative (I like looking at beauty as much as everybody else), but in an art context I’m usually looking for more, for something that engages me or intrigues me. Unlike abstract painting, abstract photography doesn’t seem to be able to easily achieve this; to me, most abstract photography is like “easy listening” - pleasing, but not more than that (I’m sure abstractionistos/as will disagree with this assessment).
Read more »

May 19

I don’t even know why I didn’t realize this earlier, but most blogs (at least those similar to Conscientious) are being organized in a temporal way - new posts are sorted by when they were published - but, in fact, their contents usually is not temporal at all! I do post one photographer per day, but the reason why I post one is so that people have enough time to look, so that the photographer’s work is done justice. This might make it look like yesterday’s photographer is “old news”, but that’s just because the blogging software makes it look that way. I mean I could post thirty photographer at the beginning of every month and then remain quiet for the rest of the month - but that would obviously reduce the experience of seeing the work. I guess what this really comes down to is a need for a better way to organizes the “archives”… (thinking out loud) But it’s good for people to realize this: The fact that you here see one photographer after the other, day after day, has reasons that have little to do with showing something new every day.
Read more »

May 19

“My biggest complaint would be that given the fact that the festival is trying to bill itself as the go to photography event of the year, I think they are doing quite a disservice to many of the photographers on display by printing, mounting and framing a lot of the work specifically for the festival. […] I won’t even get into the strange hanging some work received, the standout being Simon Roberts in Jon Levy’s Home For Good exhibition. Robert’s work was hung in a corner and over the sofas. This will sound harsh but in my mind treating photographic work like this for an exhibition is almost pointless. I would almost rather look at the pictures online or on some poorly projected screen.” - Ofer Wolberger
Read more »

May 19

In many ways, there are quite a few parallels between what curators and art critics do, especially since ultimately, their success depends very strongly on to what extent they manage to apply their personal vision to what they do: The real meat of both professions is where we encounter the person’s mind at work, regardless of whether we actually agree with what the present us or not (even though our contemporary culture is increasingly moving towards the kind of infantile state where we see everything we do not agree with as “bad”). A good critic can write a very scathing review of a show we love - and yet, we would be admiring the criticism. In the same way, a good curator could present us with a show that we would never even have considered, and we would still walk away satisfied.
Read more »

May 19

Get your portraiture fix at Erica McDonald’s site. I like “Surf Manor Adult Home”.
Read more »

May 19

Art buyer Heather Morton has provided some coverage of this year’s New York Photo Festival, and today, she talked about “controversial photographers”. Actually, what the post really should be titled is “Two shows that would have been controversial twenty years ago”.
Read more »

May 18

“Coverage of the arts is migrating online but unless someone is prepared to pay for it, the outlook is uncertain” - András Szántó
Read more »

May 18

This post by Glenn Greenwald is about politics blogs and magazines/newspapers, but you also find what he describes in many other areas. Worth the read!
Read more »

May 18

At some stage, all photographers arrive at the point where they define their work. This is a crucial part of the photographic process: “This is what I’m doing here, this is what it’s all about, this is how I’m doing it.” In the fine-art context, this is known as the artist’s statement. It’s very worthwhile to talk about statements in more detail, especially since there are quite a few pitfalls to be aware of.
Read more »

May 18

Those who were unable to come to the panel on blogging at this year’s New York Photography Festival can find a video of almost the whole discussion here (only the introductions in the beginning are missing), taken by my friend Michel (merci!). Also, Laurel has posted a full audio recording.
Read more »

May 18

When my blog went blank and when he heard about the problems, Rob emailed me and offered to host Conscientious. I really can’t thank him enough, not only for his offer, but also for all the support (also technical). Massive credit for bringing Conscientious back online so quickly is due to Rob.
Read more »

May 18

Two weeks ago, my former hosting company, Mediatemple, experienced a meltdown on one of their hard drive systems, causing this blog - along with thousands of other sites - to be unavailable. While many of the smaller sites were brought up after a day or so, this blog only came back after three days. In fact, it took them more than three days for a proper reconstruction.
Read more »

May 12

Jan Stradtmann’s Gardon of Eden might be the first financial-crisis photography I’ve seen that’s a bit more than just cliche photos of desperate brokers at the stock exchange.
Read more »

May 11

“I have been a Webby Honoree, had images in Communication Arts, American Photography, Graphis, featured in PDN and was a Best of Barnstorm award winner at The Eddie Adams Workshop… But I have a new award I wish to share and it’s almost my proudest moment - I have had my account at Blurb terminated against my wishes for pointing out the inaccuracies and faults in the services they claim to provide. Yes, I have been banned from Blurb for simply requesting Blurb print me a book and follow up on services I paid for.” - Jonathan Saunders
Read more »

May 11

I usually avoid recommendations of digital cameras like the pest, because typically, they don’t offer me anything I could possibly use with their focus on technical details that might or might not be totally irrelevant. That said, what I do like is when someone I know - say a photographer - talks about a camera, because most photographers know what to look for. A few months ago, my friend Richard Renaldi showed me his (then) new point-and-shoot digital camera, and I was about as impressed with it as he was. So when I was looking to buy a new point-and-shoot camera, my first choice was to look for that camera - for which there now is a new model (of course!): The Canon Powershot G10.
Read more »

May 11

Massimo Siragusa’s work about shelters of illegal immigrants in Italy won third prize (“stories” category) at this year’s World Press Photo awards.
Read more »

May 7

Just like Doug Dubois’ All the Days and Nights, Thekla Ehling’s Sommerherz is a portrait of family life. Unlike Doug, Thekla focused on her own children and on friends.
Read more »

May 7

Just a little while ago, Doug Dubois was maybe the archetypical photographers’ photographer: An artist well known and deeply admired by other practitioners, but without the wider recognition that so many of his colleagues felt he deserved. Thankfully, there now is All the Days and Nights, which comprises Doug’s photography from 1994 onwards. Fifteen years of photography of his own family.
Read more »

May 7

I’ve long argued that what makes newspapers fail is not that they’re not fancy enough and can’t compete with flashy websites (even though that might be part of the problem), but rather that they don’t offer their readers what the readers are actually interested in: “Over the past ten years, The Washington Post has won nineteen Pulitzer Prizes. But over that same period, we lost more than 120,000 readers. Why? My answer, unpopular among my colleagues, is that while many of these longer efforts were worthwhile, they took up space and resources that could have been used to give readers a wider selection of stories about what was going on, and that may have directly affected their lives. […] One of my basic concerns is that American journalism has turned away from its own hard-won expertise, and at the very time when readers are looking to us to explain the context of what is happening and what will happen next.” (full story) In essence, newspapers have been trying to compete with TV, and they can only lose that kind of game.
Read more »

May 7

The portraiture of Amy Adams and Louise te Poele could not be any more different. Both were contestants at this year’s Hyeres Fashion and Photography Festival, presenting their work to the jury - and the visitors.
Read more »

May 4

After being chosen as a co-winner of the photography part of last year’s International Fashion and Photography Festival, Hyères, the fashion winner, Matthew Cunnington, approached Amira Fritz and asked whether she would be interested in taking photos of his collection. Amira agreed, and the resulting collaboration had them drive across the Bavarian countryside, casting local women as models.
Read more »

May 2

More talk about art: A summary of a talk art critic Jerry Saltz gave recently.
Read more »

May 2

This article contains gallerist David Zwirner’s thoughts about the current state of the art market; and I’m still a bit undecided how to react to it, even though some sort of laughter is probably the best reaction.
Read more »

May 1

With a digital camera it is simple to take your own photo every day, for a few years (or however long you want to go for). Of course, there are many other ways to take your own photo. Ria van Dijk, a woman living in The Netherlands, found one: She shot her own portrait for the past seventy years. She used a rifle rigged to a camera at the various fairs she went to, getting a photo every time she hit bull’s eye. The only years she missed were those when the actual shooting happened: There is a gap from 1939 to 1948. But otherwise, she shot her photo, year after year, and she kept them all. Here they are, in In Almost Every Picture 7: Shooting Gallery.
Read more »

May 1

I have never spent much time looking at abstract photography, because, well, I find most of it too decorative. So I don’t think I’m the best person to review The Edge of Vision: The Rise of Abstraction in Photography. But I do think I need to mention the book here, given its outstanding quality. The Edge of Vision: The Rise of Abstraction in Photography, a lavishly produced book, not only traces the evolution of abstract photography and shows the works of many practitioners, but also provides a lot of additional text about it. I don’t know how an introduction to a type of photography could be any better. If you’re interested in this type of photography, it is sure to end up being your favourite book of the year.
Read more »

May 1

There’s a photography book auction coming up at Christie’s, and even if you can’t make it to London, you can still browse through the “e”catalogue.
Read more »