Archives

July 2010

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Jul 31

Not everybody is excited about Ansel Adams. I’m not. A.D. Coleman isn’t, either: “a few dozen ‘new’ Adams images from his early days won’t force any serious reconsideration of his already exhaustively overconsidered and vastly overestimated oeuvre. The thought of yet another Adams book and show makes me cringe reflexively.” The post also contains a longer discussion what exactly an “original print” is. That might strike many as an exercise in semantics, but it’s interesting to see how the topic typically is approached.
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Jul 30

It’s a simple assumption to believe that in photography everything has been done already. Of course, it’s not true. There are many things waiting for be discovered by a creative artist. But believing that everything has been done is easier than thinking about what hasn’t been done: It’s not like you can will your brain into coming up with a genius new idea. You can’t. What’s the point, though, of taking pictures if everything has been done already? The answer is simple and straightforward: Unless you want to view photography as part of the entertainment industry where all that matters are cheap new thrills, that which has been seen thousands of times deserves to be seen yet another time, in a different way. (more)
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Jul 29

If you haven’t seen the cover of TIME magazine or if you haven’t read the editors’ thinking about it, head over here. Also, there is a moving short film in which Jodi Bieber, the photographer, talks about taking the photograph. I’ve spent all day now thinking about the various aspects. A post over at Jezebel does a brilliant job summing up the real complexities of the issue, way better than I could: “Aisha’s abuse and mutilation took place last year, with U.S. troops’ presence in the country and alongside Afghan women’s significant progress on certain fronts. Women For Women in Afghanistan has some more details on her tragic background […] Such stories are obscene, not at all uncommon, and need to be told. But there is an elision here between these women’s oppression and what the U.S. military presence can and should do about it, which in turn simplifies the complexities of the debate and turns it into, ‘Well, do you want to help Aisha or not?’”
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Jul 29

I prefer the cityscape photographs from Carlos Lobo’s Far Far East. (via)
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Jul 28

There’s an interesting post over at Susana Raab’s blog about Image Makers vs. Print Makers. Quoting John Gossage (“There is a belief I have noticed among the best of the young, that a good picture is a good picture, no matter how it is reproduced. A belief I completely agree with.” - let’s ignore the “best of the young” bit), Susana notes that “I empathize with both a bit. Seeing the same image in I don’t know how many different complex incarnations leaves me a bit cold, but when I am looking at a gallery wall, I do want that print to be the best it can be […] - but I want content to be there as well.” (more)
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Jul 28

Some intensely beautiful photography in Geir Moseid’s series Plucked.
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Jul 27

After the Wall came down, many of East Germany’s “guest workers” (to use the West German term) had to go back home. There were around 16,000 such workers from Mozambique. East Germany had sent money to the government of Mozambique - the former workers haven’t seen any of it, and most are living in poverty now. This is the subject of Malte Wandel’s Einheit, Arbeit, Wachsamkeit. Unfortunately, the text and interviews are in German only.
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Jul 26

The occasion of the upcoming release of an Aperture book by Trevor Paglen (Invisible) seemed like the perfect opportunity to talk with the artist about his work. Find the full piece here.
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Jul 26

Ulrike Brückner’s space for uses images found on the web. But instead of using them as is, the artist places the people into a neutral environment - thus creating one of the best such projects I’ve seen in a long time.
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Jul 22

Following the publication of what you could call my version of Social Networking for Photographers 101, Massimo Cristaldi emailed me to share a piece has wrote a little while ago, addressing many of the same issues.
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Jul 22

I was going to pen a little piece about the state of critical writing about photography when I came across a new post by Paddy Johnson. Paddy takes a long and convoluted paragraph of art writing and boils it down to what it actually says, which can be summed up in two short sentences. (more)
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Jul 22

This image is from Eamon Mac Mahon’s The Last Twenty Days, a commissioned series of photos shot across Canada before the 2006 elections.
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Jul 21

I decided to write a little piece on photographers and social networking, presenting my ideas of how photographers might want to approach the topic. The post is the culmination of lots of discussions I’ve had with people. I’m not under the illusion that what I wrote is the solution, but hopefully it will make approaching social networking a little bit easier for those who just don’t know how to deal with it.
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Jul 21

For me, Mark Peckmezian’s portfolio is a bit of a mixed bag - but the good portraits are really, really good. As usual, you might prefer different images than I do so make sure to check out his portfolio! (via)
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Jul 21

Another great post over at No Caption Needed, about the above image and its use in/for a New York Times article. Notes Robert Hariman “the story that accompanied this photograph in the New York Times is one reason why we will continue to experience large-scale disasters.” And “by putting text and image together, the truth is revealed. Between the technological development that will in fact result from the disaster, and the artistry of the Times and many other propagandists spinning it down the memory hole, the opportunity for genuine societal adaptation will be lost.” There’s nothing I could add to that.
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Jul 20

The New York Tenement Museum’s photography collection is now online. Unfortunately, all the images seem to have a rather large and distracting copyright notice on them.
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Jul 20

This photo looks like some sort of conceptual photo piece (think something coming out of Rietveld Academie). It isn’t. It’s not staged. It’s part of Uwe H. Martin’s series about narcolepsy. The woman in the photo, Lisa, suffered from an episode of cataplexy, “a condition whereby the sufferer or cataleptic experiences a total loss of muscle control and postural tone.” Martin quotes Lisa as saying “I had a full cataplexy in Aarau. I was lying on the street, not being able to talk or act. For other people it looks as if I am unconsciousness [sic!] and many just stare or walk by. Someone just pushed me a bit with his shoe. Well you need to be careful - it could be something poisonous on this woman.” After making sure that everything was in fact OK, Martin asked her whether he could take a photo (she was able to blink - once for yes, twice for no), and she said he could (see this interview, unfortunately only in German).
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Jul 19

What’s wrong with using newsprint for photo books? Nothing, of course, except that it does not feel like a “real” photo book. Here are Alec Soth and Andrew Roth answering some questions about it. Update (19 July 2010): Nicholas Gottlund and Grant Willing Update (24 July 2010): John Gossage, Michael Mazzeo, and Erik van der Weijde
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Jul 19

Verena Brandt’s Villa Germania portrays German expats, most of them retirees, living in a town in Thailand.
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Jul 19

Over the past days, this image by Brian Ulrich was subject of two blog posts, one by the artist, and another one at No Caption Needed. Brian writes “I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the idea that a big interest of mine is the ability of contemporary photography to act as propaganda for a like-minded cause.” I’m sure the word “propaganda” will be offputting for many people, but you can easily replace it with something less loaded. His suggestions are more relevant than ever, but I’m not sure how optimistic I am about them being put into action - it’s hard to see a Jacob Riis in the age of Facebook and Fox News. John Lucaites of No Caption Needed talks about photography almost along the same lines, with just a slightly different angle: “The question is, how do you give presence to an economic problem, particularly when it is animated, at least in part, by a psychology of risk?” Right now, it looks that at best we’re going to see a very slow economic recovery (where it will take years to create the jobs back that were lost), at worst there will be a double-dip recession. John’s question is unlikely to go away any time soon.
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Jul 16

The blog photobooks.tumblr.com has short reviews of lots of independently produced photobooks/zines.
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Jul 16

A little while ago, a friend of mine emailed me, asking for my address. He wanted to give me a present, he said. Who am I to say no to presents? It arrived in the mail, a little later, sent by the artist himself, in the form of amwell, continuum, spring 2010, an artist book/journal (or maybe you’d call it a zine), made by and containing the photography of Raymond Meeks. I hadn’t heard of it before. (more)
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Jul 15

It’s easiest to think of Reinier Gerritsen’s The Europeans as constructed street photography: The photos are assembled from a series of individual images, taken within a second or two in the same spot, with the photographer’s disguise being a bright orange construction worker outfit. The work is featured in Foam Magazine #23 (with an essay by yours truly).
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Jul 15

Shortly after discovering Dawin Meckel’s portrait of Detroit, I approached him to find out more about this body of work: How did he go about photographing Detroit? How did this body of work get made? Find out all about here.
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Jul 14

Michael Frahm describes the images in his The Exercise of Look and Fail to See as “cinematographic portraits” of the subjects’ “personality in apparently complete isolation.”
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Jul 13

This year’s Conscientious Portfolio Competition features an expanded jury. Joining me to find the winner(s) are Elisabeth Biondi (New Yorker magazine) and Susanna Brown (Victoria and Albert Museum). I’m very grateful that both Elisabeth and Susanna agreed to do “jury duty” this year, and I would like to use the opportunity to introduce them in more detail below. (more)
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Jul 13

I’m excited to announce the Conscientious Portfolio Competition 2010, the second of its kind (after a great start last year). As before, the winner(s) will have their work featured here on this website, in the form of an extended conversation/interview. This year, two guest judges, Elisabeth Biondi (New Yorker magazine) and Susanna Brown (Victoria and Albert Museum), are joining me to pick the winner(s) - and there’s a twist. Find all the details below. In a separate post, I will introduce Elisabeth and Susanna. (more)
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Jul 13

“The immediacy of the Internet has opened up a new dilemma for those who feel compelled to respond to criticism of their artwork. No longer is the ear of the critic’s audience the private domain of the publisher. It’s now so easy to let all those same people who read the critique know how you feel about it. I highly discourage the urge.” - Ed Winkleman
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Jul 12

“Andrei Yerofeyev and Yuri Samodurov had set up the Forbidden Art exhibition at the Sakharov Museum in Moscow. The show provoked condemnation from the Russian Orthodox Church, among others, for artworks that included a depiction of Jesus Christ with the head of Mickey Mouse. Both men were ordered to pay a fine.” - story (via)
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Jul 12

Rachel Cooke’s Memorials of Belfast adds another aspect to the slowly growing set of photography dealing with history in Northern Ireland.
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Jul 10

Two months ago, I published some comments a reader had sent me about Fotofest. At that time, there was no reaction. The other day, I noticed how the post suddenly was getting a lot of attention, from people emailing it around. That, in turn, generated some more feedback, which I added underneath the original post. Have a look.
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Jul 9

I had Florian Göttke’s Toppled in my “to review” pile of books, when I came across Pete Brook’s post about it. Pete writes “The book is a concept. I understand the concept. And, the images are essentially props to the concept (illustrations of the new biographies of statues, of things).” That’s what I thought - until I read the text. Turns out Toppled is considerably more complex than that. (more)
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Jul 8

Remember when President Obama channeled his inner George W. Bush and told a TV reporter he wanted to know “whose ass to kick” over the Gulf of Mexico oil spill? Seems like the government found a group to target: Last week, the Coast Guard “announced rules that prevent the public—including news photographers and reporters—from coming within 20 meters (about 65 feet) of any response vessels or booms on the water or beaches. Violate the ‘safety zone’ rule and you can be slapped with a $40,000 fine and prosecuted under a Class D felony.” I’m quoting this from an article by Julie Dermansky, whose Flickr feed contains hundreds of photos from the Gulf. (thanks, Michel!) If you want to see the depressing reality Julie has plenty of photos of it.
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Jul 8

A little while ago, I found a book containing an overview of Barbara Crane’s work, and I was struck by the beauty of some of the portfolios. My favourite was shot in parks and on beaches in Chicago. You can find many more of her photos on this site or here - beautiful work!
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Jul 7

Dhruv Malhotra was one of the photographer at the 2010 Hyères Festival of Fashion and Photography. He was picked as the recipient of a scholarship for SVA’s Photo Global program, so he’ll have a chance to come to New York and work there. I approached Dhruv to talk about his own work and a little bit about photography in India in general. Find the piece here. (more)
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Jul 7

The rabid nationalism aside, what makes international sports events such as the Soccer World Cup so grating is the complete absence of any kind of humour. As an antidote of sorts, check out Olivier Cablat’s typological study of soccer player portraits, using Panini stickers (“Ever since 1970 when they were first produced, the countdown to the World Cup has really started with the arrival of the Panini stickers: 638 players, teams, stadiums and badges to be collected and stuck as neatly as possible - harder than it sounds - into the appropriate numbered slot in the album.” - story) Needless to say, Cablat’s website offers more than just the mock soccer typology, have a look at Egypt 3000.
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Jul 6

Xavier Delory’s Fermé le dimanche (Closed on Sundays) is a typology, which focuses on shops who are built to look like churches. This makes the artist ask whether our shopping centers are our new places of worship. Make sure not to miss his other work.
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Jul 5

The following quotes were all found in this conversation with Chuck Close (via). Enjoy! (more)
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Jul 5

A friend of mine, originally from Peru and now living in Germany, brought me this little book about the photography of one Sebastian Rodriguez, taken in the Peruvian mining town of Morococha. I had never heard of this photographer, and of course I tried to look him up on Google. The results were disappointing. It seems there was a book published in 1987, which I can find in two libraries. In 1983, Aperture Magazine published some of the images. Plus, there is the occasional Spanish-language only text about the work (example). That’s it. (more)
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Jul 5

Round four of the ping-pong chats with Daylight Magazine’s Michael Itkoff centers on individual images, the impressions they leave, their power, and their uses, in the context of the (at the date of this writing) ongoing Gulf oil spill.
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Jul 5

Finding New York Review of Books piece on photography - that’s bound to be a special treat, given the high caliber of their writers. Read Apartheid’s Twisted Dream: David Goldblatt’s South Africa.
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Jul 5

Looking through Shinya Arimoto’s website I’m struck by the portraits. Some amazing work! (via)
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Jul 2

Remember the Cold War? Yeah, I thought so. We’re so busy with our so-called War on Terror that we don’t even think much about that one any longer. I lived in Germany back then, the - so the narrative went - future battleground of World War 3, where on both sides of the Iron Curtain (it looked more like a pretty massive fence to me) hundreds of thousands of soldiers were held in an almost constant state of readiness. Thinking back, it wasn’t all that different from today where we’re living with colour-coded “threat levels” (those we didn’t have). But we knew who were dealing with, the enemy was well-defined and very visible. In fact being visible was part of the Cold War. It was a bit like in the animal kingdom where part of the game was to prance around, looking as strong and determined as possible. Except, of course, that in the end, we were all gonna die anyway, because of the thousands of nuclear weapons pointed at us (and them). (more)
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Jul 1

Jens Olof Lasthein’s recollections of his travels in Eastern Europe are a great read.
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Jul 1

I’ll admit something: I find most photography multimedia presentations tediously boring. In the worst cases, they’re like watching bad TV. Why bother buying an iPad, say, when all you are given to watch is bad TV? The main problem I see is that most multimedia presentations I’ve seen - in fact all the ones I’ve seen - essentially forget that on a computer you have more options. I love looking at photo books. I love watching (good) documentaries on photography or photographers on TV. On a computer, I don’t want to see photo books or TV. On a computer I want to see more. So I thought I’d sketch out what photography presented via multimedia on a computer could be. Maybe this will generate a little debate about photography on a computer. (more)
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