Archives

February 2012

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Feb 29

Eriko Koga’s Asakusa Zenzai follows an elderly couple living in Tokyo over the course of several years. The resulting book - see my presentation here - is breathtaking.
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Feb 29

We have abandoned our belief in ancient myths and folk tales, we have replaced them with our own, modern, presumably enlightened ones. There is no more goddess Venus, there is the razor instead or the pop song (enjoy counting the ancient myths in this version). Here then is our Venus, photographed by Rineke Dijkstra. Reflecting our times, our Venus is anonymous, but we get to find out where and when the photograph was taken: Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, USA June 24 1992. Find the rest of the piece here.
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Feb 28

Ben Marcin’s The Camps is a series of photographs documenting homeless camps in Baltimore.
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Feb 27

“Love and War is the lyrical synthesis of all the narrative fragments I collected while hanging around Caroline Annandale between the ages of 16 and 25.” - Simoneau Guillaume
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Feb 26

“Art Basel can be read as a Matruschka doll of inside jokes—on the inside, authorities and newcomers locked in a perpetual accusation of nihilism; on the outside, a cryptically silly facade. The aura of exclusion - the gated lounges, the endless line of black BMWs, and the backdrop of raucous invite-only parties - suggests to the casual fairgoer that the art itself is part of an elaborate set, and she is a duped extra.” - Mostafa Heddaya (via)
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Feb 26

The other day, the New York Times’ Lens blog introduced a series by photographer Stephen Crowley, entitled “Smoke Filled Rooms,” with a first installment here. The series intent is to “examine the processes and consequences of contemporary American politics.” The essay caused BagNews’s Michael Shaw to ask How Far Into the Smoke Can Stephen Crowley Go? As far as I can tell, this question separates into two different aspects. (more)
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Feb 24

The history of colour photography in the art world is very well-known. There is no need repeating it here. But history is only useful if we treat it as living, evolving history - which means we have to re-evaluate it time and time again. And occasionally, new insights, new discoveries (or re-discoveries) might force us to re-consider history. A good case in point is provided by Saul Leiter’s photographs, in particular the colour work. These photographs have slowly made their way into the public’s consciousness, and a major retrospective in Hamburg (Germany) is now forcefully making the case for a re-write of the history of colour photography in the art world. For those who cannot travel to Hamburg, there is Saul Leiter, the book produced at the occasion of the exhibition. (In the following, I am going to differentiate between the book and the photographer through the use of italics for the book title) (more)
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Feb 23

Nikita Kakowsi’s Deutschland is a rather drab and disheartening place.
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Feb 22

There is the idea that photography steals the soul. We think that is a childish, a primitive belief. But photography’s, or more accurately the camera’s presence has a strange power over us that is not that far from stealing our soul. I had to think of that when I came across this photograph while researching images for a class on the history of photography. This is a photograph by Alexander Gardner entitled Antietam, Md. Confederate dead in a ditch on the right wing, one of the many the photographer produced around that Civil War battle (see the technical notes at the very bottom for more information about it). Find the full piece here.
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Feb 22

Sergey Chilikov has been photographing first in the Soviet Union and now in Russia for over thirty years. Find more samples of his work here and here, plus an interview with the artist here.
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Feb 21

“14.644 is the number of people who have disappeared in Italy since 1975. Approximately 400 per year, more than one every day. Until now, none of them have been found. The reasons for the disappearance remain undetermined, but all of these cases fits one definition: voluntary estrangement.” - Ezio D’Agostino about 14.644.
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Feb 20

First there was Facebook. Then, there was Twitter. Then Tumblr. Then Google+. Now Pinterest. Maybe I’m getting the order wrong here. But whatever it might be, photographers are told they need to actively pursue so-called social networking, because that’s the game in town now. I can’t escape the feeling, however, that we need to put an end to the madness and say that enough is enough. How many more social-networking accounts does one need? Things have become so bizarre by now that often clicking on a Twitter link takes you to a Tumblr page linking to some other site linking to… (You might know the same game from Facebook or Google+) What’s the point of posting the same stuff on five, six, seven different sites? (more)
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Feb 20

In Edel Assanti’s current exhibition Immortal Nature, the esoteric architecture of the gallery space plays host to three mythological realms. The exhibition’s pre-occupation is one of tension with the natural world. Three humanly constructed territories; the Underworld, Earth and the Afterlife, show us glimpses of civilisation’s ever-present and ever-changing relationship with the earth we inhabit. (more)
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Feb 20

This is an image from Amanda Boe’s Midwest Meets West, documenting South Dakota.
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Feb 17

Jeroen Hofman must feel like one of the luckiest photographers. Much like Gregory Crewdson, for Playground he got to photograph elaborately staged sets, with many actors, situations clearly out of this world and very much part of this world - and all he had to do was to point his camera (elevated high up on a crane). The staging, the production were taken care off by other people. Not for the purpose of the pictures, but still. You get firefighters scrambling to put out fires, people in hazmat suits looking for dubious substances, soldiers invading homes for whatever reason… It’s a different dystopia than Crewdson’s, the psychological suburban discomfort replaced with a much more threatening urbanized real violence. (more)
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Feb 17

There’s something quintessentially American about the road trip, and about a photographer doing one, but of course you don’t actually have to be an American to do it. Add to the growing canon of road-trip photobooks Venetia Dearden’s Eight Days (there is a micro site, which is really quite micro: all you can do is order the book). The first thing I want to note about the book is that what I’ve seen online doesn’t do it any justice. Of course, that’s a big problem for photobooks in general. The actual object often is much more impressive than what you see online. You might get a good idea of this book by watching my video presentation. (more)
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Feb 17

New photobook presentations from the past two weeks: Being Dutch by Koos Breukel , Things Here And Things Still To Come by Jose Pedro Cortes, A New Kind of Beauty by Phillip Toledano, Cette Montagne C’est Moi by Witho Worms, and Eight Days by Venetia Dearden. The easiest and most convenient way to browse through all the videos I’ve done so far is to go to my YouTube channel. Enjoy!
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Feb 17

Fridays are reserved for photobooks, but once I’ll make an exception. I just updated my article The Problem with Western Press Photo (scroll down to the bottom) to respond to some criticism.
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Feb 16

Christian Kryl’s Top of the World shows wealthy people enjoying themselves in the posh Swiss resort town St. Moritz.
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Feb 15

Our memories are our own personal histories. As we age, they accumulate, usually in flattering, merciful ways. This is how Nature has our brains operate, to allow us to preserve a modicum of dignity (or what we think dignity might be). On the other side, the literally other side: the surface of the skull, Nature tends to be less kind. Here, we cannot easily hide that which we do not want to share. In our faces, we see our history, we see what life has done to us. As we age, we age visibly. Find the full piece here.
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Feb 14

The use of animated gifs in I am not what you see and hear by Simone Massera is more subtle. Here’s a case where an ebook could be very different from a (printed) book.
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Feb 13

“When in public spaces where you are lawfully present you have the right to photograph anything that is in plain view.” And more about your rights as a photographer.
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Feb 13

You might be wondering why this is an interesting image. Thing is the original version is an animated gif from Marcel Meyer’s My Favourite Childhood Nightmares. I’m slightly torn here, after a while I clicked to the next image basically only looking for where it moved - but it’s well done, and I’m sure we’ll see more work like this in the future.
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Feb 12

This World Press Photo of the Year 2011 was taken by Samuel Aranda. There are many categories and as many winners, but there is only one big winner, and Aranda’s photo it was. A post on the New York Times’ Lens blog noted that the image “has the mood of a Renaissance painting” - which, of course, is true. And that’s exactly one of the problems here. Jim Johnson already noted that the image in fact does not just reference Renaissance paintings in general. It assimilates Christian iconography (which was produced before and after the Renaissance as well): The PietĂ , “depicting the Virgin Mary cradling the dead body of Jesus” (I’m including just a few examples in this post). If you have followed the news over the past decade even just tangentially, you might realize that using a visual language that could not be more Christian to depict an event in a Muslim country might pose a problem. (more; updated below)
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Feb 10

All photography is carefully constructed fiction, and this is especially true for family photography. I don’t know whether Robert Benjamin would agree with that. Having met the photographer last year and having had more than just one spirited conversation with him, I am not sure he would. But to say that photography is carefully constructed fiction takes nothing away from it. On the contrary, it is exactly this property of photography that allows it to elevate moments taken from life out of the ordinary: It is always the person behind the camera that makes the photograph and never whatever might be in front of it. (more)
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Feb 9

Laura Plageman’s Response involves working with the physicality of printed photographs - a simple, yet intriguing idea.
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Feb 8

In photography, trust and doubt are like yin and yang: You cannot have one without the other, you have to balance one against the other. Trust and doubt exist in a complex relationship. They don’t just have to balance each other, they also have to drive each other. Trust has a lot to do with one’s photographic instincts: To see the photograph, to take it, and to then know that what was there to be taken has in fact been taken. But doubt interjects, knowing that while what might have been taken has been taken, what was seen could have been seen in a different way. Trust is centered on the realization that one is a good photographer. But there is the doubt, the constant asking whether one might not become a better photographer. Find the full piece here.
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Feb 8

Photograms usually leave me cold. The ones by Meghann Junell Riepenhoff (this one from Instar), however, are spectacular. (via Hippolyte Bayard)
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Feb 7

Those interested in urban spaces (and fake nature) will find a lot of imagery in Mathilde Mestrallet’s portfolios. This image is from Avant les forĂȘts.
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Feb 6

“Sometimes you can overdo the prep. I realise this when Republican wives, mobilised to do their duty for the cameras in the primaries circus, all begin to look like Cindy Sherman in light disguise. The doll-like gestures; the inhumanly exquisite coiffure; the lip-glossed smiling; the desperation behind the adoration; all seem to leap shrieking from a Sherman show yet to be posed, shot and exhibited. No living artist I can think of has more exactly nailed the masquerade we perform when we go about our business, public and private, social and erotic.” - Simon Schama
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Feb 6

This is an image from Chris Dorley-Brown’s fabulous The Corners.
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Feb 3

There’s a wonderful article about Japanese photobook designer Kohei Sugiura over at the ICP Library blog, talking, amongst others, about my favourite photobook The Map (Chizu) by Kikuji Kawada (my vdeo presentation is here).
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Feb 3

In an attempt to make the archives slightly more usable, I added a new category: Photobooks. So you can now easily access all the photobook related posts there.
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Feb 3

New video photobook presentations (now only YouTube links): Notes from a Quiet Life by Robert Benjamin, In The Car With R by Rafal Milach (order here - you don’t want to miss this one!), The Uncanny Familiar - Images of Terror by C|O Berlin, and Pau Wau Publications Vol. 1.
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Feb 2

As far as I can tell Julia Hetta’s photographs are all commissioned work. There are many gems here - make sure to look through the whole set!
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Feb 1

If you participated in my reader survey (which is now closed) let me first thank you for taking the time! I’m incredibly happy so many people participated. For those who didn’t have the time, the survey essentially was all about content. I started this website ten years ago, and I was curious about both what readers thought about existing content (specifically what they are interested in) and about possible future content (ditto). I’ve always believed that this website’s focus should be on providing content. Content (as opposed to mere PR, say) is what I am personally interested in, and the results of the survey indicate that there is indeed a larger interest in that. A first, direct consequence of the survey has already made an appearance: My first meditation on a photograph is a result of large numbers of people noting that they would like to see articles like that. There will definitely be more of those types of articles. There will also be more interviews. (more)
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Feb 1

Crowdfunding platform Emphas.is just added a book-publishing option. Here is an example.
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Feb 1

I’ll Die For You is a project by Laura El-Tantawy about the many thousands of Indian farmers who committed suicide over the past decade.
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