Archives

January 2013

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Jan 31

Every four years, the not-so-fortunate-ones appear in the media, as the Democratic candidate for the US presidency tries to rally supporters. The not-so-fortunate-ones are supposed to vote Democratic, and often they do. Last time around, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, a quintessential plutocrat if there ever was one, was revealed as describing the not-so-fortunate-ones voting Democratic as moochers, lazy people who love to live from government handouts.
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Jan 30

This image is from Isidora Gajic’s Dutch Love Diary, photographed over the five years the artist spent in Holland.
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Jan 29

I found this pair of images in David Zilber’s Empiricism. The photographs in Zilber’s portfolios are well seen; however when paired they become quite a bit more interesting for me (Of course, this might be just me being currently quite tired of the barrage of single pictures that have made Tumblr such a drag).
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Jan 28

Hye-Ryoung Min’s Channel 247 was picked by Robert Lyons as one of the winners of the Conscientious Portfolio Competition 2012. He wrote “I first got it down to five different portfolios. But I kept coming back to Hye-Ryoung Min’s, whose work struck me the first time I looked at it, and it has only grown since. The images really suggest time beyond the moment of the picture. They are well composed, and each image suggests an interesting situation. The formal aspects seem to hold the group together. Although at first one feels as if these are ‘surveillance’ images - at least by the framing, and by things that obscure the images - one quickly is able to see how they are much more.” I spoke with Hye-Ryoung Min about the work. Find our conversation here.
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Jan 25

Now that Academic Photography (“New Formalism”) - photography obsessed with its own navel, investigating its own process - has become so popular, seemingly, at least for some critics, pointing the way towards the medium’s future, we could have a nice re-iteration of the debate about beauty and photography. I have a hunch: This type of photography is here to stay, given it’s so appealing to academics. But for the rest of us it might soon evoke the same reactions we have when seeing, for example, wallpaper from the 1970s: Kind of cool, yet also very clearly dated and passe. There we’re right in the messiness of talking about beauty today, in this still early 21st Century, because we’ve seen it all, and we’re all so ironic. In a nutshell, we’re more concerned about saying the right, proper things than addressing the issue(s).
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Jan 24

Photobooks are typically produced in very small numbers, hundreds, maybe thousands. There are kinds of reasons behind this, catering to a small group of insider collectors usually not being one (This is just one of the various photoland conspiracy theories). Successful (“critically acclaimed”) and/or influential photobooks usually end up being sold out. As a consequence, these books are not easily available to someone interested in seeing one - unless there’s access to a library (private or public) that carries a copy. Just as an example, Cristina De Middel’s Afronauts, which ended up on a large number of “best of 2012” lists, was sold out before those lists were even published.
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Jan 23

“The images in this project must be seen into a large game of reference and significations, in which apparently diverse subjects are integrated into a large narrative. The product shots are not only referring to technology and the brand of desire manufactured by capitalism, they are also working in a further game of reference and as counter ideal to nature.” - Jim Campers in his introduction to Let’s Kill The Moonlight.
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Jan 22

This is a photograph from Pete Pin’s Cambodian Diaspora.
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Jan 21

This photograph by Chris Levine, Lightness of Being, is extraordinary for a variety of reasons, the most important one possibly being that it utterly confounds our expectations1. We live in a day and age where usually the opposite is true: Photographs of public figures are made to show us what we expect, ideally in the most glorious form. We could call this our cultural sublime: Getting awed in exactly the way we expect to get awed. In the strictest sense, this type of sublime is at least 50% fake, because what we’re ultimately really in awe of is our own (imagined) sense of good taste. Find the full piece here.
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Jan 21

“Critics claim that the boom in U.S. prison population has gone unnoticed because the war on drugs has been fought primarily in African Americans communities. From this view, mass incarceration in America is just another system of racial oppression, which has roots in slavery and Jim Crow legislation. Since the start of the war on drugs more than 31 million people have been arrested for drug-related crimes. With this report, I have documented the cycle of incarceration that U.S. Drug War policies have created in the communities that inmates leave behind.” - Raymond Thompson jr. about his project Justice Undone: A Dream Denied
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Jan 18

Last year, I taught an undergraduate-level history at photography class. Having never done that before, the first challenge was to pick a book to work off. As far as I could tell, there were two books most commonly used at US art schools and universities. I owned an older version of one, which I wasn’t so excited about. So when someone loaned me the updated version of the other one I had a peek and thought it looked a bit better. That was a big mistake.
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Jan 17

It would be so easy to make fun of the architectural idea of brutalism, the idea that creating mostly fortress-like buildings out of massive amounts of uncovered concrete is a good idea. It’s clearly not. Even ignoring the fact that the buildings are at best eye sores, they also crush the spirits of those who for whatever reason have to dwell inside them. Brutalism derives from the French term béton brut, or “raw concrete” (Le Corbusier), but most people seem to think it is derived from “brutal.” Find yourself in front of, say, Boston’s city hall, and you know what I mean1.
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Jan 16

Terminal, a visit to Tel Aviv’s old bus station, is Tobias Kruse’s contribution to Ostkreuz Agency’s Über Grenzen/On Borders.
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Jan 15

Olivia Locher, an extremely prolific photographer, is one of the winners of the 2012 Conscientious Portfolio Competition. Justifying my choice I wrote: “With so much talk about photography being over or dead, we might as well admit that it is, have a jazz funeral, and continue enjoying the medium, now more than ever. I think this is what Olivia Locher is doing with Another Day on Earth, fearlessly unafraid to produce pictures that either conform to or subvert standard conventions. Photography is dead - long live photography!” I spoke with the artist about her approach to photography in the conversation you can find here.
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Jan 15

“In 1993, I relocated from my native homeland of Scotland to the United States, where I have spent almost half my life.” writes Sandy Carson, introducing his project I’m New Here.
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Jan 14

This is a photograph from Miquel Llonch’s beautiful In the fields of gold
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Jan 14

Late last year, I bought an iPad mini1. It seems fairly obvious that tablet computers will play a large role in photography (in whatever form), and I wanted to start exploring the options. I’ve since been looking at photography magazine apps, say, some of which I like, while others still have a lot of work to do. Ignoring details here (details are for another day), I’ve been interested in what a magazine would look like on a tablet computer. I’ve also been looking at books (mind you, not photobooks - I don’t “own” any ephotobooks, yet). I’m really not all that interested in an ideological debate about all things “e.” (more)
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Jan 11

“The pictures from Ahrenshoop,” writes Thomas Sandberg, “show a place that no longer exists. At the same time the pictures […] encapsulate memories of my childhood and youth in East Germany.” Compiled into the self-published Erinnerung an Ahrenshoop (“Memories of Ahrenshoop” - the book is bilingual German/English; order via the photographer’s website), the photographs give a sense of a certain time and space that ends up embedded into that vastly larger time and space, where what we see is just fleeting, not to be held onto (not even with pictures, try as we might) - a meditation on longing. At the same time, the book can serve as a reminder that East Germany was something else - not that horrible communist dictatorship and also not that paradise where things would get taken care of. Places last forever, our ideas of them don’t. Photographs, when done well, manage to show a bit of both. (more)
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Jan 10

There is the idea of the unspeakable, the idea that “what can be said at all can be said clearly, and what we cannot talk about we must pass over in silence” (Ludwig Wittgenstein). Photographers usually are particularly interested in the idea of that, which we cannot speak of1. Whether it actually exists - Wittgenstein’s dictum notwithstanding - is questionable. But the idea that photography can somehow (magically?) express things that language is unable to offers solace to those struggling with words (most photographers actually).
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Jan 9

With We met a little early, but I get to love you longer Raphaela Rosella tackles the issue of teenage pregnancy: “With teenage pregnancy normal in my hometown, each story is close or personal to me in some way. ‘We met a little early, but I get to love you longer’ is a collaboration with young mothers from Indigenous and/or disadvantaged backgrounds from my neighbourhood or local area. By investigating and individualising the complex range of issues that lead teen girls to early pregnancy and the challenges they face, the collaborations seek to show that each mother is different, and there is no ‘uniform’ type.”
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Jan 8

Karen Miranda Rivadeneira’s Other Stories I/II is autobiographical in nature, showing re-enacted scenes from the photographer’s past.
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Jan 7

Stef Renard’s In Search of a Personal History is just that: The artist’s attempt to get closer to a personal past shrouded in mystery.
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Jan 4

Having previously tackled the topic of “city” before, members of German photography agency Ostkreuz decided to turn their attention to borders, literal and metaphorical ones: Über Grenzen/On Borders. Seventeen photographers went out to explore the concept, ranging from the very personal to what one might consider the standard photodocumentarian approach. Border are what separate us, borders are what we can consider transcending (the German “über Grenzen” actually has two meanings: “on borders” and “across borders”). Consider. (more)
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Jan 3

A married businessman has an affair with a married woman, his secretary. She is in her early twenties, he is approaching forty. In principle, there is nothing particularly noteworthy about this. As it turns out, things appear to be a ménage à quatre with two non-participating partners, since the man’s wife knows of the affair (he has to make his wife apologize to his lover, who had been called a floozy and now threatens to withhold further sex), and the woman’s husband might or might not be aware of what’s going on. We know all of this because the man decides to document their affair, taking photographs and collecting material, such as restaurant menus, train tickets, hotel bills, some of her hair (pubic and otherwise), some of her nail clippings, even a scab from her wrist. On top of that, the man writes a diary, using a typewriter, chronicling events: When and where they go and/or meet, the various photographs taken, their love making, and more. Decades later, the material is found in a black suitcase, sold at an estate sale, somewhere in Cologne (Germany).
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Jan 2

Wishing everybody a very Happy New Year 2013!
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Jan 2

“King Togbui Ngoryifia Céphas Kosi Bansah is an African king. He governs his tribe, the Ewe in Ghana, daily after his shift and on the weekends by phone and e-mail. He works as a master mechanic in his own garage during the day in Ludwigshafen in the Rhineland, Germany. He returns to Ghana several times a year to dedicate his full attention to the issues of his people. He is building schools, bridges and wells, donates water pumps and vehicles. To obtain money for these aid projects he performs as a singer, attends TV-shows and public events. Despite these appearances he is the authentic leader of 2.3 million and the issues he addresses are severe.” - Mirka Laura Severa about her project King Bansah
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