Alejandro Cartagena's Lost Rivers

May 9, 2008

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I received a nice email the other day from Alejandro Cartagena, a Dominican born photographer, who has lived for many years in the city of my birth, and the city closest to my heart, Monterrey, Mexico. Cartagena was a researcher on one of my semi-obsessions, a book titled Nuevo Leon, Imagenes de Nuestra Memoria and he is also responsible for a photo project I've been meaning to post titled Lost Rivers . If you've spent much time in that part of the world you know the significance of the often empty river beds that lead off into nowhere. In fact Monterrey itself is split in half by a lost river, the Santa Catarina, that is a chaotic mix of sand, overgrown palms, squatter homes, markets, and soccer fields. But you don't have to have experience in Mexico's northern states, to appreciate the melancholy of photographs of rivers vanishing into the dust; some photographs speak for themselves.

Kent Rogowski

May 7, 2008

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Over at 20x200 we're introducing a piece by Kent Rogowski today in conjunction with the opening of his show Love = Love tonight at the Jen Bekman gallery.

In this project Rogowski makes montages from puzzles with landscape scenes. The results would make the Cubists proud. I think they're great.

Check out many more fun projects on the artist's website.

Mårten Lange

May 7, 2008

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Have you ever stood on a beach and looked out over the water to some distant boat on the horizon and wondered about the people out there? I have, which is why I enjoy Mårten Lange's project The Sea so much. The little boats give scale to the sea's vastness, humanize the incomprehensible, and provide a space for your mind to fill with a story.

Lange is an editor at Farewell Books which specializes in delightful (but cheaply constructed) photo books.

Me Hearty

May 5, 2008

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raul andres: I am Pirate Raul. This is my treasure chest. We will bury it.

me: What's in that treasure chest?

Pirate Raul: GOLD! SILVER!

me: anything else?

Pirate Raul: and... and...bones! and coins! and... peg legs!

me: and?

Pirate Raul: rocks and shells and... chocolate!

me: and?

Pirate Raul: and... and... Cucumbers! Lots and lots of cucumbers!

Hiroyo Kaneko

May 3, 2008

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The American tendency is to associate any display of skin with sex and because of this I imagine many here would have a hard time wrapping their minds around the traditional Japanese sentos (public baths) and onsens (hot springs) you find all over Japan. In the most traditional village sentos families, neighbors, and co-workers bathe together, male/female, young/old with everyone gloriously and unabashedly naked. During my visits to Japan I was sometimes invited to join friends for baths after work and was always struck by the family atmosphere in these places—everyone with their little washcloths resting on their heads washing, gossiping, and just enjoying the warm soak.

Hiroyo Kaneko's series titled Sentimental Education gives us a bit of the feel of these places. When I compare these nude figures to the contrived "we're all so so naked and we don't care!' figures in Ryan McGinley's recent work I'm reminded that often the best way to showcase someone's humanity is by catching them in the middle of their most ordinary daily rituals.

Related: Sento at 6th and Main by Gail Dubrow.

Father and Son, Litang

May 2, 2008

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A blog reader named Stella wrote in asking about the story behind the picture above. I always like hearing the stories behind other people's images so I don't mind telling the stories behind mine. If you have a question about a particular picture, just email and I'll answer when I have a chance.

This photo was taken two years ago durning a Tibetan festival where herdsmen gather to celebrate and do business—literally to horse trade. The white horse was up for sale and it was initially the horse that drew me (I have a thing for pictures of white horses). So I was walked over and was enjoying the the back and forth discussion when the owner of the horse came over to check me out. We traded hellos and he obviously found me amusing. He asked if i was married or single. I said married. He asked me if I had children. I said I had one. He asked if it was a boy or a girl. I said a boy. He smiled and putting his fingers to his mouth, whistled loudly. "My son" he gestured. His son came over and gave him a big hug and I took this shot. Then I took a polaroid and gave it to them as thanks. The polaroids drew a crowd and I only had a few pieces of polaroid film left so I quickly exited. For the rest of the week I would be wandering around when I would hear the distinctive whistle, then I would look around and see the man in the distance. He would tip his hat to me and I would tip my hat back to him.

That's the story.

The print is available through my gallery in several editions as both as a traditional print and a platinum print.

Journal Entry, April 29, 1982

April 29, 2008

Sometimes, on days like today, I will walk out past the creek along the rabbit trails, through the deep forest where the trees grow in a thick, to the clearing. I alone know the way to the single large rock that sits in the sun. It is as if the trees have stepped back to pay their respects. Climbing up top I close my eyes and and wander. I imagine the people who must have stopped and rested here through the ages. I imagine pre-cambrian oceans and I imagine the luminescent monsters that still hide in the depths. I imagine a couple touching fingers for the first time. I imagine births and deaths and all the things in-between. And when the world seems so full it will burst, almost always I will notice that I am not alone on my rock.

If I am quiet the clearing will come alive again full of buzzing things, hungry rabbits and the occasional snake. Deer munch on the blackberries that grow in the brambles on the forest’s edge and if I stay long enough fireflies appear telling me it is time to go home. While lure of seeing stars over the black silhouette of the forest against the fading blue of the sky is strong, I know if I stay too long, if it gets too dark I will be hopelessly lost and it would be better to sleep on that rock than it would be to venture into the maze of the forest in the blackness, so I run. I run from the cold of the night, from the unknown things in the dark, from everything, until I see the light of home. Then, when I am safe in bed, I will close my eyes and go back to my clearing revisiting the places I am already forgetting.

William Lamson

April 24, 2008

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If you subscribe to the photography blogs in the sidebar you've probably seen William Lamson's site mentioned recently (he's recently updated to include several new projects). His work is being discussed because so many of his projects are intensely visual/amusing/thought provoking. I especially love the series titled Intervention.

William is a semi-neighbor of mine and I often see him puttering around the neighborhood doing normal everyday things which is odd after seeing his work because you imagine him going home to a room full of black balloons and guns or an all white lab full of trampolines and people in white hazmat suits. Don't know what I'm talking about? Time to click over to his site.

Pablo Neruda's To the Foot From Its Child

April 18, 2008

A child's foot doesn't know it's a foot yet
And it wants to be a butterfly or an apple
But then the rocks and pieces of glass,
the streets, the stairways
and the roads of hard earth
keep teaching the foot that it can't fly,
that it can't be a round fruit on a branch.
Then the child's foot
was defeated, it fell
in battle,
it was a prisoner,
condemned to life in a shoe.

Little by little without light
it got acquainted with the world in its own way
without knowing the other imprisoned foot
exploring life like a blind man.

Those smooth toe nails
of quartz in a bunch,
got harder, they changed into
an opaque substance, into hard horn
and the child's little petals
were crushed, lost their balance,
took the form of a reptile without eyes,
with triangular heads like a worm's.
And they had callused over,
they were covered
with tiny lava fields of death,
a hardening unasked for.
But this blind thing kept going
without surrender, without stopping
hour after hour.
One foot after another,
now as a man,
or a woman,
above,
below,
through the fields, the mines,
the stores, the government bureaus,
backward,
outside, inside,
forward,
this foot worked with its shoes,
it hardly had time
to be naked in love or in sleep
one foot walked, both feet walked
until the whole man stopped.

And then it went down
into the earth and didn't know anything
because there everything was dark,
it didn't know it was no longer a foot
or if they buried it so it could fly
or so it could
be an apple.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
translated by Jodey Bateman (the original after the jump)

Continue reading "Pablo Neruda's To the Foot From Its Child" →

Square America's Book of Sleep

April 18, 2008

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I love taking pictures of people asleep. In sleeping children we see their futures. In adults we see their childhoods. We relax. Our waking masks lowered, we become truer versions of ourselves.

The image above is from the site Square America which collects vernacular photography and has posted a wonderful collection of vintage photos of people sleeping. Check them out.

Jonathan Franzen on today's Shanghai

April 17, 2008

"The week before, when I'd arrived in Shanghai, my first impression of China had been that it was one of the most advanced places I'd ever seen. The scale of Shanghai, which from the sky had presented a dead-flat vista of tens of thousands of neatly arrayed oblong houses—each of which, a closer look revealed, was in fact a large apartment block—and then, on the ground, the brutally new skyscrapers and the pedestrian-hostile streets and the artificial dusk of the smoke-filled winter sky: it was all thrilling. It was as if the gods of world history had asked, 'Does somebody want to get into some really unprecedentedly deep shit?' and this place had raised its hands and said 'Yeah!'"
-Jonathan Franzen in the April 21, 2008 New Yorker

More on Franzen's trip to China here (audio link).

Raimond Wouda

April 17, 2008

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I was lucky to see Raimond Wouda's show School last year at FOAM in Amsterdam, but didn't had a hard time finding the photographer's images online. Happily that has changed and Wouda now has created an eponymous website featuring School and several other projects. The image above is from one titled On Scale. Scale is an important aspect of Wouda's work. He shoots hyper detailed large format images and displays them at wall size. His revamped website only hints at the impact these prints have in person. (The prints are immersive without being monumental and self important.) I hope some smart New York gallerist hooks him up with a show. I'd love to have a chance to commune with the prints again.

Gail Albert Halaban's Out My WIndow NYC

April 14, 2008

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I got to know Gail Albert Halaban's work while hanging around Gabe Greenberg's print studio and came to be a big fan of her highly stylized slightly offkilter peeks into the world of upper crusty New Yorkers.

For her new project titled Out My Window NYC she invites New Yorkers who see their neighbors only through the window and have an interest in connecting with them, to contact her. She states, "I would like to photograph you looking into their place and them looking back at you."

She's posted a few early images from the project and the results are promising. Be sure to click on the images to get a nice large version of the image.

Alexey Titarenko

April 14, 2008

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Alexy Titarenko is best known for his long exposures of Russian commuters like the one above. The grim loveliness of that project speaks to both photography's early history and to more recent Soviet reality. ( You can here Titarenko speak about this series on the lens culture website).

Titarenko has a new show at the Nailya Alexander Gallery titled simply Venice. The photos are a nostalgic look at Venice. The images are as pretty as all of his photography is, but I found them to be misleading in the way tourist board postcards are misleading. They hide the ugly overcrowded overtouristed reality of the city today. This seems to be a missed opportunity as Titarenko's technique would have lended itself well to both showing Venice's teeming tourist masses and commenting on the nature of the city itself, instead we get images that evoke an empty romantic Venice that exists primarily as fantasy. This comes off as fluff.

Raoul Gatepin

April 10, 2008

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I read something about Raul Corrales the great Cuban photographer and thought it might be fun to do a post about photographers named Raul. But then right away I found the site of a French photographer named Raoul Gatepin who lives in Los Angeles and felt he deserved his own post. His pictures make me miss LA and making photographs there.

Christopher Talbot

April 6, 2008

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The phrase that came to mind while looking through Christopher Talbot's portfolio titled Transformational Light was "backwoods, Crewdson light". Sounds horrible, but it sort of works, at least for me. Reminds me of East Texas.


Brooklyn Flea

April 6, 2008

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Tomorrow marks the first Brooklyn Flea, which will be the largest flea market in New York.

And if you make it out to Ft. Geene say hello to my wife who will premiering some of the clothes she's created for her new venture 'Two Blue Cars: Shirts for Boys'. She'll feature shirts with diggers, cement mixers, garbage trucks, go carts and the like. The kinds of things little boys obsess over... so say hello.

If going for the flea market isn't your thing, go for the food, many of the regular Red Hook taco trucks (the best in town) will be feeding hungry flea folk.

Interview

April 6, 2008

Liz Kuball the photographer and blogger interviewed me the other day. The results are up on her site. Being interviewed reminded me that I need to get some new photography scanned and online. I have many projects waiting in the wings. Stay tuned...

Thierry Girard

April 1, 2008

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I'm a fan of Thierry Girard's work and of the way he presents it. I especially love the small maps he presents at the beginning of each portfolio which give a bit of context to the work. I've been toying with of doing something similar for a while, but was making the problem much more complicated than it needed to be.


Editing

March 31, 2008

The impact of changing the order of a sequence of images always surpises me. I was looking around for work by Yola Monakhov after seeing a photograph of hers in Harpers and found two sites that featured sets of her images. Both sites present the images in a similar manner and the images mainly overlap... The first series is presented on her gallery's site and the second series is presented on her personal site. I read the images on the gallery site as a journey going from Point A to Point B (The captions distract from this but I didn't read those until later), they work as a group for me whereas in the personal site edit I couldn't find the throughline and was forced to consider the images as individual pieces.

Unrelated but gripping: Ms. Monakhov's account of being shot while working in the West Bank.

Brad Temkin

March 24, 2008

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I'm a fan of Brad Temkin's project titled Relics. The Illinois based photgrapher shot the image above Iceland which features regularly (and for good reason) in the portfolios of landscape photographers.

Ian Baguskas and Mark Marchesi

March 20, 2008

It might be a little bit of inside baseball recommending shows being put on by my business partner and my gallerist, but darnit, both are worth seeing. Both shows are composed primarily of landscape photography, both are by photographers that speak in quiet voices, and both photographers happen to be super nice guys in person.
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So go see Sweet Water by Ian Baguskas at the Jen Bekman Gallery. It opens on Friday and runs through the end of April (Ian was just included in the PDN 30 btw).

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Then hop on the F and go see The Town and the City by Mark Marchesi at the Nelson Hancock Gallery in Dumbo. It opened last week and also runs through the end of April.

Fine Art Photo Printers in New York

March 19, 2008

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I'm often asked about printers in NY and I know I've promised to make a list for a long time. Here, at long last, is a rundown.

Ben Diep is the man behind Color Space Imaging on 20th Street betwen 6th and 7th. I do almost all my traditional c-prints here, including the print above (that's Ben doing some spotting). Ben has impeccable street cred, he's printed 2 MOMA shows in the last six months and every photographer I know who has worked with him has nothing but nice things to say. You can trust his taste/instincts and he will take as much time as your print needs to get it right. You might have to wait a week or two to get a slot at Color Space but when you're in you are given full attention. He has no website.
Color Space Imaging, 135 W 20th St NY, NY 10011 212-229-2969

Gabe Greenberg specializes in making huge inkjets on a variety of exotic papers. He's a master of the digital image and digital output. While his roster of clients is impressive, he's also someone who is you're likely to become friends with while hanging out in his perpetually expanding studio. Gabe likes technical challenges and pushing the limits of todays machines but his images often feel as if they were made by hand using traditional techniques. Sometimes he actually mixes traditional and digital techniques. For example he makes platinum prints by using a digital file and making large digital negatives on plastic film and then handing the negative to a platinum printer he works with in the same building. As platinum printing is normally a contact process, platinum prints tend to be small, but this technique allows for bigger prints, prints from digital files, and prints from small negatives. The results are stunning.

My Own Color Lab has a laughably amaturish website and a horrible name, but they make fine prints (They printed much of Sze Tsung Long's Horizons). I recently worked with one of their printers, Scott Eiden, a fine photographer himself, on an edition for 20x200. As an added bonus their prices are always one notch lower than many comperable players.

While I haven't printed much black and white lately my friends who shoot primarily black and white rave about the meticulous work done at Big Prints, a black and white only shop in Brooklyn specializing both in large prints and somewhat archaic techniques like Selenium toning.

Other printers of note include Gray Photographics for super archival Ilfochrome prints and the legendary Ken Lieberman (both have horrible websites).

Lies I've told my 3 year old recently

March 18, 2008

Trees talk to each other at night.

All fish are named either Lorna or Jack.

Before your eyeballs fall out from watching too much TV, they get very loose.

Tiny bears live in drain pipes.

If you are very very quiet you can hear the clouds rub against the sky.

The moon and the sun had a fight a long time ago.

Everyone knows at least one secret language.

When nobody is looking, I can fly.

We are all held together by invisible threads.

Books get lonely too.

Sadness can be eaten.

I will always be there.

Bert Teunissen

March 18, 2008

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I like photographers who work in places with history.
I like photographers who use natural light.
I like photographers who get out there in the world.
I like photographers who shoot with a specific point of view.

Bert Teunissen has done and continues to do all these things traveling around the world shooting what he calls Domestic Landscapes. His photographs are a vivid protest against the prefab readymade corporate world that seems to encompass more and more of our lives and are vivid arguments for living life connected to a specific place. In interviews he estimates that 90% of the locations featured in Domestic Landscapes no longer exist.

I've blogged about Mr. Teunissen before, but he is doing an edition with us tomorrow at 20x200.com so I've posted again as a heads up. If you want to purchase a print, the best way to get notified is via the 20x200 mailing list which give you a bit of a jump on the edition.

Teunissen has blogged about Domestic Landscapes over at Aperture.org.

The Corpse Walker

March 13, 2008

Liao Yiwu has a knack for capturing stories from everyday people in China that manage to be both poetic and funny. I first encountered Yiwu's work via the Paris Review in this story about a peasant who in 1985 declared himself emperor of Sichuan province.

Yiwu has recently released a book titled The Corpse Walker which is a collection of interviews of people in the bottom rungs of Chinese society-morticians, lepers, professional mourners, etc. This short excerpt of an interview with a mortician is a good example of his writing:

An excerpt:

"Beauty doesn't last. It's bound to be destroyed. So many kind, good-looking people die each day. I work on their bodies, hoping to temporarily preserve and enhance their beauty before they are gone forever. I don't want to lose anyone anymore. The scariest part of life is not death but the loss that comes with death. My former boss died at the beginning of this year. He was not even seventy. I did the makeup for him. This guy had one hobby when he was alive. He collected wedding invitations when he was young, and when he turned fifty, he began to collect obituaries. His whole room was filled with his collections. He used to say that all obituaries sounded the same and that we Chinese people lack imagination in the use of language. He wanted his own obituary to be unique, so he began to compose it when he was still alive. He printed hundreds of copies and stored them in a drawer with his bank statements and his will. After he died, his friends showed one to Old Wang, the new Party secretary at the funeral home. Old Wang, who was going to preside over the memorial service, read it aloud to several people during rehearsal. Nobody could understand what the obituary was about. It was so archaic, it sounded like haiku. I didn't know half of the characters. It was handwritten. He must have read it hundreds of times before he died, hoping those would be the last words he left for the world. But the new Party secretary didn't think the obituary reflected the revolutionary spirit of the new era. So he composed a new one filled with modern political jargon, in a style that our past director had despised. Oh well, what can you do? This is China. You don't have much control when you are alive. When you die, you won't have control over your obituary either. "

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