Nelson Hancock's Kamchatka

June 7, 2007

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About a month ago I pointed to a set of photographs from Eastern Europe by my friend and gallerist Nelson Hancock. Now Nelson has put up a new set of images, this time for an upcoming exhibition called Kamchatka, Photographs from Russia's Far East. As he notes, "Most people in the US have only heard of Kamchaka because it was an important territory in the old board game Risk..." His portraits from the Kamchatka River valley both bridge the distance and add to the mystery of this far away place.

The show opens June 14.

Kathryn Almanas

June 6, 2007

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I'm a fan of the portfolios of Yale MFA student Kathryn Almanas... She mastering the hard trick of mixing images rooted in reality with imaginary tableauxs to create projects with emotional heft...

Answers for foxhat13

June 5, 2007

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Someone who calls himself foxhat13 emailed and asked:

"Is your interest in emerging artists limited to photography or do you look at painters as well? If so do you have a couple of names for me. [clip...] Also I'm moving to New York August 15th. Do you have any tips on how to find good artists?"

The truth is that I don't keep up with the non-photography parts of the contemporary art scene as much as I'd like to. If you were to press me I might mention someone like Natalie Frank. Critics imply she can't help but give into her pre-raphaelite urges to make things visually lush, but that's exactly what I like about the work... the thumbnail on the top of this post is one of her paintings. It's titled War. These are best seen in person.

I also like many artists like Rachell Sumpter whose work has a lighter feel, but is witty, relevant, and sometimes happily subversive. The piece below is titled Baghdad Boogie.
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And then there are artists like Yang Shaobin who has recently been making portraits of miners in China (he's not exactly an emerging artist but...) who I admire but never think I'd like to own one. That's how I decide if I really love something. The desire to possess is my ultimate approval stamp.yangshaobin.jpg

As for finding out about new artists the easiest thing to do is to wander around NY with a gallery guide, mark the galleries you like, get on their mailing lists and start going to shows. And then of course there are scores of art blogs. One of my favorites is paintersnyc (2 of the artists above were blogged on paintersnyc) . The artists highlighted usually have new shows and the blog always inspires fun comment threads.

I painted (badly but of course with great enthusiasm) when I was in my 20's and in my own life the collection of specific paintings that mean something to me is much larger than the collection of iconic photos with similar impact so perhaps I should pay more attention to painting... and yet I can't help shake the feeling that contemporary painting forms almost no imprint on culture at large, that the canon is ossified, and that what's left is artists making art for each other or to be hung above sofas in fancy apartments... My wife says that today everyone thinks of themselves as an artist or a potential artist which might be part of the problem.

The reason photography is so exciting is that the canon—especially the art photography canon—is still largely unwritten. Photography is a medium in it's infancy and its artists don't suffer the weight of history nearly so much as those who paint. Also, perhaps just perhaps, because it transforms easily into bits to be seen on computer screens photography has a chance of staying relevant in a world less interested in the work of people who do something as archaically wonderful as putting paint on canvas.

Rolling R's

June 1, 2007

A few longtime readers might remember that I started our #1 son with his rolling R lessons very early. Now it's time to begin with #2:

Greg Girard's Phantom Shanghai

June 1, 2007

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It's not in hand yet, but I'm excited to have the new book Phantom Shanghai on order. The book is a record of Shanghai's vanishing historic architecture by Canadian photographer Greg Girard who has lived in the city for almost a decade. Magenta Magazine has a nice piece on the project which is available as a pdf download. From what I've seen so far, the images are imbued with a palpable melancholic beauty. Can't wait to see the rest of the book

Man Ray Archive

June 1, 2007

"Why? Who cares? Who doesn't care? Dada is dead. Or is Dada still alive? We cannot revive something alive just as we cannot revive anything that is dead.
Is Dada dead?
Is Dada alive?
Dada is.
Dadaism.

Man Ray
July 8 1958"

The original handwritten note and an extensive archive of Man Ray images can be found at the Man Ray Trust.

Final Santa Fe Roundup

May 28, 2007

I was going to blog these all separately but it would take forever, so here are a few more portfolios I saw at Review Santa Fe that caught my eye:

BirthePiontek.jpgI've mentioned Birthe Piontek on this blog before. Meeting her in person and discovering her to be modest, sensitive and funny made me like the work all the more.

paulamccartney.jpgPaula McCartney showed a portfolio of fake birds in nature. Not sure if that description sounds appealing, but I assure you the prints had a touch of magic to them. She also handcrafts jewel-like artist's books.

feritkulas.jpgI noted the work of Ferit Kuyas before heading out to Santa Fe and his work did not disappoint. While his website is still down it's worth checking back in to look for his project on Chongqing. One of the things that came out of the review was a name change for the project. The working title was Double Happiness which was a deeply personal choice (his wife is from Chongqing), but during the course of one of the reviews he realized a more apt title would be City of Ambition riffing on Stieglitz... I like the new title and love the images from the project.

Daniel Traub was also showing work from China. His project called The City's Edge an especially relevant in a time where Chinese cities are growing at an almost unfathomable pace. Daniel lives in Shanghai and was just selected to be in Jen Bekman's spring Hot Shots show (full disclosure I was on this Hot Shot's Reviewer Panel)

rachelherman.jpgRachel Herman was another photographer with really beautiful prints. The web doesn't do them justice.

Sarah Wilson is a photographer for Texas Monthly which is known for it's deeply researched stories and sharp photography. Her photographic essay on the murder of James Byrd in Jasper Texas reveals the ripples and scars left by the events of that night nine years ago.

Finally I hope you visit the work of Kay Lynn Deveney who presented a project called The Day to Day Life of Albert Hastings, a Welshman she she met while in graduate school. For each of her photographs she had Mr. Hastings write a caption and the images were presented together with his text. A book of their collaboration will be available soon from Princeton Architectural Press.

Chronological List Of Maps I Carry In My Head

May 27, 2007

1. Map of a house in Houston on Langdon Lane. Includes three trees in the front yard and neighbor Jimmy's garage and backyard. Ends at the fence in the back. circa 1970.

2. Map of all the playgrounds in 75901. circa 1975

3. Map of a time capsule buried at 1430 Sleepy Hollow in Lufkin Texas. Problem with this map is calibrating 10 year old footsteps with adult footsteps. circa 1977

4. Map of the Whisper Islands, an imaginary set of islands that happen to float on the clouds off the coast of India. Islanders communicate between islands with balloons, kites, and model rockets. circa 1980.

5. Map of every road out of Burnet, Texas in a radius of 20 miles. Includes the road to Oatmeal, Texas. circa 1984.

6. Map of Macondo. circa 1986.

7. Map of the way to my brother's grave. circa 1990.

8. Map of all 5 ice cream shops in Shanghai. circa 1993.

9. Map of taco stands from Santa Monica to Glendale. circa 1998.

8. Map of all the major (and some minor) bus routes in Kham. circa 2001.

10. Map of "no-turn" routes (between our old house and a variety of destinations) in LA for my new wife who, while exceptional at most things, is directionally challenged. circa 2003.

11. Map of all the parks with playgrounds in 11201. present day

Shuli Hallak

May 24, 2007

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One of the nice things about a portfolio review is that you get to look at a broad range of work outside of your own specific interests. I rarely seek out industrial or architectural photography, but at the review I got a chance to look at several excellent portfolios in this genre including the work of New York based Israeli photographer Shuli Hallak. She makes big powerful prints of the world's largest cargo ships and factories and so on... Ms. Hallak was also a pick in PDN's 30 emerging photographers for 2007. The portfolio worth checking out even if this isn't normally your kind of thing.

4 Snapshots of a City Kid in the Country

May 23, 2007

He wakes up, takes a walk with dad, sees 2 rabbits, 1 beaver, 2 deer, 4 ducks, and several fish...asks if we are in a zoo.

He marvels at the lack of cars on the roads. Creates a song called, "'No car street. No car day."

He stands and ponders the expanse of grass. For the New York City kid a few hundred feet of unpeopled grass is unheard of. City two year olds are constantly being told not to run, not to go too far, not to touch, to look both ways, et-cetera. Two year olds are of course programmed to run, so an endless swath of grass looks like pure freedom. He pauses as the exhilaration builds, laughs and takes off at high speed for the top of the hill. Unlike older kids, the two year old does not modulate his speed. He runs as fast as he can as far as he can. Reaching the top of the hill and seeing nothing but more grass on the other side he runs down. Soon he falls and rolls but falling on grass doesn't hurt. This is novel. In the city when you fall it stings. Not so here. Giggling uncontrollably he rolls around some more, springs up and runs up another hill.

He sees a sky full of stars for the first time in his life and gets very quiet. After a while he asks, "Daddy, stars take home?"

Olivier on photography...

May 22, 2007

"I am often accused of being a portrait photographer. A bit like accusing your reflection of being mirror. My people may be staring at the camera but they are not portraits. They are not staring at you, I am."

read the entire post on Olivier Laude's new blog...

Karolina Karlic

May 22, 2007

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I'm back in New York and have nothing but good things to say about Review Santa Fe...

For the next few days I'll highlight work from photographers I met at the review...

First up, Karolina Karlic whose portfolio of images from Detroit was notable not only for the loving handling of her subject matter but also for her luscious prints. Karolina now lives in Minneapolis home to a strong community of smart young photographers.

Heading West

May 16, 2007

In a couple of hours I'm headed out to attend Review Santa Fe, so over the weekend posting will be sparse...

I've been so busy I haven't had much time to think about Santa Fe, but I'm sure things will click once I'm out there as I have a super list of people to meet. The reviewer lottery was most kind.

Here are just a few Santa Fe participants whose portfolios popped for me: Jeongmee Yoon, William Lamson, Caitlin Atkinson, Whitney Hubbs, Garie Waltzer, Derek Dudek, and Ferit Kuyas (whose website appears to be down right now)... of course there are many others.

Li Yu & Liu Bo

May 14, 2007

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The other day I mentioned a photographer named Li Yu in passing and said his portfolio on the Beijing Fotofest site suffered from lack of explanation. Thomas Wain of Stoke-on-Kent, England who saw one of the photos on Tim Atherton's site wrote me asking if I knew of a web page that had those explanations (the images are recreations of scenes from local newspaper crime blotters)... indeed I do.

The portfolio is called 13 Months in the Year of the Dog and contains English translations. In describing the work Li Yu writes:

"A boy was riding a bicycle with a girl on the backseat in the street. Many passers-by accused them of violating the traffic rules, which forbade bikers to have anyone on the backseat. Instead of following their advice, the boy rode faster. All of a sudden, the girl shrieked in alarm. Her skirt was tangled up into the wheel and completely torn up. Soon the boy fell onto the ground with the bicycle while the girl stood aside, blushing and only appearing in her underwear. This was a news story I read in high school and it still remains vivid in my memory. The extremely critical writing of the reporter who wrote the story severely condemned certain uncivilized phenomena in the society and met the needs of his readers.

The year of 2006 was the year of the dog according to the Chinese lunar calendar. It consisted of 13 months and four Valentine's Days, totaling 385 days. In the same year, Liu Bo and I launched an art project entitled "13 Months in the Year of the Dog." We picked out two local news stories from newspapers in Wuhan, restaged the reported scenes, and shot large photographs of them. During this process, we brought our own imaginations and other everyday experiences such as the secondhand experiences we had obtained from films, TV and news photos into this project.

Our selection of the news stories was inspired by the early-mentioned news report. But nowadays, the magic power and literary value of news has far exceeded our anticipation and even films: deceit, murder, eroticism and violence…so striking and unimaginable. How can one decide whether these stories have truly happened or not simply relying on written words? Maybe it's not important, at least they have truly existed in the papers. But as for the readers, these stories are as eye-catching as the blushing girl in her torn-up skirt. That's the so-called media truth. The life of today is the history of tomorrow. Someone says that history is like a girl ready to be dressed up by anyone. Now, let's put the girl with the torn-up skirt back into another beautiful outfit."

Existential Air Conditioner Crisis

May 14, 2007

Almost a full year ago I delivered Royal Sovereign air conditioner (3 days out of warranty) to be repaired at a place called Buy Rite AC Service on Avenue Z in Brooklyn..... This wasn't just any AC it's the one I use to cool my attic office where I spent way too much of my time. Today it's 65 degrees F outside, 85 up here.... These are the excuses given for the machine not being ready...

14 days: We’re waiting for the part from Royal Sovereign.
28 days: The part came in but it’s the wrong one. We have to call again.
35 days: They never sent that part. Maybe you could call them, because they don't call me back.
49 days: Did you call them? They never sent that part.
57 days: I have to check on that part.
55 days: The part was shipped from China or some freakin' place. We're waiting for it.
91 days: The part is in the Royal Sovereign warehouse in Jersey.
102 days: We still don’t have the part.
185 days: We got the part, but we’re closing up shop for the winter, you know in the winter nobody needs an air conditioner repaired.
190 days. We’re not open for the spring yet. Call us next week.
197 days. I moved the air conditioner to my garage it was taking up space in the shop, it’s fixed but we have to test it.
204 days: It’s too cold to test the air conditioner.
285 days: It’s being tested now, the gages are on it.
289 days: We don't do repairs on Royal Sovereigns.
295 days: We’re going on break, call back after the holiday.
322 days. Yeah, there was a leak, the guys have to take it apart again, weld some pieces together and repressurize it. It’s being tested now, the gages, are on it.
324 days: The guy who knows about that is out, call back on Monday.
327 days: We had to take it apart again, it was a mother to take apart. We’re never taking this brand again. But it should be fixed soon.
328: days: It will be ready tomorrow. Give my your number.
330 days: I have no idea about that, you'll have to call back and talk to someone tomorrow.
337 days: You know I'm going to personally take this thing apart myself because it keeps losing gas.
340 days: The guys are at lunch around the corner... maybe you should call back...

and so it continues....

A Wander

May 14, 2007



Why is it that we dads, feel compelled to make home movies, even with crappy little digital cameras?

Luo Dan

May 10, 2007

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I love this picture by Luo Dan of a performer waiting to go on stage... It was included in the photographer's portfolio for Fotofest Beijing. Luo Dan has a nice touch, many of his images are infused with quiet lyricism and hints of narrative that draw the viewer right into the work... The fotofest portfolio was a short selection of images from his project National Highway 318. (National Highway 318 is longest east-west highway in China stretching 3314 miles from Shanghai to Tibet ...) Many more images from the project can be found on Luo Dan's personal website. This is a link to the actual images.

The fotofestbeijing site is worth checking out on it's own for it's varied portfolios by Chinese photographers of all stripes. Some suffer from lack of explanation, for example I think it helps to know that Li Yu is recreating stories found in local crime blotters... but even without text there is plenty of food for thought here...

Haraboji's House

May 9, 2007

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Jenn's grandfather turned 84 recently. He lives alone, but 4 of his 6 daughters are close by and at least one of them checks in daily. Since his wife died of cancer 4 years ago he makes vegetable juices. He uses lots of green peppers, tomatoes and carrots. "For good health."

Throughout his apartment you will find little newspaper clippings. Under the glass of the coffee table there's one that reads

Signs of Saltwater on Mars
Mars was once a warmer, wetter place, with flowing pools of saltwater, scientists reported. The findings provided new hints that life might have existed there...
Under the glass of a side table there's one about a flood in North Korea, and in the bathroom there's one about the disappearing bees. My favorite is an obituary of Lillian V. Oppenheimer. The headline reads"Lillian V. Oppenheimer, 93, Dies; Introduced Americans to Origami." He highlighted a quote from Oppenheimer in the article, "Why should the Japanese have all the fun?"

The picture he has taped on the wall near the phone was torn from a magazine. The image reminds him of his favorite daughter at that age. He has no pictures of her so young as she grew up during the war. The magazine image has been up on the wall for such a long time that he no longer thinks of it as someone else. "My daughter is beautiful," he always says.

Jessica Dimmock

May 7, 2007

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Some of Jessica Dimmock's best photography is difficult to look at. Her photo essay on heroin addicts published last year in the New York Times Magazine (The 9th Floor) was as forceful as anything they've published in ages. Her website includes a complete set of images from that essay as well as essays on child workers in Zambia, a go-go dancer, and transvestites in Nepal amongst others. All are hard stories heartbreakingly well told..

The Stuff of Dreams

May 7, 2007

The guy next to me on the plane studied Sky Mall for almost the entire 6 hour flight back to New York... some excerpts:

"Walk with the stride of a champion. Walk taller and with more confidence than ever!"

"Our BBQ grill light shines so brightly it's like cooking in daylight!"

"The remote controlled robotic hammerhead shark is fun for the entire family!"

"Without a doubt the best pet staircase on the market."

"The children's atm bank will provide hours of fun for you and your kids."

"My Dad was speechless and got teary eyed... he won't stop talking about his BEST GIFT EVER! The photograph really looks like an original painting on authentic canvas."

"Purchase two globes and have a nuclear faceoff so you can eliminate your opponents."

"Our socks with toes are a hygienic alternative to bare feet."

"You will feel like you can keep up with the best of the World Famous Secret Agents when you are wearing the Gravity Defying Shoe."

"Finally, a decorative cat litter box."

"If God is indeed 'in the details', this incredible eagle sculpture speaks to the American spirit!"

"Forget about digging or tlling, toss in our seed ball in the yard to plant an entire garden."

"In 5 minutes you too can take pictures like Ansel Adams"

Michael Wesely

May 6, 2007

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One of the many things I love about early photographs of seemingly empty street scenes is the slight blur that comes from the people who were passing by during the long exposures. Michael Wesely does modern versions of those long exposures taking the technique to the extreme sometimes leaving the shutters on his custom constructed cameras open for months or even years at a time. In the longest exposures people vanish completely, but the sun and moon leave streaks in the sky...

While his website features obtuse navigation and an extremely poorly coded javascript that occasionally hangs Safari and slows Firefox to a crawl, the site is still worth exploring for it's visually rich and thought provoking images which include still lives and motion studies in addition to the landscapes...

The image above was taken over two years during the reconstruction of Potsdamer Platz... (via Pruned)

related: PBS interview

Peter Garfield

May 5, 2007

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I had a dream last night in which I looked out the window and kept seeing Peter Garfield's mobile homes flying through the air... Luckily a detailed Peter Garfield website exists with many of his flying house pictures as well as lots of behind the scenes info to fill my waking hours...

vaguely related: Dreams (an mp3)

Be Yourself Tonight

May 3, 2007

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Talking about his project Be Yourself Tonight in which he rephotographs images from his family photoalbum Norwegian photographer Dag Nordbrenden says, "[this project] very much deals with the sadness of returning home... there is the experience of returning home to something that appears to be exactly as it always has been, but at the same time confirms that things have changed, since you have changed. The family photo album is in a way a celebration of the family - a celebration of the family that used to be. It is both something very private, but still something that one is eager to show in social gatherings to resent the official image of the family. But still photographs of holidays and celebrations will never guarantee that family members actually know each other."

(via Foam #7)

Gifts

May 2, 2007

Today I wandered around Amsterdam with my friend JP from New York who now lives in Brussels. He came in on the train for the day. I was shopping for some gifts my wife when I noticed he and a local shopgirl were flirting heavily with each other (falling for Dutch girls is a major hazard for unattached American guys in this city). He was just asking her ordinary tourist questions about what to see and do... but something was going on, everyone could feel it, there was palpable frisson between them...

And then I paid, the gifts were wrapped, and it was time to go. "Vamos," I said and we headed to the door. The girl was watching JP. Just as we were almost outside, an unremoved security tag in my bag set off an alarm and we had to go back inside. Grabbing the opportunity, JP asked the girl out for dinner... "Oh, but tonight I have a birthday party," came the reply. She sounded disappointed... He was flustered and said something like, "Ahh. Um ok. Sorry." Again we headed out. He started talking about her immediately. "My god," he said shaking his head. As we walked away he kept looking back, his disappointment growing... "It's like she was tearing apart my molecular sctructure." "Dammit why didn't I ask her to do something after the birthday party, or before...tea. Anything"

"Just go back," I urged, "The worst thing she'll say is no." We walked another few blocks before he finally turned around. I waited at an outdoor bar. An hour or so later he returned, crushed. He had procrastinated. The shop had closed. The girl was gone.

But at least he tried and maybe some day soon he'll return to find the place again, because those moments when your molecular structure gets torn apart are rare indeed and you never know what might happen when you ask the right girl the right question... sometimes you even end up married to her.


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