July 22, 2011 Leave a comment
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a glance of the planet
October 15, 2010 2 Comments
Arthur Tress, Photographs 1956 – 2000
“I always tried to organize the immense quantity of images and inputs that reached my mind and invade my senses through my camera”. There’s in fact a continuum in Arthur Tress’ works, absolutely one of the most prolific and diversified American contemporary photographers, apparently very different but all tied by dreams and imagination.
“A lot of kids take snap shots, but I grew up in Brooklyn in the 40s and 50s, when being gay and full of ideas didn’t help to make friends. So I was taking pictures that would talk on my behalf”. Young Arthur was hiding away in the “wonders stuffed attic” of the Egyptian Collection at the Brooklyn Museum of Art, or in the nearby dream-like Japanese Garden at the Botanical Garden. With such a background it isn’t surprising that the work that gave Tress notoriety, and is still considered his most representative work, is Dream Collector, developed in the 70s and partly inspired to the Italian Surrealism. “For the making of Dream Collector I wanted to reproduce emotions, fears and expectations. I tried to remember the dreams I had in my childhood and I asked friends and kids in the streets ”.
Tress has never considered image manipulation nor digital photography as an option, he puts big emphasis in the image composition but never used models: “models are boring and unnatural, I prefer ordinary street goers, friends and kids”.
Arthur Tress has never shot fashion or celebrities to make more money. Even in commercial photography he’s always looking for the fantastic as well as seeking a strong tie with his senses. He used to take portraits for Esquire Magazine and now produces many mystery book covers that draw inspiration from the Shadow series. “Back in the 70s anthropologists were talking about shaman’s powers, mental perceptions, nighttime mental journeys and psychologic journeys. I created a mythological figure, a Dancing Shadow, that would have told one of these journeys to the outside world”. Shadow, the photographer’s self shadow, appears in many sequences composed of single images: The Prisoner, The Search, The Journey, The Town, The Labyrinth, The Valley of Marvels, The Ancestors, Initiations, The Pilgrim, Call and Messages, The Magic Flight, Transformations and The Illumination. “Somebody once told me I could have done short movies out of the sequences, but I think there’s enough meaning in every single image: every shot can absolutely stand on its own”.
As a matter of fact there’s no documentary side in Tress’ images, and once organized in a chronological order it’s clear how they reflect the changes in Arthur Tress himself. “I started from a witness-like photography to end up with an image that tells about my magical side. My image has evolved”. This is the main reason why Tress considers contemporary photography trivial: “there’s a big deal regarding snap shots, museums all over the country make huge prints out of an image of people sunbathing on a beach. It might be that photographers, fearing the digital challenge, have gone back to the origin of photography. My work is much more personal and sophisticated”.
Forty-five years of absolutely high quality work, always changing and evolving, gave Arthur Tress the honor of a vast retrospective exhibition at the Corcoran Gallery in Washington DC in summer 2001. “When they told me they wanted to make a retrospective I turned sad and told myself: How can it be? I’m not at the end of my career. And then they also showed my very last works, the ones made with the aid of a crystal paper weight. So, I told myself again: This might be the bridge toward the future: the 3D images I’m working at present time, cutting and pasting to produce something like those pop-ups in kids’ books”.
Maybe this is the secret of Tress’ art: let the day tell us what to do, play with what’s around us, look at the world through a child’s eye.
all images © Arthur Tress
Fantastic Voyage: 55 color plates, 180 duotone plates, 39 B&W plates.
Male of the Species: The naked man, fetish and dream.
Theater of Mind: A small paper Opera theatre and mind’s games.
Fish Tank Sonata: A fish tank full of weird object and dolls, and the beachm the pond, the ocean as background.
October 14, 2010 Leave a comment
THE SKY BOOK
“There’s a series of skies where I’ll pick a place on a map, like a Rand McNally map, and go to that place and photograph the sky. What’s in the photograph is not clouds, there’s no horizon line. There’s nothing in there. It’s really atmosphere, light. My idea was that the photographs become a Rorschachs. What gives it its conceptual meaning is the name of the place. Each of the places is keyed by where I took it.”
“Not since Alfred Stieglitz photographed clouds in the 1920s has a photographer made so much of the earth’s atmosphere and precious little else …. the results are as emotionally evocative as Stieglitz wanted his cloud “Equivalents” to be, and as purified of quotidian reality as any painting by Mark Rothko or Robert Motherwell.
NYT Book Review
Skies wider than imagination and colors that defy man’s memories: Misrach’s images are broadening the perception of the sky and giving it an identity. It’s the methaphor of a travel toward the quiet meditation, the impulse to fall in a Real image.
all images © Richard Misrach
buy The Sky Book
October 12, 2010 Leave a comment
Barbara Dijkhuis & Auke Vleer
- The wonder of America is its National Parks and cities’ majestic buildings.
- [Yawn] We’ve heard this so many times. Tell me more, what else?
- People, faces, horizons.
- Hum, yeah, it could be, you’re getting closer.
- I’ve got an idea, let’s ask somebody that doesn’t live here, a couple of foreigners that come virgin-eyed and travel the States West-to-East.
- Hey, good idea, that’s just what Dutch designer Barbara Dijkhuis and photographer Auke Vleer did.
all american is the visual photo diary of a 5,000 mile journey from LA to NY, illustrated by 750 photos chosen from a few thousand originals, which give us a perception many American eyes can no longer.
all american is not concerned with canyons, arches or spires, however impressive they may be. It’s not about old quarters, mile-long bridges or sleepless cities. Rather it’s about the people that live amongst these wonders, passing their days inside X-mas lit American houses, driving on American cars toward serene American sunsets and flashing around huge American smiles. It’s a visual reality we often miss because we see it everyday. But it’s anything but ordinary. Dijkhuis and Vleer reveal the core of American life and landscape in its subtle and beautiful simplicity.
Double page photos of La’s swamps, NM vast desert, NC foggy valleys alternate with pages of Very Large Array, Ca and Nv residents, kids’ smiles and WV beer drinkers. Then come the breath-taking beautiful twenty-pictures-page series: the motel room decoration is style un-inspiring; the landscape sooths the spirit; the driver is exhilarating and the rear mirror is genius.
The book opens with a 3,000-word Tyler Whisnand sentence that is one of the most original declarations of love to his own country: America.
all images © Barbara Dijkhuis & Auke Vleer
The book opens into a map: the route from Los Angeles to New York, mainly driven on backroads.
Miliage numbers on the map correspond with the miliage numbers in the book images.
Buy all american.
October 8, 2010 4 Comments
Jan Saudek is the visionary author of the fantastic and psycologically embedded photos collected in Realities. But he’s also a talented drawer and a gentle man. He looks at our world with the mind of a poet, having lived a life of lights and shades.
What I didn’t know is that he’s a reserved and private person, and not a tech guy at all. So, since he lives in Prague and I don’t, the interview had to be carried out via emails, mine, letters and drawings, his. It has been a unique experience, and a very enjoyable one.
Here you can see some of Jan Saudek’s letters and some of his photos. Enjoy, and slow down, since, as I learned from Jan, moments in life have a truly different flavor at a mellow pace.
Here’re some of the questions I posed (you’ll find Saudek’s answers in the drawings below):
- What steps or phases have led to your artwork as it is today. Influences, evolution.
- Step out of your shoes for a second. How would you recognize a Saudek.
- Your most recent pictures are primarily interiors, although some of your exterior shots have brought you acclaim. Is it a choice, to shoot in a studio, or is it a natural result of your photographic path.
- What do you feel is the difference between shooting in a studio versus in the streets/open spaces.
- Could you tell me about the place where you shot Realities.
- Some of your models have a peculiar beauty. What do you see in them. Where do you find them.
- What’s their role in the making of the image.
- I understand that sometimes you pose a model yourself, why.
- One of the characteristics of your images, beside the models and the composition, is the color. Do you develop and print your film yourself or use a lab.
- How do you obtain such a difference in color tones. – What kind of retouch do you do and which instruments do you use. Is it a difficult process.
- What lead you to interact this way with the images.
- Gear, film and paper. What kind of equipment, film and paper do you use.
- What kind of equipment, film and paper did you use for the making of Realities.
all images © Jan Saudek
October 6, 2010 Leave a comment
Jocelyn Bain Hogg
“I met a few of them while I was taking fashion pictures, they were always around the models. But the truly big chance to widen my contacts was in Tenerife, Canary Islands: there were 140 of them, taking a vacation.” It seems like everything happened by chance, but Bain Hogg’s idea to talk about the English Underworld isn’t new. Since back in the 60s the Krais Family, one of the Firm pillars, a criminal organization, rose to the glossy and glamorous Vogue’s pages.
Bain Hogg found them again in the 90s, the criminals from the London’s East End, the same ones that inspired movies as Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch. He was taking pictures for Elle when he met by chance Dave Courtney, who at the time was fully dedicated to lecturing at conferences on his past life as a murderer. Jocelyn quickly understand that there’s an entire unknown world behind this man, a hidden society many people have heard about but that only a few had a chance to peep in.
“The project grew on its own. I’m a photo reporter, and while chatting, drinking and having fun I took pictures and told the life of these criminals.” Jocelyn and his camera had to be accepted in the underworld, his sincerity was the key. “I never denied myself nor tried to be different from what I’m in my world. I gave them a chance to be seen but, and that’s fundamentally important, I made them understand that I would never betray their secrets. If I had shot one of those bloody outlaw bare knuckle fights or worse, talked about one of those encounters that I witnessed but that never happened, I may not be here to talk about.” Jocelyn kept his mouth shut all the time, and so doing was richly rewarded with a continuous flow of situations and images that depicted a tr ue life in front of his Leica. “After a while everybody knew about me, but many times they weren’t even aware of my discreet presence. That’s how I gave my images such a intimate feeling.” The project lasted two years, it was mainly a good time even if some accidents happened: “Not everybody wanted to be photographed, and seeing me around with a camera was enough to start a quarrel.”
All that time and hundreds of Tri-X rolls didn’t change Jocelyn. “Maybe I’m a bit more cynical now, but I surely kept those people outside of my life: they’re criminals. Someday I might want to have a beer with some of them, but none are my best buddies. Many of my friends have been scared about my frequent interactions for the time I worked on the project, even though some saw a glamorous side. My mother, whom I dedicated the book to, never asked me a thing, but I’m sure she would have preferred me to be a fashion photographer.”
Now that The Firm is published, Jocelyn Bain Hogg is not considering going back to fashion to pay his bills. He has a couple of new projects that he is working on. The first one is about daily life in London and the second one is on women, the sweetness of women. “I don’t think I’ll invent a new way to pictures women, but I’d like to talk about them and their lives. If I approach them close enough, which I proved I can do very well, soon you’ll see something about women that you never realized existed. And from the intimacy of the picture you’ll recognize an authentic Bain Hogg”.
all images © Jocelyn Bain Hogg
Buy The Firm.
Buy Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, with Guy Ritchie and Jason Flemyng, DVD.
Buy Snatch, with Brad Pitt and Guy Ritchie, DVD.
October 4, 2010 Leave a comment
Snow is a ghostly and elegant white large format photo book. Almost like as if it were frost covered, it’s fresh to the touch, and once inside, it unveils all the soothing and calming power of winter and snow. Which, despite poetries, authors and people’s beliefs, it’s not white. Not at all.
Flechtner’s powerful eye brings snow alive and allows it a chamaleontic range of hues and tones. Pitch black and grayish yellow when at night time the mountain slopes are sulcated by uneven lines of light; bright milky white that blends in a light dirt gray on the threshold of Shangri-La, across the columns reinforced snow wall; mint green and peach orange in the space lit by neon and car lights, between the geometrically disposed houses in Switzerland; light blue melting into gray and ice blue on the patched surface of the frozen North Atlantic Ocean.
Morover, it isn’t simply about the colors. It’s the lines that draw the viewer into the picture, it’s the total human absence which makes every place a lieu: a state of mind.
It took the photographer 6 winters to complete his project, from 1996 till 2001, but the goal is set: the humble snow reveals a previously unknown identity.
all images © Thomas Flechtner
October 1, 2010 Leave a comment
Life on the Bowery
photography by Harvey Wang, text by David Isay and Stacy Abramson
“This book takes you places you don’t want to enter, to people you don’t want to meet, to lives you think you don’t want to live – and makes you rethink all your assumptions. It reveals the tremendous strenght and humanity ot those who are usually ignored. And as you pay attention, your own humanity expands.”
Susan Stamberg, special correspondent, NPR
Flophouse is not a place where you want to live. You might get a Manhattan address for something like 10-15 bucks per night, but it’s not glamorous at all. You’ll be on the Bowery, with no A/C, with bedbugs, with a cubicle as a bedroom and chicken wire up above your head to give you privacy. But you’ll still hear farts, burps and nightmare’s screams from your fellows: the flop mates.
So, why do you want to live in a Flophouse? I don’t really want to go there, but, was it that your lady kicked you out of the shack ‘cause you were drunk all the time, or you couldn’t stand the Midwest any longer and then found that New York fucking City is too much for you, or you want to feel totally free since nobody gives you a damn on the Bowery.
Come, come on here, come to rest on the warm and soft belly of the City, come to where you’ll be yourself, time stands still and life get suspended.
And be nice, pose for the photographer. He’s shooting faces, places. He’s shooting souls throught the eyes, he’s telling your life in a pic, he’s making it rich and interesting. Because, you know, you might be a flop, but you have full hands of humanity to give.
all images © Harvey Wang
September 28, 2010 1 Comment
American Night is not about the glamorous gloom of the after hours nor the exhilarating Bright Lights Big City atmosphere. There are no lights involved, but rather a subtle therefore powerful depiction of American society as seen through the eyes of an English-born photographer now living in New York City.
Graham has wandered downtowns and residential areas alike, juxtaposing the sprawling immaculate suburbs of the American West and the rundown rat-infested neighborhoods, transmiting the disparity between social classes, the differences in their quality of life expectations for the future. Instead of focusing on the blatant differences, he develops an elegant idea that goes far beyond the perfectly balanced composition and pinpoint lighting: the selection of less-obvious images that we all encounter daily, almost subconsciously, but that few of us take notice of.
The obvious is a big house with a nice spotless car parked in front, printed in full color like a birthday party picture.
The less obvious is a solitary figure walking along a highway, looking for scraps in a garbage bin or passing by a line of car for sale that he’d never be able to afford to buy, printed like it has been washed, as if to obliterate it from sight.
The only time when solitaries figures are printed in full color, they are is in sharp crude-as-life light situation.
A powerful collection of images that brings together dreams and reality, people with a future and those with only a present.
all images @ Paul Graham
Buy American Night
Paul Graham has been the recipient of many awards including a Eugene Smith Memorial Followship. His work has been exhibited extensively, including at the MoMA, NY, and the Tate Gallery, London. Previously published books include Troubled Land, New Europe, Empty Heaven and End of an Age.