Sunday, December 23, 2007

Simon Roberts' Motherland

Simon Roberts' wonderful project Motherland explores the identity of contemporary Russia 15 years after the fall of the Soviet Union. Spending an entire year traversing the landscape, Roberts strove to stay away from the stereotypical connotations of Russian poverty and depression, focusing instead on a palpable national optimism for the future. The result is a body of work that is both spontaneous and thoughtful, one that finds its beauty in the cracks of history. Roberts expounds on these notions of beauty in an interview with Jörg Colberg:

I was challenged by what constituted beauty. Russians, in the past at least, have been prepared to admit that their landscapes have lacked the picturesque detail of European vistas. This could equally be applied to rural or city space. Yet they see in these things the tokens of an extraordinary spiritual wealth and are the well-spring of the resilience, energy and spirituality of the Russian people.

From Top To Bottom:

Holidaymakers onboard the Afanasy Nikitin cruise ship. Volga River.Volga, June 2005

Victory Day picnic. Yekaterinburg. Urals, May 2005

The lounge of a former sanitorium. Sludyanka. Eastern Siberia, November 2004

Port officials. Vladivostok. Far East Russia, October 2004

Deflated crocodile. Yekaterinburg. Urals, May 2005

All Images © Simon Roberts

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Photographic Typologies: Henry Wessel

In the early 1990's, Henry Wessel created a body of work entitled House Pictures. The project found its influence in real estate photographs that Wessel's mother had laying around. Almost thirty years later, Wessel created a body of work that found its inspiration in these original real estate reference photographs. His photographs of Southern Californian bungalows depict in deadpan fashion the pursuit of home ownership as the embodiment of the American dream. Much like Jeff Brouws' series Freshly Painted Houses, Wessel's House Pictures highlights the futility of creativity in the landscape and hints at a human presence only decipherable in the smallest, most ephemeral details.

From Top to Bottom:

Real Estate Photograph No. 90602

Real Estate Photograph No. 90967

Real Estate Photograph No. 91117

Real Estate Photograph No. 91265

Real Estate Photograph No. 91517

All Images © Henry Wessel

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Geert Goiris

Found the work of Belgian photographer Geert Goiris in the monograph Vitamin PH: New Trends In Contemporary Photography. Goiris' photographs are at first strangely offputting, immediately calling into question the relation of one image to another. On further inspection, however, they reveal disparate connections between the complexity of human settlement. The image Rhino In Fog, 2003 is representative of the challenging manner in which Goiris' photographs operate. The sedentary animal appears geographically out of place, as if subjected to a reality that is foreign and strange. Perhaps, just seeing a Rhinoceros in a foggy, green field simply defies the typical connotations associated with this specific animal.

From Top To Bottom:

Rhino In Fog, 2003

Kurort, 2004

Spitsbergen, 1998

Wittgenstein, 2001

All Images © Geert Goiris

Saturday, December 15, 2007

36 Exposures

The good folks over at Flak Photo e-mailed the Exposure Project today to inform us of a newly devised photographic challenge entitled 36 Exposures. Jointly organized by Flak Photo, File Magazine and Coudal Partners, the project's mission challenges photographers to throw down their digital cameras and embrace the deliberate, thoughtful process of analog capture. In the infamous words of Stephen Shore:

"[Today] there seems to be a greater freedom and lack of one considers one's pictures less, one produces fewer truly considered pictures."

So, in an effort to inspire a more contemplative photographic process, 36 Expsoures calls into question the effects and immediacy of digital technology on the medium.

Now, for the rules.

Stage One ~ The Idea: Write a short (up to 100 words) blurb about an idea, concept, theme, or project that, using a film camera, you think you can shoot 36 photographs of. We also ask you to indicate a preferred 35mm film from the following list (although we are open to alternatives, but unfortunately not medium/large formats):

~ Kodak Portra 160VC
~ Kodak Portra 400VC
~ Kodak Portra 800
~ Kodak BW400CN

Stage Two ~ The Images: The selected photographers will each be mailed a 36-exposure roll of film that they must use to complete the idea, concept, theme, or project they described in their blurb. They will have roughly two weeks to complete this task (no later than January 31), and when they are finished, they will mail the roll of film to FILE Labs™, where our Lab Chimps will process and scan the photos.

You have been challenged...

For more information about this project, and to acquire all the specifics, go here.

Joël Tettamanti's QAQORTOQ

I found the work of Swiss photographer Joël Tettamanti today, via the Anothercompany blog. His collection of work entitled QAQORTOQ depicts the landscape of Greenland's fourth most populous town. There is a lonely, often doleful quality to Tettamanti's photographs; however, most perceptible in his work is a hushed beauty that is distilled from the sparse Greenland landscape. It would be unfair not to mention the subtle irony and humor at play in Tettamanti's images. The juxtapositional manner in which natural and man-made forms coexist in his photographs speaks to the humorous paradoxes that pervade contemporary culture.

All photographs from the series QAQORTOQ

All Images © Joël Tettamanti

Friday, December 14, 2007

Carlo Van De Roer's Pools

Recent Hey, Hot Shot! winner Carlo Van De Roer's series of abandoned swimming pools explore once social spaces that have been deserted. The subsequent function of these emptied pools is becomes largely ambiguous, some being transformed into "bogs, homes or gardens", while others vacantly remain without a practical purpose. Van De Roer asserts that:

"When full, the surface of a swimming pool is a flat continuation of the pool edge, obscuring what is below the surface. When drained, the depths are revealed — allowing us to examine the empty pool postmortem. These locations were once bustling social environments, and visiting them was a collective, public experience. Now deserted by swimmers, the experience of visiting these pools is solitary, still and private."

Photographs from the series Pools

All Images © Carlo Van De Roer

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Work In Progress: New Photographs by Ben Alper

During the past few months, I have focused my photographic energy on capturing more personal spaces. I have turned to my roots in Northampton, MA and Mystic, CT, exploring both interior and exterior spaces that have played a large role in my development. With these photographs I hope to investigate the archeology of domestic life, excavating the layers of history that permeate daily life and human existence.

All Images © Ben Alper

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Dan Holdsworth

I have been looking at Dan Holdsworth's photographs quite a lot lately. His lonely depictions of commercial lots and motorways highlight the correlation between technological development and cultural isolation. Viewed under the artificial light of night, these spaces are transformed into fantastic representations permeated with ambiguity. Perhaps that is what is most affecting about Holdsworth's images; he denies the viewer the visual prompts that enable the easy classification of space. In an article that appeared in the Guardian Unlimited, the author had this to say about Holdsworth's images:

In a recent interview, Holdsworth declared his resistance to 'the idea of separation' that conventionally operates to demarcate the world into mutually exclusive poles: rural / urban, wilderness / civilisation, natural / artificial, third world / first world.
This declaration echoes a statement of intent announced four years earlier to investigate 'areas which I have termed "inter-liminal" spaces [and] in-between forms'.

For anyone who's interested you can find a great article about Holdsworth's images here, and a short, but interesting interview here.

From Top to Bottom:

Untitled 1999

Untitled 2004

Untitled 2004

Untitled 2004

All Images © Dan Holdsworth

European Photography

I came upon the publication European Photography the other day and was quite impressed by overall presentation of the publication and the breadth of work contained within. The issue I saw (#81) consisted of bodies of work exploring the transformation of Berlin. Featured photographers included, Angus Boulton, Ulrich Wüst, Hannes Wanderer, Andreas Göx, Frank Thiel and Norbert Wiesneth to name a few. I had trouble tracking it down, however, if you're interested in buying issues, you can do so here.

From Top To Bottom:

Hannes Wanderer & Andreas Göx, Image from the series Time Out

Norbert Wiesneth, Image from the series INZWISCHEN (2002-2006)

Angus Boulton- Leipziger Strasse 2.9.98

All Photographs © the Artists

An Image A Week: Pieter Hugo

In light of his exhibition at Yossi Milo, South African photographer Pieter Hugo felt like an applicable choice for this week's featured image. His series The Hyena & Other Men is anthropological examination of wild animal handlers in Nigeria. Hugo's photographs speak to a specific culture mired in poverty and political unrest; however, they also highlight an often brutal strength the "hyena men" must embody in order to survive. Hugo speaks of this of this duality in his artist statement:

I realised that what I found fascinating was the hybridisation of the urban and the wild, and the paradoxical relationship that the handlers have with their animals - sometimes doting and affectionate, sometimes brutal and cruel. I started looking for situations where these contrasting elements became apparent.

His photographs will be on view at Yossi Milo until January 12, 2008.

Umoru Murtala with School Boy, Asaba, Nigeria 2007

Image © Pieter Hugo

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Lydia Anne McCarthy

I received an e-mail from Boston-based photographer Lydia Anne McCarthy a few weeks ago. Her series Vermont Pictures is quite lovely. There is a palpable stillness and quiet melancholy to her depictions of commonplace interiors. For anyone in the Cambridge area, you can see Lydia's work in the exhibition Red at:

University Place Gallery
124 Mount Auburn St.
Cambridge, MA

The exhibit will be up until January 19th, 2008

Untitled 2004

Untitled 2004

Untitled 2004

All Images © Lydia Anne McCarthy

Monday, December 3, 2007

Pablo Lopez

Sorry for the prolonged absence of activity on this blog in the past few weeks. In better news, however, I received an e-mail from Kelly Kingman the other day, a New York based photo editor who wrote to share with me the work of Pablo Lopez. Lopez currently resides in Mexico City where he has been documenting the precarious urban structure of one of the globe's most sprawling metropolis'. His lush color palette coupled with a distinct perspectival view fuses to create thought-provoking images highlighting the ever-shifting settlement patterns of contemporary society. Lopez is represented by the Sasha Wolf Gallery in New York, where he is currently exhibiting photographs from his series Terrazo: Views of Mexico City.

Pablo Lopez
Terrazo: Views of Mexico City
Sasha Wolf Gallery
10 Leonard St.
New York, NY

November 15th, 2007- January 5th, 2008

From Top to Bottom:

Jesus del Monte I Huixquilucan, Estado de Mexico, 2007

Vista Aerea de la Ciudad de Mexico XIII, 2006

Camina Nuevo a Huixquilucan, Estado de Mexico, 2006

All Photographs from the series Terrazo: Views of Mexico City

All Images © Pablo Lopez

Monday, November 19, 2007

Photographic Typologies: Ed Ruscha

Ed Ruscha's series Thirtyfour Parking Lots in Los Angeles is a wonderfully deadpan study of the graphic qualities inherent in the built landscape when observed from a great height. Photographed predominantly in 1967, Ruscha's photographs depict, much like the title suggests, an array of vacant parking lots strewn throughout Los Angeles County. Each uninhabited lot protrudes from its environment, revealing traces of occupancy in the form geometric oil slicks visible in each individual space. Ruscha's detached view of urban sprawl presents the viewer with a seemingly objective representation, a mere social record. However, these photographs address the functional, and often wasteful use of public space and natural resources.

From Top to Bottom:

(Pierce College, Woodland Hills) 1967

(Good Year Tires, 6610 Laurel Canyon, North Hollywood) 1967

(Eileen Feather Salon, 14425 Sherman Way, Van Nuys) 1967

Photographs from the series Thirty-Four Parking Lots in Los Angeles

All Images © Ed Ruscha

Thursday, November 15, 2007

An Image A Week: Larry Sultan

Larry Sultan's Pictures From Home was a decade long project focusing on his parents retirement years in Suburban San Fernando Valley. Sultan had initially conceived of the project as an exploration into the feelings of powerlessness and frustration that his father Ivring was experiencing, as a result of a forced early retirement from his position as vice president of a major corporation. The project became far more encompassing with the inclusion of his mother, metamorphosing into a considerably more personal journey rooted in the complexities of family dynamics. As Sultan said in an interview:

When I was working on Pictures from Home, my parents’ voices – their stories as well as their arguments with my version of our shared history – were crucial to the book. They called into question the documentary truth the pictures seemed to carry. I wanted to subvert the sentimental home movies and snapshots with my more contentious images of suburban daily life, but at the same time I wished to subvert my images with my parents’ insights into my point of view.

Practicing Golf Swing

Image © Larry Sultan

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Work In Progress: New Photographs by Ben Alper

I happened upon this soon-to-be suburban development the other day that was neatly tucked into this beautiful wooded-area. After having photographed it rather extensively, a neighbor stopped me and asked what I was doing. I explained that I have been interested in suburban development and sprawl and hope to explore the ramifications, both environmentally and socially, that these developments promote. She told me she was an active member on a committee designed to try and halt unnecessary and eco-unconscious development. Sadly, 45 acres of land had recently been razed in order to erect the 20 or so homes that will eventually inhabit this area.

All Photographs © Ben Alper