Monday, July 30, 2007

Liyu & Liubo: "13 Months In The Year Of The Dog"

2006 marked the year of the dog according to the Chinese lunar calendar, which consisted of 13 months and totaled 385 days. In that year, Chinese photographers Liyu & Liubo staged and recreated stories collected from local newspapers. Inspired by film, television and news photos, the photographs are quite thought-provoking. They challenge the authenticity of the media and our often willingness to blindly accept it as truth. Ultimately, Liyu sums it up by stating:

"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."

Chutian Golden Paper 2006-04-05

Failing in stealing, a thirteen-year-old girl set fire to classmate's flat

Xiao Qian (an anonym), a thirteen-year-old girl, copied the house key of her classmate, LinYu (an anonym) and stole in the flat many times. On April first, Xiao Qian entered into Lin's flat again and stole nothing. Getting irritated, she actually set fire to the bedroom. Yesterday, the two families came to terms. Xiao Qian's family paid Lin Yu's family ¥30,000.

Chutian Metropolis Daily 2006-05-30

An anonymous female body found on Yangtze River bank, Hankou –Experts drew portraits for collecting more clues

May 2nd, an anonymous female body was found in Hankou Binjiangyuan Ferry. Since the face of the body has been seriously distorted and unidentifiable, one detective expert from Shanghai Railway Police Station and one professor from Hubei Institute of Fine Arts were invited respectively by Wuhan water guard to draw portraits for reappearance. Yesterday the portraits were publicized and related clues would be offered a reward.

Chutian Metropolis Daily 2006-10-12
Chopping Horror: Eight fingers lost and no found

A shocking horror occurred in ErQi Road, Hankou last night. Five suspects chopped off a man’s eight fingers and threw him into a taxicab. Though he was brought through in the hospital, the victim will still be disabled for the suspects refused to return the chopped fingers. Afterwards, the victim’s wife went back to the scene of the crime with the police searching for the fingers but found nothing.

All Images Copyright ©2007 Liyu & Liubo

Thursday, July 26, 2007

An Image A Week: Sarah Claire Ahlers

As a way of striving to share some of our favorite photographs with the world, The Exposure Project will try to post one captivating image every week, each from a different photographer. Today's photograph, and incidentally the first in this series, comes from Boston-based photographer Sarah Claire Ahlers. Her work just recently appeared on the Hey, Hot Shot! blog as a contender for the Summer edition of Hey, Hot Shot! You can see the post they made about her work here. Hope you all enjoy the forthcoming photographs!

'The Deer'

Image Copyright Sarah Claire Ahlers

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Ojode Pez

On a recent trip to P.S.1, I stopped by the bookstore and discovered the documentary photography magazine Ojode Pez. Although new to me, the magazine is ten issues deep and hosts a blog of its own. Ojode Pez impressed me with its in-depth full color and bilingual coverage of emerging and contemporary international documentary photographers. I was introduced to quite a few new figures in the documentary genre, as well as reminded of currently better known work. I purchased Issue number eight, edited by Tina Ahrens, which concerns the world's urbanization. I found the work of Edward Burtynsky, Erika Larsen, Thomas Kern, and Olivier Culmann to be very interesting. Already familiar with Burtynsky's work, I was happy to see further exposure of it. Unfamiliar to me, Larsen's work investigates the relationship that hunters have with the environment. She states about 'The Hunt':

"...The death brought by man to animals reveals our lives to be one small, yet important link in an ongoing cycle of life and death. Nature, animal and man are all intertwined components of a larger force. For me, this was realized in The Hunt."

Olivier Cullman photographs the often vacant stares of people actively watching television and weighs the effect that this numbing process has on our psyches. He states:

"...The viewers' eyes are glued to the screen, hypnotized by the images that flicker by. Capturing that instant during which attention subsides and consciousness slumbers, rocked to sleep by the phosphorescence of the cathode ray tubes. At that instant, their bodies often become comfortable, they curl up on the couch and then collapse. Nothing could be more banal. And nothing is more unsettling, because that is how, when the brain goes numb, that we television viewers receive the world in its entirety. Not the real world, but an image of that world, a ghostly version of reality..."

I found it hard to find information on the group, but was aided by their myspace page which states:

"OjodePez is a photography magazine which aims to fill an important gap in the present editing market of documentary image world wide. OjodePez publishes photographic features that have not been published in other media. For every issue of OjodePez,a professional of working in the field of graphic arts is invited to select and edit a group of photographical works. Each feature is accompained by a text reflecting on the reality brought up by the pictures."

The magazine also includes photographers bios, and scholarly essays to accompany the work. I highly recommend checking out the magazine, although I don't know how easy it will be to track down, as even their website jokes about poor distribution. Hopefully this can be cleared up, and Ojode Pez will soon be more readily available.

From Top to Bottom:

Erika Larsen, Untitled photographs from the series 'The Hunt"

Olivier Culmann, Simon Ore watching a DVD of the Simpsons

All Images Copyright the Artists

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Exposure Project Book Release Party This Thursday

Just a reminder to anyone in the Boston-area, the Exposure Project is celebrating the release of its second self-published issue of the Exposure Project book Thursday July 26th. The new issue features photographs from Ben Alper, Anastasia Cazabon, Adam Marcinek, Eric Watts and our very special featured artist David Wolf. We hope to feature a different artist in each subsequent issue of this publication. As a way of broadening the scope of the project, and getting more familiar and collaborative with the general photographic world, I would just like to say that we are currently accepting submissions for the third issue. Anyone interested should send links, or low-res JPEGS to

Now the particulars:

Exposure Project Book Release Party

Brookline Arts Center
86 Monmouth Street
Brookline, MA

We will have snacks and spirits on hand and will be selling the new issue of the book as well as a number of affordable, uneditioned prints. Read the write-up we got in the Boston Pheonix here. Below is a small sampling of photographs from issue two.

From Top to Bottom:

Ben Alper, Humphrey Street, Great Barrington, MA 2006

Anastasia Cazabon, Untitled (Sinking) 2007

Adam Marcinek, Untitled # 11

Eric Watts, 8th Street & Bainbridge Street, Philadelphia, PA 2007

David Wolf, PARK: El Paso, TX 2005

All Images Copyright the Artists

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Anonymous Family Portrait

One of the many functions that photography possesses is the tangible depiction of what the world has looked like through different eras. By looking at old photographs, we are allowed access to previous generations, that we may or may not have lived through. This photograph, found at a thrift store in Philadelphia, is a perfect illustration of this point. This anonymous and rather average family portrait is extremely rich in descriptive information. It describes the decorative and personal styles of the subjects, as well the general aesthetic of the time. This photograph may very well feel dated, but that's it most redeeming quality. If cultural aesthetics never changed, then photographic history would be visually static.

-Ben Alper

Photographer Unknown

Ben Alper On 'Hey, Hot Shot!' Blog

I came across one of my photographs on the Hey, Hot Shot! blog today. They have been posting one contender's work everyday for the past week and a half. For anyone interested in submiting work to the Summer 2007 edition of Hey, Hot Shot! , you can find more information on their website. Thanks for the nice write-up!

-Ben Alper

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Work In Progress: New Photographs by Adam Marcinek

All images currently Untitled

© Adam R. Marcinek 2007

Keith Dannemiller's 'Luz Translation'

We received an e-mail today from Keith Dannemiller, an American photographer living in Mexico. He wanted to let us know of a photography project that he has been working on entitled, Luz Translation. Dannemiller has been capturing , "...Mexicans from across the country and the social spectrum..." His portraits convey an admirable amount of sensitivity and respect, both for his subjects and the culture he photographs. This September, Dannemiller will exhibit the images from Luz Translation as part of the Fotoseptiembre Festival. Thanks for sending over the link Keith!

Anyone interested in sending links to their work, we would love to see them. Please send e-mails to

From Top to Bottom:

Rhumba dancer with flower in her hair, 2006

Bartender in a wrestling mask, 2005

Young man selling field rats in a public market, 2007

All Images Copyright Keith Dannemiller

Work in Progress : New Photographs by Anastasia Cazabon

All images copyright Anastasia Cazabon

Monday, July 16, 2007

A View of New York (In Polaroid Form)

From Top to Bottom:

Union Square, Manhattan 2007

Restaurant, Lower East Side, Manhattan 2007

Chelsea, Manhattan 2007

Greenpoint, Brooklyn 2007

Coathangers, Lower East Side, Manhattan 2007

All Images Copyright Ben Alper

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Portraits of a Dying Man

Just about a month ago, Radio Lab, a weekly radio show broadcasted on New York Public Radio, aired a program entitled "Mortality". Within this show there was segment called "Grandpa", which tells the story of three generations of men in the Zagar family. The piece starts off with the two youngest Zagar men, Jeremiah the grandson, and Isaiah the son, talking about the emotional experience of watching their respective father and grandfather Asher Zagar actively die. While Isaiah tended to his father's needs, Jeremiah emotionally retreated. As a means of involving his son in the process of his grandfather's death, Isaiah stated, "I thought to myself, challenge this young boy to a duel. Who can take the most objective photographs of a dying man." So for the next month, and consequently the last month of Asher's life, both son and grandson photographed this man extensively. After Asher passed away, they concurred that Jeremiah's photographs were more poignant. They had captured with intimacy and honesty the hard truths that accompany the dying process. Isaiah had used photography as a tool to enable Jeremiah to connect with his grandfather in his last days.

I was moved to write about this story because it reinforced for me, the idea of using art, and specifically photography, in a therapeutic context. The medium's inherent realism enables the capture of important moments to be preserved, and hence revisited whenever desired. In this way, photography serves as a way of not letting go of the past, of essential keeping the past in the present. The stringent capture of the world over the last 150 years, has allowed everyone access to representations of what things looked like long before they were born. It is this tangibility that photographs possess that heightens their impact. They're physical objects with smells, textures and tones, unlike many memories that retreat into our subconscious. When these memories do begin to slowly dissipate, people often call upon photographs as memory-enhancers. The therapy that photography provides is multifaceted; it spans the capturing, revisiting and archiving of significant moments in ones life. They can provide a multitude of different emotional responses, both positive and negative. Often in those harder times, people turn to photography to conserve the memory and legacy of someone they loved.

This was the case with Jeremiah & Isaiah Zagar. The act of photographing Asher physically and emotionally bridged the gap for Jeremiah to process the reality of the situation. His father, in an extremely poignant moment, explains that the "duel" was fixed from the beginning. Isaiah had intended to lose all along, so as to allow Jeremiah the closure he felt he needed.

Due to the graphic nature of the photographs, and out of respect to the family; I have decide not to include images in the body of this post. However, if you are interested you can find the slideshow of images taken by Jeremiah Zagar of his grandfather, here.

In closing, as a brief epilogue to this story, I found out that Isaiah Zagar happens to be a well known and respected artist. He has worked extensively creating beautiful Mosaic murals on the streets of Philadelphia. For anyone residing there, I'm sure you're already quite familiar with his work. However, if you're not, you can find his work here.

-Ben Alper

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Stranger Passing (Robert Asman)

A few weeks back, while I was still living in Philadelphia I had the chance to meet photographer Robert Asman. I was unaware of him and his work. I met him by chance through his neighbor, a friend of mine named Mike Johnson. Mike and I were at the neighborhood bar, like many other nights I spent in my year in Philadelphia. Bob, as I was introduced to him, was a photographer. I had no expectations for him or his work, but I was glad to strike up a conversation.

It turned out that Bob had deep roots with the Philadelphia photography scene of the 70s. He had moved to Philly to pursue photography after finishing graduate school at Rochester Institute of Technology. Soon after, he was chosen to be in one of the first shows at the Philadelphia Institute of Contemporary Art by fellow photographer Ray Metzker. Metzker was the first name I had asked him about, being that he was the best known (to me) of that city and era, but Bob turned out to know almost everyone involved in the Philadelphia scene from the last 25 years. Hearing that he had graduated from RIT perked up my ears as well, as one of my former professors, Thomas J. Petit, had also gone through the program around the same time. Upon my asking, it turned out that those two were friends as well. Bob has taught at many of the institutions in town, but has never sought out tenure, preferring to work on his own projects and sporadically teach.

It was refreshing to meet someone new from the neighborhood that shared a common interest, especially someone with far more experience than I have with photography. Bob’s advice was close to my heart; to keep shooting, and to have patience and persistence. It was certainly interesting to get advice from someone who came up with some of my biggest influences. He worried about the over saturation of the market compared to what he referred to as the golden days of the 70s and 80s.

After we parted ways I was eager to see his work, so I looked him up online. Asman definitely walked the walk of his talk. He has been endlessly documenting the city of Philadelphia since his arrival, and his work holds up strong to that of his contemporaries.

I felt compelled to share this story and Robert’s images for a few reasons. It is very important for us as young photographers to learn from those that have come before us. For me, I needed this reminder to always show respect and an open mind to those that I meet no matter where or how. Also this made me feel a little better about spending so much time at Philadelphia bars and not having as much to show for it as say, Sarah Stolfa.

I would like to thank Bob and wish him luck as he is soon moving to Ashville, NC. Thanks also to Mike for the introduction.

-Eric D Watts

From Top to Bottom :

Robert Asman, Passyunk & 2nd, Philadelphia 2002

Robert Asman, Delaware Avenue, Philadelphia 2002

Robert Asman, 10th & Lombard Street, Philadelphia 2001

All images copyright Robert Asman.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

PRC's Exposure Artists on Flak Photo

All 16 photographers who exhibited in the Photographic Resource Center's most recent juried member's show, curated by Jen Bekman, will all get the chance to be shown on Flak Photo .

"A daily photography blogzine featuring distinctive work from an international community of contributors. The blog aims to promote interesting visual approaches to seeing the world and celebrates the art of exhibiting quality photography on the web"

They will post one image a day for 16 days until all the artists have been shown. The first photograph was posted today, with many to follow. The show runs Tuesday july 10th- Friday July 27th. I recommend checking them out, as the breadth of work picked by Bekman was quite impressive.

Christina Seely's "Lux"

I recently had the chance to see some of Christina Seely's work at the Photographic Resource Center in Boston. She is currently working on a project entitled "Lux", which consists of large-scale night photographs from highly urbanized cities around the world. Seely has focused on the United States, Western Europe and Japan, the three regions that consume the most energy and consequently produce the greatest amount of environmentally harmful emissions. The project title takes its name from a system unit for the measurement of illumination.

She denies her viewers the ability to connect emotionally to these places, opting instead for geographical anonymity. Seely has simply titled each photograph Metropolis, with a corresponding compass point denoting the location of each
photograph. The most thought provoking aspect to Christina Seely's photographs is summed up in her statement, when she declares, " a photographic project-in-progress inspired by the disconnect between the immense beauty produced by man-made light and what this light represents." Seely raises important questions about our dependence on energy in an age of environmental disregard. As beautiful as artificial light can be, this beauty comes at an extremely high cost to the economy and our planet. By avoiding individual connotations, the images can be viewed more easily for what they truly represent; a planet's excessive consumption of man-made energy.
-Ben Alper

From Top to Bottom:

Christina Seely, Metropolis: 51°29’N 0°0’W

Christina Seely, Metropolis: 40°25’N 3°41’W

All Images Copyright the Artist

Monday, July 9, 2007

A New American Portrait

Of definite interest if you are in the New York area is the show "A New American Portrait" at the Jen Bekman Gallery. Co-curated by Jen Bekman and Jörg Colberg, Conscientious Blog Editor, the show takes a look at America’s contemporary portrait photographers.

The work in the show is emblematic of current trends in the genre, documenting a wide range of ideas within the portrait genre. Included are posed shots, environmental portraits, and self-portraits.

For myself, the work that truly shined through in this show was that of Alec Soth and Jen Davis.

Soth has established himself as the pre-eminent figure of today’s environmental portrait photographers. His work, although oftentimes representing marginal circles of American culture always has an overriding honesty and beauty to it. In his portraits you can feel his compassion for the people and places he photographs, which I feel separates him from many of his peers who have set out to shock audiences or exploit their subjects.

Jen Davis’s self portraits confront America’s obsession with surface beauty. Davis uses her own body to confront our ideas of what someone is supposed to look like, and what we are supposed to be attracted to, as well as her own aspirations and happiness. This nation’s obsession with being young, thin, and desirable leave Davis a lot of room to work with, and personally I find her work to be much more poignant than work of Laura Greenfield, who is working on similar themes.

Also of interest to me was the work of Todd Hido, and Brian Ulrich. I feel that my own familiarity with Soth and Davis’s made them easier for me to connect to, but I was definitely intrigued by the work of Ulrich and Hido, and I hope to see larger bodies of their work soon.

I only wish this exhibition could have been larger to incorporate larger bodies of work and more photographers, but as it is I found the show to be very thought provoking. This show and many others have proven Jen Bekman to be a very important gallery for emerging and contemporary photography. We need to support venues like these that are breathing new life into our medium.

-Eric Watts

"A New American Portrait"

Jen Bekman
6 Spring St. New York, NY
June 22nd –August 3rd
Wednesday-Saturday Noon- 6 pm

From Top to Bottom:

Alec Soth, Candlelight Hotel

Jen Davis, 4 AM

Brian Ulrich, Untitled (from the Thrift Series)

All Images Copyright the Artists

Friday, July 6, 2007

Echoes of the New Topographics

The "New Topographics" movement emerged in the 1960's as a reaction to the pictorialist, utopian photography of photographers such as Ansel Adams and Edward Weston. Adams and Weston adamantly depicted the landscape as an entity of unscathed and organic beauty. The photographers of the "New Topographics" movement strove to show the rapidly increasing imprint that man was imparting on the landscape. As suburban development started to spread across the United States with fervor, artists such as Robert Adams, Lewis Baltz, Stephen Shore, Nicholas Nixon, Joe Deal and Bernd and Hilla Becher, among others; endeavored to objectively show the effects of an increasingly industrial culture. They turned their cameras towards newly built tract houses, industrial parks, expansive highways and commercial strip malls as proof of man's impetuous development. What is so affecting about these photographs is the stark juxtaposition between humanity and its environment. The pinnacle of this movement came to fruition in an exhibition entitled, New Topographics: Photographs of a Man-Altered Landscape; which premiered at the George Eastman House in 1975.

In the 30 plus years since this exhibition took place, the expansion of residential and industrial development has continued to rapidly sprawl to meet the demands of our global community. Many contemporary photographers have picked up where the "New Topographics" artists left off, weighing the effects of consumerism on the environment and the culture. Nathan Ian Anderson, Brad Moore and Jeff Brouws, to name a few, have all investigated Urban and Suburban spaces throughout the United States. These scenes of transformation certainly conjure up both issues environmental and cultural significance. The over-development of the landscape and the accelerated use of our natural resources are prevalent in these images. However, what is more striking is the overwhelming uniformity of our surroundings. It is becoming harder to discern one place from another. No matter where you seem to go, you see the same corporate facades, or repetitious Suburban developments sprawling through the landscape. When a culture becomes too homogenous it runs the risk of not being able to think for itself. This is an unsettling thought on many levels.

Whether ultimate social change can be attained from photographs of this nature, is hard to know. What is important however, is that work of this class continue to be made. At this point it is unrealistic that we can undue the impact we've made on the landscape, but being cognizant of it is vital.

-Ben Alper

From Top to Bottom:

Joe Deal, Samoa Village, from Pomona Freeway, 1977

Brad Moore, Family Rescue Center, Westminster, California (2006)

Nathan Ian Anderson, Red Hook Park, Brooklyn, 2005

All Images Copyright the Artists

Thursday, July 5, 2007

The Effect of Disaster Photographed

The disaster wrought by Hurricane Katrina is quickly approaching its two year anniversary. In the two years since, the world has seen thousands of hours of news footage and viewed innumerable still photographs depicting the devastation of both the landscape, and the livelihoods of the people affected. In a media-saturated world, the bombardment of imagery can have both a positive and negative influence on how we view the world. In one respect, media has allowed information and imagery to be widely accessible to millions of people who might not otherwise be able to obtain it. On the other hand, the over-saturation of this imagery can act as a numbing agent to people's sensitivity to important world events. I have noticed this occurrence with my own reaction to significant global issues.

Throughout the past year, dozens, if not hundreds of photography projects have emerged portraying the destruction caused by Hurricane Katrina. Photographers ranging from Robert Polidori, Chris Jordan, Larry Towell and Katherine Wolkoff, just to name a few, have taken on the immense task of depicting the most destructive natural disaster the United States has ever seen. The vast majority of this work shows a ravaged, people-less landscape strewn with fragments of peoples lives. Uprooted telephone poles, overturned cars, collapsed roofs and water stained mattresses populate the imagery of this destruction. As potent as these images can be, their impact is often lessened by the frequency and manor in which we view them. Seeing the byproduct of thousands of ruined lives laid before you in such magnitude, has the power to desensitize one from the true weight of what they're seeing.

Catastrophes such as Hurricane Katrina certainly need to be documented, in order to bring awareness and understanding to issues that require resolution. However, when this documentation becomes too abundant it can act counterproductively. The real questions that need to be asked are, is there a point of saturation where this imagery become ineffective? And to what extent is this work created at the emotional expense of those truly impacted?

From Top to Bottom:

Chris Jordan, Mattresses from an apartment building, New Orleans East

Robert Polidori, 5000 Cartier Avenue, New Orleans, Louisiana, September 2005

Katherine Wolkoff, NEW ORLEANS (18), 2005-06

All Images Copyright the Artists

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Romanian Vacation

I was recently permitted to raid the found photo archives of The Brookline Booksmith, a wonderful bookstore that I often frequent. They had folders full of old photographs that had apparently been used as bookmarks at one time or another and forgotten about. As I was sifting through them, I found a series of 5 or 6 images that appeared to be family portraits; both candid and posed. On further examination, namely from reading the inscriptions on the back, I discovered that they were actually vacation photos from Romania. Each one had a different cryptic quote on the back. For instance, one read "A flower for an another flower"; and another stated "What do you dance? Twist in love?"

I have no idea what these quotations mean, though they intrigue and baffle me. Each one is signed "August 5, 1967, Bucharest, Romania" in scrawled cursive. Taken out of context, which these photos most certainly are, allow the imagination to run wild trying to fill in the gaps of this strange narrative. I am struck by the haunting, cinematic quality they possess. In actuality they are probably just snapshots, but to foreign eyes they convey much more.

Photographer Unknown

Monday, July 2, 2007

Manufactured Landscapes: A Film about Edward Burtynsky

Manufactured Landscapes, a new documentary film by Jennifer Baichwal (Director of The True Meaning of Pictures: Shelby Adams' Appalachia) follows renowned Canadian photographer Edward Burtynsky as he documents the vast industrialization of China. It played the festival circuit over the last year, receiving numerous awards and plenty of acclaim. Now it has been given a well deserved, all be it small national release. In an age of excessive production and consumption, the relevance of Burtynsky's work seems to multiply with every passing day.

Here are the Theaters I found that are playing it:

Museum of Fine Arts
465 Huntington Ave.
Boston, MA

Film Forum
209 W Houston St.
New York, NY

Ritz Five
214 Walnut St.
Philadelphia, PA

NuArt Theater
11272 Santa Monica Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA

"A protracted exploration of the aesthetic, social and spiritual dimensions of industrialization and globalization... Raises some sigificant and sobering questions about the impact that we, as humans, make on our environment"

"Manufactured Landscapes tracks the beauty and the horror of industry's imprint on the earth"

All images copyright Edward Burtynsky