Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Mass Art MFA Thesis Exhibition (Part 2)

The second installment of the Mass Art MFA Thesis Exhibitions is now on view in the school's Paine & Bakalar Galleries. The exhibiting artists include:

Clint Baclawski, James Ellis Coleman, John Paul Doguin,
Janne Holtermann, Maura Jasper, S.E. Mandle, Jacqueline Sylvia & Nicky Tavares.

The show will be up until Friday May 9th, with a reception being held on Thursday May 1st from 6-8pm.

Stephen Paine & Sandra & David Bakalar Galleries
621 Huntington Ave.
Boston, MA

There is some really beautiful work on view, so anyone in the Boston area who's able to should try to see it before the show comes down.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Daniel Augschöll

I received an e-mail from Venice based photographer Daniel Augschöll today with the link to his new website. Check it out, it's well worth the visit.

All Images © Daniel Augschöll

Monday, April 28, 2008

Sepia No More

In Sunday's New York Times Magazine there was an interesting article entitled Sepia No More which examines the nature of Flickr, and moderates a discussion about the saccharine photographs that populate the site. In her essay, Virginia Hefernan explores how Rebekka Guoleifsdottir and Merkley, two of the most adored Flickr photographers, got the recognition they did. She comments:

"But just as certain ne’er-do-well writers have found themselves in blogging, and failed filmmakers have taken to online video, these seemingly out-of-step artists have both invented and mastered the Flickr photograph. Other photographers have added still more levels of processing — including the otherworldly contrasts achieved with high-dynamic-range photography — to the quintessential Flickr image, and it’s becoming only more eye-popping and stylized."

Friday, April 25, 2008

Work in Progress: Eric Watts

This is a selection of work I've been doing over the past year. Let me know what you think. Thanks - Eric

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

An Image A Week: Lars Tunbjörk

Swedish photographer Lars Tunbjörk's series Offices offers a refreshingly humanistic view of a subject that usually gets the sterile treatment. The people in Tunbjörk's photographs are depicted as individuals with quirks and nuances that distinctly contrast their homogeneous surroundings.

Steidl has published three of Tunbjörk's monographs in the past few years, including Home, I Love Borås and Vinter.

You can see more of Tunbjörk's work here.

Lawyer's Office, New York , 1997

Image © Lars Tunbjörk

Yola Monakhov's Once Out Of Nature

Yola Monakhov's new exhibition, Once Out Of Nature, opens at the Sasha Wolf Gallery on May 1st. Her new project, comprised of portraits, landscapes and interiors from her native Russia, were taken over numerous visits over the last 5 years.

"Monakhov continuously returns to the country of her birth, anchored only by language, a family history of homecoming, and a native's feel for the relationship between nature and fate. Her photographic journey is subjective and fortuitous, but engages intimately with the material conditions of place."

For anyone in the New York area interested in the seeing the exhibition you can find the details below.

Yola Monakhov's Once Out Of Nature
Sasha Wolf Gallery
10 Leonard Street
New York, NY
May 1st- June 21st
Opening Reception: Thursday May Ist from 6-8pm

Thanks to Kelly for the head's up!

All Images © Yola Monakhov

Monday, April 21, 2008

Monkeys Make The Problem More Difficult: A Collective Interview With Garry Winogrand

I just finished reading some excerpts from Monkeys Make The Problem More Difficult: A Collective Interview With Garry Winogrand, compiled from audio recordings during a few Q & A sessions in Rochester, New York in 1970. Winogrand's enigmatic photographic philosophy is simultaneously both convoluted yet refreshingly simplistic.

The following exchange captures the essence of Winograndian thought.

Q= Unidentified Moderator
W= Winogrand

Q: What about the reoccurrence of, say, oh, monkeys, which goes back-
W: Listen, it's interesting; but it's interesting for photographic reasons, really-
Q: What are photographic reasons?
W: Basically, I mean, ah-well, let's say that for me anyway when a photograph is interesting, it's interesting because of the kind of photographic problem it states-which has to do with the...contest between content and form. And, you know, in terms of content, you can make a problem for yourself, I mean, make the contest difficult, let's say, with certain subject matter that is inherently dramatic. An injury could be, a dwarf can be, a monkey-if you run into a monkey in some idiot context, automatically you've got a very real problem taking place in the photograph. I mean, how do you beat it?
Q: Are you saying then that your primary concern is a kind of formal one?
W: Of course.

Also, you can find a fascinating video interview between Winogrand and Bill Moyers from 1982, here.

Central Park Zoo, New York City, 1964

Image © Garry Winogrand

Sunday, April 20, 2008

A Comment On Contemporary Portraiture

I just finished reading David Mitchell's short story Judith Castle from the new collection The Book of Other People. At one point the main character is in a gallery looking at photographic portraits and comments:

"Some faces are windows, others are masks."

Mitchell has distilled the essence, or perhaps the problem, with a lot of contemporary portraiture. The "windows" and "masks" referred to poetically hint toward the emotional capacity of the photographic portrait. Sadly, a great deal of contemporary portraiture takes on the attributes of the "mask", where emotional connection is lost through rigid formality and a tendency toward the deadpan. This trend is rooted in mutual disconnection in which the portraits reveal nothing about the subject or the artist behind them. There are certainly wonderful exceptions to this trend, and photographer's who don't subscribe to these conventions- Nicholas Nixon, Andrea Modica, Alec Soth and Jen Davis are all photographers who come to mind. However, when emotional vitality is sacrificed for stylistic inclinations the results are often detached and anti-humanistic.

The juxtaposition between Nicholas Nixon's photograph Yazoo City, Mississippi and Richard Renaldi's photograph Craig, Laughlin, NV accentuates this notion of "windows" and "masks". Nixon's photograph subtly and powerfully establishes an immediate emotional impact. The father's expression and posture clearly insinuate an insecurity or despondence that is palpable in the photograph. The daughter's seeming comfort and assurance sets up a relationship in which the traditional roles of parent and child are reversed. She has become the parent who protects and nurtures her father; she makes eye contact with the camera while he doesn't.

Whether my reading of this photograph speaks to the reality of the situation photograph is inconsequential. Nixon's photograph feels honest and open-ended enough to allow deep connection and empathy with the subjects before his camera. Perhaps more succinctly, the distinction between portraits that are "windows" and those that are "masks" hinges on the potential for narrative; for some connection to the universality of human experience.

In contrast, Renaldi's portrait both physically and emotionally removes the viewer from the possibility of this connection. He is placed centrally and architecturally in the frame, photographically treated as an object rather than a human being. Additionally, the subject inhabits the self-aggrandizing, stereotypical identity of the American cowboy. Whether this is the influence of Renaldi or the subject, or a combination of the two, is hard to know. The result, however, is a photograph that "masks" the subject in a cloak of iconic, particularly American doctrine. Instead of connecting to him on an individual level, we are forced to see him as nothing more than a symbol or signifier of the rugged individualism associated with the American West. Ironically, this individuality is suppressed due to Renaldi's treatment of the subject and the over-saturated, often stereotypical volume of this kind of imagery.

From Top To Bottom:

Nicholas Nixon, Yazoo City, Mississippi

Richard Renaldi, Craig, Laughlin, NV

Images © The Artists

Saturday, April 19, 2008

10 Sentences on Conceptual Art, According to Sol LeWitt

The following insights by Sol LeWitt were found in Special Collections: The Photographic Order From Pop To Now, a catalogue from an exhibition of conceptual photography that toured in the early 90's.

Sentences on Conceptual Art

1. Conceptual Artists are mystics rather than rationalists. They leap to conclusions that logic cannot reach.

2. Rational judgements repeat rational judgements.

3. Illogical judgements lead to new experience.

4. Formal Art is essentially rational.

5. Irrational thoughts should be followed absolutely and logically.

6. If the artist changes his mind midway through the execution of the piece he compromises the result and repeats past results.

7. The artist's will is secondary to the process he initiates from idea to completion. His wilfulness may only be ego.

8. When words such as painting and sculpture are used, they connote a whole tradition and imply a consequent acceptance of this tradition, thus placing limitations on the artist who would be reluctant to make art that goes beyond the limitations.

9. The concept and idea are different. The former implies a general direction while the latter are the components. Ideas implement the concept.

10. Ideas alone can be works of art; they are in a chain of development that may eventually find some form. All ideas need not be made physical.

Photogrids, 1977 (detail)

Images © Sol Lewitt

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Larry Sultan Lecture Next Week

Next Wednesday Larry Sultan will grace Boston with his presence for an expectedly insightful lecture. He will be speaking at Mass Art's Tower Auditorium at 6pm on April 23rd.

Mass Art Tower Building
First Floor
621 Huntington Ave.
Boston, MA

I know this post is slightly premature, however, I thought I'd give anyone who was interested in attending the time to make the necessary arrangements. Hope to see you there!

Mom Posing By Green Wall and Dad Watching TV

Image © Larry Sultan

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Aneta Grzeszykowska & Jan Smaga

Polish photographic duo Aneta Grzeszykowska & Jan Smaga's bird's eye view images macroscopically investigate domestic space. The photographs look as if they were rendered by a larger than life scanner that has been attached to the ceiling, capturing with exactitude the details of daily life. When embraced with patience and curiosity, this work reveals wonderful subtleties in the relationship between objects and the environments they inhabit.

From Top To Bottom:

Plac Inwalidow 20/6, 2003

Dziecioly 3, 2003

Krasinskiego 10/154, 2003

Nadkole Sloneczna, 2003

All Images © Aneta Grzeszykowska & Jan Smaga

Mass Art MFA Thesis Exhibition (Part 1)

The first installment of the Mass Art MFA Thesis Exhibitions opened today. I had a chance to view the show this afternoon and there is some really interesting work spanning across media such as film, photography, drawing, painting, sculpture, installation and collage. The artists included are:

Stephanie Costello, Dave Olsen, Guhapriya Ranganathan, Owen Rundquist, Guillermo Srodek-Hart, Catherine Stack, T.F. Tolhurst and Michael Zachary.

The exhibition will be up from:

Tuesday April 15- Thursday April 24
Opening Reception: Thursday April 17 from 6-8pm

Sandra and David Bakalar Gallery and Stephen D. Paine Gallery
621 Huntington Ave.
Boston, MA 02115


Image © T.F. Tolhurst

Frank Gohlke @ the Addison

Frank Gohlke's retrospective Accommodating Nature recently opened at the Addison Gallery of American Art in Andover, MA. The exhibit compiles an impressive breadth of work from a diverse career, offering many insights into Gohlke's creative process. For anyone in the Boston area who's interested in seeing the show, and who preferably has a car, you can find the details below.

Accomodating Nature: The Photographs of Frank Gohlke
Addison Gallery of American Art
Phillips Academy
180 Main Street
Andover, MA 01810
April 12, 2008- July 13, 2008

Grain Elevator and Lightning Flash, Lamesa, Texas, 1975

Image © Frank Gohlke

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Cine Stills: Decasia

I just watched Bill Morrison's haunting and hallucinatory experimental film Decasia. Amassed from decaying archival footage, Decasia fuses disparate elements into a cacophonous visual experience. Despite the chaos, or perhaps because of it, the film is incredibly beautiful and viscerally powerful. It is accompanied by an arresting, albeit dissonant, score by composer Michael Gordon, which is ultimately as important an element in the film as the actual footage. The combination of the images and sounds fuse together to create a hypnotic and intensely rhythmic film. In an essay about Decasia on the Creative Capital website, an anonymous author had this to say about the film:

"There are ghosts in Bill Morrison's work -- shadowy illusions that emerge out of a haze of static, scratches, or discoloration for brief moments, then disappear into a chemical darkness. Morrison's intention is to restore meaning to these little apparitions from the dawn of the film age, if not singly, then in a collage with dozens of other similarly retrieved moments."

I highly recommend giving this film a chance. It is at times challenging to watch, but the rewards become evident pretty quickly.

Still from Decasia, 2002. (dir. Bill Morrison)

An Image A Week: Laura Letinsky

Laura Letinsky's still lives are still and beautiful. Her largely monochromatic images are infused with subtle bursts of color that offer striking juxtapositions in otherwise white-on-white landscapes. As Debora Kuan writes:

"Letinsky chooses contemporary detritus (crushed Styrofoam cups, paper plates, white gift boxes) to populate her tables, with the aim of shedding the burdens of symbolism. These white or neutral-toned objects, bathed in natural light, challenge our sensitivity in perceiving them, not only against white tables but also against the gallery walls."

Untitled #25 (From the series To Say it Isn't So)

Image © Laura Letinsky

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

John Baldessari: "Luckily I Got Into It When There Wasn't Any Money"

I came across a terrific interview with influential artist John Baldessari that originally appeared in Art Review Magazine. I quite enjoyed this one. Hopefully you will too.

Stonehenge (With Two Persons) Orange, 2005

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Raffael Waldner

Raffael Waldner is yet another photographer treading the line between documentary and fine art practice. His series Industrial Landscape pictures ambiguous locations under the artificial lights that color the nocturnal landscape. Waldner follows in the beautifully formal and anonymous footsteps of previous European photographers who have explored similar subject matter.

From Top To Bottom:

Basel, 2002

Stratford, 2003

Hackney, 2002

Photographs from the series Industrial Landscape

All Images © Raffael Waldner

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Jem Southam's Upton Pyne

I had a chance to see Jem Southam's Upton Pyne exhibition at Wellesley College's Davis Museum and Cultural Center yesterday. I had previously only seen Southam's work online and in book form, both of which don't remotely do justice to his images. Seeing his prints hanging on the wall reinforced just how truly beautiful an object a photograph can be.

The Upton Pyne series chronicles the evolution and transformation of a small pond near Southam's home in Cornwall, England. Photographed over a 7 year period, the images track a specific passage of time while also addressing the contentious relationship between humans and nature. Structured into three sections, the series takes on narrative qualities through the repetition of objects and places that continuously reemerge to inform previous works.

Anyone in the greater Boston area should make the trek out to Wellesley to see the show. If nothing else, after seeing the Upton Pyne exhibition you'll be hard-pressed to find more beautifully rendered prints. The show will be up until June 8th.

In closing, you can find a terrific interview with Jem Southam here.

All photographs from the series Upton Pyne.

All images © Jem Southam

Friday, April 4, 2008

Cine Stills: Nói

I just watched Dagur Kári's film Nói (also called Nói Albínói). Shot predominantly in the winter landscape of Iceland, Nói tells the story of a complex and often bleak adolescence. Beautifully photographed and wonderfully acted, this subtly tragic film distills the searching desire for a different, perhaps better life.

You can find great interviews with both Tómas Lemarquis (the actor who portrays Nói) and director Dagur Kári here.

Still from Nói, 2003. (dir. Dagur Kári, cine. Rasmus Videbæk)

Thursday, April 3, 2008

My First 20 X 200 Print!

I purchased my first 20 X 200 print this evening. After sifting through the available 8.5 X 11 prints I decided on Brad Moore's Dutch Club, Anaheim, California. I'm not sure why I haven't bought more of these. For $20 a piece they're kind of hard to resist.

Dutch Club, Anaheim, California (2006)

Image © Brad Moore

On the Steps of Stephen Shore: A Rephotographic Survey

Numerous rephotographic projects have emerged over the last 30 years examining the evolution of both photographic and geographic history. The photographers of the Third View: A Rephotographic Survey of the American West have endeavored to revisit the sites where Timothy O’Sullivan, William Henry Jackson and Eadweard Muybridge made their grand images of the West. Similar projects have been done recently surrounding the work Eugène Atget and Bernice Abbott. For his project New York Changing, Douglas Levere rephotographed 114 locations from Bernice Abbott's Changing New York.

Most recently, Stephen Shore has been given rephotographic treatment. French photographer Valéry Denis has retraced Shore's steps across America in an effort to rephotograph the sites from his landmark project Uncommon Places. It's interesting to see the transformation, or lack there of, that has taken place in the locations that became iconic representations of the vernacular American landscape. Denis' project On the Steps of Stephen Shore: 30 After Uncommon Places, although geographically accurate, was photographed with Black & White film and a medium format camera. The result is less an homage to Shore's vision and more reexamination of land use.

From Top To Bottom:

Stephen Shore, U.S. 10, Post Falls, Idaho, August 25, 1974
Valéry Denis, 98 U.S. 10, Post Falls, Idaho

Stephen Shore, Fifth Street and Broadway, Eureka, California, September 2, 1974
Valéry Denis, 92 Fifth Street and Broadway, Eureka, California

Stephen Shore, Holden Street, North Adams, Massachusetts, July 13, 1974
Valéry Denis, 61 Holden Street, North Adams, Massachusetts

All Images © The Artists

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

An Image A Week: Shimon Attie

Shimon Attie's work references history in incredibly specific and juxtapositional ways. Many of his photographs incorporate on-site projections, where historically significant images are infused back into a contemporary landscape. For his project The Writing on the Wall, Attie projected pre-World War II photographs of residents of the Jewish Quarter in Berlin onto the walls of the same locations where they were originally taken. The result is an unusual compression of time, one concerned with cultural identity, memory and place. The integration of connected but disparate histories lends a certain melancholy nostalgia to Attie's work that reinterprets the function of the photographic document.

Finistere Medine/Die Schrift an der Wand, 1992/93

Image © Shimon Attie