Saturday, February 28, 2009

Cine Stills: Toby Dammit

I just recently watched Federico Fellini's largely forgotten 1968 film Toby Dammit. Part of a three-episode film released under the moniker Spirits of the Dead, Toby Dammit tells the story of an inebriated British actor (Terrence Stamp) who arrives in Rome on a publicity tour only to be haunted by the devil, who appears to him in the form of a little girl with a bouncing ball (pictured above).

Each episode in based on a different Edgar Allan Poe story. Fellini's film takes its inspiration from "Never Bet the Devil Your Head," while Roger Vadim directs "Metzengerstein" and Louis Malle interprets "William Wilson." I have yet to see Vadim or Malle's efforts, however, Toby Dammit is a surreal and grotesque masterpiece. Anyone familiar with Fellini's work will find definite thematic parallels to many of his others works. As Vicent Canby writes:

"Unlike Poe's story, there is nothing especially cheerful about Fellini's film except its extravagance of visual detail. The last hours in Toby Dammit's life become a typical Fellini fantasmagoria, a descent into a maelstrom of grotesque settings, props and faces, including that of a little girl with long blond hair, not unlike the girl who called soundlessly to Marcello Mastroianni across the tidal rift at the end of "La Dolce Vita." Except for the fact that she has crimson fingernails and a definite leer, you'd hardly recognize her as Old Nick."

Still from Toby Dammit (Spirits of the Dead), 1968. (dir. Tomas Federico Fellini, cine. Giuseppe Rotunno)

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Pertti Kekarainen's TILA

I received the new issue Aperture today in the mail today. Among the features I discovered the work of Finnish photographer Pertti Kekarainen, whose series TILA explores the boundaries of abstract perception. As Lyle Rexer writes in text accompanying the images:

"The desire, the need, to see is what these photographs evoke so decorously and yet so intensely. Our eyes are hungry for light, color, and form, because, as the philosopher Joseph Joubert wrote, 'without light there is no space.' But that hunger makes us vulnerable, and therein lies the terror. The spots of color remind us that at any moment a veil can be drawn over the world, and light can become darkness."

All photographs from the series TILA

All Images © Pertti Kekarainen

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Chauncey Hare

The story of Chauncey Hare is a rather strange one. Self assigned almost every title except "photographer", Hare saw himself more as social scientist, therapist and protester. After quickly becoming disenfranchised with the photo art world, he abandoned photography and donated his life's work to the Bancroft Library of the University of California in Berkeley.

Information about Hare and his work is relatively sparse. However, his two monographs, Interior America (1977) and This Was Corporate America (1984), are attainable albeit expensive. Steidl has plans to publish Protest Photographs this coming May. This description of the book on the Steidl website addresses Hare's staunch humanism:

"He describes his strong identification with the people whose homes he photographs and his adamant unwillingness to betray them by selling their photographs at any price. He tells of his struggles to have his photographs, accompanied by explanatory text, accepted by the art world. He relates the abusive situations he has endured in his childhood, and in his work life as an engineer at a major oil company and at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency."

All Images © Chauncey Hare

Monday, February 23, 2009

Paul Graham's Shimmer of Possibility

In light of his current exhibition at MoMA, I thought I'd post a few images from Paul Graham's wonderful series A Shimmer of Possibility. Published as a 12 volume set by Steidl, this expansive project explores the distinctly overlooked, under appreciated moments of American life. This quote, taken from the NPR website, in which Graham discusses a particular sequence from the project says more than I ever could:

"I know it seems crazy, but I'm asking you to trust me and enjoy this quiet journey. Just slow down and look at this ordinary moment of life. See how beautiful it is, see how life flows around us, how everything shimmers with possibility."

You can see the sequence that Graham references here.

a shimmer of possibility
Photographs by Paul Graham
11 West 53 Street, New York, NY
February 4–May 18, 2009

All photographs from the series A Shimmer of Possibility

All Images © Paul Graham

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Carl Kleiner's Everyday Geometry

I found Swedish photographer Carl Kleiner's work today via OK! Fresh. His series Everyday Geometry, much like the title suggests, finds an assured graphic order in pedestrian objects.

All photographs from the series Everyday Geometry

All Images © Carl Kleiner

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Useful Photography

Useful Photography, the brainchild of Hans Aarsman, Claudie de Cleen, Julian Germain, Erik Kessel and Hans van der Meer, is a wonderfully deadpan series of publications celebrating vernacular photography. Often stressing the functionality of photography as a visual means to an end, each issue compiles images culled from a specifically curated theme. Whether amassing images from online auction websites, photographs from the National Missing Persons Helpline, posters of Palestinian suicide bombers or the use of "before and after" photography, Useful Photography celebrates the medium's varied, often utilitarian, applications.

They also have a wonderful website with some of the funniest and most outrageous collections of vernacular photography I've ever seen. If you need some more convincing, just go the gallery section of their website and check out: Girls and Coffins and Magic Mountain. Both of which are bizarre and amazing.

You can purchase some of the publications here.

All Images © Useful Photography

Mass Art's Photography Lecture Series

The schedule for this semester's Photography Lecture Series at Mass Art is quite impressive. Bringing together a number of wonderful artists and critics such as Mitch Epstein, Judith Joy Ross, Paul Shambroom and Luc Sante, to name only a few, this series is both a rewarding and stimulating forum for the discussion of photography. So, if you're based in Boston, you should do your best to attend at least a few of these. The one caveat, however, is that space is extremely limited so if you know for sure that you want to attend, show up early!

Judith Joy Ross
Monday, February 23rd @ 2pm
Kennedy Building, Room 406
621 Huntington Ave.
Boston, MA

Mitch Epstein

Monday, March 2nd @ 2pm
Kennedy Building, Room 406
621 Huntington Ave.
Boston, MA

Paul Shambroom
Monday, March 23rd @ 2pm
Kennedy Building, Room 406
621 Huntington Ave.
Boston, MA

Sandy Phillips
Monday, March 30th @ 2pm
Kennedy Building, Room 406
621 Huntington Ave.
Boston, MA

Michael Light
Monday, April 13th @ 2pm
Kennedy Building, Room 406
621 Huntington Ave.
Boston, MA

Luc Sante
Monday, April 27th @ 2pm
Kennedy Building, Room 406
621 Huntington Ave.
Boston, MA

Image © Judith Joy Ross

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Anders Krisár's Flesh Clouds

I've been meaning to post some of Swedish artist Anders Krisár's work for some time now. However, whenever I tried to unearth his name from my memory it always evaded me. In any respect, his series Flesh Clouds is a powerful and haunting portrait of human interaction. Unlike many practitioners who utilize photography's powers of illumination, Krisár abandons this favor of obscuration. The press release for his 2007 exhibition at Galerie Lelong declares:

"In the series, amidst a setting rendered in high detail is an amorphous haze of a figure. The figure is actually Krisár and others, naked and in motion, captured in an extended exposure time. Mysterious and evocative, the images speak of collective experiences and an uncertain sense of reality. In writing on Flesh Clouds, Iris Muller-Westermann, curator at Stockholm's Moderna Museet, notes that Krisar "searches for the invisible behind the visible, and the visible behind the invisible."

All Images © Anders Krisár

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Support The Exposure Project!

Hey Everyone,

Over the last few weeks, we at The Exposure Project have started the involved process of organizing our next publication. We received an inspiring amount of exceptional work during our latest call for entries period and couldn't be happier with the selected photographers. It has always been our goal to continually expand the breadth of this project and unite a diversity of vision, process and philosophy within contemporary photography. Issue 4 marks our largest and most ambitious collaboration to date. But we need your help!

As it stands right now, we are lacking the necessary funds for the production of issue 4. In light of that, we are asking you to take a moment to consider donating to The Exposure Project. There is no minimum donation and all the proceeds will benefit the publication and distribution of issue 4. I am fully aware that economic times are hard right now, however, any contribution, no matter how small, would greatly benefit this project. Your generous contributions will be noted and printed in the back of the publication.

In addition, anyone who donates $50 + will receive an editioned, 8.5 x 11 print of their choice. You can view the available editions here. So, if you're interested in offering your support, visit our Donations page!

Glen Erler's There Is Almost Always A Tree

Glen Erler's project There Is Almost Always A Tree oscillates between nostalgia and banality quite beautifully. Possessing the faded, pastel palette of many old snapshots, Erler's images, in certain ways, seem to circumvent the standard imprint of time. His subjects cannot easily be dated. They don't look terribly old, and at the same time, nor do they evoke the contemporary. Ultimately, these spaces seem to be stuck in sort of timeless pictorial state. In the statement, Erler discusses his experiences in the nameless New York towns these photographs were taken in:

"We stayed in small towns where the pace was slow but confident while trees still grew on industrial sites and the grass found a way through the cracks in the pavement. Where derelict government housing met a new airport and plans for a new shopping mall weren’t far away. I know that nature will always play the lead role in my eyes. We just have to look for it and not the buildings surrounding it."

All photographs from the series There Is Almost Always A Tree

Images © Glen Erler

Monday, February 16, 2009

Adam Lampton's Macao

Adam Lampton's project Macao, completed on a Fulbright in 2007, is a wonderful and complex look at the contrasting cultural, historical and architectural influences of the region. Lampton recently presented this work to our class and spoke articulately about Macao's prominence as the gambling capital of China, its former colonization by Portugal and the rather swift campaign of urbanization that has overtaken the area. In his statement for the work, he asserts:

"While technically autonomous, the Special Administrative Region is run only with the blessing of the Central Chinese Government. It is therefore odd to see the world's largest Communist government involve itself in something that is so unabashedly Capitalist. Gambling is the purest form of consumerism. There is no product per se- just the promise of money turned into more money. This sense of being many things at once—Western and Eastern; Communist and Capitalist; contemporary and historical—is integrated seamlessly and without self-consciousness into Macao's personality.

Walking down the street then becomes like moving through the illogical progression of a dream. The challenge is not to find examples of x and photograph them, but to be lost in the multitude of meanings and remain there. Beyond presenting Macao as a site of physical, cultural, and political change, these pictures attempt to navigate a territory of conflicting perceptions inherent in the movement from historical city to phantasmagorical dreamscape."

From Top To Bottom:

Rosita, Croupier, 2007

Darling Massage and Sauna, 2007

Greek Mythology Fountain 2007

Macau Jockey Club, 2007

City of Dreams Casino Construction Site, 2007

All Images © Adam Lampton

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Ruth Van Beek

I've been thoroughly enjoying Ruth Van Beek's collages lately. There is a fractured, disorienting quality to some of them that recalls some of John Baldessari's collage work.

All Images © Ruth Van Beek

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Jane Tam's Can I Come Home With You?

Jane Tam's Can I Come Home With You? is an accordian-style artist book exploring cultural and personal history through a unification of photography and illustration. In her statement, Tam asserts:

"Creating a family album of sorts, this book combines common family memories through drawings of vintage America with the Chinese households of Brooklyn, New York. Although the memories are common and can be interpreted through many different cultures, the drawings derive from the 1950s suburban America; creating a known identity."

All photographs from the series Can I Come Home With You?

All Images © Jane Tam