Thursday, April 30, 2009

Ludmila Steckelberg's The Absence of All Colors

I found Ludmila Steckelberg's photomontages via Lens Culture today. The extracted figures in her work betray the photograph's purpose as an object of remembrance. On the Lens Culture website, Jim Casper writes:

"By removing the photographic images of the dead ancestors from her family album, but leaving their crisp silhouettes — dark, empty, ominous ghost-like shadows — Steckelberg has created a powerful visual meditation that moves far beyond the edges of her personal universe.

By “removing” the dead, we are forced to look at one part or the other: the currently living or the forever dead. Clearly, the photographed people and those represented by the silhouettes were once living contemporaneously. We think of how the survivors have surely changed since the photos were taken. It is difficult to imagine the expressions on the faces of those who have left. Were they as serious or happy at these moments as the faces of the others?"

All photographs from the series The Absence of All Color

All Images © Ludmila Steckelberg

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Eirik Johnson's Sawdust Mountain

My former professor Eirik Johnson is embarking on an exciting couple of months. His new monograph Sawdust Mountain is being published this June by Aperture. In conjunction with its release, Eirik is also having two solo exhibitions at the G. Gibson Gallery and the Rena Bransten Gallery respectively.

I remember seeing the beginnings of this book a year and a half ago when Eirik was shopping the maquette around to different publishers. It looked great then even in its primitive state and I have total confidence that the finished book will be truly beautiful. For anyone unfamiliar with Sawdust Mountain, you can view the series here.

Sawdust Mountain
April 23 - May 30
G. Gibson Gallery
300 South Washington Street
Seattle, WA 98104
Artist Reception and Book Signing:
Thursday, May 7 from 6 - 8pm

Artist Talk and Book Signing, with a Reading by Tess Gallagher:
Elliott Bay Bookstore
Saturday, May 9 at 2pm

Sawdust Mountain
May 21 - June 27
Rena Bransten Gallery
77 Geary Street
San Francisco, CA 94108
Artist Reception: Thursday, May 21, 6-8 pm.

From Top To Bottom:

Stacked logs in Weyerhaeuser sort yard, Cosmopolis, Washington, 2007

Coquille, Oregon, 2006

Missy beneath her 600 year-old Spruce, Hoh River, Washington, 2007

Art of Wood store, North Bend, Oregon, 2006

The road to Forks, Washington, 2006

All Images © Eirik Johnson

Adam Bartos Interview

The new issue of Bomb Magazine has a wonderful interview with Adam Bartos conducted by author A.M. Homes. Below you can find an excerpt from their exchange, but I would highly recommend picking up a copy at your local bookstore so you can read it in its entirety. You can also listen to a brief audio clip from the interview here.

A.M. Homes: It's interesting how, looking at your work - the yard sales, the United Nations, the Russian space program, Los Angeles - they all have a melancholy tinge of things slightly left behind, or the thing looked back on.

Adam Bartos: It's hard for me to explain what that is. I feel some tenderness about these things - and I suppose that I photograph what I like; I think that includes people as well. John Berger said about Boulevard, my book on Los Angeles and Paris, "Althusser once defined solitude as 'nobody anywhere is waiting for you.' All the places in these pictures have turned their backs on us. For them, the photo doesn't exist."

AMH: Things and places.

AB: I want to maintain a disinterested attitude, a consistent distance, which is important because I'm not trying to make a particular or singular statement about what I'm photographing. Even when I photograph people, as in Hither Hills, I see them in relationship to a landscape, maybe in a kind of sculptural relationship to objects as well. But in spite of myself, that feeling of solitude comes through.

AMH: It's a personal vocabulary, the language of your work, the thing that is the you that's in there, that's not named or articluated or even necessarily intentional, but it is the thing that repeats itself, which I find mesmerizing. Architecture comes back again and again in your work, elements of buildings or relationships to a piece of a building.

AB: My father was an architect. So I was aware of the fact that something is made through a process. As a kid I knew that somebody designed the buildings I saw. And I have also always been interested in vernacular architecture, architecture without architects. The character of surfaces as well, and in particular, how age or newness affects how things look in the present. I like to champion objects and spaces that I think are not fully seen on some level, and that speak to me. The UN project and the Kosmos projectsare both worlds that I felt like I could possess in some way. To me, these places felt as if they had been made to be photographed in color and it had not been done. Also, while the UN building and the Russian space program are symbolic space, the references we bring to them have changed over time, as they became relics of discarded aspirations. So in that sense, I'm examining the past, or reorganizing it for myself because I find these places beautiful.

Darkroom (C.R. view)

Image © Adam Bartos

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Stefanie Pluta

Sorry for the lack of posting lately, things have been quite busy of late. Anyways, I thought I'd share some of German photographer Stefanie Pluta's photographs.

Thanks to Eric for the link!

All Images © Stefanie Pluta

Monday, April 20, 2009

Photographic Typologies: Peter Piller

In 2002, German photographer and archivist Peter Piller obtained over 20,000 aerial photographs from a bygone business venture that endeavored to sell homeowners images of their own houses. In the statement for the work, somewhat dryly titled Arial View Archive, Piller explains:

"The salesperson had used a ball-point pen to add some revealing notes to the back of the photographs: “Not interested in pictures”, “looks nicer from the ground”, “wife keen, but house too expensive”, “you’ll get half a moped for that”, “doing it himself” or simply: “deceased”, for instance.

After several archive inspections, I was led to the first collection themes and classification categories: “Sleeping Houses”, “Floral Objects” and “Person in front of House”. Whilst sifting, for the forth, fifth and sixth time, through 18 removal boxes packed with yellowing photos and negatives; I eventually discovered the material that now constitutes the content of this book."

All photographs from the series Arial View Archive

All Images © Peter Piller

Eric's New Blog

Hey Everyone,

I just wanted to let you all know that our good friend Eric Watts has created a blog for his new work. He's uploaded 4 videos so far, one of which you can watch below. I would highly recommend, however, spending a few extra minutes and watching the others.

Make sure to check the blog regularly for updates and new work!

Borderline, 2009 (Video)

© Eric Watts

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Stefanie Fiore's A New Home

Stefanie Fiore got in touch the other day to share some images from her new series A New Home. The images explore first generation Italian-Canadian residences "in an attempt to piece together an 'Italian style,' and its significance withing our history."

I found myself slightly overwhelmed by the gaudiness in Fiore's photographs. That's not to say I don't find some of them interesting, I do, but there is a certain amount sensationalism present in these images. This ultimately raises an intriguing question: Do photographs of lurid interior spaces rely too heavily on the hyperbole of their design? And if so, how does a photographer transcend this superficiality in favor of something more substantive? Fiore's statement explains:

"Using local materials and notions of the baroque to create replicas and pastiche resembling their homeland, the families are referencing the rich cultural history of their homeland in a country in which they have no history. In doing so, creating their ideal living space, fusing old and new, formal and personal, Italian and Canadian. In these photographs I am aiming to distill the richness of the surface and investigate this hybrid culture. Suspending moments between memory and history, my photographs represent a lifestyle and traditions that are rooted in the past, reconstructed in the present."

All photographs from the series A New Home

All Images © Stefanie Fiore

Thursday, April 16, 2009

John Lehr

Although the work of John Lehr is probably familiar to most followers of contemporary photography, I thought I would post some anyway. The Walker Art Center website eloquently had this to say about two of Lehr's series':

"Sound and Fury, which captures commercial signage from unlikely angles. Lehr’s imagery denies the viewer the signs’ primary surface and message space, thus negating their communicative function. Emptied of their references, they become totem-like forms that bisect the image and draw us into non-places we rarely notice, such as medians separating traffic lanes or shoulders of roadways where such signage is anchored. A concurrent series, Mirage, documents scenes in the suburban landscape where the commonplace is revealed as both familiar and sublime. Mounds of gravel, mulch, and dirt are so perfectly arranged that they look like earthworks, and stacks of garbage and an electrical box stand as minimalist sculptures."

From Top To Bottom:

New Haven, CT 2004

Hatfield, MA 2006

Burger King, Connecticut 2005

Baltimore, MD 2005

Erving, MA 2006

All Images © John Lehr

Nina Buesing Corvallo's Fauna

I happended upon Nina Buesing Corvallo's strange and enchanting series Fauna the other day. The images from this project are not unlike Arno Schidlowski portraits of animals, which, if you haven't seen yet, you certainly should.

All photographs from the series Fauna

All Images © Nina Buesing Corvallo

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


Hey Everyone,

I just wanted to let you all know of a few Mass Art photography openings in the next couple of days. Both the BFA and MFA programs will have receptions for their thesis shows this week.

Phil Jung's Windscreen & Tom Griggs' Fluorescent Moon
Sandra and David Bakalar Gallery
Stephen D. Paine Gallery
621 Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA 02115
Reception: Thursday April 16th 6-8

BFA Photography Thesis Exhibition
President's Gallery (Tower Building 11th Floor)
621 Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA 02115
Reception: Friday April 17th 6-9

Come one, come all!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Issue 2 of Ahorn Magazine Now Online!

The second issue of Ahorn Magazine went live today. I am honored to have my series The Family Dig featured alongside all of the truly wonderful images and writing presented. Issue 2 also includes:

Nicola Kast's series How Can We Be So Different?, an interview with Andrea Diefenbach, Ian Aleksander Adams' essay On Fear and Photography, Adam Bell's review of Bertrand Fleuret's Landmasses and Railways, Shawn Gust's review of Alec Soth's Dog Days Bogotá, Daniel Shea's review of Robert Adams' seminal book The New West (recently reissued by Aperture) and an exploration of Magdalena Fischer's Things Unnecessary.

Daniel Augschoell and Anya Jasbar are doing wonderful things with Ahorn and I would thoroughly recommend showing your support by visiting the site! They also accept submissions on a rolling basis, so, if you're interested in submitting work you can find the guidelines here.

-Ben Alper

Matthieu Gafsou's Surfaces

I discovered the work of Swiss photographer Matthieu Gafsou the other day. His series Surfaces explores the landscape from a particularly stark and flattened perspective. For anyone who speaks French, you can visit Gafsou's website and learn more about the project here.

All photographs from the series Surfaces

All Images © Matthieu Gafsou

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Aki Lumi's Traceryscape

I found the work of Japanese born/Paris-based artist Aki Lumi today via Lens Culture. His latest series, Traceryscape, consists of monochrome photographs embellished with elaborate, hand-drawn lines and shapes. The photographs largely illustrate the detritus of everyday urban culture. However, in certain pieces, Lumi subverts the correct orientation of the photograph and tips the image on its side. This destabilization reinforces how tenuous sensory perception truly is. The simple act of disorienting the image produces a palpable and physical reaction. Ultimately, the images from Traceryscape are simultaneously chaotic, vertiginous and, above all, thoroughly rewarding. In the text accompanying the Lens Culture feature, Linn K. writes:

"If you follow with your eyes the lines and shapes that skate freely across the surface of the landscapes, you realize that your gaze stops short – as though caught in a trap set by the artist – on devices in the scenery: superfine details that in an ordinary photograph would escape your notice; the “background,” which is normally relegated to the role of a photograph’s supporting-actor. Antennas so thin they disappear into the sky, strange wires hanging down from signs, unintelligible markings on buildings – all are now lodged firmly in the viewer’s gaze."

All photographs from the series Traceryscape

All Images © Aki Lumi

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Photographic Typologies: Jan Kempenaers

Belgian photographer Jan Kempenaers series Spomenik: The End of History depicts monuments erected by the communist regime in former Yugoslavia.

All photographs from the series Spomenik: The End of History

All Images © Jan Kempenaers