March 1, 2008
March 1, 2008
While I don't necessarily understand some of the editing choices he has made, the portfolios of California based photographer Victor Cobo contain some compelling images full of narrative delight and mystery.
March 7, 2008
I'm in Austin at SXSW until Tuesday. If you're here, say hello. Best way to find me is via twitter.
March 7, 2008
1. How George Lucas' billions can't buy him a beard to hide the fact that he is chinless.
2. How a higher percentage of bowlers have beards than the general male populace and how bowling really SHOULD be an Olympic sport. How it is an ancient game of history and tradition and how people who bowl are good people, true of heart.
3. How girls really dig night time van drivers more than you would think and how night time van drivers have to be pure of mind to resist temptation.
4. How night time van drivers sometimes get together in the summer to shoot bottle rockets into the lake.
5. How it is very dangerous to shoot bottle rockets from inside the van because it is possible to blow a finger off.
6. How Jimmy keeps his blown off finger in a jar of formaldehyde.
7. How Jimmy despite being a late night van driver has women problems.
8. How Jimmy has no chin.
9. How Jimmy has a beard.
10. How this is all for the best, because although he is a friend ("since the middle of 8th grade") Jimmy is a bad guy with a black heart.
March 7, 2008
I have a soft spot for photography made in the world's more visceral places. Davin Ellicson is working on a long term project documenting rural life in Romania where according to his bio he lived and farmed with a peasant family for a year in the Maramures region. He knows the people he's covering and it shows.
March 11, 2008
If you happened to be driving around the Texas hill country tonight you would have seen a huge waxing crescent of a moon hanging low in the sky. It was painted blood orange and loomed ever larger as it fell. I stopped on a particularly dark stretch of road, got out of the car, and communed in the darkness. With my hands in my pockets I spent fifteen minutes watching the moon slide below the horizon. I won't talk about how beautiful the scene was, because beauty is so difficult to telegraph but I can tell you how it made me feel.
Thirty minutes earlier I had been on a bus and I was full of that all over bone-tiredness unique to night time bus and car rides amplified by a slight chill and damp. I told my fellow bus riders that being a little cold, a little damp, very tired (and on a bus) made me remember the childhood versions of those feelings as well as the ones that inevitably followed—those of being lifted from the car, of being carried through the night and into the house, and being tucked into bed by my parents. Now that I am a parent who ferries his small children to bed after long trips I get some of that feeling back as I carry them. It's one of those strange parental feedback loops in which you simultaneously a) feel what your kid is feeling, b) are flooded with intense childhood memory, and c) feel what your parent must have felt when they were holding you. So I was looking at the moon thinking of all of that.
Simultaneous to those thoughts, I was remembering a time when I was 16 or 17 when I stopped on the same road to watch a new moon rise over the same hills. I remember thinking then that I hoped I would always be the type of person who would drive out to the middle of nowhere, stop his car, and look at the moon. At sixteen I imagined some future version of myself doing just that. The sixteen year old self was hoping I could share the view with a girl rather than imagining putting children to bed. But my adult self was recalling how my wife and I, after putting the children to bed, sit on the couch under a blanket and talk and how sometimes we fall asleep ourselves and how nice that is and how someday perhaps when the kids are older we'll miss doing that.
Back then I remember hoping for a shooting star. None ever came. None came tonight either. Maybe next time.
March 13, 2008
Liao Yiwu has a knack for capturing stories from everyday people in China that manage to be both poetic and funny. I first encountered Yiwu's work via the Paris Review in this story about a peasant who in 1985 declared himself emperor of Sichuan province.
Yiwu has recently released a book titled The Corpse Walker which is a collection of interviews of people in the bottom rungs of Chinese society-morticians, lepers, professional mourners, etc. This short excerpt of an interview with a mortician is a good example of his writing:
"Beauty doesn't last. It's bound to be destroyed. So many kind, good-looking people die each day. I work on their bodies, hoping to temporarily preserve and enhance their beauty before they are gone forever. I don't want to lose anyone anymore. The scariest part of life is not death but the loss that comes with death. My former boss died at the beginning of this year. He was not even seventy. I did the makeup for him. This guy had one hobby when he was alive. He collected wedding invitations when he was young, and when he turned fifty, he began to collect obituaries. His whole room was filled with his collections. He used to say that all obituaries sounded the same and that we Chinese people lack imagination in the use of language. He wanted his own obituary to be unique, so he began to compose it when he was still alive. He printed hundreds of copies and stored them in a drawer with his bank statements and his will. After he died, his friends showed one to Old Wang, the new Party secretary at the funeral home. Old Wang, who was going to preside over the memorial service, read it aloud to several people during rehearsal. Nobody could understand what the obituary was about. It was so archaic, it sounded like haiku. I didn't know half of the characters. It was handwritten. He must have read it hundreds of times before he died, hoping those would be the last words he left for the world. But the new Party secretary didn't think the obituary reflected the revolutionary spirit of the new era. So he composed a new one filled with modern political jargon, in a style that our past director had despised. Oh well, what can you do? This is China. You don't have much control when you are alive. When you die, you won't have control over your obituary either. "
March 18, 2008
I like photographers who work in places with history.
I like photographers who use natural light.
I like photographers who get out there in the world.
I like photographers who shoot with a specific point of view.
Bert Teunissen has done and continues to do all these things traveling around the world shooting what he calls Domestic Landscapes. His photographs are a vivid protest against the prefab readymade corporate world that seems to encompass more and more of our lives and are vivid arguments for living life connected to a specific place. In interviews he estimates that 90% of the locations featured in Domestic Landscapes no longer exist.
I've blogged about Mr. Teunissen before, but he is doing an edition with us tomorrow at 20x200.com so I've posted again as a heads up. If you want to purchase a print, the best way to get notified is via the 20x200 mailing list which give you a bit of a jump on the edition.
Teunissen has blogged about Domestic Landscapes over at Aperture.org.
March 18, 2008
Trees talk to each other at night.
All fish are named either Lorna or Jack.
Before your eyeballs fall out from watching too much TV, they get very loose.
Tiny bears live in drain pipes.
If you are very very quiet you can hear the clouds rub against the sky.
The moon and the sun had a fight a long time ago.
Everyone knows at least one secret language.
When nobody is looking, I can fly.
We are all held together by invisible threads.
Books get lonely too.
Sadness can be eaten.
I will always be there.
March 19, 2008
I'm often asked about printers in NY and I know I've promised to make a list for a long time. Here, at long last, is a rundown.
Ben Diep is the man behind Color Space Imaging on 20th Street betwen 6th and 7th. I do almost all my traditional c-prints here, including the print above (that's Ben doing some spotting). Ben has impeccable street cred, he's printed 2 MOMA shows in the last six months and every photographer I know who has worked with him has nothing but nice things to say. You can trust his taste/instincts and he will take as much time as your print needs to get it right. You might have to wait a week or two to get a slot at Color Space but when you're in you are given full attention. He has no website.
Color Space Imaging, 135 W 20th St NY, NY 10011 212-229-2969
Gabe Greenberg specializes in making huge inkjets on a variety of exotic papers. He's a master of the digital image and digital output. While his roster of clients is impressive, he's also someone who is you're likely to become friends with while hanging out in his perpetually expanding studio. Gabe likes technical challenges and pushing the limits of todays machines but his images often feel as if they were made by hand using traditional techniques. Sometimes he actually mixes traditional and digital techniques. For example he makes platinum prints by using a digital file and making large digital negatives on plastic film and then handing the negative to a platinum printer he works with in the same building. As platinum printing is normally a contact process, platinum prints tend to be small, but this technique allows for bigger prints, prints from digital files, and prints from small negatives. The results are stunning.
My Own Color Lab has a laughably amaturish website and a horrible name, but they make fine prints (They printed much of Sze Tsung Long's Horizons). I recently worked with one of their printers, Scott Eiden, a fine photographer himself, on an edition for 20x200. As an added bonus their prices are always one notch lower than many comperable players.
While I haven't printed much black and white lately my friends who shoot primarily black and white rave about the meticulous work done at Big Prints, a black and white only shop in Brooklyn specializing both in large prints and somewhat archaic techniques like Selenium toning.
March 20, 2008
It might be a little bit of inside baseball recommending shows being put on by my business partner and my gallerist, but darnit, both are worth seeing. Both shows are composed primarily of landscape photography, both are by photographers that speak in quiet voices, and both photographers happen to be super nice guys in person.
So go see Sweet Water by Ian Baguskas at the Jen Bekman Gallery. It opens on Friday and runs through the end of April (Ian was just included in the PDN 30 btw).
Then hop on the F and go see The Town and the City by Mark Marchesi at the Nelson Hancock Gallery in Dumbo. It opened last week and also runs through the end of April.
March 20, 2008
March 24, 2008
I'm a fan of Brad Temkin's project titled Relics. The Illinois based photgrapher shot the image above Iceland which features regularly (and for good reason) in the portfolios of landscape photographers.
March 24, 2008
If I had the money, I'd fill my kid's room with paintings by Edward del Rosario.
March 25, 2008
March 31, 2008
The impact of changing the order of a sequence of images always surpises me. I was looking around for work by Yola Monakhov after seeing a photograph of hers in Harpers and found two sites that featured sets of her images. Both sites present the images in a similar manner and the images mainly overlap... The first series is presented on her gallery's site and the second series is presented on her personal site. I read the images on the gallery site as a journey going from Point A to Point B (The captions distract from this but I didn't read those until later), they work as a group for me whereas in the personal site edit I couldn't find the throughline and was forced to consider the images as individual pieces.
Unrelated but gripping: Ms. Monakhov's account of being shot while working in the West Bank.