June 3, 2010

Pao Houa Her


Pao Houa Her is a Hmong refugee who is studying in the Yale Graduate program for photography. Her website features a project titled Coming of the Metal Bird which is simultaneously familiar and odd. Describing the project, she writes, "A great big silver metal bird carried my family from Thailand in 1987 into the cold tundra of Minnesota. We arrived at a small cramped studio apartment which was to be our home. Inside the apartment was a green triangle shaped tree with lights that lit up in differnet shades of greens, yellows, blues and reds. Our sponsor had told us that Christmas was coming...." Read More

June 8, 2010

Retratos Pintado

I'm excited about a show opening in a few weeks at Yossi Milo titled Retratos Pintados. It's an exhibit hand-painted Brazilian vernacular photographs from the collection of Titus Riedl. My grandparents in Mexico had photos like these around the house and I've always loved the form. A book with the same title with 60 some odd images was just released by Nazraeli Press. The forward is by Martin Parr. He writes in the intro:

"Nothing has stopped me in my tracks more than when I was first introduced to a set of images collected by Titus Riedl, while attending a Latin American photo forum in São Paulo. If you visit a house in the northeast of Brazil, you are very likely to see a photo painting on the wall. This is a tradition that dates back many years, when a black and white image was not deemed exciting enough. Painted photos are a way of bestowing status on members of your family (both dead and alive) and giving them an iconic, almost saint-like look. When the roving dealers visited these houses, in search of commissions, they were able to facilitate any dream. They could bring back the dead, dress you in expensive clothes and jewellery, make you look years younger. Although these images are still produced, they are now more likely to be computer-generated rather than hand-painted. As I was keen to see the last of these artists in action, Titus decided to arrange an introduction. We went to my hotel room and made the edit that you see here. As another analogue tradition dies, we offer the portraits in this book as a testament to a most remarkable method of creating portraits. Let the dream live on."

The book is definitely high on my wishlist and the show is marked MUST NOT FORGET on my calendar.

RELATED: Who We Were, Photostudio Vernacular, H C Anderson's Greenville Mississippi, Romualdo Garcia, Philip Kwame Apagya, Seydou Keita

June 20, 2010

Catching Lightning Bugs in Halmoni's Backyard after the Wedding


Click for a bigger better view

June 21, 2010

On Aesthetics

There's a poem I come back to every few years titled 'On Aesthetics' by Kenneth Koch. It runs about 20 pages of the book One Train and it never fails to delight. I'm not much of a poetry guy, but I love this poem.

A tiny excerpt:


Invite your best friends
To go out with you in a boat
That's magic and can go anywhere
And sail and talk, and talk and sail,
Until you find Beatrice
Like an endangered species
With luminous antlers
Rising through the Medieval dark.

June 21, 2010

Miti Ruangkritya

When I visited Siem Riep in 1991 it was sleepy backwater recovering from decades of brutal war. The single hotel was former French outpost pockmarked with bullets, the waiters in the newly opened "foreigner restaurant" limped terribly as they were unaccustomed to wearing shoes, and the only nightlife to be had was at a bar called The Minefield decorated with defused mines, run by a mercenary from New Zealand (who was offered his "wife" to the highest bidder), and inhabited by a rather large python named Gorbachev.

Today all this has changed. Siem Reip, or rather the nearby ruins of Angkor Wat are on the global must-see tourist list. The population of the city has increased 20 fold and is circled by 5 star hotels filled with foreigners on package tours. Thai phtographer Miti Ruangkritya's project On the Edge views the city at a distance from the vantage point of someone approaching (or perhaps momentarily escaping) the city... The effect is a sort of a topsy turvy South East Asian version Tati's film Play Time, a film about Paris, but in which Paris is only seen in distant reflection. The pictures are both familiar and foreign, and loaded with a dusty melancholy of seeing the underbelly of an encroaching world. (via HHS)

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