Fazal Sheikh

March 11, 2007

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Working in the formal language of late 19th century and early 20th century photographers such as George Barnard and Paul Strand, New York born MacArthur Fellow Fazal Sheikh tells stories people forgotten by the rest of the world, people often misrepresented by popular media. Several of his books are now available in abbreviated online editions. I recommend starting with "The Victor Weeps". (As a side note the book is available for only $17 on Amazon.)

You can view an interview with Sheikh on the Tate Modern's site, a second interview is available here.

Related: Jake Miller's essay on Sheikh's book and Edward Grazda's Afganistan Diary, Simon Norfolk's Chronotopia, Photostudio portraits of the Taliban

Overheard on Court Street

March 11, 2007

(couple downstairs in the travel section of Book Court)

man: You have to tell him.

woman: If I tell him you have to tell her.

man: Of course, I wouldn't ask you if I....

woman: So.

man: Let's do it. We'll both just do it.

woman: Let's do it tonight. Screw it, I'll do it tonight. I don't care.

man: Tonight?

woman: Tonight.

man: Tonight. Not tonight, next week maybe. It's too soon.

woman: I'm sick of this.

How my mind works late at night

March 10, 2007

cornell.1942.jpgThis piece by Joseph Cornell comes to mind for no reason in particular.

Every time I think of artwork by Cornell, this portrait of him by Duane Michals sticks in my head. portraitofjosephcornell.jpg
I think of Cornell living out there on Utopia Parkway with his mean mother and his sick brother. And I think of all the boxes scattered around his room in various stages of completion. I think of the boxes he made for Hollywood starlets. I picture the care and love that went into each one, the precision with which he wrapped them in brown paper, hand addressing them and then sending them from a Queens post office (In my imagination he always mails things on rainy days). Then I see a sunny day in California; the package being received by a maid at a house high in the Los Feliz hills. I see the packages opened, considered for a moment, and handed over to a star who waves it away without ever a second thought.

Cornell must have known this would happen 9 times out of 10, but was kept going by the hope for that 10th time and the knowledge that while the connection was intangible he was connected—if for a moment—to his intended audience...

And this brings me back to Duane Michals who wrote in one of his books:

"It is no accident that you are reading this. I am making black marks on white paper. These marks are my thoughts, and although I do not know who you are reading this now, in some way the lines of our lives have intersected... For the length of these few sentences, we meet here.

It is no accident that you are reading this. This moment has been waiting for you, I have been waiting for you. Remember me."

Polaris

March 7, 2007

Sometimes when I am very tired as I was today, I will lie on my belly, put my arm under my head, bump up against a pillow, cross my feet at the ankles, and fall instantly, blissfully, asleep. I've been doing this all my life although I've never really thought about it until today. It's one of my most primal behaviors. My wife's sister Becky sleeps while holding onto the corners of pillowcases, eventually wearing them threadbare. An electrician in LA, a guy named Joe who spoke in whispers, claimed no matter where he slept he would wake with his head facing north. This trait while comforting was something of an embarrassment, "I'm a human compass," he admitted sheepishly, "my wife hates it, especially on trips. My mother said I did it in the crib." All of us have some primal behaviors we retreat to, and sleep being one of the most basic and misunderstood needs of all things with brains, happens to be one place where these behaviors reveal themselves easily.

During my wife's first pregnancy we spent a great deal of the time speculating on our future (and at that point somewhat theoretical) child. We discussed smarts and looks and so on and so on. I don't think we discussed personality once. He was born and from the beginning his personality clear... obvious and often unexpected. Immediately after his birth we practiced parenting techniques based on our own lives and various books, but until we started modifying them through the filter of his personality many approaches failed miserably. Now personality takes priority over dogma (with much more success). It is almost the one thing around which most of our understanding of him is based. The idea that your personality is well formed at birth is a weird concept because most of us like to think we arrived at our present state through a series of formative events. But more and more I tend to believe those formative events influence us only within a range determined by our particular personalities. Of course family perceptions have a multiplying effect. If we see a child and consider him to be kind, or selfish, or sensitive, or sad or whatever we will tend to treat him accordingly, so perhaps over time personalities become more hard coded than they would have naturally.

Even though our second son has been with us for only 7 days, we are developing theories about what kind of person he might become. Ridiculous as it might seem for a little piglet-like human being who suckles, sleeps, and poops, it seems so obvious after 2 years of experience with our first child that understanding his personality is one of our most important jobs as parents.

Ask someone you have known your entire life to tell you three stories about your early childhood. I'll bet they'll tell you stories that reveal their understanding of your most raw personality, the unvarnished you, and like primal ways of finding comfort in sleep, these traits are inescapable, revealed when we are most unguarded. They are the filters through which we see the world and sometimes the instincts we work hardest to supress. Noble or ignoble, there might be some comfort in knowing that through all our iterations as human beings there are some things about us that never change.

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semi-related: Wikipedia on personality psychology, 9 traits of infant personality, Clotaire Rapaille on reducing culture to primal codes (and using those codes for base, but nevertheless ingenious, marketing campaigns)

Updates

March 7, 2007

My wife read my account of her labor and delivery this morning and let me know it wasn't how she experienced it at all. "The car ride was kind of a relief. I barely remember it," was her response. Maybe I'll get her version when we come up for air.

Another friend sends Don't Send Your Baby Pictures... which should probably be applied to blogging too although if you read this blog you know I can't help myself sometimes.

Tibet 1942

March 6, 2007

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In 1942 two U.S. Army officers, Lt. Col. Ilya Tolstoy and Capt. Brooke Dolan were sent to Tibet from India to explore the possibility of getting military supplies to Chiang Kai-shek's Republican Chinese government, via Tibet. Rob Linrothe, Assistant Professor of Art History at Skidmore is doing research on the expedition and has posted a cache of photographs from the Tibet expedition... While many of the images depict a world long destroyed (the pictures of Llahsa and Gyantse are particularly heartbreaking if you know the modern versions of the cities made over by the Chinese into package tour destinations), the images of the nomads are timeless. I've posted two expedition images along with my own modern analogues...

Continue reading "Tibet 1942" →

The Nitty Gritty

March 2, 2007

Close readers of this blog will notice that I made a post about my wife being in labor at 6:24PM on Thursday and that the baby was born a little over 2 hours later. This is the story of those 2 hours:

Earlier that Thursday afternoon Jenn had been in a light pre-labor, "I think I’m having contractions" she had announced nonchalantly. They aren’t that bad." Then she went about her day and we guessed we might have to go to the hospital in the morning. I was writing that blog post when I was called into the laundry room, so I finished up and hit send. Downstairs my wife was crouched down on the floor, "We have to go now," she announced. I was asking a follow-up question when she put up her hand to stop me and started making a low non-human noise I recognized from the birth of our first son. It was a noise that had preceded the actual birth by only an hour or so just before she went into transition. It was time to GO.

I sprinted down the street to the garage only to find it backed up. "Calm down" I kept telling myself... "Everything will be fine." A few minutes later driving up my own street, I was almost sideswiped by a truck running a very red light. "Inauspicious." It took a full 4 minutes to get Jenn from the door of the house to the door of the car. The contractions would release, she would walk a few steps, and then they would come again. At this point the contractions were coming about every 2 minutes. Not ideal, but not critical yet.. I briefly considered running over to the emergency room of a nearby hospital instead of our assigned birthing center, but the contractions seemed steady so I headed across the Brooklyn Bridge and onto FDR for the drive uptown. A little geography for non New Yorkers: We live in Brooklyn which is across the river from Manhattan. Our birthing center is at St. Lukes Roosevelt on 10th Avenue and 58th Street on the west side..... It’s an 8.4 mile drive but traffic is unavoidable. I was counting on a 30 minute ride. The FDR is an aging highway up the eastern edge of Manhattan. It has no shoulders. Traffic is heavy, and exits are few. Once you hit the FDR, you’re committed. Of course just as we hit the FDR Jenn’s contractions started coming faster... about every 45 seconds. Now if you’ve never been in a Mini Cooper on the FDR with a woman in full labor, screaming bloody murder with each contraction, whimpering and breathing heavily with each release, and holding your arm so tight it’s bruising, well... um...I don’t recommend it. I was trying to focus on driving, speaking in platitudes, giving Jenn updates on our location, and quite frankly, saying a few silent prayers. But platitudes were not what my wife wanted. "JUST SHUT UP!" she bellowed. At about 22nd street traffic stopped dead. We were inching forward. Jenn was banging the windows with each contraction. I realized we could become one of those stories on the evening news. Woman Gives Birth on FDR. I didn’t want to be on the news. I thought about the opening scene in Wings of Desire where the angels float over a highway peeking in on the small self-contained worlds contained in each vehicle... The Punjabi cab driver two lanes over might be thinking of his wife's curry. I noticed a guy talking to his girlfriend who was staring out the window at the city beyond—what was she thinking, and what about the trucker smoking and singing to himself... they were all unaware... I willed them to move. Didn't they realize what was going on? Just as I was losing hope traffic began to move. I decided as long as Jenn was saying, "I can’t do this. I can’t do this" we were fine, but the minute she said, "We’re not going to make", I was going to veer off and find a closer hospital. If she mentioned pushing it would be time to stop the car. I make the mistake of asking if she wanted music. "MUSIC?!!" she responded. Ok my bad. Finally exiting the FDR we made it to 57th street which is littered with red lights (all unbearably long), was clogged with traffic, and was busy with pedestrians... At each stoplight crowds of people hearing the long howls and stop dead in their tracks. At 57th and 5th we drew a crowd. Jenn was completely obvious, she was going internal. One guy gave us a thumbs up. A woman wearing a fur coat blew a kiss. An old lady crossed herself. One guy shouted "She's having a baby!"

A few eternal minutes later we finally screeched into the hospital driveway we were almost rear ended by another car. It was our midwife whose scramble had been just as frantic as ours. She took one look at my wife and said, "We might have to deliver in the lobby."

We did not deliver in the lobby. After much heaving and ho-ing we manuvered Jenn into a wheelchair and rushed her up to the birthing center. Minutes later she was in a large tub of warm water which sent her straight into transition. A few minutes later the midwife, myself, and a labor nurse were all on the bed holding onto legs and arms as she pushed the baby out in what seemed like record time. The midwife caught the baby and put in on jenn’s breast complete with cord. Jenn was sobbing. I was drenched in sweat and viscera... but the moment was oddly quiet almost silent. We were there with this brand new kid, still steaming from the womb. He was blinking and alert, turning toward his mother whenever she spoke. The shadow of death which hangs over all births had passed, and everyone breathed a sigh of relief. It was at this point that I realized in the rush I had left my camera bag in the car—a final ironic twist. The moment would be undocumented. I'll just have to put my brain on record," I thought.

This birth was completely unlike the birth of our first son who was delivered in the same hospital, but in a standard hospital labor & delivery room. In that birth, mother and child were both connected to a tangle of monitors and tubes. Doctors and nurses were running in and out of the room, and right after birth the baby was taken away to a nursery for a battery of hospital tests. It was noisy and chaotic and anything but private. At the birth center it was just the four of us (well eventually 5). There were no beeping monitors or needles or anything else. Minimal tests were done and mother and baby were both alert and sharp afterwards. Physically the natural birth took less of a toll even though it was exponentially more intense. Jenn said the hardest thing was the total submission to pain without modulation. She and another fresh-from-labor mom were comparing notes this morning... "There are no words," said my wife. "There are no words," echoed the woman. Later when we discussed things, Jenn said couldn’t outright recommend one type of birth over the other. The lack of relief in this birth was terrifying... She missed the epidural induced pause of the last one. And all those monitors and tubes and needles that had bothered me so much about about the first birth... she had never noticed them, so they weren’t really a factor with her. Of course in this particular birth we wouldn't have had a choice anyway. The wouldn't have been time for an epidural. She did appreciate that I was allowed to stay overnight in the birthcenter, and that the room was our own. No roommates, no nurses interrupting us every few minutes hours. We even had a decent view down 10th Avenue. It was like being in a hotel room.

Late in the evening, lying on the bed with newborn Gabriel between us, we heard another woman in heavy labor—the familiar deep moans, curses and cries penetrating the walls. During lulls we heard her husband saying things, like "just relax, it will be ok. Breath. Try to relax honey" and it sounded so... so... impotent and ridiculous... he sounded like he wasn't even convincing himself... "he should just shut up" Jenn said. "True true," I agreed. We both laughed.

Gabriel Min-Gul Gutierrez

March 1, 2007

Born @ 8:45PM, 9 pounds 12 ounces, 21inches

Mother and baby are just fine.

More to follow...

in labor

March 1, 2007

Jenn's labor started and is gradually ramping up. We're still at home. Raul Andres is running around the kitchen table being chased by his grandmother. The contractions are starting to get intense. Gotta split.

Holding Pattern

February 28, 2007

Everyone predicted our 2nd child to be born already, but he's taking his time. I'm in the middle of an ugly cold so I wouldn't mind if the birth were delayed a few days as sneezing on newborns is not recommended. The due date is today or tomorrow or yesterday depending on which chart you believe. My dad keeps saying, "He should have been born already," as if we are in control. He and my stepmother have also stated they could never love the second one as much as the first. "Impossible" they say in Spanish. When you love one kid so much, and that love has given you so much, the appearance of a second one is almost threatening as if it will dilute what you feel. They underestimate the size of their hearts.

If you've never seen the belly of a woman at full term, it's an extraordinary thing. Knees and elbows poke out when the baby shifts. Occasionally you see a foot or handprint. You push, the little guy inside pushes back. It's staggering how the journey of a few inches will change all our lives. Our first son is 2 years and 3 months old. He understands he'll have a brother soon, but of course he has no idea of how his life will transform. My wife and I are both firstborn, so we empathize.

We're all tired of waiting, ready for what's next. Now if I could just shake this cold.

Related: Undivided World, 2 years and 3 months ago

Jeff Wall Roundup

February 27, 2007

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The new Jeff Wall show at MOMA has managed to stir the soup pitting those who admire Wall against his detractors. Here's a roundup of show reviews and blog posts (most from the last couple of days).

The New York Times profile and show review.

The New Yorker show review.

The Tate mounted Wall retrospective last year. The Tate site includes many images... good to check out for a bit of perspective.

Chris Keeley's thoughtful review.

Wall's show inspired Time to write a somewhat dismissive article on "staged photos". They group Wall with Cindy Sherman, Gregory Crewdson, and AES&F.

Alec Soth's blog entry on the Wall portrait by Justine Kurland in the Times article sparked this interesting discussion on artists doing editorial work.

An article on the Vancouver art scene and Wall's place in it.

Of course there is a wikipedia entry on Wall.

The Landscapist says he likes some of Wall's work but is annoyed by the underlying premise of the work...

Paul Butzi on Wall and 'nowhereness'.

Jon Anderson muses on Wall's constructed images as compared to found images

In Wall's work Dan Ng sees some redemption for creative people in advertising.

Doug Pummer is of two minds on the work...

As for me, I respect Wall. His recent images almost never hit me in the gut as did his earlier ones (sometimes I see the seams of the photoshop trickery which is a turnoff), but he's an important artist with something to say and I pay attention when he makes art... I appreciate the pure richness of his large lightboxes and enjoy decoding his art historical allusions. Much of the criticism of Wall comes from other photographers who find his work somehow threatening. I believe the opposite is true, and that his work has enlarged the range and scope of what people accept as art photography. I'm excited to see the show.

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The Leopard Muses on His Spots

February 27, 2007

I cannot change them,
I am told by you people
who apply the rule of leopards
to the two-legged ape
who fancies himself better
then those who go about on four.

Why would I wish to change them,
though they do little to blend
me to the gray walls of my cage?
I am not gifted to ask
myself or others what a spot is
or what a spot is not.
We are given what we have
and left with what we've got.

by Paul Ruffin
From Issue 169 of the Paris Review

First Snow

February 26, 2007

Yeah. It's actually the 2nd snow, but the first one didn't really count as it was mainly ice. Perhaps tomorrow we'll finally be able to break in the sled.

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Weng Fen

February 24, 2007

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Weng Fen is an artist from Hainan Island in China. Many of his projects—'Bird's Eye View', 'On the Wall', 'Staring at the Lake' and so on—feature figures, usually schoolkids, with their backs to the camera staring out over the landscape. To my eye they recall Casper David Friedrich's The Wanderer. It's compelling stuff especially when viewed in multiple. I'd love to see a exhibition of his one day. Anyone know if he's ever been shown in New York?

Weng Fen's personal website (with installation photos)

found via Moca Taipei

Update: Speaking of Freidrich, the Sunday Times today has a nice article on Justine Kurland who admired Friedrich so much that she named her son Casper. Her monumental landscapes with their tiny figures owe something to Friedrich but more to 17th and 18th century European painters who used their tiny naked figures to suggest something of the fecundity of unspoiled nature. I am most compelled by her work that keeps that distance using the smallness of the figures to emphasize the vast scale of the land. When she gets closer to her subjects and they are photographed from a few feet away all the uniqueness of the work falls away and they just become pretty nudes... well at least to my eyes. You can see examples of both types of kurland's images in her current show which runs through April.

Pepper's Ghost

February 22, 2007

I was curled up in my son's toddler bed last night finishing up our nightime routine of 4 books and a song about the moon when a streetsweeper two stories below drove slowly past the house . The flashing lights refracting through the window panes lit up the dark room painting the walls with bright orange and white squares. After the vehicle turned the corner and the room fell dark again I heard my son's quiet voice, "Wow." he said. Then after a long pause, "more?" and then, "more!" Before I could say, I couldn't make more, as if on cue, another streetsweeper began it's slow journey down the block. This time my son held up his hands to catch the light making huge shadows on the ceiling. After this too passed my son, content, bumped his head against mine and closed his eyes. Or so I thought. After a few minutes I turned to see if he had dozed off and was greeted by wide open eyes. He was watching me, studying me. "No daddy" he said seeing me notice him. Then he put a hand over my eyes. "Sleep Daddy," he said. I played along closing my eyes waiting for him to fade and for the hand to drop but while I was waiting I was the one who drifted off.

We parents complain about the lack of sleep, the length nighttime routine, and the hoops through which we have to jump to induce sleep... time gallops by so fast it's often hard to slow down and say, I want to hold on to this particular day and not let it get lost in the slippery blur of life... I woke up an hour or two later, my son finally asleep, his nose pressed up against my ear and slowly began to make my escape. As I was sitting on the edge of the bed clearing my fuzzy head I had one of those moments where time folded and I was suddenly a kid again on a similar small bed somewhere in Houston Texas a lifetime ago. In the middle of the night a firetruck's siren broke my sleep. I opened my eyes to a room painted in red flashing light. I'm pretty sure I said, "wow." Looking down at my son I wondered if this evening would lodge somewhere deep in his memory. Probably not—those early memory banks are most often reserved for bee stings, and tumbles, and getting lost in department stores. Maybe he'll remember, but probably not, and if not, I hope I have the wherewithal to remind him someday.

How to buy good corn tortillas

February 21, 2007

1. Look at the ingredients.

2. Good tortillas have 3 ingredients: corn, lime, water. That's it. If anything else is listed in the ingredients you your tortillas are no good. If your supermarket doesn't have tortillas with these ingredients (and these ingredients only), go somewhere else. As far as I know there is no national brand of real tortillas. Those circular things Mission calls tortillas are lifeless tasteless cardboard-like abominations.

3. If there are no tortillas in your supermarket, find one of my fellow Mexicans. If he has any love of eating at all he will be able to tell you where you can find real tortillas.

In Brooklyn you can find good tortillas here: Tortilleria Mexicana 271 Starr St., between Wyckoff and St. Nicholas Ave, Brooklyn 718-456-3422

In LA you can find good tortillas in little bodegas all over Echo Park. Also at Acapulco Tortilleria @ 1309 S Vermont Ave or at the Santa Fe Tortilleria 1715 W Sunset Blvd

Bonus:

Good flour tortillas:

1. Look at the ingredients. Good flour tortillas generally contain lard, salt, flour, salt, baking powder and water.

2. Good flour tortillas are virtually impossible to find in the US because Americans are terrified of lard. "Lowfat tortillas" are an abomination. Why even bother?

3. Your best bet is to make them yourself. This is a good flour tortilla recipe.

Double bonus:

Sugar tortillas: Right after you put your tortilla dough on the comal you can smear it with a little bit of sugar. Then instead of flipping the tortilla you fold it over to make delicious sugar tortillas, my favorite childhood breakfast treat. Instead of sugar you can also substitute a bit of honey. Equally delicious.

Japanese Photoblogs

February 19, 2007

After a post a few weeks ago featuring a Japanese photographer, several emails came in from Japan pointing me to this big list of Japanese photoblogs. The list features a huge range of sites from serious art portfolios to casual everyday "I ate eggs this morning" kind of blogs. Navigation is often obtuse so be warned. Images from a few of the photographers whose work caught my eye are listed below (click on the image to launch the respective sites).

tetsuomi.jpgTetsuomiSukeda


hondaart.jpgOkajimax S.Hondart

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dionnejp.jpgKoji Takiguchi

nakamuraayao.jpgAyao Nakamura

nijino-kizashi-petit.jpgSachiko Kawanabe

digikazi.jpgYoshihisa Kajioka

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everybreathyoutake.jpgAtsushi Saito

Here's a bonus: The project "broken" on this blog by Akihiro Takahashi adds snippets of live sound to the images... I find it adds a real immediacy... nice idea.

New round of Hot Shots

February 19, 2007

Ka-Man Tse

Jen Bekman and her panel have announced a new round of Hot Shots winners. I particularly like the work of Ka-Man Tse (her image is shown above) and can't wait to see her prints in person. You can find more of her work on her website.

Babbling (a bit of a ramble)

February 19, 2007

After being turned away from In the Lives of Others at the Angelica, Jenn and I finally got around to seeing Babel tonight... Neither of us was excited about the movie as we both thought Iñárritu had lost his touch after the success of the great Amores Perros (hostile reviews also put a damper on our enthusiasm). We both found 21 Grams to be heavy handed and sort of falsely arty, and feared Babel was more of the same—maybe even more annoying. But both of us were pleasantly wowed. Jenn deemed it 'pitch perfect.' I kept thinking about how the scenes that were supposed to evoke 'the other'—the scenes in Morocco, and Mexico, and Japan—were all familiar to me via both travel and family... so the film felt oddly close even though all the situations were extreme...

Anyway in the cab home, we were discussing what we had just seen, when the cabdriver, a man named Mohammed from Dhaka turned to us and said, "You are talking about Babel. I didn't understand this movie. Why did they have a story about Morocco boy shooting tourist together with a girl looking for love in Japan and a story in Mexico?" We explained as best we could.

The conversation reminded me of discussions with my grandfather who remembered being confused during his first movie experiences by cuts. He remembered not being able to figure out how the actor got from one place to another so quickly.

Jenn's mother, a woman who grew up in the shadow of the Korean war, has a hard time understanding fiction. "Is this story a real thing?" she will ask. If it's not "real", more often than not the story will be dismissed. Movie flashbacks are confusing to her. "Why is it out of order," she asked once, "They should put the beginning at the beginning."

The parents of a friend of mine from India have a somewhat different problem. Having grown up on Bollywood films in which plots are endlessly recycled, they only accept a narrow set of possible storylines. They dismiss American films by saying, "No singing. No dancing. No hero. No wedding." It's almost as if for them the building blocks of narrative are hard coded and they can't deviate from the pattern.

The cabdriver listened carefully to our explanations about the connections between the various storylines. We explained things literally: The Japanese man gave his gun to the Moroccan and the woman who was shot was the mother of the kids the maid took to Mexico, but I wanted to say this, "The director is Mexican, all good Mexican directors tell stories about death. These were all stories about dealing with the death of family members." But I said nothing, knowing the words would have been wasted. "This was a strange movie" the driver replied, "you know it was very hot in the theater. It was hard to think."

Creation Myths

February 17, 2007

Before your first child is born, if you are like most of us, you tell yourself lies.

You say, "We won’t change our lives."
You say, "We’ll won’t be like those other parents."
You say, "We won’t be like our parents."

But of course your lives change. Of course you’re like those other parents, obsessing over every burp and gurgle. And maybe not initially, but after a bit, you find yourself doing and saying things that remind you of your own parents. That much is inevitable. It happens to everybody.

When preparing for the first you have this illusion that you can make things perfect, or almost perfect. "If I just plan everything in advance," you think... So you buy too much gear, you paint and prep and read too many baby books. You develop plans to avoid the sleep deprivation everyone talks about.

And then the kid arrives and those first few weeks almost kill you because while your kid is booting up all his systems nothing goes according to plan. Nothing happens the way it’s "supposed to". There is always some crisis you can’t solve. There are never enough hands around to help and of course, you never get enough sleep. Your life changes, fundamentally and irrevocably.

And then, if you are like many of us, after about eighteen months or so you start having so much fun, you forget those first hard months and go for a second. During the second pregnancy you are so busy with the first child so you don’t think about the pregnancy much at all. You don’t plan or read books, it just kind of progresses on it’s own until the last few weeks when you realize "holy cow we’re having a another whole kid" and fear begins to creep over you as you remember those first hard weeks. "We’re not ready yet, we need more time. How did 9 months pass?" you ask yourself. You worry about how the first child will accept the second. You worry that you won’t have enough time for the second, and you worry about how life will change again just as you were starting to figure things out and become yourselves again. But there a line of thought that provides deep comfort at what lies ahead, "Things will not be perfect. We’ll fail just as we did before. It’s going to be hard. We’re not going to sleep. Nothing will go as planned. But everything will be ok. Just as we did the first time we’ll ride things out. Make things up. Break a few rules, and it will all be just fine. We know it will."
. . . . .
p.s. This evening Jenn turned to me and said, 'We can't have this baby yet, we still have too much to do.'
'Like what', I asked.
'We don't have enough onesies.'
'You aren't going to have the baby because we're low on onesies?'
'What's he going to wear?'

also:

apropos of nothing she turned to me and said:
"When I'm in labor nobody is allowed to say to me, I'm opening like a flower."
"Did anyone say that last time?"
"No. But If I hear it I'm going to hit someone."

The Ethnographic Image: Film, Photography and Ethnography

February 16, 2007

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New Yorkers should note that tomorrow night (tonight actually as it's after midnight) Nelson Hancock will be moderating a panel discussion on ethnographic images at the School for Visual Arts... sounds pretty interesting and I'm going to try to make it there. The image above was taken in Guinea by panelist Robert Gardner and is titled Ritual War.

The panel will include:

The aforementioned Robert Gardner, filmmaker "Dead Birds," "Rivers of Sand," "Forest of Bliss." Author most recently of The Impulse to Preserve (Other Press 2006). Founder of the Film Study Center at Harvard. images

Susan Meiselas photographer and filmmaker, books include: Nicaragua, Carnival Strippers, Kurdistan and Encounters with the Dani. Meiselas is a member of the Magnum Photo Agency and has held solo exhibitions in major cities around the world. She has received numerous awards, including the Leica Award for Excellence, The Hasselblad Foundation prize and a MacArthur Fellowship.

Rosalind Morris, professor of anthropology, Columbia University. Her writings include monographs on spirit mediumship and the mass media in Northern Thailand, and the archive of visual anthropology. Other essays have addressed photography and its discontents, art in South Africa, the history of fetishism and the violence of culture in anthropological theory.

For more information, please contact the Artist Talk on Art office at 212-779-9250 or contact Nelson Hancock, the panel organizer and moderator at 718-408-1190.
@ School for Visual Arts (209 East 23rd) in the amphitheater. It's $7.

Book of Portraits, 1987

February 15, 2007

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The amusing thing about being an regular diarist is that if enough time goes by you eventually discover stuff you've utterly forgotten. There must be a term for looking at some younger version of yourself and feeling embarrassed because in looking back you once again get wrapped up in the emotions of that particular time. You are ashamed for yourself for not knowing what you know now.... Make sense?

Anyway... in college I had this idea for a "book of portraits" with one portrait per day for 50 days. But I was basically too shy to ask anyone else to participate so it became a book of self portraits. On the next page I included a list of girls I wanted to shoot. I never worked up the courage to ask any of them to be photographed.

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If you haven't guessed it already from the cluster of posts of content from 1986/87, I recently found a box full of journals/photos from that era...

Romualdo Garcia

February 12, 2007

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I'm always surprised when my fellow photographers don't know the work of Romualdo Garcia. After Manuel Alvarez Bravo and Agustin Casasola he's one of the icons of early Mexican photography. Garcia was based in Guanajuato where he ran a busy portrait studio for almost 60 years. Unlike most studio photographers who toil in obscurity his mastery was recognized in his own lifetime and he won the bronze medal at the 1889 World Exhibition in Paris. Despite his fame, he never travelled outside the city of his birth, always giving the excuse that there were too many clients waiting, too many portraits to take.

There are several Spanish language books on Garcia. The best is probably Romualdo Garcia, un fotagrafo, una ciudad, una epoca.

Related: Seydou Keita, more on Seydou Keita, part of my collection of photostudio portraits from tibet, Colors Magazine issue on Photo Studios

American Wasteland 10:47PM

February 9, 2007

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Channel 2:
"Are you saying the blood was used in ritual sacrifice?"

Channel 21:
"Pie?"
"Pie!"
"Pie."

Channel 39:
"Lo voy a matar!"
"No, No puedes matar un niño!"

Channel 41:
"Vivo en un casa de sangre."

Channel 66
"When they come to that conclusion that babies go to heaven, they are even more in revolt against the word of God."

Channel 203
"He was found in a bathroom without his clothes on with his head severed."

Channel 208
"Look at this big tall guy. He takes it as it comes which makes for a nice bullride. Oww! Look at that guy holding on with those big long legs.-

Channel 227
"Are you serious? You can't be serious? $68 for display case with the bear claw? You can't be serious Shelia, are you going to start sending out cash with these babies? Every knife in this set—the swamp lizard, the bear claw, the avenger, the american hero, the dragon claw, and the green beret—is a hand crafted fighting machine. Can you say fast, these are fast knives. They DO NOT want to mess with you when you are packing one of these. So get off the porch and pick up the case."

Channel 244
"AAAAAAAAAArrrrrrrrrrrrrrgggggggghhhhhh."

Channel 254
"I'm scared. I'm scared. No. No. LET ME OUT OF HERE!!!!"

Channel 261
"Hanna refused to give in to the unthinkable, especially in the case of Lady her favorite."

Channel 276
"A hardened witness to battle the hyena will eat it's own in times of drought and famine."

Dorthe Alstrup

February 6, 2007

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I discovered Dorthe Alstrup's photography via her entry in Jen Bekman's Hey Hot Shot competition more than a year ago. Her body of work is full of evocative imagery suggestive of fairy tales or short stories. Look at this one for example... or this one or this one... oh hell, they're all great, just go browse yourself. I hope someone gives her a show here in New York soon. I'd love to see these as prints.


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