Rena Effendi

May 8, 2009

The photographer collective still-dancing highlighted the work of Azerbaijani photographer Rena Effendi today. Effendi's most compelling work takes us into places most of us would have no access to, showing us the facade presented to the outside world, and then digging deeper and breaking down stereotypes and mythology in the process. As a jumping off point check out her portfolios House of Happiness and Twenty-something in Tehran, you won't be disappointed.

Philippe Halsman on jumping

May 5, 2009


This is a lightly edited passage from Philippe Halsman's classic Jump Book which was published in 1959 and dedicated "To my subjects who defied gravity".

Then came the crisis which changed everything. I was commissioned by the Ford Company to photograph for its fiftieth birthday, the entire Ford family...

There was the charming matriarch of one of the great American families, and suddenly, like a pang, I felt the burning desire to photograph her jumping.

'Are you going mad, Halsman?' I asked myself. "Will you propose that she jump—a grandmother and an owner of innumerable millions of dollars?"

I asked Mrs. Edsel Ford, "May I take a picture of you jumping?"

I have never seen an expression of greater astonishment. "You want me to jump with my high heels?" she asked incredulously.

I explained that it was not obligatory. Mrs. Edsel Ford asked her children to excuse her and went with me to the hall. She took her shoes off and jumped gracefully a couple of times. Suddenly I heard the voice of Mrs. Henry Ford behid me: "May I also jump for you, Philippe?"

A year and a half later I was telling René, my brother-in-law, that I already had a collection of sixty famous jumps and that I had not met with a refusal. René who is hopelessly French answered, "America is a young nation. Inside every American is an adolescent. But try to ask a Frenchman to jump. Il te rira ua nez - he will laugh into your nose!"

The following week I had to photograph a French writer, Romain Gary, for his book jacket. Gary jumped for me several times. His jumps were both romantic and heroic. It looked as though, in mid-air he was offering his chest to enemy bullets. After the sixth jump I closed my camera. Gary asked, "May I please jump once more? I don't think I have expressed myself completely."

Vaguely Related: Bounce

Mountains and Valleys

May 4, 2009

There's a Korean saying describing sleeping arrangements for young families that goes, "the parents should be the mountains, and the children are the valley between." While the words probably sound better in Korean I like the imagery. As a kid I remember that feeling of being nestled between my parents or my grandparents as the safest most secure of hideouts. I also literally remember the adults as mountains—huge and immovable. I remember studying their arms, legs, and torsos noting patterns of freckles and wear, climbing over and around them, and even of tracing the whirls of their fingerprints. I would put my head to their chests to listen to the murmur and rumble of their internal machinery, and I would survey their slack sleeping faces inch by inch. More than once I had the thought that I should I ever get lost in the dark I could find them by scent alone. So when I wake up from a nap and sense my two year old an inch away from my face, or gently pulling at my earlobes, or studying my toes, I leave my eyes closed and play possum. I want him to make a good map.

William Lamson's Automatic

April 20, 2009

William Lamson has returned from South America where he produced a compelling and fun new body of work titled Automatic with subsections titled Sea Drawings, Molino Drawings, Kite Drawings, Tree Drawings, etc... Beautiful visuals touched by whimsy and grounded by serious purpose have come to define Lamson's art. I've found myself always looking forward to what's next and being pleasantly surprised with each new project...

Abuelito's Ears

April 18, 2009


My son Gabriel has my grandfather's ears. I love them so.

Free Music Archive

April 15, 2009

One of my favorite radio stations, WFMU, has created a new site called The Free Music Archive devoted to posting curated selections of free (legal!) recordings. The site is brand new, but it looks to be a good way to discover new music. In just a few minutes on the site I found myself downloading many tracks to itunes discovering new music (Hi Edith Frost, I'm a fan now), older music (A few rare Daniel Johnston tracks) and really old music ( Sophie Tucker). I do worry that the site will scale given it's interface but I imagine that it will improve and grow over time. It's off to a good start and WFMU's archive is deep; it's worth checking out...

Michael Lundgren

April 15, 2009


I'm excited we're releasing 2 prints (not the image above) by Michael Lundgren on 20x200 this afternoon (the prints can be found here and here). Michael is a photographer who works in the grand tradition of American landscape photographers who roamed the West in the late 19th and early 20th centry... He writes of his work:

I once read that "the twilight is the crack between the worlds." When dusk comes, a grayclarity permeates the air. It is a dark that one can see into. As Emmet Gowin once said, it is here that one can "participate in the game of feeling the unknown."

That's what I like so much about Lundgren's work... he works in the shadows and in those in-between places...

His recent book Michael Lundgren: Transfigurations strikes me as an instant classic.

Easter 1977

April 12, 2009

From one of my old journals:

April 10, 1977, Easter Woke up and read Encyclopedia Brown. Had to go to church. The egg hunt was fun, but I don't like eggs. Everyone ate eggs except me. Played kickball in our church clothes at Jeff's house. His mom wouldn't let us play football. We watched the movie Treasure Island. It was dull except for the black spot. Jeff's mom gave us eggs again! We went home and put on normal clothes and I played in the woods and lit firecrackers with Bill. Bill is a firecracker nut. We blew up some eggs. It was fun. No eggs tomorrow!

Benedikt Partenheimer

April 11, 2009



Benedikt Partenheimer was one of the winners of the Hearst 8x10 Biennial. His winning entry was a series of portraits of famous artists and photographers taken from behind them as they were (presumably) engaged in the act of looking/contemplation. While many fo the artists are surely posing, the series still works.. and it's interesting how the viewer's relationship to the series shifts after reading the titles of the pieces. Take a look at the pictures above and note youfrresponse to them without knowing the subjects (one of them should be known to all photography nerds)... then click through to Partenheimer's site and find their names...

Overheard less than an hour after landing in San Francisco

April 3, 2009

Girl 1: My friend dated a guy who renamed himself Paradox.

Girl 2: That’s pretty bad, but maybe it was his worst flaw, maybe Paradox was paradoxically a pretty cool guy.

Girl 3: A guy I know from college renamed himself Email. I hung out with him at my college reunion.

Girl 2: Did you laugh at him?

Girl 3: Well I wouldn’t have recommended it but it was the 90’s and seemed kinda cool at the time. Now everyone knows him as Email. If your name is Email everyone is going to remember you. I think he likes that.

Feeling fuzzy

April 1, 2009

.ƃuol ʎɐp llɐ sɯǝlqoɹd pɹıǝʍ ƃuıʌɐɥ uǝǝq sɐɥ ɹoʇıuoɯ ʎɯ

Peter Bialobrzeski

March 27, 2009

Whether he's shooting in Asia or India or the Middle East, Peter Bialobrzeski takes his 4x5 out in the world and makes evocative images. When he's shooting on the street and including people, because of their long exposure times and subject matter, the images evoke 19th century photography. But when he's shooting from a distance especially when he's shooting around Asia's megacities his work evokes Blade Runner using the same technique. It's a tension I like and find fascinating. Bialobzeski's site is actually a collection of links to other sites that showcase his work... While most of the images are presented too small you get a sense of how spectacular they could be as prints. Also of interest is Bialobrzeski's early work which is shot in a completely different documentary style. Fascinating to see what happened after he found his calling.

NYTimes Review

Recommended Bialobrzeski's books: XXX Jouney - Journeys into the Spiritual Heart of India & Heimat

Pekka Turunen

March 27, 2009

The Kominek Gallery in Berlin is opening a show and selling a few precious copies of the cult classic book by Pekka Turunen, Against The Wall. I've loved this body of work for years and would be thrilled to see it in person (Tickets to Berlin anyone?). The website only shows a small fraction of this project which unfortunately isn't available anywhere I know of online. Turunen is in good company in this gallery which also shows Joakim Eskildsen, Misha Kominek, Andrew Miksys, Birthe Piontek, and Simon Roberts. An impressive crowd.

Dave Berman (Actual Air)

March 27, 2009

In the last week a book of poetry titled Actual Air by Dave Berman (of Silver Jews fame) has come up three times in conversation. I re-read it tonight. Such a good way to end an otherwise lousy day.

Here's a sample to inspire you go grab the book yourself:

Classic Water

I remember Kitty saying we shared a deep longing for
the consolation prize, laughing as we rinsed the stagecoach.

I remember the night we camped out
and I heard her whisper
"think of me as a place" from her sleeping bag
with the centaur print.

I remember being in her father's basement workshop
when we picked up an unknown man sobbing
over the shortwave radio

and the night we got so high we convinced ourselves
that the road was a hologram projected by the headlight beams.

I remember how she would always get everyone to vote
on what we should do next and the time she said
"all water is classic water" and shyly turned her face away.

At volleyball games her parents sat in the bleachers
like ambassadors from Indiana in all their midwestern schmaltz.

She was destroyed when they were busted for operating
a private judicial system within U.S. borders.

Sometimes I'm awakened in the middle of the night
by the clatter of a room service cart and I think back on Kitty.

Those summer evenings by the government lake,
talking about the paradox of multiple Santas
or how it felt to have your heart broken.

I still get a hollow feeling on Labor Day when the summer ends

and I remember how I would always refer to her boyfriends
as what's-his-face, which was wrong of me and I'd like
to apologize to those guys right now, wherever they are:

No one deserves to be called what's-his-face.

--David Berman. Actual Air

As a bonus here's a couple of Silver Jews interviews: circa 1989, circa 2002, 2005 & 2008

Nadia Sablin

March 27, 2009


I don't know if she's recently updated her website, but the volume of Nadia Sablin's online output seems to grown significantly since I last checked in. I first encountered Sablin's work a few years ago via Hey Hot Shot, and had always found her portraiture compelling while simultaneously having the desire to make radically different edits of the work she presents... Of course wanting to make different edits of other people's is my general state of being (so much easier than editing your own!)... Sablin is a Russian expatriate who has lived in the US since she was 12.

Birthe Piontek

March 5, 2009


I've been a big fan of Birthe Piontek the photographer and the person since seeing her work a few years ago at Review Santa Fe. She's just released a new project titled The Idea of the North, full compelling environmental portraits and quietly emotional landscapes.

The project was shot over three months in a small community in the Yukon, Piontek writes:

I experienced first hand the mystery and fascination of life above the 60th parallel, and met people who came here as part of their quest for the idea of North.

I’m not the first observer to be simultaneously intrigued, yet remain a visitor. Glenn Gould, whose work inspired the title, wrote after visiting the North briefly, "I've read about it, written about it, and even pulled up my parka once and gone there. Yet like all but a few Canadians I've had no real experience of the North. I've remained, of necessity, an outsider. And the North remained for me, a convenient place to dream about, spin tales about,” and in the end, return South.

3 Stories about Rocks

March 4, 2009

For the last few weeks, the conversation I have with Gabriel (who turned 2 on Sunday) at bedtime goes like this:

Me: "What kind of story do you want tonight?'

Gabriel: "Rock story."

So I tell a story about a rock. If I try to tell a story twice I invariably hear the demand, "new one".

Anyway here are 3 new stories about rocks... more on the way...


Once there was a rock.

As far as the rock knew, it was alone in the world — one rock sitting quietly by itself on a grassy field that spread out as far as the eye can see. But this rock had no eyes and it saw nothing, so it did the only thing it knew how to do, it rolled. It rolled through days and nights and rain and fog until it bumped up against another rock.

The two rocks enjoyed one other's company so there they stayed until they were bumped by a third rock and three was even nicer than two so they cuddled up for a very long time until along came another, and maybe a year later another, and another, and so on. After a more days than even I know how to count, where there had once been one rock in a field, there was now a great pile of rocks. Birds came and made their nests on the pile and grass grew up around the edges and the rocks forgot they were rocks and today they speak with one voice when they bother to speak at all, because they are happy bunch, happy to have found one another in such a wide world, happy to have found their place. And today they call themselves a mountain.


Continue reading "3 Stories about Rocks" →

Ellen Carey

February 27, 2009

While I rarely link to purely abstract photography, I appreciate the difficulty of creating abstract images. In many ways, especially in photography, creating meaningful abstraction (minimalism also), is a more difficult than creating traditional images.

I recently saw one of Ellen Carey's "Polaroid Pulls" and was struck by her work's lushness, resonance (her process echos some of the very first experiments in photography) and irony (especially now that Polaroid is fading out of existence and chemistry is being replaced with pixels and bits).

Links: A nice online exhibition of Carey's work., Carey's Website,

Li Wei

February 21, 2009


Li Wei is a Chinese photographer born in Inner Mongolia (part of China). He documents the region of his birth in a project titled simply The Earth. I've travelled through the region several times and have a great affection for the harsh emptiness of the land and the warmth of the people. His photos bring some of that back to me.

Rusyns - Lost Homes

February 16, 2009

I know I'm late to the game in pointing out a project by Lucia Nimcová titled Rusyns: Lost Homes which documents an obscure Slovakian minority who were displaced when a dam was built and their villages inundated, but it's nicely done project and worth checking out if you haven't seen it. I only wish there were more photographers and more connections between images/maps/audio etc....

Used Book Store

February 11, 2009

I love used book stores, but
there is always that forlorn melancholy
Of knowing that one day your copies
of Arabia Deserta, Stock Photographs: The Fort Worth Fat Stock Show and Rodeo, and
The Voyage of the Beagle,
will one day be jumbled amongst
someone else's cook books, Judy Blume,
and, God forbid, self help literature.

So I write notes in the margins.
I hide pictures between pages.

If I'm feeling magnanimous, I'll tuck a dollar near the good part of the story.

Sometimes I circle words leaving secret messages.

I see these things as little whispers
to the people of the future.
I want to let them know that
that these books too once had other lives.

Mark Ruwedel

February 4, 2009

It would be hard not for me to love Mark Ruwedel's evocatively titled new show Westward the Course of Empire in which Ruwedel photographed the sites of abandoned railway lines in the American and Canadian West. It opens tomorrow at the Yossi Milo Gallery. This new series jibes nicely with Ruwedel's Earthworks portfolio in which he documented the mark of man on the earth (shooting burial mounds, old footpaths, earth art etc), and the effect of time on those marks.

Joe Ades, RIP

February 4, 2009


This is Mr. Ades here in Brooklyn a few months ago. He was always up for a chat about his business, his life, or the things he saw on the street. But the minute customers would show up, it was back to work. I last saw him about a week on a very cold day, occupying his regular spot in Union Square, making sales.

NYTimes Article, The Vanity Fair Article, David Galbraith's De-mythologizing Eulogy (via kottke), photos

Thobias Fäldt

February 2, 2009

m1.jpgSome photographers have stories to tell, some find stories to tell, and some, I think, have internal compasses that are a few degrees off the norm, and are able to create stories, or at least the beginnings of stories, wherever they point their cameras, suggesting narratives, but never finishing them. Thobias Fäldt, a Swedish photographer, is in that last category. His images might not hold together as projects but individually all invite questions and are recognizable as the work an appealing, often humorous, off kilter vision. Fäldt's website is maddeningly obtuse, but contains many gems like the image above, titled White Visitor.

Are you Arabic?

January 28, 2009

Twenty two years ago I was sitting in an empty dining car on a train from Princeton, New Jersey to Washington D.C., when a girl who I did not know slid into the seat across the table from me. I thought she must have mistaken me for a friend by the familiar way she bounded over. She was a few years older than me, preppy, and carried a copy of the New Yorker magazine with a man walking his dog in the snow on the cover. She smelled of vanilla. It was twilight out, a heavy snow was falling, and without looking at me she said, "I hate snow," to which I eventually answered, "Oh... How sad." She turned from the window looking at me carefully, pursed her lips, and began reading her magazine. I continued looking out the window. We sat there in silence for the good part of an hour and then she abruptly rose and said, "You will remember me," and left. I never saw her again.

I remember the sound of the train, the snow swirling by, and the color of the sky which turned from lapis to midnight. I remember I was wearing a plaid shirt with a missing button under my father's overcoat and I remember in my pocket I was carrying a polaroid picture of a lady in black carrying a black umbrella in the snow. I remember the blackwatch scarf the girl wore draped around her neck, cashmere probably, and I remember that smell of vanilla, but I couldn't tell you a single thing about her face, her voice, or even the color of her hair. So, if by some strange fate, you happen to read this girl on the train: "No. It turns out I haven't remembered you, you have flickered away."

Tomokyo Yoneda

January 27, 2009

Tomoko Yoneda is a Japanese photographer based in London whose books I've been studying lately. I'm intrigued by her quiet photos that reveal histories hidden in plain sight. In one portfolio she shoots the locations of foreign spy rendezvous, in another she documents the indirect impressions we make on houses (discolorations from radiator heat for example), and in another she photographs banal landscapes that were the scenes of battles and historical events (a pretty sea view at night turns out to be the location where Dr. Mengele drown himself for example). Her portfolios are little puzzle poems, and reminders that we are all surrounded by ghosts.

More on Yoneda: Deutsche Bank Art Magazine, Japan Times

Jan 20th, 2009

January 21, 2009

I was looking around for a picture that summarized the inauguration for me when as if by telekinesis I received an email from photographer Rachel Feierman with the above image attached. I hope she posts more from the inauguration in her Politics series...

Related: Rachel Hope Feierman

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