October 31, 2007
I have been thinking a lot about what it means to be a photographer in the age of photo-representational painting. With so many of the top artists painting directly from appropriated advertising and editorial imagery, how do we define the fine-art photograph? It seems like the photographer’s response has been to create bodies of work that focus on color, compositional strategies, or conceptual projects – not subject matter. There is also a trend to photograph the ‘other’ – by artists from non-first world countries. The question for photography is – with artists like Elizabeth Peyton and Richard Phillips, how does one make a portrait? I think in some ways it is a very open and interesting time to be making photo-based art, but it is also very difficult to make ‘straight photography.’ Alec Soth’s runaway success has largely been based on his ability to make straight photography, while employing just enough conceptual ‘twist’ to set himself apart from the Joel Sternfeld, Steven Shore tradition.
Richard Phillips painting’s are especially interesting to me – in the context of portraiture. I am still not sure how I feel about using exploitative images of women to represent other forms of political or cultural exploitation. I have to say, reading his artist statement below & interview from his gallery White Cube, he is very intelligent and his work is extremely informed. Lisa Yuskavage has also borrowed from the porn aesthetic, but somehow her images deny the viewer the expected pleasure. I think that photography & painting are always in dialog, either playing off each other and in a slightly aggressive competition. The generation of painters coming up, seem to be moving toward illustration and abstraction.I certainly am not an expert on all of this, but I feel in making work, I have to resolve my own relationship with painting. For me, photography has the ability to capture things that are a part of our current culture, and elevate, explore, critique, evaluate or reflect on it. How I visually represent them in my work, is like painting, in the sense that I can create an image that will be infused with my interpretation of that object, person or place.
Photography does seem to be making a shift, much like painting experienced during the impressionism. With photoshop and digital imaging, artists are free from the high modernist idea of the photographic document. But unlike the work of the 1980′s it does not have to be a collage or a complete deconstruction of the image, it can merely be a revised version of reality. Robert Polidori’s “After The Flood’ images, were not changed in the sense that cars were added or houses were digitally destroyed, but they were enhanced enough to create a heightened view of the devastation. I believe this is where photography is now operates. In this sense the technological and mechanical nature of the photograph sets it apart from painting. There are many photographer’s exploring technology to make portraits. Some successful, many of them not. There has still not been anything as genius as Rineke Dijkstra‘s use of time. Her ‘serials,’ which capture how experience changes a person – are still the most moving and effective use of conceptual device in portraiture I have seen. But I am excited to see how the fine-art portrait is reconciled with the digital age.
Over the last decade, Phillips has developed a striking signature style that derives its tension from a selective use of lurid popular images from that he subjects to the technical, value-laden refinements of academic painting. As a self-conscious American painter weaned on postmodern appropriation strategies…
R.P. In the late eighties and early nineties, appropriation in art often sought to critique society and culture by turning the images of power directly against their source, in an effort to expose the corrupt agendas of larger political entities. There was a decisive separation of the depicted subject from its form in the service of a directed message that, while devaluing the image, attempted to usher in superior ideals. At this stage painting was generally relegated to entertainment/media status, where representations of once expressive styles were seen as a conceptual social critique. The so-called painting emergency sought nothing other than the perpetuation of itself as a still-born medium trading on sympathies of initiated well-wishers. Painting as a medium was seen as an illustrative form, which sacrificed its physical and visual power to an idealistic end. Yet it is precisely the texture of these commingled relationships between times, efforts, irreconcilable differences, and hypocrisies which painting now has the power to meditate on and possess, unleashing new gestures from a position where these delusions can be seen as a control in our present social experiment, where power infused into the visual and physical reality of painting can reflect this, our alienated and fallible state of humanity. (from 2002 interview)
October 31, 2007
Blogs based art shows?? I just read on ArtCal about the third of these new and rather interesting developments in the cyberspace meets real world collaborations. I heart photograph & Conscientious have both evolved from online curating to the real world shows, and it seems that now that blogging by artist’s is an art:
Excerpt from Bill Gusky’s article (Artblog Comments)
A number of artists have entered the blog arena, writing about art and the art world as they participate in it through their visual work. There have always been artists who write about art, and at times their writing has been highly influential; Donald Judd is one name that leaps to mind. As a new art narrative emerges, writers of all stripes – critics, historians, curators and even art bloggers — will play a large part in shaping, interpreting and defining it.
This exhibition focuses on the work of artists who are active art blog writers. The work you see here emerged in the studio in near-simultaneity with the artist’s written expressions. These twin efforts – art making and blog writing — sometimes appear to flow together and intertwine beautifully, and at other times almost seem to be in diametric opposition.
Personally I find blogging a great way, post art school, to keep myself researching and looking at other artists work. But more than anything, I think blogging creates community and the flow of information. It is not easy to keep up with everything happening out there, and I am starting to rely on some of my online cohorts to disseminate the art & photo worlds for me. But blogging as an art, that I have to think about.
East Village / Lower East Side
170 East 2nd street, 917-683-0643
November 3, 2007 – January 12, 2008
Opening: Saturday, November 3, 6 – 8PM
October 29, 2007
Thanks to Speak, See, Remember for this very strange and interesting find. PhotoQuotes.com is a site, of you guessed it, quotes of well-known (and obscure) photogs. What is perhaps most compelling is that someone embarked on this rather monumental task of compiling, categorizing and posting these tidbit’s. Some profound, some illuminating and some just plain boring. I have cherry-picked some that I thought were worth a read.
I hope that these photographs are sterile, that there’s no emotional content. -Lewis Baltz
The thing that’s important to know is that you never know. You’re always sort of feeling your way. -Diane Arbus
A photograph is a secret about a secret. The more it tells you the less you know. -Diane Arbus
There are too many people studying it [photography] now who are never going to make it. You can’t give them a formula for making it. You have to have it in you first, you don’t learn it. The seeing eye is the important thing. -Imogen Cunningham
One advantage of the discovery of the Photographic Art will be, that it will enable us to introduce into our pictures a multitude of minute details which add to the truth and reality of the representation, but which no artist would take the trouble to faithfully copy from nature. -William Henry Fox Talbot
From the first moment I handled my lens with a tender ardour. -Julia Margaret Cameron
Photography has no dark sides ! -August Sander
If you want to photograph a man spinning, give some thought to why he spins. Understanding for a photographer is as important as the equipment he uses. -Margaret Bourke-White
If I could tell the story in words, I wouldn’t need to lug around a camera. -Lewis Wickes Hine
The most difficult thing for me is a portrait. You have to try and put your camera between the skin of a person and his shirt. -Henri Cartier-Bresson
Unless a picture shocks, it is nothing. -Marcel Duchamp
If you want reality take the bus. -David LaChapelle
October 28, 2007
I saw this on NYTimes.com blog, Dr. Green focuses not only on pesticides but on how foods affect the environment. On his website he goes into detail about the amount of oil used in modern farm production, and the effect on our water supply from pesticide runoff. The idea is to take responsibility for the effect you have on the planet with your eating choices. I also like that he address’s cost, most families (and artists for that matter) can’t afford to go all organic, but he makes it clear that even switching to one or two of the top foods, can make a difference. I will say the production value of the videos is kind of hokey, but it’s nice to see someone making an effort to provide information in such a reasonable, informative manner. I have been trying to be organic for a long time, but higher cost makes it impossible to be 100%. It’s nice to know that I can still make an impact with a few changes.
This is obviously becoming a big issue in our country, there are already 379 posts on the Times site about the article. There is quite a bit of contention in the posts: claims that dairy, potatoes & peanuts are bad for you in any form, debates about the truthfulness in organic labeling, and questions about choosing between organic and locally produced food. There does not seem to be much agreement on this subject. My feelings are that most Americans eat these foods, and it is probably a lot easier to get them to go organic, then to give them up all together. I find it interesting that are culture is equally obsessed with health, eating & external appearances. It seems like we are always having to choose between the 3. It would be nice is food that tasted good, was also healthy and kept us looking good.
Top 10 Organic Foods – Dr. Greene’s Organic Rx
4. Baby Foods
11. Wine – Indeed, hard to find good & inexpensive choices.
Edward Weston understood our desire for food was related to other desires, and therefore irrational. Perhaps we will not make better choices, until we stop thinking about food in terms good/bad, indulge/deny.
October 25, 2007
Smarmy, too clever for his own good, overly ‘meta’, or genius, Tim Davis, makes me hate him. Hate him for being smarter than everyone else! I read about Tim’s new body of work, My Audience on Ofer Wolberger’s blog, Horses Think. As an artist starting out, I am currently working very hard putting together my first book prospectus. For someone in my shoes, having a book published of my work is a dream come true scenario. So you can only imagine my reaction to Tim’s photos of his audiences on his book tour promoting My Life in Politics. But that is exactly why the pictures are so good. The world is suddenly flooded with very talented artists, all you have to do is go to i heart photograph or flak photo, to see the overwhelming quantity of great, good, decent and not so great work out there. It is a little daunting if I allow myself to think about it. And then here is Tim, who is super successful, has everything most photogs are aiming for, showing us what it feels like once you get there. And the meager, bored audiences pack quite a punch. Of course, I am sure there were audiences that were engaged and into the book. The pictures are definitely a statement on the current photo & art market. It certainly helped me remember to be patient and to focus on the things I love about my work – the other stuff hopefully comes when its the right moment. It’s always better to get success when you are no longer dependent on the praise of others, or sensitive to the rejection of the peanut galley. I am not a big fan of work about ‘art’ but Tim is the rare exception who manages to get it right.
October 23, 2007
Found this on another world press blog. Sometimes the best part about the Internet is finding little gems like this. Yes perhaps a giant sucking hole of time wasting, but sometimes you do learn stuff or find things that were worth the hours that slipped by in a state of near semi-consciousness.
October 22, 2007
Well I had an amazing vacation, Miami is great off season. Our flight home was even more stressful then the disaster on the way. It seems customer service no longer exists in the airline industry. It is too bad, because no matter how great your trip is, the airline sucks any feelings of relaxation or happiness out of you. The latest exciting development is paying $10 per bag. And first they took the free honey roasted peanuts away, then the pretzels, then the food, and now even water & soda must be purchased – at least on Spirit Airlines. I imagine soon we will asked to ‘chip in’ for gas, like in a ride share. I remember as a child, the flight attendants offered you pillows, blankets and magazines, of course there was a smoking section then. (I guess not all the changes are bad)
After seeing my last post, Barney Kulok alerted me to Gary Winogrand’s body of work on airports. The work captures the entire travelling experience with Winogrand’s signiture frenetic, birds-eye style. It is amazing to see how much things have changed, but the emotional moments could be from now. There is something wonderful about that. We all is strive to create images that will resonate forty years later. I have borrowed from, Photo-eye and posted from the book below.
In truth, I sometimes forget about Winogrand. He is part of the Frank, Friedlander trifecta, and I tend to go for the other two. But looking at these images, I realize that I have been not given Winogrand his due. There is something about how is manages to be both in the world, but also an invisible commentator. By selecting certain moments, we are given insight into the subject, and our made into voyeurs with the photographer. Modern paparazzi shooters have appropriated Winogrand visual language, but in their effort to expose, they actually reveal nothing. Whereas Winogrand’s images boil over with meaning. The sight of the women at the airport in curlers, who has attempted to cover them with a head scarf, is worth the price of the book for me.
October 17, 2007
Well, today I realized that perhaps I have been working too hard. The last few months have been a whirlwind of trying to get my photo career off the ground and trying to figure out how to make money in the interim. Today I was supposed to leave for my first vacation in 2 years. A short break in Miami to hopefully get some much needed R&R. When we arrived at the airport this morning at 8:30, we discovered that our reservation was for YESTERDAY. Spirit Airlines informed us they had cancelled the whole ticket, and we would have to pay another $600 if we wanted to go to Miami today. Now, if you were the person who made your reservation on the wrong date – imagine how you would feel. Plus, I just dropped a considerable amount of money shooting last week in DC. Rather than screaming, I managed to appeal to the ticket agent and thanks to the help of a kind JetBlue employee, we will be on our way – 5+ hours later….
Spending my entire day at an airport made me think about space. I believe spaces have personalities and that they have an emotional effect on us. The airport is a 3rd space. It is not a destination, or a place anyone wants to spend time. It is temporal glitch, a waiting station as you move to & from other places. How strange it must be to work at an airport. To spend your days stationary, while everyone else is on their way to places that must seem more exciting, when you are standing under fluorescent lights. But the longer I have been here, the more I realize that the airport is a thriving community. It does have people who populate it every day. Normally we just pass by them on our way somewhere else, oblivious to their world.
Some airports have art exhibitions. I came across the work of PA based photographer currently having an exhibit at Philadelphia International. I like this image from her website, and considering the array of food available here, this seems like something all airports should display, next to Cinnabon & Dunkin Donuts.
At least I am heading to Miami with a new Body Shop lip balm, and a pair of Brookstone travel socks.
October 15, 2007
I just came across an interview on a blog with Lisa Kereszi. I worked at her lab for a while and I was always impressed not only with her extraordinary images, but with her hardworking attitude free style. I respect her as a person as much as her work, something I cannot say, unfortunately, for all of the successful artists I have meet.
For the interview with Kereszi go to: Cool Hunting
I also came across a body of portraits by a photographer named Jackie Nickerson, Steidl is about to release a book of her work documenting the life of nuns and inside the Catholic Church. I went to Catholic School for 2 years and Nickerson captures the strange and magical attraction of Catholic ritual. Her portraits are quiet, studied and beautiful. A very impressive body of work. I am excited to check out her show, which opened this week in New York at Jack Shaiman Gallery.
Nickerson’s bio for her first project, Farm, describes her as having a successful magazine career before heading to Africa for 2 & 1/2 years to document the life of African farm workers. It is nice to see people taking chances, and to see their sacrifices and commitment pay off. Not everyone gets out of an MFA program and gets a solo gallery show, I think there is something to be said for the kind of work that is produced by people with real world life experience.
Opening Reception: 18 October 2007, 6-8pm
11 October-10 November 2007
513 West 20th Street
New York, NY 10011 map
tel. +1 212 645 1701
Jackie Nickerson’s Faith is a compelling portrayal of a hidden world, the Catholic religious orders of Ireland. Her combination of gentle portraits and simple documentation of daily rituals and communal devotion suggest an austere existence grounded in optimism, strength and contentment.
The simplicity of Nickerson’s images invokes the muted and restrained palette of Fra Angelico, bringing an often beatific air to her tranquil subjects. Whilst never suggesting that she is able to divine or represent the veiled mysteries of faith, Nickerson does manage to honestly present a vocational life riven by clarity of purpose and personal courage.
October 9, 2007
“I have been to hell and back,” it reads, “and let me tell you it was wonderful.”
Louise Bourgeois (embroidery, on fabric)
I will admit to being ignorant of Bourgeois’s work far longer than I should have. But the day I came across a beautifully rendered art book of her unique body of work, put out by the Hermitage, I was immediately in love. A major retrospective of the artist’s work just opened at one of my favorite venue’s, The Tate Modern, and I am now trying to figure out how to get over there to finally see her work in person. Bourgeois has an uncanny ability to create objects that externalize our deepest inner conflicts. Her work dealing with the female body is so relevant, with our modern obsessions over the remaking of ourselves externally based on our internal images. But seeing the internal, and all it’s horror play out in her work, makes us questions these drives. To me this is her genius.
I cannot imagine the amount of courage & determination she has, to have come up in the art world, when women artists were at best an occasional novelty in whatever movement was currently in vogue. What it took to have stayed committed to her work, when success did not come until her 70′s with a show at the MOMA in 1982. I wonder how many of today’s generation of artists have that much faith & determination. Perhaps that is why she was able to explore so many types of materials. She moves between using feminine & masculine materials, small & mammoth pieces. She has never allowed herself to be pigeonholed. Her work in bronze, and fabric are so different, yet have the same emotional power.
Her work is so fascinating because of her spirit, so much of her personality goes into it. Intelligence, moxie, commitment, willingness to take chances, emotional & political content, she has everything I respond to in an artist. And she obviously is unafraid to poke fun at herself and art, another admirable quality.
Louise Bourgeois is a truly extraordinary artist. From her emergence in the 1960s, no one has known quite what to say about her. She is as obsessed by the condition of women as any feminist; she is also fascinated by the paradoxes of gender. Her obsession with women begins as men’s obsession. She is the bad girl, the runaway girl, who has stolen a penis and run away with it under her arm, but it is not a glorious, towering phallus. It is a flaccid penis, incarnation of the grotesque, bulging, drooping and sagging, like a breast. If her work reminds us of anyone, besides the indigenous artists all over the world who rework her body-painting motifs and totemic objects, it is, oddly enough, the masculine magniloquence of Rodin. Bourgeois makes the anxiety that quivers in Rodin’s reassembled body casts appalling and explicit. The result is a kind of power that has never been seen in any woman’s work before.
From her spider series, look at the poor intimidated man below…
Don’t all women secretly feel this way about the bathroom mirror…
October 5, 2007
Today I visited my friends at Lens & Repro photo rental house in NYC. Steven and his brother Jeffery, along with their amazing staff are always there when I need them to help me. While it would be nice to wander the streets experiencing “defining moments,” and taking world class photos a la Bresson, I have worked very hard to bring my technical skills to a level that can help me achieve my conceptual goals. Without the help of my many tech savvy friends and the staff of L&R, I would be much further behind. Without mastery of form, you cannot go very far in any art.
Recently went to see the Richard Serra show at the Moma. When I experience his sculptures in person, I am always struck at how they must require an enormous undertaking of technique, yet I experience them as natural objects. People react to to his structures like they they do massive rock formations, or waterfalls. By the time I got to the Moma, they were already taking the some of the show down, so all of 6th Ave was lined with giant wide-load flat beds on which lay huge semi circle slabs of iron. Deconstructed, they seemed more like man-made structures, once their process was visible their magic dissipated. So much of artistic endeavor is process. Some of the best advice my photo mentor every gave me was, if I ever wanted to be happy as an artist, I had to love the process as much as the product. Serra’s art is about the beauty of intelligence and awareness and our ability to create. I rarely go to a show at the Moma and see kids running around joyfully playing and enjoying the exhibit. Luckily, I do love the process of photography, even when it is incredibly frustrating and goes all wrong. Serra’s sculptures remind me though that the tension between the technical and the sublime must always be in balance.
The Moma has an interesting interview & making of video here: Richard Serra
One of my fav photogs recently did an entire book photographing Serra’s work. Hiroshi Sugimoto’s strange and mysterious images capture how your sense of balance and reality are thrown off inside Serra’s creations.
October 4, 2007
I have to say, I am so excited by the response I have received by the blogging community. Before I launched my site I read i heart photograph, Brian Ulrich’s blog, and many others. I was always struck by how much great work was out there. To see my project now being embraced by them is really exciting. One of the reasons I wanted to have a blog, was to be a part of this new community. The art world can be a cold and unwelcoming place, so it is great to see how the internet has opened up new venue’s for artists to show their work. There are only so many galleries, publications and museums. When artists find ways to take control of their own fate, by creating new channels to get their work seen, I think the entire creative process in energized. So kudos to all you blogging trailblazers!
I think because of these blogs, work that does not fit the definition of “sell-able” art has a way to be discovered. For instance, it has been expressed to me, that you cannot get black & white work shown in Chelsea. The implication is that color photography has made black & white work obsolete, unless it is vintage work, galleries are not interested. I have recently fallen back in love with black & white, and I have been thinking this over. But there are a lot of artists working and showing in B&W. Some of my favorites include, Andrea Modica, Lynn Davis & Hiroshi Sugimoto, Sally Mann, Abelrado Morell, Nicholas Nixon, Adam Fuss, and An-My Lee. There is something to be said for what is removed in a B&W photograph. The lack of color, allows for a deeper expression of emotion, perhaps it is because we are used to this convention. But I often am deeply moved by the most simple compositions or moments, where as in color I find I need to overcome the gloss and distraction. One reason I have always loved Eggelston, is that I actually feel he takes black and white photographs, in color. Which I know seems counter-intuitive based on his saturated color palette, but emotionally his images hit you in a raw way like a black & white photograph does. I hope that artists can continue to make pictures in whatever form they think makes the strongest image.
Fun with B&W
Portrait of me by Jerry La Starza
October 1, 2007
I am not very interested in people using blogs to settle scores or complain. I can understand where the impulse comes from, the photo industry can be very challenging. But when I saw today’s post on Andrew Hetherington’s blog, whatsthejackanory I felt I had to respond (Andrew, by the way has a blog that has a nice balance of the positive & critical.) There seem to be a rash of anonymous blogs popping up, and while it makes sense if you work for a company that forbids blogging, I think it can be a dangerous idea. I immediately think of all the evil activities of seventh grade girls, who love these sorts of anonymous forums. As I remember they usually end up creating broken friendships, tears and the formation of lifelong complexes. The latest Bitter Photographer really seems headed for this territory. Yes, perhaps a lot of blogs take themselves way too seriously, and I am all for parody or humor, but BP’s attack on Alec Soth was more like schadenfreude. I can say from personal experience Alec is a genuine and open person. I do not know him, but before I launched my blog I sent him an email asking for his advice. He respond right away with a thoughtful, detailed and friendly email. Now, I will not name them, but many of the other established bloggers I have sent hello emails to, never even responded. Yes, he has lots of opinions, and yes he posts his poetry, but his advice to me was that blogs that are just a front for self-promotion are not very interesting, and that it is best to write things that you really care about. To me, it is clear that that is exactly what he does.
I much prefer people who show what matters to them, to people who stand in judgment of others. If I were to focus on all the artists who were better or more successful than me, why would I bother every doing anything. And of course some days that is exactly how I feel. We do things because we enjoy them or because we need to do them. We can only hope that other people are interested. So, Alec Soth has 200,000 people enthralled with his blog, doesn’t that more make room for us.
October 1, 2007
Just in time for the first sign of fall chill – my version of pumpkin chocolate chip muffins.
1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour (or replace 1/2 cup of wheat flour with brown rice or almond flour)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
pinch of fine sea salt
pinch of ground cinnamon, ground ginger, ground cardamon, ground clove, ground nutmeg to taste
*1/2 stick unsalted organic butter, melted & cooled
*(low-fat version 3/4 cup unsweetened apple sauce or 3/4 cup prune mixture – 1 cup dried prunes in small saucepan, just cover with water, bring to a boil, put whole mixture in food processor and puree)
1 cup succanant or dark brown sugar
2 large organic eggs
1 15 once can of pumpkin puree
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 12 once bag of semisweet chocolate chips
1. Perheat oven to 375 degrees, spray medium/large muffin tray with light coating of non-stick cooking spray
2. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, spices, in medium mixxing bowl – set aside.
3. Whisk together the cooled melted butter(apple sauce or prunes in low-fat), sugar, eggs, pumpkin puree, and vanilla in large mixing bowl. With wooden spoon, stir in the four mixture until just combined. Add entire bag of chocolate chips and mix.
4. Fill each muffin cup 3/4ths full and bake until golden brown, around 20-25 minutes. When toothpick comes out clean they are done. Let cool in pan for 5 minutes.
5. Try not to eat all of them in one sitting.
Adapted from “Mom’s Big Book of Baking” by Lauren Chattman