April 2008 Archives
April 25, 2008
Women around the world are harassed every day with derogatory terms. In the UK these names are usually associated with animals: bitch, bird, fox... UK photographer Rachel Graves decided to explore these ideas through a series of self-portraits. The portraits consist of before and after photos of herself: one made-up to look like the animal in question, the other just before all of the make-up is removed.
Lens Culture features the whole series so far, along with a short text by the artist.
There is a saying that the rivers of Colombia are the world's biggest graveyard.
Colombian artist Erika Diettes is creating a light-filled memorial to the many thousands of the "disappeared" who are dead or missing as a result of armed conflicts in Colombia. Personal objects or clothing from people who have disappeared are photographed in turbulent water.
The photographs are printed larger than life on 5-feet tall sheets of glass, and displayed upright in heavy gray frames. When installed in long rows of upright images, the photos look like tombstones in a cemetery. Visitors who walk through the installation get the feeling that they too are floating in the river.Installation view, from the series Drifting Away, printed glass, 60x35,2" © Erika Diettes
April 16, 2008
These are very intimate portraits of young American soldiers who are in between tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan. Sometimes they look like the heads of fallen statues.
Photographer Suzanne Opton said, "I wanted to take a vulnerable picture of a soldier, which is quite the opposite of how we think of soldiers, usually. But they are vulnerable."
April 12, 2008
When I returned home last month from reviewing portfolios at Houston's FotoFest, I was almost dizzy with delight. Not only did I meet a lot of very, very talented photographers, but I was stunned at the consistently super-high quality of the dozens and dozens of photo exhibitions that were organized throughout the city.
I returned with a lot of "discoveries" that I am eager to share with you over the next few weeks. And, just as important, I came away understanding how absolutely great a photo festival can be when the curators are brilliant, passionate, experienced and hard-working.
At the end of each day, everyone who had been participating in the intense and grueling review sessions, (imagine 14 interviews per day for four days straight), would climb onto a comfortable bus to be escorted through town to two or three massive exhibitions. It could have been exhausting, but it was completely energizing.
I was comparing notes with Chris Rauschenberg, who helps to run Blue Sky Gallery in Portland (among lots of other things he does), and he jotted off this report from his point of view. He nicely sums up how great the experience was. Here's what he had to say:
"One of the most amazing things about FotoFest is the fact that you always know that every year the Reviewers' Bus will take you to at least one exhibition by a photographer that you never heard of but who will turn out to be one of the greatest photographers in the world. You just take it for granted that it will happen every time - and it does. (Sometimes it can be awkward for the private party at the end of the Bus' itinerary, such as the year that the Bus brought us to the Pentti Sammallahti retrospective that was so magnificent that no one was willing to leave.) A mortal curator might hope to accomplish a feat like this once in their career, but Wendy Watriss and Fred Baldwin do it every time. (For comparison, imagine a baseball player who hits a grand slam home run every game he plays in.)
"This year the Bus took us to the unassumingly titled exhibition "Independent Documentary Photography 1985 - 2008" which featured the work of unknown photographers Lu Nan and Li Lang alongside Wu Jialin, who would have been unknown if Wendy and Fred hadn't already taken our breath away with a fabulous huge exhibition of his work at FotoFest 1996. Each of the three photographers in this show was represented by about 75 amazing images (three grand slams in one at bat? - my metaphor can't handle this level of curatorial greatness). We first entered the rooms of Wu Jialin's prints ("okay, I already knew this guy was incredible"), then moved on to Li Lang's work ("wait a minute - this guy is great too") and finally ended up in a state of absolute astonishment in Lu Nan's "The Forgotten People: the State of Chinese Psychiatric Wards." Chinese photographer Jimmy Chu (an indispensable part of this Chinese edition of FotoFest) translated Lu Nan's modest remarks and then passionately told us that he respected Lu Nan more highly than any other photographer and told us how Lu Nan spent 15 years as a fugitive on the run, making his pictures and smuggling them out of China under an assumed name while the government was hunting for him. To see a show this good is a once in a lifetime experience - but I know that Wendy and Fred will calmly step up to the plate and do it again two years from now."
Blue Sky Gallery
So, yes. Be sure to check back here at Lens Culture over the next few weeks as we dive deep into the discoveries from the portfolio reviews as well as the discoveries presented by FotoFest. And in the meantime, if you haven't checked it out already, take a look at this 60-image overview of Chinese Photography from 1934-2008.
April 11, 2008
Lens Culture is pleased to present the color photographs of two emerging artists who are working with similar subjects and similar ideas, but half a globe apart. Trevor Traynor turns in a poetic photo-essay about children's playgrounds in Moscow, just after a winter thaw. Douglas Rickhard documents the light and color and architecture of similarly empty places in his series, American Suburb. Both worth watching, I think.
April 10, 2008
Formal English gardens are trippy enough as they are, but when photographer Beth Dow turns her lens on them — and then creates immaculate and yummy platinum palladium prints — the results are almost surreal, and definitely stunning. Check out twenty of our favorite prints at Lens Culture, and be sure to click on the "slide show" button to view them at a nice large size on your monitor.
April 9, 2008
Susan Bein's painterly night-time photos are romantic and mysterious and fun. We discovered her work when she became one of the finalists in this year's Critical Mass portfolio review competition. We chose just eight photos to introduce her work via Lens Culture. You can find more than 2,800 other photos on her flickr site.
April 8, 2008
Photographer/artist Joachim Froese creates stripped-down imagery that conveys the symbolic power of things and events that appear in dreams. He further accentuates this similarity to dream-feeling in his photo triptychs by staging his moving still-lifes with an improbable combination of visual balance and unbalance, connected by the constant, recurring wooden platform on which all of the action takes place, yet viewed through three separate frames simultaneously.
April 7, 2008
Surfers may be a special breed of people, re-enacting ancient rituals of play at the edges of water and land, revelling in nature at once turbulent and peaceful, finding pleasure and delight in blissful moving balance on the crest of a wave. While in the act of surfing, they are in the moment and outside of time. Photographer Joni Sternbach has documented modern-day surfers using the relatively ancient technique of wet-plate collodion photography. The results are appropriately romantic, timeless, and stunningly beautiful. Lens Culture is delighted to present 21 images from her ongoing series of 8" x 10" unique tintypes.
I had the pleasure of meeting Joni Sternbach last year at PhotoLucida, the excellent biennial photo festival in Portland. It was almost magical to hold the tintypes in my hands and to see the light playing off the metallic surface. They had the feeling of re-discovered lost treasures. I was pleasantly reminded of her work, again, when I saw it as part of highly-selective international portfolio review sessions called Critical Mass (also run by the folks who organize Photolucida). So, I am quite pleased that we are able to present a generous selection of her work here for your enjoyment. Cheers!
April 5, 2008
The City of Fremantle, in Western Australia, is hosting FotoFreo 2008, a biennial international festival of photography from 5 April to 4 May.
Photographers who will exhibit in FotoFreo 2008 include Edward Burtynsky (Canada), Jodie Bieber (South Africa), Adam Broomberg & Oliver Chanarin (UK), Paolo Pellegrin (Italy), Christophe Bourguedieu (France), Marian Drew (Qld), Christopher Koller (Vic), Stephen Dupont (NSW), Megan Lewis (WA), Connie Petrillo (WA), Dow Wasiksiri (Thailand), Chen Nong (China), Shi Guorui (China), Wang Gang (China), Robert Frith (WA) and Hayden Fowler (NZ). In addition there will be a show entitled, Contact/S: 30 The art of Photojournalism, from the USA and curated by the internationally renown photographer Robert Pledge.
In addition to the 'core' activities undertaken by FotoFreo Inc there are the other exhibitions throughout Fremantle and the Perth metropolitan area that make up the ‘FotoFreo Fringe’ or ‘FotoFreo Perth’, featuring 60+ photographers, mostly from Western Australia.
Other major photographic events are timed to coincide with FotoFreo, including exhibitions at the Art Gallery of WA (Roger Ballen), the John Curtin Gallery (Brook Andrews), Perth Centre for Photography (Denis Dazacq), the CMC Tafe Gallery (Focus: Photography and War 1945-2006 from the War Museum in Canberra), the Johnston Gallery (Polixeni Papapetrou), the Turner Galleries (Darren Siwes) and ArtScource Exhibition Space in Fremantle (Hijacked).
For details, check the FotoFreo 2008 web site.
April 4, 2008
Bejewelled Carcasses is "an excursion into the unseen microcosm full of aesthetic beauty that surrounds us," according to photographer Patricia Pastore. "Choosing a very shallow depth of field, I allow the subject to merge with the white background ... I try to create images that radiate with minimalist elegance, using the eye of the camera to reveal things that are otherwise invisible to, or not noticed by, the naked eye.
See the series, and read more of what Pastore says about her art, here in Lens Culture.
April 3, 2008
Tony Mendoza was born in Havana, Cuba in 1941. His black-and-white photographs are in the collections of major museums including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the LA County Museum of Art, and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.
It wasn't until 2004, however, when Mendoza closed down his black-and-white darkroom and bought a digital camera, that he started shooting color. The results are almost hyper-real. Mendoza tells his story of coming around to color — despite being red-green colorblind — in a charming essay he wrote to accompany his photos. You can see more, and read his story, here, in Lens Culture.