October 2008 Archives
October 31, 2008
Photographer Phyllis Galembo is the headliner at a slideshow/lecture at San Francisco Art Institute on Halloween, and it's a perfect alternative to trick-or-treating. She's spent many years documenting wild costumes used in rituals in Brazil, Cuba, Africa and Haiti. The event is part of a remarkable photography lecture series organized by PhotoAlliance.
Galembo's longtime friend, David Byrne, wrote this about her work a couple years ago:
I think it puts a lot of contemporary “fictional” photo work to shame. Hell, it puts a lot of stuff in other mediums outside photography to shame too.
I was familiar with her photos from Brazil, Cuba and Africa — many of which are formal portraits of practitioners of Candomblé, Santeria and the African roots of these religions. Her newer Haitian stuff of course touches on Voudoun, but there are lot of Jacmel carnival participant portraits too — these are astounding. And there are new African images that connect the dots between a lot of the New World cultures.
Most of all, the work is, in my opinion, not romantic — some of the stuff is hard, emotional, serious as death and as a result the beauty has depth. I’ve seen Phyllis work (in Brazil) and she affects a slightly ditzy casual demeanor — that disguises the fact that she knows exactly what she wants and how to get it. It helps her get these kids to stand against this wall while carnival rages all around them.
Or this man, comfortable in his housedress, holding a mirror and a paintbrush!
Or this participant in that Atam Masquerade in Nigeria?
There’s probably a debt to Irving Penn’s famous series of portraits of “exotic” peoples here — his pix of Peruvian Indians and Mudmen — taken in a portable formal “studio”. But somehow those seemed like an extension of the live Indian or the Venus Hottentot in the sideshow or in the Natural History Museums compared to this.
Besides, these subjects are in costume. They have intentionally transformed themselves into something exotic, charged, even frightening. Here is combined a long deep legacy of dress-up for masquerade, for carnival, for possession by the Gods combined with personal creativity and ingenuity. These are not people in their ordinary dress — they are intentionally fantastic, shocking, wild.
For details on the lecture tonight (and other great lectures in their series) check the PhotoAlliance web site.
October 29, 2008
1,300 individual photographers and 65 agencies are victims of a sudden shutdown of access to their own digital photographs by service provider Digital Railroad. Apparently without warning, Digital Railroad suspended service — thereby preventing members from completing any and all sales, licensing and business transacations. Even worse, most photographers and agencies cannot access, download or back-up their own photo archives!
According to a report on PDN Online:
Among [the victims] are editorial agencies like the UPI Newspictures archive, Redux Stock, Noor and VII Photo. Not all of the clients rely on Digital Railroad exclusively, but some do.
Stephen Mayes, managing director of VII Photo, says the VII archive may go offline while the agency negotiates a deal with a new partner.
“None of the contingencies we have are going to be fast enough to cover that gap,” Mayes says. “So we’re going to have an annoying dark period.”
This is an incredible financial blow to all photographers who have relied completely on Digital Railroad as their marketplace portal to promote and sell work. Many such independent professionals have used Digital Railroad as a sole source for storing and archiving all of their digital photos while they upload on-the-go from remote locations on assignment. These photographers may not have back-ups of their own hard-earned work.
The lack of ethics by Digital Railroad and their liquidation company is mind boggling.
October 27, 2008
It’s our biggest issue yet! Here are some of the highlights from the world of contemporary photography featured in this volume of Lens Culture:
Over 200 preview picks for Paris Photo 2008.
A review of the Brighton Photo Biennial, and a great interview with curator Julian Stallabrass.
Photos from all 18 finalists for the Prix Pictet Award. This year's theme: Sustainability.
Moody, poetic and personal Norwegian photography by Catherine Cameron.
Starless, a series of cinematic stills by Italian photographer Massimiliano Tommaso Rezza.
A clever new exploration of visual perception by Odette England.
The fanatical lifestyles of UK football fans documented by Adam Rubin.
Serbian photographer Katarina Radovic’s tongue-in-cheek sociological study, A Husband in Paris.
Pinhole snapshots, a new hybrid technique mastered by French photographer Guillaume Zuili.
Three generations of vintage Japanese photography in Tokyo Stories, a new exhibit in Paris.
Greek Photographer Panayotis Papadimitropoulous in a philosophical essay about meta-photography.
European Union guidelines eliminate a way of life for farmers in Romania’s Carpathian Mountains — a photo essay by Tessa Bunney.
A personal meditation about childhood memories and China’s aging public parks.
The Lens Culture Buddha Project continues to grow.
Plus, hundreds of previous articles, essays, portfolios, reviews and interviews are online in the Lens Culture Archives.
Settle in with a good cup of coffee and discover some of the best new contemporary photography today. And let us know what you think!
October 21, 2008
Does anyone need a good excuse to travel in Europe this autumn? An abundance of excellent photography exhibitions and events are being prepared for Europe's Month of Photography in November 2008. Here are several links to guides and schedules in many major European cities:
The event that started it all, many years ago, is still one of the best and most extensive citywide celebrations of photography in the world. This year the Paris Month of Photography looks better than ever! The PDF guide is all in French, but don't let that stop you -- it includes more than 90 exhibitions, plus projections, lectures, debates and more. The very useful guide lists all activities by neighborhoods in Paris, so you can be sure to see almost everything.
One of the largest fine art photography fairs in the world, Paris Photo, is set for its biggest year ever. 40,000 art collectors and photography lovers will soak up art from worldwide galleries during this 4-day extravaganza at the Louvre. You can see a preview of 200 photographs from Paris Photo 2008 in Lens Culture.
The Maison Européen de la Photographie is hosting portfolio reviews on two days during Paris Photo, where professional and amateur photographers can sign up to have their work viewed and critiqued by international photography experts. I am very happy to be selected as one of the reviewers this year. If you are interested, sign up fast, because space is limited — and it's free.
I am also honored to be reviewing photographer's portfolios in Vienna at the Museum of Art on November 23-24. This is a new event this year, sponsored by Anika Handelt. If you are interested in participating, please go to the website now and sign up -- the available spaces will fill up quickly.
Six other European countries are hosting simultaneous photography celebrations during November 2008. Here are links for all of them:
So, mark your calendars, and put on some comfortable shoes. Looks like a good month to roam some European cities to discover the latest in contemporary photography.
October 15, 2008
I just learned that Anders Petersen, the great Swedish photographer, will be conducting a rare one-week photography workshop in Barcelona, November 23-29, 2008. Petersen, whose "subjective documentary" photographs have earned him international acclaim over the past 4 decades, recorded one of our most popular interviews at Lens Culture two years ago. If you love this kind of photography, I am sure that this intimate workshop (10-15 people only) could be invaluable.
October 14, 2008
This elegant and puzzling new photo book at first seems at odds with all of the photographer’s previous work, and with the publisher’s long-held reputation for ultra-high quality printing. . . Everything is obscured by grey smog — indeed it is the uniformity of the carbon-exhaust “look” that holds these photos together as a series and forces us to try to recognize a pattern and logic and meaning in this work. Read the full review.
October 10, 2008
These are not your usual war photographs, not the ones that we see and don't have to think about anymore. This is a profoundly disturbing and intelligent exhibition of war as it has been recorded by both sides of a conflict, by professionals and amateurs, by propagandists and fine artists, by soldiers and photojournalists and civilians and anonymous people who were there with cell phone cameras.
Curator Julian Stallabrass has pulled together a real tour de force for the 2008 Brighton Photo Biennial, and his commentary is equally engaging and enlightening.
"The idea of a “war of images” is a means of trying to get at the way that images can be used as warfare in various respects: that the making and use of images can be a part of the conflict, as well as merely recording it."
— Brighton Photo Biennial Curator Julian Stallabrass, in an interview with Guy Lane
And a few more quotes:
"And the other thing — and this is why Rumsfeld talks about the war of images — is that one rarely saw photographs taken by the other side, as it were, in previous conflicts. Now, with the availability of cheap digital cameras and the web, almost anything is available."
"[Recent large format photographs of the aftermath of war] are very much not about the quotidian need to produce daily images of spectacular horror."
WARNING: Some images may be considered unsuitable for viewing by children, and may be disturbing to viewers of any age.
October 9, 2008
Get ready for international inspiration, visual stimulation, new photographic insights, and — quite possibly — image overload!
From November 13 to 16, 2008, Paris Photo, the world’s leading fair and marketplace for photography, will showcase the works of more than 500 international photographers and artists from all continents, presented by 107 exhibitors from 18 countries (USA, France, Japan, Germany, Spain, the UK, Holland, Italy, Austria, Belgium, China, Denmark, Finland, Hungary, South-Africa, South-Korea, Australia and India).
Lens Culture, a partner with Paris Photo, features more than 200 photographs in an extensive preview of the show.
The special focus this year is on photography from Japan:
Photography has been one of the most intense and major areas of Japanese culture since it was first introduced in the country in 1848, towards the end of the Edo Period. Paris Photo has pulled together work by more than 130 artists, from the Meiji era to 1930’s avant-garde movements and the post-war years through to the most contemporary production. To date, no exhibition in Europe has brought together such a large number of Japanese photographers.
Settle in with a cup of coffee and enjoy the preview. If you have a fast internet connection, you'll love the high-resolution slide show. Cheers!
October 8, 2008
A short film shot entirely with a cell phone camera on location in New York and Sydney has won the $20,000 first prize at Tropfest in New York.
More details, and the other film finalists can be found here.
(Link via 3quarksdaily, one of my must-read-daily blogs.)
October 1, 2008
Last week I spent three days in Amsterdam, soaking up the insights of visionaries and futurists at the PICNIC conference on technology and creativity. It was an amazing event, with almost non-stop inspiration coming from people of all walks of life.
For sure, there were pronouncements that I have not yet understood, such as "What is cool about photos is the verbs they use."
One presenter, Addy Feuerstein, gave us a sneak-peek at his new web-based service that synchronizes all of your personal tagged and time-stamped photos (and other "digital assets") with outside events that occurred at the same time in history. He likens his idea, AllofMe, to an ultramodern photo album. So, for instance, as you review your photographed life in chronological sequence, you can discover what music was popular the same day the photo was taken, or what happened in world history or TV trivia at the same time.
Author Clay Shirky talked about creative collaboration between total strangers, via a site like Flickr, to help launch an interest in HDR (High Dynamic Range) photography.
In short, my brain got pummeled and fluffed up, repeatedly, by a line-up of super-smart visionary thinkers, entrepreneurs, crowd-sourced cinema producers, total submersion telephone designers, techno-geeks, sociologists, philosophers, etc. Definitely cleared out any cobwebs that were clouding my mind.
An added bonus to this kind of 3-day international meeting place, is that every coffee break or lunch offers an opportunity for off-the-cuff conversations with some of these brilliant and entertaining folks.
Charles Leadbeater, author of We Think, (and personal advisor to Tony Blair about technology, society and the future), presented the first day's keynote address. He was happy to riff on the pros and cons of GPS-tagged photos uploaded to social networking sites, and his belief that we've reached a critical juncture in our contemporary lens culture: "It's as if we've acquired eyes all around us in a way." You can listen to a 5 minute snippet of that conversation here.
Genevieve Ball, Ph.D., is an Anthropologist, and Director of User Experience at Intel. Her public talk was about Secrets and Lies -- how every person bends or distorts the truth, on average, 6 to 200 times each day, both online and offline. She was kind enough to chat about the intersection of lying and photography during one coffee break. You can listen (too briefly) to her ideas, here.
My heartfelt thanks to everyone who participated!