February 2009 Archives
February 20, 2009
Carlos Cazalis, Mexico, Corbis
Homeless, São Paulo, Brazil
Starting with more than 97,000 entries, the jury for the World Press Photo 2009 awards had to whittle that mountain of visual data down to 64 winning images (or series) that represent the best visual reporting of the past year’s global events.
The group of winning photos is, in some ways, a visual time capsule that touches on just a few of the noteworthy issues of 2008. Lens Culture is pleased to present the winning photographs here in a high-resolution slideshow, with captions identifying each photographer, the agency or media responsible for the image, and a brief explanation of what is depicted in each image.
February 12, 2009
The hip, young French photographer, JR, likes to make his photographs larger than life and visible from afar. His most recent project in the slums of Kenya are designed to be visible from Google Earth satellites as well as from the elevated train tracks that pass by the village twice a day. The intention is to draw attention to the persistent strength of women in these struggling, poverty-stricken areas.
2000 square meters of rusty corrugated metal rooftops are now covered with photos of the eyes and faces of the women of Kibera, which is one of the largest slums of Africa. Most of the women have their own photos on their own rooftop, and the material used is water resistant so that the photo itself will protect the fragile houses in the heavy rain season.
The train that passes on the line through Kibera at least twice a day is covered with eyes from the women that live below it. With the eyes on the train, the bottom half of the their faces are pasted on corrugated sheets on the slope that leads down from the tracks to the rooftops. The idea being that for the split second the train passes, their eyes will match their smiles and their faces will be complete.
JR is what I would call a 21st century concerned photographer. He wants to call attention to important social problems, and he uses unusual materials and extravagant means to get his message out into the world. He has completed other audacious projects with people in Brazil, India, Cambodia, and other parts of Africa. And he's pasted smiling portraits of Palestinians and Israelis on both sides of the wall that divides them — showing how similar and human those on the other side look in reality.
February 11, 2009
San Francisco's PhotoAlliance will be conducting their 3rd Annual OUR WORLD Portfolio Review, Friday thru Sunday, March 13-15, 2009, San Francisco, California
The DEADLINE to submit is fast approaching: February 13th, 2009.
This weekend event will bring together over 40 top photography editors, publishers, curators, gallerists, and educators representing small, mid-sized, and major venues from around the U.S. to meet with engaged photographers to review their portfolios and encourage their careers.
For more information, download the PDF.
Photographer David Goldes will present a great slide show lecture about his work on Friday evening, February 13, at 7:30. The lecture takes place at the San Francisco Art Institute. Get there early before it sells out.
Goldes is one of those intellectual thinkers who explores (and understands) lots of things in our world, and chooses photography to express the joy and wonder of it all. He received a B.A. in Chemistry and Biology from SUNY at Buffalo, a MA from Harvard in Molecular Genetics and a M.F.A. from the Visual Studies Workshop in Photography. Since 1986 David Goldes has been a Professor in the Media Arts Department at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design.
The evening at PhotoAlliance (which opens with a slideshow lecture by Mary Parisi) is described this way: "Through photography, the work seeks to approach simple physical phenomena within the shifting demands of perception, memory and the desire for understanding."
February 8, 2009
A great new exhibition at ICP, Edward Steichen: In High Fashion, The Condé Nast Years, 1923-1937, showcases stunning early fashion photography by the prolific and innovative photographer-artist.
Edward Steichen (1879-1973) was already a famed Pictorialist photographer and painter in the United States and abroad when he was offered the position of chief photographer for Vogue and Vanity Fair by Condé Nast. Upon assuming the job, the forty-four year old artist began one of the most lucrative and controversial careers in photography.
To Alfred Stieglitz and his followers, Steichen was seen as damaging the cause of photography as a fine art by agreeing to do commercial editorial work. Nevertheless, Steichen’s years at Condé Nast magazines were extraordinarily prolific and inspired.
He began by applying the soft focus style he had helped create to the photography of fashion. But soon he revolutionized the field, banishing the gauzy light of the Pictorialist era and replacing it with the clean, crisp lines of Modernism. In the process he changed the presentation of the fashionable woman from that of a distant, romantic creature to that of a much more direct, appealing, independent figure. At the same time he created lasting portraits of hundreds of leading personalities in movies, theatre, literature, politics, music, and sports, including Gloria Swanson, Gary Cooper, Marlene Dietrich, Joan Crawford, Colette, Winston Churchill, Amelia Earhart, Jack Dempsey, Noel Coward, Greta Garbo, Dorothy Parker, and Cecil B. De Mille.
Steichen's approach to fashion photography was formative, and over the course of his career he changed public perceptions of the American woman. An architect of American Modernism and a Pictorialist, Steichen exhibited his fashion images alongside his art photographs (generating quite a bit of controversy among contemporary artists at the time). Steichen's crisp, detailed, high-key style revolutionized fashion photography, and his influence is felt in the field to this day—Richard Avedon, Robert Mapplethorpe, and Bruce Weber are among his stylistic successors.
The New York Times has produced a perfect, short audio slideshow about Edward Steichen's fashion and celebrity photography. The slideshow is narrated by the exhibition curators, William A. Ewing and Todd Brandow.
In a short note to me about the slideshow, Brandow said, "For an unscripted interview, we seem to make a reasonable amount of sense. I find just the images themselves to be hypnotic."
I agree. Be sure to check out the exhibition if you can, and the book. The slideshow is a great start.
February 7, 2009
American Pop photographer David LaChapelle is in the art-world spotlight with a big mid-career retrospective exhibition in Paris (February 6 - May 31). His work is over-the-top, which is often appropriate for his subject matter — celebrities, sex, drugs, money, greed, high-fashion and excess of all kinds. Recently, he's been applying his characteristic style to a wide range of other themes like war and the media, spirituality, natural disasters, floods and hurricanes, conspicuous consumption, fossil fuels and carbon footprints, old master artworks and surrealism.
LaChapelle claims to have found inspiration for some of his recent work from Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel. In an interview, LaChapelle said:
I was really attracted to Michelangelo since I was a child. If you talk about Pop, he’s the ultimate Pop artist. He’s the one artist who’s recognized throughout the world. You can show the picture of the hand, the creation of Adam, and everyone knows the name of the artist. Which is pretty close to the definition of Pop – being popular: Everyone knows Michelangelo. The work somehow is broad enough, it really reaches out to every intellect...
Read more in our review of the exhibition, and see lots more images from the show.
February 3, 2009
Alexandra Pace’s work entitled “Aquarium” is a photographic series depicting urban life created using a plastic fish-eye lens camera. This collection comprises urban scenes, abstract creations and movement created with the utmost intention of placing the viewer as passive outsider to the happenings within the distorted imagery, somewhat like a visitor walking around an aquarium to find delight in the aberrations created by the lens-like walls of the tank and not necessarily its contents.
Read more ...
Alexandra Pace is a photographer living and working in Malta. Artist, critic, and professor Vince Briffa contributed this article to Lens Culture. Pace's website has a very interesting interface, too.
February 2, 2009
Czech photographer Dita Pepe uses self-portrait photography to explore ideas of how personal identity can seem to change dramatically in relationship to the other people in our lives, and the surrounding circumstances.
In this series, she stages "what-if" scenarios, where she portrays herself in various guises while posing as a wife or partner of men from many different walks of life.
Read more in Lens Culture.
February 1, 2009
French photographer Eric Tabuchi has created a modern day reprise of Ed Ruscha's ground-breaking artist's book from 1963, Twentysix Gasoline Stations. Tabuchi has published a boxed set of 26 oversized postcard-like prints of photos he's taken between 2002 and 2008: Twentysix Abandoned Gasoline Stations.
Tabuchi's work captures abandoned, rusting, toxic-leaking architectural ruins that blight the landscape and roadscapes of France. In a spirit very much akin to Ruscha's, Tabuchi photographed these abandoned gasoline stations in a flat, objective style, showing them just as plainly as they exist. If there is a moral argument to the story, Tabuchi leaves it to the viewer to decide.
This is a nice follow-on to Tabuchi's other on-the-road series called Alphabet Truck. View a slideshow, and read more, in Lens Culture.