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Showing posts from July, 2013

Lorna Simpson: Gathered

"the artist has assembled 123 photographs of African Americans, mostly women, mostly in pin-up poses, mostly vintage-1950s shots she purchased on eBay, and combined them with a fair number of mimicky self-portraits." - link here

Vera Lutter

"Sometimes I bring my hosts or the workers inside the camera and have them see the projected image on the opposite wall. And so often they just don’t blink an eye—it doesn’t mean anything to them. And that’s another fascinating experience for me: one of the most impressive things I’ve ever seen in my life isn’t amazing to somebody else. The first time I created a camera obscura, after I had realized how long I had to sit in there to adjust my eyes to the darkness, to see the projection, which is about 20 or 30 minutes—I thought I’d seen God. When I saw the first projection, it was an epiphany. It was probably one of the most overwhelming moments of my life. "

Vera Lutter uses packing crates, shipping contaners and rooms as cameras, and exposures can take several days.  Interview here

(Pepsi Cola, Long Island City, X: July 10, 1998, unique silver gelatin print, 87½" x 168")

(Cargo Field, Frankfurt Airport, XIII: May 2, 2001, unique silver gelatin print, 66&…

Appearances and bananas

In the last few years whenever I take a week off work in the summer I divide most of my time between fixing my motorbike, which never gets ridden, apart from to the MOT test centre and back, and days spent taking a large number of dressing-up photos.  There is a growing sense of futility attached to both activities but nevertheless I haven't quite reached the end of the road with either pursuit just yet.  Maybe soon, though...

With the self-portraits, previous years efforts are now seen as glaringly misjudged and having been pointless.   But this is not too depressing, as long as there is still a chance that something good eventually comes from it all, something that looks interesting, embeds ideas and has some personal honesty to it, even if ignored or riduculed.

I also get more aware of using myself as subject is increasingly time-limited.  I think long-time self-portrait photographers like Cindy Sherman or Elina Brotherus benefit from not having a particular strong appearance, …

Inside a Mondrian

John Baldessari: AND, (1997)

MOMA link

"Baldessari is less interested in logical relationships between image and text than with "what conceptual leaps people can make from one bit of information to another and how they can fill the space."


Ed Ruscha: Burning Gas Station (1966)

Oil on canvas 20 1/2 H x 39 W (inches)

Burning Gas Station, oil on canvas
20 1/2 H x 39 W (inches)

Melanie Bonajo: Furniture Bondage (From "Are All Cliches True?")

Interview here and DLK here

Elina Brotherus: Artist and Her Model (2007) & Artist at Work (2009)

Elina Brotherus: Model Studies (2003-5)

Cécile Decorniquet: Enfants

In the current issue of Squaremag

Delphine Burtin: Disappearance

In this issue of Squaremag

Squaremag submission

Squaremag (the online contemporary photography magazine) are planning an issue devoted to 'the body' (artistic nudes and risqué snaps).  I've submitted other kinds of series to them once or twice in the past which weren't selected but they present images so well it is worth trying for, even if what I do is not really their cup of tea.  I like the colouration in some of these, while aware an edit soon after shooting is usually regretted at lesiure.


Bed is where so much in life happens.  It usually all begins in bed, both the moment of conception and also birth.  We spend a third of our life in bed (or a bit more than a third in my case as I like sleeping so much).  We experience a myriad of things in our dreams there.  We may have shared a bed with a sibling (or two) as children if space was in short supply.  As grown ups we share it with a lover and experience touch, excitement, sometimes confusion and sleepy, whispered conversation in the nighttime.  We spend time in bed when we are sick and finally return there to die, if we don't get run over first.  One of the lesser known things about being in bed is that it really pisses off gravity.  (Gravity tries its hardest to pretend that it's not really all that bothered but yes, it is.)  Bed, a place where many journeys begin and end, some big, some not so big and where gravity lies in wait, tugging at the corner of the sheets.

Diane Arbus and Bruce Lee

Diane Arbus and Bruce Lee both died prematurely, Arbus by her own hand on July 26th 1971 and Lee from a fatal reaction to a painkiller on July 20th 1973 - 40 years ago today.  I wonder if they'd ever met if they would have become friends.

“I’m not in this world to live up to your expectations and you’re not in this world to live up to mine.” 

“Do not pray for an easy life, pray for the strength to endure a difficult one” 

“Adapt what is useful, reject what is useless, and add what is specifically your own.” 

“A goal is not always meant to be reached, it often serves simply as something to aim at.” 

“Art calls for complete mastery of techniques, developed by reflection within the soul.” 

"If one loves, one need not have an ideology of love. "

“The meaning of life is that it is to be lived, and it is not to be traded and conceptualized and squeezed into a pattern of systems.” 

"...we have more faith in what we imitate than in what we originate. We cannot derive a sense of ab…

Daring to use the wrong photo

The forthcoming issue of Rolling Stone magazine in America has been widely condemned for its front cover image of Boston bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. The photograph is contentious in that it does not appear to castigate Tsarnaev for his crimes (which he has yet to be convicted of) - as if 'evil' must only be depicted in an unequivocal way. But clearly, for a moment at least, Tsarnaev had what conforms to what we would read as an almost angelic face, seemingly peaceful, well-adjusted and sensitive - not at all the idea of a future fundamentalist zealot who would (allegedly) react with an act of pyschopathic violence in response to America's fucked up pro-Israeli foreign policy. Deconstruction of a photograph's meaning and usage has suddenly become a national pastime and a simple snapshot can be enough to enrage a nation.

Emmet Gowin: Edith and Moth Flight, 2002

I put up a Gowin photo on the side of my section printer at work, (the one of Nancy, 1969, holding two eggs, her arms entwined and her eyes closed - see earlier post here).  I think that sort of 'mystical' or poetic image had become pretty dated a long time ago but nevertheless I knew it wasn't simply a feeling of nostalgia putting it up, it was unmistakably transcendent - a quality that leaps off the image in a way that perhaps Hiroshi Sugimoto, with his minimal and oh so discretely (deniably?) spiritual, can only dream of, or be afraid of.

I think I have a 70's photo-book somewhere with a set of Gowin's 'snapshots' of his family in (including of Edith, below, soon after they were married), I liked them but never followed his career.  At that time he seemed just one more tender humanist photographer with a good eye and quick reflexes.  Funnily enough, like Harry Callahan, one of his teachers, I under-rated not only his searing perceptiveness but also his s…

Emmet Gowin: Nancy and Dwayne, Danville, Virginia, 1970

1999 interview link

Birgit Jürgenssen: I Want Out Of Here! (1976)

New acquisition at MOMA:
"Jürgenssen played an instrumental role in the international feminist avant-garde of the 1970s. In 1972, probing the clichés of gender representation. In the signature selfportrait I Want Out of Here! Jürgenssen, sporting a neat, white lace collar and brooch, presses her cheek and hands against the glass wall of a display case, suggesting in her entrapment the repressive codes of beauty and domesticity that women have often been subject to."

Gelatin silver print, 11 3/4 x 8 3/8" (29.8 x 21.2 cm).


Some people prefer the crust

After work (self-portrait from above)

Ed Burtynsky

Lady Lazarus

Rocks and ladders

While real people are doing real things on this lovely, warm July Saturday I've been, as always, alleviating the guilt of not taking pictures (or doing overdue DIY/cleaning the house) - by taking pictures.

I had woke up wondering how to position a camera directly overhead... and when I figured it out postponed a trip to the local gallery to see the county artists bi-annual show, and set about instead gathering some heavy rocks (warm from the sunshine in the garden) and ladders and bringing everything upstairs.

A couple of years ago a woman at an opening of Uncertain States salon in Highgate asked me to take a photo of her, using her camera, it was a Nikon D7000 (very expensive then) - I was impressed how heavy it was.  It felt like a real camera should feel.   Now that I got one recently that weightiness suddenly seemed a bit of a disadvantage, the whole camera/tripod/rocks balance was suddenly finely poised when attaching it to the tripod head, despite the tonnage of counter-bala…

Robert Longo: Untitled, 1981

Charcoal and graphite on paper 96 x 60 inches/243.8 x 152.4 cm
Link here

Joni Sternbach: The Salt Effect: 10.09.30 #1 Tracks

Website here

(8" x 10" unique tintype)

Alison Brady:Untitled (AB-1011),2007

Link here

Asger Carlsen: Hester

link here

Night of the bumble bee

Just before going to bed last night (quarter to one), I went up to the top room in the house which I don't go in to normally, and found a big bumble bee on the carpet. It was really warm up there and I guess the bee had probably spent a day or two trying to find its way back out of the open window, and now it looked exhausted. I brought it downstairs and outside and hoped it would revive and fly off but it hardly was moving. I made some sugar water and sprinkled it beside it but it had fallen onto its side, then rolled onto its back, curling up. I took some petals from a flower in the garden and soaked them in sugar water to be more tempting and set it back the right way up but still there was little response. One feeble black leg repeatedly, slowly, made the gentlest of movements as if believing it could still move forward, but this gesture was totally ineffectual, a motion that seemed to come from somewhere distant and automatic, faded in meaning. This tired organism had dr…

Slight adjustment No. 4

Slight adjustment No. 3

Slight adjustment No. 2