I watched two things with old factories in over the last few days. Bear Grylls Urban Survivor, where he worked his way down an abandoned industrial building in Eastern Europe (and hunted for rats and ate baked woodlice), and The Ipcress File, where Michael Caine as agent Harry Palmer is held captive by foreign agents. (The Ipcress File still has incredible swagger. The performance by Nigel Green is phenomenal, I never appreciated just how good previously.) Anyway, these huge, brick built declining old structures are pretty horrible places. They seem to be relics of a different world - and way of being. Sooner or later, everything must be replaced.
I wanted to take pictures of factory rooflights this weekend - but everywhere I went there was demolition going on in them - and on a Sunday. I was just about to scale a security fence when seconds before I made the leap a car came around the corner and I was advised not to. Taking pictures from the outside is just not the same, though less…
LEWIS BALTZ Published on Feb 25, 2015 Lewis Baltz. Les non-lieux du paysage. Dossier réalisé par Nassim Daghighian, historienne de l'art spécialisée en photographie, critique d'art et enseignante. PDF disponible sur www.phototheoria.ch
“Brittain! Brittain! Did you hear the maroons? It’s over — it’s all over! Do let’s come out and see what’s happening!”
Mechanically I followed her into the road. As I stood there, stupidly rigid, long after the triumphant explosions from Westminster had turned into a distant crescendo of shouting, I saw a taxicab turn swiftly in from the Embankment towards the hospital. The next moment there was a cry for doctors and nurses from passers-by, for in rounding the comer the taxi had knocked down a small elderly woman who in listening, like myself, to the wild noise of a world released from nightmare, had failed to observe its approach. As I hurried to her side I realised that she was all but dead and already past speech. Like Victor in the mortuary chapel, she seemed to have shrunk to the dimensions of a child with the sharp features of age, but on the tiny chalk-white face an expression of shocked surprise still lingered, and she stared hard at me as Geoffrey had stared at h…
It was a sunny day and on my way to the supermarket detoured to take a look at the nearby factory that I've photographed on various occasions over the last few years. It was the tallest industrial structure around here and when viewing the city from uphill it stood out for its size. It was now gone.
Looking up where the imposing building had been there was an open expanse of blue November sky with clouds slipping by, marking time. I could picture myself a few months ago, up seventy or eighty feet, under the roof joists, on the narrow metal walkway, almost frozen with nervousness as I'm scared of heights and telling myself that the chances of the whole thing collapsing at the precise moment I was on it were pretty low. In another factory building along that road I could hear structural metalwork collapsing as that building was in its turn being pulled apart.
acenturyback: Eddie woke in the middle of the night, Nov 7/8 , and wrote part of his dirge of Victory and finished it at the W.O. next day.
A Dirge Of Victory
Lift not thy trumpet, Victory, to the sky, Nor through battalions nor by batteries blow, But over hollows full of old wire go, Where among dregs of war the long-dead lie With wasted iron that the guns passed by. When they went eastwards like a tide at flow; There blow thy trumpet that the dead may know, Who waited for thy coming, Victory.
It is not we that have deserved thy wreath, They waited there among the towering weeds. The deep mud burned under the thermite’s breath, And winter cracked the bones that no man heeds: Hundreds of nights flamed by: the seasons passed. And thou last come to them at last, at last!
I first remember getting mega excited about photographing sand on a beach c.1981: Blackpool, a college coach trip organised by the graphics department; they offered spare tickets to the photography department and a couple of us went along for the day out. I shot several rolls of black and white film with growing fervour, thinking this was the best thing I'd ever done. I didn't even mind the fact that after a '15 minutes, guys' stopover at a motorway cafe on the way back they promptly drove off after two minutes and left us behind which meant us having to hitch back to Nottingham.
I can't remember if that would have been before or after setting up the camera for the zone system but probably before as I found I couldn't print the negatives to give the tonalities I thought I'd got. It was all rubbish. Over the subsequent decades there have been several more 'sand on the beach' attempts with that first disappointment always tainting the thrill of trying…
"In May 1971, Artforum, bastion of late modernism, featured the work of a photographer for the very first time. On its cover and in a six-page spread, it published selections from Diane Arbus's portfolio, A box of ten photographs. In the words of the magazine’s editor and photography skeptic, Philip Leider, “The portfolio changed everything . . . one could no longer deny [photography’s] status as art.” At the time of Arbus’s death, two months later, only four of the intended edition of fifty had been sold. Two had been purchased from Arbus by Richard Avedon (the first for himself, the second as a gift for his friend Mike Nichols); another was purchased by Jasper Johns; and a fourth by Bea Feitler, art director at Harper’s Bazaar."
Presumably Arbus had no gallery representation (did any photographer back then?) and the flyer for the portfolio refer potential purchasers (who had a $1000) to call at her home at 463 West Street, NY.
Taking pictures of roof-lights in factories, one can't help but notice the lattice-like things in the way, holding the whole lot up. Turns out they are called trusses. I've been living with a painting most of my life since I was about 20 years old when Dawn Ledger, a fine art student, generously gifted me one after her third year show at Nottingham Polytechnic. I think pity may have been involved or the hassle of relocating a whole show's worth. It's travelled me with since. My awareness of roof trusses this year brings associations with her painting.
I think she was influenced by some early 20th Century French painter, with a breezy handling of the paint and leaving some areas of the canvas left untouched, as if it were not relevant to be concerned with providing a full account, either of the scene or of finishing a picture - which in this case was a series made at the swimming baths at Sneinton.
'New Topographics is only possible in America, where they have the intense, overhead light', R Woodfield, photography lecturer, insisted to my surprise in a second year class. The surprise was two-fold, in that New Topographics was actually mentioned (out of the blue and only in passing) but some thought had clearly gone into it. Maybe he was aware of a couple of students (me and JR) who had become evangelicalised after the visit of New Topographics-ist Numero Uno photographer, Lewis Baltz, who had left the student faculty indifferent at the time but two belatedly dazzled by what was his stunning but under-recognised achievement. So I reflected on those relentless grey northern skies incipient with rain that had previously seemed unproblematic, and although Baltz had done one of his best series Maryland - 39.0458° - and Bernd and Hilla Becher had done their best in similar conditions mapping the Rhineland - and even British collieries through the damp, but perhaps he was right…
It's been two years since I last snuck in (and was escorted out of) the nearby closed-down agricultural chemicals factory. They'd now discretely installed CCTV and I knew I wouldn't go back as I'd not have very long to take pictures, and I would be wasting their time having to come and get me. But recently most of the double-glazed windows of the two-storey office block on the perimeter have been smashed out, so people are clearly now spending a fair bit of time in there, presumably undisturbed. Security must have gotten too expensive to sustain.
It was a warm September day with a bloom of sunshine and so naturally I was on my way to take (more) photos of Jasper Johns inspired striped t-shirts on the clothing rails in TK-Max but when I saw some boys emerging unhurriedly from a gap ripped in the metal of the main gate, with some booty in their hands, I diverted there instead.
Since doing pictures of the Hoval factory roof-lights last May I've wanted to try another …
From fansinaflashbulb blog, this Danny Lyon photograph was made 51 years ago. The human interest captured at the precise moment that Sunday morning in 1967 when it was taken feels to have grown exponentially as one wonders how their lives played out.
I didn't recognise this as a picture by Danny Lyon, it is strongly reminiscent of the famous Paul Strand image, The Family, Luzzara, Italy, which Lyon presumably knew and admired, which was made in 1953, before most if not all of these boys were born. A different time, a different continent, similar poverty, but to the five boys in the Lyon pictures life somehow seems satisfactory.