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Archive for the ‘By Susan’ Category

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Sunday, October 5th, 2008

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http://www.terryrichardson.com/

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 http://www.terryrichardson.com/

 Resurfacing after little more than a year, Vibe Magazine’s September 2007 interview with Obama seems especially relevant this week.  Tuesday (October 7) marks the last day to register to vote for this year’s presidential election and it seems like almost everyone has something to say about it.

My opinion regarding celebrity endorsement of presidential candidates is a matter that I will keep to myself — but I am particularly interested in the the number of photographers who are choosing to endorse their candidate of choice.  Above are fashion photographer Terry Richardson’s images from the Vibe interview.  Falling in step with his characteristic flash-on-camera style, Richardson’s images are a welcome juxtaposition to the lack-luster stereotypical candidate portraiture:

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http://en.wikipedia.org/

 An additional note, more than fifty photographers (including Elinor Carucci, Philip-Lorca DiCorcia, Mitch Epstein, Larry Fink, Todd Hido, Richard Misrach, Alec Soth and Joel Sternfled…et all!) have donated images to http://www.artforobama.net – an online auction benefit organized by five artists who “have come together to help the Obama campaign.  Because we cannot afford to make large donations ourselves, we want to bring together the leaders of our community to help create change.”

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Larry Fink ‘The Candidate’ (2008)

Edition 13/25

Value: $4,000.00
Starting Bid: $2,000.00

Included in the bidding is this image by Larry Fink, another interesting take on the theme of Obama portraits I am exploring in this post.  The auction is open from October 3 to October 10 and all money earned will be donated to moveon.org.

 

 

critical responsibility and contemporary considerations (a dialogue regarding The Art Institute of Chicago’s recent exhibition, “A Mind at Play”)

Sunday, September 28th, 2008

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Kenneth Josephson. New York State, 1970 (http://www.artic.edu/aic)

 

Culled from the permanent collection, the images that comprised the Art Institute of Chicago’s recent photography exhibition (on view from June 14 to September 7, 2008), “A Mind at Play,” celebrated the photographic medium’s inherent subjective experience.  Thematically, the exhibition sought to separate photographs that act as records of what is in front of the camera in order to highlight those that contain moments more contingent, witty, serendipitous and inspired.  The exhibition showcased the work of more than fifty artists whose influence spans the history of the medium.  Selected by a team of curators and employees at the museum, “A Mind at Play” boasted a comprehensive display of photographs –  everything from an image by Nadar made in 1863 to an inkjet print by contemporary Chicago photographer Suzette Bross (Blue, White and Red with Wheel, 2007).  Certainly not lacking breadth, “A Mind at Play” showcased some of the medium’s most prominent – Duane Michals, Robert Frank, Kenneth Josephson and Joel Sternfeld – to name a few.

At a time when the discussion regarding the photographic medium and the role of digital technology is making weekly headlines, “A Mind at Play” seemed appropriately poised as a retrospective of  the non-digital era.  Although there were a handful of digital inclusions, the gallery walls were filled almost entirely with silver gelatin prints.  Understandably, this bias lends itself to a conversation about contemporary photographic philosophy.  In speaking to the photographer’s ability to manipulate viewer perception, a question arises about the tools photographers are using today versus those used in decades prior.  Particularly when considering contemporary photographers such as Andreas Gursky, Gregory Crewdson or Jill Greenberg (all embrace computer based post-production techniques in order to reconstruct and redefine photographic reality), how should the manipulation of viewer perception be defined?    Raising this question, “A Mind at Play” ignored that subjectivity, curiosity and experimentation are all inherent qualities of photography regardless of the argument between digital versus analog image making.

Positioned to parade highlights from the collection and attract viewers with the promise of tongue-in-cheek images, “A Mind at Play” hit the mark.  The gallery was overflowing with funny and intelligent images.  Entertainment aside, the Art Institute failed to acknowledge changes in contemporary photographic practice, leaving viewers stuck with a Modern vernacular.  Philosophically this omission, albeit justifiable, seemed negligent – ultimately leaving the viewer asking for more.

New Post! Let’s Keep Blogging!

Thursday, April 24th, 2008

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Verizon pay phones along the Boardwalk on Coney Island.

 

I am particularly interested in the way contemporary artists use the internet to proliferate their work. I think that The New York Times creates especially interesting online galleries and exhibitions. While browsing I found this great photo slideshow by Tom Starkweather. Enjoy!

beirut’s ‘elephant gun’

Tuesday, April 1st, 2008



I think that this is lovely. I would like to share it with everyone.

stream of conscience

Monday, March 31st, 2008

1)  Walking east towards the diner for a lentil burger over salad with a friend.  On my left an open window allows for passer-bys on the street to witness the scene inside a living room.  I slow down. Streaming karaoke on the television.  Two lively gentleman sharing the microphone, belting song lyrics.  They see me looking at them and, to my delight, wave out to me on the street.  I wave back.  I am so interested in how we spend our private moments.

2)  Travel to new city.  Sit in on discussion of psychoanalytical films and feminism.  Female versus Male point of view.  Recommendation to watch Hitchcock films.

3)  Train heads west, back towards home.  It is night and I can see into windows close to the tracks. Empty room.  Empty room. Empty room.  The last room I remember passing is full of boys crowded around a table playing beer pong.  It was a Wednesday.

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photo courtesy of http://www.cinemasterpieces.com

4)  Walk to Blockbuster.  Hitchcock marathon night!  I watch Rear Window and eat homemade nachos. Rear Window, produced in 1954, was based on Cornell Woolrich’s short story titled It Had to Be Murder. Starring an injured photojournalist (James Stewart) whose broken leg renders him wheelchair-bound in an apartment, Rear Window examines his new hobby: spying on his neighbors. The viewer watches Stewart’s character watch his neighbors through large binoculars and his telephoto lens. The viewer is forced to join Stewart as an interloper. Together, we are both Peeping Tom. Why does the film make the viewer feel guilty for watching — but, at the same time, hold on to attention so intimately that one can’t wait to find out what happens next?

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Stranger, 1998

photo courtesy of http://www.photography-now.com

5)  I recall a series of images by photographer Shizuka Yokomizo titled Strangers.  In the series of 19 images, Yokomizo wrote anonymous letters to her subjects asking them to pose in front of a downstairs window in their home at certain time at night.  Writes Charlotte Cotton in her book The Photograph as Contemporary Art,

“We are looking at the strangers looking at themselves in these photographs, for the windows act as mirrors as they anticipate the moment they will be photographed.  The title of the series refers not only to the status of the sitters as the strangers to the artist and to us but also to the photographing of that curious self-recognition, or misrecognition, we have when we catch a glance of ourselves unexpectedly.”

6)  We are all interlopers?  Do we watch other people in order to better understand ourselves?  Modernity has allowed for the compartmentalization of our lives.  Without shared common spaces, we become curious about each others private lives.

art for the couch potato

Wednesday, March 12th, 2008

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I am certainly in an untraditional position to critique or even speculate about the 2008 Whitney Biennial. I have not been to New York to see it. Rather, my Biennial experience this year is one that is entirely virtual. Everything I know about the 2008 Biennial I learned from the internet.

This year marks the 74th Biennial, a summary of contemporary art from the past year. Situated in the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Park Avenue Armory, 81 artist’s works will be on display. Interestingly, a great deal of the work is site-specific. Boasting the catch phrase, “where American art stands today,” Biennial advertisements do not speak highly for a thematic exhibition that emphasizes lessness, slowness, ephemerality and failure.

Unable to arrive at 945 Madison Avenue sometime before March 23, the curious long-distance viewer can experience the Biennial several different ways:

1. The Whitney has created a Flickr account with a collection of photographs from the exhibition. Not necessarily remarkable images, the photographs do provide the viewer with an idea of the installation and preparation processes for the show.

2. On March 6, 2008 the New York Times uploaded an interesting interactive feature on their website that allows viewers to explore the exhibition virtually. This feature is particularly engaging — allowing the viewer to see a panorama view of both the third and fourth floors of the museum.

I am curious to observe how exhibitions in the future will continue to take advantage of online tools to promote and proliferate art work. I recognize that there is certainly no substitute for seeing a work in person, but the accessibility of internet media is making it easier to view and understand artists without ever stepping foot in a gallery or museum.

This idea of internet accessibility is one that is not particular to the 2008 Whitney Biennial. Photo District News recently released their PDN 30, a collection of 30 emerging photographers. Via their website, viewers can browse through each artist’s portfolio and read brief biographical information. Despite boasts of this topic as the cover story for the March issue of PDN’s monthly periodical, the sleek website offers access to full images as well as direct links to each photographer’s website. The virtual gallery is an amazing tool for spreading information quickly and without much hassle.

To close, the curators of the Biennial (Henriette Huldisch and Shamim M. Momin) seemed to get it right when citing ephemerality as a foundational element for artwork this year. When the internet makes art viewing as easy as flipping channels on the television, why bother leaving the couch?

Social Activism and Photography

Friday, February 8th, 2008

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image from:  Democrat and Chronicle

Throughout the month of February the George Eastman House in Rochester, NY is holding a series of events and lectures titled Not Forgotten: Portraits of life and death in Rochester. Included in the series is a teen poetry slam, a community outreach education night and a lecture by Magnum photographer, Eli Reed.

Last evening, I had the opportunity to attend one part of the series: a panel discussion by Will Yurman (a Democrat and Chronicle staff photographer) and local artists Juliana Muniz and Heather Layton. Each artist discussed his or her body of work – all of which related to the 54 homicides that occurred in Rochester, NY in 2005 (a record number of homicides that consequently earned Rochester the highest murder-per-capita rating in New York State that year).

Will Yurman discussed his project, Not Forgotten: Portraits of Life and Death in Rochester. The project documents each of the 54 homicide victims and their families and friends. A combination of his own still photographs and a multimedia presentation that compiles images, family photographs and sound, his work is on display at the Eastman House through March 2.

Next, Juliana Muniz showed her documentary project — a yearlong endeavor to photograph each on-site memorial created for the homicide victims.

Finally, Heather Layton explained her project titled (sub)urban homicide. After plotting each of the original murder locations on a map, Layton used tracing paper to superimpose the crimes sites onto suburban neighborhoods on the southeastern side of Rochester. Creating fictionalized suburban homicide sites, Layton installed and photographed a flower memorial on each new site in order to “bridge the gap by presenting a fictional scenario to our wealthiest citizens…”

Following the presentation of work, the audience was invited to participate in a question and answer session with the artists. Several interesting points were discussed — particularly regarding the future of crime in Rochester and how a citizen can begin to combat the issue firsthand. My own overwhelming feeling at the end of the evening, however, was a fascination of the potential role art can play as a tool for social activism.

In an ideal cultural climate, the institution would be a beginning environment for a discussion of artwork — particularly artwork that deals with social issues. I am reminded of artist Barbara Kruger, whose highly graphic work examined power struggles, feminism and consumerism in public spaces such as billboards, posters and buscards.

I am interested in the notion of photographers seeking out equally public venues in order to present their work to members of the community outside of the arts. I applaud Will Yurman for using the internet (particularly the Democrat and Chronicle website) as a space to share his project with the masses — but are there other places for the photographer to engage with the general public? I am not sure how the individual artist can engage with with the general population without assistance from the institution. Specifically, I am interested in the way Layton’s work confuses boundaries between socially active image-making (i.e. photojournalism/documentary) and work with a more art-related philosophy. Critical engagement with the masses seems essential to the continuation of fine-art photography as we know it. Our challenge is to figure out how this interaction can successfully take place.

Library of Congress + Flickr = <3 ?

Monday, January 21st, 2008

This morning’s NPR Morning Edition broadcast included a brief segment called “Library of Congress Looks for Help on Photo Labels.” Although I was not fortunate enough to catch the show live, NPR’s incredible podcasting allowed me the opportunity to listen in this afternoon to learn more about a recent web-based photography project that invites everyone to participate in writing a collective history of the United States.

In the last few weeks, the Library of Congress has posted over 3,000 photographs from their collection — all of which reside in the public domain — on the popular photo-sharing site, Flickr. The photographs are primarily from two distinct eras of American history:
1. black and white news photographs from the 1910’s
2. government sponsored photographs from the 1930’s and 1940’s

The project is described as an effort to better caption photographs in the collection with the help of the masses. Flickr’s accessibility and user-friendly interface allows the viewer to comment on every photograph — whether to note a location in the image, provide a name, project about photographic materials, or even banter with other Flickr users.

It is interesting that the morning broadcast noted that “having these photographs mingle with everyday snapshots brings an institution like the Library of Congress off of it’s perceived pedestal”. I wonder, should we be worried about bringing institutions off of their ‘pedestals’ when the proliferation of photographic imagery is already so pervasive? I understand that the Library of Congress is trying to bring their photography collection to the masses. Additionally, I fully support the philosophy promoted by photo-sharing websites like Flickr because they are excellent forums for sharing work, getting feedback and exploring new ideas.

My hesitation lies not in the decision to share the photographs — after all, we are lawfully allowed to view and use the images. I do, however, question the mission of the project. The user comments I read on the Library of Congress’s Flickr page were simple musings about the photographs — in the handful of images I browsed, none had any useful or biographical comments attached.

Sometimes it is difficult for me to seriously consider a photograph when it is presented in a web-based forum. (There is something about the computer that still seems very intangible to me. I would imagine that this notion also has a lot to do with why I cannot read much more than five or six paragraphs on a computer monitor at a time.) The new project championed by the Library of Congress and Flickr will recontextualize every single photograph added to the online collection. Perhaps this will be a good thing because it will, indeed, bring the photographs to the masses. I want to suggest, however, that this new project may also further remove photography from any position as a social document, a recognized fine art, or a historical artifact. With digital technology confusing the definition of photography in the twenty-first century so much so already, this project is simply confusing boundaries even more.

Critiques aside, I will admit that the photographs are fascinating. I have included some of my favorites below. Check out the rest of them here: The Library of Congress’ Photos

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James Turrell

Wednesday, January 16th, 2008

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“My work is about your seeing. There is a rich tradition in painting of work about light, but it is not light – it is the record of seeing. My material is light, and it is responsive to your seeing.”
- James Turrell

I recently had the fortunate opportunity to see James Turrell’s light installation called “Gap” from the “Tiny Town” Series at the Albright Knox in Buffalo, NY.  After walking through a zig-zag light trap, the viewer enters a very dimly-lit room and is confronted by a massive blue rectangle on the wall.  At first sight the rectangle looks like a projection — similar to the beginning of a digital slide lecture in art history class — but the viewer soon recognizes that there is no projector in the room.  The blue rectangle is actually a hole in the wall — so evenly lit that the viewer is deceived until he or she puts her hand into it.

Turrell’s installation work intends to transform a space so that the viewer walks away with much more than visual memory.  Standing in the darkened room at the Albright Knox, I could feel the work.  I could interact with it.  I could touch it (the negative space, that is).  Turrell’s work is notoriously about experience.

Art21 cites Turrell’s work as having the capacity to prompt “greater self-awareness through a similar discipline of silent contemplation, patience, and meditation. His ethereal installations enlist the common properties of light to communicate feelings of transcendence and the Divine.”

It is interesting that installation art promotes the joy of seeing while at the same time, celebrating feeling.  The relationship between the viewer and the artist is so essential — without one component there would be no art at all.

Photographers always talk about the difference between SEEING and LOOKING.  Further, the act of photographing is often an experience that — although difficult to articulate to the nonphotographer — is something that transcends time and rational thought.  To photograph is to focus (no pun intended) and see the world in a different way.  I wonder if it is possible to share the experience of photographing with our photographs.  How can we articulate to the viewer what it feels like to make a successful picture.

I am fascinated by Turrell’s work because it allows the viewer to experience art making first hand.  I was INSIDE of Turrell’s work because he chose to share it with me and all of the other patrons at the Albright Knox.

With that said…who wants to go see the Roden Crater with me?