©Tomoko Kikuchi – via ‘Magnum Emergency Fund Announces 2013 Grantees’ [LightBox]
Thanks to everyone that tuned into the first episode of the podcast. I received som good feedback. There’s always room for improvement. I have a few more interviews scheduled so hopefully I can get the next couple episodes in the can soon.
We’re going to start laying out issue 6 in the next couple of weeks. That’s always stressful but I’m excited to get it out there on schedule.
Links of Note
BJP came out with a list of 20 photographers to watch in 2013. Good to see some people I’ve been following the last few years make the list. I’m not a big fan of this type of hype but whatever, it’s not really worth ranting about. Moving on…
I tend to dislike accounts of the value of a body of photography based on its function in calling into question American mythology, self-confidence, etc. It’s just redundant, like a gripping photo essay revealing the conspiracy behind the myth of Santa Claus. Demythologization is not bad, but it is rarely interesting in itself, and if it’s treated as a priority in art (either by the artist or by curators or critics) it limits the scope of its relevance to audiences who partake in the mythology or who like to chuckle at the foolishness of those who do. (Also, in the case of the photographers who tend to crop up in this particular conversation, one has to ask: to what extent can American identity be “submitted to serious questioning” by all and only white men?)
But Salvesen’s “we must either find ourselves in these pictures or admit ourselves outside them,” does something different (or at least additional) for me. It focuses not on the relationship between the photographers and the idea of America, but on the relationship between viewers and subjects. And while I can be as jaded and bored as I like about national mythology, this problem all Americans face — the problem of living together with other Americans — is as real to me as it is to anyone, and it is a concrete problem which is actually amenable to photographic investigation.
It’s a particularly good way to approach Soth, whose work, while often as narrow and provocative and judgmental as that of any other photographer of America, is also consistently empathetic, and genuinely interested in people as such. (And not only for their iconic or representational utility.)
“If there was a picture in the newspaper from the block, it was always negative,” said Mr. Flores, who is now a staff photographer for The Journal News in Rockland County. “It was the image of the Puerto Rican wearing a bandanna with a knife in his pocket. But that wasn’t my experience. You know, my mom was a garment worker. She was very hard working, as were most people in my community.”
That sentiment guided his photography, which went from hobby to obsession. His images showed the full range of experience and emotion in Longwood — the same neighborhood that had been home decades earlier to Colin Powell. He shot the fires and those who fell to drugs, of course. But he also captured everyday images that often escaped others’ attention.
I find myself making a lot of images on impulse. As soon as I get an idea that I like, I put it into motion very quickly. Making work in this way results in a lot of images (a lot of them which get put on the back burner for some time). Although I believe that whenever an individual makes images they will all somehow fit together because of the general ascetics being used. I spend a lot of time looking at and living with my work, and by doing so a clarity seems to form what to place together.
My way of working is very impulsive. I never know what I want before I actually start shooting. I don’t arrange the setting. The golden thread running through my work is the autobiographical aspect – but not in an obvious way. It is autobiographical in the sense that I photograph things close to me, what is around me. And in the end it matters more in which way I print it and how I photograph something than what.
I defend what I called “the pleasure of photography”, and I’m trying to make sense of the aspects of my life that have mythic aspirations, rather than, say, the unimpressive dirt under the kitchen sink. I suppose I’m involved with this circular logic where yesterday’s cliché becomes today’s abject. If you’re a white heterosexual male from a wealthy country, no one wants to hear about your personal problems. You’re swimming in banality. Maybe this is the reason I’m touched by unhappy fashion models: our culture laughs at their problems. It’s obvious, isn’t it: I identify with sad, pretty girls.
Sometimes I try to change allegories into symbols. That’s how romantic the project is. I don’t believe there are rational answers waiting. There isn’t a solid platform to view or criticize the world from, and there isn’t one correct way to decode the images.
The Christian church cannot fully realize what it means that its main mystics—people like Meister Eckhart (in Germany) or St. John of the Cross (in Spain)—were mainly experimental writers. They were brilliant poets. Ecstatically—by critically expanding and challenging their chosen medium—they met God: they created meaning. Poem after poem, their writing made new experience possible.
- Agence France-Presse infringed on photographer’s copyright in landmark Twitter [BJP]
- Getty Hands Google Users Free Commercial Images, Photographers Get $12 [A Photo Editor]
- Vogue’s inappropriate Hurricane Sandy photo shoot [Kottke]
- Operation Photo Rescue Fixing Photos Destroyed By Hurricane Sandy [Pop Photo]
- Book: Elad Lassry, On Onions [DLK Collection]
- Norman Jean Roy Thinks Digital Ruined Fashion Photography [The Cut]
- ‘Roman Vishniac Rediscovered’: A Great Photographer’s Lost World Revealed [LightBox]