a door to eternity

September 15, 2014

Sunlight’s Kiss ~ Octavio Ocampo

Sunlight’s Kiss ~ Octavio Ocampo

Being human is a temporary fragment of who we truly are.
~Awakened Vibrations

 Photograph: From New Photographers, Photo Festival Leiden. Photo by Marijke Groeneveld

From New Photographers, Photo Festival Leiden. Photo by Marijke Groeneveld

United Photo Industries is a labor of love: love for the photograph and its ability to convey a complex array of emotions and ideas in a single, silent frame. Founders Sam Barzilay, Dave Shelley, and Laura Roumanos had been working in Dumbo, Brooklyn, together and independently on a wide array of photography, production, theater, and concert productions before joining forces to create UPI in March 2011. UPI opened its gallery doors at 111 Front Street in November of that same year.

In June 2012, UPI introduced Photoville, a free community event conceived as a village for photo-documentary work located on the Brooklyn waterfront with stellar views of the downtown Manhattan skyline. The resounding success of Photoville has resulted in a continuous expansion that makes the festival one of the world premier exhibitions of photo-documentary work.

The exhibitions are housed inside (and out) of repurposed shipping containers, creating a distinctive experience that re-imagines the way in which we view photography in the new millennium. The Do-It-Yourself nature of Photoville allows each exhibitor to transform what is an overlooked industrial space into a gallery of their own design.

For years, Barzilay and the team had been vibing on the idea of repurposing containers for exhibition use, as he was inspired by the majestic East River that flows but two blocks away from the gallery itself. Serendipity being what it is, Barzilay met with Regina Meyer, the president of Brooklyn Bridge Park during the Dumbo Arts Festival the previous year, and they decided to partner to create Photoville in the landmark park.

This year, Photoville returns to Pier 5 in Brooklyn Bridge Park and runs from September 18-28. The 2014 edition includes more than 50 photography exhibitions and outdoor installations in partnership with organizations including Instagram, Magnum Foundation, Open Society Foundations, Getty Images, Parsons New School for Design, the School of Visual Arts, the International Center of Photography, The New York Times, the Pulitzer Center, and Time, among many others.

Read the Full Story at THE CLICK.

the inner bond

September 11, 2014

     Dante’s The Divine Comedy, Paradise: Canto 33, ‘Saint Bernard’s Prayer’.  Salvador Dalí (ca 1960-1964)

Dante’s The Divine Comedy, Paradise: Canto 33, ‘Saint Bernard’s Prayer’. Salvador Dalí (ca 1960-1964)

They must often change,
who would be constant in happiness or wisdom.

why not laugh… like a rose?

September 10, 2014

Romare Bearden. Evening, 9:10, 461 Lenox Avenue. 1964.

Romare Bearden. Evening, 9:10, 461 Lenox Avenue. 1964.

Magnolias, 1945 ~ Frida Kahlo

Frida Kahlo, Magnolias, 1945

     Nobuyoshi Araki in America 515 notes

Nobuyoshi Araki

Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.
~Pablo Picasso


Osvaldo Jiminez and Kara Mullins are the founders of La Petite Mort, a vintage boutique on the Lower East Side that reminds one of nothing so much as New York. Dedicated to the spirit of the 1980s and 90s, La Petite Mort reminds you of a time and a place so near yet so far you might think nothing had changed. Because La Petite Mort is built in the spirit of D.I.Y. the hustler’s anthem, find your lane and ride it for life.

Jiminez recalls, “We launched La Petite Mort on Black Friday, 2013. The store came about after a big argument about cleaning the bags of clothes in our apartment. We had stated the store as a website. We’d bust stuff, get models, take photos. People were interested. We got a Grateful Dead shirt for $10, sold it for $90. It was working. There were bags and bags of clothes in the house. We were always steaming in the kitchen. We were trying to find a two-bedroom apartment and decided to get a store instead. Here we are now.

Located at 37 Orchard Street, NY, La Petite Mort is located where old and new worlds collide. Situated on the same block as Hood By Air and Success Hosiery, Jiminez observes, “I’m either an anchor—or I’m part of gentrification. That’s why I keep it 80s and 90s. This is where I spent my formative years. I grew up in Spanish Harlem. I went to Art & Design High School. Bloomingdale’s was there. All my friends were Lo Lifes [editor’s note: The Lo Lifes were a 90s crew that used to exclusively wear Ralph Lauren Polo, all which they had stolen from various stores].

“They used to boost, but I didn’t. Instead I’d go to Canal Street, and I’d make my own things. I’d take the tag off and sew it on another piece. I made my own Columbia jacket once. I came up not having anything, and I’d go out and put it all together. When I went to college in 93, they’d say, ‘You are Eddie Bauer down!’ I knew where all the stores were, down here, around City Hall. I’d be able to press myself up. I wore all Hilfiger, with only one real piece of Hilfiger on. No one bothered me. If anything, people would try to rob me. They didn’t—otherwise they would have found out everything was fake and they would have blown me up.”

Read the Full Story at THE CHIC.

under the open sky

September 8, 2014

Ship on Stormy Seas (detail), Ivan Konstantinovich Aivazovsky

Ship on Stormy Seas (detail), Ivan Konstantinovich Aivazovsky

Today, this day was a brimming cup,
today, this day was the immense wave,
today, it was all the earth.

Today the stormy sea
lifted us in a kiss
so high that we trembled
in a lightning flash
and, tied, we went down
to sink without untwining.

Today our bodies became vast,
they grew to the edge of the world
and rolled melting
into a single drop
of wax or meteor.

~”September 8″
by Pablo Neruda

the secret vaults of heaven

September 7, 2014

Olmec head, San Lorenzo, Mexico, circa 1946

Olmec head, San Lorenzo, Mexico, circa 1946

With freedom, books, flowers, and the moon,
who could not be happy?
~Oscar Wilde

Photograph: Heather Graham by Rafael Fuchs

Photograph: Heather Graham by Rafael Fuchs

Located in Bushwick, Brooklyn, Fuchs Projects was founded by Rafael Fuchs in 2012. As Fuchs observes. “Bushwick, the way I see it, is a place where people do things. When I, first, arrived here, I was fascinated by the fact that I don’t have to go very far if I want to create a frame made or metal, if I want to create/order a wooden cabinet, or even if I want to buy a thousand fortune cookies. Within a distance of a couple of blocks away from my place I can find metal welding shops, wood shops, clothing manufacturers, cement factory, book binders  and many other different manufacturers.

“It is definitely an industrial zone (at least, by the Morgan Ave. stop of the L train, where my studio is), which has been changing its status to more residential zone. Yet, the structure still exists, and the factories that have been converted to residential spaces or studio spaces for artists ( as painters, sculptor makers, musicians, dancers, photographers and more) still keep their characteristics. Due to the industrial structure, Bushwick has become a hub for many artists that have been coming here in the past 10 years or so, in order to find a big space for a relatively low rent, in order to create their art, although the rent has gotten higher in the past two years.”

Opening Friday, September 5 at 6:00pm, Fuchs presents a collection of his work titled, “100 Polaroids From the Turn of the Millennium.” On view through October 5 at 56 Bogart Street #1E, Brooklyn, “100 Polaroids” is a tribute to the medium itself.

As Fuchs reveals, “I love Polaroids. Nothing compares in the whole photography realm to the experience of those seemingly ‘endless’ moments of anticipation for the image (you just took) to be processed, and, magically, be revealed on the surface of this blank…Polaroid. Sometime I want to repeat that magic and shoot just with Polaroids, since they have their own characteristics and charm.”

Read the Full Story at THE CLICK.

Sharon Core: Early American

September 4, 2014

Sharon Core, Strawberries and Ostrich Egg, 2007, 17 x 23 inches

Sharon Core, Strawberries and Ostrich Egg, 2007, 17 x 23 inches

We who know most paintings by their photograph are more often than not looking at distortions that arise from the process itself. Flattened a three dimensional object, the painting becomes a shadow of its former self, the energy that once was live on the canvas now lost on the page. But our eye acclimates, and we read distortions of color and texture and surface with infinite grace, and we have mentally replaced the copy with the original until we come to see it face to face.

Where the tradition of Western painting once sought to become a time immemorial depiction of the transitory nature of life, the camera easily upset this apple cart. By producing a more accurate representation of the thing itself, the camera liberated the painter from reality and allowed them to explore the medium itself. This would begin in the mid-nineteenth century, just as the camera took hold, and painters, informed by this process, began to study the effects of light itself.

But before this, there was one last gasp at a kind of realism that showed the danger of time elapsed. This is most evident in the still lifes of the period, of the faithfully rendered fruit and flowers that sparkle with life and hint at death. These still lifes remind us of the place where Man and Nature meet, as Man carefully culls from the garden to create a bounty upon the table and plate.

During this era, worked American painter Raphaelle Peale, who concentrated intently upon the genre to create a distinctive atmosphere that has been described by art historian Alexander Nemerov as eccentric. As Nemerov notes, “Raphaelle’s paintings simulate the artist’s own physical existence projected into the objects of perception,” creating a tangible quality that makes his subjects more life than still.

In response to Peale’s work, Sharon Core has created Early American (Radius Books), a series of photographs faithfully recreating the paintings themselves. Core was interested in the uncanny lifelikeness of Peale’s work, which blended an American austerity with a distinctly non-American style of painting to create a series of paintings that are more of a period than of a place. Core was also interested in the relationship between illusionism, trompe l’oeil, and photography could be explored through replication of the original still life itself.

As Brian Sholls notes in the book’s introduction, “It took Core long hours to collect the items (both organic and inorganic) necessary to re-create Peale’s compositions. At first she spent time exploring antiques stores, garden centers, and flea markets in New York’s Hudson Valley. However, the age and rarity of what she sought made that work impossible, so she turned to more systematic methods. For dishes and tableware, including a particular kind of Chinese export porcelain so prevalent in Peale’s canvases, she monitored auctions on eBay. For rare and heirloom species of fruit and flowers, such as Anne Arundel melons, she likewise turned to online sources, such as the Thomas Jefferson Center for Historic Plants.”

Working closely to recreate every last detail of the original works, Core has produced a series of photographs at once magnificent, evocative, and provoking questions about the nature of the relationship between the mediums. Artists aim to recreate both their inner and outer world, more often than not producing a dialogue between the two. Where Peale was inspired to use still life to document America’s bounty in the country’s earliest decades, showing us how the newest nation of earth was rapidly modernizing and kept abreast of the developments in Europe, two hundred years later, Core is inspired to reflect on this in the medium that surpassed painting as the most faithful mode of representation.

It is here that Core’s work as a photographer gives us pause, for her dedication to the original work creates a surreal feeling of hyper-realism that is unfamiliar in photography. It is a kind of realism that is about the medium of painting itself, as Core deftly manipulates her camera to record the painterly qualities of light, color, and the invisible brushstroke that makes realist painting so real it’s fake. Looking at Core’s photographs we are reminded of the act of painting itself, and the way the camera can manipulate the surface of the image to create the same feeling on its own terms.

Early American is a treasure trove, a collection of photographs that are both new and old. These images remind us of a way of life so long gone it evokes a powerful response, a kind of nostalgia for a time and a style that is no longer part of our lives. And yet at the same time, Core reminds us that the past is never over, it is part of our lives, forever recreated as we need it to serve us as a means to understanding and experiencing life.

First published 8 March 2013 in
Le Journal de la Photographie

Sharon Core, Still Life with Flowering Tobacco, 2009, 14.5 x 18.75 inches

Sharon Core, Still Life with Flowering Tobacco, 2009, 14.5 x 18.75 inches

Sharon Core, Tea Cakes and Sherry, 2008, 11.5 x 15.5 inches

Sharon Core, Tea Cakes and Sherry, 2008, 11.5 x 15.5 inches

the joy of the unknown

September 3, 2014

Autumn Dots by Herr Olsen

Autumn Dots by Herr Olsen

I don’t know anything with certainty,
but seeing the stars makes me dream.
~Vincent van Gogh


Polaroids and poems. Piles of jewels. Clothing lines and pop-up stores. These are a few of my favorite things. Come together in one woman, that woman is Maripol. She who more than most embody Chic’s lively disco tales. Because it all began on the dancefloor, so many years ago. And to the dancefloor is where we return for another spin around.

French-born artist, designer, photographer, author, film producer, and now—recording artist Maripol has teamed up with composer-producer Leonard Lasry to release four songs inspired by poems from her latest monograph, Maripola X (Le Livre Art Publishing). The songs, three in English, one in French, are both up and downtempo odes that recall nothing so much as a night with Nile Rogers.

Maripol reveals, “Le freak, c’est chic.” (Laughs). “For more chic is a hard word to define. You can’t buy it in a story. It is something you inherit. I got it from my mother and my grandmother. I live in the present, but also in the past. I look at Paris and Hollywood in the 40s and 50s. Everything is an inspiration, from the screen to the streets.

“Look at Commes des Garçons. Their first show revolutionized the Parisian scene with Jean-Michel Basquiat as a model in a suit and bare feet. Chic in the 80s was a natural chic. We didn’t have the money to get dressed. We were very creative.”

Maripol is a force of energy that shines over the Manhattan skyline with a brilliant warmth. Warm like a fire and flickering like a flame, she is one and the same as those who wore her designs in the earliest years, or appeared in her Polaroids, objets d’art unto themselves. Maripol is that trip from Paris to the moon, a ride alongside luminaries like Andy Warhol, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Keith Haring, Kenny Scharf, Francesco Clemente, Debi Mazar, Vincent Gallo, Anna Sui, Steven Meisel, Pat Cleveland, Kid Creole, Futura 2000, Patti Astor, Edwige, Rene Ricard, Teri Toye, Klaus Nomi, John Sex, John Lurie, James Chance, Stephen Sprouse, Anya Phillips, Victor Bockris, Amos Poe, Diego Cortez

Maripol took the New York City by storm with her unforgettable approach to art and life. Read the full story at THE CHIC.

~ magic spells ~

September 1, 2014

Wizard Nebula (Image Credit: J-P Metsavainio)

Wizard Nebula (Image Credit: J-P Metsavainio)

Speech is the mirror of the mind.


“Piece OFF Rights” from the series “Free Radicles”, 2011. Photo by Grant Worth, FotoVisura-Member

When you work with people, 40, 60, 80 hours a week you become something of a family, probably because there is no one else you see so much every day of your lives as your coworkers. This is such a strange situation in so many ways, random personalities thrown together for a period in time, eyes on the prize, with one goal in mind: success.

Such as it was to work with Adriana Teresa and Graham Letorney at powerHouse in 2007. It wasn’t that long ago, and yet, it feels like a lifetime has come and gone in just seven years time. Since they first met at powerHouse, Adriana and Graham got married and started their own company, FotoVisura, an independent platform for photographers.

Being a husband and wife team is an intense commitment. Passions and politics and protocol and pragmatism all come into the mix. Where the professional and the personal lines lie is fluid. I have nothing but the utmost respect for couples who can release their egos in favor of something greater than themselves. Adriana and Graham speak with The Click about their life in art, and the risks and rewards of creating an online international self-publishing community and resource for photography that offers annual memberships with access to grants, workshops and a public archive used by industry professionals to find new work and talent. Their mission is to further the work and career of photographers worldwide.

Adriana explains the development of FotoVisura was organic and natural,  responding to a demand in the market that was being undeserved. She observes, “Photographers invest in personal websites, which are one in a million, like stars in the sky—in that you really need to know the name of the star in order to know it exists. Photographers are investing $500-$7000 on a website, which is fine but is the return worth the investment?

“Bottom line, Graham and I do not see individual websites as a good business model solution for students, alumni and emerging photographers. If you can afford having one, go for it—but FotoVisura is an alternative solution that is cost-effective and might have much better results because in addition to an online presence, where one can self-publish, promote and share his or her work, the platform provides many of the resources to further the work and career of photographers. This is our mission.

“From the beginning, we knew that having an online presence was not enough if the photographers did not have access to professional working editors and curators in the industry. So, we began adding resources that could attract leading editors and curators to FotoVisura, for example, the FotoVisura Grant, The Summer Editing Workshops at Stowe Mountain Lodge and Photo of the Day. Plus, we have a very exciting feature for editors coming out this fall which will help them find talent and engage on a whole new level.”

Read the Full Story at THE CLICK.

book-of-probes_i6 med_probes_sprd_1-jpg 81zGOB8eVPL

“All the new media, including the press, are art forms which have the power of imposing, like poetry, their own assumption,” Marshall McLuhan observed. We live in a time when new media is so ubiquitous as to be omnipresent and the only escape from the world we’ve built is to be out of satellite range—or, even more difficult, to simply turn it off.

But we don’t because we won’t because, like the greatest pharmaceutical drugs, new media has rewired our brains to change the way in which we perceive ourselves and the world itself. The way in which we live has become so extreme that we are hard pressed to remember how we operated any other way. We take for granted the way in which these interactions create and define experience, allowing ourselves to fall under the spell, whether we want to or not. At a time when to not have a Facebook account is an act of defiance, we must consider the bigger picture—the machine itself.

Gingko Press has just released The Book of Probes, a collection of Marshall McLuhan’s finest words culled from his books, over 200 of his speeches, his classes at the University of Toronto, and from nearly 700 shorter pieces he published between 1945 and 1980. The book has been designed by the renowned David Carson, and is aesthetically divided into two sections. One section features quotes, set against the traditional white background. This section is understated, simple, and easy to grasp. It allows the words to do the work of words, and requires nothing except our focused attention.

What makes The Book of Probes fascinating is the other section, the one in which Carson interfaces with McLuhan on a dynamic level. Here, McLuhan’s words are set against a graphic, a photograph, or an illustration. The spread becomes a synthesis of image and text, where the font and layout of the words change the energy of the image upon which they lay. The written word takes on an aesthetic dimension, conveying in equal parts meaning, spirit, and energy. Meanwhile, the image no longer serves as images traditional do—it does not offer reportage or meaning on its own terms. Instead it serves as a vehicle for the words themselves, fusing with the spirit and the energy of the greater thing—the Idea as Ideal.

One of the most challenging aspects of the photography book is the use of words. Words, so dominant in our culture and our society, demand our attention in the way nothing else quite does. They are perceived by the eye and translated by the brain. They are a series of symbols that mean different things depending on the way in which they are ordered. The more evocative the order, the more compelling the idea, until something clicks inside us, and the words stop being words and start being “real.”

When images appear near a photograph they are taken as something greater than words. They are taken as interpretations of the thing which we are viewing. We either read or resist, we want to know or we don’t. We trust our perceptions or we give them over to another to define our experience for us. The challenge of great photography books is how to find the balance between the image and the text, the way to provide information and context without altering our visceral experience of the image itself. Words should be used to provide support, but all too often we become lazy and allow the words to pull the cart.

The Book of Probes is powerful because it addresses just this issue, with words that comment on the experience as we are living it. Taken on their own, McLuhan’s observations are essential to cutting through the fog and the haze of cultural complicity. His insights force us to question our assumptions about the way we communicate, the way we connect, the way we create meaning through media today.

“Obsolescence is the moment of superabundance,” he notes, making us think about why print took such a sharp nosedive, a decline from which it may never recover. In the world of photography books, that superabundance was all too obvious. With the transition to digital production at the same time that China grew in the print industry, costs declined so dramatically that the publishing model of producing more for less did itself in. While publishers were focused on producing cheap product, no one was talking market share or audience building. Instead publishers stood back as superstores killed the retail industry, only now to be terrorized by the power that Amazon wields. No small thing the company named itself after the great rainforest and the great woman warrior. Did publishers really think they stood a chance against a business model that took advantage of their short- sighted thinking?

McLuhan’s single quote in a book of 576 pages stands out to me, but that is only because that is the spread to which I flipped as I write this story. Turn another page and there is a question McLuhan poses. “What happens when the ad makers take over all the popular myths and poetry?” What do you think? What do you feel? We all live in a world where advertising has become culture and culture has become advertising and it becomes very difficult to distinguish the line between art and commerce. That is—if there ever was one to begin with.

The Book of Probes is, in many ways, the ultimate objet de McLuhan. It forces us to stop rushing from end to end, to enjoy the means and the journey instead. It asks us to contemplate and consider rather than conclude. It suggests that the answers do not matter as much as the questions do.

Originally Published 12 March 2012
in Le Journal de la Photographie




         Terra-cotta Head. Ancient Ife, Nigeria Photo © Herbert List - Magnum Photos 356 notes

Terra-cotta Head. Ancient Ife, Nigeria Photo © Herbert List – Magnum Photos

The light of my face comes from the candle of my spirit.


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