December 12, 2013
From 1983 to 1993, artist, architect, and activist Ai Weiwei lived in New York City. Ai, who was 6 years old when he arrived, only returned to China a decade later when he received word that his father, Ai Qing, a writer of extraordinary renown, lay dying. This extended stay in the United States would go on to shape his vision and his work as he entered the avant-garde scene head on. Not yet famous, Ai lived in a tiny apartment in the East Village, where he befriended the likes of Allen Ginsberg, familiarized himself with the work of Joseph Beuys, and allowed himself to be influenced by Andy Warhol. During his decade in New York, Ai took more than 10,000 photographs. From this archive, he personally curated a collection of more than 220 for exhibition at the Martin-Gropius-Bau in Germany, and is now available in a beautifully produced large format paperback book titled Ai Weiwei: New York 1983–1993 (Distanz).
Read the Full Story at
Hatje Cantz Fotoblog
December 11, 2013
The Winter 2013 issue of Jocks & Nerds Magazine
has just landed with a cover story on
Afrika Bambaataa, Master of Records.
Photographed by Janette Beckman, with a text by Miss Rosen.
December 10, 2013
In the summer of 2004, I was out in San Francisco and stumbled upon a little black-and-white photography magazine called Hamburger Eyes . I flipped through the mag and came to a full stop at a photo essay called Mean Streets. Ice-cold images of life in the projects of New York City popped off the page as I stood, slack-jawed, in awe. I looked for the name of the photographer: Boogie. “Who is this lil Puerto Rican hardrock with a camera?” I wondered to myself.
A year later I would find out. Boogie sent me an email asking me if I would be interested in publishing his first monograph, It’s All Good. He sent me photos, photos, and more photos. I fell off my chair a couple of times. When I got back up, I answered his emails with more emails. And we had this crazy, intense conversation a week before we even met. 77 emails. Countless photos. More emails…
Two years later, in December 2007, powerHouse Books is publishing his second book, Boogie, a limited edition of 500 with a signed and numbered print and slipcase, which collects his work shot around the world over the past few years. Clean design and classic presentation allow for unfettered meditation of the world as Boogie sees it: a stark, harsh reality humming with the poetry of empty lives, tired lives, chaos and violence. There is nothing sentimental in his vision, yet it an incredibly romantic portrait of ruin. Baudelaire would love it
Miss Rosen: I’d like to begin with family background, about your grandfather and your father’s work, and how your exposure to their work may have influenced you, not necessarily as an artist but as a young man.
Boogie : My dad was an icon painter and amateur photographer and my grandfather was too. My grandfather always had the best cameras—Leicas, Contax. He got arrested after the second World War for taking photos of some military facility and then the Communists put him in jail. He thought they were going to kill him so he wrote his last will and testament from prison. My aunt still has it.
I had some photos of when the Americans bombed Belgrade in 1945, when the Germans were withdrawing. Then the Communists came and it was worse than the Nazi occupation. Yugoslavia was a totally artificial state. You can’t put together people who don’t want to be together in the same state. The second World War pretty much never ended over there; we’re just waiting for the opportunity to kill each other again. We, Serbs, feel like a great deal of injustice has been done to us. We lost more than 50% of our male population in the first World War, then we lost 2.5 million in the second World War (and we were on the side of the Allies), then the Americans bombed us in the 90s.
Living under Milosevic was like living in a mental institution. It was apocalyptic, especially during the biggest crisis in 1993. Pensions and salaries were like three to five United States dollars. People, especially the old and retired, were literally dying of hunger, or committing suicide rather than starve to death. The streets were empty. There was a shortage of gasoline, so there were very few cars on the street. And then, in the middle of the night, you would see a police truck cruising slowly. There were protests against Milosevic every day. In the beginning they were peaceful, so I didn’t go. I don’t believe in peaceful, passive resistance. It’s either grab the gun and go to the woods or sit at home. But then they turned violent. The police were very brutal, beating protesters mercilessly. And that’s when I started to go out and shoot [photographs]. Milosevic wasn’t sure cops from Belgrade would be tough enough—they might not want to beat on their neighbors. So cops were brought from other parts of Serbia, huge cops with mustaches, in riot gear. Shit, I ran from them a few times. Scary.
Miss Rosen: Tell me about your work as a young photographer picking up the camera, training yourself—and then going after Nazis as a subject!
Boogie: I did a lot of photography back in Serbia. I used to freelance for magazines and newspapers, and I always shoot when I go there to visit. I did a series on Nazi skinheads recently. Belgrade is very cinematic, in a depressing way. A friend of mine is a supporter of a football club; one group of supporters is Nazi skinheads and he knew them so he introduced me to them. The whole movement is on the rise in Europe, especially in Eastern Europe; it came with economic crisis. It’s pretty normal when things go down, you blame someone else.
It was like a dream come true, when you shoot stuff no one else can. For awhile that was the point of me being a photographer. It’s not anymore, but when you first start out and you carry a big camera around it’s cool, chicks like me now. You go through phases, and you want people to know you’re a photographer. Then you go over it and the only thing that matters is the final result, the photo, your equipment looks like shit and you’re totally low-key. In the beginning I would find inspiration in shooting rough stuff in things no one could get access to, but now I don’t really care about that. I don’t think that’s what makes a good shot.
Miss Rosen: Moving in that vein I’d like to discuss the war, how it affected the people you knew, and the world you lived in?
Boogie: I am what Belgrade used to be 20 years ago, in spirit. Belgrade had a really unique cosmopolitan spirit 20 years ago and it all got fucked up during the war. Young people left the country, we got a million refugees and that sprit of 86-89 is gone. A new one will somehow evolve and come to existence, but right now it’s just a mix of what’s left from the original spirit and what refugees brought with them.
We had really great creative energy, bands that didn’t copy anything from anyone. We had something original, it was ours. The underground clubs in Belgrade were the second best in Europe in NME . I was 17, 18, 19. I went into the army when I was 19. You have to go. Of course, it was a waste of time being in the stupid army. The best part is actually shooting and you don’t do that often; and even if you do you have to clean your gun after so it sucks. I was in Air Defense; you don’t fly, you try to shoot them down. It’s antiaircraft guns. I got out in 1990. The conflict started in 1991 and it went through 1998. I started taking photos of the protests in 1993. It was weird—miserable poverty, no money, no gas, nothing. I wasn’t a photographer then. I was a kid with a camera and my photos from then pretty much suck. I think I got my first good shot in 1996. The first good shots I got were during 1996.
Miss Rosen: How did you come to live in the U.S.?
Boogie: I was just drinking one night with friends at my place and we all applied for the green card lottery and I was the one who won. I never intended to come, and then I won, and of course I had to go because I won. 1998. I thought I spoke English. It was a huge shock. It was like your general opinion about the US is that money is all around, money is all around, land created by immigrants, they’ll love us—can’t be further from the truth. You start from below zero. I started working for some Serbian guy duplicating and delivering videotapes for $300 a week. I was living in a studio in Queens—it was nice, it wasn’t a hellhole, but everything else was grim. My life sucked. The first time I went back was after two and a half years. That was like, it was very hard to come back to the US after spending a few weeks home. At that time Belgrade was home. It took me five years to decide if I am here or if I am still there, but you can’t do anything until you really decide this is your home or back there is your home. Somehow, you put things into place and then you can move on.
I wanted to be a photographer. I thought I was very good but I wasn’t. I got a job in a hospital, Beth Israel, fixing medical equipment walking around with a white coat and screwdriver and pliers. $17.50 per hour, overtime 50% more. I always had my camera with me. I would leave home early, shoot before work, shoot after work, rush home and develop. I had a darkroom in my bathroom. The whole hospital thing started driving me crazy and I decided I would learn web design and become a web designer. So I gave myself two months and I learned web design, Flash, and became a web designer; and that was okay because I was making twice as much money.
Miss Rosen: I remember, after we published It’s All Good , I found a submission you sent to someone years ago at powerHouse. It never got passed along to me—which, in the end, seems to have worked out any way, but it must have been tough to have tried to get down in New York.
Boogie: It’s just impossible to get into the photo world. You send your shit around and no one wants you and there is no feedback. You don’t know if you are talented, you doubt yourself. I got depressed and I stopped taking photographs in the year 2000 for two years. Not a single shot, not even September 11. I was doing some web design and I was bored one afternoon and made a website with 20 of my photos. I was searching for some lists of expired domain names and searching by “art,” and I found artcoup.com , and I bought it. It’s very random. I made this little website with just 20 photos and I sent the link around and I got like 20,000 visitors in a few weeks and feedback was amazing and I was like, oh, maybe I should start taking pictures again. So I did. I started shooting again and sending my stuff around and of course same story. No one wants you no one cares, so I was like, I won’t send anything to anyone anymore and it was like that for a few years. I wasn’t really pushing. I met Tim Barber through Vice .
Miss Rosen: Yea! It was thanks to Tim that you came directly to me—I had seen your work and was interested, but with everything going on in this office I never seem to have the time to track photographers down. One of the things I remember our discussing in the beginning was your intention with this project—why were you doing it? You weren’t entirely sure, so I asked the obvious question: Are you a moralist?
Boogie : Am I a moralist? Hmm, I don’t know. The whole story about photographers doing what they do because they want to change the world, expose harsh reality of wars, starvation, violence—is aaaaaagh, crap. They (me too, I guess) do what they do because it gives them thrills. They become addicted to the adrenalin rush, to the world not everyone is allowed to see. You go to the crackhouse, and there is a chance that something bad will happen to you—then everything turns out to be OK. You get out of there, take a deep breath, and trust me, it’s your best breath of air, ever. I don’t judge people I am photographing. They made some wrong choices in life, and they were too weak to keep fighting, they just gave up. So I guess we’re not gonna change the world, but rather show it as is, fucked up to the bone.
As for the gangsters and drug addicts—I guess I’m always after extremes; and, of course, the whole experience of dealing with people like that is like being in the movie. It all started one day when I went to Bed-Stuy. I was walking around when I saw a homeless group in an abandoned parking lot. I approached them (they either thought I was a cop or that I’m crazy or something) and asked to take pictures. They were all like, No, no, no. But one girl allowed me to take pictures of her. I bought her a beer, we started talking, I went there again the next day, and so on and so on. We became friends. Then one day she asked me if I wanted to take pictures of her and her friend smoking crack. I think photography is in a way similar to acting. You need to get into your character’s head, you have to become him in order to fully understand him. I’m a white guy, but white guy with an accent. I don’t sound like anyone gang guys hate, and I don’t really look like WASPy American guy. Also, I feel OK when guns are around (I don’t want them pointed at me, but what the fuck). Hey, I’m Serb after all!
November 2, 2007. Originally published on Morphizm.
December 10, 2013
Prowlinn downtown Brooklyn
like a leopard print bunny cat Island of Doctor Moreau
and it hits me so hard I have to sit down.
We’re the aliens.
Born of eternity into these bodies on this planet for this instant
and everyone is on a mission
and I’m sitting downtown and people are passing,
men in blue button down shirts and women in skirts
and it’s lunch so people post up in chairs,
enjoyinn this day.
And I’m feelinn like I might fall over
cause everyone’s on this,
programmed into some pattern
that seems similar until you pull at the seams.
and I’m sittinn there thinkinn of how
we’re all gettinn messages all the time,
like today it’s been close your eyes and make a wish.
So I’m thinkinn about me, cause me yes.
I’m thinkinn whas next and I know it.
Time to Go.
Then I hear this guy on the phone, laughing, laughing.
Sun sparkles on his tongue and a mellifluous giggle escapes his lips
and I’m hearing the Gods and it makes me laugh too.
I’m sayinn. Not even hungry anymore.
The body on minimal. The mind is sooo light.
I feel like I could stay like this.
I feel like I love feelinnn flyy.
So light and luscious.
I’m getting a lil addicted.
It’s so simple.
Not eating = free.
Really, the best things in life are.
And I’m thinkinn of how the best things in life are free
so I cancel my gym membership because I never go.
And I think of how free is one of my favorite four letter words.
Like love. And home. And calm.
And slim. And soft.
December 9, 2013
“Early in 1959 I received a telephone call from Germany. The person introduced himself as Joachim-Ernst Berendt, a musciologist living in Baden-Baden. In very good English, he explained that he was coming to America to do a study of ‘America’s great art—jazz.’ He went on to say that he needed a photographer to work with him—a photographer who liked and understood jazz. He had seen a great deal of my work published in European magazines and on record covers and thought that I would be the perfect choice to work with him—‘because your pictures have soul,’” William Claxton recounts in the foreword to Jazz Life: A Journey for Jazz Across America in 1960 (Taschen), a 600-page compendium that takes us on a fantastic voyage through one of the country’s most indelible and evocative arts….
Read the Full Story at
HATJE CANTZ FOTOBLOG
December 8, 2013
Drug yourself out and paint flowers on your body.
Somethinn like that, somethinn like this…
In this skin I hold memory.
Memories so deeply buried that I remember nothing.
I flip thru the decks and the banks and cash checks
lookinn for something pure but it cannot be done
because these hands are dirty and they smudge
and rub dust on everything they touch.
My fingers are covered in ashes and soot
and I wipe them on my thighs because black lycra holds no memories.
It is not like skin, like flesh that remembers every last thing,
like your touch and your breath
and the way I want to rake my claws across your face.
But. I beware my words because upon them I choke
so for today enough of you.
Today, something new, something that has come to me in a dream,
something that comes to me over and over again
and it is all that remains…
December 7, 2013
December 6, 2013
the photos on the roll never seen before
and me i am sitting with eyes agape as a sigh escapes
and it is and she is and she was forever and always
keep capture store restore
the soul to the place
from whence we came
and where we go
it is flow it is a loop a spiral a curl
as we spin round this time this turn
this twirl this never ending blur
that comes into focus
with the click
the flash of the shutter the sharp instant
the moment the fraction of time
of light emanating from within and shining
stardust from the Planet Aaliyah
captured on negative
and a print
Photographs by Eric Johnson
this her Wikipedia pic.
December 5, 2013
I was walking up Seventh Avenue
somewhere around Fifteenth Street
when I saw him for the first time
and I knew it was him
but how could this be?
I couldn’t see a thing.
He was dressed in all black:
black baggy jeans and a black hooded sweatshirt and the hood was up
and his hands were in his pockets
and he moved through the streets like a ghost.
He left no tracks and he left no prints
and I was entranced and pulled to by a force I could not speak
and in my mind I knew the words,
only I did not know what this meant.
And as I passed him on the street,
he saw me and said thickly under his breath,
“You are beautiful”
and that is when I saw his face.
He. Was. Flaw. Less.
Masculine and hard yet soft and sweet like a candy,
the kind that will break your teeth.
Like sugar melted into rocks and rocks
that snap your jaw and they are
So raw your teeth start to ache
but you suck and chomp and chew
and maybe even spit
but you won’t let go
cause this candy is all that is left.
Left after right and right after left
and my feet kept moving and my legs led me forth and
I went ahead but he kept up and he was at my side
and I felt a pull, a tug, a wave, a splash, damp, hot, cool, cold, October day
and he walked alongside me and asked me
what I was doing and where I was going and who I was and who I be
and I said, “I am having a drink with you”
and he looked shocked, then happy, then broke and me.
He showed me his hand, his knuckles were swollen,
huge like a mitt and raw like a steak,
and I’m looking at the back of this hand
like I’ve never seen it in my life.
December 4, 2013
On my wall, a collage grows. It is a living entity, an amorphous thing, that takes new shapes and holds all forms. Of two-dimensions in a three-dimensional world, the collage subverts the linear logic of our visual frame, and forces us into a conscious, dreamlike state. I love this, this way in which, the image converses with itself in a language all its own.
Dennis Busch is a master of the form. I first met him when asked to profile him in 2009. From this, a connection was born and so it was with great pleasure that I had learned Busch would be publishing The Age of Collage with Gestalten this Fall. A survey of contemporary work that is a rich as it is inviting, every turn of the page a surprise that redefines reality as something that is as once foreign as it is familiar.
I am pleased to share here a conversation with Dennis Busch. Give it up y’all ~
The book smells so good. I’m addicted to the sting of inks, the touch of the page, the thick luscious paper, the design, the art, the words, all of it. It’s a tremendous undertaking putting together a survey on this scale. What was the impetus to begin a project about the contemporary collage in modern art ?
Dennis Busch: As we are now living in a total “Collage-Culture“ it was kind of a logical consequence to push things forward with this book. The collage technique has such a great tradition in art making since back from the days (DADA, surrealism, punk, etc.) so i felt this cool technique has come to a point of renewal. The technique of cutting and pasting has come to a point of eye level to other contemporary techniques. So my impetus was to show a wide range of diversity in style and technique.
What is it about the collage that holds us in its grasp? I am infinitely spellbound by the space between the mechanical and the hand. It is the space where the mind takes us into another reality, one that seems more like the dreamscapes of the unconscious mind than the world in which we live. Please talk about your understanding of the nature of collage and the way it manifests unconventional energies.
The Collage technique is the perfect tool for an artist to push things right through the walls of time and create magical loopholes. Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow can be mixed up to one strange brew. With the collage technique you are able to create a decomposition of time and space and step right into a dimension of transformation and everlasting changes.
Stuffed with his knifes, scalpels and his magical glue the modern collage artists are like astronauts on a never ending journey into an innerstellar “Reich“ made out of boundless fantasies where even “the blind man is able to see“. The modern collage artist can create a dreamlike universe in a state of enmeshment-like existence. It’s about the intuition of a real „becoming“ and the amorphic state of an universal „being“. It’s the digging for time, space, truth and beauty within a deep darkness.
What was the process for selecting work for this book ? It is daunting to bring together such a wide array of artists with such distinctive styles and still have the book hold together as a cohesive volume, yet The Age of Collage does this beautifully. What was the most challenging aspect of editing this book ?
It was a delight to select the artists for the book. I thought the time was alright for such a project. There are so many very good collage artists out there, i only had to shake the kaleidoscope a little to get such a nice constellation of people. It was important for me to show a wide range of distinctive styles, to show as much different positions as possible to keep the machine running. I wanted to focus a whole scene in all its different depth, complexity and beauty.
As an artist, as well as an editor, what do you enjoy most about the process of sharing your work with a larger audience ? What has been the most dynamic part of creating a book and an exhibition ?
I think it was an important way to bring this stuff to a larger audience. Now is the time with so many talented collage-artists doing such great stuff that there was no other way to turn. Collage making nowadays becomes such a hype so it was important to drop a compendium that is going in that nonspecific but crystal-clear direction.
December 3, 2013
The door is open wide, open to the world,
and through this opening it breathes
and draws the cool crisp air into my blood
and reminds me I am alive.
And I live, and I am without thought,
but fully present to the words
that pour from my pen in thick black ink,
as though they were written before.
And me, I trace the outlines of words that do not yet exist,
not until I put pen to paper and call them into being,
although they have always been and never were.
My eyes flicker in the early morning light
as it shines through the Roman pines and cypress trees
and everywhere it is a painting, a fresco, al fresco, a scene I have seen
but only in two dimensions until I stand as I stand now, standing at the door,
and I stand upon a precipice I cannot see as the air caresses my form.
And it draws to me as I to it
as I see what cannot be seen and I say what cannot be said.
December 2, 2013
I always wished I could be a painter or a filmmaker,
anything but a fucking photographer.
I certainly didn’t want to be in a photography gallery.
The work all comes from a psychological need.
See the images that I make… It’s really a psychological need.
I’m just jerked around by it. I’m pulled by it.
[Eugene Smith] was always writing these diatribes about truth,
and how he wanted to tell the truth, the truth, the truth.
It was a real rebel position.
It was kind of like a teenager’s position:
why can’t things be like they should be? Why can’t I do what I want?
I latched on to that philosophy.
One day I snapped, hey, you know,
I know a story that no one’s ever told, never seen, and I’ve lived it.
It’s my own story and my friends’ story.
I just happened to have my camera and be photographing my friends.
It was totally innocent; there was no purpose to the photographs.
There was a purity to them that wasn’t planned; it was realism.
At the end of the day, what I show is real life.
I tell the truth. And the truth can be shocking.
Photographs by Alessandro Simonetti
Quotes by Larry Clark
December 2, 2013
I am pleased to announce that I shall be guest blogging at Hatje Cantz this month, writing about art, photography, books… all that good stuff. Please give a round of applause for the delightful work of San Francisco photographer Ruby Ray, whose first monograph kicks off my column…
And so it had finally come, From the Edge of the World by Ruby Ray (Superior Viaduct), because this is where it is. This, yes, California Punk. 1977, 78, 79, right on through 81. Brave New World like Aldous Huxley said—but out in San Francisco, the Man of Letters was William S. Burroughs. Ruby Ray was with him, right on the edge. She caught him with a gun through her camera lens. She captured so many of these moths to the flame, burning with a passion and desire that true punk could claim: Darby Crash. Hellinn Killer and Sid Vicious. Poison Ivy. Kids on stage. Kids off stage. All this raw gorgeous energy. Black and white. Color shots. A sweet little photo album, remembrance of things past like Proust said.
Read the Full Story at
HATJE CANTZ FOTOBLOG
December 1, 2013
Art & Text by Rio Yañez
(First Published: February 28, 2009) ::
This past weekend Mariela and I met up at Good Vibrations for a night that changed our lives. We were attending a party to celebrate the recent releases and collaborations from artists and sex-positive super heroes April Flores and Carlos Batts. I’ve been following April Flores work and writings for about a year now and her public persona is fascinating to me, she’s a sex-positive, politically active Latina that approaches her work as art. Latinas can have such a strong cultural stigma of shame when it comes to sexual pleasure and I think the work and activism of April Flores is revolutionary. In order to show my appreciation for April Flores’ work as an artist I created the portrait above to portray her as the prolific hero she is. I started and finished it during the hours of 3:00AM and 6:30AM after getting home late from a long day at work. Despite those short crazy hours, I’m really happy with the end results.
When April approached Mariela and I at Good Vibrations and chatted with us, I presented her with a framed print of it. To my dorking-out fanboy delight she loved it. She even showed it to the crowd that gathered for her Q&A session later on in the party. Hearing April and Carlos talk about working together and the story of how they met and fell in love was inspiring. Apparently they met over ten years ago while Carlos was shooting images for his book Wild Skin. The book’s editor selected April for the cover without knowing that she had just started dating Carlos. Hearing them relate their story, and seeing some parallels in my own relationship, I couldn’t resist plunking down the $75.00 it took to buy the book.
The rest of the night was filled with great music, hanging out with Carlos & April, and people coming up to me and talking about the print. It was a night of inspiration and accomplishment for me that I won’t ever forget.