May 18, 2013
May 18, 2013
I remember when the Salvation Army had that warehouse in Hell’s Kitchen, way over by the water, and honey over here had the fake Visa cards. He was generous and rather stylish so good times were had by all for two months during the Fall of 19 Ninety Four. That was the season of Salsoul classics on cd, dance your ass off in the apartment before heading on out to Factory. And while once upon a time I had been wearing Timberlands, Levis, and crop tops, after I had seen Nadja Auermann on the cover of Harper’s Bazaar getting her dragon, her drag on, honey child I had never seen such glamour for all my life and I was—
enraptured, enamored, enthralled, entranced—I was en too deep and it was just me diving into a pool of turquoise shimmering aqua du jour only no, it was not, it was stumbling drunk into Barneys back when it was on Eighteenth, a shelter from the darkening skies that came earlier and earlier each day. And I had to, I needed color like nothing ever before I was, yes, I was and I had to have it like give it to me and it was electric pink and neon orange glosses from the Prescriptives counter like my candy store like the best place on earth, and I slid those precious liquids across my lips and slipping and sliding wild, wet and wild colors like my 80s dreams and I was blonde, was I blonde? Mmaybe not. But I was up in stilettos and baubles from Coco Canal and that was back when dudes had there wares spread out on sheets along the streets like Twenty-Third and Sixth, and we’d be walking along when a marvelous belt called me out my name: Girl take me home and I’ll dance along your hips all night and day and night. Whatchu say, baby girl?
I took it home and my closet was most grateful for the times I’d take it out and make it twirl. I think—but I am not sure—I was wearing it that day back in Two Thou, summer was it, and I was in Chicago, yes, I was and there I had been, staying on the campus of that school not knowing a single person or where to get food so I took it to the streets. And it was all big hair, big curls, and a fingerwave around my hairline, and it was me floating along like a butterfly in a grey jersey Margiela skirt that dusted the pavement as I swept along. And a black tank top, really more a muscle shirt, and it had long sleeves that I snapped off and It sat like black canvas, a simple sheath, a satiny shield along my chest and yes there it was my faux Chanel belt belly dancing as I strolled down the street.
Mighta been distinct, obvious, oblivious, I could be. It’s rather yes so I pay it no nevermind and when honey rolled up all on me, I had the strangest feeling things were playing out from a script I had not yet read like the days pages from Another World back when it was on NBC. He was stringy, stringbean, white boy with a British accent, and he had been up, up like Dracula haunting the night, and the eightball was gone and now he, could he bum a smoke, and I said, “Take me to get something to eat.”
And so we proceeded, well he proceeded to lead me and I was pleased, see how helpful men will be, and me he took me to this little boulangerie that had seats in the piazza outside a red brick church with white accents that gave it a birthday cake kinda vibe. And we sat there, him telling me how he had some weed and we should get up after I get done with me day and I’m smiling saying, Suuuure maybe, sounding like I don’t know just yet, but you know I never had any intention of checking honey ever again.
But why ruin his day? It had just begun, and he sat there smoking my cigarettes, eating nothing, smoking away, and the day would just begin and it would become nothing so much as a vague haze of beige in my memory, lots of white folk, lots of books that were handmade, making the book something of a craft, reminding me of where it all began, right, like I was ten and I—
had decided it was time. I would write this book, a collection of short stories about Mr. Crocodile, who had this B&B, and all the characters that came and went, went and came, and I decided to illustrate it with colored pencils. It was done on looseleaf paper. And the covers were made of cardboard, which I then wrapped in sea blue tissue paper, and I drew the title real big: THE HOTEL IN SOUTHHAMPTON on it, and I bound it with gold pushpins that ate away at the tissue paper.
I had it for awhile, and then like everything else ~ bon voyage. And I sent it to wherever these things go, maybe a portal through another dimension. But it’s always happening, whether I know it or not, and it occurs to me that means there are countless opportunities to jump frequencies, vibe from one dimension and the next, go across time and space and be this vibe, this vibration, this feeling, this energy, this source, this voice whispering in my ear and I smile like oo you know, and you do and thas what makes it worth alla every thing in the end.
The End, it’s true.
May 17, 2013
I just spent an hour at the candy store loving my life, playing with pictures by Danny Lyon, who is interviewed by Susan Meiselas in the summer issue of BOMB. As I look at his work, I can hear the words reverberate inside my mind: “Somebody’s gotta be first.”
What was it Charlie Ahearn said last night?
Start At The Top. words to live by…
May 17, 2013
Photography records what we forget, offering a map back into the past into lives we would never otherwise know, if not for the camera to record their existence. We are all anonymous, until we are not. We keep records to prevent the inevitable erasure as time slips through our grasp. We are fortunate not only that the photographer was there to record what was, but that historians exist today to dig through the rubble of time and unearth the forgotten.
Nostalgia: The Russian Empire of Czar Nicholas II, Captured in Color Photographs by Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii (Die Gestalten Verlag) takes us back to the turn of the twentieth century, during the final years before the final days of an empire that spanned several centuries. Prokudin-Gorskii was a pioneer of photography in Russia, and a pioneer in color photography itself. As Dr. Stelle Blasche writes in the book’s introduction, “Very little has been written about his life history. Like so many of the artists and architects of pre-revolutionary Russia, he has been forgotten, leaving a blank space in photography that remains to this day.”
With the publication of Nostalgia, we are treated to a long-overdue retrospective of the artist’s work, a story of so many lives that would be changed forever in a matter of a decade’s time. Prokudin-Gorskii studied chemistry in Russia before traveling to Berlin and Paris to learn about chemistry, photomechanics, and spectral analysis. He returned to Russia in 1901 to study color photography in a country where the medium of photography itself was little known. Driven to compete with the developments in Western Europe and the USA, Prokudin-Gorskii presented his work to the Imperial Technical Society with the aim of garnering financial support for his project. By 1908, he had reached Czar Nicholas II, presenting color projections of photographs that included a portrait of celebrated author Lev Tolstoi.
Read the Full Story at
Le Journal de la Photographie
May 16, 2013
For life is the best thing we have in this existence.
And if we should desire to believe in something, it should be a beacon within.
This beacon being the sun, sea, and sky, our children, our work, our companions
and, most simply put, the embodiment of love.
Vowels are the most illuminated letters in the alphabet.
Vowels are the colors and souls of poetry and speech.
The French poet, Rimbaud, predicted that the next great crop of writers would be women.
He was the first guy who ever made a big women’s liberation statement,
saying that when women release themselves from the long servitude of men
they’re really gonna gush. New rhythms, new poetries, new horrors, new beauties.
And I believe in that completely.
In art and dream may you proceed with abandon.
In life may you proceed with balance and stealth.
For nothing is more precious than the life force
and may the love of that force guide you as you go.
Where does it all lead? What will become of us?
These were our young questions, and young answers were revealed.
It leads to each other. We become ourselves.
Quotes by Patti Smith
Artwork by Lady Aiko
May 16, 2013
Books and photographs. Photographs and books. The historical record reflects the times as they were lived by those who were there. And here we are, some four decades later, reflecting on punk as it first came up on the streets of New York, along the Bowery, at CBGBs, a mélange of artists, performers, and personalities making for great photography, for stories that are shared and collected, for memories rediscovered and truths being told. For those who were there, and those who missed it, Just Chaos! takes us back to a time and a place where you damn sure better do it yourself, cause if you don’t ain’t no one else.
In the windows and intimate niches of BookMarc, New York, now through May 23, Roberta Bayley has installed selections from 13 photographers of the era:, many which have not been seen before this exhibition. Featuring the work of Bayley, Janette Beckman, Stephanie Chernikowski, Lee Black Childers, Danny Fields, Godlis, Julia Gorton, Bobby Grossman, Bob Gruen, Laura Levine, Eileen Polk, Marcia Resnick, Chris Stein, and Joe Stevens, the photographs featured here are curated with an eye towards style, inspired by the energy of the era as it manifested in the world at that time. “It’s all based in poverty,” Bayley reflects. Everything was D.I.Y., do it yourself.
Fashion, music, style, photography—all of it came as an expression of the truth: after the hippie movement sparked, it became mainstream and lost its edge. Punk came out of that void, all claws and fangs and guitar strings, spikes and torn clothes. It was street, strung out and sexy. It was the artist as anti-hero, a Romantic poem at the end of the second millennium AD. It was about the absolutes of individualism, of speaking your own voice and saying F the system.
Read the Full Story at
Le Journal de la Photographie
May 15, 2013
A fish does not know water is wet. And so it is that at a certain point, we fail to consider the implications of the medium itself. We are surrounded by it so completely we take it as a given. Nothing to see here folks. It’s just photography.
I’d fallen into it, by way of a rabbit hole. And then it was so completely the norm that I didn’t realize how odd it was until a few weeks ago when someone outside the industry asked, “Do you take photographs?” to which I replied, “No. I make photography books, I write about photography.”
It struck me as odd how rarified this sounds to the ear of someone who would not give a second thought to the construction of the photograph itself. Too obvious. Too ubiquitous. Like words themselves, we no longer consider their effect because their effect is too ingrained into the structure of the mind itself.
It was only recently that I began to reflect, that is to say, had the luxury of time and space to consider the implications, the causes and effects, the structure of the photograph and the world in which we live that I began to discover, I have ideas. I mean, I never even granted myself the space to think abstractly, so entrenched as I was in a system that demanded results, and results demanded actions, and the circle spun around.
But then, I imploded. No longer could I be as I was and with the new beginning, it dawned upon me that with the rise of the Internet we are moving into a post-literate world. But then again, literacy was never ubiquitous; it was always the measure of the elite and a means to maintaining its power. If we consider carefully, literacy has always been the abnorm throughout history, including around the world today. Most people could not read—words. But they can read pictures. All the more evidenced in the Internet’s heightened communication through still and moving images.
I’ve begun considering these ideas fairly abstractly, and over tea with Stephen Mayes, a conversation began to take shape. It’s still in its formative stages, but it does entrance. Here are the beginnings of our talk on the subject of visual literacy in the age of digital reproduction.
Miss Rosen: Literacy. It’s incredibly profound. To begin, let’s speak of the way it shapes our destiny both as individuals and a society. I think it’s best to start simply. I find it fascinating that through pictures we learn words. That words are actual visual symbols of verbal codes. And we of the first world teach our children these codes: how to read, then how to write, so that they are literate. Our first books are picture books. Why do you think it is that the child’s mind is most receptive to pictures as a way to understand the world ?
Stephen Mayes: The shared factor between images and words is that they are both codes. The images that we see as kids are not representational, they are conceptual interpretations of objects and ideas and these visual and verbal codes are the gateway to conceptual thought. It might seem obvious that a picture of a truck represents a truck, but understanding the concept of “truck” allows us to recognize an image of a truck whether it’s blue with 4 wheels or red with 8 wheels, even if we can’t see all the wheels. (BTW this is a fascinating piece of developmental psychology that a kid will draw a vehicle with 4 wheels because they know it has 4 wheels, but an adult will only draw the 2 wheels they can actually see. But this is a different topic…)
Conceptual thought is dependent on language (spoken or written). We might identify objects but without language how would we engage with the concept of “blue” or “happiness”? In fact whole studies have been done on the concept of blue, which apparently has no place in the natural world and yet is commonly one of the first concepts grasped by kids.
I would refine your suggestion that we learn words through pictures, to say that we learn words and pictures as part of the development of conceptual thought. Pictures don’t lead to words but they both come from a common source and share a common function.
I learned a lot from my time in the world of stock photography and the most important thing was that stock and advertising images show ONLY concepts, they never actually show what things look like. Stock imagery shows the idea of happiness, the idea of Paris (Eiffel tower, baguette, etc), the idea of love, etc. Look at any stock image and you know immediately what the message is because all extraneous information is stripped out; you never see a couple in love with dirty fingernails, and that’s not because dirty fingernails are offensive but they would be distracting and introduce other stories – “why are the man’s nails dirty?…”
As we grow older we learn to read pictures with real-world information. It follows because we need real-world experience to interpret real-world images. It’s one of the strange things about documentary images that they purport to show things that we have’t actually seen, but the process relies on us recognizing what we’re looking at. They might reconfigure the elements in novel ways, but we must have seen each of the parts to understand what we see. A street, a man, a gun, pointing, an Asian face, a grimace…
After reading your notes and thinking them through I’ve developed a theory that I need to test: our first visual comprehension is conceptual as we understand the ideas behind images, which then becomes comprehension of representation as we learn to read real-world information. Advertising uses a clever blend of real and conceptual representation to make emotional messages (pride of ownership, fear of being uninsured, pride in appearances, love of our children, etc.) and visual literacy has grown enormously as a consequence. People now routinely read all types of images with real-world knowledge and a metaphorical filter, which I think is largely attributable to the work of advertisers.
I think back to the Middle Ages when the Church ruled Europe, and few were literate, and they used images to teach, guide, and inform the people as to how to understand their lives. The image holds a power that complements the word (be it written or spoken). We become visually literate, and the more we look, the more visually literate we become. Why do you think the image has the power to instruct and inform the mind in a way that complements the word ?
The Medieval Church as you mention, dealt in images which were wholly (holy) conceptual. Also they used these images not to inform but to restrict knowledge. There were very strict limits on what was represented and how, and thinking this through leads me to question your suggestion that the more we look the more visually literate we become. I realize that this is not true, and in fact photography has been a supremely powerful tool in limiting our knowledge of the world. We are fed images that others have chosen and often they’re just encoded representations of ideas that someone wants us to have. Photojournalism often serves to affirm preconceived world-views rather than to actually inform us what’s happening.
Literacy takes things to another level. Literacy allows us to consolidate vast bodies of knowledge which has led to accelerated conceptual development in some cultures in recent centuries. You’re right when you say that literacy is a minority privilege, but actually it’s not a finite resource. Literacy, and by extension education, becomes a political issue: potentially everyone can be literate but only some are chosen and this is a political manifestation of our economic and social structures. Who do we choose to educate, and of course what do we choose to teach them?…
May 15, 2013
May 14, 2013
It is a truism that there is violence, anger and mean-spiritedness in the world. Certainly there is enough of this, but there is also much good will and caring. A mother hands a drink to her child. A friend lends his car for the weekend. A worker fills in for a sick colleague. Small gestures, barely noticed, but so important. The Six of Cups is a card of simple goodness. It encourages you to be kind, generous and forgiving.
The Six of Cups also represents innocence – a word with many shades of meaning. You can be innocent in the strictly legal sense of lack of guilt. You can be innocent of the truth – unaware of some secret. You can be lacking in deceit or corruption – innocent of ulterior motive. Finally, you can be virtuous or chaste. These are all possibilities that can apply to the Six of Cups, depending on the situation.
Notice that the two figures on the Six of Cups appear to be children. Often this card represents a baby or young child. In a larger sense, it embraces all of childhood and the feelings we associate with youth (ideally!) – being carefree, playful, secure and loved. Children are our treasure, and the sweetness of the Six of Cups is a quality to be treasured as well.
May 14, 2013
“The Beatles are arguably the best composers of the last century,” Harry Benson states, during a conversation about his time spent photographing the band, photographs which have been collected into in a compendium. The Beatles: In the Road 1964–1966 (Taschen), was originally released as a limited edition. This spring, the trade edition becomes available.
As Benson reflects, “They came to American in 1964. It was just a couple of months after JFK was murdered. They helped take America out of the doldrums. They were respectful of the music. The loved the Everly Brothers. Chuck Berry. They were tough kids., clever. When it hit, they were prepared for the reception. You really got to meet them at the press conferences. They were educated. People were in awe of them. This was Beatlemania.”
The book chronicles the Beatles over the course of fifteen months. The book begins as the Beatles arrive in Paris and then New York, capturing the full impact of New York hysteria and their appearance on The Ed Sullivan show. Benson also traveled to Florida, Copenhagen, Amsterdam, and Washington, D.C. He was also on the set of A Hard Day’s Night, made his way to Barbados for George Harrison’s honeymoon, and came along for with their notorious US tour, under the shadow cast by Lennon’s comment that the Beatles were “bigger than Jesus Christ.”
Benson photographed the Beatles as they were and had become: the biggest news story of the time, an international sensation. The British had arrived. Music would never be the same. Here were four young men who had captivated a nation like no one before. And Benson was on assignment, creating remarkable work. On the night the Beatles hit number one on the American charts, he was there in the hotel room when a pillow fight broke out. The innocence, energy, and madcap joie de vivre of the scene is resplendent. It’s so free and full of life that it is remarkable in its very existence. “It was not a photo opp. It was natural. I knew them well enough. That wouldn’t happen now due to publicists” Benson observes, drawing a distinction.
Read the Full Story at
Le Journal de la Photographie
May 14, 2013
tomorrow I’m going to release “Stockholm syndrome .” my first print in almost 2 years (sorry I was busy) . It’s of a watercolor of the bat mistress I first spray painted on Pablo Escobar’s house in Medellin. Giclee print on Hahnemuhle photorag satin archival paper 18 by 24 inches . Accented with my demon cabbage skeleton, hand laid with genuine palladium leaf on every single one . No two will be the same . All signed and numbered ,There will only be an edition of #44 available for $444 at noon. Pacific time zone. First come first serve . As always hit up Bobby Namba at firstname.lastname@example.org be nice or bobby will cut you. (sorry for the shitty photo, precious metals are hard to photograph) —Dave Choe
May 13, 2013
We do not believe in ourselves until someone reveals that deep inside us
something is valuable, worth listening to, worthy of our trust, sacred to our touch.
Once we believe in ourselves we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight
or any experience that reveals the human spirit.
Quotes by e.e. cummings
Photographs by Landon Nordeman
May 13, 2013
I ain’t been here long but I been coming and going all my life. Worked here for a couple of years too, as Dumbo became Monaco, a city-state, a country in this brave new world. Since I been out here, I’ve seen things change. But it’s like the rest of this city: the Imperialists came.
They call it gentrification but it has older, more familiar word. Colonization. Been going on for centuries, and we know how it look. Whitewash. You know how they do. It’s the way of the world. Ain’t no stoppinn this thang they call “progress” and they tell us, they sell us, they make movies and shows and call it “history.” But, I mean, that’s not the only way it’s gotta be…
Thank God for photography. For the artists and the musicians and the writers and the poets who take us back to yesterday. I can’t be that person who complains, who be talkinn bout “back in the days” no how—I mean, I caught quite a bit of it, and whatever I missed, they got photos and stories and books and I—
am grateful to be here, now, today. Yesterday, I was walking along Fulton Mall for the way things used to be. It is what it is. It was what it was. If you caught it, cool. If you missed it, well, there’s always The New York Times…