March 11, 2014
Woman as madman. As the grotesque. The primal and primitive underbelly that society erases all but the most glaring trace. She who is disturbed is disturbing for her lack of feminine grace. She who reminds us of Kali, the Hindu goddess of destruction, of Medea, of Medusa, of gorgons and monsters of yore. The archetype of a woman who will destroy rather than create, who unleashes demons into this world like Pandora opening her box, this is but one of the many archetypes of the female that Cindy Sherman offers us.
Never one to shy from the discomfort that the unpretty reveals, Cindy Sherman’s work can be as revolting as it is beautiful. In Cindy Sherman: Untitled Horrors (Hatje Cantz) we are witness to the darkness that lies beneath, a darkness that is menacing as it creeps and crawls out of its resting place to reveal itself. The book is the catalogue for a show of the same name at Moderna Museeet, Stockholm; Astrup Fearnley Museet in Oslo; and Kunsthaus Zurich in Switzerland.
Dispersed throughout the book are a series of essays by seminal contemporary authors including Kathy Acker, Sibylle Berg, Miranda July, Karl Ove Knausgard, Lars Norén, Sjón, and Sara Stridsberg. The essays provide a linguistic complement to the visual form, giving us an aesthetic response to Sherman’s catalogue of horrors. As Stridsberg notes, mellifluously, “Cindy Sherman’s pictures have a similarly unsettling effect on me, they break over me like a storm, she slits something open in front of me and within me, something I cannot face encountering; she upends the roots of the beautiful trees in the forests and bares their crawling undersides: roots, earth, insects, darkness. She massacres, she maims, she tears to bits.”
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LE JOURNAL DE LA PHOTOGRAPHIE
March 6, 2014
It began as a series of interviews, of films made, of speeches taped, of conversations, ideas, people. It began when Swedes began sending journalists out into the world, and those that came to the United States were attracted to the civil rights and black power movements of the 60s and the 70s. They had access, and they had nerve, and they never shied away from asking uncomfortable questions, because they could. And what became of these moments caught on film forty, fifty years ago, was first a documentary film, and now a paperback book titled, The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975 by Göran Hugo Olsson (Haymarket Books).
The book and film feature vintage footage made available for commentary by contemporary artists and intellectuals invoking nothing so beautiful as a tapestry, a fabric that weaves together the past and the present, the ancestors, the heirs, and our shared inheritance. For what this era begat was nothing short of fearless, of an unstoppable force in the face of one of the most treacherous regimes known to humanity.
The book is an expansion of the film, charting the course of the Black Power movement as a natural outgrowth of Civil Rights, charting the course of both movements that spoke truth to power. It was the American Revolution, this time from within, a period of resistance and rebellion sparked by the eternal flame of freedom and self determination, the very things that the United States had been founded upon, but denied the people it kidnapped and enslaved from the continent of Africa.
The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975 takes us back to a time and a place where standing against the system was to stand in one’s integrity. It was to refuse to surrender, to submit, to be complicit in the exploitation of the status quo to line the pockets of the rich. It was a statement against the propaganda that projected the crimes of the oppressor onto the oppressed, and tells the truth about a time when the Truth refused to be silenced.
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L’OEIL DE LA PHOTOGRAPHIE
March 3, 2014
Perhaps there is nothing so compelling as the human face. For all the beauty it holds, the experience it hides, the emotions it shares, it is a map of personal history. It is the thing we cannot see on ourselves, unless we look in the mirror, and once we behold our visage, we reconsider. It is hard to know what we broadcast, except to say chances are we are telling more than we know. It is written all over the face, who we are, what we believe, what we know.
The photograph then, becomes the record of but one moment in a long string of moments that make up each of our lives. About Love: Photographs and Films 1973–2011, by Gay Block (Radius Books) is a glorious catalogue of lives that have passed before the photographer’s lens. It is a massive tome, beautifully produced and elegantly crafted. The layout is deceptively simple, understated elegance at its finest, with enough white space to allow the eye to linger, to rest, to roam, to consider the people that sit before us.
Block’s work is About Love in the most pure sense, about being one with his subject so that they speak to us without saying a word. She presents them on their terms and allows us to enter their world, from our vantage point to see their lives through his eyes, and mediate the subject, the photographer, and ourselves. Each subject is treated with a dignity and a respect that belies the formality of portraiture, yet each of these images is just that.
The portrait, the story of a life in a single frame. Block’s wealth of knowledge of the human condition is captured here in each image she creates. “I’ve always loved exactly what somebody looks like. That’s what I wanted to photograph, and almost as much, and maybe as much, I’ve loved exactly the words they use to describe their lives, events in their lives, feelings, and things like that. I love exactly the way people talk.”
It is this penchant, nee devotion, to the exact that marks these images. There is a feeling of truth, of that new and honest space that exists between two people. These photographs are private conversations, spoken to the world. We as viewers are listeners, flies on the wall. Through our eyes, we are being told stories. Stories of lives lived, of people we shall never otherwise encounter. And it is Block’s affection and respect for the individual person, for the dignity and integrity of the human experience that allows us to share in what is not ours yet is available for consideration.
Block explains the way in which she uses photography as a means to something deeper, to the psychological study, to the spiritual connection. “Portraiture for me has always been so personal. I never felt like I was out to advance the medium. It wasn’t about photography for me; it’s about the people. They are inseparable from the work and yet I’ve always understood that I wasn’t going to advance the photographic medium; that wasn’t even an interest for me. I used photography to advance myself in an internal, personal way.”
Each image is a collaboration between subject and artist, and the result is a feeling that we are stepping out of ourselves and into other people’s lives. As Block observes, “In the beginning, I was practically non-directive except for asking that my subjects sit where the light was the way I wanted it, and asking them not to smile. I’d say sit on this couch not that couch—that kind of thing. But I would be doing the interview and then they would naturally move into a position on their own. I would interrupt and say, ‘Please don’t move anything. I’m going to turn off the recorder, because I want to take your picture just the way you are now.’ and that’s how it would happen. I would wait until I found them in a fascinating position.”
And so it is that what has fascinated Block will fascinate us, because the human face is the most compelling thing to contemplate, in person or in art. We want to know, we want to understand, we want this connection, the one that Block discovered is all About Love.
First published in
LE JOURNAL DE LA PHOTOGRAPHIE
6 January 2012
February 28, 2014
The fashion moment is everything. It’s that je ne sais quoi that drives men and women to an image, a look, an energy that is expressed through style, through attitude and profile. The fashion moment is when the fates align and the image transcends and comes alive.
Ohio-born designed Michael McCollom began his career in New York as design director of the ISAIA NYC collection and was named one of the “Designers to Watch” by Vogue in 1990. Recognized as a designer and a photographer. McCollom’s clients have included Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, Toni Braxton and Julia Roberts.
McCollom is also the author of The Way We Wore: Black Style Then, which has just been re-released by Glitterati Incorporated. Featuring snapshots from the personal photo albums of over 150 black men and women, the book features never-before-published photographs of Oprah Winfrey, James Baldwin, Iman, Naomi Campbell, Tyran Banks, Patrick Kelly, Kimora Lee, Bobby Short, Bethann Hardison, and Portia LaBeija, among countless others.
From the Harlem Renaissance to the birth of Hip Hop, The Way We Wore celebrates the personal style of African Americans over the larger part of the twentieth century. Each image reminds us of the space where the public and private spaces intersect, where style is the bridge between the individual to the world, telling a story of self through the fashion moment.
The Click spoke with McCollom about his personal style moments, about the things that he both saw and created that shaped and influenced his world.
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February 28, 2014
“After a freak motorcycle accident left me with two crack vertebrate in my back and neck, two broken ribs, and a four-month confinement in bed, I realized what direction my career as a photographer would take after my recovery. I recalled a photograph of a tiger I had taken a few years back while at a zoon. I was struck by what had jumped out of the picture—a personality, a soul. It dawned on me that what the lens had somehow caught could be best portrayed in black and white. The essence of a creature’s spirit captured solely through motion and light,” Boza Ivanovic writes in the introduction to his first monograph, Out of the Wild: Zoo Portraits (Glitterati Incorporated).
I first met Ivanovic a few months before the accident, and when he told me of it, I began sending him books. After the accident, he began sending me photographs: portraits of animals behind bars, behind glass, only their trappings were invisible and what remained was a life anonymous, unknown but living for public viewing. The animals Ivanovic captured with his camera were living in captivity and each photograph reflects their singularity, their separation from all that is their natural reality.
It is in the instance of the lion, that a grandeur is conferred, because in Ivanovic’s lion we know the greatness that graces us, from within and from without. There is a pride and a humility, a purity and an honesty that the lion evokes. His visage takes my breath away, over and over again. Perhaps this is a tribute to the patience and discipline that Ivanovic exhibited to secure this shot.
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L’OEIL DE LA PHOTOGRAPHIE
February 25, 2014
In February 1965, Martin Delany was received by Abraham Lincoln art the White House. There, Delany told the President, “I propose, sir, an army of blacks, commanded entirely of black officers.” Shortly thereafter, Delany received a commission as major of infantry—the first African American appointed an army officer. As Frederick Douglass reportedly stated, “I thank God for making me a man simply, but Delany always thanks Him for making him a black man.”
The story of Major Martin Robison Delany, Fifty-second U.S. Colored Infantry, is titled “Most Defiant Blackness” and leads with his portrait, dressed in Union blues. This photograph is a cartes de visite, taken with a specially designed camera that produced eight images on a single glass plate, from which the resulting paper print. It was then glued to card stock and measured 2.5 x 4 inches in size, the perfect keepsake that was economically possible at this time. From 1961–67, “cartonamia” was unleashed, with some three million cartes de visite sold. This was the first time almost anyone could record his or her own image for posterity, and they immediately became decorative objects that made picture giving a cultural phenomenon. Not to mention a resource for an author as industrious as Ronald S. Coddington.
Coddington has just released his third book, African American Faces of the Civil War: An Album (Johns Hopkins University Press), a beautiful and meticulous presentation of the likenesses and lives of seventy-seven men whose stories are part of the complex and compelling tapestry that is America. These stories offer but a glimpse into the vast ocean of men, some 200,000 African Americans, who served the Union Army and Navy during the Civil War. Some of them were born free, others escaped from slavery or set free by owners sympathetic to the war effort.
And, if only for a moment, imagine what it must have been like, two hundred thousand African American men army and dressed for combat on American soil, ready to fight the white man for freedom, the right to self sovereign. “I am for war—war upon the whites,” Delany wrote during the 1950s in a novel that stood in marked contrast to Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Delany’s words are seen in the stories of men who served not only their country but something greater than this. As soldiers in the Civil War, they stood for what the United States was founded upon: Independence.
The stories provide a reverent context for the images we witness here. They lend a gravitas to the images, which charming in their dated stylistic iconography, the way in which the photograph easily replaces the painted portrait while assuming all of its conventions. Consider the portrait of Corp. Jeremiah Saunders, Company K, 124U.S. Colored Infantry, and his wife Emily. His master died in Kentucky in February 1965, he was not free for the Emancipation Proclamation only liberated those in the seceded states. Nevertheless, Saunders left the tobacco fields and headed straight to Camp Nelson, a Union establishment. There he signed his enlistment papers with an “X” and joined the 124 U.S. Colored Infantry, a regiment composed of men between 3545, considered too old for active duty. And though he was not on the front lines, still he served. For this book proves that for all the darkness of humanity that does occur, the wheel of fortune will always turn. And though one might be born a slave, degraded in countless ways, there might just be another destiny that is meant to be. African American Faces of the Civil War: An Album serves us well to remind us of those who came before and honor them for these are the heroes we need today, the lives and lessons of humble greatness.
First published in Le Journal de la Photographie
21 November 2012
February 24, 2014
Janette Beckman spent the summer of 1983 in Los Angeles, staying in the home of a good friend who was then managing the pop group, The Go-Gos. While in town, she came across a newspaper piece on the East L.A. gang scene; the story had no photographs, so Beckman took to the streets to see for herself. Although she was warned against visiting the area by local acquaintances, Beckman was young, brash, and bold and armed herself with just a Hasselblad and a box of prints to share her work.
Beckman drove her rent-a-wreck car to East LA, and began hanging out at El Hoyo Maravilla, a park in the neighborhood, which is also the name of Beckman’s newest artist book, a limited edition of 500 published by Dashwood Books. The photographs were culled from the collection of negatives that sat in her closet for over twenty-five years; she showed the photographs when they were first taken but no one expressed interest in it at that time. Today, it is a different story, as the photographs have taken on a new life, having been published online and spurring contact from the subjects after all these years.
Beckman’s portraits are of a time and place that at once foreign and familiar, people strongly tied to the culture and the community from which it sprung. For Beckman, who was a rock & roll photographer working for Melody Maker, a weekly music magazine, and shooting album covers at the time, this foray into a new culture had the hallmarks of a world that was just as misunderstood as the world she had left behind.
Like the punks, skinheads, mods, and rockers that Beckman shot during the late 70s and early 80s in London, the gang members she met in Los Angeles were a people of a time and place, who made themselves part of the group by conforming to social codes that dictated behavior and appearances. It was these appearances that first drew Beckman in, with their definitive style that included perfectly pressed jeans and pants with a top crease, bandanas and shaved eyebrows, and white t-shirts and tank tops worn without anything else. The women wear strong make-up, dark eyeliner and hard lips, with long tresses of flowing hair while the men are also perfectly groomed. The gang codes of Los Angeles included hang gestures, graffiti, and tattoos, all signifying an allegiance with the group that protects and defends their neighborhood.
As Beckman came to discover, the deeper story is one of family, of a group of people that were native to California before, during, and after the Spanish and American occupation and acquisition of the land over the past three hundred years. As Beckman connected with her subjects, she was invited into their homes, meeting mothers and grandmothers and relatives, hanging out with older brothers, learning about the structure of gangs and the way in which they played a role in the community. “It was like meeting a big family They were all delightful,” Beckman observes, before noting how one kid wanted to show her his machine gun, though she doesn’t have a photographs of the encounter itself.
This is because Beckman’s photographs are not about the negative side of gang life. They are not an expose on violence, politics, or the economics of an historically oppressed people living in America. Instead, Beckman focuses on the love that exists in the community and the self-love that comes from pride. The only photograph that displays a weapon is the one of a couple standing in front of their home, where she is playfully holding the knife to his neck as he smiles comfortably, a bottle of Pepsi in his hand. It’s the “American Gothic” of 1983, Chicano style, reminding us once again that America is a land of opportunity, passion, and love for the world that we together build.
All photographs by Janette Beckman
Essay first published in Le Journal de la Photographie,
19 November 2012
February 20, 2014
“All art is propaganda,” George Orwell said, and we know this best through the study of art history itself. We reflect on a civilization’s achievements through its art, the creation of its greatest image of self through the sublimation of the life force. And what results is what remains, that which transcends time and place and speaks to in all languages at the same time.
“History is written by the victors,” it has been said, and it is in that space between art and history that we find the propagandist. We see in the work the message being told, sold, signed, sealed, and delivered, then, more often than not, consumed whole. We, moved the spirit that resides in the work itself, fall under the sway of its siren song as it captivates our heart with its soulful gaze.
Yet, in this day and age, when art has been liberated from the state, when it no longer serves to necessarily reinforce the power structure but to question and even destabilize it, the artist is a channel, a vessel for thought, for mediation and expression on subjects that are sometimes too heavy and too profound to be taken head on. And, in this way, David Levinthal has emerged as one of the foremost war photographers of our time, though he has never stepped foot on the battlefield itself.
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L’Oeil de la Photographie
February 13, 2014
Graffiti is the ultimate expression of the ephemeral, the here today, gone tomorrow game of cat and mouse with the Vandal Squad, property owners, and other graff writers, who move in a world of art, politics, and criminal mischief. Once upon a time, New York City was covered in scrawl, in tags and throw ups that lined every surface you could imagine.
It started on the streets then took to the trains, then on to the highways, vans and trucks, and eventually, canvases, art galleries, museums, and auction houses. Graffiti has become one of our most evocative sources of anti-social expression, a means to becoming equally parts famous and hated among the public at large.
But over the years, New York whittled away at this form of public discourse as fines were raised and jail time was incurred, as cases were built and kids were getting locked up. It got to the point that the trains and buses ran clean, and the streets slowly but surely were reclaimed by the clean, wholesome image that New York now projects, a beacon for foreign investments and bourgeois children of privilege.
And so as it was, and so it shall be that those dedicated to living the life, to pursuing the dream, they must adapt or die, as Darwin says. Mint&Serf, better known as The Mirf, have been walking the line between commercial and criminal throughout their lives. The received commissions from clients as diverse as the New York Yankees, the Ace Hotel, and Marc Jacobs, all the while running downtown studios with the support of Red Bull.
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L’OEIL DE LA PHOTOGRAPHIE
February 11, 2014
Who we are is how we are. How we live, love, hate, fear. How we are when we are alone, by ourselves, in our own room. In our space, in a place that we can truly call our own, when no one is watching and we are finally free, at peace, as one. Who we are is always in a state of flux, a state of evolution towards a truer or falser self, a being that we both expose and protect, that we exist as and exist with, throughout our lives. And perhaps one of our earliest declarations of self is how we live when we grow up, in our parents’ home, defining ourselves.
Photographer Rania Matar has just released A Girl and Her Room (Umbrage Editions), a collection of portraits of teenage girls from the United States and Lebanon photographed in their rooms and the affect is stunning in its simplicity. The girls share more in common with each other than not, even though the externals—wealth, religion, culture, fashion, and culture of femininity differ remarkably. Perhaps this is because external differences can only go so deep and once they are identified, we need to look beneath. Into the eyes of each girl to feel her energy, her pride and prejudice, her power and strength, her fear and discomfort, her love and grandeur, her sense of self as she understands it.
Matar has done the remarkable in creating continuity so that at first glance the very obvious differences between lives disappears. The unpainted, unplastered walls of a girl’s room in a Palestinian refugee camp melt away as we look at how Miriam, who lives there, has inhabited her space. She carefully hangs a few things, photographs, a prayer rug, a scarf and purse, from the window gate above her bed, in as much as a thin mattress on the floor serves as her nest. She sits on the mattress with eyes that tell of an awareness of self and of life beyond the walls of her room. We cannot begin to imagine what she has seen and known in her short time on earth but we feel from this image that she holds together, centered deep inside herself.
Opposite this image, something far more American, a girl named Sidonie lies across her bed with her head flipped over the edge, her hair tumbling down to the ground. Her bed is luxurious comfort compared to Miriam’s thin mattress, and her room is decorated with care. She hangs ten purses around her bed, along with the names of her favorite brands cut out from advertisements and hung to the walls. The contrast is remarkable in as much as we see how much some have and how little we need, and how comfort goes far beyond the physical world into a state of being. Sidonie, hanging her head so that we cannot see her face, is hiding from Matar, from this project, from herself.
Throughout the book the images contrast and complement until one is constantly checking the captions to see where each girl is from. The distinctions of décor and dress somehow fade away at first glance as the body language, gesture and expression of each girl becomes the thing that becomes most telling. And that’s the thing that is most remarkable. The less a girl has the more powerful her image feels. She has but herself and she knows this well. She does not rely on things to define who she is. On the other side are girls who appear to have it all but one look in their eyes shows they are no happier for it. Chances are likely they didn’t work for most of it; that which they own is given by others until it becomes something of a prison. A weight around each of their neck, a vision of the feminine that they try to live into by purchasing it. They paint their face and do their nails and pose underneath photographs of half naked models. They aspire to look like others, rather than themselves, so caught are they in the American Dream.
Return to Lebanon and we see girls with a different set of concerns yet all the same, they have more in common than they do not. They have the same issues facing their lives, their final years at home before they venture out into the world. On whose terms, it cannot be known, but as we look at Matar’s portraits we understand that each has her own destiny to uphold.
February 10, 2014
Launched at BookMarc, New York, on Friday, February 7, Maripola X is a collection of Polaroids from the artist’s private collection of work from her earliest days in New York through to the present day. Featuring photographs of Grace Jones, Naomi Campbell, Pat Cleveland, Steven Meisel, Vincent Gallo, Francesco Clemente, Klaus Nomi, and Joey Arias. Among many others before it, Maripola X is an exquisite guide to the art of seduction.
Many of the photographs are exquisitely risqué, giving us a guided tour into the sexual exploration of a woman deeply comfortable with herself. “I don’t have any shame. I don’t have anything to hide,” Maripol notes. “These pictures are so personal. I might have been angry when I was making them, and put drops of blood on one, or carved the pussy from another. There is a sense of self indulgence that makes this my personal work.”
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L’OEIL DE LA PHOTOGRAPHIE
February 9, 2014
“We’re not here to sell clothes” are the words printed on a t-shirt in big, brash strokes of hand, underscored by a peace sign that reminds us of a time gone by. The ethos of hippiedom had been usurped by punk, once the ideals of free love became cooped by the status quo in order to market products. But in theory, both countercultures served the same ends: to reject the system in search of freedom, truth, and the full expression of self. It was the flames of these fires that had scorched the earth, affecting art, music, and politics in equal measure for it was culture of the youth, of the generations coming of age, first in the 1960s, then in the 1970s. But, come the 1980s, what remained?
Art, music, style, life. The culture of youth fans the flames of passion of hearts that had not yet been corrupted by the system itself, and perhaps in no small part this is why the energy of youth is so highly prized. It reacts, it rebels, it aspires to a new way, a better way, one that is rooted in authenticity. It is everything that would make your parents cringe, a rejection of the mores and morals of the middle class. It answers to no one other than itself, and in doing so, it charts a path all its own.
BLITZ: As Seen In Blitz—Fashioning ‘80s Style by Iain R. Webb (ACC Editions) is a tour-de-force of the British magazine that showcased not just an aesthetic but a way of life. Fashion can be more than just a sartorial stance; it can be a political act designed to provoke the status quo out of its complacency and in doing so, it becomes more than just a product, it becomes a form of art that offers a conversation worthy of consideration on its own merits.
As Webb writes in his preface, “I WOULD HOPE that the pictures are seen as reflections of the multi-faceted society within which we live. They are intended to INSPIRE, DELIGHT, or even, at times, ANGER. They are essential photographs which just happen to have clothes within their boundaries. These pictures should be used as a springboard for creativity on the part of the reader.”
BLITZ was both the name of Webb’s magazine and the name of a nightclub in London’s Covent Garden, both of which appeared around the same time in 1980, although they had no original direct link with one another. Both the magazine and the club celebrated all that was hot and all that was cool as the New Romantic scene made its way into the culture as a reaction to the stripped down aesthetic of the punk point of view.
As Webb writes in the book’s introduction, “The Blitz club was full of bright young things wishing to overthrow the establishment with their alternative vision of the world: part nostalgic and rose-tinted, part broken and dystopic post-punk. It was the energy of these would-be fashion designers, writers, artists, make-up artists, filmmakers, and photographers that needed a stage on which to perform. In 1980 three magazines were born that would turn the spotlight on this new army of dreamers: BLITZ, i-D, and the Face.”
BLITZ: As Seen In Blitz—Fashioning ‘80s Style reconnects us with the likes of Boy George, David Bowie, Katharine Hamnett, Jean Paul Gaultuer, Yohji Yamamoto, Vivienne Westwood, Rifat Ozbek, Barry Kamen, Stephen Jones, Ziggi Golding, Ann Demeulemeester, among Leigh Bowery, dozens more. It brings us back to a place and a time that took its lead from the world in which it was a part, revisiting iconic shoots and featuring reminiscences from the people who made each image possible. From the photographers and the models to the designers and the make-up artists, each image is presented within the larger context of its creation.
As photographer Nick Knight recalls, “The reason those photo session went on until two or three in the morning was because we worked until we’d experienced something. We were all young and we were trying things out. We’d try all sorts of things as a way to discover what was inspiring, what suited us. We’d try on other people’s visions and viewpoints like clothes. That experience is how you see things. Stylistically we were pulling things from lots of different places; there were lots of influences. And then as you go along you dismiss things. You lose bits of things along the way in an effort to speak more clearly, to focus your vision, and sometimes that’s ad. I believe in life’s mistakes. So much of the time we allowed chance to get involved. Often you’d find beauty in the things that didn’t work.”
Reflecting on the images and stories in BLITZ, we witness the way an idea takes hold and becomes manifest through the act of photography. For it is the photograph that exists long after the moment has passed as both an image worthy of veneration as well as a kind of historical fact. Yet through these stories we also see the photograph itself as a kind of act—an act of creation in its own right, not merely an object to be beheld, but an action independent of the final product.
February 3, 2014
Los Angeles as the edge of the earth, as the last stretch of land before it falls off into the Pacific Ocean, and slips away to sea, carried in and out by the tides, to places far and wide. Los Angeles, as the crossroads of the world, of where people come and go, go and come. It is a city of possibility, this life on the edge, of a world once the Wild West, and now it is freeways and concrete, a patch of grass, of land marked, territories held, of the men and women who walk these parts, a world few know and many might never have seen were it not for the lens of photographer Estevan Oriol.
Back in 1993, Oriol’s father, Eriberto, a photographer himself, gave his son a camera when he set out as tour manager for House of Pain. He began taking photographs of the world he saw, every day. Oriol remembers feeling weird about it. “Most people with cameras were paparazzi or tourists. They take out the camera for everything and nothing. I don’t want to look like that. Even now I sorta feel weird taking it out,” he reveals.
You’d never know that, looking through the selections he has culled from his archive that make up LA Portraits, his second monograph with Rome-based publisher, Drago. His first book, LA Woman, a 2009 release featuring Oriol’s unforgettable pin-ups that put the edge in sex, has since sold out. This companion volume is all things masculine. Raw, rugged, and ready for war, the soldiers in Oriol’s portraits remind us of a time and a place that have become embedded in the fabric of the American flag. It is these, the men of Los Angeles who battle every day for its streets, whose lives follow code, whose stories we cannot even begin to guess as our eyes gaze endlessly, like the eyes tattooed to the back of one homeboy’s bald head.
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L’OEIL DE LA PHOTOGRAPHIE
January 31, 2014
Imagine a photograph. Hold it close in your mind. Hold it in the space where you can feel and sense without ever speaking a word. Allow the image to vibrate, to express a rhythm all its own, to reveal within itself a sound, an energy that becomes expressed through the senses without ever being translated into words. That experience is known as synesthesia, meaning “union of senses”.
It was in this way that the photographs of Roger Ballen first occurred to Ninja and Yolandi Visser, two musicians native to South Africa. As they note in the introduction to the recent photography book – Roger Ballen, Die Antwoord, I Fink U Freeky (Prestel, 2013), “When we saw Roger Ballen’s photographs for the first time it was like being punched in the face…. We had never seen photographs that made us feel such violent excitement… So fascinating, so disturbing, so unfuckingbelievably fresh! These were no ordinary photographs. They were highly complex surreal artworks in the exact same league as Salvador Dali, Hieronymous Bosch and Lucian Freud.”
Ninja and Yolandi continue, “We also wanted to make heavyweight ‘Punch You in the Face’-style art like this. So we threw all the music we had been working on for so long away, and started from scratch…. We both underwent dark and dangerous psychological transformations as we dove deep into the most primal regions of out minds and merged with our shadow selves. Instead of trying to work out how to fit into society, we decided to make out own unique breed of ‘Fuck You’-style pop music. We called this new dark pop group Die Antwoord.”
Read the Full Story at THE CLICK
January 27, 2014
She lives the poetry she cannot write.