Monday 27 October 2008

Naomi Harris-Women In Photography

Fargo Couple, Valentine's Day Hotel Takeover, Minneapolis, MN. February 2004 ©Naomi Harris

Polyamorous Trio, New Years Eve, Live Oaks Resort, Washington, TX. December 2005 ©Naomi Harris

White Party Couple, Cold Fusion, Aspen, CO. April 2005 ©Naomi Harris

Out of all the great work that has been showcased as part of the fantastic project that is Women In Photography, the latest solo exhibition of Naomi Harris´s series America Swings could well be my favourite thus far. With her camera as her scalpel, she dissects the phenomenon of swinging to reveal something quite unnerving about American cultural politics while, at the same time, drawing attention to certain taboos most people are too afraid to consider. In her Artist Statement that accompanies these bold, unflinching images, she says:

"Swingers. They are your schoolteacher, your doctor, your bank teller, your police officer, and your neighbour. There is no type. They are not deviants. They are not porn stars. If anything, these are the most ordinary people in your community. You pass them every day in the supermarket, on the expressway, in the airport, in line at the post office. There is a growing phenomenon of these soccer moms and super dads who drop their kids off with the baby sitter and shed their persona on the weekend and satiate their sexual appetite by engaging in sex for sport with multiple partners.

According to NASCA (the North American Swing Club Association), the popularity of “swinging” is increasing, especially in the suburbs. Currently they estimate there are over 3 million “swingers” in the US. And it is this suburban sense of normalcy that attracted me to photograph this group of individuals. The idea that you don’t really know someone just by their outward appearances; that what goes on behind closed doors can be beyond your wildest dreams.

Over the course of nearly five years I photographed nearly 40 parties, crisscrossing the country from Mahwah, New Jersey, to Pleasanton, California, from Big Lake Minnesota, to Washington, Texas. By photographing suburban and rural areas across the states I was able to show how different Americans approach this lifestyle and how their surroundings and community affect them.

While the Lifestyle became popular in the 60s due to the advent of the birth control pill and the Polaroid camera, it almost went extinct in the late 80s and 90s in the face of the AIDS epidemic. But it yet again had a major resurrection thanks mainly to the Internet. The ability to send messages, pictures and videos, even chat live gave this very private activity a new driving force.

I embarked on this project not to pass judgment but simply to document this rapidly growing phenomenon that exists in America today- the popularity for people to have open marriages and seek sexual satisfaction outside from their spouse.

It was important for me not to limit the photographs to only “action” shots but to combine it with portraiture reminiscent of turn of the century studio imagery. These make you question who these individuals are as they are traditional in nature but contemporary in setting and appearances."

It clearly seems that Women In Photography is set to become an amazing resource for discovering talented female photographers so all you photo editors, curators and gallery owners out there go take a peek, I´ll be damned if you don´t find something you like!

Tuesday 21 October 2008

Bradley Peters

All images ©Bradley Peters

I came across the work Family Plan by Bradley Peters today which immediately stopped me in my tracks. The tensions between spontaneity and theatricality are just one of its obvious strengths but I also really enjoyed reading his rationale behind the project. It is always fascinating to hear how photographers try to pull together their ideas and influences as they strive for a single, clear vision. It is those blind alleys, unforced errors and final steps before a new direction which led to key turning points and revelations about one´s own work that I find so intriguing. So here is Bradley trying to steer a path through different, and often conflicting, interpretations that have arisen around his personal photography:

"In an attempt to make things clearer for myself, I have been trying to figure out why exactly the work feels like it does. But my understanding is slowly evolving and shifting, which is making a clear definition difficult. Sometimes it feels like the fragments of the distorted stories that I grew up listening to my father tell — but then again, it also feels like an investigation into how neurosis translates itself into gesture and body language; how my mother's distress influences the particular manner in which she holds her dinner fork. Sometimes it seems like it's trying to deal with ideas of materiality — what things people love, and how they love them; how they think they need them because of what they represent. Sometimes it feels like it's about the idea of how everything is connected and pulling on everything else, or how destruction is just really transformation — where there is a change in form but not in energy. Sometimes it seems like it's dealing with some kind of pseudo-faith and the false relief that is gained through ritual; the strategies we've established to ease our souls through habitual distraction. And sometimes it's the feeling of pure desperation in trying to communicate something that is outside the senses; a hybrid moment of the indescribable personal, and the accessible everyday — the failures and miracles of human perception.

It is kind of like hearing a strange sound coming from another room that seems both at once recognizable and unfamiliar. It is the compulsion to discover its source. Although this pursuit may seem to be inevitably elusive and fruitless, I am hoping to gain whatever understanding I can through the process."

Bradley Peters was born in Columbus, Nebraska, in 1979. He received a BA from the University of Nebraska—Lincoln in 2004, with degrees in both Psychology and Art. In 2002 and 2003 he was awarded the UNL Creative Activities & Research Experiences Grant. He is also the recipient of the Jean R. Faulkner Memorial Award, the Gold Award from the Midwest Society for Photographic Education, and the Richard Benson Prize. He is a 2008 graduate of the MFA program in Photography at the Yale University School of Art.

Friday 10 October 2008

Paris Photo 2008

© Rinko Kawauchi
Untitled, from the series of UTATANE, 2001
Courtesy of the artist and FOIL GALLERY, Tokyo

Paris Photo 2008
Japan Guest of Honour

November 13 - 16, 2008
At the Carrousel du Louvre

Paris Photo 2008: an exceptional panorama of Japanese photography

From November 12th to 16th 2008, Paris Photo will bring together at the Carrousel du Louvre, 107 exhibitors from 19 countries. With 78% of participants from abroad and 37 newcomers, the selection for 2008 has favoured a greater focus on personal exhibitions and thematic projects, presenting the best photographic expressions from the earliest time to the present day. But one of the important aspects of this 12th edition is the invitation of Japan as country of honour: with the work by more than 130 artists on show, Paris Photo will offer an exceptional overview of a unique site of practice, from the Meiji era to the most contemporary production. To date, no exhibition in Europe has broadly brought together such a number of Japan's modern, contemporary and emerging photographers.

"Spotlight on Japan" is curated by Mariko Takeuchi, independent curator and photography critic.

The 5th edition of the BMW - Paris Photo Prize

Launched in 2004 in support of contemporary photography, the BMW -Paris Photo Prize celebrates its fifth anniversary. Awarded by a prestigious jury, the prize has become an international reference in recognition of the work of a contemporary artist on a theme related to the world of BMW. The work of 20 artists short listed for the prize is exhibited during Paris Photo. The winner will be awarded the 12,000 euro prize on Thursday, November 13.

Theme for 2008: Never Stand Still

Jury : Marta Gili, director, Jeu de Paume, Vicki Goldberg, art critic and photography author, Stephen Shore, photographer, Anne Wilkes Tucker, photography curator, Houston Museum of Fine Arts, Michael Wilson, collector, Nicolas Wertans, Chairman of BMW Group France and Eric de Riedmatten, director of communication, BMW France.

Short-listed artists : Jeff Brouws (Robert Klein Gallery), Andrew Bush (Rose Gallery), Clark & Pougnaud (Galerie Baudoin Lebon),Gerardo Custance(Polaris), J.H. Engström (VU' la Galerie), Martine Fougeron (Esther Woerdehoff Galerie), Nobuhiro Fukui (Tomio Koyama Gallery), Jim Goldberg (Magnum Gallery), Dionisio Gonzalez (Max Estrella), Miyako Ishiuchi (Zeit-Foto Salon, Tokyo), Syoin Kajii (Foil Gallery), Atta Kim (Keumsan Gallery), Ken Kitano (MEM Gallery), Janne Lehtinen (Taik Gallery), Yao Lu (798 Photo Gallery), Akira Mitamura (The Third Gallery Aya), Keisuke Shirota (Base Gallery), Yuki Tawada, (Taro Nasu), Nao Tsuda (Hiromi Yoshii), Ofer Wolberger (Michael Hoppen Gallery)

Paris, the international epicentre of art photography in November

The 12th Paris Photo edition coincides with the "Photo Month" whose theme is "European Photography: between tradition and change". VIPs and collectors invited at Paris Photo in the framework of "Close-Up" VIP programme will get privileged access to what's happening in photography in Paris, including among others the "Lee Miller" exhibition at Jeu de Paume, "The School of Dusseldorf" at the Mam Ville de Paris, "Henri Cartier Bresson and Walker Evans" at the Henri Cartier-Bresson Foundation, "Sabine Weiss" at the Maison Européenne de la photographie, or "Tokyo Stories" at Artcurial.

Here is a sneak preview of a few of my favourite images from this year´s Paris Photo:

© Asako Narahashi - Kawagushiko, 2003 - From the series Half awake and half asleep in the waterCourtesy Galerie Priska Pasquer

Roland Fischer, Liudan, 2007 © Courtesy Max Estrella, Madrid

Sarah Moon, L’avant dernière, 2007 © Courtesy Camera Obscura, Paris

Joon Kim, Bird Land ­Swarovski, 2008 © Courtesy Keumsan Gallery, Séoul

Scarlett Hooft Graafland, Orange Igloo, 2007 © Scarlett Hooft Graafland courtesy Michael Hoppen Contemporary

Thursday 9 October 2008

Jesse Alexander

All images © Jesse Alexander

Jesse Alexander Threshold Zone
Redcliffe Caves, Phoenix Wharf, Redcliffe, BRISTOL, U.K.

Open: Saturday/Sunday 1st/2nd November 2008, 12 – 4pm
Private View: (by invitation only) Friday 31st October 2008, 6 – 9pm

To request an invitation, please contact:

For millennia, and throughout every culture, the subterranean has been a setting for mythologies and folklore, with a prince of the underworld keeping guard in almost every known religion. Although caves and the underground are culturally known for where beasts reside and where bad things can happen, they have also functioned as sites of initiation as well as provided shelter and sanctuary.

Threshold Zone explores this dichotic relationship by placing the viewer in the space between the entrances to underground spaces (the ‘light zone’), and where the space enters a state of perpetual darkness – the ‘dark zone’. The works create a tension between apprehension and curiosity, inspiring images of mythology, fantasy and science fiction. This experience is heightened by their presentation as lightboxes,and their site-specific installation at Redcliffe Caves in Bristol. As well as providing a potent atmosphere, the Caves are an appropriate location to show the work, given the rich history they have, and the mythology that surrounds them. Jesse Alexander has photographed caves and man-made subterranean structures including mines, bunkers and reservoirs, predominantly around the South West of England. Using a large-format camera with only available light to illuminate the images, he has had to rely on exposure times as long as one week to capture enough light. The resulting ‘hyperreal’ tableaux are decoys – photographic renditions that seem to depict a split-second, yet actually portray an extended period of time, made possible only by the static and isolated nature of these underground locations.

Jesse Alexander is a photographer and writer on photography. He was born and works in Bristol. Threshold Zone is the resolution to a postgraduate Masters degree course at the University of Wales, Newport.


Whilst the Redcliffe Caves are safe to enter, visitors should be aware that there are potential hazards involved with caving and underground exploration. Visitors do not require any special equipment to visit the installation but are advised to wear sensible footwear. Accessibility to the caves is very good.

For more information on Redcliffe Caves, please visit:

Wednesday 8 October 2008

MACBA Collection @MACBA, Barcelona

The selection of art from the MACBA’s permanent collection currently on display bills itself as a thorough overview of the fundamental aspects of Contemporary Art. However—back on planet Earth—what this exhibition actually showcases is a number of second-rate works from some of the most important and innovative figures in contemporary art from the 20th century, nestled among their lesser-known Spanish and Catalan counterparts.

The exhibition is, for the most part, terribly underwhelming but it does have its moments. For example, rarely have Andy Warhol’s colour polaroids Self-Portrait in Drag been seen outside of the US. The two photographs featured here reflect his repeated desire to assume an alternate self-image, to transcend his real self, which was tied to his decidedly feminine pursuit of glamour and a longstanding interest in artifice, role-playing and the construction of identity. A different type of performance comes courtesy of mad hatter artist Vito Acconci who has filmed himself burning the hair off his nipples with a candle in the work Conversions. Like many artists of his generation for whom art is more an activity than a product, Acconci’s work is restrained yet powerful and always affords the viewer an intense sensory experience. Elsewhere, Ad Reinhardt’s Buffalo ranks among the best of the rest. At first glance, the abstract Expressionist painting appears to be canvas simply painted in black but which, upon closer inspection, quickly reveals itself as being composed of symmetrically placed squares against a background of a similar colour.

The presentation in the Capella of a number of “classic” works of international minimalism by Donald Judd,Dan Flavin,Robert Mangold, Daniel Buren and Larry Bello comes across as a mere afterthought, and the works of art themselves are nothing but shallow emblems in a show that seems to be trying to be one of the least interesting cultural events of the moment.

Col·lecció MACBA
Until January 6th 2009

Tuesday 7 October 2008

Cynthia Greig

All images ©Cynthia Greig

Cynthia Greig was so kind as to email me these images some time ago so I thought I would post a few for anyone who is yet to see them. Below is a passage from her Artist´s Statement for the wonderful series Representations:

"My work explores the unique nature of the photograph—its power to persuade and negotiate what we perceive to be fact or fiction. As a kind of playful homage to Henry Fox Talbot’s “The Pencil of Nature” my series Representations, combines color photography and drawing to create what I like to call photographic documents of three-dimensional drawings. I draw directly onto ordinary objects that I have first “whitewashed” with paint, creating visually ambiguous hybrids that appear to vacillate between drawing and photography, black-and-white and color, signifier and signified. No digital manipulation is involved, but the camera’s angle of view is imperative. Exploring the concept of photographic truth and its correspondence to perceived reality, Representations draws attention to how we see and reconsiders to what degree human vision is learned or innate. The series challenges those assumptions we might have about photography and its relationship to what we believe to be true."

Cynthia Greig lives in metropolitan Detroit and received her MFA from the University of Michigan in 1995. Her work has been exhibited internationally and is included in the following public collections: Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, George Eastman House, Light Work, Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago, Samuel L. Dorsky Museum of Art, Seattle Arts Commission and Coleçao Foto Arte Brasilia. In 2001 she received a Light Work residency and most recently she was selected as one of four runners up for the Aperture Prize in 2007. Her photographs have been featured in ArtWeek, Fahrenheit, Photography Quarterly, Frankfurter Rundschau, CIRCA Art, Contact Sheet Annual, New Art Examiner and Art Preview. An avid collector of 19th-century photographs, she co-authored the book of vintage photographs, Women in Pants (Harry N. Abrams, 2003). Both Wall Space in Seattle and UNO Art Space in Stuttgart will feature solo exhibitions of her work in Fall 2008.

Monday 6 October 2008


I always keep my ear to the floor in terms of what Amsterdam´s Foam has to offer exhibition-wise, and having just looked through their diary it seems that they have some great shows lined up during the forthcoming months. Take note my art lovers.

19 September - 16 November 2008
Ishiuchi Miyako - Photographs 1976 – 2005

(The exhibition opened on September 18, 5.30 pm)

Foam presents the first European retrospective of works by the Japanese artist Miyako Ishiuchi (b.1947). She attracted attention at the 2005 Venice Biennale for her series Mother’s, but a cross-section of her work has never been shown before. The exhibition is a cross-section of the photographer’s works from the 1970s to the present. The exhibition is organized by Galerie Langhans in Prague, and includes photos from the series Yokosuka Story (1976–77), Apartment (1977–78), Endless Night (1978–80), (1988–89), 1906 to the Skin (1991–93), and Mother’s (2000–05).The curator of the exhibition is Machiel Botman. In conjunction, a book is being published by Manfred Heiting.

24 October 2008 – 18 January 2009
Helen Levitt – In the Street

(The exhibition opens on October 23, 5.30 pm)

This autumn Foam presents a retrospective of work by the famous American street photographer Helen Levitt (b. New York, 1913). Levitt portrays the dynamics of New York street life from 1930 onwards, paying special attention to the innocent and adventurous world of children at play.

In the 1940s, inspired by her friends and mentors Walker Evans and Henri Cartier-Bresson, Levitt took black-and-white photographs of the streets of New York that set the tone for a new documentary style of American photography. Her photos are visual poems in which form, colour and movement play an important part. The exhibition In the Street includes a short series of vintage photos on contact sheets that demonstrate how Levitt moved through the streets as she recorded the choreography of the people around her. Helen Levitt was a pioneer of colour photography. Alongside her familiar black-and-white shots, her famous dye-transfers (colour prints) occupy an important place in the exhibition.

24 October - 10 December 2008
Foam 3_h: Erik van der Weijde – Siedlung

(The exhibition opens on October 23, 5.30 pm)

As part of the Foam_3h exhibition series Foam presents Siedlung by photographer Erik van der Weijde. Siedlung, German for ‘settlement’, features 220 black-and-white photos of detached houses in southern Germany. In Nazi Germany in the 1930s, the National Socialist Party (NSDAP) set up a huge construction programme to provide Seidlung houses for workers who agreed to become party members.

7 November 2008 – 18 January 2009
Kees Scherer – Pictorial Stories by a Street Photographer

(The exhibition opens on November 6, 5.30 pm)

Kees Scherer (1920-93), born in Amsterdam, began taking photographs at an early age. When the Second World War ended he immediately started working for newspapers including Het Vrije Volk, Trouw, De Volkskrant and Het Algemeen Handelsblad, producing a hugely impressive body of work. Alongside photo reportages he created images for a large number of photo books. He was one of the founders of World Press Photo in 1955.

Scherer travelled to the United States, the Far East, Mexico and Israel as well as to practically every country in Europe. His fascination for the effects of light is an important aspect of his work.

The photos in the Foam exhibition are all vintage prints from the archives of the Kees Scherer Photo Archive Foundation.

21 November 2008 – 18 January 2009
Viviane Sassen – Flamboya

(The exhibition opens on November 20, 5.30 pm)

Foam presents an extensive survey of recent photos taken by Viviane Sassen while travelling through various parts of Africa. On one level these photos are an attempt by Sassen to recapture her childhood years in Africa, yet they also pose implicit fundamental questions about image, bias and the constraints of the photographic medium. Many of the portraits that Sassen made in countries like Zambia, Kenya and Tanzania were realised in intuitive collaboration with the subject. They are remarkable for their use of colour, for the idiosyncratic use of shade and their slightly surreal atmosphere. Sassen’s work contrasts sharply with Western stereotypes of Africa and its inhabitants. The exhibition features work for which Viviane Sassen won the 2007 Prix de Rome, together with new and previously unshown work.

13 February - 13 May 2009
Richard Avedon - Photographs 1946 – 2004

(The exhibition opens on February 12, 5.30 pm)

Foam is on the tour schedule of the major retrospective ‘Avedon Photographs 1946-2004’. Compiled in close cooperation with the Avedon Foundation by Denmark’s Louisiana Museum, this exhibition appears at just six venues worldwide and can be seen at Foam from 12 February to 13 May 2009. It features over 200 works by Richard Avedon presented in chronological order, from his first photos made in Italy in 1946 to his final portraits, made shortly before his death in 2004. This is the first retrospective of his work to appear in the Netherlands.

Richard Avedon (1923-2004) is recognised as one of the greatest American photographers of the twentieth century. For over fifty years he was a leading figure in photography, with a star status that never left him. He was the first to cross the boundaries of different photographic genres. Avedon made his name in the early 1950s as a fashion photographer, working for American magazines such as Harpers Bazaar and Vogue. Besides fashion photography, Avedon also took dark, emotionally charged portraits. Avedon was one of the great innovators of modern fashion portrait photography. His portraits were radical and intense, often contrasting sharply with the subject’s public image. Avedon created an endless series of portraits of statesmen, artists and actors, including Katherine Hepburn, Audrey Hepburn, Humphrey Bogart, Brigitte Bardot, Marilyn Monroe, Buster Keaton, Charles Chaplin, Truman Capote, Henry Kissinger, Edward Kennedy, The Beatles, Andy Warhol and Francis Bacon. He photographed each of them in his own inimitable way: against a neutral white background, detached from time and place. All that remains is the penetrating, psychologically charged image of the individual looking back at the viewer.

James Nachtwey TED Prize

A group of stunning images that tug on the old heart strings from the incredible James Nachtwey. Big kudos to you sir for helping to spread the word about the extremely drug-resistant TB(XDR-TB). Quoting his words, he says: "Photographers go to the extreme edges of human existence to show people what´s going on. They believe your opinions and your influence matter. They aim their pictures at your best instincts: generosity, a sense of right and wrong, the ability and the willingness to identify with others, the refusal to accept the unacceptable."

Here is some background information on the project and the pandemic taken from the press release:

" is an extraordinary effort to tell the story of extremely drug-resistant tuberculosis (XDR-TB) and TB through powerful photographs taken by James Nachtwey. XDR-TB, or extremely drug-resistant tuberculosis,is a new and deadly mutation of tuberculosis. Similar in creation to multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) but more extreme in its manifestation,it arises when common tuberculosis goes untreated or standard TB drugs are misused. James’ photographs represent these varying strains. Learn more about TB, MDR-TB and XDR-TB, and learn how you can take action to stop this deadly disease.

Photographer James Nachtwey has been covering war and human rights stories for 30 years, traveling from Northern Ireland to Iraq, from the orphanages of Romania to the deadly killing grounds of the Sudan. He knows the power of news photographs to raise awareness and make real change. In 2007, he was awarded the TED Prize, which comes with $100,000 and one wish to change the world. These photographs and this project are his wish."

Sunday 5 October 2008

Xia Tio

All images ©Xia Tio

I came across Xia Tio´s work some time ago and so I was really pleased when she sent me a couple of choice images from her series Nowhere, the strength of which resides in its stellar portraiture. Regarding the project Xia writes:

"Nowhere explores the transitory state of cultural identity. We don’t always accept transition, since we feel most comfortable when we have reached a state of stability in our lives. The one constant refuge for us is the idea of home. The notion of self is changed with time as it is pulled, pushed and transformed until one day it becomes. I am intrigued by the way we present ourselves both inside and outside of our private space, in a place that leaves us with nothing but our own personal association. The contact from one person to another is an exchange, at times its quiet, sometimes isolated, at other times there is an understanding and it slowly begins to reveal itself."

Xia was born in Cologne Germany, 1976 and is now based in Brooklyn, New York. She is of an Indonesian Chinese background and was transplanted to the United States at the age of 16. In 2003 she attended the Rietveld Academy in Amsterdam Holland, she continued his studies in Photography at the of School of Visual Arts and she obtained his BFA in 2008. In 2006 she received an honorable mention from the Jen Bekman Gallery and in 2008 from PX 3 Paris.

Saturday 4 October 2008

Invisible Truth: Cara Phillips & Amy Elkins

Tonight is the opening night for the group show Invisible Truth at The Westbeth Gallery, 6pm - 8pm. 55 Bethune St. @ Washington featuring the work of Cara Phillips and her WIPNYC partner in crime Amy Elkins. Be there!

Lorena Endara

All images ©Lorena Endara

Photographer Lorena Endara emailed me to tell me about her series called The Pan-American Dream, a superb project wherein she has turned her camera on her country of origin, Panama and in the process dissected its complex identity to reveal the tensions between past and present, old and new through juxtapositions of different types of architecture and the clash of both metropolitan and rural landscapes. In her Artist’s Statement she proclaims:

"As a native of Panama, I use photography to reflect on the country in relation to the historical, political, and economic processes that continually shape it. As I photograph in the documentary tradition, I am guided by a sense of nostalgia for a Panama I never knew as well as a concern for the future of my country. By capturing the multiplicity of worlds that exist within Panama, such as the fragile relationship between urban jungles and natural havens, I seek to explore and represent Panama's identity as well as my own."

Lorena Endara was born and raised in Panama City, Panama. She became interested in photography at the age of twelve and has been practicing ever since. She attended Sarah Lawrence College and earned a B.A. in media, arts, and languages. Lorena’s passion for photography is directly linked to her love for travel and commitment to social justice. Her artwork has been featured in a number of solo and group shows, the latest one being at the Barbara Walters Gallery in Bronxville, New York. In addition, Lorena is the founder and director of a non-profit organization, Fundacion Imaginer, dedicated to promoting contemporary art from Latin America.