It’s always in season to support photographers, the photo community, and charities. Collect.give and 20×200 come out with new images all year round and you can always contact photographers directly to purchase work. Have fun shopping.
“In the blog culture of today, images and musings can get buried in the online archive of some of our favorite sites – a metaphorical pile where we often forget what is at the bottom of this digital stack. So it was with great pleasure that I was able to revisit the FlakPhoto archive with Andy Adams to select work for ’100 Portraits – 100 Photographers.’ It is important to take a moment and return to the archive whether that is a collective archive or the archive of your own personal work.” – Larissa Leclair, from “NightGallery: Behind the Projections” curator talk, Corcoran Gallery of Art, November 6, 2010.
100 Portraits – 100 Photographers: Selections from the FlakPhoto.com Archive
curated by Larissa Leclair and Andy Adams
FotoWeek DC / Corcoran Gallery of Art, November 6-13, 2010
As an added fine art component to FotoWeek DC‘s NightGallery projections, this screened exhibition features 100 dynamic portraits from an exciting group of contemporary photographers in all stages of their careers, each selected from the digital archive on FlakPhoto.com. Our decision to highlight work from this website celebrates the role that a thriving online photography community plays in the discovery and dissemination of work produced by significant artists in the Internet Era.
Contemporary photo culture is marked by a continuous flow of images online, and our aim is to take a moment to recognize some of the noteworthy photographs published in this ever-expanding archive over the past four years. In this context, projected several times larger than life, these portraits look back at us and embody a louder voice in the discourse of the gaze.
Sincere thanks to each of these photographers for being part of this exhibition!
The FotoWeek DC projection screened throughout Washington, D. C. during the week of the festival at several exhibition venues: on the exterior of the Corcoran Gallery of Art, in the Satellite Central projection theater, at Dupont Circle and on screens fixed to trucks traveling throughout the streets of the city.
“In the ‘series’ work, Rantoul states, ‘I found a way to photograph that allows me to connect pictures to pictures, forming a narrative.’ For Rantoul, he uses the concept of ‘series’ to organize his work, putting his ideas and thoughts behind him so he can move on to something else. He elaborates, ‘I became interested in the ability to speak more completely about a place, a frame of mind, light, or the relationship between things.’ Panopticon Gallery is pleased to be able to exhibit a selection of his earlier works, including photographs from Wyoming, Pennsylvania, Utah and Washington State … accompanied by images from three distinct series from around Massachusetts.”
Also of interest is Neal Rantoul’s first monograph, American Series, published by Pond Press, with texts by Joe Deal and Jeffrey Hoone.
Over the summer, I have been diligently working on a project that has been growing exponentially since its beginning this past May – the Indie Photobook Library (iPL). After much deliberation on format and structure, the website went live two weeks ago.
Throughout the month of July, Flak Photo, in its WEEKEND series, is featuring photographs by Zwelethu Mthethwa from his self-titled monograph recently published by Aperture. (Check out each weekend image: JULY 3, 10, 17, 24, & 31, 2010.) It has been my pleasure to team up with Andy Adams again and present this interview with Zwelethu Mthethwa. Mthethwa’s work is pivotal in broadening the discourse on the history of photography and I hope this interview adds to the conversations that have preceded this one; the insightful interview in Zwelethu Mthethwa between Isolde Brielmaier and Mthethwa and the conversation between Mthethwa and Okwui Enwezor at the Aperture Foundation in March 2010. They are essential reading and viewing. I recently corresponded with Zwelethu by email as he prepared to travel from South Africa to the U.S. for the opening of “Inner Views” at the Studio Museum in Harlem on July 15. We talked about his monograph, two specific images from his Sugar Cane series, the South African photography community, and briefly about the current show at the Studio Museum in Harlem.
book cover of "Zwelethu Mthethwa". Courtesy of Aperture.
Larissa Leclair: As an internationally acclaimed artist (photographer, painter, video artist) with over one-hundred solo and group exhibitions, I wonder why it has taken so long for a monograph of your work to be published. Thankfully and finally Aperture recently published the beautiful monograph Zwelethu Mthethwa (Aperture, 2010). While a traditional first monograph primarily includes one body of work, this book is almost like a retrospective exhibition, with work from many series. Can you talk about your journey of finding a publisher and producing this monograph?
Zwelethu Mthethwa: It has been a very long journey. This particular book has been in the making for at least 4 years, but the major reason why nothing like this has been published before is because I was waiting for the right publisher (who would be able to distribute the book internationally). A few people have approached me before, but because they did not have the qualities that I was looking for, I turned them down.
The book presented me with an opportunity to showcase most of my projects over the last 20 years. However, there are some projects that we haven’t included because we were limited in terms of the size of the book.
From the series Gold Miners, 2006, and Quartz Miners, 2007-8, pages 66-67. Courtesy of Aperture.
LL: Your work as a whole addresses the economic and political reality of marginalized communities primarily in South Africa. Can you talk about your personal interest in these communities and professions (miners, sugarcane workers, etc.). Are you personally an outsider or is there more of a connection to these people and circumstances -politically, economically, culturally?
ZM: The work is about my personal history and personal observation. I grew up in contact with these different communities all the time. I was always interested in how the migrant workers would be ostracised from the main community, which was the community that I came from. The migrant workers were always seen as “the other” – they looked different, talked different, dressed different – they were just so different. As a kid I was curious to understand the dynamics of these differences, mainly because we were all black, I assumed we were all the same. Growing up as an artist I came to realise that I was also an outsider because with my views on life I probably didn’t belong to any of the communities, even the mainstream community.
In terms of my interest in these “professions” I have always been fascinated by the way that people make lives and livings for themselves. Despite economic hardship, political hardship, all kinds of hardship, including that of just trying to fit in, people continue to work and live even in the strangest circumstances. Through my years of experience in photographing these communities I have found out that the periphery after some time becomes the mainstream in the way that fashion follows them, the way that interior decorators decorate their houses and in the way that musicians have developed their sound too.
LL: Can you talk about two specific photographs from the Sugar Cane series – the image on page 39 that starts this series in the Aperture monograph, which is also the cover of Snap Judgments(ICP/Steidl 2006), and the photograph included in Enwezor’s essay on page 111. I am curious about how you approached photographing here and the dialog that occurred between you and the workers, and then your internal dialogue as you were photographing. I am struck by the attire, the landscape, and stance – very raw and powerful – and am curious why sugar cane workers wear skirts?
ZM: Approach – first of all, I explained my intentions to the farmers that owned the land. Once they had given me permission to photograph the people working on their land, I then further approached the individual farm workers and explained to them my intentions, so that I could get permission from them to take their photographs. Once they agreed, I then took the photographs; but this was a long process because I would have to fly back to Cape Town, process the photos and then go back to Durban to give the sitters their photographs. It was important to me that they had copies of the images. I would then, while in Durban, shoot some more, and start the whole process again. So this all happened over several months.
My first attraction to the sugar cane workers was that they were wearing skirts, and that they looked to me like Samurai worriers. I then found out that, not only were they wearing skirts, but also many other layers of clothing. This was odd to me because Durban is an incredibly hot and humid area. I thought they must be crazy to be wearing so many clothes and still doing manual labour. I discovered, through speaking with them, that the reason was to protect themselves from the burning ground and soot (sugar cane is burnt before harvested); from the very sharp leaves of the cane; and also from the many snakes that like to live in sugar cane fields. The most difficult part of taking these photographs was stopping them from working. These guys are paid according to the weight of sugar cane that they harvest; there is no hourly rate. I felt guilty that I was interrupting and taking their money away from them by asking them to pose for me. So this forced me to move in and out as quickly as possible, interrupting their flow of production as little as possible.
With regard to the photograph on p.39, it was shot in the afternoon, the clothing that the worker is wearing is quite specific – his hood is obviously to protect him from the harsh sun. His crew neck shirt is there to stop insects from getting into his clothes. His rubber boots prevent snakebites to his feet. He has also tied some rope around his legs above the knee to stop snakes from crawling up his pants.
The other photograph – the reason why they wear skirts: they can’t wear tight clothing because it chafes against the skin, so a skirt is a good way to add another protective layer without the discomfort of the chafing. Underneath the skirt he is wearing loose pants.
LL: Okwui Enwezor mentions in his essay in the book the environment surrounding your study at the Michaelis School of Fine Art at the University of Cape Town in the early 80′s. Was a history of photography class part of the curriculum there? And I am wondering which history of photography? Did you learn about South African photographers and photography?
ZM: There was no history of photography, but photography (practical) was an elective course. I remember people such as David Goldblatt and Omar Badsha visiting the school to talk about their work.
LL: Can you talk about the photography community in South Africa – what was it like in the 80′s, then in the 90′s and now?
ZM: There was always photo-generalism and a rise of documentary photography in the ’80s, which was always black and white photography. Most of the photographers were commissioned by different newspapers or magazines for specific projects, rather than producing their own work in the fine art sense. We are now seeing a beginning of photography being accepted into the realms of fine art in this country, as “new media”. There are a few South African photographers who produce mainly for the galleries. The new photographers are using colour photography as a medium, as opposed to black and white. Their sizes have also changed from the standard 8×10, 16×20 to larger sizes, like 50×50 or even mural-size. There is an interest in presenting photography as limited editions in the most archival form, as opposed to producing photography for the magazine or the newspaper.
LL: Currently you have a solo exhibition at the Studio Museum in Harlem (July 15-Oct 24, 2010). Which series will be on view?
ZM: The work on show at the Studio Museum has been selected by the curator, Naomi Beckwith, and will be presented under the title of “Inner Views.” The selection includes work from the “Interiors” series, “Common Ground” series and “Empty Beds” – all these projects were completed from the early 80s up to 4 years ago.
ZM: One project I have been busy with recently is shooting power lines in informal settlements the lines have been illegally connected, hooked up to strange makeshift structures, big knots and tangles of cables. These power lines have changed the landscape within the informal settlement, which is a phenomenon that is interesting to me.
LL: Thank you very much Zwelethu!
Installation of Zwelethu Mthethwa's fifth solo exhibition at Jack Shainman Gallery in New York - April 23-May 23, 2009. Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, NY
It was with great sadness that I heard the news about Joe Deal’s passing last Friday from Mary Virginia Swanson. As a young photographer studying at Washington University, we were very lucky to have Joe Deal as a dean, an icon, a photographer, a teacher, a mentor, and friend. And through the years, I am thankful for the support he provided to me as I found my own path and voice in the photography world.
I wrote this review of Joe Deal’s book West and West several months ago. Today it was published by photo-eye.
Joe Deal West and West: Reimagining the Great Plains
112 pages, 51 duotones, 3 maps 10 x 11
Published by the Center for American Places, October 2009
In the midst of all the press surrounding the new “New Topographics” exhibition organized by the George Eastman House and the Center for Creative Photography now on international tour through at least 2012, Joe Deal, one of the original photographers and curators involved in the 1975 pivotal show has added to his oeuvre with a fantastic body of work and book “West and West.” Joe Deal introduces the plates in the book with a wonderfully written essay about the Great Plains and reflections on his own photography over the years. Deal’s written voice is just as important and astute as his photographic one. He begins “[t]he Great Plains of North America exists for me both as a physical landscape and as an idea, or internal landscape.” The Great Plains, as explored by Deal, cover an area larger than I had realized; Deal photographed in Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, and Wyoming. The black and white photographs reveal a surprisingly nuanced prairie landscape in both its natural topography and in Deal’s mastery of light and shadow. The images are devoid of visible man-made structure, but are constrained in theory by surveyor grid lines and the square-format of the camera. Formerly, in “New Topographics” and his series “The Fault Zone,” Deal often shot from a high vantage point looking down, deleting the horizon from his images, and packing the image with information “each element holding its own weight” each detail just as important as the other. With this new work, however, Deal has tilted his camera up, viewing the Great Plains landscape in all of its expanse. But that expanse is only illusionary. Deal writes, the photographs present “a finite section of the earth and sky and restores them in the imagination to the vastness that now only exists as an idea: the landscape that is contained within the perfect symmetry of the square implies infinity.” These photographs, taken between 2005 and 2007, seem to continue Deal’s exploration of “man-altered landscape” and its boundaries but he focuses on what lies between himself and the horizon and not what may be in his periphery vision. Joe Deal embarked on this journey during his last few years at RISD, recently having retired in 2009. The book and exhibition are poetic and my favorite of his. West and West is on my list of Best Books of 2009.
The WPA is pleased to present the exhibition Permanent Impermanence. This project is part of the WPA’s Coup d’Espace series which invites member artists and curators to stage their own exhibitions an programming in its Dupont Circle space. Come enjoy some great photography! Permanent Impermanence explores fundamentals of the photographic medium, through artistic expression in both subject and process. The exhibition will include works by Christopher Colville from his Emanations series; Todd Hido from A Road Divided;
Kate MacDonnell from 100 Ways; Curtis Mann from Modifications;
David Maisel from History’s Shadow; and
Doug + Mike Starn from alleverythingthatisyou.
One Hour Photo, curated by Adam Good, Chajana denHarder, and Chandi Kelley, closes today at the Katzen in Washington, DC. Quoting from the website, “[t]he premise of One Hour Photo is simple: project a photograph for one hour, then ensure that it will never be seen again… Each work will exist only in the limited moments of perception, in the individual and collective experience, then memory, of the observers.” In conjunction with this project, Larissa Leclair asked each photographer to respond to the same three questions – describe the photograph in three words, talk about the selection process, and thoughts on letting go of the image. The photographers’ responses have been posted throughout the exhibition on the day their photograph was projected at the Katzen – 26 days, 128 photographers. See the schedule of photographers here. The photographers’ responses may provide a glimpse of the projected image, but they also reveal something about the photographers themselves. The last five photographers are Penelope Umbrico, Clayton Cotterell, Matthew Gamber, Ann Woo, and closing out the exhibition is Ruben Natal-San Miguel. Curator talk and discussion today at 2:30pm. Come and say farewell.
11-noon: Penelope Umbrico
Describe the photograph selected for One Hour Photo in three words:
used photo labs
How does one go about selecting a photograph that is good enough for an exhibition but that can never be seen again? The images I used for my piece in One Hour Photo already exist elsewhere, in some form, on the internet, and given the nature of the types of images, and the nature of the internet, I have unlimited access to new or similar versions of them, that represent the same thing. In contrast to the idea of the photographic edition (where each singular material print is the same as the others in the edition but limited in number), the mutability, ubiquity and replacability of digital images allows for a kind of regeneration to take place. It doesn’t matter if the specific arrangement of images that make up my piece are never seen again, because the work can be thought of as one moment in the life of an ever changing fluid project – an ongoing process of accumulation, re-combination, recontextualization, regeneration.
What are your thoughts on letting go of this image? I asked these questions: Is the forced act of absence or erasure in a digital context inherently antithetical to digital representation, or as an artificial construct imposed on an digital image, could it point to fundamental issues inherent in digital representation? does it question what it is we ask of digital representation?
So I didn’t think of it as letting go, but as a staged act that addresses some issues to be worked out – specifically, in my mind at the moment: the oddly dialectical paradox of a kind of presence of digital form (in its infinite multiplicity, synchronic ubiquity, and ephemeral immateriality) vs and a kind of non-presence of material form (in its finite singularity, immutability and localized specificity).
Describe the photograph selected for One Hour Photo in three words:
engagement, disengagement, construct
How does one go about selecting a photograph that is good enough for an exhibition but that can never be seen again? I made my piece specifically for the show with an image I knew I wouldn’t use anywhere else.
What are your thoughts on letting go of this image? The image began to grow on me after making it, but lead to others working with a similar idea. I’m ok with letting it go.
Describe the photograph selected for One Hour Photo in three words: It is erased
How does one go about selecting a photograph that is good enough for an exhibition but that can never be seen again? Some photographs exist as outliers, or as transitions between projects. However interesting these images might be, they are often never seen by others.
What are your thoughts on letting go of this image? If we did housecleaning more often, we might be able to reduce our personal collections to the ones that are most important to us.
Describe the photograph selected for One Hour Photo in three words: Absence Presence & 9/11 victims
How does one go about selecting a photograph that is good enough for an exhibition but that can never be seen again? It was not easy. This photo in particular in my opinion, can not be part of any of my current series, it is a random one, strong and needs to be shown by itself so, when you see it you reflect on it and not be distract by anything else but, the words and its message.As a curator of many shows, I thought right away that was perfect for the show theme and was very happy how well it has been received as part of it. Sometimes, it is good to part with things you love the most…
What are your thoughts on letting go of this image? Do you miss me? (image title) The presence and the absence. Here today ….gone Tomorrow. Life is short, live it to its fullest.
Larissa Leclair has teamed up with One Hour Photo to feature photographers from this exhibition. Read the initial post here. Today’s photographers are Lisa McCarty, Michael Kenny, Chris Davis, Katy Rossing, and Matt Austin.
11-noon: Lisa McCarty
Describe the photograph selected for One Hour Photo in three words:
Ghostly, inexplicable, fortuitous
How does one go about selecting a photograph that is good enough for an exhibition but that can never be seen again? When submitting an image to any show I don’t think in terms of quality, but what image do I feel strongly about and would best fit the concept. The knowledge that my image would be seen for one hour and then never again actually made me want to select something I wouldn’t want to let go of rather than an image I was ok with never seeing/showing again. I saw it as a challenge to give away something that was truly meaningful me.
What are your thoughts on letting go of this image? I’m really excited. This is an experiment, and I can’t wait to see how I’m affected, how the viewers are affected, and eventually how the image changes in my mind as time passes.
Describe the photograph selected for One Hour Photo in three words: mantis on windshield
How does one go about selecting a photograph that is good enough for an exhibition but that can never be seen again? all data has a shelf life, some longer than others: there is no permanence.
What are your thoughts on letting go of this image? this photo has been sitting in a box for almost ten years, i am happy that it will have a moment to shine. the photo is of a truly fleeting moment in time – an unexpected event where a mantis hitchhiked a ride from College Park, MD, through DC, and left us somewhere around 14th and U St NW.
I’ve just started this whole blogging thing, bear with me…
it doesn’t really reflect me in totality
2-3pm: Katy Rossing
Describe the photograph selected for One Hour Photo in three words: Full-sized American jest
How does one go about selecting a photograph that is good enough for an exhibition but that can never be seen again? I looked for a photograph that I thought captured something I found both quotidian and thought-provoking. Those qualities seemed to fit the bill.
What are your thoughts on letting go of this image? The photograph was taken spontaneously; I literally did not break my stride to photograph it as I walked by. So the image itself seemed like a lucky fluke to me, so I feel like it’s somehow right to let it go this way.
Describe the photograph selected for One Hour Photo in three words: accidental elegiac goodbye
How does one go about selecting a photograph that is good enough for an exhibition but that can never be seen again? It wasn’t easy to choose. At first, I was sorting through images that I’d made a long time ago that I really liked at the time but never did anything with. I was thinking it would kind of ensure the idea of never using it again in a more formal way. But then after searching far too long for the “best image” of that category, the concept of swearing to never show it again interested me much more. The idea of challenging myself with that kind of discipline became far more appealing than choosing which image would best represent me to the public. I wanted the concept of saying goodbye to something to be embodied by the image that would then be embodied by the exhibition. The process of spending the time selecting the photograph was rewarding in itself, I was satisfied with that experience on its own.
What are your thoughts on letting go of this image? It feels good to do; I choose to interpret it as a kind of tribute or honor. The photograph was initially a mistake: an accidental double-exposure of my mom’s boyfriend Richie’s bed and snow falling on his front lawn. I made the images on the day that he passed away on January 25, 2010. I wanted to take the opportunity of the one-hour existence of the piece and use its impermanent dynamic to create a photographic elegy for Richie.
Larissa Leclair has teamed up with One Hour Photo to feature photographers from this exhibition. Read the initial post here. Today’s photographers are Esther Hidalgo, Rodolfo Vanmarcke, Frank DiPerna, Osvaldo Cibils and Sasha Bezzubov + Jessica Sucher.
11-noon: Esther Hidalgo
Describe the photograph selected for One Hour Photo in three words:
loss, memory, desire
How does one go about selecting a photograph that is good enough for an exhibition but that can never be seen again? I chose an image that I would never be able to go back and re-shoot, one that I found beautiful and enjoyed gazing at, one that I would have wished to print and preserve.
What are your thoughts on letting go of this image? With regard to the business of art, letting go of the image excuses me from having to think in terms of ownership and rights to reproduction–issues that are often in play for me as a photographer. Artistically, this project invited me to shift the way I perceive my work. My photographs are proof that I have been here and have acted. Yet the ephemeralness of this exhibition, by showing the work only once, is like wiping away my fingerprint after touching a glass.
Describe the photograph selected for One Hour Photo in three words:
The absolute self-exile.
How does one go about selecting a photograph that is good enough for an exhibition but that can never be seen again? Each race is crucial. There are no small enemies, no small challenges. When I decided to participate in this project, I delivered grapes that were picked from a great harvest. I would never allow myself to exhibit something that is not “amazing” just because it will never be shown again.
What are your thoughts on letting go of this image? Each and every day in life we let go many things. The important thing is knowing what we win when we let go of something. This photograph will vanish between the walls of a museum, but not without passing through the visual registry that goes from the curators to the staff of the museum; and with luck, through the eyes of some visitor walking around the place. Knowing this, one way or another has already made the piece invincible in time… or at least invincible until those who saw it, no longer live.
Describe the photograph selected for One Hour Photo in three words: Unplugged Ghost Woman
How does one go about selecting a photograph that is good enough for an exhibition but that can never be seen again? I chose an image that is more or less outside of the mainstream of what I normally do; I’ve often wondered what I might do with and this was the perfect opportunity.
What are your thoughts on letting go of this image? I like the concept of the show so letting go isn’t that hard, I lost an important negative in the street once that was hard.