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photo-eye Gallery Kindred Spirits Closing Week by Alexandra Jo The works in Kindred Spirits are diverse, yet equally engaging. At the heart of each piece in the show is that common theme of Kindred Spirits, how all of earth’s creatures are connected, though unique. This is what makes Kindred Spirits an exhibition not to be missed.


Keith Carter, White Owl, Toned gelatin-silver print, 2004,
15 x 15 inches, Edition of 35, $2,200
It’s interesting to observe how the things that we look at every day can make small shifts visually and
conceptually over time. This is one of my favorite things about living and working around art that I love. Artwork that truly resonates with a person can change and grow with that individual’s perspectives and moods like a living thing. Spending the past few weeks with the Kindred Spirits exhibition at photo-eye Gallery has definitely given me this experience. The works in this show are so diverse, yet equally engaging, that I’ve found myself constantly drawing new connections between different pieces, finding new visual paths throughout the space every day. As the exhibition draws to a close, these relationships continue to unfold.

Pentti Sammallahti, Druridge Bay, England, 1998, Toned gelatin-silver print, 7 x 6.3 inches, $1,300

The curatorial decision to hang Keith Carter and Pentti Sammallahti’s work interspersed in groups along the gallery’s larger walls is a primary example of how the visual relationships in this show are abundant and fluid. Both artists work in traditional black-and-white photography and their photographs flow seamlessly together. However, where Keith Carter’s photographs are larger, darker, other-worldly, Pentti Sammallahti’s work is subtle, intimately scaled, and feels akin to documentary photographs of everyday life’s most poetic moments. Moving between the two bodies of work while circumnavigating the gallery provides simultaneous visual contrast and harmony.  Across the gallery space, Maggie Taylor’s fantastical photomontages, along with the group of David Deming’s playful dog sculptures, bring color and fantasy into the exhibition. Contrasting the substantial physical presence and mass of Deming’s large, animated dogs Taylor’s work is delicate and intricate. These artists offer two very different approaches to whimsey and imagination.

Maggie Taylor, Ship of Fools, 2018, Archival Pigment Print,
15 x 15 inches, Edition of 15, $2,800


The individual work of the four artists in this exhibition complements each of the other bodies of work in specific and legible ways. Looking from Sammallahti to Taylor is a journey from the real to the imaginary, from black-and-white to color. Shifting focus from Carter to Deming is to find two very different avenues into contemplating the surreal and the joyful. At the heart of each piece in the show is that common theme of Kindred Spirits, how all of earth’s creatures are connected, though unique. This is what makes Kindred Spirits an exhibition not to be missed.



David L. Deming, Josephine is a Hard Act to Follow, 1994,
Painted steel sculpture, 72 x 42 inches, Unique, $15,000


Kindred Spirits runs through August 24, 2019.




All prices listed were current at the time this post was published.

For more information, and to purchase artworks, please contact photo-eye Gallery Staff at:
(505) 988-5152 x 202 or gallery@photoeye.com


On view through August 24, 2019

Featuring work by Keith Carter, David Deming, Pentti Sammallahti, and Maggie Taylor

All prices listed were current at the time this post was published. 
Prices will increase as editions sell. 






Book Of The Week Korea - Part 1 Photographs and Text by Michael Kenna Reviewed by Carlo Brady Korea – Part 1 begins with a brief text from Michael Kenna. “I always enjoy locations that have mystery and atmosphere, perhaps a patina of age, a suggestion rather than a description, a question or two… Korea is still, technically, a country at war which dramatically and visually affects its appearance and atmosphere.”
Korea - Part 1. By Michael Kenna.
https://www.photoeye.com/bookstore/citation.cfm?catalog=ZH948
Korea - Part 1
Photographs and Text by Michael Kenna

Gallery K.O.N.G., Seoul, South Korea, 2019.
64 pp., 55 black-and-white illustrations, 7¾x10½".

The publication of this book coincides with an exhibition at Gallery K.O.N.G. in Seoul. The photographs were primarily made between 2005-2018.

Korea – Part 1 begins with a brief text from Michael Kenna. “I always enjoy locations that have mystery and atmosphere, perhaps a patina of age, a suggestion rather than a description, a question or two… Korea is still, technically, a country at war which dramatically and visually affects its appearance and atmosphere.”

The images themselves are delicate, if distant, consolidations of relatively few elements. Kenna’s photographs are pervasively quiet and delightfully formal. Quickly recognizable, though patient in their being received by the eye, the images reward a bit of displacement in the viewer.

Korea - Part 1. By Michael Kenna.

Namyeong Lion Rock, Mongdol Beach, Jeollanam-do,
South Korea. 2018.
By Michael Kenna
Often making long exposures in diffuse light, Kenna accomplishes a brief stun when executing a composition between jagged and calming formal elements. In Namyeong Lion Rock, Mongdol Beach, Jeollanam-do, South Korea. 2018, the rock meets with and melts into the slow moving water. The rich articulation of the stone’s texture juxtaposed with the dispersive movement of its shadow into water is captivating and dispassionately encouraging.

The book is comprised of two sections. The first is largely natural landscapes with images of a temple mixed in. The second half is initiated by the study of several lifeguard watchtowers along the shoreline moving north to the DMZ. These watchtowers are photographed in a somewhat onerous yet sedate way.

Situated on desolate stretches of beach, the towers suggest ad-hoc penal or biding punitive gestures. Their position against the sea is disquieting. Kenna’s images do not attempt a description of the complexity of the Korean Cold War. They do, however, stand in deference to the anxiety and pacing tragedy of the standoff.

Korea - Part 1. By Michael Kenna.

The final sequence moves into a series of industrial landscapes, ending in a short grip of images from DMZ. The final image appears to be shot through a telescope and vignette. It pictures a guard tower, on the Northern side of the border, assumptively. A bike leans against the guard post. In his introduction, Kenna writes, “… I must confess to sometimes imagining a future exhibition simply titled: “Korea”. Mr. Kim Jong-un, if you are reading this, please, invite me to photograph, soon!”

Purchase the Book


Carlo Brady works at photo-eye Bookstore as a photobook specialist. He holds a BA in photography and studio arts from Hampshire College. You can reach him at carlo.m.brady@gmail.com


photo-eye Gallery Colleen Fitzgerald – Risk Taker An Interview with Colleen Fitzgerald about her series Stamina.Now on the Photographer's ShowcaseIn Stamina, Fitzgerald is exploring the landscape with traditional photographic material but in a very unconventional manner. The artist's dynamic semi-sculptural process "reconstructs both reality and the very material that records reality. In doing so, the final product of the photographic work is not a direct representation of the world, but a negotiation of vision."

Colleen Fitzgerald – Land & Sea IX, 2017, Archival Pigment Print, 20x24" Image, Edition of 5, $1,200

Last December I had the opportunity to review portfolios as part of photoNOLA, a photography festival that boasts a series of photographic exhibitions, seminars, and workshops in New Orleans.  As a gallerist, I am privileged to see amazing photography on a daily basis – so I am always thrilled to discover photographers that are bringing something new to the medium, particularly in a way that feels natural and authentic. So, I was delighted when Colleen Fitzgerald sat down at my review table with her project Stamina

In Stamina, Fitzgerald is exploring the landscape with traditional photographic material but in a very unconventional manner. Unexposed 4 x 5" positive film is folded, cut, and bent by Fitzgerald into various three-dimensional shapes, loaded into a custom film holder designed to accommodate manipulated film, and finally exposed using a large format camera. The resulting transparencies are then re-photographed and printed. As Fitzgerald mentions in her project statement, "The process reconstructs both reality and the very material that records reality."

Stamina initially caught my attention based on the subject matter and Fitzgerald's inventive use of materials. Personally, I am fascinated by nature, and my passion for photography was born in the traditional darkroom. Furthermore, I find Stamina to be both conceptually interesting and visually exciting. Each image is masterly crafted and Fitzgerald's process is elaborate, experimental, and playful. There is something captivating about viewing the landscape creased, curled, and folded into cubes – both sharp and obscured. I perceive the images in Stamina as a distant memory, a dream, or an alternate reality. Of course, this is only my interpretation and I suspect that the more time that I spend with Stamina, further curiosity will be inspired.  So, I was not surprised to learn that post review Colleen was awarded Third Place in the 2018 photoNOLA Review Award and to learn that ArtsWorcester of  Massachusetts selected her as the recipient of the 2018 Present Tense Prize for artistic risk-taking.

I am pleased to introduce Colleen as the newest addition to photo-eye’s Photographer's Showcase and to share our conversation about taking risks, her influences,  materials, portfolio reviews, and rice gelato.




Colleen Fitzgerald, Land & Sea X, 2017, Archival Pigment Print, 20x24" Image, Edition of 5, $1,200


Anne Kelly:     You have been praised for being a risk-taker; can you tell us more about your experimental approach to image-making?


Fitzgerald with a manipulated 3D large-format
transparency in her studio
Colleen Fitzgerald:    I think the heart of that question is I believe when making art, fear of failure shouldn’t be part of the equation. I give myself permission to pursue any idea. Take the Stamina series, for example. I’d been working with manipulating film and experimental methods for a long time. But when this idea started, I actually wasn’t trying to invent a new process for myself. I was shooting a landscape with 4x5 inch film, and I accidentally crushed and bent the sheet of film inside the camera. I’m still not quite sure what happened! I decided to develop the film anyway and thought the resulting abstractions from the accidental physical manipulation of the film had potential.

I asked myself – what would happen if film wasn’t flat? What if I could control the physical manipulations and shape of the film inside the camera before I shot with it? What would that mean? For me, it’s essential to remain open to chance and capitalize on the power and potential of mistakes. It took an incredible amount of trial and error, including creating my own camera-back, but I was able to figure out the answer to my question. I let the work evolve. I allow myself to try new things and pursue threads. I often like to approach a subject non-traditionally – no matter how bizarre an idea might seem and regardless of whether it’s going to work or not. I find myself asking, “what if…” a lot.

Colleen Fitzgerald – Land & Sea VII (Full Set), Installation View 15x15" ImageUnmattedEdition of 5

AK:     Let's talk about the thought process behind making the images in your Stamina series. You start with a subject that is three-dimensional, the landscape, and record it with a medium that typically renders a two-dimensional image, but then circumvent that by folding the film into a 3-D object that is then scanned returning them to a two-dimensional image with the illusion of dimension. Can you elaborate on your creative process and how you ended up with producing the final version of your prints in Stamina?

CF:     It’s a complicated process. In pushing materials and tools this way, I hope it brings something imaginative to both the content and form of contemporary photography while providing a new avenue to picturing enduring sites. I think there are potentially still many creative avenues using film we have yet to explore. The prints featured on photo-eye are actually not the result of a scan. The shaped, bent positive film is re-photographed on a lightbox - the film-objects remain three-dimensional as they are being re-photographed from different angles. I like the idea that from a single exposure so many different views of the scene can be made by re-photographing the film as a 3D object this way. This also creates an illusion of depth in the final print, which I think creates a certain mystery about how it was created.

I hope the final product of the print re-enforces the control the photographer has on framing and controlling the perspective of the landscape, as well as illuminates the materiality of photos and the act of looking itself. I feel leaving white around the edges draws attention to the film border as well as my own gestures on the film. Creating with this process let me transform both the material and the final scene.

Colleen Fitzgerald, Land & Sea II, 2017,
 Archival Pigment Print, 20x24" Image,
 Edition of 5, $1,200
AK:     You have chosen 4x5 color film as a material for several projects; what is it about this material that inspires you?

CF:     I like working with my hands. In some ways, it fits with how I learned photography in a darkroom, which can be more of a physically involved process. There’s an unpredictable element when specifically using manipulated color film, and finding new ways to use the material keeps my interest. I’m drawn to a challenge. There’s also a great deal of detail and surface area to work with when using large format film, so it has many practical applications and benefits for specific projects. If large format is right for the concept, then I use it.

I like using film traditionally as well. I tend to work slower with film, and there is a delay between making the image and being able to see the result. When making Stamina, I might go out shooting, only make one exposure, and then not get to see it developed for a week or typically a lot longer. It’s a very different experience than taking a lot of digital shots at once as I might need to do in other situations. It’s beneficial for me to have several different modes of working and thinking.

AK:     Who would you consider your influences?

CF:     This list grows longer every day. Artistically speaking, I’m originally a drawer and a painter, and I’m often drawn to photographic work that incorporates meaningful physical gestures and challenges the definition of what defines a photograph. I viewed the work of Adam Fuss as an undergraduate, and it helped to shape my view of the diverse potential of using photographic materials in unexpected ways. I enjoy non-traditional processes of contemporary artists like Matthew Brandt, Chris McCaw, Julie Cockburn, and this list goes on and on. I’m also interested in artists that I feel explore themes of transformation in different ways through their work, like Rineke Dijkstra or Sarah Sudhoff, to name just a few. Sally Mann was one of the first living female photographers I remember learning about when I was younger, and her work still has an impact. Those are just some photographic artists that popped into my mind, and I take inspiration from every genre of photography. But my artistic influences certainly aren’t limited to the photo world. People inspire me for different reasons, from my peers to my students, to painters, writers, and athletes. I find new influences every day, and I let my life experiences influence my work.

AK:     You are an educator, photographer, and curator.  Do you think that your various roles influence each other?
Colleen Fitzgerald
CF:     I don’t think of the roles I play within the arts or academia as separate from one another. Teaching and my arts practice inform each in other in different ways all of the time. As an artist often working in experimental methods, I try to also foster a positive learning environment where my students aren’t afraid to also take risks – where they can approach any problem from a variety of innovative angles along with technical skill. I hope I empower students to be confident, curious, creative, and critical thinkers.

I also try to teach students some of the valuable lessons I’ve learned through my arts practice that I wish I knew when I was still in school. Teaching is one of the many ways to provide community in the arts, and I’d say meaningful relationships are the most rewarding part of my career. Overall, overlap exists between my roles either directly or indirectly. Whether I’m making my work, teaching, or planning an exhibit, I’m always working to continually improve.

Colleen Fitzgerald – Land & Sea VIII (B), 2017, Archival Pigment Print, 17x20" Image, Edition of 5, $950

AK:     We met a PhotoNOLA, and I recall that you were well prepared and did an excellent job presenting your work — in fact, you received Third Place in the 2018 PhotoNOLA Review Awards. Tell us about your experience at PhotoNOLA, what advice do you have for other photographers who are or thinking about attending a portfolio review?

CF:     Thank you - I really appreciate that. photoNOLA was my first large review with many reviewers over a short period of time. I went into the process aiming to get valuable feedback and meet other artists. Being selected for an award was a lovely surprise and an unexpected bonus. I was very fortunate to have engaged with thoughtful reviewers, and I’m grateful for the work photoNOLA put into planning that review.
Land & Sea XII (A-I), Nine Pigment Prints
presented together in a grid showing the same piece of 
shaped 3-D positive film from different perspectives.
photoNOLA special edition leave-behind

Regarding review preparation, it’s always a good idea to have a concise body of work, and I like to make unique leave-behinds for reviewers. It’s important for me to clearly understand my goals going into it as well. And as with any review or critique, remain open to hearing different opinions on your work. Formal reviews have the potential to be a strange or stressful experience, so remember you’re there to share artwork and hopefully enjoy the process. Sometimes I like to replace the words “review” or “critique” with “conversation,” and I think, “I’m going to have a conversation about my work.” It can be helpful to frame it that way. Go in open-minded – you never know what might come of the experience (and try to enjoy yourself!)

AK:     And lastly, sweet or salty? What is your favorite dish from all the places you’ve traveled?

Both! I could never choose! It’s so hard for me even to begin to narrow it down… For a treat, I’d have to say a specific riso (rice) gelato and pear ravioli in Italy. Sometimes people think rice gelato sounds strange, but trust me – it’ll change your life.

• • • • •

Colleen Fitzgerald – Land & Sea XIV, 2018
 Archival Pigment Print, 20x24" Image
 Edition of 5, $1,200
» View Stamina by Colleen Fitzgerald

All prices listed were current at the time this post was published. Prices will increase as editions sell. 

For more information, and to purchase prints, please contact photo-eye Gallery Staff:

(505) 988-5152 x202 or gallery@photoeye.com

photo-eye Gallery
541 South Guadalupe Street
Santa Fe, NM 87501
–View Map_









photo-eye Gallery Kindred Spirits: Gallery Favorites Three works we love from photo-eye Gallery's current exhibition.This week, photo-eye Gallery’s staff members circle back to the "Kindred Spirits Gallery Favorites" series, picking a second work that they find particularly engaging and inspiring from the exhibition.



Kindred Spirits, photo-eye Gallery’s current exhibition, has been up for a little over a month. Gallery patrons and staff members alike have had the pleasure of spending time with artwork by Keith Carter, David Deming, Pentti Sammallahti, and Maggie Taylor, all of which point to the deep and multifaceted relationships between humans and animals. This week, photo-eye Gallery’s staff members circle back to the "Kindred Spirits Gallery Favorites" series, picking a second work that they find particularly engaging and inspiring from the exhibition.


Anne Kelly Selects Pentti Sammallahti's Przeworsk, Poland, 2005


Pentti Sammallahti – Przeworsk, Poland, 2005, Toned Gelatin-Silver Print, 6.5x6.5" Image, $1,300

Anne Kelly
Gallery Director
anne@photoeye.com
(505) 988-5152 x121
One of the many things I love about photography is the silent dialog it creates between the artist and the viewer. As a medium, photography allows an artist to share their experiences and perspectives by creating a thought-provoking and detailed image, while each viewer can connect to that image through the lens of their own personal experience. This dialog amid artist and viewer is present in a range of genres from photojournalism to personal narrative, and just about everything in between.

The image that I have selected for the second part of our Kindred Spirits Gallery Favorites series is Pentti Sammallahti’s Przeworsk, Poland, 2005. In this image, a horse and cart travel across the low horizon and is contrasted against the stark sky topped with power-lines that are inhabited by birds – some in mid-flight. Przeworsk, Poland, 2005 is quiet, carefully composed, and exquisitely printed. Many of Sammallahti's photographs could be described similarly, but I am drawn to Przeworsk, Poland, 2005 because I have always been fascinated by the way that birds congregate on power lines. It makes me wonder where if they planned to arrive in that particular location or if they are purely just existing in the moment?  Birds are both wild and familiar. I find it refreshing to take a brief break from the hustle and bustle of everyday life and look up to find rows of birds carefully composed the power lines – like notes on sheet music in the sky.

Knowing what I know of Pentti, he likely sought out this place where the birds gather and waited for the magic to find him. In this case, a horse and cart pass by at just the perfect time. The horse and cart are different than the modern cars that I am accustomed to, yet I connect. There is something simply beautiful about pondering how tiny moments, such as this one, connect all people across the globe, regardless of language or geography.



Alexandra Jo Selects Keith Carter’s Leopard Appaloosa


Keith Carter, Leopard Appaloosa, 2014, Archival Pigment Print, 16 x 20 inches, Edition of 25, $1,600

Alexandra Jo
Gallery Assistant
alexandra@photoeye.com
(505) 988-5152 x116

Keith Carter’s Leopard Appaloosa is all dreamy atmosphere and magic to me. As a small girl I had a particular obsession with Appaloosa horses. Something about their dappled coats and flowing manes, the way their eyes sparkled like deep pools amid the colored flecks of their fur, felt special and idiosyncratic. The way that Carter captures the horse in this particular image in a moment of slight motion, wrapped in ethereal mist and light, is spellbinding. The photograph is a perfect expression of the way that I saw these enchanting creatures as a child: graceful, full of beauty and mystery, genial, and yet maybe not wholly of this world.

The horse in Carter’s photograph seems to be hovering in and out of corporeality. The highly contrasted speckled fur is mirrored by floating orbs in the thick, dark, hazy atmosphere around the edges of the image; a result of Carter’s complex and specific photographic process. This image was originally created as a tintype photograph, which is a process that allows for rich atmospheric texture and a full, deep tonal range. Carter’s mastery of analog photographic techniques combined with his keen ability to see the magic and the surreal in the everyday world comes to life, perfectly balanced, in this photograph. 

Lucas Shaffer Selects: David Deming's Hooper II

David L. Deming – Hooper II, 1998 Painted Steel Sculpture 80x26" $10,000


Lucas Shaffer
Special Projects & Client Relations
lucas@photoeye.com
(505) 988-5152 x114
David L. Deming’s sculpture Hooper II is a triumph of expression and transformation. As Alexandra Jo noted in her interview, Deming has the incredible ability to make thick patches of welded steel appear agile and weightless through gesture and technique. Just look at Hooper. Back stretched, legs flailing, and head cocked, they perform a seemingly-impossible single paw front leg stand at the direction of a trainer just outside the sculpture’s tableaux. As the proud owner of a Great Dane who’s been known to execute some Scooby Doo-level improvisational acrobatics, I am impressed at Hooper’s focus and immediately recognize the face of a happy dog. I think Hooper II succeeds with its relatability even in such a whimsical scene. Deming’s skilled rendering of Hooper’s form and facial expression connects me to the relationships I’ve established with the animals that are a part of my family while creating a playful moment packed with charm.


• • • • •


On view through August 24, 2019

Featuring work by Keith Carter, David Deming, Pentti Sammallahti, and Maggie Taylor





All prices listed were current at the time this post was published. Prices will increase as editions sell. 



photo-eye Gallery Kindred Spirits: Behind the Image Maggie Taylor's The Companionsphoto-eye Gallery’s current exhibition, Kindred Spirits,  includes a selection of Taylor’s work featuring whimsical relationships between multitudes of species. One such work, The Companions, draws from a renowned art historical reference to reimagine a beloved classical baroque painting.

Maggie Taylor – The Companions, 2019, Archival Pigment Print, 15x15" Image, Edition of 15, $2,800

Maggie Taylor
One of visual art’s most potent qualities is its ability to transport viewers into unknown worlds of fantasy and imagination. Maggie Taylor’s work expertly does just that. Her painstakingly meticulous Photoshop craft combines layer upon layer of found imagery to create bizarre worlds in which physics and anatomy defy the rules of our reality. Often combining humans, animals, plants, and objects, Taylor’s fantastical environments invite viewers to imagine and dream.

Photo-eye Gallery’s current exhibition, Kindred Spirits,  includes a selection of Taylor’s work featuring whimsical relationships between multitudes of species. One such work, The Companions, draws from a renowned art historical reference to reimagine a beloved classical baroque painting. Taylor offered a bit of insight into her inspiration and process for this work:

“Last year I was in Madrid and saw the Velazquez painting Las Meninas for the first time in real life.  I was very familiar with it from art history classes in college, but had not realized how large it was.  I wanted to make an image inspired by it, so I started with a file from the internet which I touched up to remove all the people in the painting.  With an empty room as a sort of stage, I began to experiment with different people from the 19th-century daguerreotypes I collect.  I wanted the young girl to be the artist….and to have some companions in the room with her.” 
Velazquez was an official Spanish court painter during the reign of King Phillip IV of Spain in the 17th century. Las Meninas shows the artist himself as an adult in the process of painting the King and Queen of Spain and/or the princess Infanta Margaret Theresa along with a myriad of court attendants. The painting is complex, mysterious, layered in meaning, and holds many hidden gems among the masterful composition and execution of Velazquez’ painting craft. There are paintings within paintings, portraits within portraits.

Diego Velazquez, Las Meninas, Oil on canvas, 153 x 109 inches, 1656.

That Taylor would choose this work as the inspiration for one of her digital photographs seems quite apt, as she builds the complexity of her invented worlds in layers, hiding special details for those willing to spend time and look close. Her re-envisioned version of the Spanish masterpiece also takes the little girl from the position of being simply the subject of the painting and repositions her as the artist and creative force in the environment, as Velazques is also both artist and subject matter in the original work. This offers a much different context for thinking about acts of creation and modes of perspective from adult male to juvenile female. Removing the rest of the figures from the environment and leaving only a small mouse and the girl’s dog as “companions” highlights the special relationships that can form between children and animals. This also points to the presence of a dog in the original work, drawing a connection between these interspecies relationships past and present.

All prices listed were current at the time this post was published.

For more information, and to purchase artworks, please contact photo-eye Gallery Staff at:
(505) 988-5152 x 202 or gallery@photoeye.com


• • • • •

On view through August 24, 2019

Featuring work by Keith Carter, David Deming, Pentti Sammallahti, and Maggie Taylor

All prices listed were current at the time this post was published. Prices will increase as editions sell. 





Book Of The Week The Coast Photographs and Text by Sohrab Hura Reviewed by Owen Kobasz The Coast opens with an absurd short story that leads into a sequence of images taken along the Indian coastline. While the photographs are made in real situations, the continuous removal and addition of context manipulates the line between what is a fact and what is not, in a way not unlike how new realities are increasingly being engineered today.
https://www.photoeye.com/bookstore/citation.cfm?catalog=ZH921
The Coast. By Sohrab Hura.
https://www.photoeye.com/bookstore/citation.cfm?catalog=ZH921
The Coast 
Photographs and Text by Sohrab Hura

Ugly Dog, New Dehli, India, 2019.
224 pp., color illustrations, 6¾x9". In English.

“The sound of the cage crashing to the ground tore through the house. The crow had escaped. A light came on, and on the bed Madhu tottered from left to right, trying to find her head. Her hands clasped at the smooth top of her torso, her fingers feeling for any trace of a stump of her head, before falling still for a moment and then again repeating the motion, frantically… Even now she kept forgetting that she did not have a head.”

So begins Sohrab Hura’s fourth book, The Coast. This is the first part of The Lost Head and The Bird, the short story with which the book opens. There are twelve stories in total, all of which are, in a way, the same, absurd story. Each iteration, however, slightly tweaks the text of the previous, swapping just a few words at a time, to create a new parallel narrative.

The Coast. By Sohrab Hura.
In the first, Madhu’s obsessive lover steals her head; in the last her distraught lover merely borrows her head. The roles of the other characters, a fortuneteller and a photographer (Hura), shift in a similar way, so that, by the final story, the only party responsible for Madhu’s misfortunes is Madhu herself. By presenting these alternate narratives, Hura highlights how the phrasing of events leads to the ‘engineering of realities’.

The following photographs come as an assault to the senses. The pages are filled with images, leaving no negative space, no time to catch your breath. Each image appears twice, so that after turning the page it repeats itself in the next spread. Sequencing the book in this way links the photos together, binding them to their neighbors in constant forward motion, building energy.

Sohrab Hura's photographs are flash heavy, unsettling, and absurd. A man’s head, sitting on a silver platter along side bright red fruit in the corner of a restaurant. In another, three boys are frozen in time. One wears a batman swimsuit and holds a chunk of cement, preparing to strike another, who is sitting on the ground with a stoic expression. A woman sheds a tear on the adjacent page. Others are gorier: thick, red blood runs down the page, dripping from a large knife onto bare feet.

The Coast. By Sohrab Hura.


 
“What I was trying to photograph was a pulse of the world that I was living in, here in India. That was something I could only allude to and not straitjacket down into something more definitive. Giving a straightforward explanation of the project would have removed all other possible entry points into the work. That would have negated everything the work is trying to do in the first place, which is to take the audience to a place out of doubt, because that is the situation today – we don’t know what to believe or not.”
— Sohrab Hura
The Coast. By Sohrab Hura.
Photographing the beating pulse of a nation can only be done through metaphor. The bloody, violent scenes in The Coast describe an impression of India’s recent increase in violence. Photos like the boy solemnly holding the cement to strike his friend point to the normalization of it, a terrifying idea. Other images, however, are beautiful and life-affirming.

One reoccurring theme throughout The Coast is heads. First in the story about Madhu, the headless girl, and then in the photographs people appear without heads, without bodies, or with their heads obscured or distorted. Someone’s body sitting on a light blue bed appears headless, with their left arm reaching to where their head should be. In another, a man’s head is peeking out from under a woman’s arm. His head seems disembodied, as though she is carrying it around as an accessory. Or the image of a man peaking through a fish tank; the tank distorts his face into that of a curious cyclops. Through his photographs, Hura seems to be pointing to a cause of the increased violence, namely a confusion of identity among the Indian people. People without heads, or faces, lack the most basic part of individual identity, and, instead get caught up in a great, faceless mass.

The Coast. By Sohrab Hura.
The final images show people wading into the Arabian Sea. Sohrab Hura describes the scene, “These images in the sea have been made over the years on a specific beach in Tamil Nadu, where every year – during a religious festival – people masquerade as different characters depending on what they have prayed for. They get into a trancelike frenzy in worship and they are finally carried to the sea to wash themselves of their masquerade, much like cleansing themselves of their sins.”

Following the intense imagery that came before, this section of the book offers a breath of relief from the violent images before. The people descend towards the dark water and dive into the sea in a place that seems separate from heaven and earth alike. The energy built up in the book before this point is finally released. According to Hura, “This stepping into the sea is a sort of a new beginning for the people, a sort of a shedding of that mask. In its metaphors, the book ends with a little more relief – one could even say hope”. And then it is just water. Bubbly, brown waves fade into the night sky; the horizon line is lost to a flash. Here, water and darkness blend into the dark abyss of the unknown.



The Coast. By Sohrab Hura.


http://blog.photoeye.com/search/label/Owen%20Kobasz
Owen Kobasz edits the blog & newsletter at photo-eye. He holds a BA in the liberal arts from St. John's College and takes photos in his free time.

photo-eye Gallery Kindred Spirits Artist Spotlight: Pentti Sammallahti Pentti Sammallahti featured in photo-eye Gallery's current exhibition.By Alexandra Jo"Sammallahti’s commitment to openness, to the reception of inspiration, and to his photographic craft is unmatched. His works are simultaneously gentle and powerful: specifically composed, yet impactful in their relatability."
– Alexandra Jo
By Alexandra Jo

Pentti Sammallahti
The well-known maxim “not all who wander are lost” is most apt when thinking of Finnish photographer Pentti Sammallahti. A national treasure of Finland, Sammallahti is a self-proclaimed nomad and has spent the majority of his adult life traveling with his camera. Yet, when viewing his work, one gets the distinct feeling that Sammallahti is truly at home wherever he is photographing. He has a particular gift for connecting to his surroundings. As he searches for transcendent junctures, he is open, and fully present. He waits for instants in which the places and creatures of the world reveal themselves in moments of subtle splendor. photo-eye Gallery's current exhibition, Kindred Spirits, features a selection of Sammallahti's photographs.

Pentti Sammallahti, Babil, Iraq, 2004, Toned silver gelatin print, 2.5 x 3.5 inches, not editioned, $800

Sammallahti’s commitment to openness, to the reception of inspiration, and to his photographic craft is unmatched. His works are simultaneously gentle and powerful: specifically composed, yet impactful in their relatability. The captivating qualities of his visual content are emphasized further in his exquisite and stylistically distinct darkroom printing process. The strength of his visual compositions and sensitivity to processing his film show a complete mastery of both the conceptual and physical work involved in creating his art.



Pentti Sammallahti, Martinmere, England, 1996, Toned silver gelatin print, 5 x 14 inches, not editioned, $1,800


Pentti Sammallahti, Transylvania, Romania, 2015, Toned silver gelatin print, 8.5 x 6.5 inches, not editioned, $1,300

Behind all of this mastery, all of this vision, resides a humbleness of spirit that points to how one artist can be so sensitive and receptive to the myriad of sensations and scenes that he discovers in the world around him:

“Everything I've photographed exists regardless of me, my role is only to be receptive. The most important thing is the luck… behind every good image there is the good luck too.  Sometimes when you are in a right place in the right moment, you'll feel that the image is a gift and even that it doesn't matter who's behind the camera.”

Pentti Sammallahti, Untitled, 2005, Toned silver gelatin print, 7 x 6 inches, not editioned, $1,300




Pentti Sammallahti, Delhi, India, 1999, Toned silver gelatin print, 8.5 x 5 inches, not editioned, $1,300


And yet one could argue that it takes a specific, inherent artistic eye to see the way that Sammallahti does. There is an underlying unity in how he perceives things. A flock of delicate birds lifting into the air en mass, a comical confrontation between two ducks and a soccer ball, the languid grazing of cows through the landscape, all seem equally important to Sammallahti. In all of his wonderings and observations, it is this emphasis on the small things that connect us, these little moments of poetry and recognition across borders and cultures and species, which makes Sammallahti’s work so wonderful to me. His photographs have the capacity to teach viewers to look a little more closely, to be open and receive. That one can find rapture in the graceful curve of a flamingo’s neck, a crumple of waves, or a single sleeping cat, that we as humans do not have to look far for beauty and grace in the world, is a joyful message, and a crucial one.


All prices listed were current at the time this post was published.

For more information, and to purchase artworks, please contact photo-eye Gallery Staff at:
(505) 988-5152 x 202 or gallery@photoeye.com


• • • • •

On view through August 24, 2019

Featuring work by Keith Carter, David Deming, Pentti Sammallahti, and Maggie Taylor

All prices listed were current at the time this post was published. Prices will increase as editions sell.