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Book Review Tokyo By Sohei Nishino Reviewed by Arista Slater-Sandoval Sohei Nishino will spend an average of three months on location capturing thousands of exposures on 35mm film in vastly different areas of a city. He will then create contact sheets from the film, cut the individual exposures out and reassemble a flexing yet familiar large-scale map of the city.
Tokyo By  Sohei Nishino
amana, 2015. 
 
Tokyo
Reviewed by Arista Slater-Sandoval.

Tokyo.
Photographs by Sohei Nishino.
amana, Tokyo, Japan, 2015. 496 pp., 496 illustrations, 5¾x8¼".

Cities are motion; buildings go up and come down, shops close and change occupants, people use various methods of transportation from day to day, today there is a parade and tomorrow there will be a street closure. Differing spokes of activity create the dynamic portrait of Tokyo in Sohei Nishino’s first book Tokyo. Short-listed in 2016 for the First Photobook prize by Aperture and Paris Photo, the book dissects the nature of assemblage through a large-scale map of Tokyo created by the photographer. With this dialectic of destruction and regeneration, we see the city ebb and flow through multiple vantage points compressed to one plane.

To view the book is to question process itself. Sohei Nishino will spend an average of three months on location capturing thousands of exposures on 35mm film in vastly different areas of a city. He will then create contact sheets from the film, cut the individual exposures out and reassemble a flexing yet familiar large-scale map of the city. The resulting single image composed of thousands of smaller images creates a portrait of place from the memory of the photographer. “A record of how I, as a human being have walked through their streets and how I looked at those street ” — Sohei Nishino.

Often focusing on a known landmark, the map will gently spiral out from an obvious city layout to produce pockets of what can be considered street photography. Focusing on smaller sections, we are thrust into the micro and are given a view into daily life and happenings of a city, while still in the presence of its entire map.

Tokyo By  Sohei Nishino. amana, 2015.
Tokyo By  Sohei Nishino. amana, 2015.

Adding to the complexity of this seemingly straightforward process of assemblage is the mix of genera encountered when traveling from page to page. Street and architecture are the obvious first methods presented. However, moving to the corners of the map where vast swaths of gray present themselves as water and sky creates abstraction. The subtle changes in tones create a study in pattern and form.

Tokyo By  Sohei Nishino. amana, 2015.
Tokyo By  Sohei Nishino. amana, 2015.

At first glance the book itself is disorientating. Full bleed close ups of sections from the Tokyo map fill the book. Without prior knowledge of the final map, the pages present an onslaught of abstracted, yet intriguing views of a city; intriguing from the assemblage feel of each frame physically lying on top of the other and the snapshot aesthetic working in tandem. Thankfully we are given a folded insert of the full final map so that we can literally see the big picture. Despite the never punctuated continuation of images on every page, the book is an incredibly intricate and intimate look into a continuously growing metropolis. — Arista Slater-Sandoval


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ARISTA SLATER-SANDOVAL  was born and raised in Grand Rapids Michigan. She moved in 2007 to washington D.C. to pursue a BFA in photography at the Corcoran College of Art and Design. After completing her BFA, Arista moved to Cambridge MA, and attended the College of Art and Design at Lesley University where she completed her MFA in Fine Art Photography in 2013. While in grad school she focused in gum bichromate, and large scale image transfers. Currently Arista lives and works in New Mexico with her husband while traveling and working on her various mediums of choice.

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photo-eye Gallery LOCAL EIGHT: Jamey Stillings & Edward Ranney Jamey Stillings and Edward Ranney's images in LOCAL EIGHT both prominently feature New Mexico as a subject, but with exceedingly different intent, experience, and aesthetics. We reached out to Stillings and Ranney for some insight and information about their photographs and we're pleased to share their thoughts with you here. LOCAL EIGHT is on view through this Saturday, April 22nd.

  

photo-eye Gallery's LOCAL EIGHT is a diverse exhibition featuring work from represented artists who live in northern New Mexico. Jamey Stillings and Edward Ranney's images in LOCAL EIGHT both prominently feature New Mexico as a subject, but with exceedingly different intent, experience, and aesthetics. We reached out to Stillings and Ranney for some insight and information about their photographs and we're pleased to share their thoughts with you here.  LOCAL EIGHT is on view through this Saturday, April 22nd.

Jamey Stillings
© Jamey Stillings – #10183, 9 September 2015, Bisti Badlands, New Mexico 

"Since 2010, when I first photographed over Ivanpah Solar in the Mojave Desert of California, I have been working on a long-term project, CHANGING PERSPECTIVES, about renewable energy development. As this project gradually builds into a global project, I also want to document energy development closer to home in New Mexico.

The San Juan Basin of New Mexico is a region of incredible beauty and geologic diversity. The ancestral Pueblo peoples, who lived in and around Chaco Canyon and throughout the Basin from around 850 to 1250 A.D., represent an important example of a highly developed native culture in North America prior to European contact. The San Juan Basin is also a region with significant fossil fuel resources in the form of coal, petroleum and natural gas that have been tapped from the 1920's to the present.

© Jamey Stillings – #10292, 9 September 2015, Bisti Badlands, New Mexico 
© Jamey Stillings – #11071, 9 September 2015, Chaco Canyon, New Mexico 
As might be expected, the area's natural beauty, the livelihood of native and non-native peoples, and invaluable anthropological sites compete with our contemporary culture's thirst for energy. Energy exploration, mining, and drilling continue to encroach on limited water resources, scar the land, disrupt its natural beauty, and impact the region's people in complex ways, both positive and negative.

The work I shot over the San Juan Basin looked at the area's diversity from coal-fired power plants west of Farmington, to oil and natural gas exploration around Navajo Lake, to the protected lands of Chaco Culture National Historical Park and the Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness.

This group of four images selected for this exhibition shares the natural beauty of mystique of Chaco Canyon and the Bisti Badlands. While you may not have the opportunity to experience these incredible sites from the air, I hope you will make the point of visiting them and savoring their natural beauty on the ground."

–– Jamey Stillings



Edward Ranney
© Edward Ranney – Chaquaco, NM 1973–2017
"I was intrigued to learn recently, when asked to make some comments regarding the four photographs I had chosen to exhibit in photo-eye gallery’s recent show called “Local Eight”, that the pictures resonated, surprisingly, with a preoccupation of Dorothea Lange. Invited in 1957, toward the end of her working career, to teach a course at the California School of Fine Arts (now the San Francisco Art Institute), she often asked her students to make photographs in response to the question, “Where do I live?”.  Her interest was not to have her students make portraits, or depict human interaction, but to photograph the “most meaningful and personal place” of their environment, and in doing so to look inward, not away from themselves.

© Edward Ranney – Chaquaco, NM 1973–2017
© Edward Ranney – Chaquaco, NM 1973–2017

        Beginning in 1973, my wife and I settled at a rural homestead south of Santa Fe known as Chaquaco, previously occupied by cattle ranchers and earlier settlers who had raised sheep. While we raised our three daughters there, I photographed our life in this isolated setting, recording changes in the surrounding landscape and subtle nuances of light around the house, in the process becoming adept at using the large format camera in a way that has informed my work at ancient sites of the Andes. The pictures run the gamut from some surprising successes to many of inconsequence. But at their best, they correspond to a comment recollected by one of Lange’s students, as published by Milton Meltzer in his biography of Dorothea Lange." – Edward Ranney

        “We ought to know beyond a doubt that the things we look at in these pictures are the most important things in the world, that to the photographer this desk, this garden, is home. And by the time we have looked at all these pictures, we ought to feel that our own homes, our own hearts - by the view we have been given of the hearts of others - are not what they were when we began to look.” 
– Nancy Walker Katz As quoted in Dorothea Lange, A Photographer’s Life, by Milton Meltzer, pg 305, Farrar, Straus, Giroux, NY, 1978




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

LOCAL EIGHT is on view through this Saturday, April 22nd at photo-eye Gallery.

Book of the Week Book of the Week: A Pick by Forrest Soper Forrest Soper selects Ending by Leif Sandberg as Book of the Week.
EndingBy Leif SandbergBoecker Books, 2017.
Forrest Soper selects Ending by Leif Sandberg from Boecker Books as Book of the Week.

"At the age of 64, Leif Sandberg learned that he might have pancreatic cancer. Ending, Sandberg’s first monograph, is a poetic exploration of the thoughts and emotions that followed shortly after this news. Aside from a brief introductory statement and a 12-part poem by Bob Hansson in the back of the publication, the book is devoid of text, allowing the viewer to interpret the images in their own fashion and apply them to their own unique life experiences. Ultimately, Ending is a book that confronts the ideas of mortality, life, and those we choose to spend our time with.

The images in Ending are dark and full of emotion. Rather than create a journalistic document of his treatment process, Sandberg uses experimentation and manipulation to explore the emotions that arose in his mind. After a series of anxiety attacks, Sandberg used photography not only as a means of expression but also as a form of therapy and the result is incredibly powerful. Self-portraits with blurred faces and multiple exposures fall alongside stark photographs of reptile corpses. Throughout the book, flashes of color break the pattern in a book that is overwhelmingly black-and-white. It seems that whether Sandberg is in front or behind the lens, the entire body of work is heavy with performance, anxiety, fear, and intimacy.

Ending was recently chosen for the 2017 Kassel Photobook Award – The Expert’s Selection, and for good reason. This book is incredibly well designed. It has a pace and flow that is both intriguing and riveting. The sequencing is impeccable and there never seems to be a dull moment throughout the book. Most importantly the images don’t pretend to have any direct answers to the reader. In fact, after reading the book one may find that they have more questions than when they began the book. Ending is scheduled to have a following publication, Beyond the Mirror, and I cannot wait to see how Sandberg’s work progresses and evolves." — Forrest Soper

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EndingBy Leif SandbergBoecker Books, 2017.

EndingBy Leif SandbergBoecker Books, 2017.




Forrest Soper is a photographer and artist based out of Santa Fe, New Mexico. A graduate of the Santa Fe University of Art and Design, he also has previously worked at Bostick & Sullivan. Forrest is the Editor of photo-eye Blog.
http://forrestsoper.com/

Books Kassel Photobook Award 2017 Established in 2008, the Kassel Photobook Award reaches out to numerous distinguished professionals, asking them to select and provide a brief statement on a photobook of their choosing.

Kassel Photobook Award 2017 - The Experts Selection
Established in 2008, the Kassel Photobook Award reaches out to numerous distinguished photo-arts professionals, asking them to select and provide a brief statement on a photobook of their choosing. The post below highlights the books selected for the 2017 Award.

The Expert's Selection was made by Laia Abril, Martin Amis, Gerry Badger, Daniel Blaufuks, Tamara Berghmans, Pierre Bessard, David Campany, Chiara Capodici, Federica Chiocchetti, Rémi Coignet, Anatole Desachy, Yuan Di, Thobias Fäldt, John Gossage, Yumi Goto, Brian Griffin, Thomas Gust, Sebastian Hau, Rob Hornstra, Klara Källström, Volkan Kiziltunc, Eva-Maria Kunz, Jeffrey Ladd, Frederic Lezmi, Lesley Martin, Martin Parr, Markus Schaden, Markus Schaden, Willem van Zoetendaal, Laurence Vecten, Lars Willumeit, Zhang Xiao, Ekaterina Zueva, and Wolfgang Zurborn .

Book Review Louis Faurer By Louis Faurer Reviewed by Blake Andrews Nevertheless, at his peak, Faurer was a brilliant photographer, widely respected by peers. Steichen called him "a lyricist with a camera," and none other than Walter Hopps thought he might be the central figure of American photography in the period 1940 to 1955.
Louis Faurer By  Louis Faurer
Steidl/Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson, 2016. 
 
Louis Faurer
Reviewed by Blake Andrews.

Louis Faurer.
Photographs by Louis Faurer.
Steidl/Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson, Paris, France, 2016. 208 pp., 100 black-and-white illustrations, 6¾x9¼.

Poor Louis Faurer. If there were any justice in the photo world he might be as well known today as his former studio-mate, Robert Frank. But as it is, he's remembered as a second tier photographer if at all, his legacy mostly lost amid the glut of other mid-century humanists. It hasn't helped that he never published a monograph during his lifetime, or that his gritty style of streetwork careened increasingly toward the personal, and away from straight documentary. So he was working uphill to gain recognition. That's if he'd bothered. Instead, he followed his own muse, ditching the U.S. mid-career to live and work in Paris and Montreal, cementing his outsider status. By the time he returned to America in 1974 he'd been largely forgotten. What followed was an erratic succession of career boosts —an exhibition at Marlborough Gallery, an NEA Fellowship, a Guggenheim— interspersed with generally dimming prospects. Being struck by a car in 1984, an event that hobbled his photography, was perhaps the final nail in his reputation's coffin.

Louis Faurer By  Louis Faurer. Steidl/Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson, 2016.

Nevertheless, at his peak, Faurer was a brilliant photographer, widely respected by peers. Steichen called him "a lyricist with a camera," and none other than Walter Hopps thought he might be the central figure of American photography in the period 1940 to 1955. But one needn't take their word for it. A little while spent with his photographs should convince any doubters. The recent Steidl book Louis Faurer is as good a place to start as any. This concise retrospective of Faurer's best years is an exhibition catalogue of sorts, published in conjunction with last fall's show at the Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson in Paris. But unlike some exhibition catalogs, this feels less like an afterthought than a well-conceived monograph. In fact, it's very close to the book that Faurer should've made during his lifetime but never did.

Louis Faurer By  Louis Faurer. Steidl/Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson, 2016.

After introductory passages by Susan Kismaric, the aforementioned Hopps, and Faurer himself, a selection of 93 plates follows in roughly chronological order. For those already familiar with Faurer, many of these images will already be recognizable, but there are enough new images to keep everyone entertained. Most are shown on one side of a double page spread, facing tiny captions on the opposite page. Every so often a photo pairing across one spread breaks the pattern. This is a smallish book to begin with, and after each photo is given a healthy breadth of whitespace, the resulting reproductions are downright intimate, in the range of 4 x 5 inches apiece. While some photographers would suffer from scaling down, Faurer seems like a tailor-made fit. The diminutive quality recalls a former era before photographs had grown wall-sized. The reader is forced into close engagement, and the images reward that attention with revelatory fidelity.

Louis Faurer By  Louis Faurer. Steidl/Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson, 2016.

The photographs are selected from the late 1930s through the early 1950s. These years encompass the post-war period when Faurer moved to New York in 1947 and spent every day for the next few years shooting the streets. The constant activity honed Faurer to peak awareness, an intensity which comes through in the book's opening lines: "I have an intense desire to record life as I see it, as I feel it. As long as I’m amazed and astonished, as long as I feel that events, messages, expressions and movements are all shot through with the miraculous, I’ll feel filled with the certainty I need to keep going. When that day comes, my doubts will vanish." In New York he was a man on a mission, but the book takes its time reaching this period. Instead, it traces his development carefully through earlier photos made in his home of Philadelphia. These are competent yet somewhat ordinary, but Faurer was only getting started.

Louis Faurer By  Louis Faurer. Steidl/Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson, 2016.

His vision progresses quickly through the book's middle pages. By the time it's at full power, a section of roughly forty photographs in the book's latter half, the reader is wired to receive. By this point —the late 1940s— Faurer has harnessed the many tricks and quirks that set him apart: sandwiched negatives, reflections, misexposure, blur, a mastery of available night lighting, a nose for the offbeat. Faurer blended these elements into a peculiar visual stew with a decidedly personal edge.

A photograph taken in 1948 in Pennsylvania Station captures an intimate moment with the casual nonchalance of a poet. Another, out the back of a city bus the same year, has the impression of a slideshow on a dark curtain. The fencing of a construction site bewitches with its formal grace.

Louis Faurer By  Louis Faurer. Steidl/Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson, 2016.

Photos like these suggest that the further he ventured into New York, the more Faurer bent toward inward exploration. This was perhaps the thing that set him apart. For, while most of his colleagues were caught up capturing New York and the world, Faurer was expressing something internal. As Kismaric notes, it wasn't until 1967's New Documents show that a more personal tone would move to the documentary fore of the art world. If Faurer was early to the party, he didn't seem to mind. His New York photos have an understated, poetic quality, which could only have been made with blinders on.

Louis Faurer By  Louis Faurer. Steidl/Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson, 2016.

In designing this book Steidl has heeded the pitfalls and lessons of the only previous Faurer monograph. This was the eponymous Louis Faurer, published with The Museum of Fine Arts in Houston on the occasion of Faurer's last major retrospective in 2002, shorty after his death. In the Herculean effort to somehow encapsulate Faurer's oeuvre from scratch, that initial effort was perhaps doomed from the start. The result was a rambling, unfocused monograph, crammed with photos from across his career. Worst of all, the reproductions were muddy and posterized, a shame since Faurer was a notorious perfectionist in the darkroom. The Steidl book settles this issue with wonderful printing. While the 2002 book is still worth seeking out for Anne Wilkes Tucker's artist profile and scholarship, and for a selection of Faurer's color work, the Steidl edition is an improvement in most areas and should be considered the definite book on Faurer for now. — Blake Andrews


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BLAKE ANDREWS is a photographer based in Eugene, OR. He writes about photography at blakeandrews.blogspot.com.

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photo-eye Gallery Interview: James Pitts photo-eye Gallery is delighted to have five of James Pitts stunning platinum palladium prints included in our current exhibition LOCAL EIGHT, and Gallery Associate Savannah Sakry asked James to elaborate on his personal seeds as an artist and his thoughts in the studio.

Dried Clematis Blossom, 1995 © James Pitts | Platinum/Palladium Print, 10x8", Ed. of 25, $750

photo-eye Gallery is delighted to have five of James Pitts stunning platinum palladium prints included in our current exhibition LOCAL EIGHT. The work is not to be missed if you are in Santa Fe and have yet to see these remarkably elegant still lifes in person. "Flowers" is an ongoing series of which Pitts collects various flora and backdrops to set the stage for his large formant view camera.  His results are classic, timeless photographic works of art, beautifully frozen in platinum. Gallery Associate Savannah Sakry asked James to elaborate on his personal seeds as an artist and his thoughts in the studio.

Savannah Sakry: Where did your appreciation of art begin, how did you come to photography?

James Pitts: I grew up in a small town in Alabama, it was actually a very cosmopolitan place because all the German scientists from the missile program came there. My best friend's father was a friend of Von Braun's and worked for Von Braun. There were a lot of those guys in Huntsville and they brought an element of sophistication which probably wasn't in any other city, especially that size. My grandmother didn't go to college, or high school. Well, she graduated high school, but she got married when she was 16. She had some kind of innate knowledge about direction and culture that she wanted to give to me, and I guess I was more receptive than my sister and my brother to it, so that's where the camera came from, probably a Christmas present. I took art classes from the museum because of her and she gave me music lessons, piano lessons. My grandmother was extremely loving and so my whole aesthetic I think was formed really early by living at my grandmother's house which is antebellum, a beautiful, large home. She liked nice things so there were antiques everywhere and wool oriental-type rugs and it was just, you know, very nice. So my love of art started with her.

SS: When did you discover Platinum printing? 

JP: The summer of '80. One of the last classes that I had at art school, a guy named Kevin Wrigley came and he did a workshop on platinum printing. And I fell in love with it. I only saw half the workshop so I missed out on a bunch of stuff, technical stuff but I was just in love with that process. I had saved up and decided I was either going to buy an enlarger or a large format camera. I decided to get the large format camera, which was fortuitous. We moved to New Mexico and then I started trying to find out how to make platinum prints and it wasn't easy. There was really no information out there and I didn't know anybody, other than seeing this workshop. But after a period of time, I found web sources that had the materials and started to be able to do that. I worked in a camera store for a year and bought an 8 x 10 camera.

Bottle With Sharon's Seeds, 1998 © James Pitts | Platinum/Palladium Print, 9.5x7.5", Ed. of 25, $750

SS: How did you arrive at photographing flowers? 

JP: I met John Stevenson, I showed him my work, he liked it. He was real interested in platinum stuff and he was having a show on flowers. That's why I started photographing flowers because of that show and then I just kind of enjoyed it. It was kind of an excuse to make pictures and a theme without having to search for it. Everything is there. It's not really about the flowers so much for me, it's about the composition, all the formal elements of art.

SS: Interesting, I had in my head you must have this remarkable relationship with flowers. But it's not so much the flowers themselves as it is composing the piece?

JP: I love taking pictures. I never get tired of doing that. I don't have enough time to do it. So it's a structured way of doing it. It's not that I'm not in love with the flower or the object of nature, it's just a structured way of working.

SS: They're a perfect model for you, right? I mean, especially if you studied painting and drawing, you can really craft the composition, set the stage in a very attainable way.

JP: Well, it is a stage. I mean that's kind of what I think about it is being, this stage. It's problematic, it has its challenges. Flowers don't stay still. Light doesn't stay still. Finding different backgrounds to not keep repeating myself, that's hard.

SS: Tell me a little about your backgrounds. Are you always searching for them? 

JP: Yeah, I'm always looking for something that might be interesting and might be not obvious. There's one background I've used a lot, which is this old cigar box covered with tin on the inside that used to sit in my grandmother's kitchen. It has a kind of rusted metal interior and as you move it, it has all kinds of different ways of looking. I wish I could find something else that is equally good but I haven't. That has a chameleon kind of quality so it doesn't always look exactly the same unless you know what you're looking for I guess. Objects that I think have nice shapes. I mean, a bottom line to me, it has to be to my aesthetic, appealing. It has to be something that's interesting to look at for me.

Clover Flower, 1994 © James Pitts | Platinum Palladium Print, 10x8", Ed. of 50, $750 
SS: I think you're driving home this previous quote "The photographs are largely about order and control. For example, the utilization of formal, classical, compositional tools to structure an ideal representation of reality. This is how I want the world to be, rather than the way it is." 

JP: Yeah, I'll still hold to that.

SS: That doesn't surprise me. In your work there's certainly a minimalistic quality but also this quiet and sense of control. I mean, everything is very directed. Nothing is by accident. Doesn't sound like you leave any room for that. I love your use of light. Who have been your influences, either painters or photographers? 

JP: Well, Matisse, Diebenkorn, Cy Twombly, those are three painters I really like a lot. Paul Klee earlier ...  I mean, I've been through a lot of phases of people's work I like but those three, Diebenkorn, Paul Klee, and...

SS: Matisse. 

JP: Yeah, Matisse, I never get tired of looking at.

SS: Yeah, me neither. 

JP: And Cy Twombly, I just, I love his work. As far as photographers, August Sander, Diane Arbus, I think, early on I was really influenced by Harry Callahan to some degree and Aaron Siskind.

SS: I can see the impact those artists have had for you, would you say there is also an Asian influence in your work?

JP: I think I have this affinity with simplicity, which is kind of Zen.

-------------------------------------

Two Garlic Flowers in Japanese Vase, 1999 ©James Pitts | Platinum/Palladium Print, 10x8", Ed. of 50, $750 


James Pitts' platinum/palladium works are on view at photo-eye Gallery through April 22nd, 2017. Please inquire with Gallery Staff regarding Pitts' extraordinary handmade artist books. For more information or to purchase prints, please call 505.988.5152 x202.


About LOCAL EIGHT:

Northern New Mexico and Santa Fe is home to a vast, varied and thriving artist community. Local Eight is a group show focused on the diversity of style represented by eight area photographers exhibiting wide-ranging conceptual and material practices.

Book of the Week Book of the Week: A Pick by Keenan McCracken Keenan McCracken selects Red Flower: The Women of Okinawa by Mao Ishikawa as Book of the Week.

Red Flower: The Women of Okinawa
 By Mao Ishikawa. Session Press, 2017.
Keenan McCracken selects Red Flower: The Women of Okinawa by Mao Ishikawa from Session Press as Book of the Week.


Book Review American Mystic By Ralph Eugene Meatyard. Reviewed by Christopher J Johnson A mystic is one who operates beyond sense, finding that the sense of a thing is something that is inherent in the experience of it; a mystic doesn’t observe and internalize and recapitulate, instead they take on the world like a sieve, never standing in the way, but rather routing the flow; a mystic is less the equals sign in an equation than they are a megaphone for a whispered thing.

American Mystic. By Ralph Eugene Meatyard 
Fraenkel Gallery, 2017.
 
American Mystic.
Reviewed by Christopher J Johnson

American Mystic.
Photographs by Ralph Eugene Meatyard. Text by Alexander Nemerov. Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco, USA, 2017. In English. 110 pp., 48 black-and-white illustrations, 9½x11".


“For according to the outward man, we are in this world, and according to the inward man, we are in the inward world.... Since then we are generated out of both worlds, we speak in two languages, and we must be understood also by two languages.”— Jakob Böhme

This is the statement of a mystic, it hinges on a duality and the truth it offers is no simple truth, but a truth that leads to an expansion of understanding and, finally, more questions; this is the work of a mystic.

A mystic is one who operates beyond sense, finding that the sense of a thing is something that is inherent in the experience of it; a mystic doesn’t observe and internalize and recapitulate, instead they take on the world like a sieve, never standing in the way, but rather routing the flow; a mystic is less the equals sign in an equation than they are a megaphone for a whispered thing.

American Mystic. By Ralph Eugene Meatyard. Fraenkel Gallery, 2017.

For when we think of the internal world and the external world and the seed by which they, together, branch out from (experience) we would do well to think of Meatyard, his works and his processes. His practice was to use his photographs as autorefractors, to present with every image a slightly different lens and ask, “And now? Better? Or, worse? – And now… and now?” And through the tiny hole of his autorefractor, we see what? A mask? A poet? A translator? A teacher? A monk? A family member? – “Better or worse?” The world as it is, but yet this is is only what seems to be – and the final is-ness is determined by the eye being tested, the one for whom the vision is internalized and, somehow, different from any other eye’s method of seeing.

Just the fact that no one seems to be able to supply a direct and commonly accepted answer to the aims of Meatyard’s photographic works only strengthens this comparison to a mystic; his works are contradictions solidified in an image; the beauty of family, with the difficulty of it, at the same time, right at the surface – not hidden, but not marring that beauty either – again, the work of a mystic…

American Mystic. By Ralph Eugene Meatyard. Fraenkel Gallery, 2017.

What then is American Mystic in relation to Meatyard, it is an attempt by pieces to fit together a puzzle; to assemble an image of the whole from several and disparate photographs, ephemera and facts. Alexander Nemerov presents a Meatyard prayer book, but these prayers aren’t prayers in the liturgical sense, they are prayers by their brevity and simplicity; they are attempts to elucidate in digestible bites the enigma of this self-taught photographer, PTA member, optician, failed dentist, bibliophile and father.

However, this task is impossible. While Nemerov is able to shed light, he must, nonetheless, express himself through his own eye, through the refraction of Nemerov focusing on Meatyard. Nemerov is able to offer some “ah-ha” moments along the way, but ultimately the book leaves one with more questions than answers – this may be the inevitable outcome for any who seek to offer clarity to Meatyard; a man of three, not two worlds: the one that is and the one that seems and the truth that exists between them.

American Mystic. By Ralph Eugene Meatyard. Fraenkel Gallery, 2017.

However, that said, this is an indispensable volume for Meatyard scholars to come, identifying people and locations within the photographer’s oeuvre and expanding upon the personal ephemera of the photographer through Nemerov’s investigations of the photographer’s library and other personal effects.

If by the end of your encounter with American Mystic you feel expanded, and yet filled with more questions at the same time, then I’d say you’ve successfully descended into Meatyard’s photographs and that Nemerov has done his bit; now you understand, “better? Or, worse?” — Christopher J Johnson

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CHRISTOPHER J. JOHNSON lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico. He is a resident writer for the Meow Wolf art collective. His first book of poetry, &luckier, has been released by the University of Colorado. He is Manager of photo-eye’s Book Division.

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photo-eye Gallery From Local Eight: Works by Steve Fitch and Edward Ranney Represented artists Steve Fitch and Edward Ranney share insights about their process as well as some behind-the-photo stories for two works included in photo-eye Gallery's group exhibition LOCAL EIGHT – on view at photo-eye Gallery through Saturday, April 22nd.




photo-eye Gallery's current exhibition LOCAL EIGHT features a diverse selection of works from a passionate community of represented artists living in Nothern New Mexico. Even though Steve Fitch and Edward Ranney, two of the eight photographers featured in LOCAL EIGHT, both create anthropologically-based landscape images using large-format cameras their fundamentals, intentions, and experience are wildly different. 

Ranney's images are distanced and lyrical observations primarily focused around humanity's impact on the natural world, while Fitch trains his keen and detailed eye on the eccentricities within an environment people make for themselves. Both sets of prints are beautiful and fascinating. photo-eye Gallery is excited to share insights from both Ranney and Fitch about their process as well as some behind-the-photo information for a couple of the works included in LOCAL EIGHT – on view at photo-eye Gallery through Saturday, April 22nd.

STEVE FITCH

Royal Motel, Highway 66, Elk City, Oklahoma, 1973 – © Steve Fitch
"In 1972 after I had been making pictures along the highway for about a year I reflected upon all the pictures that I had made so far and realized that something was missing. I had photographed tourists, truck stops, motels, billboards, truck drivers and waitresses, snake-pits and dinosaurs but some crucial aspect of the American highway was missing. It dawned on me that I needed to make some photographs at night. So much of the experience of traveling our highways had to do with driving at night, listening to funky AM radio stations and pulling into towns that you could see coming twenty miles away because of all the neon. So, on the next highway trip, I decided to try making some photographs at night—something that I was not even sure was possible. In Deadwood, South Dakota I spotted a homely little motel at dusk, with a row of bare light bulbs and a neon sign. Through the window, I could see a neon-rimmed clock. Over the next hour, as it got dark, I shot a roll and a half of 120 film, bracketing my exposures. Two weeks later, back in Berkeley, I developed the film and was excited. The photographs of that motel looked great! I picked one to print and it is in Diesels and Dinosaurs. I love the quality of light at dusk and in this photograph, the clock visible through the window tells me what time the photograph was made (8:20), and the second hand is blurred for about a second so it also tells me how long the exposure was. Ever since I have been very fond of photographs with clocks in them!"
– Steve Fitch


EDWARD RANNEY

Wastwater from Whinn Rigg, Cumbria, England, 1981 – © Edward Ranney

"Northern England, of course, is an entirely different world from Peru’s desert, and I made the picture of Wastwater over 20 years earlier than the desert picture. Nevertheless, the same outlook regarding vantage point is relevant, especially in an area where quickly changing weather can give one an unexpected insight at a particular spot, or render a successful picture impossible. I considered rather carefully the conditions that would keep me from getting drenched by rain as I hiked up the area near Scafell Pikes and Great Gable in the western sector of the Lake District and found that by prowling around the cliff above Wastwater, there were hints of light conditions and vantage points that might give me something special. It took some time, but the structure for the image gradually developed and finally became clear from a certain spot, much as a drawing might develop as one sketches in the landscape. In addition, I saw the shapes of the fields below to be of some importance, along with the role the elegant little house plays in the picture. Different elements can play integral parts in a successful landscape, but overall what we’re after, I suppose, is a view that can help us discover what Robert Adams suggests is the 'significance of a place.' Hopefully, that is open to as many interpretations as there are viewers of the picture."
—Edward Ranney

Read Lucas Shaffer's 2014 interview with Edward Ranney
Purchase Books by Edward Ranney
View LOCAL EIGHT


LOCAL EIGHT: Works by New Mexico Artists
On view through Saturday, April 22nd

For more information, and to purchase prints, please contact Gallery staff at 505-988-5152 x 202

About LOCAL EIGHT:
Northern New Mexico and Santa Fe is home to a vast, varied and thriving artist community. Local Eight is a group show focused on the diversity of style represented by eight area photographers exhibiting wide-ranging conceptual and material practices.

The artist excerpts from this post were originally authored by photo-eye Gallery as promotional content during solo exhibitions for Fitch and Ranney.

Book of the Week Book of the Week: A Pick by Christopher J Johnson Christopher J Johnson selects Comme Un Murmure/ Like a Whisper by Normand Rajotte as Book of the Week.

Book of the Week Book of the Week: A Pick by Christopher J Johnson Christopher J Johnson selects Comme Un Murmure/ Like a Whisper by Normand Rajotte as Book of the Week.
Comme un murmure / Like A Whisper.
 By Normand Rajotte. Kehrer Verlag, 2016.
Christopher J Johnson selects Comme Un Murmure/ Like a Whisper by Normand Rajotte from Kehrer Verlag as Book of the Week.


Book Review The Flying Carpet By Cesare Fabbri Reviewed by Karen Jenkins “Mined from his native Ravenna and the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy over a ten year period, Fabbri’s photographs speak to one of art’s wonderful assertions: to make the strange familiar and the familiar strange."
The Flying CarpetBy Cesare Fabbri. Mack, 2017.
 
The Flying Carpet
Reviewed by Karen Jenkins

The Flying Carpet.
Photographs by Cesare Fabbri.
Mack, London, England, 2017. 72 pp., color illustrations, 9½x11½".


photo-eye Gallery Zoë Zimmerman on Her Dream In an interview, represented artist Zoë Zimmerman speaks about collaborating with her daughter on the seies Her Dream.

Represented artist Zoë Zimmerman in her Taos, NM studio – image: Paul O'Connor

Currently on display at photo-eye Gallery as part of the LOCAL EIGHT exhibition is a selection of new images from Zoe Zimmerman's ongoing series Her Dream.  LOCAL EIGHT is a group exhibition of photographs featuring eight represented artists from Santa Fe and Northern New Mexico and will be on view through April 22nd. Zimmerman’s images from Her Dream are photographed using a large format camera in her studio in Taos, NM in collaboration with her daughter. In honor of the new images and the exhibition, I caught up with Zoe to discuss this fantastic ongoing series.  – Anne Kelly


Book of the Week Book of the Week: A Pick by Christopher J Johnson Christopher J Johnson selects Cerro Gordo by David Black as Book of the Week.
Cerro Gordo. By David Black. Hat & Beard Press, 2016.
Christopher J Johnson selects Cerro Gordo by David Black from Hat & Beard Press as Book of the Week.