Social Media

photot-eye is pleased to announce the newest addition to the Photographers Showcase -- Daniel Traub and his portfolio Lots.

Lot, North Forty Ninth Street near Fairmount Avenue, West Philadelphia, 201  -- Daniel Traub
Though he now splits his time between New York and Shanghai, Daniel Traub grew up in Philadelphia. Traub's mother, Lily Yeh, founded The Village of Arts and Humanities in North Philadelphia, and through this community organization Traub experienced a unique and inmate view of the neighborhood. It is a view that makes his images of the city especially compelling, as he has returned to document the decaying neighborhoods of the inner-city. Lots is Traub's typological study of Philadelphia, images of vacant lots sandwiched between buildings, in the process of being reclaimed by nature. Traub has approached this subject with care, apparently remaining committed to certain compositional rules: all photographs reveal a horizon or sky, the frame is always divided into thirds where the outer two sides show existing structures while from the center spring organic life. 
Tree, North Fifteenth and West Boston Street, North Philadelphia, 2010 -- Daniel Traub
One of the most compelling elements in Traub’s work is the duality between the existence of man and the spaces that nature has reclaimed. Because the photographs are weighted in thirds, the eye tends to try to dissect each aspect individually. Examining the outer structures, I feel a bit like an anthropologist, hunting for clues through the debris and rubble of lives once lived in what are now broken and abandoned homes. But as my eyes scan through the remains they settle and begin to explore the open and “abandoned” space; land that has been reclaimed by nature. The empty lots are like missing teeth in the smile of the city -- gaps where infrastructure has failed, and nature takes over. Despite the fact that these landscapes have been realized through poverty and neglect, it is difficult to avoid the beauty of plant life growing to fill the empty spaces. It is this aspect that makes Traub’s work a celebration; the city is teeming with life, the plants providing a metaphor and glimmer of hope for the urban spaces could be. 
Lot, Westminster Avenue near North Markoe Street, West Philadelphia, 2010 -- Daniel Traub
Click here to view Daniel Traub’s series Lots. For more information about Traub’s work or to purchase prints, please contact photo-eye Gallery Associate Director Anne Kelly or call the gallery at (505) 988-5152 x202

Jamey Stillings signing copies of The Bridge at Hoover Dam at Nazraeli Press
Jamey Stillings – Book Signing & Artist Talk
photo-eye Gallery, 376-A Garcia Street, Santa Fe, NM 87501
Saturday, December 3rd, 2011 from 3-5 pm
Contact: Anne Kelly 505-988-5152 x121 or

photo-eye gallery is pleased to announce the publication of Jamey Stillings’ new book by Nazraeli Press. In celebrating photo-eye will be hosting a book signing and artist talk at photo-eye Gallery on Saturday, December 3rd from 3-5 pm. The new monograph, The Bridge at Hoover Dam, is a beautifully produced book that captures the rich hues of the desert and the spectacular grandeur of the bridge in a rightly over-sized format.

"In March of 2009, amidst the rumblings of a global financial crisis that was to shape zeitgeist for years to come, Jamey Stillings set out on a road trip to reinvigorate his creative spirit. What he encountered would captivate, challenge and amaze him. Like a child suddenly finding himself before the world's largest erector set, Jamey had discovered the Bridge at Hoover Dam. Instantly, he knew he would dedicate himself to exploring and documenting construction of the bridge through its completion. Over the course of two years and set against the cultural and economic backdrop of our time, Jamey created a body of work that echoes the Bridge in its ability to simultaneously celebrate the power of human spirit and ingenuity while inviting an examination of the intersection of nature and the hand of man." -- from the publisher's description

Purchase a copy of Bridge at Hoover Dam here
See Jamey Stillings' work at photo-eye Gallery here

from Bridge at Hoover Dam by Jamey Stillings
Jamey Stillings was just interviewed about his Bridge at Hoover Dam project on KSFR's Santa Fe Radio Cafe with Mary-Charlotte. Listen to the interview here.
Spring Snow, 2008 and Damme Canal, 2010 by Michael Levin were chosen as PDN's photograph(s) of the day this past Thanksgiving!  PDN Photo of the Day is a daily selection by the photo editors at Photo District News.  You can view the post here. Congratulations Michael!

We'll be showing more of Levin's work in Continuum, an exhibition of images opening at photo-eye Gallery on December 16th. You can view more work from our upcoming exhibition here.

For more information please contact Anne Kelly at by calling the gallery at 505-988-5152 x202
Ciociaria, Photographs by Douglas Stockdale.
Published by Punctum Press, 2011.
Reviewed by Karen Jenkins
Douglas Stockdale Ciociaria
Photographs by Douglas Stockdale. Texts by Douglas Stockdale & Marco Delogu
Punctum Press, 2011. Hardbound. 96 pp., 50 color illustrations, 9-3/4x8".

Douglas Stockdale spends a lot of time looking at and thoughtfully writing about books of contemporary photography as a fellow reviewer for this magazine and as founder of The PhotoBook blog among other projects. His own photography has now been collected in his first commercial book, Ciociaria from Rome's Punctum Editions. It contains nearly fifty color photographs born of Stockdale's travels over the course of a year through central Italy, and specifically in the Ciociaria region. Named for the ancient ciocie sandal traditionally worn there, Ciociaria is notable for its paucity of known history. Stockdale's photographs are presented in a spare, conservative design, which suits them, and are accompanied by two short essays that contain some engaging content, but ultimately frustrated me more than they enhanced my enjoyment of the work.

Ciociaria, by Douglas Stockdale. Published by Punctum Press, 2011.
Stockdale and Punctum's Marco Delogu strive to detail how the photographer navigated this largely foreign place as a "photographer-flaneur." A dichotomy is suggested between this variation on street photography and unpopulated landscape or topographical views. In this guise, Stockdale rejects both narrative reportage and the purely picturesque. He instead delves in between – seeking places where the strange becomes familiar and the familiar strange – creating touchstones of personal symbolism that transcend the particulars of Ciociaria. Within this realm, Stockdale takes a deadpan look at the human-altered landscape, finding in the banal a cross-cultural link to broader metaphorical meaning. Yet the book is also studded with heavily lyrical images (not least of which is the final view of a misty, open road). How this strategy may ultimately foment meaning is nevertheless somewhat hard to extract from Stockdale's and Delogu's essays that are weighed down by some cumbersome language and grammatical errors. 

Ciociaria, by Douglas Stockdale. Published by Punctum Press, 2011.
Ciociaria, by Douglas Stockdale. Published by Punctum Press, 2011.
What I liked best about these photographs is how simply they capture the relentless and sometimes beautiful, sometimes bewildering encroachment of the natural world on man-made environments. I find Stockdale to be a keen observer of how people attempt to compartmentalize and contain nature for both practical use and domestic enjoyment. Throughout Ciociaria nature is carpet, canopy, curtain – served up as potted plants and rolls of grain. When humans do occasionally appear in Stockdale's photographs, they are on a diminutive scale and more than once seem to be found in perplexed contemplation of the pruned forms and boxed lawns of their own devising. Garlands of laundry, rumpled banners, and fences in various states of dominance over the wild and cultivated string image to image. A theme of the memorial also emerges, wherein nature is shown as an inextricable part of how we commemorate loss and reckon with the passing of time, seen here in wilted bouquets, neglected fountains and shrines embedded in the rolling hillsides. I'm not certain that I took away from this volume an understanding of Ciociaria, but then again, that may not have been the point. I will stay tuned for what Stockdale does to follow up on these enticing images and plan to return to them again to see what I may have missed.—KAREN JENKINS

purchase book

KAREN JENKINS earned a Master's degree in Art History, specializing in the History of Photography from the University of Arizona. She has held curatorial positions at the Center for Creative Photography in Tucson, AZ and the Demuth Museum in Lancaster, PA. Most recently she helped to debut a new arts project, Art in the Open Philadelphia, that challenges contemporary artists to reimagine the tradition of creating works of art en plein air for the 21st century.
Cell-Lightning: Dundee, Texas -- Mitch Dobrowner
Currently on display at photo-eye is a group exhibition which includes a few new storm photographs by Mitch Dobrowner. Dobrowner, who was originally known for his landscape photography, started chasing and photographing storms in 2009. Though Dobrowner’s first group of storm photographs are beyond breathtaking I feel like the new images have somehow managed to gain power. I asked him to tell us a little more about the recent storm work. As an extra treat, Dobrowner has included a few short iPhone videos from the locations of his shoots.
Enjoy! -Anne Kelly

Anne Kelly: You have been photographing storms for a few years now. How has your work changed (visually and technically) since you first started?

Mitch Dobrowner: I think (visually and technically) both have changed over time. They've changed because I've changed. When I first started the project I did my research... but soon realized that I wasn't totally prepared for what I was in store for. The first storm system I witnessed seemed so surreal to me - I couldn't believe what I was looking at. It was those first few days that I realized shooting storm systems required a completely different frame of visualization. I had to turn into part landscape photographer and part sports photographer. Things were happening so fast around me most times I had to make decisions about composition, focus, exposure within seconds - which is unlike my landscapes work which is more meditative and evolves at a much slower pace. But today after three years, 50,000+ miles and 17 states (approx) out there in Tornado Alley I'm much more relaxed about it all... I kinda know what to expect. Now I get into a place where things feel like they're in slow motion when photographing storms, similar to the way I've felt when shooting my landscapes.
Veil: Buffalo, South Dakota -- Mitch Dobronwer
AK: How has storm chasing impacted your non storm landscape work?

MD: It's made me hungry for it. I love shooting storms but my landscape work will always be my foundation. Besides my family it's my first love. I guess you can say that when I photograph storm systems I get to hear my heart beat because of the adrenalin rush; but when I'm out shooting landscapes I hear my heart beat because it quiets my soul. Based on that, I believe my best landscape work is still yet to come.
Storm chasing in Wyoming

Location video for Moonrise Trona, 2009

Storm Chasing in Nebraska

See more of Mitch Dobrowner’s work here For more information, please contact photo-eye Gallery Associate Director Anne Kelly by email or by calling the gallery at (505) 988-5152 x202
Photographer's Showcase artist Jason DeMarte opens Panacea, an exhibition at the Detroit Center for Contemporary Photography at the Russel Industrial Center in Detroit on Saturday December 3rd with an opening reception from 6-9pm. The exhibition features work from DeMarte's latest body of work entitled Nature Preserve.

Utopic, DeMarte's body of work on the Photographer's Showcase, is an investigation into our perceptions of the natural and consumer worlds.
Ambiguous Object of Desire -- Jason DeMarte
"Utopic investigates how the artificial nature of our modern day interpretation of the natural world compares to the way we approach our immediate consumer world. I am interested in modes of representing the natural world through events and objects that have been fabricated or taken out of context. This unnatural experience of the so-called 'natural' world is reflected in the way we, as modern consumers, ingest products. What becomes clear is that the closer we come to mimicking the natural world, the further away we separate ourselves from it." -- Jason DeMarte

See more of Jason DeMarte's work on the Photographer's Showcase here

Fritz Liedtke's work at Blue Sky Gallery
Photographer's Showcase Artist Fritz Liedtke just opened a show at Blue Sky Gallery in Portland OR. Liedtke's series Astra Velum is a series of beautiful photogravures of women with freckled skin. Today, the photogravure is a seldom used process, but one that Liedtke feels holds special advantages.

"I’ve used photogravure for this series for several reasons. First, in the digital age, I feel more and more distant from the handmade quality of photography — the manual labor of developing film and dodging and burning prints. But even darkroom work created a product that was made by hand, but showed no evidence of it. For this reason I’m drawn to processes like tintype, encaustic, and photogravure, which show clear evidence of the artist’s involvement with the final product." -- Fritz Liedtke

Liedtke gave a talk about his work and process at Blue Sky Gallery. Learn more about Leidtke's process and see more of his work here.
See the photo-eye Blog post on Liedtke here
See Liedtke's limited edition portfolio of prints here

Congratulations to Photographer's Showcase artist Larry Louie, who is one of the six finalists for the book prize in photolucida's Critical Mass. His project focuses on Dhaka, Bangladesh, an area of high urban population growth unable to sustain the housing, work and infrastructure demands put on it by the ever increasing population. You can see the work here.
Opening of the Temple Door -- Larry Louie
Louie's work on the Photographer's Showcase is a series of images from Tibet, titled Tibetans: The Struggle for Cultural Preservation. His statement speaks to both bodies of work, but also to who Louie is as a photographer.

"I am constantly amazed by the ethnic and cultural diversity I see in our world on my travels: from our gender to our skin colors to our race and our religion, and the differences in our languages, beliefs, and customs. Increasingly, I feel an urgency to document people in areas of the world threatened by urbanization and globalization – places where traditional ways of life, ancient knowledge and customs, languages and identities are disappearing at an alarming rate. People often talk about endangered species and the loss of biodiversity in nature. Some are beginning to notice the threat to the diversity of cultures. The changes brought on by rapid industrialization and urbanization affect not only animal and plant species – societies that have been around for thousands of years are also at risk. " -- Larry Louie

See more of Larry Louie's work here

For more information on Jason DeMarte, Fritz Liedtke, Larry Louie or any other photo-eye artist, contact Anne Kelly, photo-eye Gallery Associate Director by email or by calling the gallery at (505) 988-5152 x202
Dies Irea, Photographs by Paolo Pellegrin.
Published by Contrasto, 2011.
Dies Irae
Reviewed by Joscelyn Jurich
Paolo Pellegrin Dies Irae
Photographs by Paolo Pellegrin
Contrasto, 2011. Hardbound. 208 pp., Black & white and color images throughout, 9-3/4x12".

I felt compelled to listen to the 13th century hymn Dies Irae while looking at Paolo Pellegrin's collection of the same name. The hymn's first lines describe the apocalyptic world the listener is about to enter: Dies iræ! Dies illa/Solvet sæclum in favilla:Teste David cum Sibylla! (Day of wrath! O day of mourning! See fulfilled the prophets' warning, Heaven and earth in ashes burning!). Pellegrin brings viewers into mournful, wrathful worlds that are man and nature made: West Bank violence, the Kosovo and Iraq wars, Hurricane Katrina, the Indonesian tsunami. Only a few photographs of individuals' struggle for life in the face of personal and collective destruction – a mother and child fleeing violence, an injured Cambodian soldier being comforted by his wife -- provide a redemptive respite from an otherwise relentlessly violent, disrupted and disruptive reality.

The collection displays Pellegrin's astonishingly wide-ranging portrayals of contemporary global apocalypse: organized chronologically, it begins with his photographs of Cambodia (1998) and includes sections on Kosovo (1999-2001), Iraq (2003), Darfur (2004), Palestine / West Bank (2002-2004), New Orleans (2005), the Indonesian Tsunami (2005), Gaza (2005), Haiti (1995 -2010), Afghanistan and Lebanon (2006), Iran (2009), and concludes with Palestine / Gaza (2009). All of the photographs, save for those of Hurricane Katrina, are black and white, which Pellegrin associates with universal experience (as contrasted with the immediacy of experience, which he shoots in color.) A thoughtful and extensive interview with Pellegrin by Contrasto founder Roberto Koch concludes the collection.

Dies Irae, by Paolo Pellegrin. Published by Contrasto, 2011.
Uniting these disparate times, places and contexts is what Pellegrin describes as his commitment to "a concerned photography…a humanistic photography." Even Pellegrin's photographs of spaces without people are humanizing in their emphasis on the absence of human presence: a destroyed village in Sudan, whose landscape shows only the barest remnants of human presence; the rooms of a hospital in New Orleans where a calendar, a crucifix, a page from a child's coloring book decay on the mold-speckled walls.

Dies Irae, by Paolo Pellegrin. Published by Contrasto, 2011.
Many of Pellegrin's most intensely humanizing individual and group portraits possess a Baroque sense of dynamism, immediacy and intimacy. The photograph of women at a funeral in Kosovo is a close-up portrait of a dramatic moment, crowded with faces and gestures. Mourners' hands form a chain that leads up to a young woman grieving. Her anguished face, eyes shut and mouth half open, is held in the hand of another woman who seems to be preventing her imminent collapse. The portrait of Phanna, a 24 year-old Cambodian AIDS victim, is an intimate psychological study of her bathed in a light and darkness reminiscent of a Georges La Tour painting. The cover, a grainy, blurred image of young Palestinian mourning her child, captures the height of the emotional moment, a moment that for Pellegrin is often ultimately the decisive moment.

Dies Irae, by Paolo Pellegrin. Published by Contrasto, 2011.
The collection's organization also emphasizes the deeply expressive power of Pellegrin's photographs by separating their informative captions (listed at the end) from the images themselves. Displaying them without text infuses the book with an explosive quietude that might well have been lacking if text and image were combined. It also makes the viewer responsible for seeking out the precise details about images that may otherwise be highly ambiguous: the frontispiece photograph shows a group of soldiers surrounding a man lying on the ground – are they helping him, hurting him, arresting him? There is no way of knowing by just looking. Pellegrin seems to want the viewer to suffer these questions, and then seek the answers.

"I happen to think of photography as a foreign language," says Pellegrin. "The question isn't how to take good photos, it's how to take photographs that succeed to do a number of things simultaneously: to document, to transmit information, and to strike a chord emotionally." Pellegrin's images have the rare ability to communicate on these multiple levels: as evidence, as information and as emotion. 

Dies Irae, by Paolo Pellegrin. Published by Contrasto, 2011.
Perhaps nowhere is this more powerfully or more painfully revealed than in the last series of photographs from Palestine, almost all of which show Palestinian children gravely injured by the Israeli army. The first image in the series is of Palestine Tambura, 15, seriously injured by Israeli shelling; she stands alone against an expansive blank wall, her face and eyes downcast and partially sheltered by her hijab as she lifts her pant leg to reveal a punctured leg that has been operated on five times.

"My duty – my responsibility – is to create an archive of our collective memory," says Pellegrin. If Dies Irae is an archive of our contemporary collective memory, it is a record so barbarous and so brutal that the viewer can only hope – if even futilely – that Pellegrin's future archives will not look exactly like this one.—JOSCELYN JURICH

purchase book

JOSCELYN JURICH is a freelance journalist and critic whose work has appeared in numerous publications, including Bookforum, Publishers Weekly and the Village Voice. Jurich is currently a Fellow at the Writers' Institute at the City University of New York.
Real Fake Art by Michael Wolf
Wandering through a gallery whose collection I wasn’t well acquainted with, I happened into a room where several Francis Bacon paintings hung. Completely unprepared for my reaction, I found myself grateful for the bench conveniently placed right in front of them. Bacon’s paintings are raw and powerful, disturbing and emotionally arresting. They are paintings that make me stop in my tracks, which makes it all the more odd to see Bacon’s Study after Velázquez's Portrait of Pope Innocent X in a narrow alley, held up by a sweet faced young woman who stands nearly a foot shorter than the canvas. It is Bacon’s painting — or rather, it is his composition, his subject, very nearly his color choices -- but the painting in this image was produced by the woman who holds it. Real Fake Art by Michael Wolf is full of uncanny views like this — the paintings of Roy Lichtenstein, Vincent van Gogh, Edward Hopper and even a few photographs from the likes of Bernd and Hilla Becher and William Eggleston, held by the person who has painted them — a man or woman in the village of Dafen, near Shenzhen China.

From Real Fake Art by Michael Wolf
Michael Wolf has long proven his adeptness at investigating a topic like this, merging the complicated implications of his subject matter with a human element, showing both the mechanized nature of their tasks, but also their very human talents. He shoots with a certain formula, but the images are made more compelling through their differences. The painters stand at street corners and in alleyways — concrete, tile and buildings, pipes and windows and no trace of the sky, the only foliage from the occasional potted plant. The urban spaces Wolf photographs in, presumably adjacent to the painter’s homes or work spaces, are often dark and wet, with the occasional vegetable, meat or clothing hanging in the air. They are a goldmine for juxtaposition — the treasures of museums presented in dirty trash strewn streets, sumptuous European interiors captured in the paintings contrast with the worn Chinese exteriors. A woman stands on stair steps holding a copy of the Jasper Johns’ Flag — Chinese writing around the doorway and small fingers peaking out of the grates in the door. It is one of a number of images, along with a portrait of George W. Bush and Ed Ruscha’s Made In U.S.A., that make easy commentary on US reliance on China for manufactured goods and loans. Enormously enlarged versions of the Mona Lisa, which always seemed so small for its fame at 30x21 in, and numerous copies of van Gogh’s Sunflowers speak to the commoditization of fine art, yet the Sunflowers, along with Bacon’s Pope (itself an interpretation of another work of art), recall the repetition of the subject matter by the artist himself — both van Gogh and Bacon painted several versions of these famous images. But it’s not just famous paintings that are replicated — photographs from Bernd and Hilla Becher, Lee Friedlander, August Sander, William Eggleston, Thomas Ruff — opening a whole new can of worms with the change in medium.

From Real Fake Art by Michael Wolf
From Real Fake Art by Michael Wolf
 They are simple images that resound deeply; the production of these consumer products is an inadvertent criticism of the Western conception of art, threatening our understanding of what is acceptable, exhuming a myriad of complicated issues and thoughts regarding art and its contemporary interpretation. Reproductions are frowned upon, but ubiquitous in our world. Is this much different from the production technique of Thomas Kinkaid, well known for his own certified factory-produced paintings, each printed on canvas, with selected brush strokes applied by trained workers? A few of Kinkaid’s paintings are shown in this book, selling for a good deal less than his own approved reproductions. (And the Chinese copies are actually painted.) The book’s essay by Boris von Brauchitsch focuses much of its attention on the concept of forgery and deception, which, as compelling a discussion as it is, isn’t entirely relevant to the reproductions depicted here. Between the exceptional fame of most of the images, the quality of reproduction and the prices listed by each painting, it is clear that the retailers of these paintings aren't attempting to pass them off as originals. Which puts the work into a new context — they are entirely consumer products. It speaks to the devaluation of a typically prized skill — or perhaps to the over-valuation of the artist’s hand. As von Brauchitsch mentions in his essay, many heralded painters employed workers to assist in applying paint to canvas, which is no different today, though it is seldom spoken of. Is the issue of the artist's hand a concern of the fine-art world, and not the average consumer? Have the buyers of these paintings, clearly art lovers, felt pushed out of the inflated, rarefied fine art world? Or do these paintings sell because taste trends to what culture deems to be excellent; perhaps consumers would rather purchase a reproduction of a critically and widely adored painting than take a gamble on something unique, leaving them open to interpretations of taste. Or maybe it's just an issue of affordability.
From Real Fake Art by Michael Wolf
The conversation can go on and on. von Brauchitsch’s essay mentions that Wolf allowed the painters to copy the photographs he took of them. I would love to see these images. Regional international office for development and design has embarked on an on-going project with some of these Dafen painters, requesting them paint a self portrait. The results are intriguing. It is a project that transforms the painters from factory workers on an art production line to artist, engaging an ‘emerging artistic consciousness,’ as Regional phrases it, through self portraiture. How easily we forget that these paintings are coming from skilled people; people who, if they painted from their own imagination, we would call artists. The art world implications will continue to be discussed, but the human factor is easy to forget as the conversation spirals. Wolf's images fight against this -- the painters in their bleak surroundings stare right back at you, daring to be recognized with their work. -- Sarah Bradley

Purchase a copy of Real Fake Art

A, Photographs by Gregory Halpern.
Published by J&L, 2011.
Reviewed by Adam Bell
Gregory Halpern A
Photographs by Gregory Halpern. Edited by Jason Fulford
J&L Books, 2011. 96 pp., 56 color illustrations, 9-1/2x11-3/4".

These days America's Rust Belt seems to be growing – the long collapsed centers of American industry have metastasized and are merging with the larger landscape of economic woes plaguing the United States. Most often evoked by politicians to decry the stagnant state of the American economy or to celebrate past greatness, it is a landscape often heralded, but rarely visited or known. On the surface, Greg Halpern's new book A is a journey through numerous Rust Belt cities (Detroit, his home town of Buffalo, Baltimore and others), but it is also a metaphoric journey through the American landscape and an examination of its hopes and failures. As we navigate this landscape, solitary figures, dilapidated homes and skittish, frenzied animals all blend to evoke a state of stubborn survival, resilience and beauty.
A, by Gregory Halpern. Published by J&L Books, 2011.
We begin with a hiss. "Stay away! Get back! Go home!" screeches a cat as he walks past. Although a kitten, he has clearly learned how to survive and offers us a warning before we continue. From the cat, we move through a broken gate to a series of world-weary men and women, tattered old houses, sad trees and litter-strewn lots. Each tired face and collapsing house suggests a hidden or painful story. Each grim smile and patchwork repair reveals a quiet dignity and stubborn resilience in the face of harsh circumstances. The wooden struts holding a teetering house together echo the scars, tattoos and threadbare clothes of the people in the book. Everyone, and everything, seems to be holding on. Even the images of a skeletal teepee and improvised wigwam hint at survival on the fringes, starting over or a return to the land.

Although the work has a veneer of hope, there is a disquieting darkness underneath it. Animals run wild and houses burn. Raccoons gnaw on discarded hot wings in dark alleys and feral cats pace in steel cages. Twisted and contorted, trees stand abandoned and dismembered in the purple glow of the evening or forlornly host a murder of crows. Skyscrapers, ominous and cold, loom vertiginously in the frame -- alien monuments far removed from the humble structures that dominate the book. Solitary graves also mark the landscape. One, a makeshift pile of stones, is repeated twice. First, appearing bare and lonesome in a field, then later with a patch of weeds blowing in the wind. The second grave, recently excavated, grimly discloses a pile of white bones resting at the bottom.

A, by Gregory Halpern. Published by J&L Books, 2011.
A, by Gregory Halpern. Published by J&L Books, 2011.
The book, cleanly designed and tightly edited by Jason Fulford, is Halpern's third and second with J&L. It is also his best. Tipped-in the cover of the book is a photograph of an x-ray (perhaps the author's head and neck) that suggests not only the probing vision offered by the book, but also the subjective nature of Halpern's journey. The book contains no text or statement. Instead, the viewer is left to puzzle the meaning on their own. Among my favorite details are the first and last page, which both contain overlaid street maps from various cities. Chaotic and indecipherable, the map's tangled and overlapping streets simultaneously suggest all the cities visited by Halpern and none. The title also remains enigmatic. Most obviously it references the 'A' tattooed on the chest of a young man towards the end of the book, but it could also refer more broadly to 'America,' or to the hope and promise offered by new beginnings.

A, by Gregory Halpern. Published by J&L Books, 2011.
Working in the tradition of Walker Evans, Paul Graham and Jacob Holdt, Halpern's work is raw, political and compassionate. In many ways, the work represents the best of what Walker Evans called 'lyric documentary.' Filled with beauty and a keen eye for poetic details, A is a sobering journey through the back roads of America's forgotten cities.—ADAM BELL

purchase book
ADAM BELL is a photographer and writer based in Brooklyn, NY. He received his MFA from the School of Visual Arts, and his work has been exhibited and published internationally. He is the co-editor and co-author, with Charles H. Traub and Steve Heller, of The Education of a Photographer (Allworth Press, 2006). His writing has appeared in Foam Magazine, Lay Flat and Ahorn Magazine. He is currently on staff and faculty at the School of Visual Arts' MFA Photography, Video and Related Media Department.
Lost and Found, 2010 -- Grace Weston
Grace Weston’s staged vignettes combine the whimsical with a delightfully dark sense of humor. Carefully constructed and lit with precision, Weston’s images are composed of familiar objects — toys, doll house furniture, artificial birds and decorative trinkets — but her worlds exist in such completeness that each forms a miniature reality. It is this fullness of vision that makes her work so compelling — each frozen scene is like a single line from a story.

But for Weston the picture is always bigger than her constructed scene -- each image speaks to a psychological landscape, representing an internal dilemma, made real (and often funny) for the camera.

We’ve just added 7 new images to a few of our all-time favorites in Weston’s Photographer’s Showcase portfolio, and took this opportunity to ask Weston a few questions about her work.
photo-eye:   Your images rely on scenes you’ve constructed using toys. Can you describe your conceptual and technical processes?

Grace Weston:   Despite having no people in my images, my subject matter is the human psyche. My work tends to reflect my observations of the contradictory and curious world of human beings. I find it is our foibles that make us an interesting, odd, humorous species, and there is endless inspiration for imagery.

I keep a mini sketchbook on hand at all times, writing down or sketching ideas that come to me, often at odd moments. Sometimes I will jot down a phrase or a title, with no image in mind yet. Other times I’ll sketch a more fully formed idea, leading me to create or search for the props I need. Then again, at times a prop I come across will inspired a scenario. Once I decide on a scene to depict, I think about the mood I want to evoke, and the choices for lighting, optics, and the color palette. The shot continues to evolve as I work in the studio. I prefer to create effects and illusions in camera as much as possible, although I have used Photoshop to create lightning or fire. For me the fun is in the sleight of hand of the studio work.

Torn Between Two Lovers sketch and final image
PE:   What started you on the path of making images in this manner? What do you prefer about photographing constructed scenes as opposed to those you would encounter in your everyday life?

GW:   After years of treasure hunting man-made environments to photograph on location in black and white, I had the opportunity to assist a studio photographer. Certainly this introduced me to lighting and studio techniques, but much more importantly was the life-changing shift from searching for existing scenes out in the real world to starting with a blank canvas to make my own world. I was thrilled by the prospect of creating images from my imagination, and immediately knew this was the right fit for me. Technically, there was a steep learning curve, but creating illusion by manipulating light and optics has a sense of magic to it and I was very attracted to that.

I enjoy depicting the things that confound or amuse me in our world: the contradictions, the character flaws, the psychological challenges of being human. I am drawn to the theatricality involved in creating a fictional vignette, inventing my characters, invoking relationships, and building a heightened situation. Additionally, with photography’s history as a recorder of proof, I get a particular pleasure by turning it on end, photographing fictional scenes while still expressing truth.
Laundry Day -- Grace Weston
PE:   Select an image and tell us its back-story – what was the inspiration behind it? How did it come together? What about it makes you feel like it’s a particularly great image?

Weston's sketch and studio set up for Laundry Day
GW:   Laundry Day was inspired by the thirtieth anniversary of the eruption of Mt. St. Helen in Washington State. As humans, we desire control, and struggle everyday towards that elusive goal. The mundane nature of hanging the clean laundry up to dry on a picture perfect summer day – what could go wrong? Of course, the fine abrasive ash from Mt. St. Helen ended up traveling far and wide to settle over countless acres, crossing many state borders.

The mountain is made of plaster, cotton batting is the plume. I found and made doll sized clothes in the palette I wanted for the clothesline. Getting the garments to waft just right in the “wind” and stay in place for the composition was a challenge I solved by soaking them with a starchy liquid, and forming them into shape as I dried them with heat. At this scale a shift of a fraction of an inch can throw the composition out of balance or introduce an unwanted tangent, and the clothes were constantly shifting position. It definitely takes a certain type of personality to do this kind of work!

To emphasize the contrast of the sunny day with the oncoming doom I applied very different lighting on the laundry line than the mountain. For me, lighting the set is like icing the cake. The painstaking work of setting the stage can be almost complete, but until the lighting is applied, it looks very dull and underwhelming. Lighting is what breathes life into the scene.

I feel the color palette, the lighting, and the breezy clothes successfully create the over-the-top cheeriness of the sunny day to contrast to the volcano’s ominous plume. I enjoy luring a viewer into an image with beautiful color and lighting, opening to a darker psychological meaning. This image delivers a metaphor, the Sisyphean nature of the human quest to be in charge.

See Grace Weston's work on the Photographer's Showcase here

Grace Weston was also recently interviewed for Oregon Public Broadcasting's Oregon Art Beat. You can see the video here.

For more information, please contact photo-eye Gallery Associate Director Anne Kelly by email or by calling the gallery at (505) 988-5152 x202
Traces, Photographs by Ian Teh.
Published by Deep Sleep Editions, 2011.
Reviewed by Adam Bell
Ian Teh Traces
Photographs by Ian Teh
Deep Sleep Editions, 2011. Softcover. 64 pp., 34 color illustrations, 12x9-1/2".

Over the past twenty years, large swaths of China's landscape have been transformed and denuded of their natural resources in an effort to propel the country into the 21st century. The skyscrapers of Shanghai or Beijing superficially display progress, but powerful political forces and willful ignorance often hide the environmental cost of such rapid development. This is not unique to China. All countries and their citizens prefer to remain ignorant of, or resigned to, the demands and toll we place on the earth in order to live the lives we live. Ian Teh's Traces (Dark Clouds) is really two bodies of overlapping work that examine the rapidly industrialized landscapes of China's remote provinces, as well as their human costs. Teh's unique approach to the subject not only elevates the work above much recent work on China, but also offers a disturbing and powerful vision of China's ongoing transformation.

Traces, by Ian Teh. Published by Deep Sleep Editions, 2011.
Teh has spent the last ten-plus years exploring the industrialization of China. One of his first projects in the country documented the Three Gorges Dam and its large-scale displacement and transformation of the countryside. Over the years, Teh frequently returned to China and worked on a series of projects that all dealt with energy production and its cost. Traces, which dominates the book, is a series of panoramic landscapes of China's industrialized provinces. Like the work of Emmet Gowin, his student, David Maisel and many others, Teh's work exploits the abstraction of the elevated view and the horrific beauty of large-scale environmental degradation to great effect. Vacant and forlorn, the panoramas are as seductive as they are terrifying. Fortunately, Teh does not rely solely on the aerial abstractions and mixes in ground-level landscapes of the vacant cities and bleak countryside.

Traces, by Ian Teh. Published by Deep Sleep Editions, 2011.
Shooting far from the tourist areas, Teh relied on locals, workers, and even a retired truck driver, who took him to some of the more remote locations, for access. Working outside official channels, and without permission, Teh had the freedom to explore areas the government may not want foreigners to visit or photograph. That same trucker driver is quoted as saying, "nowadays we have a better standard of living even if our life spans are shorter. Nothing made here stays here; our government has exported our blue skies to the west." Teh's landscapes are a rebuke to our convenient amnesia about the price of progress and a reminder that the true costs are always paid somewhere.

Traces, by Ian Teh. Published by Deep Sleep Editions, 2011.
Incorporated into the book is another series, Dark Cloud. In this work, we get a closer look at the workers and people who toil in the coalmines, factories and power plants of industrial China - a micro view to the macro view of Traces. Arranged as short narrative sequences, the images serve as a counter balance to the somber landscapes and show the collateral human consequences. Under the glare of factory torchlights, the nighttime images are shrouded under a blanket of soot and coal dust. Glimpses of humans and machinery are veiled in chiaroscuro and smoke. Several traditional portraits also capture the workers in underground tunnels, outside coalmines or inside dank factory warehouses. Alternately resigned and haughty, the portraits reveal both a sadness and resilience in the face of their inescapable circumstances.

Traces, by Ian Teh. Published by Deep Sleep Editions, 2011.
Creating work that adequately deals with the complexities of environmental degradation and transcends its sensational subject matter is a real challenge. Like war photography, it is something people often choose to ignore. Confronting it on any level forces us to challenge our own politics and lifestyle choices in profound ways. Teh has created two overlapping bodies of work that are both universal and poetic in their scope, yet grounded in the complexities of modern China. Blending traditional documentary work with fine art imagery, Teh has created a jarring mix that unsettles us from our complacent assumptions and forces us to look again.—ADAM BELL

purchase book

ADAM BELL is a photographer and writer based in Brooklyn, NY. He received his MFA from the School of Visual Arts, and his work has been exhibited and published internationally. He is the co-editor and co-author, with Charles H. Traub and Steve Heller, of The Education of a Photographer (Allworth Press, 2006). His writing has appeared in Foam Magazine, Lay Flat and Ahorn Magazine. He is currently on staff and faculty at the School of Visual Arts' MFA Photography, Video and Related Media Department.
Line of Rangers Holding Tusks of Killed Elephants, Amboseli 2011 -- Nick Brandt
Currently on display at photo-eye is a group exhibition which includes a few new photographs by Nick Brandt. Anne Kelly asked Mr. Brandt to tell us a little bit about these striking new images.

"The photos, darker in tone than previous work, reflect the further ongoing diminishing of the natural world of Africa.

The three photographs of rangers are all holding tusks from elephants killed at the hands of man within the Amboseli/Tsavo ecosystem. The rangers in the photos are part of the team from BIG LIFE FOUNDATION, the non-profit organization I started in Sept 2010 in an effort to help try and halt the alarming and massive escalation of poaching in East Africa. So far, working within the Amboseli ecosystem of Kenya and Northern Tanzania, the Big Life teams have successfully dramatically reduced the level of poaching and other killings of animals in the region. The problem remains rampant elsewhere.
Calcified Caped Dove, Lake Natron 2010 -- Nick Brandt
Another new series of photos, The Calcified, are photos of calcified dead creatures that I found on the shoreline of a lake in Tanzania. The extremely high soda content of the lake preserves them in this calcified form. I took the creatures exactly as I found them on the shoreline, and then placed them in 'living' positions, bringing them back to 'life', as it were. Reanimated, 'alive' again in death."  -- Nick Brandt

See more of Nick Brandt's work here

See photography books by Nick Brandt here

For more information, please contact photo-eye Gallery Associate Director Anne Kelly by email or by calling the gallery at (505) 988-5152 x202
Ask the Cat, Photographs by Satoru Toma.
Published by Le Caillou Bleu, 2011.
Ask the Cat
Reviewed by Tom Leininger
Satoru Toma Ask the Cat
Photographs by Satoru Toma. Text by Caroline Lamarche & Jean-Louis Godefroid
Le Caillou Bleu, 2011. Hardbound. 88 pp., 42 color illustrations, 11-1/4x8-3/4".

In Ask the Cat, Satoru Toma wanders the area surrounding Brussels as a cat would -- straying into open areas, crawling through the underbrush of the woods and along the edges of society -- looking for photographs. He is drawn to the warm sharp light specific to the region. The light and various histories of the landscapes are used to create a mixture of portraits, and shots of semi-urban and rural settings in color.

Toma is a Japanese photographer who was educated in France. In an interview with Jean-Louis Godefroid at the end of the book, Toma says that he became interested in fine arts while living in Marseille. He goes on to site the Flemish painters as an influence. The photographs have the feel of traditional European landscape paintings mixed with New Topographics school of thought. This mixture of schools produces work that straddles two time periods of art. Clearly, Toma is drawn to the warm light of the region, but forgoes it in places for the more neutral light that allows the man made objects to be described fully.

Ask the Cat, by Satoru Toma. Published by Le Caillou Bleu, 2011.
One example of this confluence of styles shows a potted pine tree decorated with pinwheels standing next to a pair of garden gnomes and another empty pot in a narrow backyard with a construction crane and factory off in the distance. The light in the image is strong and cold at the same time. It feels like fall or winter, but the tree is a bright lively spot in a rather desolate place. The light clearly shows the Flemish influence. The humor in the scene brightens what appears to be a bit of a shabby area. Scenes like these are when his work is at its strongest.

Ask the Cat, by Satoru Toma. Published by Le Caillou Bleu, 2011.
When studying the landscape, Toma creates quiet contemplative scenes where the only sounds come from the wind blowing the grass or trees. He goes deep into the forest to find the tall thin trees bathed in light or forest floor covered in white flowers. It is clear that Toma is comfortable with both the majesty of the land and what man has created. Toma's historically informed photographs are what give the book depth and strength. His wanderings show the viewer the beauty that lies at the edge.

Ask the Cat, by Satoru Toma. Published by Le Caillou Bleu, 2011.
As an object, the book is comfortable. The images are large enough on the page for the viewer to explore, but the book is not too cumbersome to handle. One of the few drawbacks of the book is that the printing appears a bit varied and the color is uneven in places. Overall, the book as a whole rises above these few technical flaws.—TOM LEININGER

purchase book

TOM LEININGER is a photographer and educator based in Denton, Texas. He received his MFA in photography from the University of North Texas. Prior to that he was a newspaper photographer in Indiana. His work can be found at