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Tooth for an Eye, Photographs by Deborah Luster.
Published by Twin Palms Publishers, 2011.
Tooth for an Eye
Reviewed by George Slade
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Deborah Luster Tooth for an Eye
Photographs by Deborah Luster.
Twin Palms Publishers, Santa Fe, 2011. Hardbound. 64 pp., 30 duotone illustrations, 6-3/4x5-1/2".

The conceit Deborah Luster arrived at for the circular images in her Tooth for an Eye project serves several metaphoric ends. First, it formally distinguishes her imagery from Joel Sternfeld's 1996 book On This Site: Landscape in Memoriam, depicting places where homicides occurred. There are other site-specific, homicide-related projects of late as well, though none with Luster's powerful interweaving of person, place, and lethal circumstance.

Second, the black-and-white treatment resonates in the New Orleans environs where Luster has brought her 8 x 10-inch view camera. Vignettes, resulting from incomplete coverage of the large negative, further convey the ironic anachronism of this project, which is concerned with the very modern issue of rampant murder in a storied, ancient place along a bend in the Mississippi River. The darkening edges also suggest convexity, as though we were looking into a magnifying glass, perhaps, or a crystal ball. Past, present, and future swell out at us through these images.

Tooth for an Eye, by Deborah Luster. Published by Twin Palms Publishers, 2011.
 One other implication of the circular metaphor is even more intriguing. Bill Jay's 1981 essay "Images in the Eyes of the Dead" clues us in:
It was a commonly held belief throughout the latter half of the nineteenth century that the last image seen by the eyes of a dying person would be "fixed" on the retina for a considerable period of time. Therefore, if a murdered person's eyes could be reached without delay, the culprit could be identified from the retinal image.
Tooth for an Eye, by Deborah Luster. Published by Twin Palms Publishers, 2011.

Tooth for an Eye, by Deborah Luster. Published by Twin Palms Publishers, 2011.
 Consider Luster's chorography -- defined in the afterword as "a form of geography that describes the inherent attributes of a place" -- from this angle. Consider, especially, the last plate in the unpaginated book, labeled as entry number 01-26 in the Tooth for an Eye "disarchive" and reproduced in enlarged, negative form on the book's covers. Without doubt the retinal image impressed into a victim's eyes would be circular. The "Notes" for this image are terse and revelatory: "Face up. Multiple gunshot wounds." Thus, we can postulate that the birds and wires sectioning this circle were the last things victim Brian Christopher Smith saw as he died, facing up on Leonidas Street in Carrollton, just before 8 p.m. on a July evening. Following the 19th century notion, Luster's photographs extract the last visual contact these people had with the living world. Unfortunately, no culprit appears, other than monochrome traces of environment.

Do not buy this book, or attempt to read it, casually. Not only is it physically oversized (though not especially heavy, it nearly matches the 17 x 22 inch ledgers Luster presents in galleries), it is psychologically and emotionally massive.—George Slade




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George Slade is the program manager and curator at the Photographic Resource Center in Boston, and the editor of the PRC’s magazine Loupe. He maintains an on-line presence at the PRC’s blog, here on photo-eye, and at re:photographica. Occasionally his writing even appears in print.
English Out -- Colette Campbell-Jones

We are thrilled to announce that Stories from Underground by Colette Campbell-Jones will be opening at photo-eye Gallery this Friday June 3rd. Campbell-Jones is photo-eye gallery’s newest represented artist. If you are in Santa Fe please join us for an artist reception from 4-7 pm. This exhibit runs through July 30th.

Stories from Underground, by Colette Campbell-Jones are visual reconstructions of oral histories from the coal miners of South Wales. Campbell-Jones was inspired to retell the stories of this vanishing culture after spending time with her husband’s family in the small town of Ton Pentre.
The underground imagery of the mine is profoundly mythical, an archetype associated with darkness, the unknown and the primordial. Stories From Underground reveal the strange light of a people who have emerged from the mine’s conditions of incommensurable darkness, from the Abyss.

Coal mining, its history as one of the oldest Industrial Revolution cultures and the stories for the miners are manifestation of the Abyss -- embodying the fear of being literally consumed by the earth underground (and its parallel to a more ancient terror of the carnivorous primordial forest lurking deep within the recesses of the psyche) and the frightful economic machinery above. Stories From Underground is a fairy-tale reconstructed from an unbroken lineage of oral histories in the South Wales coalfields. These stories developed over two and a half centuries from the invention of ‘deep shaft’ technology, making cheap energy available on a scale that transformed humanity and created the modern world.
-Colette Campbell-Jones


Abyss #3 -- Colette Campbell-Jones
 Using a self described “hybrid process” combining documents with manipulated digital imagery, Campbell-Jones is able to interweave the various stories and histories of the Welsh mining communities into individual narratives. The images in Stories From Underground reference drawing and printmaking process and appear almost as if they could be charcoal drawings.

Campbell-Jones received her MFA from the San Francisco Art Institute. During her senior year she was accepted into the graduate fellowship program at the Headlands Center for the Arts where she continues to work today as an Affiliate Artist. Rapidly gaining recognition, she has taken part in numerous solo and group exhibitions up and down the west coast. Her most recent exhibit was at the Palo Alto Center for Fine Arts where she installed two forty-foot murals. We exhibited images from Stories From Underground at photo L.A., 2011, but this solo exhibit will be Campbell-Jones’ debut exhibit in Santa Fe, NM.

Also on display will be a selection of new work by Jo Whaley and James Hajicek & Carol Panaro-Smith.

If you have any questions about this exhibit you please contact me at 505-988-5159 x121 or anne@photoeye.com

Thank you!

Anne Kelly
Associate Director
Atlanta by Michael Schmelling. Chronicle Books, 2010.
There has been a lot of buzz around New York based photographer Michael Schmelling in the last year. His recent project Atlanta received a great amount of attention, being featured in a number of publications including Esquire, Turnstyle, Time magazine's Lightbox among many others. And its easy to see why Atlanta has garnered so much attention; not only is it a detailed view into the Georgia city's hip hop scene, the work transcends audiences, being simultaneously fine art, documentary, fashion and a testament to pop culture. The cultural abundance in Atlanta weaves together portraits of the people, the cars, tattoos, nightclubs, food, essays, interviews and many other intricate elements that make Atlanta one of the most visually powerful books to come out in the last year. Schmelling has several previous publications as well, Shut Up Truth, The Week of No Computer, The Plan and was a main contributor for The Wilco Book. All of these titles showcase the artist's deep understanding of both the photobook as a unique object and its importance in the visual communication of a complex project.

When working on our Best Books of 2010 feature, Sarah Bradley and Antone Dolezal were intrigued by the diversity of Schmelling's book selections and began to collaborate on the possibility of an interview. His unique preferences seemed to reflect his own decisions when considering personal book projects. And although there is an abundance of information out there about the photographer, we couldn't resist finding out a little more about his approach to the many different facets of photography he energetically pursues. Schmelling was kind enough to take some time out of his schedule to answer our prying questions and we hope it adds another layer to the rich content that is already out there about this prolific photographer.


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photo-eye:   You shoot both commercially as well as work on your own personal projects and we've heard that you have a background in photojournalism. How has this informed your personal work? What are the differences in approach when shooting commercially compared to shooting for personal projects? Is there some overlap, and if so, how do you merge these genres of photography?

James Holloway with Shut Up Truth, the book about him
and his relationship with photographer Michael Schmelling
Michael Schmelling:   Their influence on each other seems to work in a couple different ways.  In some instances it feels like a project will develop aesthetically from some direct desire to get away from what I've been doing commercially. I'm thinking here about the work in my first book Shut Up Truth in particular, a project I started while I was making a living working on news assignments in New York. But there's so much to be learned from being a commercial photographer, and so much of that experience can feed your own work, lead you to new stories, new approaches, or even just give you a sense of what not to do with your own work.

But there is definitely some overlap. The best assignments are the ones that blur the line between the two, that feel a bit like my own work - both in terms of subject and content. 

With the Atlanta project I consciously worked at merging these different ways of taking pictures - some photos were shot the way I'd approach a magazine assignment, some are similar to how I shot The Plan, parts of it feels like The Wilco Book, and some of it takes a photojournalistic approach, and some of it is its own thing.

PE:   How did Atlanta come about? We've heard that the project began with a book on Outkast - what happened to that project? How did the focus change and what made you realize that you wanted to tell a broader story?

MS:   Atlanta started out as a conversation I had with a friend of mine about making a photo book about a record album. We talked about a lot of different records, how you could approach them visually, with the intent being to reflect the feeling of the record as well as make a response to it, make something new from it. We ended up working that conversation into a pitch for a book about Outkast's 1998 landmark record Aquemini. We got a contract to start work on the project - but almost from my first day working in Atlanta, I realized that there was a much broader contemporary story to tell.

It felt like the best way to approach it would be to look at the Outkast record by looking at what followed it, what the hip hop scene looked like 10 years later - looking back by looking forward. I was able to get out of the initial book contract, and pitch the larger project as a bigger, broader book about the Atlanta scene as a whole. The earlier work on Outkast was incorporated into this, and much of that work acts as a bit of a prologue in the final project. 

From the Appendix of Atlanta
PE:   Atlanta is very well designed - the text and images flow together effortlessly and I love the mass of text at the back - included almost as an appendix, but in a way that makes you want to immediately go through the images again. The writing seems to be very well integrated into the photography. Were the writers a part of the evolution of the project or did this come in afterwards? How involved were you in the design? Were there any books that informed the process?

MS:   Kelefa Sanneh wrote the text that runs throughout the book, he was very much involved in all stages of the project. He made several trips to Atlanta while I was working on the project, and he tailored much of his writing to reflect the themes within the book, and the narrative of the photos. We worked on finding the best spots to place the text within the book. Part of the goal was to make the text explanatory to the outsider, but not distracting or redundant to people more familiar with the scene. Will Welch conducted and edited the interviews in the appendix, which adds another unique voice to the book. Will's from Atlanta originally, so he was also integral from the beginning of the process. And then there's my writing and captions towards the end of the book which hopefully add a third or fourth voice.

The design of the book was a collaboration between me and Rodrigo Corral and Steve Attardo. I was very involved in every aspect of the book's design. Rodrigo and Kelefa and Will are all old friends of mine - so it was pretty easy to collaborate closely.

My experience working on The Wilco Book definitely informed the making of Atlanta, and like I said, I think pieces of my other books can be found in there as well.  Lots of other books came to mind while putting the book together - Jamel Shabazz's Back In The Days, and Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, to name a couple shoes too big to fill.

From Atlanta
PE:   The Atlanta project seems endless - the content you've posted on the Atlanta Revisited blog has some great information about the process and full scope of the project. It seems like the information and interesting connections are infinite - not just photographically, but editorially, culturally - literary connections, etc. When do you call it quits and move on to something else? Was there a lot that you had to leave out? Would you consider doing another book or is this project completed in print form?

MS:   Yeah I love that there's always another connection to be made, something else to be built upon, reinvestigated, rescanned, rephotographed, remade, a new response, a tangent to follow  - there's always another way of looking at it. I don't know if I ever call it quits exactly, I feel like I could still go back and work on any of my projects - but I guess when you finish up a book, it definitely feels like the end of something. Things keep changing in Atlanta, I'd love to go down there and continue some kind of work on it - for the blog, or a film project, more photos - it's still open in a way.

There was a lot I left out, but nothing integral. And like you said, a lot of that made it to the blog - which, conceptually, is still part of the project for me.

An the original dummy of The Plan and a smudged up copy of the final version
PE:   The Plan is a wonderfully designed book. It looks like a phonebook - thick with a soft cover, newsprint-like pages, even a section of green pages in the back.  Photobooks are typically seen as rarified objects - something that's precious and collectible and can sell for enormous amounts of money. But here, you've presented this photobook in the guise of something that's disposable - and at this day in age, almost useless. To me, it emphasizes the arbitrariness of what we decide to keep - which seems to play directly into the images of the homes of hoarders. Can you talk a bit about the design of this book? I've read that the process of this project involved printing all of the images you took to allow for accumulation. Can you touch on the importance of process and object in how you execute and present your work?

MS:   Thanks - that really gets at one of the most important aspects of the project - the question of what we decide to keep, and the importance we ascribe to those things. That was very much a part of the concept behind the book - but honestly something that didn't occur until late in the project. The Plan started without a book directly in mind, and its first incarnation was as a show of about 35 framed images in a gallery, and a smaller second room of found objects and things saved from the homes of hoarders or gathered elsewhere.  Though the show looked good, it was pretty clear that there was much more to say, or a better way to say it. So a year or so after that show, I went back to the project and started scanning all the 4x6 images I had had printed while shooting the project.  From there I made roughly a 650 page dummy on a laser printer, in color - a picture on almost every page. I divided the book into chapters, one for each apartment, and then there was an appendix that was similar to the edit I'd made for the show which included some found materials and images like the room in the show had.

J+L Books was interested in publishing it, but a book of that size proved to be pretty costly, so we came up with the idea of doing it on newsprint. It took a long time to get to this point in the project - I'd stopped shooting it a year or two earlier - but the process, in the end, took us to this perfect solution.  The project really took on a new life once we'd made this decision, and the form of the book began to mimic the content and really define the project conceptually.

From The Plan
PE:   The images for The Plan were shot in color. Do you think anything was sacrificed by printing this work in black & white?

MS:   At some point it became really clear that what was important with The Plan was that the work was getting out there, and that the conversation could go from there. I also felt like conceptually the book had come into it's own - everything seemed to fit, it became its own thing, so there was no need to worry about the question of color. That said, the work looks great in color and there's still a place for it in the work's presentation in other forms or other books.

PE:   Atlanta is definitely a documentary, but it's also clearly guided. Your voice as a photographer is very clear, partially in the ways that you choose to shoot and present different elements of the project. Can you talk about what influences these decisions and how you decided on the sequencing of this book?

MS:   The timing of those decisions is hard to pin down, or figure out exactly how they were made - but it seems to me that much of that process unfolds in a really natural way, as an extension of immersing yourself in a project, following leads and trusting your instincts and your own idiosyncrasies.  The sequencing took a while to pin down - I knew that I wanted the front of the book to give a sense of history and place, an introduction - and I knew the end needed to have elements of history and nostalgia - and in between I felt like I needed to develop different sections that could have a bit of overlap to them.  Pretty simple, but also pretty challenging since the book is generally about one large thing - hip hop in Atlanta - but I wanted to discuss it, look at it in a bunch of different forms, show its different aspects, let a viewer see it all in different ways.

From Atlanta
PE:   In looking at your list of Best Books of 2010, we felt that we may have detected a bit of research for Atlanta. The list also was impressively diverse. What is your relationship to the photobook? Are you a collector? Do you spend time keeping up with the new stuff that's coming out?

MS:   I have a fair amount of photobooks, but I don't consider myself a collector - I don't really have too many classics, just my favorites and then some others. I love the genre, and I think I've had many formative experiences looking at great photobooks. It's always exciting to see the new stuff that's coming out, to see a new book push the conversation in a different direction.

PE:   At photo-eye, we get to chat with a number of photographer's we highly admire and are always interested in hearing who their influences are, regardless of its relation to photography. Who has influenced your vision as a photographer and where do you look to for continued inspiration?

MS:   I've got a lot of good friends that make great work and keep me really inspired and motivated. I listen to a lot of music and I try to read as much as I can. Just trying to think of some things/people that have inspired me in the last year or so, there's Thomas Bernhard, Kelly Reichardt, Jennifer Egan, Oraien Catledge, Maren Ade's Everyone Else, working on Ads with Richard Maxwell, a rough draft of Greg Halpern's new book, My Dinner With Andre, Stan Douglas, Destroyer's Bay Of Pigs, Arthur Russell, Travis Porter, and I recently read C and Remainder by Tom McCarthy - those have kept me going for a few months now.
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See books by Michael Schmelling here.
As of June 20, 2011, photographer Carla van de Puttelaar will be raising her prices. Photographs may still be ordered through the gallery at their original prices, up until the 18th. This price increase will affect both van de Puttelaar’s Galateas and Cranach Series’. This increase will not affect photo-eye Edition’s Cranach Series portfolio, however there are a very limited number of copies remaining at $1,500 (the second tier pricing).


Please contact either Anne or Cliff at the gallery at 505-988-5152 x202 or at gallery@photoeye.com if you have any questions or would like to acquire a photograph prior to the price increase.
Series
Size (inches)
Current Price
As of June 20th




Cranach
11x30
$4,400
$5,000

30x80
$8,500
$12,000
Galateas
15x15.2
$3,000
$4,000

11.8x14.2
$3,000
$4,000

29.5x29.9
$5,000
$6,000

30.3x24.8
$5,000
$6,000
**please note all prices listed reflect the starting price
1h, Photographs by Hans-Christian Schink.
Published by Hatje Cantz, 2010.
1h
Reviewed by David Ondrik
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Hans-Christian Schink 1h
Photographs by Hans-Christian Schink. Text by Michael Pidwirny
Hatje Cantz, 2010. Hardbound. 96 pp., 24 color illustrations, 13x11".

Of late I have been more interested in the way that artists are pushing photography beyond straight-forward representation. Hans-Christian Schink has beautifully published a new series of images that do just that in 1h. In these 24 landscape photographs taken all around the globe, the recurring, defining subject is the black mark slashing through the sky. It causes each image to scramble our conceptions of what a photograph should be. Looking like a graphic mark added to the physical surface of the image after it was made, this void self-consciously calls attention to the photographic object and confounds the literal-representational qualities of the medium. Schink is also reaching back to the early days of the medium for inspiration; it's as if he studied the history of photography and asked what would happen if photography had gone expressive instead of literal in its development.

Schink has resurrected heliography for this work, literally "sun writing" and an early term for photography, as the black mark is the sun. He captures its movement over the course of one hour as it traverses the sky. In a medium that prides itself on veracity, it is engaging that the sun is a black streak rather than a white circle (or more likely a blown-out blotch). The intense light of the hour long exposure causes the tones of the sun to reverse, a phenomenon called solarization; a fundamental property of black and white film that, although explored over the medium's history, has largely been viewed as a mistake. Minor White and Ansel Adams made noteworthy images with a black sun, but they seemed to regard it as a clever trick to be used sparingly.

1h, by Hans-Christian Schink. Published by Hatje Cantz, 2010.
 Although the vast majority of photographs we encounter today were taken in a fraction of a second, in the days of "heliography" exposure times were much longer. Many of Daguerre's early street scenes appear to be of abandoned boulevards, but were actually bustling with people; motion blur was so extreme that the people were entirely blurred out of the image. The passage of time, the resulting motion of the sun, its tonal inversion, and the shadows it casts, are essential to the meaning of each image.

There is an analytic, scientific approach to Schink's body of work; it is nearly a scientific experiment. The sun-streak is the same length in each image, since the sun travels 15 degrees across the sky in an hour. This is the controlled condition of the experiment. The variable is determining how the movement appears to change in diverse locations around the world. By recording precise geographic coordinates and using unvarying exposure times, Schink is tapping the historical use of photography as a means to analyze. However, by using under-appreciated aspects of the medium he is creating poetic interpretations of data more than factual documents. Still, we can determine roughly the time of day and where we are by the sun's position and direction of movement.

1h, by Hans-Christian Schink. Published by Hatje Cantz, 2010.
Two images taken at different latitudinal extremes, one at the equator and one in the far Northern Hemisphere, are especially compelling. At the equator, the mark of the sun is precisely centered perpendicular to the horizon. The hazy, nearly metallic look of the ground and the sky create an abstract image that could as easily be something made wholly from the artist's imagination, rather than a camera's literal recording of the world. What is engaging about this abstract photograph is that it is not abstracted by cropping all context out of the image, but is an image of something that is abstract. In the far north latitude the sun is a low bar, running nearly parallel to the horizon. Underneath, what appears to be water reflects the white light of the black sun as a painterly smear. This visual contradiction is captivating.

1h, by Hans-Christian Schink. Published by Hatje Cantz, 2010.
 1h delightfully plays with photography's limitations. Photography can only capture illusions, and Schink has creatively used the medium to incorporate and make apparent the illusionistic properties of his photographs. There is a formula to the work, but it is not formulaic. It is instead a lyrical study of the daily motion of the sun, the progenitor of scientific inquiry, and the thing that makes all photography possible.—David Ondrik

 



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David Ondrik has lived in Albuquerque since the late 1970s. He was introduced to photography in high school and quickly appropriated his father’s Canon A-1 so that he could pursue this exciting artistic medium. He received his BFA, with an emphasis in photography, from the University of New Mexico and has been involved in the medium ever since. Ondrik is also a National Teaching Board Certified high school art teacher.
Included in the “gallery artist section” during the Stillings’ exhibit were photographs by Michael Levin and David H. Gibson. The Stillings exhibit has come down, but the Gibson and Levin images will be up for one more week. If you are in Santa Fe stop by and take a look. As usual we can always pull the work from the flat files after the work comes down - just ask.

Both photographers have agreed to tell us a little more about the images that are on display.

Michael Levin
Ginseng Farm -- Michael Levin
It’s a challenge to look at the obvious and see something more. Not every common object will rise up off the page just because you take its picture. I sometimes think that I have to feel the rhythm of a scene before I think to take the shot. Something sparks me and all of a sudden I can see the place and the photograph together. I see it whole in my mind before I see it in my camera frame. But I’m never sure when and where things will come together, and it happens less often than I might like. Ginseng Farm was shot in South Korea after many days of not finding anything interesting to shoot. The unusual arrangement of black tarps draped over the rolling hills protected the delicate plants from the intense sun. I knew I had captured the uniqueness of what was before me. I spent the afternoon into the evening shooting the many possibilities, but alas only one would fit my vision of what the scene felt like to me.

Watch Tower & Reveal -- Michael Levin
Watch Tower and Reveal are from the same area along a remote stretch of Sea in southern Japan. The bamboo sticks hold up the seaweed nets as they adjust to the different tidal levels. A heavy fog was sitting just off the coast and the bamboo posts looked like they were vanishing off into the distance. I was immediately drawn to the photograph the nets that seemed to have more weight in the foreground. It was the perfect visual anchor for me to compose my shot. Watch Tower was almost the identical scene except that I used a wide lens and then it made its appearance. I'm still unsure as to what the purpose of the tower is but I think it adds to the whole mystery of Japan.

You can view more work Michael Levin here



David H. Gibson
I like to return to places where I have photographed. It always presents new opportunities to make further discoveries depending on light, seasonal differences and/or profound changes in the landscape.

Cypress Island, Village Creek, Texas, 1987 -- David H. Gibson
Cypress Island, Village Creek, Texas, 1987
My favorite time to photograph is at early morning light. Roaming along Village Creek's wide white sand shores one encounters islands formed by the changing course of Village Creek. The cypress trees were on an island formed by one of the rearrangements of the sand. The early mist was an exciting aspect. It was a poetic moment. Later a major flood along Village Creek removed the cypress trees on the vulnerable islands of white sands.


Grapevines, Cypress Creek, Wimberley, Texas, 2000 -- David H. Gibson
Grapevines, Cypress Creek, Wimberley, Texas, 2000
Along Cypress Creek is one of my favorite places to be and so I usually return several times a year. There is always something of interest. The silhouette of the grapevines created by the mist rising for the creek was an ephemeral moment that resonated.


Lotus Pond, Texas Gulf Coast, 1998 -- David H. Gibson
Lotus Pond, Texas Gulf Coast, 1998
The lotus pond is another place of many returns. The early morning in the quiet at the beginning of the day is a meditation. The lotus pond was profoundly changed after hurricane Ike. The areas of open water are almost all gone and the lotus pond barely remains. The trees were killed by the salt and the water birds have found other places of open water. The photographs are a reminder of another time. Changes continue and I keep looking.

You can view more work by David H. Gibson here


For more information about Michael Levin, David H. Gibson or Jamey Stillings you can reach me by phone at 505-988-5152 x121 or by email at anne@photoeye.com.

Thank you!

--Anne Kelly, Associate Director, photo-eye Gallery
from the book The Absolute Truth
“Every photograph has a distinct unit. To connect photographs as some sort of narrative is simply conceit of both the photographer and the viewer. All I can say about these particular photographs, is that they are certainly previous and elsewhere.” – John Gossage

This quotation (which got me thinking a little too much) starts off John Gossage’s new Super Labo book The Absolute Truth. I have dragged my feet in writing about this book because of my own initial thoughts on the opening statement. How do you start off a series of images with such a definite declaration? Yes, Gossage is one of photography's most prolific artists, a leader in defining photographic approach. The attractiveness of his work is in many ways based on his inherent ability to follow his own instincts… and is a trait of unquestionable admiration. While many photographers will find a singular image to develop a body of work around (and sometimes a career) it is refreshing to continually see such a prolific photographer redefine their own boundaries.

But back to the question at hand: What’s up with that quotation? When speaking about his seminal book The Pond, Gossage directly described the series as a narrative. So why the change in heart? What has changed to redefine the images in The Pond or any of his other projects as consisting of single distinct units? I have thought long and hard, my head sore from the conversations with colleagues that have been provoked by these three sentences, and I am still left without an answer. Although the questions have challenged my notions of photography, they have also opened doors to my own process of viewing photographs. Within Gossage’s narrative lies the singular image on each page. Each of his photographs tell their own story to absorb and contemplate, and as the page is turned we are allowed to let the last photograph slip into memory and thus delve into the next. The following pages all add upon each other, but in a sense each photograph declares its own unique statement.

from the book The Absolute Truth
from the book The Absolute Truth

The Absolute Truth portrays this notion. To me, there is an obvious connection of approach in Gossage’s work, but in this book it’s hard to see a definite narrative. There is no beginning or end, just a collection of beautifully printed photographs. As always, the artist’s humor is present, as well as his keen view of the everyday world. A single squiggly line connects each image to the next, reminding me I will never come up with my own conclusive thoughts to the photographer’s previous statement. And a decisive conclusion isn’t necessary, not when trying to figure out Gossage. I am grateful for the questions raised, and I suspect each viewer of this work will have their own notions of the photograph to rethink. -- Antone Dolezal 

Purchase a copy of this book here.
Oceanscapes, Photographs by Renate Aller.
Published by Radius Books, 2010.
Oceanscapes
Reviewed by Douglas Stockdale
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Renate Aller Oceanscapes
Photographs by Renate Aller.
Radius Books, 2010. Hardbound. 96 pp., 47 color illustrations, 10x13".

Years ago, Renate Aller began to photograph and investigate the ocean landscape near her adopted American home, perhaps wistfully looking out towards her native land across the Atlantic Ocean. In the ensuring ten years, her studies developed into this titled work, Oceanscapes. Her spirit is similar to Edward Steichen when he photographed the small section of his Connecticut backyard, intrinsically drawn to the same place, photographing as a cathartic exercise.

Her photographs are minimalistic and embody three simple elements, the ocean, the sky and a horizontal line between them. As to where she actually photographed her subject remains ambiguous. She states that the photographs were made from the same vantage point, but there are no artifacts in her landscape that might verify this fact, such that these photographs appear that they might be made anywhere along the Eastern coast where there is an unobstructed view of the ocean.

Oceanscapes, by Renate Aller. Published by Radius Books, 2010


Over ten years she captured a wide range of the atmospheric conditions that embody a full spectrum of moods played out in a diverse palette of hues and tonalities. She diligently maintains a practiced eye for the atmospheric conditions that occur both over the span of a day as well as seasonally. Her sensitivity to the character of the atmospheric light, acted out and reflected back by the conditions of the ocean, has allowed her to capture the sky and ocean in an elegant dance around the horizontal boundary. The sky and ocean have provided her with a seemingly endless palette for a minimal subject.

Oceanscapes, by Renate Aller. Published by Radius Books, 2010.
 The ocean is real and tangible, endlessly stretching to meet the boundless horizon, while the sky has a faint tactical essence and extends infinitely, but the horizontal line is an artifact, an optical allusion. The ocean and the sky are two relatively limitless entities. Contemplated for centuries, water is a source of physical nourishment, while the sky extends to the heavens, a source of spiritual nourishment. The horizon is where these two meet, a place where the physical encounters the spiritual.

Oceanscapes, by Renate Aller. Published by Radius Books, 2010.
Aller's photographs are meant to extend beyond literal interpretations, as were Alfred Stieglitz's famous "equivalent" photographs of clouds over his summer home on Lake George. To attempt to focus on either the season or time of day that the photograph was created is to miss the subtle narrative about time and memory. Aller avoided the cliché of long photographic exposures to investigate the concept of time, and utilizing the sequencing of the photographs in her book, creates this narrative. Contemplating these photographs, I find that the solitude and emptiness elicits a darker sense of melancholy, an undercurrent in contradiction to the more apparent light and open space that is portrayed.


Aller's Oceanscapes are sharply delineated with saturated colors, which are beautiful rendered by the fine printing of this book.—Douglas Stockdale




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 Douglas Stockdale is a photographer, author and writer when not working his day job. His photographic projects and stories explore questions from our dreams, experiences and memories. His first self-published book is In Passing and he recently completed his latest photo-project Insomnia: Hotel Noir. He is a photobook critic with his own photo-blog, The PhotoBook, available at www.thephotobook.wordpress.com. Douglas’s web site is www.douglasstockdale.com and can be contacted at doug@douglasstockdale.com.
André Kertész, Photographs by André Kertész
Edited by Michel Frizot and Annie-Laure Wanaverbecq.
 Published by Editions Hazan, 2010.
André Kertész
Reviewed by Joscelyn Jurich
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André Kertész André Kertész
Photographs by André Kertész. Edited by Michel Frizot and Annie-Laure Wanaverbecq
Editions Hazan, 2010. Hardbound. 360 pp., 500 color illustrations, 10x12-1/4".

"I am an amateur," photographer André Kertész said in 1930, five years after he had left his native Hungary for Paris. "And I intend to stay that way for the rest of my life." In 1961, a year before Kertész retired from what he described as eleven "lost years" working as a magazine photographer on contract to Condé Nast, Kertész reiterated his declaration. "I still regard myself as an amateur today and I hope that's what I'll stay until the end of my life. Because I'm forever a beginner who discovers the world again and again."

The notion of Kertész as an amateur may seem disingenuous. By 1961 he had worked for influential international publications such as Vogue and VU, the French photojournalism magazine whose contributors included Robert Capa and Man Ray, had published five books of photography and had exhibited in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art and the Brooklyn Museum. But as this exquisite collection reveals through text and image, the self-taught Kertész remained true to the dual definition of amateur throughout his tortuously successful career.

The book accompanies a major retrospective of Kertész's work that is touring internationally. Though the books' size and scope might make it seem a coffee table collectable, this exhibition catalogue stands alone as a work of art criticism and art history. Replete with images and a considerable amount of text (500 superbly reproduced photographs and seventeen critical essays), neither overwhelms the other. The meticulous scholarship of authors Michel Frizot and Annie-Laure Wanaverbecq is matched by a vital and vigorous writing style both passionate and persuasive.

André Kertész, by André Kertész. Published by Editions Hazan, 2010.
Frizot's arresting enthusiasm for Kertész is immediately apparent in his introductory essay. Reading like part manifesto, part monograph, declarative sentences ("Kertész is a seer;" "Kertész is a poet") begin swiftly paced paragraphs that address what Frizot sees as the photographer's defining qualities. He sites the earliest attempt to define Kertész's photography, a short poem written by Belgian poet Paul Dermée for the photographer's first exhibition in Paris in 1927. "Kertész, the eyes of a child, whose every glance is his first/Kertész is a seeing-eye brother." Kertész's primary tool, Frizot argues, was not just his camera but the innocence of his vision. While Kertész never called himself a poet, photography was the poetry of his experience expressed in images. When asked about how photography influenced his life, he explained that the real question was how life influenced his photography: "It is very much a tool, the same way poets or writers describe their life experiences...I interpret what I feel at a given moment. Not what I see, but what I feel."

André Kertész, by André Kertész. Published by Editions Hazan, 2010.
Expression through felt images, not words, is partly understandable considering the problems Kertész had with language. Though he lived in France for eleven years, he never really learned French and in his almost 50 years in the US, Kertész never mastered more than broken English, beginning all of his interviews with American journalists by asking, "You speak Hungarian?" Yet even Kertész's spoken Hungarian was reportedly sparse and fragmentary. "Photography," he said, "is my only language." According to Frizot, it was a language deeply influenced by Hungarian culture. "Kertész" means "gardener" in Hungarian and in an imaginative if not wholly persuasive argument, Frizot describes Kertész as a cultivator of images as contrasted with the "hunter" photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson. He concludes the book's most provocative essay by siding with philosopher Roland Barthes, who discussed Kertész in Camera Lucida (1980), "Kertész's images make us think," Barthes wrote. "Photography is subversive not when it brightens, repels or even stigmatizes, but when it is pensive, when it thinks."

Kertész said he wanted "to give meaning to everything" and only through looking at his photographs can one begin to grasp the multiplicity of this meaning. Uncomfortable with the spoken word, Kertesz used advertisement text in his photographs to juxtapose their jubilant promises with the often lonely realities of urban existence as in "Buy" Long Island University (1962) and Boulevard de la Madeleine, Paris (1917). He used titles to dramatic, ironic effect in Hotel de l'Avenir (1929) ("Hotel of the Future"), where a prosthetic leg lies on a soiled rumpled bed and his desire to de-bunk and de-mystify iconic structures is clear in Eiffel Tower, Paris (1933) where the crevices in stacks of bricks in the foreground mockingly echo the scaffolding of the Eiffel Tower, blurred in the background.

André Kertész, by André Kertész. Published by Editions Hazan, 2010.
The essays that follow the collection are historical in focus, following Kertész from his birth as Andor Kertész in 1894 into a middle-class Jewish family in Budapest, to his 1925 move to Paris where he changed his name and developed a lifelong love of France while struggling to make ends meet and photographing the city in his free time, to his photojournalistic work for VU and other magazines, and his 1936 move to New York City to work as a commercial photographer, repeatedly described by Kertész as "an absolute tragedy" because of his cultural alienation and professional setbacks and the "lost years" working as a photographer for House and Garden, which he called "slave work." Though Kertész photographed New York City constantly while working at Condé Nast, he did not feel liberated until he retired in 1962 and had time to devote to his real love, street photography.

The text covers Kertész's career in copious detail but leaves some significant questions unasked, specifically regarding his identity, relationship to Europe and commercial photography, and his feelings on critical characterization of his work by theorists like Barthes, given his personal insistence on photography's emotive power. Perhaps these omissions exist because the entire collection is more a lover's discourse than a critical inquiry into the narrative Kertész self-consciously constructed to explain his own life and art. Frizot and Wanaverbecq know the most meaningful homage to Kertész is to observe and feel his remarkably diverse oeuvre, carefully reproduced in this collection to reflect the images' original scale, printing and color. Many of Kertész's most moving photographs are his most personal: Lost Cloud, New York (1937) shows a small cloud floating alongside a hard angled skyscraper, its soft edges almost pierced by the building's sharpness -- a photograph Kertész would later describe as a metaphor for himself adrift in the "alien world" of New York City. The book's final images are similarly metaphorical and melancholy, small color prints from Kertész's stunning Polaroid series, all shot in the Greenwich Village apartment he shared with his wife Elizabeth for thirty-five years until her death in 1977. Many are photographs of a small glass bust that reminded him of her, positioned in different places in the apartment -- against their window overlooking a view of the Twin Towers or placed on the floor encircled by sunlight and shadow. Others are self-portraits of Kertész in complete shadow, sometimes so far removed in the frame that he is barely visible.

André Kertész, by André Kertész. Published by Editions Hazan, 2010.

"I am a lucky man," Kertész said while creating the Polaroid series and just a few years before his own death. "I can do something with almost anything I see. Everything is still interesting to me."


The quotes from Kertész not included in the book were taken from the National Gallery of Art catalogue of André Kertész edited by Greenough, Garbo and Kennel—Joscelyn Jurich




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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.


Nick Brandt started Big Life Foundation in September 2010 in urgent response to the massive increase in poaching of animals in East Africa. The Open Edition of ECHO & FAMILY, AMBOSELI, 2005 has been specifically created for Big Life Foundation. 100% of the proceeds from the sales go to the Foundation.

ECHO & FAMILY, AMBOSELI, 2005 by Nick Brandt
ECHO & FAMILY, AMBOSELI, 2005 is available in two sizes:
30x14 in. --$1000
20x9 in. -- $500
(Archival Pigment Print on Hahnmeuhle Cotton Rag Paper)

This is Nick Brandt's only close shot of Echo, the world-famous elephant who lived in Amboseli. She was an amazing elephant, the matriarch of her herd for over 36 years, until finally, the terrible drought of 2009 took her life at the age of 65. By purchasing this print, you help ensure that Echo's offspring, and their offspring, continue to be protected and thrive.

Since September 2010, Big Life Foundation has established a dozen anti-poaching outposts in the Amboseli region of Kenya and Tanzania, purchased a dozen patrol vehicles, hired nearly 100 rangers, and in the process caught and had arrested some of the worst, most prolific long-term elephant poachers in the region. As a result, where Big Life has a presence, the poaching of all animals has been quickly and effectively reduced. However, in the areas not covered by the Big Life teams, the poaching continues, out of control and unabated. You can find out more about Big Life Foundation here.

Please contact me if you would like to support Big Life Foundation by purchasing Nick Brandt’s open edition print. More work by Nick Brandt can be viewed here.

Thank you,

Anne Kelly, Associate Director photo-eye Gallery
We were pleased to have Michelle Bates stop by the store to sign books when she was coming through Santa Fe on her workshop tour of the Southwest. Her newest edition of the highly successful anthology/technical book on the art of the plastic camera, appropriately titled Plastic Cameras: Toying with Creativity was released late last year in a new edition. This new version is expanded by 32 more pages which includes info and images on new cameras released since the last edition, an updated and expanded resource listing, a chapter on alternative processes and an essay by Mary Ann Lynch. This volume also contains the work of 21 new photographers including Michael Kenna, Sylvia Plachy, Thomas Michael Alleman, Susan Burnstine, Christopher James, Louviere + Vanessa, Jennifer Shaw, and Brigitte Grignet, among many others.


Michelle Bates signing copies of her book Plastic Cameras: Toying with Creativity, Second Edition


Plastic Cameras: Toying with Creativity, Second Edition (images shown by David Barnett)

Plastic Cameras: Toying with Creativity, Second Edition (images shown by Michael Kenna)

 
LA Day LA Night, Photographs by Michael Light.
Published by Radius Books, 2010.
LA Day, LA Night
Reviewed by Tom Leininger
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Michael Light LA Day, LA Night
Photographs by Michael Light
Radius Books, 2010. Hardbound. 72 pp., 34 duotone illustrations, 10-1/2x16".

The Z binding of these two books is what grabs you first. These books are different. They are a contradiction. You can start in the daylight or the darkness, your choice. The textural qualities of the finely rendered black and white images draw you into the daylight. LA Night redefines film noir. Either time frame, you are not disappointed. This is a private view of LA, known only to birds, traffic reporters, police in helicopters and Michael Light.

The fancy curtain of glamour is pulled back to show the working class backbone of the city. It is the gritty city-ness of the place where dreams and imaginations live. Highways, streets, railroads, the river, all snake through the photographs in the bright sun of LA Day. The day images focus on the sun and the shadow created below.

LA Day, LA Night, by Michael Light. Published by Radius Books, 2010.

It is at night that the grid of the modern city is outlined for the viewer.

In LA Night the blackness is outlined by lights on the streets, signs and buildings. Light's image of Downtown/Dusk shows how the lights create a different view of the city. It is more like an octopus glowing in the night; the day images show how the tentacles look stretched out, while the night images are overall shots of the whole beast. This is due to the technical limitations Light faced while photographing at night. He mixed traditional film and digital technologies to bring out the night highlights in seas of darkness. The city appears larger at night. The Jesus Saves image stands out, the sign pulsating like a beacon for those lost in the danger blackness of the city. 

LA Day, LA Night, by Michael Light. Published by Radius Books, 2010.
 In either book, one aspect that Los Angeles can not escape is the sheer number of cars that fill the frames. We see cars moving, or attempting to move along crowded roadways. Cars are lined up like toys in parking lots and garages. In some of the night images, lights stretch out in front of the car or glow in white dots marching in straight lines. At night light is like white paint dripped on black paper and the vast area feels laid out differently than the daylight images.

David L. Ulin's essay in LA Day and the interview between Light and Lawrence Weschler add to the book and frame the work in the history of Los Angeles as well as within Light's larger bodies of work. The books compliment as well as contradict each other. Both are rich views of a city that rarely shows itself in a non-fiction manner.—Tom Leininger


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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 http://tomleininger.net.