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The current exhibit at photo-eye Gallery is Stories from Underground by Colette Campbell-Jones. In the next few weeks we will be publishing an interview with Colette, but in the meantime I have asked her to share a few of the stories behind some of the images ...

Figures and Fictions, Edited by Tamar Garb.
Published by Contrasto, 2010.
Figures and Fictions
Reviewed by Colin Pantall
Tamar Garb, ed. Figures and Fictions
Edited by Tamar Garb.
Steidl, 2011. Hardbound. 256 pp., 280 color and black & white illustrations, 9-1/2x12-1/2".

The history of South Africa does not make for easy reading. Race, religion, class, sexuality and gender collide in ways that are not always clear-cut. Visually, this has resulted in a photographic over-reach, an evolutionary fast-tracking where photographers have gone beneath the surface to come up with pictures that make sense in a political landscape where the historical image does not always match the contemporary reality. In Figures and Fictions, Tamar Garb puts together a group of contemporary photographers who have gone beyond the obvious to create work that is provocative, dynamic and beautiful.

In her excellent essay on the origins of contemporary South African photography, Garb traces modern documentary practice to the 1950s, when Drum Magazine created a platform for black photographers to provide images that reflected the complexity of South African life and so move beyond "the romantic idealizations and delimiting essentialisms that had been so dominant beforehand."

In the 1970s and 80s documentary photography was given a hardened political edge by the polarized political atmosphere of the apartheid era. But the edge was too hard and photography became a one-dimensional tool for promoting the struggle against the brutality and inequities of the apartheid state. This served well for propaganda purposes but was limited in other respects, a sentiment best expressed by Santu Mofokeng's rueful comment that 'black skin and blood make a beautiful contrast."

Figures and Fictions, by Tamar Garb. Published by Steidl, 2011.
This disillusionment with 'struggle photography' is one of the reasons that South African photography became so rich, complex and layered. Mofokeng began incorporating family life, private experience and hidden views into his practice, while photographers such as David Goldblatt sought to highlight the political realities of everyday life in a more nuanced manner. 

Figures and Fictions, by Tamar Garb. Published by Steidl, 2011.
 This visual ferocity and intentional ambiguity with which photographers state their case is what makes Figures and Fictions such a rewarding book. Sabelo Mbalengi examines 'male intimacy and eroticism,' Pieter Hugo cuts across class, race, gender and historical identity in his portraits while Zwelethu Mthethwa's pictures of the Shembe community visualizes layers of history condensed into sartorial form. Jodi Bieber examines the body and Nontsikelelo Veleko captures street fashion South African style.

Figures and Fictions, by Tamar Garb. Published by Steidl, 2011.
 The mystery of South Africa is how such a small country can produce such a large number of internationally recognized photographers. Figures and Fictions explains why this has happened, placing contemporary South African practice (especially documentary practice) in a political and historical context and also helping us expand our understanding of what photography can be and how it can get under the skin of those who view it.—Colin Pantall

Colin Pantall is a UK-based writer, photographer and teacher - he is currently a visiting lecturer in Documentary Photography at the University of Wales. His work has been exhibited in London, Amsterdam, Manchester and Rome and his Sofa Portraits will be published as a handmade book early next year. Further thoughts of Colin Pantall can be found on his blog, which was listed as one of’s favourites earlier this year. 
photo-eye is pleased to announce a new portfolio of images from Aline Smithson -- In Case of Rain

Games -- Aline Smithson
In In Case of Rain, Aline Smithson captures the pass times of yesterday -- games, books, magazines and records -- objects from an era before the rise of computers and the online world. Smithson presents a nostalgic look at these beautiful things in vibrant color. The high saturation of these tones also betrays the age of these items -- color palettes of the 1960s remain bright in places, faded in others -- all of these toys and books have seen better days, no longer crisp and new. But this somehow serves to make them all the more appealing. They are well loved, played with an enjoyed by generations in need of rainy-day entertainment. I am brought back to summers at my grandparent's house, and the inevitable and exciting exploration of the toy closet in my grandparent's basement. Rummaging through the games my dad played with my aunts and uncle, I'd find a myriad of treasures to spread out on the living room carpet. They were a fascinating combination of the familiar and foreign, old, yet new to me.

But Smithson's work isn't merely a celebration of these objects. Watching her own children's tug towards the digital, she is concerned that the generations of the information age have no interest in the entertainment of her own childhood, subsequently feeling like these objects are on the brink of obsolescence.
With great sadness, I realize that these objects will someday be obsolete, at least in their current incarnations. And like a curator of antiquities, I see them now as beautiful objects to be admired and preserved, if only on film.  -- Aline Smithson
 This is the tinge of melancholy in these images. Books and games are arranged here beckoning us to read or play with them, and at least in these images we are able to admire them. The carpet is the venue for numerous games, magazines adorn couches, books with exciting titles call out from shelves -- they are the natural habitats of these objects, the places where we remember them.

Magazines and Books -- Aline Smithson
Personally, I don't think these objects will ever fall into complete disuse. There will always be something special about the tactile pleasure of a toy or book -- the shape, color and fuzzy surfaces of a small stuffed animal, the sound and smell of the turning pages of a book. The new and digital can only hold so much attention -- objecthood will forever be intriguing, especially when it looks this alluring.

This is Smithson's third portfolio to be exhibited on the Photographer's Showcase. Her series Arrangement in Green and Black, which can be seen here, is a delightful re-imagining of the famous Whistler painting Arragement in Grey and Black: The Artist's Mother featuring Smithonson's own 85 year old mother.

See Smithson's portfolios on the Photographer's Showcase 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
Brut, Photographs by Paul Kranzler.
Published by Fotohof Editions, 2011.
Reviewed by Adam Bell
Paul Kranzler Brut
Photographs by Paul Kranzler.
Fotohof Editions, 2011. Hardbound. 144 pp., 15 black & white and 90 color illustrations, 12x10".

 'Home' in all its iterations is a dominant theme within photography. Approached from infinite different angles, it can provide a wellspring of ideas and inspiration for a photographer, or it can be a comforting shelter to confirm well-worn platitudes. Paul Kranzler is a young photographer who has already proven himself unafraid to stare at the darker side of life as seen in his first two books Land of Milk and Honey and Tom. While his first two books are more focused portraits (a struggling alcoholic couple and the life of an adolescent named Tom), Brut is a loving meditation on Kranzler's family - both biological and adopted.*

As Kranzler writes, "these are images of places and people I have known for a long time, whether related by blood or otherwise. And places and people who know those I know, and also people who I don't know in places I have known for a long time. You become the way you are in your own environment. Relatives are an integral part of the genetic environment, and people, to whom you are not related and who become your relatives are always your closest environment."

Brut, by Paul Kranzler. Published by Fotohof Editions, 2011.
Kranzler works in a recognizable contemporary documentary style. Portraits are mixed with still-lifes, color with black & white, and the occasional nude with a landscape to form a loosely structured photo-album and narrative. All the images date between 2004 and 2009, and were taken in Kranzler's hometown of Traun in Upper Austria. Shooting with medium format - often using flash - Kranzler creates images that feel at once staged and captured on the fly. From the haunting portrait of a man bathed in the blue light of a home tanning salon to an image of the Golden Gate Bridge projected on a lonely screen, Krenzler's omnivorous and unflinching eye is exemplary. Faces reappear, but Kranzler never rests long enough to provide a detail portrait of one person, instead we weave ever outwards through his expansive clan.

The book itself is nicely designed and does not overwhelm or detract from the images. Instead, the understated design takes a backstage to the compelling images that are either paired or set one to a spread. Arranged without any text, the book ends with a small pamphlet tucked in the back that offers captions, a short essay and some of Kranzler's insights into the individual images. 

Brut, by Paul Kranzler. Published by Fotohof Editions, 2011.
Brut, by Paul Kranzler. Published by Fotohof Editions, 2011.
 Although not at first obvious, the book also owes a debt to Philip-Lorca diCorcia's masterwork A Storybook Life. Although set to a smaller scale than diCorica's work, which covers twenty-years, the book similarly seeks to draw upon a large archive of personal imagery in order not only to explore Kranzler's own family history, but also to offer some greater insights into contemporary life - and more specifically working-class Austrian life. It may seem unfair to make such a comparison, but the book contains a great number of excellent images. However, given its strength and potential for greatness, I can't help but wish the book had been more tightly edited. Containing over 100 images, the weaker images begin to detract from the stronger.

Despite this minor criticism, Brut is an honest and compelling book. Kranzler has already proven himself to be an important voice in contemporary photography, and this book builds upon that admirable record.

*Brut, translated from German, is not only a brood or clan, but to think, hatch, reflect and sulk.—Adam Bell

Adam Bell 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.

FOTO.ZINE NR.4 is the newest arrival from Erik van der Weijde, master self-publisher and zine maker. In this newest set of five zines, van der Weijde asked five photographers to collaborate on the series, each book containing a pairing of images from the guest photographer and van der Weijde himself. With contributions from Dutch, French, Swiss and Japanese photographers, FOTO.ZINE NR.4 is a little packet of treasures, a wonderful set of photobooks from a number of amazing contemporary photographers. Designed and conceived of by van der Weijde, he has said that the project could be read as a zine homage to the seminal The Family of Man. Indeed, the visual conversation does not simply exist between van der Weijde and his collaborator within the covers of these zines, but also across volumes.

The books themselves are softcover and saddle stitched, and sized perfectly for holding in the hand. Each features a pale but brightly colored cover and has a lovely soft texture to the pages. Printed in black & white, the images feature a rich range of tone.

FOTO.ZINE NR. 4 #1 -- Erik Kessels/Erik van der Weijde
Book #1 with photographs from Erik Kessels, is like a short version of an In Almost Every Picture publication, featuring images of an elderly bespectacled lady and a white curly-haired dog, which then moves into close-up Polaroid images of injured children -- bloody noses, bruises, scrapes and swelling. The transition between images in this book is amazing -- the facial and expressive similarities between the two faces is striking.

FOTO.ZINE NR. 4 #2 -- Linus Bill/Erik van der Weijde
Linus Bill, one of the photographers featured in Smoke Bath and Shoot, contributes images to book #2. In this volume, it becomes harder to distinguish which image was taken by which photographer, as the entire book focuses on images of small children in domestic environments. They do, however, depict two different families -- Bill's in Switzerland and van der Weijde's in Brazil. Despite these geographical differences, the visual vernacular of family is still very much the same.

FOTO.ZINE NR. 4 #3 -- Takashi Homma/Erik van der Weijde
 In #3, domestic scenes of an entrancing large-eyed cat and the subtle, banal beauty of home from Takashi Homma are collected with images of a middle-aged shirtless man smoking cigarettes -- in car ports, on sofas and porches, the Brazilian father-in-law of van der Weijde. The book closes with a pairing of images from both series, a photograph of each of the main subjects in an endearing and vulnerable state -- the father-in-law asleep and the cat as kitten.

FOTO.ZINE NR. 4 #4 -- Eric Tabuchi/Erik van der Weijde
#4 opens with photographs of modernist churches in France from Eric Tabuchi, dismally grey concrete and steeples in sleepy towns with leafless trees, and moves into pointillist half-tone images of van der Weijde wife's butt, seemingly caught unaware by the camera while going about mundane chores.

FOTO.ZINE NR. 4 #5 -- Paul Kooiker/Erik van der Weijde
In #5, fuzzy images by Paul Kooiker of a distressed looking wolf through a chain link fence (eyes so expressive that it's impossible not to anthropomorphize -- his sadness is palpable through the fences and graininess) are paired with images of a sleeping child among his tousled bedding and oddly arranged limbs. -- Sarah Bradley

Purchase a copy here.
House of Love, Photographs by Dayanita Singh.
Published by Radius Books, 2010.
House of Love
Reviewed by Adam Bell
Dayanita Singh House of Love
Photographs by Dayanita Singh. Prose by Aveek Sen.
Radius Books, 2010. Hardbound. 172 pp., 106 color and black & white illustrations, 6-1/4x9-3/4".

South of Delhi, in the plains of Uttar Pradesh, the Taj Mahal stands as a testament to love and devotion. Built by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his beloved wife, Mumtaz Mahal, who tragically died in child birth, the iconic mausoleum took over twenty years to construct. By the end of its construction, Shah Jahan himself was deposed and eventually buried next to his wife -- forever resting with his beloved. In addition to hosting millions of visitors a year, the Taj Mahal has come to represent not only the love of a king for his queen, but the rich and diverse culture of India itself. As a mirror, the Taj Mahal reflects not only stories of love, but also the complex stories of Indian life -- both past and present.

The photographer Dayanita Singh's latest book House of Love uses the Taj Mahal, or 'house of love,' as a thread to tie nine photographic stories together. Well-known for her photographic books, such as Sent a Letter and Blue Book, Singh's work is particularly well-suited to the intimacy of the book. While her work has always had a poetic and literary quality, that relationship is even more apparent in this latest book where her work is paired with prose by Aveek Sen.

House of Love, by Dayanita Singh. Published by Radius Books, 2010.
 Explicit narrative aspirations in photography rarely work. Too often narrative structures pin down the meaning and trajectory of the work -- rather than allowing the images to speak, breathe and offer their own meaning. In the case of Singh's latest book, her work fortunately does not fall into this trap. Arranged with roughly ten images in each, the book's chapters include -- Continuous Cities, Portrait of a Marriage, Departure Lounge and Being In Darkness. Images of nocturnal cities, dioramas, various manifestations of the Taj Mahal, and night reoccur. Although each chapter has its own tone, these repeated motifs invoke the historical ghosts, edifices and myths that haunt everyday Indian life. Well-known for her black & white work, Singh has increasingly turned to color -- in particular, the colors of night -- to explore the world. Both color and black & white are blended in the book, which adds texture and emotional range to the nine stories.

House of Love, by Dayanita Singh. Published by Radius Books, 2010.
House of Love, by Dayanita Singh. Published by Radius Books, 2010.
 Careful attention is also paid to the design of the book, which smartly incorporates the text and images. Upon first glance, Sen's incantation and riff on the title of the book -- "a house of love is a house of illusions is a..." -- encircles the dust jacket and draws us into the book. Trailing inwards along the end papers and book, Sen's circular chant suggests the poetic potential and multi-layered meaning of the titular house and Singh's images. Tucked in the back of the book on beautiful cream-colored matte paper, Sen's poetic essays mirror Singh's images in their exploration of contemporary life, history and photography.

There is no simple meaning to Singh's work. The chapters give the book a loose structure, but don't constrain the work. Exploring issues of love, history, longing, despair and beauty, House of Love is a beautiful book and welcome addition to any library.—Adam Bell

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.
We all know Martin Parr as the acclaimed photographer and well-seen photobook bibliophile. Mr. Parr recently released the list of his newest category of best books: The Best Books of the Decade. While not as Herculean a task as creating Photobook: A History, vols. I and II with co-author and photo historian Gerry Badger, some serious research, time and passion are required to cull this list down to thirty titles. I do find many of the books on Mr. Parr's list very attractive. Having not seen all of the books or given due time to each one I have seen, I would concur with Martin Parr on John Gossage's Berlin in the Time of the Wall, a huge tome of a book reminiscent of what I would imagine an actual slab of said wall would feel like in the hands; Daniela Rossell's Ricas y Famosas, a study of the not often imagined affluent community in Mexico; Leigh Ledare's disturbing and heartfelt portrait of his mother and muse in Pretend You're Actually Alive; the colorful, fashion styled images by Viviane Sassen in Flamboya; and, I would add as an "of course" here, Alec Soth's Sleeping by the Mississippi. All of the books are listed in a catalogue that is for sale from PhotoIreland where Parr just announced the list at the festival last week.

The list by Martin Parr is shown below replete with links to all books that are (or were) available from photo-eye.

Ryan McGinley The Kids are Alright, Rinko Kawauchi Utatane, Geert van Kesteren Why Mister, Why?

John Gossage Berlin in the Time of the Wall, Christien Meindertsma Checked Baggage, Leigh Ledare Pretend You're Actually Alive
Sakaguchi Tomoyuki Home, Simon Roberts We English, Paul Graham A Shimmer of Possibility (softcover shown here)

Doug Rickard New American Picture, Miguel Calderon Miguel Calderon, Dash Snow Slime the Boogie

Viviane Sassen Flamboya, Miyako Ishuichi Mother's, JH Engstrom Trying to Dance

Jules Spinatsch Temporary Discomfort, Daniela Rossell Ricas y Famosas, Uchihara Yasuhiro Son of a BIT

Taiyo Onorato & Nico Krebs The Great Unreal, Donovan Wylie Scrapbook, Archive of Modern Conflict Nein, Onkel

Stephen Gill Hackney Wick, Florian van Roekel How Terry Likes his Coffee, Susan Meiselas In History

WassinkLundgren Empty Bottles, Michael Wolf Tokyo Compression, Alessandra Sanguinetti On the Sixth Day

Nina Korhonen Anna, Amerikan Mummu, Alec Soth Sleeping by the Mississippi, Hans Eijkelboom Portraits & Cameras 1949-2009
photo-eye is pleased to announce the newest addition to the Photographer's Showcase: Joey L. and his portfolio Abyssinia: The Cradle of Mankind

Women of the Daasanach - Joey L
While most 19 year-olds are focused on school, getting a summer job or that coveted internship, not to mention their weekend plans, photographer Joey Lawrence (here on out Joey L.) has been criss-crossing the globe in order to bridge the gap between photo-journalism and fine art photography.

Joey first visited Ethiopia three years ago to begin his series titled Abyssinia: The Cradle of Mankind. Initially I was reminded of Irving Penn's "tribal" photographs made in New Guinea, but Joey takes a distinctly modern approach by updating the lighting and adding color. Deliberately using studio lighting and a modern style to shoot the photos, Joey L. says his subjects "become overlooked when they are depicted in... black-and-white..., as noble savages, as unchanged people".

Photograph of Rufo - Joey L
Joey's portraits present the people of Ethiopia's Bodi tribe not at a cross-road often associated with "lost tribes" being forced into a western world, but rather celebrating their rich and ancient cultural heritage. Joey makes no assumption that his subjects live in isolation, some western influence is clear, whether in the form of an assault rifle shouldered by a hunting tribesman or a Nike T-shirt that may have been part of a Goodwill clothing drive. Joey's photographs celebrate the color and richness of the Bodi's heritage but do so with solemn respect and understanding connecting people-to-people, face-to-face. We see ourselves reflected in the faces and poses.
"Joey L's subjects present themselves with an artistry which bridges the gap between them and the viewer. We see their frailty, and their pride and resilience in confronting our myopia, which condemns them as backward, dispensable, and moribund 'primitives'. Joey L's art penetrates their exoticism and shows us the sheer beauty of our shared humanity, with all its tragedy and hope." -Stephen Corry, Director, Survival International.

See Joey L's portfolios on the Photographer's Showcase 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
Fred Herzog Photographs, Photographs by Fred Herzog.
Published by Hatje Cantz, 2011.
Fred Herzog Photographs
Reviewed by Nicholas Chiarella
Fred Herzog Fred Herzog Photographs
Photographs by Fred Herzog. Preface by Felix Hoffmann. Text by Claudia Gochmann. Hatje Cantz, 2011. Hardbound. 192 pp., 92 color and 6 black & white illustrations, 7-1/2x8-1/2".

Fred Herzog’s Photographs, a collection of early color work from 1950s and 60s Vancouver, points to the possibility of irony and entropy in nearly any scene – but especially the human scene. Herzog’s images, taken on Kodachrome film, document vernacular street life: automobiles, passers-by, swarms of advertisements, and all the accumulated architecture and detritus of urban life. The focus seems to be on the idiosyncratic rather than the archetypal, however, forming a view that is as much the photographer’s as it is one of a particular time or place. The result rests somewhere between the feeling of a Norman Rockwell painting and a Charles Bukowski poem.

Fred Herzog Photographs, by Fred Herzog. Published by Hatje Cantz, 2011.
 Given the brilliance and saturation of the reproductions in Photographs, the only better way to view these images might be with a projector and the original slides themselves. The intensity of the reds, especially, parallels and heightens the weirdly cinematic irony and humor captured in the images. Herzog’s captions further draw out the absurdities of coincidence captured in his images, such as “Westend Galaxy, 1960,” “Winner Café, Portland 1959,” or “True Story, 1959.” The images tell stories of ironic coincidence and juxtapositions. The compositions are not so much created as discovered, pinpointed and magnified by the incidental combinations of color or repetition. The 192-page volume is rich with such images, and the photographs create a feeling greater in immediate excitement than historical novelty.

Fred Herzog Photographs, by Fred Herzog. Published by Hatje Cantz, 2011.
Fred Herzog Photographs, by Fred Herzog. Published by Hatje Cantz, 2011.
 For example, in “Blue Car, Strathcona, 1967,” the hue of the wrecked car in the foreground echoes that of the sky over the buildings and mountains in the landscape behind it, as if a chunk of atmosphere had fallen to the ground to shatter and rust on the city’s outskirts. The immediate, simple, unalterable facts of sky, wrecked car, and landscape are combined in a way that transcends any typical or expected meaning. Herzog seems to have moved through the landscape and crowds in search of such moments, waiting for the perfect alignments of color and meaning. As a representative body of the pioneering work of color photography, Herzog’s images attest to the medium’s ability to revise and re-envision how one can take from the immediate, surrounding world an instant symbol of a long, living, and not-so-straightforward history.—Nicholas Chiarella

Nicholas Chiarella is the imaging specialist at the Palace of the Governors Photo Archives in Santa Fe, New Mexico. His poems and photographs have appeared in Santa Fe Trend, BathHouse, Slideluck Potshow Santa Fe, and other venues. He is a member of Meow Wolf artist collective, contributing technical and design skills to performance and art installations. Chiarella graduated from the St. John's College GI program in 2007. He can be reached at
The Pier -- Nils Petter Löfstedt
Opening The Pier, two sentences appear on the inside cover of the book. Printed in handwritten text, they read "Everything can be changed. Everything can be turned into poetry." These sentences serve as guides for the viewer and a thesis for the project documented within, a concise statement of the rational for an activity that many would see as outlandish. The slim paperback volume documents a street art project embarked upon by photographer Nils Petter Löfstedt and Erik Vestman. Having discovered a cavity under a pier in Malmö, Sweden, Löfstedt and Vestman worked for 5 months to convert this anonymous concrete interior into an inviting room. Bringing building supplies to the pier by bike and working mostly at night by the light of headlamps, Löfstedt and Vestman squeezed between the rocks beside the pier to enter and build the space, cleaning it of debris, rocks and seaweed, painting the walls white, framing out and laying a parquet floor, adding a door and window and ultimately creating a beautiful space in a magically unexpected location. What they created has been called "Sweden's most secretive and at the same time widely discussed street art projects."

The Pier -- Nils Petter Löfstedt
The Pier -- Nils Petter Löfstedt
Löfstedt is no stranger to street art -- a few examples can be seen in his first book, Club 13, which includes images of several of his projects involving photographs and sidewalk blocks. After affixing images to the tile-like blocks that make up the sidewalk, Löfstedt swapped them in for the original image-less blocks creating a mosaic on the street itself. There is an ecstatic quality in undertaking this kind of clandestine work, one that Löfstedt manages to capture in these images of the construction of the room. Though tired and cold-looking in a number of the images of the two men on break, there is also a palpable sense of joy -- one that can only come from setting out an absurd task and making it a celebration of life and possibility. A mix of black & white and color, the images are a lovely combination of the process of the room's construction (and ultimate release to the public) and striking shots of small moments and the beautiful surroundings of the pier. A handwritten epilogue tells the story of what happened after the project was completed.

The Pier -- Nils Petter Löfstedt
The Pier -- Nils Petter Löfstedt
The book also includes a 28 minute documentary of the same name which presents another perspective on this amazing art project. The film captures the entire process, from the first cleaning to the opening party and is shot in black & white with still images from the book interspliced. Shot by Löfstedt, Vestman becomes the focus, sharing his delight in the project and commenting that it feels more important than his paying job, a dedication that leads to a few personal difficulties as the process goes on. Documenting attempts to acquire building materials and the panic of possible intruders into their secretive project, the film provides a wonderful new dimension on the art piece. In Swedish, it is presented with English subtitles. The trailer can be seen below. -- Sarah Bradley

PIREN / THE PIER - trailer from Stavro Filmproduktion

Purchase the book here.
Less Vegas, Photographs by Mauro D'Agati.
Published by Ahrens Editions, 2011.
Less Vegas
Reviewed by Daniel W. Coburn
 Mauro D'Agati Less Vegas
Photographs by Mauro D'Agati. Edited by Rebecca Kanengiser.
Ahrens Editions, 2011. Hardbound. 168 pp., 108 illustrations, 6-1/2x9".

The glimmering spectacle of lights on the Las Vegas strip, lavish casinos, and images of tap-dancing showgirls will not be found in Mauro D'Agati's latest collection of photographs from Nevada's adult playground. Instead, Less Vegas gives us a glimpse at the seedy bars, run-down marquees, greasy buffets, and broken neon signs that may have once ruled sin-city in its heyday. Instead of photographing Wayne Newton or David Copperfield, the photographer spends his days following a cast of characters he meets on the streets. He shows us tragedy in the land of promise, the failure of those chasing fantasy, and expressions of hope on the faces of those that live or earn their keep on the dirty streets.

A man holds a tattered snapshot to the lens of D'Agati's camera. Looking past his greasy hand and dirty fingernails, one begins to decipher the image: a well-dressed father standing over the casket of his infant daughter. That man is now homeless and hopes to receive a fresh start once he is eligible for social security. Another photo depicts a weathered set of elderly hands. Cheap gold jewelry adorn aged fingers that appear more wrinkled and rough than the alligator-skin purse in their clutch. Each image is striking, and near the end of the book D'Agati provides the reader with a brief bio of each subject, shedding light on their personal struggles and triumphs.

Less Vegas, by Mauro D'Agati. Published by Ahrens Editions, 2011.
Images of the run-down suburban topography merge with photographs of the landscape that surrounds this metropolitan oasis. There are depictions of condemned homes, poorly maintained hotels, and the ruins of wedding chapels. D'Agati shows us the dust and red dirt of the barren desert but also nature as it exists in simulacrum: bold blue skies painted on the ceilings of shopping malls, roadside landscape murals, and casino aquariums.

Less Vegas, by Mauro D'Agati. Published by Ahrens Editions, 2011.
 While this book provides a unique and provocative look at Las Vegas, it also presents an interesting perspective on just a few of the things one might expect from a document of this city. No self-respecting photographer would depart without a photograph of an Elvis impersonator or the greasy, gaudy facade of an antique slot machine. Some of the photographs document the smut, sex, and porn propaganda that have become cliche in this city of erotic indulgence and decadence.

Less Vegas, by Mauro D'Agati. Published by Ahrens Editions, 2011.
 D'Agati takes his audience on an interesting journey, traversing the alleyways and low roads of Las Vegas. We meet a security officer, street performer, Jesus freak, and a stunt man, to name a few. This 125-page monograph confronts the viewer with a set of color photographs that provide a voyeuristic view into the lives of some vivid individuals. A thick layer of intimacy, compassion, and empathy separate this book from others like it. Exploring the pages of this compelling journal is an adventure, and I enjoyed the tour.—Daniel W. Coburn

purchase book

Daniel W. Coburn is a contemporary photographer whose visually arresting images have garnered national and international praise. Selections from his body of work have been featured in prestigious exhibitions, including Top 40 at the Los Angeles Center for Digital Art and the National Competition at SOHO Photo Gallery in New York. His photographic works are held in the permanent collections of the Albrecht-Kemper Museum of Art, the Mariana Kistler-Beach Museum of Art, the Mulvane Museum of Art and the Moraine Park Museum. Daniel has published two monographs of his work: Between Earth and Sky and Rediscovering Paradise. His most recent body of work, OBJECT:AFFECTION, represents a photographic study on the process of self-objectification. Coburn received his BFA with an emphasis in photography from Washburn University and is currently studying photography as a graduate student at the University of New Mexico.