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Book of the Week Book of the Week: A Pick by Laura M. André Laura M. André selects Archiving Eden by Dornith Doherty as Book of the Week.
Archiving Edenby Dornith DohertySchilt Publishing, 2017.
Laura M. André picks Dornith Doherty's Archiving Eden, from Schilt Publishing, as Book of the Week.

In 2015, Syrian researchers made the first ever withdrawal from the Svalbard Global Seed Vault to recover wheat, barley, and grass samples that had been lost when the Aleppo-based seed bank was destroyed in that country's civil war. That is exactly why the Svalbard "Doomsday Vault" exists. To date there are over 1,700 repositories like the one formerly based in Aleppo (which has since moved to Beirut), designed to function as natural safe deposit boxes for food crops and plant diversity in case of natural or man-made disasters.

The Svalbard Global Seed Vault, located on Norway's Spitsbergen Island, functions as a modern-day Noah's Ark for plant life: a mother backup for the many, more localized backups scattered throughout the world. Ten years ago, artist Dornith Doherty, now a Distinguished Research Professor at the University of North Texas, read an article about the last-resort vault in The New Yorker. Doherty's photographic work had long focused on environmental concerns, but that New Yorker article led her to embark on an investigation into worldwide vaults and archives designed to preserve genetic plant material and seeds for hundreds and even thousands of years. 

Doherty's resulting monograph collects both her documentary photographs of facilities and her digital x-ray collages of seeds and plants, tied together with a poetic, expository essay by Elizabeth Avedon. Beyond the spectacular cover plate and illustrated endpapers, which illustrate Doherty's digital x-ray collages of seeds and plantlets in deep Delft/indigo blues that recall cyanotypes, unfortunately the images presented in this blog post and in the publisher's promotional material absolutely fail to convey the richness of the book's content. If you can't visit the seed banks in person—which, unless you are a bona fide scientist or an artist with really good, hard-won connections, you can't—you absolutely must get access to this book. Only then will the simultaneous hopefulness and pessimism of this work begin to exert their effects on you. — Laura M. André

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Archiving Edenby Dornith DohertySchilt Publishing, 2017.
Archiving Edenby Dornith DohertySchilt Publishing, 2017.




Laura M. André is the manager of photo-eye's bookstore. She received her PhD in art history from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and taught photo history at the University of New Mexico before leaving academia to work with photography books.

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Book Review Museum Bhavan By Dayanita Singh Reviewed by Adam Bell Dayanita Singh's latest project blends her museums with books.
Museum Bhavan By Dayanita SinghSteidl, 2017.
 
Museum Bhavan
Reviewed by Adam Bell

Museum Bhavan.
Photographs by Dayanita Singh. Contributions by Aveen Sen and Gerhard Steidl.
Steidl, Gottingen, Germany, 2017. 298 pp., 241 black-and-white illustrations, 4¾x6½x4¾".

Museums are born of an urge to collect, gather, preserve, and make sense. Rearranged and brought together under various categories and criteria, their objects can tell us stories about others and ourselves, but they are just as often idiosyncratic and personal, reflecting the culture and people involved. Meanings are disclosed just as often as they are obscured. Photography is driven by a similarly compulsive urge. Pointing at things and people, it catalogs and collects the world and its things, but is forever bound to its author. Described as a “book-object,” Dayanita Singh’s 10-volume box set, Museum Bhavan, is really a hybrid catalog-book-display object. Offering an intimate look at Singh’s life and concerns, Museum Bhavan is a private museum made public, reflecting not only Singh’s attempts to make sense of her work and expansive archive, but also offering a poetic meditation on the medium and its rich possibilities to order and construct meaning from the past and the world around us.

Museum Bhavan By Dayanita SinghSteidl, 2017.

Arranged into lyrically titled volumes, like the Ongoing Museum or Museum of Vitrines, Museum Bhavan began and also exists as an exhibition. As a show, the work consists of nine groups of images housed in moveable wooden structures, which are translated here into small, individual accordion books. Accompanying the books is a tenth volume, entitled “Conversation Chambers,” which contains extended interviews with Singh by the publisher Gerhard Steidl and the writer and curator Aveek Sen. The books contain a wide range of work by Singh from 1981 to the present, but are not arranged chronologically and are instead thematically grouped and sequenced. Images of interiors, furniture and machines are grouped and parallel pictures of family and friends. People appear and reappear in various “museums,” often decades apart, conflating time, bringing the past forward into the present. Just as there are temporal threads uniting the work, similar images appear in what might be unrelated “museums,” connecting each individual volume together as a whole.

Museum Bhavan By Dayanita SinghSteidl, 2017.

If museums are designed to preserve and gather the past, both Singh’s choice of subject matter and project feel very apt. In Printing Press Museum, Singh documents antique printing presses in various locations. While there is one image of Gerhard Steidl sitting at his desk in Germany, surrounded by papers and books, the remaining images show antiquated presses, long since taken out of commission, on display or tucked in the corners of rooms. As in the Museum of Vitrines, an obvious reference to the innovative displays Singh uses in her work, the artist pays homage to the rich museological and press traditions of the Indian Subcontinent that she continues in her work. Although Singh is an artist committed to the book form and has jokingly referred to herself as an “offset artist,” she also explores unique methods of exhibiting her work that bridge the past and present. Musty archives, colonial museums, and preserved interiors at first seem anachronistic but Singh calls them forth into the present in both her images and methods of display, alerting us to their existence, importance and meaning.

Museum Bhavan By Dayanita SinghSteidl, 2017.
Museum Bhavan By Dayanita SinghSteidl, 2017.

While books like Little Ladies Museum or Museum of Men gather portraits of family and friends, others exclude people for institutions, archives, and machines. Yet even when there is no one to be seen, a human presence is palpable. In the Museum of Furniture, arrangements of chairs suggest an intimate gathering. Likewise, in Museum of Machines vacant machines stand alert, ready to be put back to work. These more taxonomic books are contrasted with books whose meaning and categorical organization are less clear, like the Ongoing Museum, which gathers disparate photographs including screenshots of an Indian TV melodrama, a concert performance, interiors, portraits and more. Interestingly, some of the books have hidden or alternative names on their back covers. The Museum of Photography is also the Museum of the Departed, and the Ongoing Museum is also the Museum of Chance. These second titles not only offer hints at their meaning, but also suggest the mutability of the boundaries that hold any individual images in a given volume.

Simultaneously a multi-volume set and object to be displayed, the individual books invite intimate scrutiny and are housed in unique cloth-bound boxes. While it’s unlikely most readers will display the books as Singh hopes—reshuffling them on a mantle or shelf in different configurations—the inventive yet restrained design is a delight and is reminiscent of Singh’s equally inventive Send A Letter.

A Hindi word, bhavans are buildings often used for special meetings or gatherings. In Museum Bhavan, Singh has constructed a matryoshka doll-like meeting place for her work in its various iterations. Enclosed in a box, each book floats free, yet is indelibly linked to the others, and is housed under one roof. The images cross over, might easily exist in another volume, and continue thematic threads found throughout the various books. While museums are problematic institutions, they can be simple spaces with a wealth of possibilities and offer the power to rearrange and shape the past and the world around us. All too often that power is delegated to outside authorities, but we can create our own. In Museum Bhavan, Singh has opened her own personal museum for us to peruse, study, and rearrange. — Adam Bell

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ADAM BELL is a photographer and writer. His work has been widely exhibited, and his writing and reviews have appeared in numerous publications including Afterimage, The Art Book Review, The Brooklyn Rail, fototazo, Foam Magazine, Lay Flat, photo-eye and Paper-Journal. His books include The Education of a Photographer and Vision Anew: The Lens and Screen Arts. He is currently on staff and faculty at the MFA Photography, Video and Related Media Department at the School of Visual Art. (www.adambbell.com and blog.adambbell.com)





photo-eye Gallery Interview with Maggie Taylor Gallery Director Anne Kelly interviews Maggie Taylor about her process, inspiriations, and how she got started with photography.

The same story, 2015 – © Maggie Taylor

Right now, I have a wonderful view from my desk: a crow and a rabbit that appear to be in a symbiotic relationship on one side and a flying elephant on the other. These fantastic images come from the brilliant, creative mind of Maggie Taylor and are included in our current exhibition A tale begun in other days

Maggie’s images transport us from everyday life and into a world where anything is possible. Her images are playful, intelligent and sometimes a bit dark and masterfully constructed utilizing scanned imagery from her personal collection including everything from plants to antique photographs.

As a long time admirer of Maggie’s work I am thrilled to have an exhibition of her work at photo-eye. The more time that I got to spend with the prints and the more insight that I have collected has greatly expanded my appreciation and admiration for Maggie Taylor, a woman who's reimagined photography. I hope you enjoy some of our conversation.
—Anne Kelly, Gallery Director



Book of the Week Book of the Week: A Pick by Christian Michael Filardo Christian Michael Filardo selects Nekyia by Rocco Venezia as Book of the Week.
NekyiaBy Rocco Venezia Witty Kiwi, 2017.
Christian Michael Filardo picks Nekyia by Rocco Venezia from Witty Kiwi as Book of the Week.

"A man dressed as a beekeeper mirrors a decaying statue, metal reinforcement is exposed, peeking through ancient stone. How many tombs must we walk through? How many graves must we step on to reach hell? Taking ancient metaphor and photographic storytelling to another level, Rocco Venezia parallels the myth of Persephone being trapped in the underworld with the narrative of Greece’s economic collapse. While this is interesting to think about while looking at Venezia’s images, I find that many, if not most, of the images in Nekyia stand on their own regardless of this clever concept.

Water flows downhill, flows down limestone, and froths on the shore. A nude man begins his descent into a massive body of water while an older gentleman becomes an implied Charon on Acheron’s river. All the while Venezia lets the flash fly, balancing overexposure and underexposure. Finding the light in darkness, illuminating bats and clergy lingering in the shadows. There are four red images in a row, a statue covered in a plastic tarp mimicking a poncho, two images, back-to-back, of bloody fish guts and eyes, and then a woman sitting in a red chair with big hair. Something about the red launches this book into an almost theatrical realm. This makes Nekyia feel like an authentic attempt to use contemporary photography to reframe ancient myth.

With its own unique type of directness, Nekyia offers almost everything one could desire from a photobook. There is history, modern day relevance, and the photographs are both visually and compositionally intriguing. Truly a must have for any fan of contemporary European photography."  — Christian Michael Filardo

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NekyiaBy Rocco Venezia Witty Kiwi, 2017.
NekyiaBy Rocco Venezia Witty Kiwi, 2017.


Christian Michael Filardo is a Filipino-American composer and photographer living and working in Santa Fe, New Mexico. He recently had a solo exhibition called Tumbleweed Replica at Current Space in Baltimore, MD and is the current shipping manager at photo-eye bookstore.

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Book Review Subscription Series #5 By Mike Mandel, Susan Meiselas, Bill Burke, and Lee Friedlander Reviewed by Adam Bell Never overly precious, TBW’s Subscription Series has become more polished over the years, but still retains its DIY roots. Large or small, sent all at once or slowly over a year, they always demand attention and are well worth the wait.

Subscription Series #5 
By Mike Mandel, Susan Meiselas, Bill Burke, 
Lee Friedlander.TBW Books, 2016.
 
Subscription Series #5
Reviewed by Adam Bell

Subscription Series #5.
Photographs by Mike Mandel, Susan Meiselas, Bill Burke, Lee Friedlander.
TBW Books, Oakland, USA, 2016. Unpaged, black-and-white illustrations, 8½x10".

TBW Books began its subscription series in 2006 with a simple premise — 4 books by 4 photographers. The modest 5x7 books were mailed to subscribers over the course of the year and featured unpublished work by emerging and well-known photographers. Despite changes in size and distribution over the years, the premise remained the same and has included the work of Mike Brodie, Dru Donovan, Wolfgang Tillmans, Katy Grannan and more. While the books have never been thematically linked, the latest series offers a look at several revised, reimagined, or formative bodies of work by four well-known artists: Mike Mandel, Susan Meiselas, Bill Burke, and Lee Friedlander. Never overly precious, TBW’s Subscription Series has become more polished over the years, but still retains its DIY roots. Large or small, sent all at once or slowly over a year, they always demand attention and are well worth the wait.

Subscription Series #5 By Mike Mandel, Susan Meiselas, Bill Burke, Lee Friedlander.TBW Books, 2016.

Book One, Mike Mandel’s Boardwalk Minus Forty, began as a begrudging degree requirement. After submitting an assortment of conceptually minded work for his MFA degree, including projects that would later gain acclaim, Mandel failed. In order to pass and get his degree, Mandel ventured out into the world to make the pictures he felt the committee wanted to see—or “real photography” as he was told. (It’s notable that Robert Heinecken was the only person on the committee who voted in his favor.) After a summer of shooting along the Santa Cruz boardwalk, he returned with photographs of California beach culture in the vein of Winogrand, Papageorge and others. Raw, whimsical, and full of pathos, the work reveals a carnivalesque landscape that often seems to parody the very beach photography he felt compelled to make. As a protean trickster, it’s no surprise Mandel produced a strong body of work. On the one hand, Mandel fulfilled the role of a dutiful, albeit disgruntled, student, but more likely it’s a sly trick of the hat. He gave the committee what they wanted and passed. While it might be easy to see the work as either imitative or performative, Boardwalk Minus Forty is a lot more. If Mandel’s work over the years has playfully explored photography’s varied field, this work demonstrates the abiding presence and power of the observational mode. Even with a tongue defiantly in cheek, it still has a lot to say and show.

Subscription Series #5 By Mike Mandel, Susan Meiselas, Bill Burke, Lee Friedlander.TBW Books, 2016.
Subscription Series #5 By Mike Mandel, Susan Meiselas, Bill Burke, Lee Friedlander.TBW Books, 2016.

Book Two, Prince Street Girls, presents an early project by Susan Meiselas from the mid-70s. Bookended by her equally celebrated work on carnival strippers and conflict in Central America, Prince Street Girls follows a pack of young Italian-American girls who lived in Meiselas’ neighborhood in Little Italy. Largely unsupervised, the girls roamed the streets of New York City with glorious abandon. The work follows them from adolescence to young adulthood as they playfully mug for the camera on the street in school uniforms and gradually move to lounging on the beaches of Coney Island and lighting each other’s cigarettes as teens. The touching Black-and-white images are accompanied by notes the girls wrote to Meiselas about their lives and their experience being photographed, which greatly enriches the work. As Meiselas recounts, “The girls were from small Italian-American families and they were almost all related. Sometimes they would reluctantly introduce me to their parents…I was their secret friend.” Shot with the affection of an insider, the work is a poignant look at the intimacy of female friendship.

Subscription Series #5 By Mike Mandel, Susan Meiselas, Bill Burke, Lee Friedlander.TBW Books, 2016.
Subscription Series #5 By Mike Mandel, Susan Meiselas, Bill Burke, Lee Friedlander.TBW Books, 2016.

The contributions of Bill Burke and Lee Friedlander instead present work culled and reedited from their archives. Shot in the mid-to-late 70s, Bill Burke’s They Shall Take Up Serpents looks at the lives of several coal miners, who also practice snake handling, a part of the Holiness movement and conducted at Sunday church services. In the images, young boys slowly mature into men, they venture underground, pose with friends and girlfriends, and hunt for rattlesnakes to use in upcoming Sunday services. If they faced danger underground in the mines, their activities above ground left them equally vulnerable. As a short text in the book discloses, the son of a local Reverend died shortly after being bitten at a service. Less autobiographical than some of his works, They Shall Take Up Serpents displays Burke’s uncanny ability to infiltrate otherwise insular communities. Like Meiselas’ work, Serpents reveals a largely secret world with fierce devotion and candor.

Subscription Series #5 By Mike Mandel, Susan Meiselas, Bill Burke, Lee Friedlander.TBW Books, 2016.
Subscription Series #5 By Mike Mandel, Susan Meiselas, Bill Burke, Lee Friedlander.TBW Books, 2016.

Unlike almost any photographer working today, Lee Friedlander has proved himself to be singularly adept at omnivorously approaching the panoply of photographic genres and subjects. Portraits and self-portraits, still-lifes, landscapes, street photography, and more are all often shot by Friedlander at once, only to be sorted out later. The fact that Friedlander has done this for over 50 years is nothing short of astonishing. In this book, we see a signature Friedlander image in dozens of iterations—a head, shot from behind, set against a landscape or scene. Formally and conceptually witty, the aptly titled Head, contains many known and unknown images throughout his career. Moving through the book, there is the pleasant mirroring of heads (our own and that in the picture) that occurs, drawing our attention to the act of looking and framing both inside and outside the photograph. What seems like a glib one-liner gains depth and subtlety upon closer and repeat viewings and demonstrates Friedlander’s consistently astute gaze.

Subscription Series #5 By Mike Mandel, Susan Meiselas, Bill Burke, Lee Friedlander.TBW Books, 2016.
Subscription Series #5 By Mike Mandel, Susan Meiselas, Bill Burke, Lee Friedlander.TBW Books, 2016.

While it seems a lot to buy four books at once, TBW’s Subscription Series is always a bargain. Strong work, treated with honesty and respect, sent out into the world with love. What more could you ask for? — Adam Bell

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ADAM BELL is a photographer and writer. His work has been widely exhibited, and his writing and reviews have appeared in numerous publications including Afterimage, The Art Book Review, The Brooklyn Rail, fototazo, Foam Magazine, Lay Flat, photo-eye and Paper-Journal. His books include The Education of a Photographer and Vision Anew: The Lens and Screen Arts. He is currently on staff and faculty at the MFA Photography, Video and Related Media Department at the School of Visual Art. (www.adambbell.com and blog.adambbell.com)

photo-eye Gallery Gallery Favorites: Symbols, Sharks and Still Lifes from Maggie Taylor Maggie Taylor’s vivid photomontages are awash with whimsy, story, and symbolism. In this month’s Gallery Favorites segment we choose one image that personally speaks to each of us from Taylor’s exhibition A tale begun in other days, detailing what we find intriguing and delightful about each work.


An installation view of Maggie Taylor's A tale begun in other days at photo-eye Gallery
Maggie Taylor’s vivid photomontages are awash with whimsy, story, and symbolism. In this month’s Gallery Favorites segment we each chose one image from Taylor’s exhibition A tale begun in other days that personally speaks to each of us, and detail what we find intriguing and delightful about each work.

We hope you enjoy viewing our favorite prints from the exhibition and please reach out if you have questions about one of the selected artworks — Maggie Taylor’s A tale begun in other days is on view through September 9th, 2017.

Anne Kelly selects Twilight Swim

Twilight swim, 2004, Archival Pigment Print, 22x22" Image, Edition of 10 – © Maggie Taylor

I have come to realize I gravitate toward images that blend whimsy, mystery and some type of ill-boding element.  I also love open ended narratives, photographs that allow the viewer to formulate their own story, and Twilight swim by Maggie Taylor checks off all of those boxes. In this photomontage, we see a woman adorned in a fish necklace and long flowing gown standing in the ocean at night surrounded by sharks and one curious fish just to her left masquerading as one. Yet, this is not why I chose Twilight swim, I feel like this image chose me. I have always believed in intuition, that you just know it when you see it, and that is how I add to my personal collection. Now, by nature, I'm also an optimist, so I have chosen to believe that the woman will not be harmed because all the sharks are really just harmless fish pretending to be sharks – but this is just my interpretation.

» Inquire

The 22 x 22" print of Twilight swim currently on view at photo-eye Gallery is the final print available in this edition and sold out in all other sizes.

Gallery Director, Anne Kelly
anne@photoeye.com


Savannah Sakry selects Later

Later, 2017, Archival Pigment Print, 22x22" Image, Edition of 10 – © Maggie Taylor
When discussing Maggie Taylor’s work with Gallery visitors, I am often asked, “Is this a photograph or a painting?” Her process is no doubt a recurring topic in the conversation, but more often it’s her remarkable imagination and fantastic use of color that is so captivating. For me, Later touches on all of these points. I’m reminded of a 17th-century Dutch painting, only slightly brighter, and more whimsical, in true Taylor fashion. I’m also curious about the image’s border, similar to a tintype, but isn’t this a contemporary work? That is the question. Through her digital photomontage process and creative mind, Maggie breathes new life into established form, style and imagery. I love the delicate arrangement of the bouquet, her methodical use of insects, tapestries and the lemon – all objects rich in symbolism. You can converse about the meaning of this piece at length, or simply take in the sheer beauty of it. Taylor’s Later is inspirational and masterfully executed.

» Inquire

Gallery Associate, Savannah Sakry
savannah@photoeye.com


Lucas Shaffer selects Before breakfast


Before breakfast, 2017, Archival Pigment Print, 8x8” Image, Edition of 15 – © Maggie Taylor
According to Carl Jung, “Language is originally and essentially nothing but a system of signs or symbols, which denote real occurrences, or their echo in the human soul.” In Before breakfast Maggie Taylor gives us just that, a system of 9 whimsical objects, animals, and vignettes neatly arranged in a matrix against a surrealistic backdrop; she presents a code that is deliciously cryptic. Admittedly I have a thing for semiotics, and delight in deciphering the meaning of the details, arrangement, and juxtaposition of each symbol – especially those as odd as a strung-up elephant with bee wings and a person with a house for a head (lights are on by the way, so that’s a good sign I guess). I particularly like the title, Before breakfast, lending the context of early morning on an empty stomach so hunger, half-dream states, and lists of the day’s priorities are all at play perhaps giving way to the fantastical scene before us. Like dreams, I feel the language Taylor speaks is both specific and vague, allowing viewers to bring their own experiences and interpretations to the table, so to speak, and ultimately crafting a complex and contemplative visual experience.


Book of the Week Book of the Week: A Pick by Forrest Soper Forrest Soper selects The First March of Gentlemen by Rafal Milach as Book of the Week.
The First March of GentlemenBy Rafal Milach
Muzeum Dzieci Wrzesinskich, 2017.
Forrest Soper selects The First March of Gentlemen by Rafal Milach from Muzeum Dzieci Wrzesinskich as Book of the Week.

"The First March of Gentlemen by Rafal Milach is one of the best-designed photobooks I have seen this year. Containing a series of photo composites, this book creates a fictitious narrative that has close ties to Września’s history — specifically the Września Children’s Strike in 1901 and the influence of the Communist government in the 1950s. Through these historical references, this publication makes an overarching statement about resisting authority, the responses by those in power, and the dichotomy of these two opposing forces.

The images found in this book are composed of two primary visual components. The first is a selection of portraits sourced from vernacular and historical photographs. Military and government officials are paired alongside protesters and school children. Men hold picket signs that say “Never Again” and “Strike.” These figures are interspersed with contemporary photographs of geometric educational models and sculptures that were used in Września schools. The resulting composites are placed in front of a myriad of vibrant colored backgrounds. While the book is beautiful as an art object, viewing it in relation to Polish history dramatically transforms the work.

In 1901, many students and parents in Września began to strike and protest the ‘Germanization’ of Polish schools. Classes were taught in German rather than Polish in an attempt to assimilate the youth. In retaliation, students refused to use German textbooks, and soon the protest grew to hundreds of people. Police were sent to enforce student attendance and many individuals were arrested. The Strike lasted until 1904, but became an internationally known source of divide.

Milach alludes to this period of history through the use of the educational models. Throughout the book, these sculptures seemingly encapsulate protestors, as military and government officials stand on the outskirts. The educational tools rapidly become authoritarian as the sculptures transform into cages that house protesters. Picketers are clumped together in a sea of geometric abstraction. Government officials become the antagonists, as children seek cover in large conical structures. Milach uses the crystalline structures to represent systemic control over dissent.

Ultimately The First March of Gentlemen is a spectacular artist’s book that has great relevance to the political climate of today. While the book may be a visual departure from Milach’s previous publications, The Winners and 7 Rooms, this book is exceptional both in terms of aesthetics and content. I cannot recommend this book highly enough to any photobook collector."  — Forrest Soper

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The First March of GentlemenBy Rafal MilachMuzeum Dzieci Wrzesinskich, 2017.
The First March of GentlemenBy Rafal MilachMuzeum Dzieci Wrzesinskich, 2017.


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


Book Review Sometimes a Funny Sea By Samuel W. Grant Reviewed by Arista Slater-Sandoval Painter and photographer Samuel W Grant’s second self-published book, Sometimes A Funny Sea, is a dime sized hardback collection of aesthetically pleasing images in an attractive, self-contained package.
Sometimes a Funny Sea By  Samuel W. Grant
Self-published, 2015. 
 
Sometimes a Funny Sea
Reviewed by Arista Slater-Sandoval.

Sometimes a Funny Sea.
Photographs by Samuel W. Grant.
Self-published, Mountain View, USA, 2015. In English. 128 pp., 93 color and black-and-white illustrations, 4x6".

Classic pocket sized novels have a certain allure that is hard to walk away from. Small books are intimate. They crack open like delicate miniature secrets, revealing their contents in whispers. Painter and photographer Samuel W Grant’s second self-published book, Sometimes A Funny Sea, is a dime sized hardback collection of aesthetically pleasing images in an attractive, self-contained package. Following his first self-published photography book, La Rue, Grant continues in a similar tone with his second book. The size of the book, font, and minimal layout allow for a straightforward viewing and appreciation for the images and varying processes. The book is broken down into three sections: Postcards from Europe, Polaroids & Other Pictures (mostly America), and Mexico. Contained in the separate chapters are vintage-esque images in color and black and white. The cameras used, film type, and subject matter, all vary slightly but read as from the same photographer throughout the book. Distilling wanderlust to a personalized formula, Grant shares with the reader his exploratory notes and sketches.
In Postcards from Europe we are led to believe the following images are postcards; however I am not convinced. Some images appear to be so with the tall-tale signs of a drop shadow, or rabbit-eared corners and old type fonts stamped on the front. However, farther in the chapter the images contain artifacts of the process that postcard makers would edit out. We see light leaks, black edges of the film, dust and non-typical subject matter. So why categorize this chapter as postcards? A play on words? Or do the characteristics of the simple and pleasant structure transform them into postcards? If we think about what a postcard is — an image of where you are to share with someone, often through the mail, to show where you have been — then these images do just that. They act as tourist souvenirs, illuminating for the viewer experiences in travel.

Sometimes a Funny Sea By  Samuel W. Grant. Self-published, 2015.
Polaroids & Other Pictures (mostly America) echoes the canon of American nostalgia and maintains the snapshot aesthetic as found in the previous chapter. Photographs of lone barns and country houses on a hillside, empty city streets, and dirt drives canopied by old trees create the expected portrait of America with a contemporary twist on process.

Sometimes a Funny Sea By  Samuel W. Grant. Self-published, 2015.
Robert Frank and the retelling of the American road trip influences many contemporary photographers, including Grant. What differs in his approach is the largely absent representations of people . If people are pictured it is often from the back or from far away, with the few exceptions of a portrait or two. Grant focuses on architecture, scenic vistas, and empty street scenes. It is refreshing to study the absence of people in places that are made by and for people. The images are lonely. In contrast to this, Mexico contains the most interactions between people (with the similar formula of backs, or obscured faces), albeit still minimal.

Sometimes a Funny Sea By  Samuel W. Grant. Self-published, 2015.
The book also illustrates how integral sequences and editing are. Possessing a multitude of images to choose from can be overwhelming and often works against a series to dilute the poignancy of the individual images and weaken them. Sometimes a Funny Sea remains thin, and carefully edited.

Sometimes a Funny Sea By  Samuel W. Grant. Self-published, 2015.
With an obvious bias towards the vintage, specific design elements, such as the binding, the minimal text and the layout of the book, Grant creates a successful formula for a unique photography book.
— Arista Slater-Sandoval


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

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photo-eye Gallery Michael Kenna: Abruzzo – New Work & Monograph photo-eye Gallery is excited to announce new work by represented artist Michael Kenna.

Midday Sun, Roccascalegna Castle, Abruzzo, Italy Toned Gelatin-Silver Print 8x8" Image, Edition of 25 – Michael Kenna
photo-eye Gallery is thrilled to introduce new work by represented artist Michael Kenna. Released in conjunction with a major museum exhibition in Loreto Aprutino, Italy and a monograph from Nazraeli Press, Kenna's Abruzzo exclusively features transformative dream-like imagery from the Italian South. Kenna's publisher Nazraeli describes the series:
Abruzzo, located in southern Italy, is known as the ‘green region of Europe’ because of the system of parks and nature reserves covering more than one-third of its territory. It has one of the highest biodiversity indexes in Europe, and one of the richest areas of flora in the world. 
In Abruzzo, Michael Kenna found a cultural identity that elsewhere, for the most part, has been lost to globalization and instant communication. Kenna photographed medieval ruins, ancient villages and a countryside rich in traditional cultivation. As curator Vincenzo de Pompeis writes in the book’s introduction, “Abruzzo’s heritage, together with its impressive natural scenery, brings to mind romantic connotations that have historically attracted many international landscape artists, particularly in the 19th century. Michael Kenna fits perfectly into this rich historical vein of celebrated landscape artists who have worked in Abruzzo. Kenna’s work often evokes the influences of Romanticism. In his photographs of historic rural landscapes, for example, there is an air of melancholy, which accompanies memories from the past. His images of ruins stir up feelings of passing time, of the constantly evolving ties between history and nature.” 
Ortucchio Lake Reflection, Fucino, Abruzzo, Italy. Toned Gelatin-Silver Print 8x8" Image, Edition of 25 – Michael Kenna
Stone Pine Tunnel, Pineto, Abruzzo, Italy – Toned Gelatin-Silver Print 8x8" Image, Edition of 25 – Michael Kenna
Dawn Light, Loreto Aprutino, Abruzzo, Italy. Toned Gelatin-Silver Print 8x8" Image, Edition of 25 – Michael Kenna
Distant Mountains, Passo delle Capannelle, Pizzoli, Abruzzo, Italy, 2015, Toned Gelatin-Silver Print,
8x8"Image, Edition of 25 – Michael Kenna
Trabocco Punta Aderci, Study 2, Vasto, Abruzzo, Italy, 2016 Toned Gelatin-Silver Print,
8x8" Image, Edition of 25 – Michael Kenna



ABOUT THE BOOK

This gorgeous new monograph by renowned landscape photographer Michael Kenna is published to coincide with a major museum exhibition opening in July 2017 in Loreto Aprutino, Italy. Richly printed in duotone on matt art paper, and presented in an olive-green cloth slipcase, Abruzzo presents 65 images from the series, published here for the first time. Abruzzo opens with a bilingual essay by curator Vincenzo de Pompeis. This first printing is limited to 2,500 copies.

» PREORDER
Monograph arrives August 2017
Limited to 2,500 copies, orders will be fulfilled as they are received.


For more information, and to purchase prints, please contact Gallery Staff at 
505-988-5152 x202 or gallery@photoeye.com