Social Media

  photo-eye Gallery   The Day May Break, Chapter Two: An Interview with Nick Brandt    photo-eye Gallery       Gallery Director Anne Kelly and represented artist Nick Brandt discusses the evolution of his artistic vision, tracing its trajectory from his early days in Africa to his recent explorations in Bolivia.

Nick Brandt, Alice, Stanley and Najin, Kenya, 2020

Nick Brandt, an accomplished artist known for his stunning photographs of Africa, has embarked on a remarkable journey spanning over two decades. His latest project, The Day May Break, a global series, takes him beyond the borders of Africa to Bolivia. With the release of his new book, The Day May Break, Chapter Two, Brandt's career reaches a significant milestone, offering a chance to reflect on his artistic evolution and delve deeper into his current works.

In a captivating interview with photo-eye Gallery Director Anne Kelly, Brandt discusses the evolution of his artistic vision, tracing its trajectory from his early days in Africa to his recent explorations in Bolivia. Their conversation also highlights Brandt's influential conservation organization, Big Life Foundation, which has made a profound difference in preserving wildlife habitats in one of Africa's key ecosystems. 

The interview delves into Brandt's global series, which addresses urgent environmental concerns, particularly climate change. Through his mesmerizing photographs, Brandt captures the awe-inspiring beauty of the natural world while emphasizing its vulnerability to human-induced threats.

This interview and the release of Brandt's new book offer a unique and celebratory opportunity to appreciate the legacy of an extraordinary artist, immerse ourselves in his artistic journey and achievements, and contemplate the promising directions that lie ahead for Nick Brandt's illustrious career.

Nick Brandt, Lucio and Tarkus, Bolivia, 2022

Anne Kelly: Over 20 years ago you started photographing in Africa, this began with what grew into a trilogy of monumental portraits of East African Animals. Conservation was the goal from day one, but the trilogy was just the beginning. The time spent in Africa photographing was the direct path to the creation of your conservation organization Big Life Foundation—followed by several other call-for-action projects, including Inherit the Dust and This Empty World, leading to the multi-part global series that you are working on today. Would you have anticipated the trajectory of your work when you started photographing in Africa 20 years ago?
Nick Brandt: Good question. I don’t think I would have anticipated this trajectory back at the beginning, but that is an answer I am not happy about. I feel that I spent far too many years on the early work. I really only finally found my voice in 2014 with Inherit the Dust and from there, work that I feel is much more complex and ambitious than the early work.

Nick Brandt, Jame with People in Fog, Bolivia, 2022

AK: Your current series, The Day May Break, calls attention to climate change and environmental destruction globally. The images are made in carefully selected sanctuaries and your subjects are survivors, both human and animal. The humans have lost their homes and or livelihoods, and the rescued animals can’t be introduced back into the wild. In this series animals and humans are photographed together in the same frame and seen as equal. Please go into the transition from Inherit the Dust and This Empty World, to your current work.
NB: With every series, you can see people becoming more and more prominent in the photos. With The Day May Break, I went much further again. This was because this series (finally) addressed climate change. And with its direct impact on humans—especially those in poor rural areas of countries, with their low carbon emissions, bear the least responsibility—this concept grew out of that. So this series conceptually developed out of the desire to address climate change and to find a way to show both the most vulnerable humans and animals sharing the same fate. 

Nick Brandt, Lineth and Kini, Bolivia, 2022

AK: While your new works look at some difficult topics, hope is magnified in the new work.  Please expand.
NB: All these people and animals have been through trauma and dramatic hardships. But they survived. They are all still alive. And so in that, there is still hope and possibility.  It’s as the title of the series, The Day May Break, implies– The earth could shatter, or dawn still comes.

Nick Brandt, Juana and Nayra, Bolivia, 2022

AK: After working with animals in the wild for the early years, I imagine that the process of working with animals that are habituated to humans is a very different experience. Beyond the obvious, how does working with sanctuary animals compare to working in the wild?
NB: Thanks to their wonderful caretakers, many of the animals are so habituated to humans that they are very relaxed and with a little encouragement in the form of a mulberry leaf here, a carrot, or a nut there, hit their marks with impressive regularity. But regardless, one thing does not change—my photographing animals as sentient creatures, creatures that I view no different than humans. So I wait for those indefinable moments when they appear to present themselves for their portraits.

AK: Let's talk about your method of working. All of the images from the series On This Earth Trilogy were shot in the African wild - quietly watching and waiting for the right moment, and typically for long periods. Inherit the Dust, Empty World, and The Day May Break are high-production projects that involve a bit more control. However with these projects, after the scene is set, you take off your "director hat" and go back to patiently watching and waiting for "the moment". Why does that method of working appeal to you?
NB: I like working very loosely. I feel that what happens in real life is superior to what I might pre-script in my head, although of course, yes I do pre-visualize some photos, like for example, Richard and Sky, with Richard up a tall ladder so that his head and the giraffe's head (Sky) are a similar height in frame.
But during The Day May Break photo sessions, I frequently swapped out people with each respective animal until it felt like somehow, emotionally, the right combination. I like seeing what unexpected serendipity might unfold. For me, it was like a kind of photographic jazz.

Even in the earlier projects, it’s very loose. In Inherit the Dust, for example, the life-size portraits on panels were set in place in each location, and then I stayed there long enough that the local people were no longer interested that I was there and just went about their lives. At the start of that project, I had tried hiring people and shouted action but it was just terrible and I quickly realized I would get better results just letting the local people do their thing. Besides waiting for clouds, those photos were just a kind of elaborate street photography.

AK: Chapter Two was photographed in a sanctuary in Bolivia—this was your first significant project outside of Africa. Why did you select Bolivia specifically?
NB: The original plan had been to go to Brazil, which for the last five years, under eco-terrorist thank-god-former President Bolsonaro, has become the poster child for the apocalyptic ever-escalating destruction of the Amazon rainforest.

However, in Brazil, there were only a few habituated species in each sanctuary and those sanctuaries were spread out the length and breadth of the vast country. This would have necessitated many days of flying and driving between each: expensive, wasteful, and likely created the need to find a new crew in each new area that we visited.

Fortunately, to Brazil’s west, in Bolivia, is the home of Senda Verde Animal Sanctuary. Senda Verde is not just a wonderful animal sanctuary and non-profit organization, but also practically speaking, it is home to rescued members of almost all of the key South American species. This meant that I was able to photograph the entire Chapter Two part of the project in this one location. They’re wonderful people working on a tiny budget and despite that, never turn away a reduced animal, from bears down to birds and baby monkeys.

Nick Brandt, Ruth and Zosa, Bolivia, 2022

AK: A percentage of proceeds from print sales go to the people and sanctuaries that you are photographing at. I know that this has already made a big difference. Please share a few stories about this.
NB: The impact of those proceeds has had the most impact in Kenya and Zimbabwe because, at this point, that work has been out for 1 1/2 years. Regardless of who is the subject of each photo, the proceeds have been evenly divided among the people on a biannual basis, a kind of royalty payment. But in addition, certain buyers have donated a further amount to the people featured in the actual prints that they bought.

As a result, three of the young girls have their education paid for for the next six years; several couples have been able to start their own businesses after having their lives ruined by the impacts of climate change, and homes or parts of homes have been rebuilt that were destroyed by floods and cyclones.

AK: Some viewers (mistakenly) assume that the photos from The Day May Break are composites, which they are not. It is important to you that people understand that the image is made "in camera”. Why is this method of working important to you?
NB: Yes, there seems to be widespread thinking these days that anything visually unexpected or apparently hard to execute must have been photoshopped into creation - or god help us now - A.I generated. I could make my life much easier, and save a ton of time and thus money if I went the Photoshop route, but there is so much more aesthetic and emotional integrity to these portraits when the people and animals are photographed together, at the same time in the same frame. If I just stitched two separate elements together, it would never be as organic, as surprising. A photo like Kuda and Sky II, where Sky the giraffe unexpectedly leans down over Kuda as she sits at a table, I would never have dreamed that up.

The Day May Break, Chapter Two, Nick Brandt photographing Carmen and Tarkus

AK: The subjects in your images are typically not looking directly into the camera, they seem to be in their own world and are seemingly unaware of your presence. In the case that the subjects are looking in your general direction, it is almost as though they are looking through you or over your shoulder. I imagine that this is a result of your method of working, but I sense that there is more to it. Please expand.
NB: As a kind of an aside, the humans and animals are deliberately never looking at each other. They share the same frame, of course, sharing the same universe, but remain disconnected from one another.

Meanwhile, there are the young girls, the future & to generalize massively, the more empathetic of the sexes (noting that there are the Marjorie Taylor Greenes, Lauren Bohberts, and Amy Coney Barretts of the world to contradict that). They usually look the strongest the most determined and defiant, looking directly into the camera.

In Marisol’s defiant look, I am reminded of Greta Thunberg. This planet urgently needs a million Gretas. If one young girl can start alone with just a placard on a street in Stockholm, so can we all.

The Day May Break, Chapter Two, Nick Brandt Photographing Luis and Hernak

AK: What has been the largest technical challenge shooting the new work?
NB: As so often in my work, the largest technical challenge is caused by the wrong kind of weather. So, on The Day May Break, Chapter One, I went in the rainy season, as I so often do, not just to take advantage of cloud cover, always my preferred aesthetic, but also to have enough moisture in the air for the water-based fog machines that we used to work effectively.

When you have weeks of baking, bone-dry heat and winds, and cloudless skies, the fog coming out of the machines evaporates almost immediately. So for two weeks in Zimbabwe, we were only able to photograph for thiry minutes before sunrise and thirty minutes after sunset.

The Day May Break, Chapter Two, Nick Brandt photographing Mathew and Mak

AK: You note in your book that this is a Carbon Neutral project. Please expand on the actions that you are taking.
NB: I feel that if I make a project that is significantly about climate change, the project itself needs to be carbon neutral. So as imperfect as the system of Carbon credit is, I paid for carbon credits equivalent to all the fuel consumption from transport, generators, etc. from my shoot toward an African reforestation program. 

AK: Let's talk about the process of making books, you have published a few, do you have advice for someone that is considering publishing their first?
NB: For me, publishing a book is invaluable. It can generate publicity about your work in so much more effective way than having no book. No one in the media knows or cares whether your print run is 500 or 10,000 - the book exists. And if it’s well printed, it acts as a very useful portfolio. To me, it’s worth doing even if you have to put in your own money, which is increasingly inevitable. In these days of social media, print runs have dropped dramatically, so it’s pretty hard to make any kind of profit.
Once you have a publisher, do everything you can to not cave in to compromise. Every time I have done it –to not appear difficult, to not want to be unpopular– I have ended up in earlier years with poor results and deeply regretted that I did not push harder with my concerns. Visual creators live and die by how our work is presented (this is why for me, Instagram is so inadequate - visually complex detailed imagery reduced to this depressing minuscule size on a phone, and in the hands of others, often randomly cropped.

AK: In the back of the book, you have included the personal stories of each animal and person involved in the project.  Who was responsible for locating all of the humans that participated and recording their stories?
NB: For many weeks in advance, researchers went out across the country, especially in Zimbabwe and Bolivia, looking for and meeting people who had stories to tell of lives devastated by climate change. Once chosen by me from their photos and stories, they then traveled to the sanctuaries and conservancies to be photographed with the animals.

AK: The text in your recent book, The Day May Break, Chapter Two, is written to the reader/readers of the future. I know that text isn't written to me specifically, but it feels inclusive and engaging, as opposed to text that is written "at" the reader.  I like that.
NB: Well, I guess because I fervently believe that all of us can do something. As I wrote in the essay: 
“We need to all become good ancestors. We need to adopt a way of life that reduces the environmental impact that our actions will have on those billions of unborn yet to come. Can we show that we care about the humans and animals and trees that we will never live to see?”

AK: What is next?
NB: I just returned from photographing Chapter Three of The Day May Break in Fiji. All being well, this will be released in September, with the book to hopefully follow in 2024.

The Day May Break, Chapter Two by Nick Brandt

>>Purchase Book <<

Signed copies are available!

About the Limited Editions:
Four Limited Edition Prints are available in editions of 25 each, signed and numbered on a label affixed verso on a beautiful matte, archival paper.

Each print is presented in a handsome display folder with the print easily removable for framing. A signed copy of The Day May Break: Chapter Two is included with each print.
(8⅝ x 11½" image on 9⅝ x 12½" matte paper. Edition of 25, each.)

Clockwise, from top left: Carmen and Zosa II, Jame and People in Fog, Lucio and Chascas, and Lineth and Kini

*      *      *

If you are in Santa Fe, please stop by during gallery hours or schedule a Virtual Visit HERE.

For more information, and to reserve one of these unique, extraordinary new works,
please contact photo-eye Gallery Director Anne Kelly or Gallery Associate Jovi Esquivel.

photo-eye Gallery

1300 Rufina Circle, Unit A3, Santa Fe, NM 87507
Tuesday– Saturday, from 10am– 5:30pm

You may also call us at (505) 988- 5152 x202

Book Review Zines Photographs by Ari Marcopoulos Reviewed by Brian Arnold "With his signature date-stamp on each picture, these small publications read like personal sketchbooks or diaries, documenting Marcopoulos’ days during the rise of Trump, the pandemic, George Floyd and the 2020 elections and ensuing insurrection, noting the trauma, confusion and chaos experienced at such an unprecedented level..."

Zines. By Ari Marcopoulos.
Photographs by Ari Marcopoulos
Aperture, New York City, NY, USA, 2023. In English. 0 pp., 8¾x8¾x1".

I’d like to start with a confession — Ari Marcopoulos is totally new to me. I know this seems strange for someone so committed to contemporary photography, but for years I’ve been dismissive of his work. Of course, I’ve known of him but never took the time to really investigate his photographs and books. I’ve long resisted photographers with mass appeal to teenage hipsters, perhaps because I hated being a teenager (I’m embarrassed to say that I am just now discovering Ed Templeton too). Raised on a view camera, Marcopoulos’ work always seemed too casual, too informal for me. With this in mind, Ari Marcopoulos: Zines, the new Aperture monograph about the photographer, was my first real experience with his work, and I’m totally mesmerized by this book. It is both a document of the zines Marcopoulos has produced since 2015 and an ambitious, beautifully designed artist book.

With his signature date-stamp on each picture, these small publications read like personal sketchbooks or diaries, documenting Marcopoulos’ days during the rise of Trump, the pandemic, George Floyd and the 2020 elections and ensuing insurrection, noting the trauma, confusion and chaos experienced at such an unprecedented level. The stories in each zine are built on simple pictures of his life in Brooklyn — documenting his own creative practice, photographing newspapers and major headlines, diaristic looks at people and places and pictures of the friends and artists that helped sustain his life during these times (cameos include pictures of Robert Frank, June Leaf, Hilton Als and Kim Gordon). Central to all of it is his partner Kara Walker, the brilliant contemporary artist who made all of us confront slavery and racial history in ways we’d never seen or experienced before. Walker appears as muse, friend, teacher, mentor and partner, helping Marcopoulos navigate these turbulent times.

The book contains pages from 51 different zines, 19 originally produced on paper and 32 as PDFs (these were conceived as digital zines, developed when the pandemic denied Marcopoulos access to the printers and copy stores he needed for his usual productions), as well as an essay by MacArthur Fellow Maggie Nelson and an interview with Marcopoulos by LAXART director Hamza Walker. The texts provide great background for engaging his work, offering information about Marcopoulos’s history (I knew about his connection to Warhol, but was surprised to learn he worked as a printer for Irving Penn), strategies, and relationships (we learn how he and Walker befriended Frank and Leaf). The text also reveals how Marcopoulos adapted as an artist to the new social and creative paradigms wrought by the pandemic and how he tried to use these zines to sustain and create connections when these things felt lost to all of us.

The design is an essential part of the book’s success, and thus worth delving into. There are a lot of books about books, and while I love many of them, it’s rarely because of image layout and sequencing. Ari Marcopoulos: Zines, however, is innovative in its approach to translating one book page onto another book page. There are two different strategies for presenting the zines, one for those originally printed on paper and one for the PDFs. The paper zines are all presented like Ruscha’s book about Sunset Boulevard — like film strips laid across the paper and flowing cinematically from one spread to the next. Each spread features pages from two zines, one advancing on the top of the pages and the other on the bottom. The PDFs are presented in a more traditional way, with the zines advancing left to right, top to bottom. The pages presenting the paper zines are matte and the PDFs glossy. These different strategies for representing the two types of zines come in easily discernible sections, with large passages devoted to the paper zines intermixed with passages that document the PDFs. This does, however, manifest a bit like a labyrinth.

When looking at the paper zine sections, the natural inclination is to take in one page at a time, but that doesn’t necessarily fit their individual layout as they simultaneously advance different narratives. The individual narratives also begin and end somewhat randomly; each with different page counts and pacing as they advance across the page spreads. To complicate things, the glossy PDF pages are interspersed in the middle of matte paper zine sections, narratives still unfolding, and vice versa — the design of the book again switching before any one narrative is fully resolved. This might sound confusing — and it is — but it is also delightful; each time I open this book, I see something new. Making the effort to follow one zine from beginning to end, skipping across sections and ignoring parallel narratives, reveals one set of ideas, while finding patterns and relationships between juxtapositions of different zines shows something else entirely. Layering and mixing of all these different stories is also more than just a visual strategy, it perfectly replicates the incredible social and personal complexity and that define the times represented in the book. Collectively, this all provides an innovative and illuminating way to engage with Marcopoulos’s work.

I was so smitten with the design of Ari Marcopoulos: Zines, that I looked up the designer, Roger Willem, to learn a bit more about his work and how it manifests in this book. Based in the Netherlands, Willem has incredibly interesting style — specializing in books, zines, and exhibitions — and creates projects and publications that feel minimal, tactile and contemporary. Willem runs Roma Publications, a fine arts publisher based in the Netherlands, and has developed projects with a remarkable array of interesting artists and photographers, including Thomas Ruff, Mark Manders, Geert Goiris, Dana Lixenburg, Jan Kempenaers and Erik van der Weijde. Roma Publications also has a history with Marcopoulos, having published Upstream, an exhibition catalog and artist book published in 2022, Heterotemporality, an innovative publication about inside and outside, AINSI SOIT-IL “SO BE IT,” a book about a trip Marcopoulos and Walker made to Nova Scotia to visit Frank and Leaf, and Conrad McRae Youth League Tournament, a book about a summer basketball event in Brooklyn. All these books were designed by Willem, and thus it shows that he was able to execute Ari Marcopoulos: Zines with an intimate understanding of the artist’s work and its evolution.

There is a lot more to say about Ari Marcopoulos: Zines. It’s such a dense and interesting publication that confronts important issues of race, society and creativity, but given its investigation of such difficult subject matter, I think it is important to leave room for a more personal and visceral response. With so much material to engage with in the book it can be hard to focus on the individual projects represented, though I do want to point out: For Kara from Ari: Brooklyn August 2015, Making Books, a delightful zine documenting Kara drawing, and TC, a six-page zine about the brilliant jazz pianist Cecil Taylor, picturing Taylor sitting on his bed talking to Marcopoulos, a bottle of champagne in the foreground. Having connected with Ari Marcopolous: Zines, I took a closer look at some of his other books. I still feel the same hesitancy in engaging some of his work grounded in youth culture, but I also have a much clearer understanding of the photographer’s significance and see this new Aperture monograph as a masterful expression of the best parts of his work.

Purchase Book

Read More Book Reviews

Brian Arnold
is a photographer, writer, and translator based in Ithaca, NY. He has taught and exhibited his work around the world and published books, including A History of Photography in Indonesia, with Oxford University Press, Cornell University, Amsterdam University, and Afterhours Books. Brian is a two-time MacDowell Fellow and in 2014 received a grant from the Henry Luce Foundation/American Institute for Indonesian Studies.
photo-eye Gallery Exploring Surrealism & the Creative Process: A Conversation with Artist Tom Chambers Anne Kelly Tom Chambers discusses his new series, the influence of Covid, and the evolving role of AI in the art realm, provoking thought and inspiring creativity.

Tom Chambers, Ascension, 2023, Archival Pigment Print, 20x20", Edition of 20, $1,200 

In the realm of art, the boundaries between reality and imagination often blur, giving rise to captivating and thought-provoking creations. photo-eye Gallery director Anne Kelly sits down with acclaimed artist Tom Chambers to delve into his latest photographic series, Declarationwhich ventures into the realm of surrealism. Known for his mastery of the magical realism genre, Chambers shares his insights on this artistic shift, the inspiration behind his work, and his thoughts on the use of AI-generated images in the visual arts.

Amidst the discussion, Chambers opens up about his artistic process and emphasizes his deliberate choice to eschew AI in the creation of his new series. Drawing upon his expertise in Photoshop, Chambers meticulously composes his images by combining hand-drawn elements and photographs sourced from his inventory. By consciously avoiding the use of AI, he seeks to preserve the distinct personality and creative touch of the artist in his work, raising thought-provoking questions about the rise of AI-generated images in the art world. As the conversation unfolds, Chambers shares valuable insights and advice for fellow creatives, encouraging them to follow their passions, infuse their work with enthusiasm, and constantly challenge themselves to push the boundaries of their chosen mediums.

Tom Chambers, Genesis, 2023, Archival Pigment Print, 13x15", Edition of 20, $750 

Anne Kelly: You typically work within the Magical Realism genre, but in this new series which was made in 2022, two years into Covid, you drift into surrealism. Do you think this is a new direction for you? Please elaborate on this shift.
Tom Chambers:  Magic Realism is an art genre which contains a magical element within a generally realistic scene. Surrealism can be sometimes full-blown unrealistic. I always felt that when using Photoshop for Surrealism you are walking a fine line between serious art and somewhat corny art. I have read many of the magic realism writers and have felt that that direction works better for what I’m trying to say. Because of Covid I was not shooting models or traveling, I had to rely on images I had in my inventory. I decided to step into the Surrealism genre, mainly to shake things up with how I work and push my work in a different direction. The times felt irrational, so Surrealism felt like the right fit. I don’t plan to continue to move in the Surrealism direction permanently, but it will be fun to fall back on occasionally.

AK:  Your images come from your mind–Instead of “moments captured” in one frame with a camera. In the past you had credited "daydreams" as your muse–do you think this new surreal work took you into a different part of your mind, or would you credit an alternative muse?
TC:  The sources of inspiration for this new series “Declaration” have not changed. Daydreams are still an inspiration for new ideas. Before Covid I had spent some time in Italy where I thought, why not try to combine Renaissance religious images with contemporary ideas? During Covid was the perfect time to pursue this direction. I felt the world was out of kilter, so why not push my photo work a bit further than I had been. My ideas for the magic realism images and the surrealism images all come from the same places, very often daydreams.

Tom Chambers, Rejuvenation, 2023, Archival Pigment Print, 19x22", Edition of 20, $1,200

AK: In your statement, you note that you didn't use AI in the creation of the new work and that all elements were drawn or photographed by you, and montaged together. In your past work, images started from sketches and then were composed by combining multiple images to create your final composition. I believe this is the first time you have incorporated actual drawings included in the composition. Is this accurate? Please tell us a little more about both the technical part of that process and the creative process that inspired you to incorporate the drawings.
TC: In my art statement for the “Declaration” series I state: “Artificial Intelligence, (AI) was not employed in creating any of these images. All elements of each image were photographed or hand-drawn by me.” When I say elements were hand-drawn, I’m referring to digitally drawing some of the smaller elements. Each image is planned ahead. I make a small thumbnail sketch and then follow it loosely. I photograph the elements or background I need to create that image. Sometimes I pull images I have previously photographed from my archives. I hate to have to make the “No AI” statement, but I feel that it’s almost necessary at this point with the rapid development of AI software. I didn’t want this particular series of work to be swept up into the AI category by mistake.

Tom Chambers, Visitation, 2023, Archival Pigment Print, 30x30", Edition of 10, $2,300

AK: What are your current thoughts on the use of AI-generated images in visual art?
TC: I feel torn between a number of thoughts. I’m all for new directions in art and new tools for creating art. But, I like to see the hand (and brain) of the artist in their work. Is there a personality who is making the work? Hopefully, there is and it would be important to see that personality reflected in the work. In some cases the artist chooses to use AI only for an element or two in a larger image, maybe combining it with Photoshop. This begs the question: How much of the image is AI created? An element? Five elements? The background? Should the artist make a statement that the work or a percentage of it is AI created? In the past my art statements mention that the work is photomontage to eliminate any confusion. I felt that this was necessary. Does the artist owe it to the viewer or purchaser to give that information? I think so. 

I understand that when prompting AI software like Midjourney or DALL•E 2, the software “scrapes” the internet and pulls images or parts of images from different locations, combining them. These locations can include other artists’ work and always pulling it without the artists’ permission. I feel that in a sense this is a form of plagiarism. The same could be said for ChatGBT, as I understand that it will be easy for a student to use AI to create and write a paper. There are a lot of questions that need to be answered in the coming months as I can see that the art field might radically change. Lawsuits already have been filed by artists against AI users saying their art has been stolen. The technology will soon be available for AI painting. As a CAD machine can draw a large format drawing, a similar piece of machinery will be able to paint large format paintings from a computer file. Is the art world ready for this conversation? How will we answer the question, “What is art?” 

Tom Chambers, Presentation, 2023, Archival Pigment Print, 11x17", Edition of 20, $750

AK: As an early innovator of Photoshop–do you see any parallels between the early days of AI and the early days of Photoshop? 
TC: There is a similarity in the sense that it’s a new tool. I feel the parallel ends there since the artist’s creative hand is no longer in use when employing AI. AI supporters say that it’s a creative process when prompting the software. How much creativity goes into coming up with a descriptive prompt? A photomontage image is parts of photographed images that have been combined. The debate should be, “Can an AI-generated image be called Photography?” I don’t think so. The word Photography literally means “drawing with light”, derived from the Greek word for photo.

AK: Do you have any advice for others that are trying to tap into creativity?
Yes, decide what excites you. If bugs excite you, then it’s taking photos of bugs - do it. Your excitement for your subject matter will keep you interested and your work will exude that energy. My direction turned out to be photomontage because I enjoy the planning and the building of an image, along with adding that extra twist that throws things off kilter.

Tom Chambers, Repose, 2023, Archival Pigment Print, 30x30", Edition of 10, $2,300

Artist Statement: 

“Declaration” was inspired by my return to international travel in 2022. Just as life had changed with the impact of Covid, my photography work shifted from elements of magic realism to surrealism. The Covid years often felt irrational, as though we were living in a different dimension. Through the resumption of travel, I was drawn to the idea of blending the influences of Italian Renaissance art with surrealism resulting in a timeless look and feel. 

Narration is a key element of my work. All of the women represented in this series “Declaration” belong to a society of women living not in the past or in the future but in a different planetary space and time. They tell stories and reveal ideas of importance, perhaps of an existential nature.
Artificial Intelligence, (AI) was not employed in creating any of these images.  All elements of each image were photographed or hand-drawn by me, Tom Chambers.

photo-eye Gallery is proud to represent artist Tom Chambers.

*    *    *

The prints from this series are Archival Pigment Prints 

Small, Edition of 20, Starting at $750
Medium, Edition of 20, Starting at $1,200
Large, Edition of 10, Starting at $2,300


*    *    *

If you are in Santa Fe, please stop by during gallery hours or schedule a visit HERE.

For more information, and to reserve one of these unique works, please contact
Gallery Director Anne Kelly or Gallery Assistant Jovi Esquivel.

You may also call us at (505) 988- 5152 x202

photo-eye Gallery

1300 Rufina Circle, Unit A3, Santa Fe, NM 87507
Tuesday– Saturday, from 10am– 5:30pm

Book Review Master Rituals II: Weston’s Nudes Photographs by Tarrah Krajnak Reviewed by Britland Tracy “I leaf through the fleshy end sheets that preface Tarrah Krajnak’s Master Rituals II: Edward Weston, struck with the realization that, on purpose, I have navigated adult life in the photo world with a now-conspicuous dearth of knowledge of almost all things Edward Weston..."

By Tarrah Krajnak.
Master Rituals II: Weston’s Nudes
Photographs by Tarrah Krajnak
TBW Books, Oakland, 2022. In English. 52 pp., 10x13½".

I leaf through the fleshy end sheets that preface Tarrah Krajnak’s Master Rituals II: Edward Weston, struck with the realization that, on purpose, I have navigated adult life in the photo world with a now-conspicuous dearth of knowledge of almost all things Edward Weston. Here is what I recall upon opening this book:

1. He kept his apertures small in the camera and tonal ranges large in the darkroom, and the history books all thank him for it.
2. He photographed the curves of a bell pepper like those of a woman, and vice-versa.

One can imagine that in Weston’s World, a bell pepper is perhaps the platonic ideal of a photographic subject: malleable, smooth but not shiny, organically contoured, inert yet anthropomorphic in the right light, at the right angle. It comes in a variety of skin tones: yellow, orange, red, green. And if it droops, wilts, rots, bruises, or was not a very appealing piece of produce in the first place, its fresher replacement is just a garden or grocery away. (I recently learned that, once his vegetal subjects began to sag, he ate them.) Parallel comparisons to portraits of faceless nude women from the last century are not hard lines to draw here.

Tarrah Krajnak reimagines herself as both bell pepper-woman and master-Weston through her series of seventeen black-and-white, large format, nude self-portraits, methodically sequenced on the right side of each spread with the gravitas of a twentieth-century virtuoso’s monograph — a formality that subverts this book’s exquisitely sardonic tone. She reincarnates the exact gestures of his female models (whose names, for historical record, were Charis Wilson and Bertha Wardell) in suspended animations of “bent over” and “holding ankle” and “standing from behind”. She employs materials outside the confines of herself and her camera as both assistants and partitions — cinder blocks, hefty rocks, white foam core board, plywood plinths — and often present in her images are Weston’s own portraits of fragmented women, lingering on the periphery as visual references. His legacy as a canonical photographer is relegated to instructional prop; Krajnak clicks the shutter.

This is how she lets us in on the joke, unveiling the smoke and mirrors of the medium through her own photographic mastery. She reveals the shutter release cord, the contortions required to simultaneously fragment choice curves of the body and compose the frame with self-possessed agency. Some photographs are printed directly onto the page as darkroom test strips, illuminating the extent to which her shadows and highlights can be manipulated — a decision fatigue which silver gelatin loyalists know all too well. With this fourth wall broken, Weston suddenly seems much less rarified.

There is an accelerating indignation in Master Rituals II that crescendos in what is plausibly the greatest centerfold-odalisque-reclining nude of all time, as Krajnak sprawls verso to recto against sheets of plywood and a fanned, spikey houseplant, armored with just a gas mask and an insubordinate gaze. After nearly a dozen portraits depicting a bended knee here and a twisted torso there, the curtain is pulled back on their maker. At last, a face. The face of a Peruvian-born, indigenous woman staring back at the camera while her presence is implied behind it. This picture is an outlier in that it reproaches nothing specific to Weston’s portfolio but rather all that is white, colonizing and heteronormative in the history of art about women idealized by men. It’s Guerrilla Girls-meets-Venus of Urbino.

The gas mask comes off in the final self-portrait, but Krajnak’s eye contact remains. She crosses her limbs but faces the camera. Her raised arm grips the shutter release and hovers above one last pair of Weston portraits: another contorted woman cropped at the neck on the left, and on the right, angled slightly away from the camera — what’s that? — the unmistakable Bell Pepper No. 30.

Purchase Book

Read More Book Reviews

Britland Tracy is an artist and educator from the Pacific Northwest whose work engages photography, text, and ephemera to observe the intricacies of human connection and discord. She has published two books, Show Me Yours and Pardon My Creep, and exhibited her work internationally. She holds a BA in French from the University of Washington and an MFA from the University of Colorado, where she continues to teach remotely for the Department of Critical Media Practices while living in Marfa, Texas.
Book Review Image Cities Photographs by Anastasia Samoylova Reviewed by Christopher J Johnson "I bet you’ve got a favorite spot near your place if you live in a city..."

Image Cities By Anastasia Samoylova.
Image Cities
Photographs by Anastasia Samoylova

Hatje Cantz, 2023. 168 pp., 100 color illustrations, 9½x11¾".

Where I live (and probably everywhere else too), the public buses frequently have banners advertising healthcare, vacation getaways, banks, engagement rings, bouquets made of fruit but meant to resemble flowers, casinos and many other things. All feature either someone smiling or else a product in a highly sanitized environment, such as a villa or a grassy field or upon a plain white background. Often groups of models convene to show that life is shared, joyous and seemingly, somehow, always takes place on a weekend or a night out. All the banners are photographic, all the people are photogenic. Advertising’s biggest sale is a life of ease, a workspace streamlined for productiveness or a world without cares, a perpetual Sunday — to this point, unless a product or service is for kids, advertisements on the side of the bus are devoid of children.

Sometimes on the bus I see people dressed for a nice event, perhaps an art opening or a recital or a night of dancing or a funeral or church. More often I see people dressed for their occupations: students, construction workers, mechanics, people who sit in cubicles or who serve food. I see mothers and grandmothers with their kids. I see people hauling their groceries. I see the homeless and drunk. I’ve seen people cry on the bus. I’ve seen people watch porn on their phones. And amidst all the passengers a host of drivers; one who even has a bald head and a ZZ Top-style beard and who seems to wear his sunglasses despite daytime or nighttime or bright skies or overcast.

The bus as chimera. The bus as corrupted prism. The bus as both the company mission statement and the reviews of a company left on Glassdoor.

Okay, so as is typical for me, we’ve gotten about 300 words in and I’ve said nothing about Image Cities, but in fact I’ve given you its essence. Image Cities by Anastasia Samoylova captures global centers from around the world. We see how advertisements in these places increasingly focus on the rich and wealthy enjoying their upper-class, spacious-living, smiles-driven lifestyles in larger-than-life banners while the middle (is this a real thing or just something that gets said) and lower classes crouch, walk, sit and work beneath them or in front of them or even install the advertisements. Many of the images are amazingly composed so that the city-dweller and the advertisement appear to be in one and the same world, one and the same plane — an incredible feat, honestly. It is little wonder that David Campany says that the artist is, “at heart a collagist.” in his text for the book.

We’ve seen this collage-like work before in her two previous books Floodzone and Floridas. However, it was not the fulcrum of those books, this maximal collage-like style; so having it take focus so sharply in Image Cities is a nice progression for Samoylova. The viewer of Image Cities should expect to become disoriented, but in a manner that the artist, I feel, is intentionally creating: a certain myopic vortex where reality becomes helplessly blurred.

The result is something like Blade Runner by Kubrick, which sounds unlikely, but there’s an interaction here between glitz and grit, between have and have not and what is and what was only ever imagined.

I have a feeling that if a casual observer, say on a bus, saw me looking through this book from several seats away they’d think I was looking at a fashion magazine filled with Gucci bags and Versace cup holders, bras and keyrings, rather than at the oppression of such things upon the scarcity of today’s hand-to-mouth realities.

What’s a takeaway here? Not too sure. Money makes the cities, makes the buildings of those cities, makes the advertisements on those buildings and only wants to see itself in all it creates despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary toward the living conditions of the average global citizen in an urban environment? Yeah, probably. My takeaway, small as it may seem, is that the bus is the microcosm, the city the macrocosm. Riding the bus you don’t see the adverts; perhaps there’s some reality to them. I wouldn’t know. As a passenger on the bus, perhaps I’m not meant to know.

Purchase Book

Read More Book Reviews

Christopher J Johnson is the recipient of The Mountain West Poetry Series first book publication prize (2016). He has written on photobooks since 2012, and has been a bookseller since 2008. He is currently the manager of photo-eye Bookstore.
photo-eye Gallery SFW + photo-eye Gallery: On Collecting with Anne Kelly & Michael Rubin Jovi Esquivel Discover the fascinating world of collecting photography and unleash your creativity with Anne Kelly and Michael Rubin in this captivating collaboration between Santa Fe Workshops, photo-eye Gallery and The Rubin Collection.

Gallery Director Anne Kelly shares Prom Gown #1, by Tom Chambers

This week we're excited to share the recording of the recent online event hosted by the Santa Fe Workshops, as part of their Creativity Continues series. Anne Kelly, the Gallery Director of photo-eye Gallery, and the director of The Rubin Collection, Michael Rubin, took us on a delightful journey through the enchanting world of collecting photography and the sheer joy of collecting in general. 

Collecting is all about the thrill of acquiring and organizing items that tickle our fancy — whether it's stamps, coins, mesmerizing photographs or something else. It's a gratifying pastime that allows us to express our creativity and wholeheartedly indulge in our passions.

For Anne and Rubin, collecting photography is more than just a hobby — it's a way of life. As a passionate gallery director, Anne not only manages the gallery's impressive collection but also assists fellow enthusiasts in building and nurturing their own treasured collections. She curates captivating exhibitions and supports the artists represented by the gallery.

Rubin, with his lifelong love of collecting, has seamlessly woven his passion for photography into his journey. As both a dedicated collector and an accomplished photographer, he collaborated with his father on The Rubin Collection. Today, he continues to share his extraordinary collection with others, including recent classes held by Santa Fe Workshops. 

Now, we invite you to dive into the recording of this special workshop, where Anne and Rubin share their valuable insights into the world of collecting photography. Gain a deeper understanding of this art form, gather practical tips for building and managing your own collection, and explore the profound connection between creativity and collecting.

Gallery Director Anne Kelly, Portrait by Dave Hyams
Anne Kelly is the Director of photo-eye Gallery in Santa Fe, NM, and has been with the company since 2006, producing over 80 exhibitions. Established in 1991, photo-eye Gallery is a premier contemporary photography gallery representing both established and emerging photographers. Her interest in photography developed at an early age, influenced by her mother’s love for the medium. In addition, Kelly is a highly engaged portfolio reviewer for several arts groups and organizations across the country, both in-person and online, providing feedback, critique, and discourse. As an active supporter of the arts, Kelly has been described as enthusiastic, tenacious, and curious and is an occasional contributor to Analog Forever Magazine.

Director & Photographer Michael Rubin, portrait by Angela Allen
Michael Rubin has been a photographer and collector for more than 40 years, newly relocated to Santa Fe after decades in the Bay Area. As a young protégé of Jerry Uelsmann, he began by creating images that were both composed and surreal. Rubin’s work continues to meld the surreal with the intimate; he embraces the passion of the amateur and evangelizes photographic exploration for consumers. He manages a photo collection of thousands of classical works of mid-century modernism, always incorporated into his workshops, and has spent the past years developing this new curriculum in photographic education.

Concurrent with photography, he has had an entrepreneurial career that has spanned industries such as publishing, consumer retail, entertainment media, and technology. Career highlights include Lucasfilm, Netflix, and Adobe. He has had editing and post-production roles on numerous television and movie projects, including the miniseries “Lonesome Dove,” and the Bertolucci feature “The Sheltering Sky.”

*      *      *

If you are in Santa Fe, please stop by during gallery hours or schedule a Virtual Visit HERE.

For more information, and to reserve one of these unique, extraordinary new works,
please contact photo-eye Gallery Director Anne Kelly or Gallery Associate Jovi Esquivel.

photo-eye Gallery

1300 Rufina Circle, Unit A3, Santa Fe, NM 87507
Tuesday– Saturday, from 10am– 5:30pm

You may also call us at (505) 988- 5152 x202