Keeping Them Entertained

Friday, August 29th, 2008 - Nicholas Calcott

The Good Reputation Sleeping / La buena fama durmiendo,’ Manuel Alvarez Bravo

“Ariadne, after we work on these negatives, maybe you could accompany me to the photo shop. I like to ask them for things I know they don’t have. That way we keep them entertained, no?”

Manuel Alvarez Bravo to Ariadne Kimberly Huque, from her diary and a succinct but excellent post.

The Firm

Wednesday, August 27th, 2008 - Nicholas Calcott

Jocelyn Bain Hogg, ‘Charlie’s wake at the Horn of Plenty,’ 2001

Jocelyn Bain Hogg‘s ‘The Firm‘ is an intimate view of London’s crime world. The project is shot in black and white and the project evokes ‘The Godfather‘ in its mix of views of business, pleasure, and family. Definitely worth a look if you haven’t seen it before. [via The Constant Siege]

Short Attention Spans

Wednesday, August 27th, 2008 - Nicholas Calcott

From Things Magazine, on the aesthetic found on ffffound and other design and photography aggregator sites:

This is a multi-disciplinary world where art direction, amateur photography, architecture, illustration, craft, cartoons and technology all fuse into one another, creating – dare we say it – a homogenous pop culture aimed at the attention deficient more than anything else. It’s also a global culture (see 360 magazine from China, for example), having evolved from the enthusiastic sub-cultural adoption of Japanese Manga in the West into an ability to absorb specific local influences to generate an all-pervasive yet ultimately placeless sense of the ‘exotic’.

Read more here.


Wednesday, August 27th, 2008 - Nicholas Calcott

One of Ruth Van Beek’s ‘Reconstructions’

And while we’re on the subject of collages, go check out Ruth Van Beek‘s work. Make sure, while you’re there, to let your mouse linger over the photos – the text that pops up is pretty funny.

Lady Georgiana Berkeley

Tuesday, August 26th, 2008 - Nicholas Calcott

Lady Georgiana Berkeley

The image above and the gallery below are from one of my favorite books in my collection: ‘Album de Collages de L’Angleterre Victorienne,’ or to translate, album of Victorian English collages. The book is light on text and consists almost entirely of photo collages made by Lady Georgiana Berkeley, a Victorian aristocrat who, to fill her free time, created these wildly fanciful photo collages featuring portraits of friends and family.

Berkeley was born in 1831 to a spectacularly wealthy and powerful family (Berkeley square in London is named after them). Apparently, according to the introduction, little is known about the details of her life – She married in 1877, well after the completion of this album, to Sidney Atherley, who died shortly afterwards. Berkeley lived on until 1919, surviving all of her immediate family members.

The images themselves, constructed between 1865 and 1871, when it appears she lost interest in the project, use photographs that seem to have been taken by professional and salon photographers and that Berkeley reappropriated to suit her needs. Often, figures are cut out of their backgrounds and placed on or around animals, but just as frequently the photos are left untouched and instead are surrounded by elaborately painted frames. The only strong thread running through the collages is a shared fantastical universe, similar to that depicted by her contemporary, Lewis Carrol (himself a photographer), in ‘Alice in Wonderland.’

This is a really handsome little book – The images are gorgeous, and flipping through it, you really get the sense of a woman sitting at home whiling away her ample leisure hours with immense flights of fancy. Track down a copy if you can; 51 images are reproduced here of a total of 101 images in the original, in the archive of the Mus√©e d’Orsay. The book was produced for a show there in 1997.

Donald Weber

Sunday, August 24th, 2008 - Nicholas Calcott

Donald Weber, from ”Zek: In the Prison of the East’

Donald Weber is a photojournalist who focuses on everyone’s favorite subject; the former USSR. But he does it in a really remarkable and poetic way.

All of his projects presented online are great, but one especially I find myself drawn to: ‘White Nights: Russia After The Gulag‘ has alot of the standard post-soviet photography (stunning landscapes, trash heaps, snowed in cars, portraits in interiors with wall paper peeling off the wall), done well of course, but also features a section where he interspaces text describing the bread policy in the gulag (‘The official bread ration in the gulag was 500 grams per day, which kept a prisoner alive for exactly 3 months.’), photographs in a bakery, and photographs of old portraits against rugs, sheets, and other floral backgrounds. Go take a look; I could barely choose an appropriate banner image because there was so much good work.

The Michelle Du Bois Project

Sunday, August 24th, 2008 - Nicholas Calcott

‘The Fantasy backs + front cluster’ from ‘The Reconsidered Archive of Michelle du Bois’

The Reconsidered Archive of Michelle du Bois,’ a project by Zoe Crosher, takes as its base an extensive archive of snapshots, tourists photographs, and risque images of one American woman who spent most of the 70’s and 80’s traveling around the Pacific Rim. From the press release of an ongoing show at the Claremont Museum of Art:

In [Zoe] Crosher’s photographic groupings, Du Bois is both heroine and ing√©nue, toying with persona, identity, fetishism and exoticism. A distinct portrait of a woman emerges, one that is tied to the women’s and sexual liberation movements of the era, while revealing the vulnerability that accompanies the trappings of her lifestyle and her slippery identity.

It’s fucking cool, and the images themselves have a charm without pretense.

Old Photos

Friday, August 22nd, 2008 - Nicholas Calcott

Charles W. Cushman

The Mere Passage Of Time Makes Boring Photographs Compelling

The Constant Siege on this Shoot post about Charles W. Cushman.

Foto 8

Friday, August 22nd, 2008 - Nicholas Calcott

Seba Kurtis, ‘Security Camera – Louisiana,’ from the project ‘700 Miles’

I’ve featured work from Foto8, the online photojournalism magazine, on here before, but consider this a plug for the magazine itself. They update their content regularly, including a ‘story of the week’ and 4 different, but related, blogs. Recent features have included a ghostly project on illegal immigration in the US by Seba Kurtis and a review of Stephen Shore‘s forthcoming ‘Road-Trip Journal.’

Aspirational Living

Monday, August 18th, 2008 - Nicholas Calcott

Martin Parr is currently working on a global luxury series

Things Magazine is awesome. That sentiment is neither here nor there on a photography blog, but I bring it up ahead of linking to a recent post on aspirational living and super luxury magazines.

We didn’t mean to be bitchy, but the contemporary luxury magazine has a finely targeted readership – check out a few rate cards. Unlike newsstand-based consumer magazines, the luxury magazine is rarely bought but stumbled over at the country club, private jet terminal or boutique hotel, a freebie for the largely undeserving. Our lament is therefore that given the presumably limitless funds, broad horizons and charged ambitions of the intended readership, why is the content and aesthetic on offer so relentlessly predictable?

Given that so much of what drives the art are the collectors with way too much money, and that they are presumably drawn from the same pool that read these magazines, it seems to me a matter of wider concern that taste in this sector is so limited. And as Things points out, previous generations have had magazines that provided a labratory for ideas and culture in the guise of serving the super wealthy. Culture appears when you don’t have to spend all of your time trying to put food on the table: What happens when those who don’t have to spend any time putting food on the table become interested in culture that speaks only to their own immediate personal gratification?