Better known for his aerial photography, Floridian Bill Yates recently revisited a box of negs and prints from two seasons of photographing at the Sweetheart Roller Skating Rink in the 70s. Editing 800 shots could not have been easy - I've had a hard enough time choosing what to publish in the magazine. Thanks to Bill for making the effort to get this fabulous body of work digitized and out there. An exhibition showed recently at Gallery Kayafas in Boston, and it was just announced that images from the series have won a place on The Fence in Atlanta and Houston later this year. An exhibition will also be opening at the Ogden Museum of Southern Art in New Orleans, on Oct. 3rd, 2015. Expect to see more!
"I had just purchased a medium format, twin lens camera and, as usual, I was out riding around looking for something to shoot. I happened upon an old wooden structure built in the 1930's in the Six Mile Creek area of rural southern Hillsborough County, Tampa, FL. The sign on the building read "Sweetheart Roller Skating." The owner was just driving up. "Mind if I shoot some pics?" I asked. "Sure, but if you want some good ones, come back tonight - this place will be jumpin'." That weekend in September 1972, I ran eight rolls through the camera. After that I photographed nearly every weekend until late spring of 1973. I was twenty-six years-old.
"That first weekend I was met with curiosity and suspicion by the skaters. The next weekend I returned with proof sheets which I stapled to the wooden siding of the rink's interior. For some, complete disinterest in the images. For others, it was as if they were staring at themselves in the mirror for the first time, as though they had rarely seen photographs of themselves -- they couldn't get enough. The skaters became like actors parading their bodies, confronting one another, competing for an audience -- the camera. Though the skaters may not have thought of themselves on a stage, they were no less explicit and physical in their stagecraft. Some of the scenes were unapologetically theatrical. Young men aggressively wrapping arms around their girlfriends' necks, gesturing uncomfortably for the camera -- a sexual come-on, an uncensored performance. Yet others were deadpan. I soon became wallpaper -- I was there, but I wasn't -- just snapping the shutter." Read more on the Sweetheart website.
May all our future children be so encouraged! In 2007, Lindsay Morris began attending a summer camp for gender-creative kids where they could have the freedom to be as fabulous, or not, as they wish, whilst partaking of the usual summer activities. Over the years, Lindsay has made a wonderful series of intimate and real and loving photographs, which appeared on the cover of the New York Times Magazine in 2012, and which have subsequently been widely published. Many have been collected into a book: 'You Are You' is out now from KEHRER.
A new generation has arrived and is ready for acceptance.
You can catch an exhibition in San Francisco at RayKo, beginning mid-May, and in New York, at ClampArt, in July. Or, if you're on the other side of the pond, the work will also be on show at the Hamburg Triennial, also in June. And visit the You Are You website.
Coming soon to a very fortunate New York City, at the Grey Art Gallery, New York University, 100 Washington Square East, to be precise, is an exhibition by Tseng Kwong Chi. Known for his self-portraits and photographs of New York's wild 70s and 80s scene, this promises to be a fabulous trip into New York's recent but so-different past.
"Combining photography with performance, personal identity with global politics, and satire with farce, Tseng Kwong Chi (1950-1990) created a compelling body of work whose complexity is belied by its humor and grace. Born in Hong Kong, raised in Vancouver, and educated in Paris, Tseng moved to New York in 1978, where he quickly became a key documentarian of Manhattan's vibrant downtown scene. He also began crafting the performative self-portraits - "selfies" avant la lettre - that form the backbone of his artistic practice, exploring the questions of personal and political identity that preoccupied many artists of his generation. Remarkably, Tseng made virtually all the works on view here in the course of just ten years, before his untimely death from AIDS-related complications at the age of 39."
Andy Warhol, New York, c. 1986
Keith Haring, New York, 1988
Bill T. Jones, body painted by Keith Haring, London, 1983
These are some of a series of photographs that Kamil Śleszyński made, both in prisons and in centres that support ex-prisoners, in the north-east of Poland. Kamil told Prison Photography that he was curious about how prisoners thought about freedom and "why many prisoners couldn't live outside [of prison] and would come back again."
Admirably using a 4x5 camera to produce these great images, Kamil explored the culture inside these institutions. I recommend reading his interview with Pete Brook, over at Prison Photography - your only destination for prison-related media and calls for reform.
The photographs making up the new powerHouse bookProject Lives were created by residents of New York's housing projects. They learned about photography in an intensive 12 week course, and set out to document their lives. "This is photography from the inside out." The new photographers featured include Marcy Morales, 72, living in public housing for 30+ years who says "It's not where you are being raised, it's how you raise your kids, right?"; and Jared Wellington, 12, who says "I try to find myself in the photos... My mom used to live here when she was younger, and played on the same basketball courts I play on now." The newly discovered artists were given single-use film cameras and set free to record their own experiences of living in the city's seemingly never-improving housing.
The program was instigated by photographers and educators George Carrano, Chelsea Davis, and Jonathan Fisher. The book includes some wonderful full page photos, commentary, and a ton of NYCHA facts (like the 422,639 backlogged repair requests.) Read more and buy a copy over at powerHouse.
April 6th would be Dr. Harold Eugene Edgerton's birthday - he would have been 112 today! I figure we all know that as a professor of electrical engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, he pretty much invented the strobe. What I didn't know was, according to Wikipedia, "He also was deeply involved with the development of sonar and deep-sea photography, and his equipment was used by Jacques Cousteau in searches for shipwrecks and even the Loch Ness monster."
Anindya Chakraborty took a trip to Purulia,in West Bengal, to make some photographs of people living in what he describes as one of the less-developed districts of the area. "People suffer from extremities of life everyday. But that's not what I photographed there. I was inspired by how the people in Purulia blended in the harsh landscape... I roamed in night, day, in extreme heat and ended up loving the place more than I have imagined."
I had moved to New York by the early 90s, when Mayor Guiliani finally decided to evict the squatters, who were mainly living down on the lower east side of Manhattan. It was big news at the time. My parents don't read my blog so I can confess that I spent a fair amount of time in squats in London in the mid-80s. I don't know how else I would ever have learned to cook lentils or stomach hash. Ash Thayer moved to a squat in 1992, and began documenting "New York's legendary LES squatters." As Luc Sante writes: "Anyone wondering about the end of bohemia can consult this book, which documents its last incarnation, at least in New York City. Few bohemians can ever have worked as hard as the squatters, who earned their homes and their lives; they were rewarded with forcible and violent eviction. Ash Thayer's remarkable pictures chronicle a time, only two decades ago, that seems impossibly distant now." (b-t-w Sante's book, Low Life, about the seedy history of NYC is a great read.)
This is a fabulous photography book; large, and packed with double-page spreads, it includes stories of learning how to build and repair, plant gardens, stay warm, and how some of these kids came to be squatting in the first place.
The press release is as usual a great read so here it is in its entirety:
After being kicked out of her apartment in Brooklyn in 1992, and unable to afford rent anywhere near her school, young art student Ash Thayer found herself with few options. Luckily she was welcomed as a guest into See Skwat.
New York City in the '90s saw the streets of the Lower East Side overun with derelict buildings, junkies huddled in dark corners, and dealers packing guns. People in desperate need of housing, worn down from waiting for years in line on the low-income housing lists, had been moving in and fixing up city-abandoned buildings since the mid-80s in the LES.
Squatters took over entire buildings, but these structures were barely habitable. They were overrun with vermin, lacking plumbing, electricity, and even walls, floors, and a roof. Punks and outcasts joined the squatter movement and tackled an epic rebuilding project to create homes for themselves.
The squatters were forced to be secretive and exclusive as a result of their poor legal standing in the buildings. Few outsiders were welcome and fewer photographers or journalists. Thayer's camera accompanied her everywhere as she lived at the squats and worked alongside other residents. Ash observed them training each other in these necessary crafts and finding much of their materials in the overflowing bounty that is New York City's refuse and trash. The trust earned from her subjects was unique and her access intimate. Kill City is a true untold story of New York's legendary LES squatters. - Luc Sante
In Natan Dvir's beautifully composed series, "Coming Soon," the effrontery of New York's mammoth advertising hoardings, garishly peddling their goods to a seemingly captive audience, is juxtaposed with the daily life that obliviously potters on beneath them.
"This new series of pictures continues to explore the relationship between the near-future illusions and physical reality. While new and advanced ways of consuming information create a growing world of virtual, mobile, and personalized ads, the city itself becomes an advertising medium. The immense billboards gradually permeate the whole city, from SoHo to Time Square. Always in the peripheral vision, these ads turn pedestrians into passive spectators. People inhabiting the space underneath are pulled, unaware, into a staged set, as the reality of the street merges with the commercial fantasy of the advertisements."
Images from the series have been widely exhibited and published and their popularity is not wavering. Catch the latest show at Anastasia Photo, in New York's Lower East Side, on now through April 30, 2015.