Berenice Abbott was one of my very first photo crushes. A story about her in today's New York Times promoted me to post Mr Karsh's late portrait of her. She is standing in front of one of her scientific images, "Van de Graaff Generator, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1958"
"Berenice Abbott spent two years at MIT creating photographs that memorably document the principles of physical science - mechanics, electromagnetism, and waves. She often developed innovative techniques for capturing scientific phenomena, including one for very detailed, close-in photography that she called Super Sight."
Photolucida would prove to be the portfolio review event everyone claims it to be when before even reaching the hotel, I was already talking to a fabulous photographer - one of the many lovely volunteers who dedicated a whole lot of time to looking after us all. Based in Portland, Oregon, Erika Plummer is a multi-talented portrait and landscape photographer, who lit up while telling me how she got into chasing the Aurora Borealis - and I lit up when she sent me the pics!
"I saw them the first time in 1998 while camping MI and have been in pursuit ever after. The onset of DSLR cameras and the advancement of high ISO capabilities have made it easier to capture on our sensors what we can't see with our naked eye. The colors are there, the lights are dancing and our cameras prove it."
"These images from Montana, however, I saw very easily without my camera and that makes it more wonderful. There are a handful of us insane photographers who will drive hundreds of miles looking for clear dark skies and a chance to catch the very elusive Aurora. When she makes her appearance it's worth every failed trip."
Tabitha Soren has spent a dozen years delving into the realm of American baseball, exploring tradition, success, and failure. Using the tin type process to photograph some of the live action, she gives a nod to the history of both that process and baseball itself - coming to popularity at around the same time in US history. Embedding herself in the drafts, she uncovered the truth behind the glamour - that a small percentage ever make it to the Big League.
"FANTASY LIFE is a series that explores the fantasies that define America: Manifest destiny, the romantic idea of the restless wanderer, the hopeful idea that failure is just a step on the road to success, the notion that the pursuit of fame and fortune is also the pursuit of happiness, the belief that to secure one's identity, one must seek to stand apart from the community."
"￼Out of the thousands of players that are drafted into Major League Baseball each year, only a tiny percentage - about 6% - go on to play in 'The Show,' the big-pay, high-stakes galaxy of thirty teams that we all know, love and hate."
"Some of my subjects became well known, respected players at the highest level of the game. Some left baseball to pursue less glamorous work, such as selling insurance and coal mining. Some have struggled ￼with poverty - even homelessness. But the common thread among them all is that they had a shot, and they literally put their bodies on the line for the sake of the game."
It is very hard to do this deep project justice online, so you can go see it now at Kopeikin Gallery in LA, through June 6, 2015. The live exhibition includes:
A mixture of C prints and Selenium toned Gelatin Silver prints;
A wall of memorabilia from the 23 players I followed for 11 years (everything from kindergarten age baseball cards to arthroscopic x rays from knee surgeries);
A wall of comparison portraits showing that only 5 of the 21 subjects made it to the major leagues;
Tintypes of action shots from games;
Two sculptural elements: a vitrine of 40 bone spurs (many taken out of the players during surgery to improve their game) and an acrylic 4 foot high tower of shelled peanuts, with 6% of the peanuts at the top painted gold.
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."