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20,000 Leagues #2 © Michael Massaia 

In this latest portfolio, Michael progresses from the melting ice creams of the first 'Transmogrify' series to play around with bubblegum, creating a similar look and evoking more memories of childhood.* 

More hands-, or rather teeth-on, he chewed his way into visions of apparitions and organs, dusty curtains and sea creatures, using single pieces of gum after noticing how organic it looked when stretched and lit. 


*(I personally no longer blow bubbles)


918 by Santolo Felaco

Do something funky with your photos! This cheered me up on a dull day. Thanks to Italian artist Santolo Felaco for making me happy. (You might want to turn the volume down a smidgen.)

"The office is the place where many people spend at least a third of their day; where human relationships are established, anxiety developed, and the need to escape created. This photographic project took place in an office and in outdoor spaces adjacent to it. What results is an apparent altered representation of reality because the images do not directly describe the environment but they use a metaphorical language to tell what else lurks in regard to this microworld.

Each quadtych is made up of a combination of minimal pictures that are almost like words, they are linked to each other to compose a message. One of the objectives was to leave the viewer a lot of freedom of interpretation. Many quadtychs are designed and combined to communicate something specific, maintaining a polysemantic feature. I often played on the indoor and outdoor relationship, of what I call "the escape instinct": often you want to escape as soon as possible from the workplace, sometimes even just for a break. The office and the outside world that immediately surrounds it bind almost to form a continuous space. 

These and others are the issues dealt with, but I think I've already said too much, if I preferred words to pictures, I would have become a writer rather than a photographer."


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From Photography Is Magic, By Charlotte Cotton © 2015 published by Aperture


The world of photography is changing and evolving, fast, right now. It is seemingly unstoppable, verging on out of control. That's not a bad thing necessarily, just an observation. It's an exciting time, mixed in with a whole lot of confusion and potential. In many ways so many people are paying attention to photography, however in other ways because there are so many photos being taken the craft is somehow being seen as diluted. I was in an audience when curator and writer David Campany suggested: "But isn't there a huge amount of potential in the fact that now because so many people think they're photographers that photography can really start to break the rules and become its own?" I'd take a guess and say that in many regards Charlotte Cotton, author of Photography Is Magic, might agree with Campany. Now that photography is in the hands of so many, becoming a language that so many people speak, the lens can now be used as more of a jumping off point. Photography is no longer just a two dimensional copy of what is presented in front of a camera. 

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cfaal 340 © Jessica Eaton

Cotton has a long relationship with the arts and with photography; she is intelligent and eloquent. This isn't flattery; there's just no avoiding the fact! She is an unstoppable force of looking, seeing, curating, thinking, and interpreting. She is very present in the time we live and her book, Photography Is Magic, is a collection of photographers whose images deal with the present state and future of photography. Cotton is, simply put, taking the temperature of the present so as to try to grasp at the state of what's to come. One day people will pick up Photography Is Magic and be able to realize its contribution; it will act as a map of the time. The book is a collective aim at what people can achieve together, and the artists in the book epitomize that notion with the images they make. Change doesn't have a solid structure, it's not a list of rules to be set. Newness is completely genuine, and real change is accepting that it constantly needs to change. As confusing as that may be it may sum up many notions of contemporary photography in general. There's always the next, the newest, and a huge need to stay ahead. Holding tight to photography's innate sense of community and contemporary fortitude will allow it to keep from becoming pure drivel. 

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Untitled, from the series Flatness, Light, Black & White © Annie MacDonell

What is magic? It has the ability to make something seem removed from everyday life. It is remarkably wicked and delightful in its confusing and titillating obscurity. Some people walk on fire, others pull rabbits from hats, and further some people have the power to move beyond a mere experience. After the restraint of reality there is a powerful place for play. Magic happens inside your head - ideas, images, and concepts of external objects not present to your senses are made there. This is the stuff that imagination and imagery are made of. Our imaginary life becomes very real. The confusion and surrender of this relationship is an important part of magic.

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Composition 008 © Kate Steciw

What of the photographs in between the covers of Photography Is Magic? In Cotton's own words from the book: "Collectively they provide a timely narrative of art photography's relationship with the technologies of contemporary image culture." The camera is a starting point; it is the adaptation of technology that intermingles and coerces a new imagery. She continues: "They also implicitly show us the critical positions that artists are adopting within media systems." There are many applications after the shutter. In so many ways the initial image is like a freshly stretched canvas, bare and plausible. The next step is to reimagine, add, subtract, restructure, and transform the photograph. This process may allow the image to become less precise but more specific. It can be executed this way, and why shouldn't it be? Photoshop isn't a photography tool as much as it is a painting tool; it provides that potential. It's up to the person in the drivers seat to decide what needs saying, or needs making.

Maybe the last important thing to realize is beyond technology the new addition to photography (the "newest technology") is the body. Not a literal photographed body but the addition of the hand and gesture to photographic images. Photos are being allowed distinct parts and joints that interact with real space the way a sculpture would. It has more surface and qualities of being an object now than it ever has. A photo isn't just a window anymore: it has touch, it can be tampered with, and it can establish an elaborate system of vision while also upholding a constructed narrative. It gives back to its viewers because it allows them to think: "What the hell is it I'm looking at?" The exciting part is making a connection and finding that magic. 

Find out how to get your hands on a copy of Charlotte Cotton's beautiful book here.

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Picture 049 (Cardboard Box, Autumn Leaf Red, Funky Monkeys) © Asha Schechter

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Untitled (Seventh Depth 013) © Taisuke Koyama

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A Dozen Roses (for Tony) © Matthew Leifheit


In all forms, languages, cultures and creeds love is expansive and transformative. It can be a beginning as easily as it can be an end. Love signifies all sorts. Sometimes it is intimate, literal, and exacting, at other times vague, eclipsing, and abstracted. Talking with Rachel Stern, curator of LOVE 2016, she never wanted love to be a definitive thing, she always wanted this group show to be a way to reign in the new year. And why not? After all love is not limited, it is a vast wonder place for imagery and imagination. The show, LOVE 2016 - currently on display at Columbia University's LeRoy Neiman Gallery - brings together a vast group of image-makers from all over. These makers were asked by Stern to either show old work, new work, or respond to the shows concept in a way to look towards the future. "This is a show I wanted to see." Stern tells me with an excited smile. She is as lovely and accommodating, as one would expect form a curator of a show about love.

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Self-Portrait, Los Angeles June 2014 © Hobbes Ginsberg

"Responding to love is like responding to air." Stern is like talking to an intelligently insightful romance poem, she is full of these wonderful isms. The passion is apparent. The show at first glance can almost seem flippant; it is not. The gallery space is instantly atmospheric. The walls - adorned in a not so symmetrical system of lush roses - hit you and suddenly you're in the center of a bull-fighting ring. These icons of exaltation envelope the shows desire, driving its diversity, while also holding its thread. Looking through the show and its images, beyond love, what speaks so clearly is the sense of community. "I'm always constantly wanting to make the most for my community with my community." It is this visual camaraderie Stern shares that engages and binds these works that could easily fall prey to distance from each other. There is an elusive tether; something about them together is almost supernatural.

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Untitled (Danny-and-Lawrence) © Marc Swanson

The works themselves run a gamut from portraiture to conceptual - darkroom prints to sculptural and physical objects. They're plural and unexpected; they come from artists of all ages and walks of life. The show is inclusive and there is a sense of equality and identity that speaks to a larger envelope that is not hung up in specifics and titles. These people are the dreamers of dreams, the magic makers and the paupers of a new generation. They are not as bohemian as much as they are willing to experiment with visual language. Pushing at the possibilities and boundaries of photography and its preconceptions. There is as much recollection of history as there is spontaneous contemporaneity. The show is a striking success of awkward unusual bits, always poetic, coy at times, and highly definitive at others. It's clear, LOVE 2016 is what love looked like, looks like, and sets a temperature for the future of its interpretation. 

"The show isn't done." Stern tells me with a good amount of restrained excitement. Her eagerness reads in her face, behind those comforting eyes. It reads in the effort and love that's been put into the curation and presentation of the show as well. What's the future? LOVE 2017 hopefully! For now this show will stand. It is an epically created environment, it banishes the notion and expectation of white walls and stuffy spaces. It's reinterpreting history, bouncing off its echo and allowing viewers to be filled with love or sadness, or whatever they want. It has many feels, and maybe the best part is the open-ended ability for individualized interpretation. These ideas stretch - vast not weighted down - and go beyond statements or judgments. There is a brilliantly subtle revolution brewing in the range of this broad show.

LOVE 2016 is on display at Columbia University's LeRoy Neiman Gallery through February 17th.

Checkout LOVE 2016's publication here.

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You and Me Final © Kent Rogowski

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(Left) Men,Mango Leaves & Dates (Right) Woman & Lychees © Micahel Bühler Rose

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Suits © Martin Gutierrez

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American Reflexxx (Still from video) © Signe Pierce & Alli Coates

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Family Portrait © T.M. Davy

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Untitled (Brooklyn) © Bryson Rand


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"I was drawn to Red Hook with its edgy, worn landscapes, its ubiquitous rust, and the extraordinary quality of its light. Some years ago, while taking pictures there, I came upon an old barge moored in a small inlet in the harbor." And so begins William King's story of a Brooklyn man and his barge.

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"This photographic portfolio focuses on the maritime activities and maintenance performed by Captain David Sharps with the aid of friends and volunteers aboard the Lehigh Valley barge. The story highlights float repair, spinning the barge, and barge assessment regarding dry-dock mandated by the US Coast Guard."

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"The 101 year old Lehigh Valley barge is a historic landmark and working museum. Due to the efforts and dedication of Captain David Sharps, with his many friends and volunteers, the Lehigh Valley is the last remaining example of the Hudson River Railroad barges."

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Words and images © William King 


This barge museum also holds music and other events. Check out their schedule.
Also: don't miss William's "Brooklyn Trolleys"

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Nairobi-based photographer Patricia Esteve sent in her powerful and empowering series of girls and young women who gain the strength to protect themselves at "Boxgirls" in Nairobi. "This local association promotes boxing in areas where sexual abuse towards women and girls is very common."


"Boxgirls International links innovative projects around the world using boxing as a catalyst for social change. The skills they learn in the ring, improve their strength and resilience, allow them to better negotiate the urban environment and advance further in their schooling, family and career." 

Be sure to also check out Patricia's many other important projects, over on her website. But watch this first! 


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Axe Diptych © Zeke Berman

Some people are calculated thinkers, understanding every move long before they ever make or think or speak. Others are much more intuitive and unconscious, they are about the moment and evolving from each one to the next. It should be said that regardless of the challenge of understanding no one way is more right than the other - just different - and the opportunity to compare is exciting. Julie Saul deserves a huge amount of praise for this reason; she has brought to her gallery two photographers that make photographs in these very opposite ways. However, they meet in such an interesting place. What Corey Olsen has in youth, curiosity, and novelty Zeke Berman has in wisdom, craft, and contemporaneous composition. Both are craftsmen of still life photography, painterly and heteroclite.

Personally my favorite thing about Berman and Olsen and their images is the first thing they bring to mind, unequivocally that thing is their history. William M. Harnett leads to Kurt Schwitters leads to Jasper Johns leads to these two contemporaries, Berman and Olsen. They are sculptors, collagists, and photographers. Aficionados of light, color, asymmetry, staged theatrics, surface, and the ordinary taken way out of context. It's a really great show! The works are solid at times and then open-ended at others. There is space to be filled beyond the elucidation and perplexity in the predicament of the photos juxtapositions. Admittedly they take a lot of time, the reward is so huge it seems insurmountable. 

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Garage Still Life © Corey Olsen

Corey Olsen will take you back to a familiar time in your life - long before complication - when imagination was so important. Back when you'd aimlessly shift through relics and the family tool chest or garage. Who wasn't doing that as a kid? You'd find all those strange odds and ends, tools not quite toys that blasted creativity off into endlessly unknown possibilities. Some of the colors were bright, others faded, smells of rust and dirt, a forgotten bicycle helmet, and all those cans of chemicals that served a purpose that one time. Olsen assembles his birc-a-brac almost too precisely; his lighting and perspective is nothing short of nouveau. Behind the immediacy, carefully controlled intent, and playfulness of the work Olsen expels a certain sense of quite isolation. Being a kid in the stillness of Maine has clearly built a huge sense of explorative expectation in the young photographer. Olsen shares, "Maybe all the pieces make no sense. But my biggest hope is that people will discover things about their expectations of everyday artifacts." 

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Drawing Board Diptych © Zeke Berman

Zeke Berman is an illusionist. His photos are those of universally conveyed thoughts dealing with perception and questioning the very core of optics. Where does something end and beginning? Is there a front, what happens on the back? These are all challenging questions for a photographer - who deals in a two-dimensional finished product - to take on. "I'm trying things out and want to understand in the moment." Berman says. The verbal understanding that he has of his photos is not to be believed. The compositions are ambiguous, beguiling, surreal, and articulated. His still lives are accurately laid out forms, technical and exquisite in their quality of collage and sculpture. These photographs are seductive! Viewing them at first glance there seems to be something mirrored or symmetrical in their structure. Upon closer inspection the mystery of their seduction is revealed. There's nothing mirrored about them, just when parts seem to be perfect reflections something goes wrong, there's a shift, a change. The images have been designed only half symmetrical. In so many ways Berman's images become Joseph Jastrow's iconic duck rabbit. 

Berman and Olsen are students of epistemology. Their photography allows for new study, understanding, and knowledge. These photographers are distant in years but a kin in spirit. Their aesthetics sing to one another, they are totally without time, and demanding of comprehension. The success of the work is reliant on the time viewers take.


Be sure to catch these two great shows at Julie Saul Gallery Through February 20th.

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Garage Still Life © Corey Olsen

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Letter Rack © Zeke Berman

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Garage Still Life #4 © Corey Olsen

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Web #2 © Corey Olsen

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Garage Still Life #21 © Corey Olsen

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Cubes © Zeke Berman


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Carlos Alomar, guitar with David Bowie since the 1970s © Leland Bobbé

Veteran New York photographer Leland Bobbé is making a series of the unsung heroes of music - the back-up musicians. Portrayed in simple, frank, black and white portraits, it's a glimpse at the poor drummer who's never seen, and other hard-working jobbers you might vaguely recognize.

Let's give them some props!

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Liberty Devitto, drummer with Billy Joel for 30 years

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Lenny Kaye, guitar player with Patti Smith since the 1970s

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Ricky Byrd, guitar with Joan Jett & The Blackhearts, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee

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Gene Cornish, guitar and vocals from The Rascals, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee

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Carmine Appice, father of heavy metal drumming with Vanilla Fudge. Played with Rod Stewart and Jeff Beck. Co-wrote the Rod Stewart hits, "Do You Think I'm Sexy?" and "Young Turks."

All images © Leland Bobbé

Be sure to also check out "Half Drag," Leland's fabulous and well-loved series of half made-up drag queens. 

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Alex, 2012 © Jess T. Dugan  


Think of a man - I mean a real dude kind of guy. Masculinity drums up a certain image, specific ideas and blunt mannerisms. A portrait of that man can strip away assumptions and allow for a much more fleshed out identity. Most of gender is read through parts of a person's body. That body becomes fleshy and naked in its insecurity, or maybe not, it can be in a persons mind and the pieces arbitrary. Jess T. Dugan's project and new book Every Breath We Drew deals with these issues. What is gender? How is masculinity defined? Through Dugan's subjects she is able to establish intimate relationships; each individual bares their experience, there's a huge sense of comfort. Dugan's portraits build; some of the subjects have been totally marginalized by society, many of the people in the photos are given new voice, they are dynamic.

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Bucky, 2013

Every Breath We Drew is a collection of people of all different sizes, shapes, backgrounds, orientations and identifications. Dugan is fascinated by masculinity and capturing what she refers to as "vulnerable masculinity." "I find all of my subjects myself. It's hard to say exactly what it is that qualifies them. Something about my initial reaction to them." The process every step of the way is about this kind of personal intimacy. Dugan is very involved and an integral part of the photographic narrative. She uses self-portraits throughout the body of work; they become a constant. With Dugan as the familiar face throughout the photos she turns into a representation of the identifiable self. Dugan becomes anyone, in this way the viewer is interjected into the narrative through her. Suddenly her subjects are more noticeably looking at you. The conversation evolves, as the viewer is able to take control of the portraits.

There is a huge sense of community given the nature of the images. How does a person come into their body while also connecting with others? The source of this inquiry can be open ended; after all, it's highly individualized and deals in the self. The images keep pushing on a desire to seek a genteel masculinity. Dugan stresses that there is a need to redefine; masculinity is more expansive than commonly understood. The self is a starting point, as the subjects allow their comfort to creep in, more information is revealed. Light and pose play into these peoples places. All of Dugan's images are crafted in the subject's home where they could be most susceptible to allowing an authentic moment to play out. Dugan's frames are slow, the thinking and consideration to the environment is evident, and each moment retains a charged emotion.    

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Colby, 2012

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Ryan and Josh, 2013

Every Breath We Drew has a very concise interest, however it's crafted by a broad pressing of intent. The portraits are full of unexpected juxtapositions. People are somber, they are gay, they are with child, and without specificity. A person is a glorious hairy mess. And even though the work is very interconnected to the LGBT community the feeling of the work goes deeper than assumptions, conditions, or titles. It should be said that it doesn't matter who these people love or how they love, it's how they pose themselves that allows them to be themselves.

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Herb, 2013

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Taan, 2012 

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Kim, 2014

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Tim, 2014

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Self-Portrait, 2012

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Elle, 2012
all images © Jess T. Dugan
 

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Previous contributor and woman-with-sense-of-humour Christine Anderson has put together a charming limited edition book called "Wizard." It is somewhat an ode to her current, beloved mechanic (who presumably has never given her the sharp intake of breath and "that'll cost you darling/love/lady/ma'am"). 

I love this! See? You really don't need to stray too far from home to make a fabulous project happen.

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"I love my car. I hate my car.
I hate my car. I love my car.

After 14 years and 78,000 miles my car - a green Volkswagen Beetle - is still cute despite worn seats and pitted exterior. I don't blame her for breaking down once in a while. Really, I don't. You see, I'm a sentimental person. We have bonded and mostly I like to think of her as vintage rather than old. It makes me feel better about our relationship."

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"Over the years, many mechanics have serviced the car. Kal, our current mechanic, has a way of giving me bad news without making me feel bad. His manner and his expertise inspired me to create the pictures featured in Wizard. Kal is a lot like the Wizard from the Wizard of Oz story and I am perhaps a bit like Dorothy in the story. I bring my broken down car for repair and he fixes the car and sends us on our way. Dorothy, of course, sends herself home with the Ruby Slippers and eventually I will find my way to a new car. But for now I am thankful the Wizard is here keeping my car and me together.

Kal allowed me to photograph his shop during working hours, giving me access to premises, people, and auto parts. This book is a portrait of Kal's car repair shop loosely based on the Wizard of Oz story enhanced with my own creative inspirations."

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Examples of the book's layout

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All images © Christine Anderson

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